Monday, September 22, 2008

Notes on Aristotle

Aristotle
Life and Philosophy
Plato’s student, 384-322
Interested in natural phenomena
Founded Lyceum in Athens, a rival to Plato’s Academy
Had middle-class students
Metaphysics
Substance—what it means for things to exist
The essence and the cause of it
What is substance (not what is being)
Central idea
Categories—ten items (scientific priniciple)
Individuation, underlying foundation
Only substance can exist separately (unlike Forms)
All primary substance is individual
Other qualities can be attached, but substance is basic
NOT FORMS!
Universals, yes, but not forms
Universals depend on substance, don’t exist of themselves
Senses are the starting point and source of knowledge
Two visions, Plato’s and ARistotles
But not modern
Still, Aristotle says Universals are real (even though particulars come first). Universals explain the particular
Substance holds the whole system together

Logic
Rules of logic—syllogism
3 Laws—1. A is a
2. A cannot be both A and not-A
3. Something must be A or not-A
Implications
Need for middle ground? Complexities? Enemy or not enemy
Politics
Analytic and empirical
Unity? Well, dependent on various specialties
1. Poetry has a role to play
2. State exists to work toward a higher good
Good life
Achievement of virtue, noble actions
3. Principle of the middle way
Poetics
Metaphysical and Ethical Context of the Poetics
Poetry participates in the knowledge of universals
Concept of utility
Stimulus to virtue
Delight is a sign that it’s right and good
Imitation and Action
Poetry is a form of imitation
But positive—basic human instinct and a way to truth and knowledge
Distance between the real and the imitation creates the source of pleasure
Virtue needs action, happiness is action
Moral nature of action
Poetry represents action, seeking virtue
Imitation
Creation of someone who has impulses common to humans (unlike Plato’s idea)
Poet is part of society
Arts imitate men in action
MORALITY
As a component of action and character
Better, worse, or like the norm—genres
Poetry and history
Poetry deals in general truths, universals
Poetry has a unity of vision—a work singe, whole, complete, be comprehended “in a singe view”
Concentration on plots
Imitation of real and prior works
Can imitate things that were, that are, or things that ought to be
Imitation has a moral purpose
Character and action (p55)
Singleness of ACTION
Organic unity
Probability or necessity
Beginning, middle, end
Aesthetic dimension
Affective dimension
Fear and pity
Flaw
Character and tragedy
1. Be good
2. Be appropriate
3. Be “like”

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