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By George F. McLean
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Extra resources for Ancient Western Philosophy: The Hellenic Emergence
1). The function argument assumes that there are three candidate forms of life (nutritive, sensory, and rational) corresponding to the three types of soul. And as Aristotle proceeds to isolate the proper function of a human being, one gets the sense that he is moving up a hierarchy from the most general to the most speciﬁc forms of life. All this derives from Aristotle’s natural science (esp. DA 2). Whereas Leunissen focuses on the dependence of ethics on biology, Christopher Shields, in ‘The science of soul in Aristotle’s Ethics’, considers how much knowledge of Aristotle’s psychology is presupposed by his ethical theory.
Metaph. 980b27–981a30) despite the fact that they issue in action-guiding principles that hold only for the most part. This is not simply because the practitioners are ‘knowledgeable’ in some loose sense of the word: ‘Craft is knowledge of universals’ (Metaph. 981a16–17). Insofar as craftsmen know the reason why things are the way they are, they know the cause (tên aitian, 981a28–30). Aristotle must therefore recognise that there can be sciences whose subordinate principles fall short of necessity.
It can be interpreted distributively, so that every particular that belongs under some kind shares in the property, or it can be interpreted generically, about the kind, thereby leaving it open that individuals falling under the kind may lack the property. In exact sciences like geometry and arithmetic, any property characteristic of the kind will necessarily belong to each of its members, while in inexact sciences like biology or ethics, a property may belong to the kind without necessarily belonging to each of the particulars that fall under it.