The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Fri Mar 15, 2019
7205 Dwinelle, 5–7 PM
Working Group in Ancient Philosophy
Ben Morison (Princeton University)
Practical and Theoretical Reasoning in Aristotle

Aristotle theorises that there are two parts of the soul that engage in thought: the part that deals with contingent, everyday, affairs, and the part which deals with theoretical, scientific, matters. He posits two different kinds of reasoning, each one suited to a different part: deliberative reasoning for the part dealing with contingent matters, and syllogistic reasoning for the part dealing with theoretical matters. The types of reasoning involved are very different: one is essentially means-end reasoning, and the other is deductively valid logical reasoning. However, there are several structural similarities between the two types of reasoning: both are types of reasoning concerned with discerning causes, since in both domains, knowledge of a proposition consists in grasping its explanation, and both types of reasoning require something called noûs, a cognitively demanding sort of knowledge whose domain is propositions which are the starting-points of those explanations. In this talk, I explore the similarities and differences between theoretical and practical noûs, and argue that each is a necessary constituent of achieving the highest possible form of knowledge in the relevant domain.