Back To CourseAncient Greece Study Guide
13 chapters | 147 lessons
Dr. Sipper holds a PhD in Education, a Master's of Education, and a Bachelor's in English. Most of his experience is in adult and post secondary education.
Most know Aristotle as an ancient philosopher, logician, and mathematician who lived in Greece in the mid-fourth century BCE. He is hailed as one of the greatest minds in history and credited with the development of much of modern Western thought.
As a philosopher and logician, Aristotle sought to understand knowledge; where it comes from and how to attain it. He compiled many of his writings into a magnum opus we know today as the Organon. The word Organon means 'instrument' or 'tool' and was used as a manual for understanding how to find and use knowledge, information, and wisdom.
Within his Organon, Aristotle explores how knowledge can be sought and analyzed. One of these methodologies is called Posterior Analysis, in other words, analysis of information at the end of the knowledge process. Ultimately, Posterior Analytics comes down to learning from looking back. We all do this all the time. After all, hindsight is 20/20.
Posterior Analytics uses several methods through which to gain episteme or 'knowledge', including induction, demonstration, epistemology, and the indemonstrable.
One of the most instrumental components of Posterior Analytics is induction, the process of moving from the particular toward the general.
Induction is seen as an opposite, but equally powerful form of deduction (which moves from the general to the specific). Induction looks at the particulars of a situation or idea and compares and contrasts the common threads. This starts with a hypothesis, leads to observable data, and then to a theory of understanding. This is also known as the scientific process.
Through induction, information can be gathered, digested, and explained, giving a clear picture of the direction, if not the solution, of a generalized network of understanding.
Another powerful method of knowledge discovery in Posterior Analytics is demonstration, which allows scientists to study and share the experience of an understanding that can be repeated and refined so as to verify the solidity and truth of information. This process moves from ideas to a more concrete methodology of gaining and increasing knowledge.
Demonstration may seem to be outside of philosophy and theory and be more in the epistemic (hard knowledge) domain, but Aristotle saw it as a continuation of the process of Posterior Analytics. To him, demonstration was not necessarily a finished act, but a practice using knowledge as a guide, thus placing it firmly in the category of theory.
Epistemology refers to methods, means, and strategies that are used to take knowledge and see how it works together to formulate complete thoughts, ideas, and laws. The Greek word episteme is generally translated as 'knowledge'. However, what Aristotle seems to be trying to accomplish in Posterior Analytics is really closer to science. Knowledge is perceived as the mere collection of information, whereas science includes methods, means, and strategies for collecting, parsing, and linking information.
Posterior Analytics, then, is related through learning to the process we know as the scientific method. This method was completed in large part by Sir Francis Bacon in his Novum Organon, an extension of Aristotle's Organon, which set the stage for all that was to follow.
So, how do we know when scientific knowledge has been achieved? Aristotle says it is when we discover ''the cause why the thing is, that it is the cause of this, and that this cannot be otherwise.'' In other words, when you have observed something enough to see that it reacts the same way every time and never reacts in a different way, you have seen science in action!
Now we come to a category that some today think is outside the realm of hard science. Aristotle called this category of knowledge the indemonstrable because it included knowledge that could not necessarily be demonstrated repeatedly or at all.
However, Aristotle recognized that there is a state of understanding called nous in which knowledge can be understood instinctively (rather than from experience). Nous can be translated as 'insight', 'intuition', or 'intelligence'.
Aristotle presents the indemonstrable as imprecise but innate, such as the knowledge we have through our five senses that tells us something is good or bad. One does not need to learn that the smell of rotting flesh is bad, but needs only to smell it to know it should be avoided. This is not learned through experience, but an instinctual understanding built into every person.
Aristotle's Posterior Analytics are tools scientists still use today. Although this methodology has been refined over the millennia, it is still seen as the height of elegance in the sciences.
Posterior Analytics uses several methods through which to gain episteme or 'knowledge'. Through induction, one can move from specifics to generalities, thus combining information into cohesive, interrelated units for more global understanding.
Demonstration allows scientists to study and share the experience of an understanding that can be repeated and refined so as to verify the solidity and truth of information.
Knowledge or epistemology refers to methods, means, and strategies that are used to take knowledge and see how it works together to formulate complete thoughts, ideas, and laws. This is where the rubber meets the road scientifically.
Finally, the most ephemeral area of Posterior Analytics is the indemonstrable. This is often seen as an unscientific area since demonstration is not possible. However, Aristotle held that there is knowledge in this area since there are innate understandings that are indemonstrable, yet understood.
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Back To CourseAncient Greece Study Guide
13 chapters | 147 lessons
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