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.