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Saturday, 11 August 2012

3 minute philosophy: #aristotle

In summary aristotle:

- was a greek philosopher who lived around 280 BC

- he had a wide range of work - ethics, science, literary theory, political theory, rhetoric, medicine, theology

- some of his statements did turn out to be false (flies have 4 legs, women have fewer teeth than men)

- can be credited with the invention of formal logic - and a form of deductive logic - the syllogism (a way of figuring out new information from previously verified facts)

-  e.g. so if the premise "all philosophers are sexy" and "aristotle is a philosopher" are true then the conclusion statement "aristotle is sexy" is true by necessity BUT if one of the premises is not correct then the conclusion is not necessarily true (note it does not make the conclusion false - it simply means that despite popular opinion being  sexy is not a pre-requisite to being a philosopher

- reckoned everything in the world could be analysed in terms of 2 groups of features
1) incidental features - any feature that doesn't affect somethings placement in a category (e.g. a fish can be red or blue or yellow but no matter what colour it is it is still a fish) 
2) essential features - any aspect of something that is necessary for it to be that thing - so something without gills or fins which does not live in water is not a fish

- thought every statement that can be said about the world is either true or false - the statement can only be one or the other (though he did run into a problem with future statements) - eg whilst in a bar you say will pick up that women, your friend says she will throw a drink in your face (a popular response to this problem is to say the statements are in the future are neither true or false because they have not happened yet) - yet - if I do try my terrible corny chat up line with the women and she does throw a drink in my face then I can hardly say to my friend his statement was false

- defined each individual thing in terms of 4 characteristics - the 4 causes
1) the matter cause- the substance the something is comprised of
2) the form cause - the shape or structure the matter takes
3) the source or efficient cause - is whatever created it
4) the final cause - the reason or purpose for which it was created
eg - a watch 1) metal, plastic etc. 2) shape & mechanism these materials take, 3) watchmaker 4) to tell the time

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