30 July 2011

Philosophy After Aristotle

On June 11th I quoted a passage from a book by philosopher Shadworth Hodgson, TIME AND SPACE (1865). 

Here's a later passage from the same book discussing Greek philosophy after Aristotle: 

"Here the progress of speculative metaphysic was checked for many centuries.  Until Descartes, no one arose capable of carrying on the deveopment of metaphysic from the point where Aristotle left it, or proceeding to the separation of ontology from metaphysic, and educing reflection out of direct understanding."

By "the separation of ontology from metaphysic" Hodgson means roughly the separation of the question "how did the world come to be as it is?" from the question "how is it?"  A little bit later he writes, "The remaining schools of philosophy in Greece were all schools of practical philosophy, Stoic, Epicurean, Cynic, Cyrenaic, the Academies, and the Sceptics; they were not exclusively indeed but primarily and predominantly practical; speculative knowledge was not their chief purpose...."

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.