[French Version]
[HC 395]




03/22 Aristotle -- Introduction

  • Readings:
    • CCGRP, Chapter on Aristotle
    • Introduction to the Aristotle section in RAPG

  • Study questions

    Give a short answer to the following questions on the basis of your readings:

    1. Who was Aristotle? What is his relationship with Plato? With Alexander The Great?
    2. What we are reading as ``Aristotle's treatises'' are not ``treatises'' in the sense of systematic exposition of an author's thought. What do we think they are instead?
    3. In what domain was Aristotle interested?
    4. What does Aristotle think the world is like? Explain his physics.
    5. What is the most important claim that Aristotle makes concerning causes in biology?
    6. What is eudemonia ?
    7. What are the relationships between ethics and politics according to Aristotle?

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 13

03/27 Aristotle -- Logic and Science

  • Readings:
    • De Interpretatione 1,2,3,4 RAPG. pp. 663-665
    • Topics , 1,2 and 5, RAPG pp. 671-675
    • Posterior Analytics , I, 1-3,10 and II, 19;

  • Study questions
    1. What characteristic distinguishes the ``spoken sounds'' from the ``affections of the soul'' of which the spoken sounds are the symbols?
    2. What is the difference between sentences and statements according to Aristotle?
    3. What is the definition of a deduction?
    4. What is the difference between a ``demonstration'' and ``dialectical deduction''?
    5. What is demonstrative understanding according to Aristotle?
    6. Reformulate the problem that Aristotle tackles in the third chapter of the Posterior Analytics. How does he propose to solve it?
    7. How can human beings grasp the first principles (Posterior Analytics, II, 19)?
  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 14

03/30 Aristotle -- Predication

  • Readings: Categories, I, 1-5
  • Study questions:
    1. What is a subject? What is a predicate?
    2. Explain what it is for P ``to be said of'' S. Give examples.
    3. Explain what it is for P ``to be present in'' S. Give examples.
    4. What are the characteristics of substances?
    5. Are all individual substances?
  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 15

04/3 Aristotle -- Physics: Change

  • Readings:Aristotle, Physics I, RAPG pp.694-702
  • Study Questions: Aristotle is trying to find the conditions of change, or "coming to be". Give a short answer to the following questions on the basis of the readings:
    1. Explain why Aristotle considers that the good method of inquiry is to go from wholes to parts with the example of children's learning the distinctions mother/women and father/men.
    2. Explain, with Aristotle's example, the thesis that change occurs between contraries.
    3. Explain Aristotle's thesis that: "In every case there must be some subject that comes to be " (190a15) with the example of the musical/unmusical man.
    4. How does Aristotle define a substance in 190b?
    5. To what is identified the primary subject of change around 192a30?
  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 16

04/5 Aristotle -- Nature

  • Readings:
    • Aristotle, Physics, II.1-2
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics, V4 -- definition of a nature -- not in RAPG. find on the MIT web site

  • Study questions:

    Give a short answer to the following questions on the basis of your readings:

    1. How does Aristotle define a natural object, by contrast to an artifact? What has the natural object that the artifacts lacks? (1, until 193a)
    2. Explain in what sense a statue made of stone falling down on the ground is and/or is not a natural movement (1, until 193a).
    3. Explain the argument in favor of the thesis that "the nature and substance of a natural thing" is the matter (1.193a10-30).
    4. Explain the argument in favor of the thesis that the form is the nature and substance of natural things (1.193a30-193b6)
    5. How does a mathematician study an apple? How would the ancient materialists study an apple? How should the natural scientist study the apple, according to Aristotle? (book 2)

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 17

04/10 Aristotle, Causes

  • Readings: Aristotle, Physics, II.3
  • Recommended:
    • In RAGP: Metaphysics, A.3; Parts of Animals 639b12
    • Not in RAGP: Posterior Analytics, II.11; Metaphysics D.2; Generation and Corruption 335a28-336a12.
    • Allen, Colin, "Teleological Notions in Biology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2004 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
  • Study question:
    1. Explain what are the four kinds of causes that Aristotle distinguishes with an example.
    2. What is a final cause? Why are they problematics in science?
    3. Do you think that biology can do without final causes? In what sense?

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 18

04/12 Aristotle, Metaphysics

  • Readings: Aristotle, Metaphysics:
    1. Book I, 1-2 and first two paragraphs of 3, RAPG. pp. 758-62
    2. Book IV (Gamma), 1, selection: 1003a21-1003b22.
    3. Book IV, 3
    4. Book VII (), 1-3 and 17.
    5. Book VIII, 1-3
  • Study questions:

    Give a short answer to the following questions on the basis of your readings:

    1. Explain the different steps toward knowledge that Aristotle describes in the Metaphysics I.1. How does-it compare with the stages of Plato's cave?
    2. Explain how Aristotle deduces that the science he is looking for, the science which is at the top of the hierarchy is the "knowledge of certain principles and causes"(982a).
    3. Explain why "all other sciences are more necessary than this one, but none is better"(983a10).
    4. Explain why, even if "being is spoken in many ways" (1003a34), it is still not merely "homonymously"?
    5. What is "the firmest principle of all"(1005b21)? Where did we encounter it for the first time in the course material?
    6. For Books VII and VII: write down three theses (with references) that you think Aristotle is defending about what is substance, and its relation with matter and form.

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 19

04/17 Metaphysics, the end

04/19 Aristotle -- Ethics -- The function argument

  • Readings: Nichomachean Ethics, I

  • Study questions:

    1. Among the ends of our decision and action, why is the more important according to Aristotle?
    2. Who can learn about ethical values and actions?
    3. What are the relationships between hapiness and virtue?
    4. What is the highest good for humans according to Aristotle?
    5. What is the proper method in ethical or political science according to Aristotle?

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 20

IMPORTANT CHANGE IN SYLLABUS: There is an optional additional assignment for those who want another oportunity to raise their grades: See link for "optional paper" under the "papers and exams" section (Posted 4/19/2007).

04/24 Aristotle -- Virtue and the Mean

  • Readings: Aristotle, Ethics, II
  • Study questions:
    1. To what part of the soul do appetites and desires correspond?

    2. For Aristotle, how human beings can become virtuous?

    3. How does Aristotle characterize virtue? How does it compare to Plato's ways of defining virtue?

    4. What are the relations between virtuous action and pleasure and feelings?

    5. What do you think is or are true for Aristotle?

      (a) Being angry is always bad

      (b) Being envious is always bad

      (c) Bad and good generally depends on the circumstances

  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 21

04/26 Aristotle -- Happiness

  • Aristotle, Ethics, X
  • Study questions
    1. Why are bodily pleasure necessary?
    2. How much does Aristotle praise the political life?
    3. What is the best life to live according to Aristotle?
    4. Who should take care of the education of children?
  • Course Notes Part IV, Chapter 22

05/1 Aristotle -- Conclusion

05/3 Aristotle -- Review -- FINAL PAPER DUE

05/8 FINAL EXAM 8:00-10:00 am