The Existence of God Article 3.
The titles in this list are those in most common use today in English-language scholarship, followed by standard abbreviations in parentheses.
For no discernible reason, Latin titles are customarily employed in some cases, English in others. Where Latin titles are in general use, English equivalents are given in square brackets. Whereas Descartes seeks to place philosophy and science on firm foundations by subjecting all knowledge claims to a searing methodological doubt, Aristotle begins with the conviction that our perceptual and cognitive faculties are basically dependable, that they for the most part put us into direct contact with the features and divisions of our world, and that we need not dally with sceptical postures before engaging in substantive philosophy.
Accordingly, he proceeds in all areas of inquiry in the manner of a modern-day natural scientist, who takes it for granted that progress follows the assiduous application of a well-trained mind and so, when presented with a problem, simply goes to work. When he goes to work, Aristotle begins by considering how the world appears, reflecting on the puzzles those appearances throw up, and reviewing what has been said about those puzzles to date.
These methods comprise his twin appeals to phainomena and the endoxic method. Human beings philosophize, according to Aristotle, because they find aspects of their experience puzzling.
According to Aristotle, it behooves us to begin philosophizing by laying out the phainomena, the appearances, or, more fully, the things appearing to be the case, and then also collecting the endoxa, the credible opinions handed down regarding matters we find puzzling.
As a typical example, in a passage of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle confronts a puzzle of human conduct, the fact that we are apparently sometimes akratic or weak-willed. When introducing this puzzle, Aristotle pauses to reflect upon a precept governing his approach to philosophy: As in other cases, we must set out the appearances phainomena and run through all the puzzles regarding them.
In this way we must prove the credible opinions endoxa about these sorts of experiences—ideally, all the credible opinions, but if not all, then most of them, those which are the most important.
For if the objections are answered and the credible opinions remain, we shall have an adequate proof. EN b2—7 Scholars dispute concerning the degree to which Aristotle regards himself as beholden to the credible opinions endoxa he recounts and the basic appearances phainomena to which he appeals.
So, as a group they must be re-interpreted and systematized, and, where that does not suffice, some must be rejected outright. It is in any case abundantly clear that Aristotle is willing to abandon some or all of the endoxa and phainomena whenever science or philosophy demands that he do so Met.
Still, his attitude towards phainomena does betray a preference to conserve as many appearances as is practicable in a given domain—not because the appearances are unassailably accurate, but rather because, as he supposes, appearances tend to track the truth.
We are outfitted with sense organs and powers of mind so structured as to put us into contact with the world and thus to provide us with data regarding its basic constituents and divisions. While our faculties are not infallible, neither are they systematically deceptive or misdirecting.
Of course, it is not always clear what constitutes a phainomenon; still less is it clear which phainomenon is to be respected in the face of bona fide disagreement. This is in part why Aristotle endorses his second and related methodological precept, that we ought to begin philosophical discussions by collecting the most stable and entrenched opinions regarding the topic of inquiry handed down to us by our predecessors.
Each of these translations captures at least part of what Aristotle intends with this word, but it is important to appreciate that it is a fairly technical term for him.
An endoxon is the sort of opinion we spontaneously regard as reputable or worthy of respect, even if upon reflection we may come to question its veracity.Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.
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