Does The Primacy Belong

So understood, the demonstrative syllogism of Aristotle becomes a mere formal exercise of thought which can only bring out in the conclusion what has been assumed, and even explicitly assumed in the premises.

We cannot, indeed, attribute such a notion of science to Aristotle; for as I have shown in an earlier lecture, his definitions were not mere reproductions of popular notions, but were reached by an inductive and dialectical process which is closely analogous to the methods of modern science. At the same time, we have to recognise that there were defects in Aristotle's logic which gave too much encouragement to the Scholastic interpretation of it. In the first place, he assumed that by a direct process of induction it is

possible at once to rise to an explanation of nature by formal or final causes. Thus he thought it possible to solve the whole problem of science at one stroke, and did not recognise that we must use lower categories before we proceed to higher categories ; in other words, that we must connect the phenomena with

which we are dealing in an external way as causes

and effects of each other, before we can safely attempt

to grasp their essential individuality and the organic

relations by which they are bound to each other and to the mind that knows them. It is true that besides the science that demonstrates the properties of substances through their essential definition, also refers to a kind of science which has to determine


the causes of particular events, such, for instance, as an eclipse. Like Plato, therefore, he recognises that the external or mechanical action of substances upon each other is worthy of investigation as. well as the formal or teleological principles that are realised in them. And, especially in his biological works, he carries the investigation of the necessary conditions, without which the ends of nature cannot be achieved, to a point far beyond the imaginary physics of the Timaeus. But such enquiries into 'second causes' do not, in his view of science, take the important place which has been given to them in modern times; still less does he suppose that they precede and condition the higher kind of knowledge which ' deals with the essential forms of things.1

1 In one sense we might say that for Aristotle the sole dpayicatov, the sole condition sine qua non, of the realisation of the ends of nature is matter. But, in his special enquiries, matter is never taken in the sense of the ultimate indeterminate 8X17, bat always as the specialised matter which is necessary for a particular purpose, e.g. in the life of an animal or a plant. Hence the investigation of material causes is really an enquiry into the special actions and reactions of the elements of such specialised matter upon each other or upon the environment—in other words, it is an enquiry into efficient causes. We have,, however, to observe that efficient cause is taken by Aristotle in two quite different senses. In the Metaphysic, the efficient cause generaUy means a substance which exists prior in time to the effect, and has the same forms realised in it as in the effect. (Of. Met., 1032a, 25, where Aristotle refers 1» his usual example: fodpwros ykp dvBpwirov yevvtj..) In other cases the term efficient cause is used by Aristotle in the modern sense, as meaning the conditions of an effect, which, as Aristotle also observes, do not precede it in time (An. Post., 95a, 22).

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