Thu Jan 27, 2011
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Riin Sirkel (University of Western Ontario, post-doc at University of Alberta)
What We Can Know: Knowledge of Particulars in Aristotle
For Aristotle, knowledge (epistêmê) is of what is necessary and universal. This raises the problem of explaining how there can be knowledge of particulars. Since Aristotle holds that particulars are fully real (substances par excellence) and assumes that what is fully real must be knowable, particulars must be knowable. These commitments are supposed to lead to what is often considered to be the most serious problem of Aristotelian philosophy: a discrepancy between the real and the knowable. I suggest that this is a serious problem for Aristotle only if it is assumed that knowledge of universals excludes the possibility of knowing particulars. I argue that Aristotle is not committed to this assumption but considers knowledge of the universal to be potential knowledge of particulars.