Online Course Details
Meeting ID: 884 1158 8111 | Passcode: 189882
Aristotle, a native of Northern Greece, came to Athens and studied at Plato’s academy becoming Plato’s most famous student and colleague. Allegedly referred to by Plato as ‘The Mind’, he left the academy around the time of Plato’s death, travelled, tutored (including tutoring the young Alexander) before eventually returning to Athens and setting up his rival school to the Academy, the Lyceum. Aristotle’s philosophy is distinctive for its focus on the physical – and especially the biological – world, its attempt to establish the best explanations from the philosophy-science of the previous two hundred years, and its systematic account of primary scientific concepts, matter, power, potential, cause, motion, time and space. He codifies the processes of argument implicit in the earlier tradition from Parmenides, Plato and the rhetoricians and provides a fundamental way of categorising reality – including divine reality - which shapes global philosophical and scientific discourse until today.
Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge and Physics with a purpose
This session will look at extracts from Aristotle’s lectures on physics, exploring the basic concepts he introduces to provide descriptive, scientific knowledge of the physical world. We will see how he draws on and critiques the older theories of previous philosopher scientists to arrive at the account that he regards as most satisfactory. We will recognise an approach that tames the sharpness of the distinction that obsessed Plato between a Heraclitan, sensible world of flux, and an intellectual world of changeless reality.
The Aristotelian Soul(s)
Famously for Aristotle the soul is ‘the form of the body’ – a definition approved in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church. But what does it mean, and how does Aristotle’s understanding of the soul as the ‘cause’ of animate life, square with ideas of the post-mortem survival of the self?
Ethics in the Polis
For Aristotle human beings are social animals, and any understanding of ethics and virtue is embedded in an understanding of human societies. This session explores some of Aristotle’s big ideas and their role in everything from the modern revival of virtue ethics to Catholic social teaching.
God and the source of reality
Aristotle’s universe is eternal, and so when he talks about a god as the ultimate source of reality and change in the world, he is not talking about the creator. Nevertheless his discussions continue to reverberate in philosophy of religion in the creationist traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Logic and Legacy
Part of the power of Aristotle’s approach is his rigorous analysis of language and close attention to a codified set of logical rules, with a lasting effect on subsequent philosophical method. This session will reflect on the role of logic in scientific certainty and point to the reception of the Aristotelian tradition in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic worlds.
Welcome to the world of Aristotle. Please find below a document that begins with a summary of some of the big questions that emerge in Pre-Socratic writers and in Plato - questions that Aristotle is responding to. Cruelly, the text selection sin this week's reading, taken from the Physics throws you in at the deep end. One significant difference between Plato and Aristotle, is that the latter uses a technical vocabulary, which crosses the border between philosophy and science. In order to understand him, we need to begin to get a feel for that technical vocabulary and make sense of it for ourselves. At your own pace, use the introduction and the questions to see how much of the text you can make sense of before we meet on Wednesday. And if it makes your head hurt, it's not you, it's him (and possibly my translation). Good luck!
Readings - (see below)
Dear all, here with some selected texts from Aristotle's work 'On the Soul' (de Anima, DA). The texts are embedded in an explanatory account, which I hope you'll find useful. Good luck!
John Moffatt SJ
Readings - (See below)
The last section of Aristotle we are looking at, on God, contains some material you have seen before, but also some new material to help us try to work out what he actually thought. I apologise for the difficulty of the text - particularly the metaphysics text. This is partly Aristotle's fault and partly mine - I have done my best to make an intelligible translation that helps the reader to see how the argument is going. Those of you who would like a second opinion may want to check alternative translations (there are plenty available online). Just to be clear, I'm afraid we will not be doing the final session on logic, but on God! See you next week.
John Moffatt SJ
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John Moffatt SJ works at the London Jesuit Centre. His first degree was in Classics. He taught in London secondary schools intermittently between 1985 and 2016 and has worked briefly in University Chaplaincy. He has been involved with teenage and adult faith education in Britain and South Africa and has recently completed a doctorate in medieval Islamic philosophy.