You are on page 1of 19

North American Philosophical Publications

Aristotle's Method
Author(s): Owen McLeod
Reviewed work(s):
Source: History of Philosophy Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 1-18
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27744645 .
Accessed: 25/11/2011 16:02
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
University of Illinois Press and North American Philosophical Publications are collaborating with JSTOR to
digitize, preserve and extend access to History of Philosophy Quarterly.
http://www.jstor.org
HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
Volume
12,
Number
1, January
1995
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD
Owen McLeod
I. INTRODUCTION
ANYONE
who reads Aristotle knows that before he
explains
his own
views on a
given topic,
he is
apt
to review the
preexisting opinions
on
that
topic. Very
often Aristotle refers to these
opinions
as ta
endoxa,
defined
in the
Topics
as the
opinions
that are
accepted
"...
by all,
or
by
the
majority,
or
by
the most notable and
reputable
of them"
(100b22-23).
Typical
trans
lations of "ta endoxa" include "the common
opinions"
and "the
reputable
views."1
Why
does Aristotle review endoxa? Several scholars have
recently
ad
vanced
a
striking
answer: Aristotle's reviews of endoxa are the essential
first
step
in a
specific philosophical
method based on the
assumption
that
the truth on a
given subject
is immanent in and restricted to endoxa.
Versions of this answer have been forwarded
by
Martha
Nussbaum,
Jonathan Barnes and Terence Irwin.2 Their accounts differ in detail and
purpose
but have several
points
in common.
First, they agree
about the
method's
general
structure: when
inquiring
into
X,
Aristotle first
garners
endoxa about
X; second,
he examines those endoxa for
difficulties; lastly,
he removes those difficulties.
Second, they agree
that Aristotle intends the
product
of this final
stage
of the method to be a
coherent subset of either
the most or most
important
of the
original endoxa, minimally
revised.
Finally, they agree
that Aristotle believes that this subset will be the truth
about X.
Two
implications
of the
general
structure of this method are that the data
of
philosophical theorizing
are limited to endoxa and that
philosophical
theories cannot
depart significantly
from them.
Any
such
departure
is
restricted either to
abandoning
some endoxa in favor of
others,
or
regiment
ing
endoxa that are
poorly expressed.
Nussbaum,
Barnes and Irwin
interpret
these
implications
in different
but
equally
controversial
ways.
Nussbaum welcomes
them, arguing
that
Aristotle's ostensible
allegiance
to
"appearances"
marks him as a Put
namian "internal realist." Barnes does not welcome
them, arguing
instead
that the method is
"restrictive,"
"vicious" and that Aristotle did well not to
practice
it
enough
to mar his
findings.
Irwin maintains that
establishing
1
2 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
coherence
among
endoxa does not
provide knowledge
of "first
principles"
and that
Aristotle,
once he realized
this,
switched to a more
powerful
(but
structurally
similar)
endoxic method that does
provide
such
knowledge.
In this
paper,
it is
argued
that neither Aristotle's remarks
nor
his
practice
commit him to the
method(s)
that
Nussbaum, Barnes,
and Irwin attribute
to him. If this
argument
is
correct,
then the controversial conclusions
drawn
by
those
philosophers
are unsound. The concern
here, however,
is
not
merely
to show that a few scholars have committed errors of
interpre
tation?though, given
the conclusions
they
draw from those
errors,
that
might
be
interesting enough.
Like the work of
Nussbaum,
Barnes and
Irwin,
this
paper
seeks answers to the
following questions. Why
does
Aristotle often
begin
his
investigations
with a round
up
of endoxa? Does
Aristotle offer
any
remarks that
help explain
or
justify
this
practice?
To
the extent that Aristotle does
practice
an "endoxic
method,"
what are its
implications?
These
questions
are of more than historical interest.
Suppose
that Aris
totle's undeniable concern with endoxa
implies
that he believes
philosophi
cal theories are to some extent limited to and constrained
by preexisting
beliefs. This raises a
general question:
to what extent are
philosophical
theories thus limited and constrained? If the extent is
great,
then
philoso
phy
would seem to be limited to the
descriptive enterprise
of
articulating
and
systematizing
our current
concepts.
If the extent is
quite small,
then
perhaps philosophy
can
radically
revise our
conceptual
scheme. If the
extent is neither
great
nor small but somewhere in
between,
then
philoso
phy
can be both
descriptive
and
revisionist?though
it will be no
easy
task
to
say
when revision
ought
to take over from
description.
The
descriptivist
and revisionist
conceptions
of
philosophy
have had
their
practitioners throughout
the
history
of
philosophy, up
to the
present
day. Here,
for
instance,
is David Lewis
expressing
his rather staunch
descriptivist conception
of
philosophy:
One comes to
philosophy already
endowed with a stock of
opinions.
It is not
the business of
philosophy
either to undermine or to
justify
these
preexisting
opinions,
to
any great
extent but
only
to
try
to discover
ways
of
expanding
them into an
orderly system.
The
opposite,
revisionist sentiments have been voiced
by
Derek Parfit:
I have a
great respect
for
descriptive philosophy.
But, by temperament,
I am
a revisionist_I
try
to
challenge
what we assume.
Philosophers
should not
only interpret
our
beliefs;
when
they
are
false,
they
should
change
them.4
Does Aristotle's concern with endoxa mark him as a
descriptivist,
as some
have
thought?5
It seems not.
Aristotle, though
not a radical
revisionist,
is
not a staunch
descriptivist
either. That view and its defense
emerge
piecemeal
as the views of
Nussbaum,
Barnes and Irwin are
explained
and
evaluated. In the final
section,
an effort is made to
put
the
pieces together.
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 3
II. Nussbaum
Nussbaum's discussion of Aristotle's method takes its
point
of
departure
from G. E. L. Owen's
paper,
'"Tithenai ta
phainomena.'"6
Let us
begin
with
a
summary
of Owen's thesis.
Owen
argues
that Aristotle uses the word
"phainomena" equivocally.
According
to
Owen,
Aristotle sometimes uses the word to denote
empirical
observations,
as in the scientific works
(240).
On other
occasions,
Aristotle
uses the word to denote "not the observed facts but the
endoxa,
the common
conceptions
on
the
subject,"
as in the discussion of akrasia in the Ni
comachean Ethics
(240).
Corresponding
to these two senses of
"phainomena"
are,
Owen
claims,
two methods. When the
phainomena
are observed
facts,
the method for
dealing
with them is the "Baconian"
one of
collecting
the
empirical
data
"as a
prelude
to
finding
the
theory
which
explains
them"
(239).
When the
phainomena
are endoxa or "common
conceptions,"
Aristotle's method is the
"dialectical"
one of
solving
the
"logical
or
philosophical puzzles"
that arise
from those
conceptions
(241).
In
short,
Owen's thesis is that for Aristotle
there are two senses of
"phainomena"
and two distinct methods
correspond
ing
to them.
In contrast to
Owen,
Nussbaum
adopts
the view that Aristotle attaches
only
one sense to
"phainomena"
and that he
employs only
one method with
respect
to
phainomena
and endoxa.
Instead of the
sharp
Baconian distinction between
perception-data
and com
munal
belief,
we find in Aristotle... a loose and inclusive notion of
"experience,"
or the
way(s)
a human observer sees or "takes" the world....
This,
I
suggest,
is the
meaning
of Aristotle's talk of
phainomena.
It is a loose
notion,
one that
invites
(and receives)
further
subdivisions;
but it is neither
ambiguous
nor
vacuous. If we do not insist on
introducing
an anachronistic scientific
concep
tion,
the
alleged
two senses and two methods can be one
(244-245).
Nussbaum
prefaces
her account of this "one method" with the
following
famous
passage
from Book VII of the Nicomachean Ethics:
We
must,
as in all other cases,
set the
phenomena
before us
and,
after first
discussing
the
difficulties, go
on to
prove,
if
possible,
the truth of all the
reputable opinions
(ta endoxa) about those affections
or,
failing this,
of the
greater
number and the most
authoritative;
for if we both resolve the difficul
ties and leave the
reputable opinions undisturbed,
we shall have
proved
the
case
sufficiently
(1145b2-7).
This
passage suggests
to Nussbaum the
following three-stage
method.
First,
"the
philosopher
must 'set down' the relevant
appearances"
(245).
Second is the task of
"set[ting]
out the
puzzles
or dilemmas with which
they
confront us" (246).
Third is the
"press
for
consistency" among
the
appear
ances
(247, 248).
According
to
Nussbaum,
Aristotle holds that this
press
for
consistency
must
preserve
"the
greatest
number and the most basic" of
the
original appearances
(247).
This
might
involve
rejecting
some,
but not
4 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
just any
of them.
Aristotle, says Nussbaum,
will retain
anything
that is
"universally
believed"
or used
along
the
way
"in order to
argue
or
inquire"
(248).
That is Nussbaum's
conception
of Aristotle's method. She calls it "the
method of
appearance-saving" (247,
250).
She maintains that it is Aris
totle's exclusive method:
If we work
through
the difficulties with which the
phainomena
confront us
and leave the
greatest
number and the most basic
intact,
we will have
gone
as far as
philosophy
can,
or
should, go
(240).
Nussbaum then
asks,
"What sort of
philosophical
method is this that so
thoroughly
commits itself to and circumscribes itself to the
ordinary"
(240)?
Her answer is that it is the sort of method that would be
practiced by
an
"internal realist" of the Putnamian
variety (257,
482). Nussbaum does not
pause
to
explain
Putnam's
conception
of internal
realism,
nor is it clear
that
practicing
the method she attributes to Aristotle would make him an
internal realist. But
explaining
Putnam's internal realism and determin
ing
whether this method would indeed make Aristotle an
internal realist
is
unnecessary
for the
purposes
of this
paper.7
For it will be shown that
Aristotle does not
practice,
at least not
exclusively,
the method Nussbaum
describes.
III. Against Nussbaum
Aristotle's
practice diverges
from Nussbaum's model of his method often
enough
to make an
ascription
of it to him
pointless.
Nussbaum can
try
to
answer this
objection by appealing
to her broad
reading
of
"phainomena"
but this will lead her into difficulties.
Aristotle's discussions do not
always
contain a review of endoxa. For
example,
there are no such reviews in the
Organon,
which contains all of
Aristotle's work on
deduction: the Prior
Analytics,
in which he sets out his
theory
of the deductive
syllogism;
the Posterior
Analytics, containing
an
outline of the deductive model of scientific
knowledge;
the
Topics,
where
the
subject
is dialectical
reasoning;
and the
Sophistical Refutations,
an
analysis
of fallacious
reasoning.
In this latter-most
work,
Aristotle
explains
his lack of attention to
preexisting
views on the
subject
of deduction with
the remarkable claim that none existed:8
... on the
subject
of deduction we had
absolutely nothing
else of an earlier date
to
mention,
but were
kept
at work for a
long
time in
experimental
researches
(184bl-3).
Nussbaum
might protest
that
citing
the
Organon
as a
putative
counter
example
to her
portrayal
of Aristotle's method is indicative of a
failure,
in
this
paper
as in
Owen's,
to
appreciate
the broad
meaning
of
"phainomena."
She
might argue
that Aristotle's concern in the
Analytics,
for
instance,
with
syllogistic
and axiomatic deduction is a concern with
phainomena,
which
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 5
include endoxa. Nussbaum in fact
argues
that the fundamental first
prin
ciples
from which one
ideally could, according
to
Aristotle,
deduce scientific
conclusions are themselves "a
deep
and basic human
appearance"
(251).
These
appearances
include not
only
the first
principles
of science but
also,
Nussbaum
contends,
the
"Principle
of Non-Contradiction." For Nuss
baum's
Aristotle,
this
Principle
is also
just
a
"basic
'appearance'"(257).
Thus,
on Nussbaum's
view,
"appearances.. .go
all the
way
down"
(251).
Nussbaum's
objection might
therefore be that those works in which Aris
totle does not
explicitly gather up
endoxa are not works in which he is
unconcerned with
appearances (including
endoxa).9
However,
Nussbaum's all-inclusive
reading
of
"phainomena"
is in tension
with her insistence that Aristotle's sole method is the method of
appear
ance-saving.
If,
as Nussbaum
suggests, every
bit of data counts as an
appearance,
and if the method of
appearance-saving
is Aristotle's sole
method,
then we should
expect
Aristotle to use
this method in
practically
every inquiry.
But none of the several works that
comprise
the
Organon
proceeds
in that fashion.
Therein,
Aristotle does not
gather up
endoxa
nor,
consequently,
does he search them for difficulties and
press
for
consistency
among
them. Let us even
grant
for the sake of
argument
that in the
Organon
Aristotle is concerned with
"appearances" broadly
construed. The
point
is that Aristotle does not
apply
to them the method that Nussbaum
attributes to him.
Even when Aristotle does review
endoxa/phainomena,
he does not
always
"press
for
consistency" among
them. In Book I of On the Soul Aristotle writes:
For our
study
of the soul it is
necessary,
while
formulating
the
problems
of
which in our further advance we are to find the
solutions,
to call into council
the views of those of our
predecessors
who have declared
any opinion
on this
subject,
in order that we
may profit by
whatever is sound in their
suggestions
and avoid their errors
(403b20-24).
What follows is a
comprehensive
review of theories of the
soul, including
those held
by Democritus,
the
Pythagoreans, Anaxagoras, Empedocles,
Plato, Diogenes,
Heraclitus and
Alcmaeon,
in addition to the
"popular"
view
that the soul is a
harmony
(403b29-411b30).
Aristotle finds so
many
faults
with these endoxa that
by
the
beginning
of Book II he must make "a
completely
fresh
start, endeavoring
to answer the
question,
What is soul?"
(412a3).
Aristotle
apparently
believes that there is not much that is
sound,
and much error to be
avoided,
in the received views about the soul.10
Another instance of rather
rough
treatment of endoxa is Book
I, chapter
6 of the
Meteorology.
Aristotle rounds
up
the then-current theories about
comets, only
to
reject
them all as false
(342b25-344a4).n
He then advances
his own
theory,
which owes
very
little to the received wisdom about comets.
Of course Aristotle is concerned that his own
theory
be "free from
impos
sibilities"
(344a6-7);
in that sense he does
press
for
consistency.
But what
he
presses
for is not
consistency among previous
theories or
among phai
6 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
nomena,
as Nussbaum would lead us to
expect,
but
consistency
of
expla
nation with the
phenomena
to be
explained
(344a5-10).
Nussbaum
might object
that once
again
there is a failure to
appreciate
the inclusiveness of Aristotle's
concept
of
phainomena.
We have seen that
Nussbaum attributes to Aristotle a
single
method because of her conviction
that, pace Owen,
there is no
methodologically important
distinction be
tween endoxa
(theories/beliefs)
and
phainomena (empirical
facts),
This
suggests
Nussbaum would
argue
that Aristotle does
press
for
consistency
when,
as in the
Meteorology,
he looks for a
theory
that conforms to the
observed facts.
Of
course,
if
"phainomena"
is construed thus
broadly,
then Aristotle can
always
be seen as
pressing
for
consistency among phainomena. However,
if
phainomena
are taken to include facts and
theories?explananda
and
explanantia?then
Nussbaum is left with little basis for
inferring
that
Aristotle's method with
respect
to them marks him as an "internal realist."
After
all, every
theoretician
presses
for
consistency.
But not
every
theore
tician is an internal realist.
Nussbaum faces a dilemma. "Phainomena"
can be construed
broadly
or
not. If it
is,
then
(according
to
Nussbaum)
there is reason for
crediting
Aristotle with an exclusive method of
appearance-saving. However,
insofar
as Aristotle's
practice
does not match that
method,
there is
correspondingly
little reason to construe
"phainomena" broadly.
On the other
hand,
if
"phainomena"
is not construed
broadly?that is,
if it is admitted that
phainomena
are
methodologically distinguishable
from endoxa?then
(Nussbaum's
view
implies)
there is little reason for
crediting
Aristotle with
a
single
method. Instead there will
be,
as Owen
originally suggested,
a
"scientific" method
(which
need not be
anachronistically
characterized as
"Baconian")
that takes
empirical
facts as its data and a
"philosophical"
method that takes endoxa as its data.
Much more could be
said, by way
of criticism and
defense,
of Nussbaum's
view.
However,
the above dilemma
suggests
that a more modest version of
her
position
would be more
plausible. Perhaps
it could be
argued
that
Aristotle commits himself not to a
three-stage
method with
respect
to
"phainomena"
understood
broadly,
but
simply
with
respect
to endoxa. This
more modest
proposal appears
to be Barnes's view. Let us turn to a
consideration of it.
IV. Barnes
On Barnes's
view,
Aristotle
regularly preaches
but fails to
practice
con
sistently
a
specific
method with
respect
to endoxa. Barnes
begins by
considering
the
"methodological" passage
from Book VII of the Ni
comachean Ethics
(1145b2-7).
It
suggests
to
Barnes,
as it did to
Nussbaum,
a
precise specification
of Aristotle's method.12 Barnes refers to it as "the
Method of Endoxa:"
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 7
Put
schematically,
Aristotle's method amounts to this:
first, garner
a set of
endoxa on the
subject
in
question,
call it the set
{ai, a2,..., an).
Secondly, survey
the ai's for infelicities.
Thirdly,
remove those infelicities:
purify
the ai's to
produce
a new
set, {bi, b2,..., bn};
select the "most
important" bi's;
and con
struct a maximal consistent subset of the bi's
containing
those "most
impor
tant" members. Let us call the final
set,
the end
product
of the
puzzling
and
proving, {ci, C2,..., cm};
note that m
<
n;
and that each ci is
"adequately proved."
The
investigation
is at an end:
assembling
the
ai's
sets
up
the
problems;
puzzling
and
proving,
which turns the ai's
into
bi's and then
pick
out the
Ci's,
solve the
problems
(493).
Less
schematically,
Barnes's
picture
of Aristotle's method amounts to
this.
First, garner
endoxa
on the
subject
in
question. Second, survey
the
endoxa for infelicities and difficulties.
Third,
remove the infelicities
by
resolving vagueness
and
ambiguity;
remove the difficulties
by eliminating
contradictions
(492).
The
product
of this is a
regimented
subset of the
original
endoxa?in other
words,
the truth. Barnes writes:
Once the difficulties are solved?once the
original
endoxa are
purified
or
emended,
and the
appropriate
consistent subset of them is determined?the
truth is to be
found, exclusively
and
exhaustively,
in the endoxa that remain
(493).
Barnes believes that Aristotle not
only preaches
but also
practices
this
Method: "the Method is no theoretical
aside;
it
actually governs
a
large
part
of Aristotle's
philosophical
researches"
(494).
Moreover, argues
Bar
nes,
Aristotle never
suggests
that
"any
other method will lead to results
which conflict
with,
or
go beyond,
the results achieved
by
the Method of
Endoxa"
(495).
In contrast to
Nussbaum, however,
Barnes claims that this
Method "is not the
only
method Aristotle advocates"
(495).
Barnes believes that the Method of Endoxa is
open
to serious
objections.
He writes:
...
the Method is
restrictive,
in that it refuses to consider certain
propositions
as
possible
bearers of truth. We
may try
to
explain why
Aristotle was
prepared
to submit to that
restriction;
but no
explanation
will also serve as a
justifica
tion,
and the Method itself is vicious. Yet Aristotle's
practical philosophy
is
not,
I
think, seriously
marred
by
this
Method,
and that for two reasons. First the
restrictions
imposed by
the Method are minimal: there are
remarkably
few
propositions
which Aristotle
cannot,
in one
way
or
another,
include
among
the
initial
ai's;
and the
process
of
"purification," generously construed,
will allow
him still
greater scope
in
assembling
the bi's. The Method is not
formally
vacuous;
but it
has,
in the last
analysis, very
little content.
Secondly,
Aristotle's
actual
philosophising
was not
greatly
affected
by
his reflexion on how
philoso
phy ought
to be conducted_ [L]ike any good
athlete,
he
forgot
about theo
rizing
when it came to the race
(510-511).
Barnes levels two
charges against
the Method: it is restrictive and vicious.
The Method is restrictive in that it "rules a
large body
of
propositions
out
of
philosophical
court"
(505).
This
"large body"
consists of
propositions
not
already expressed
in endoxa. The Method of Endoxa rules them out in two
ways:
it includes them in neither the initial
ai's,
the data of
philosophical
theorizing
(493) nor,
consequently,
in the final
Ci's,
the conclusions of
philosophical theorizing
(510).
The Method is
vicious,
Barnes also
charges,
8 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
but the
meaning
of this he never
spells
out. It
may
be this.
Any attempt
to
justify
the Method of Endoxa will either make a
question-begging appeal
to
preexisting beliefs,
or
not;
in the latter
case,
the
appeal
must be to
principles
outside of our belief
system?which
is
impossible.
Barnes
suggests
these
charges
are
mitigated by
the Method's
vacuity
and
by
the fact that Aristotle did not
practice
it often
enough
for it to mar his
findings.
The Method is
vacuous,
Barnes
says,
because endoxa can be
almost
anything.
Thus there is no restriction on what can be included
among
the initial
ai's nor, therefore, among
the final
Ci's.
Besides,
Barnes
argues,
Aristotle was a
methodological
backslider?and this is
just
as well:
Aristotle's "actual
philosophising" departs
from the Method often
enough
to be uninfected
by
its flaws.13
V Against Barnes
Aristotle is not committed to the Method of Endoxa that Barnes ascribes
to him.
Thus, although
the Method of Endoxa
might
be restrictive and
vicious,
this is no criticism of
Aristotle,
who
preaches
it
perhaps
once
and
does not
practice
it.
Of course there is a
passage
where Aristotle
appears
to
preach something
like the Method of Endoxa. Recall Nichomachean Ethics 1145b2-7:
We
must,
as in all other
cases,
set the
phenomena
before us
and,
after first
discussing
the
difficulties, go
on to
prove,
if
possible,
the truth of all the
reputable
opinions
(ta endoxa)
about those affections
or,
failing this,
of the
greater
number
and the most
authoritative;
for if we both resolve the difficulties and leave the
reputable opinions undisturbed,
we shall have
proved
the case
sufficiently.
This
passage
is the
strongest piece
of evidence in favor of
attributing
to
Aristotle the Method of Endoxa. In
it,
Aristotle seems to
say
that in all
cases of
inquiry,
the method that leads to truth
begins
with a consideration
of
past opinions,
then moves to a detection of their
difficulties,
and ends
with
endorsing
as
many
of those
opinions
as
possible.
Whatever Aristotle's
actual
practice may be,
Barnes
might argue,
this
passage surely proves
that he
preaches
the Method of Endoxa.
This
passage
is evidence in favor of Barnes's view. But it is
just
one of
several of Aristotle's
"methodological" remarks, many
of which
emphasize
a movement
away
from endoxa rather than a movement to save them.
Indeed, just
a few
pages
after
1145b2-7,
after
reviewing
several
opinions
regarding akrasia,
Aristotle declares not that these
opinions
must be
proven,
but that "some of these
points
must be refuted and the others left in
possession
of the field"
(1146b7-8).
Later
on,
in Book
X,
Aristotle
says
this:
The
opinions
of the wise men
seem, then,
to harmonize with our
arguments.
But
while even such
things carry
some
conviction,
the truth in
practical
matters is
discerned from the facts of
life;
for these are the decisive factor. We must therefore
survey
what we have
already said, bringing
it to the test of the facts of
life,
and if
it harmonizes with the facts we must
accept it,
but if it clashes with them we must
suppose
it to be mere
theory
(1179al6-23).
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 9
That
is,
even
though arguments
earn "some conviction" if their conclusions
are consistent with endoxa (in
this
case,
"opinions
of the wise
men"),
this
is not
enough
to show the truth of those conclusions. If
they
conflict with
"the facts of life" (ta
erga
kai ton
bion),
their conclusions must be
jettisoned.
Consider also this
passage
from the Eudemian Ethics:
About all these matters we must
try
to
get
conviction
by arguments, using
the
phenomena
as evidence and illustration. It would be best that all men should
clearly
concur with what we are
going
to
say,
but if that is
unattainable,
that
all should in some
way
at least concur. And this if converted
they
will
do,
for
every
man has some contribution to make to the
truth,
and with this as a
starting point
we must
give
some sort of
proof
about these matters. For
by
advancing
from true but obscure
judgments
he will arrive at clear
ones,
always
exchanging
the usual confused statement for more real
knowledge
(1216b26
35),
It
might
be that endoxa are
badly
confused and in need of
outright replace
ment. The result of this
process
of clarification
may
not much resemble the
original
beliefs. In that
case,
Aristotle
says,
the best to be
hoped
for is that
people
will "convert" and
agree
with the
end-product. Recall,
finally,
Aris
totle's remark from On the Soul that a review of
past opinions
is
necessary
in order to
"profit by
whatever is sound in their
suggestions
and avoid their
errors"
(403b24),
These remarks
merely
take
up
the
possibility,
left
open by 1145b2-7,
that
the received views on a
subject might
be false or
unhelpful.
If
they
are,
then
they
cannot remain "undisturbed" if
knowledge
is the
goal.
Sometimes
this turns out to be the
case,
as was evidenced
by
Aristotle's dismissal of
endoxa in Book I of On the Soul and Book I of the
Meteorology. Sometimes,
as
we
have seen from the case of the
Organon,
Aristotle does not
(because
he
cannot)
consider endoxa at all. In all such
cases,
the truth is
not, pace Barnes,
"to be
found, exclusively
and
exhaustively,
in the endoxa that remain"
(493),
These
texts, along
with the
philosophical practice
in
light
of which
they
must be
interpreted, strongly suggest
that Barnes is
wrong
not
only
to
maintain that the Method of Endoxa
"governed
a
large part
of Aristotle's
actual
philosophising",
but also to accuse Aristotle of
failing
to
practice
what he
consistently preached.
What
may
be
true, given 1145b2-7,
and
what can be conceded to
Barnes,
is that Aristotle failed to
preach
consis
tently
what he
preached perhaps
once.
VI. Irwin
Consideration of a third version of Aristotle's method is now in order.
According
to this
version,
Aristotle rounds
up
endoxa with the intention of
arriving,
via a
precise method,
at first
principles.
Terence Irwin has
lately
elaborated and defended this view in
proustian
detail.14
Irwin divides Aristotle's methods into two kinds:
empirical
and dialecti
cal. Irwin's main concern is the dialectical
method,
which he characterizes
this
way:
10 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
It examines
commonly
held beliefs
(endoxa),
and if it is
successful,
it reaches a
more coherent version of the believes we
began with, solving
the
puzzles
revealed
by
our examination of the initial beliefs (8).
In this
passage,
Irwin
implicitly
attributes to Aristotle a
three-stage
en
doxic method: a round
up
of common
beliefs,
an examination of the
puzzles
they
involve and a solution to those
puzzles
that consists of a version of the
original
beliefs. In other
passages,
Irwin calls this the "dialectical"
method,
and sets out the three
stages explicitly:
In dialectical
argument
the next
step
after
setting
out the
appearances
is the
examination of
puzzles, aporiai
(40).
Once the dialectician has
expounded
the
objective puzzles,
her next task is to find
some
general theory
or
principle
that will solve them (43).
Irwin's view is that for
Aristotle,
the
goal
of dialectic is not
merely
the
solution of
puzzles
but the
discovery
of first
principles.
One reason for
maintaining
this is that
dialectic,
as Aristotle describes it in the
Topics,
provides
"a
process
of criticism wherein lies the
path
to the
[first]
principles
of all
inquiries"
(10 lb3-4).
Unfortunately,
Irwin
argues,
"since dialectic can
only
achieve coherence
among
common
beliefs,
it cannot
give
us a reason
to believe that
we have found
objective
first
principles"
(18).
Thus,
Irwin's
critical claim is that Aristotle is stuck with a method not
strong enough
to
achieve the desired results. He desires
knowledge
of
objective
first
princi
ples
but
dialectic,
like the "method of
appearance-saving"
and "the Method
of
Endoxa",
can
only provide
coherence
among
endoxa.
Irwin believes that Aristotle became aware of this
difficulty
and tried
more or less
successfully
to solve it
(9-10).
Aristotle's first
attempt
to solve
the
problem,
Irwin
suggests,
is the Posterior
Analytics
doctrine that first
principles
can be
grasped by
intuition
(nous). However,
Irwin
argues,
Aristotle
replaced
this failed solution with one outlined in the
Metaphysics.
Irwin
argues
that there Aristotle
adopts
a distinction between (what
Irwin
calls)
"pure
dialectic" and
"strong
dialectic." As Irwin
explains them, pure
dialectic "reasons
indiscriminately
from common
beliefs,"
but in the Meta
physics
Aristotle
...
now believes in a universal science that uses dialectical
arguments
on an
appropriately
selected subset of common
beliefs;
and he claims that this
science reaches
objectively
true conclusions about first
principles
of the other
sciences
(14).
Strong
dialectic is this latter
sort,
which
argues
not from
just any
common
beliefs,
but from an
"appropriately
selected subset." Irwin believes that
strong
dialectic is
thereby
enabled to
provide
what Aristotle demands from
dialectic?namely,
a road to
objective
first
principles.
Let that serve as a
summary
of Irwin's thesis.
Although
full
justice
to its
complexity
has not been
done,
its main lines and motivation are clear.
Aristotle, according
to
Irwin, employs
a method with
respect
to endoxa that
can
only
achieve coherence
among
them. This is the "dialectical" method.
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 11
However,
Aristotle
undergoes
a
methodological
shift from
pure dialectic,
which reasons from an
indiscriminately
chosen set of
endoxa,
to
strong
dialectic,
which reasons from a
properly
selected subset of endoxa. Aristotle
makes this shift when he realizes that
pure
dialectic does
not,
but
strong
dialectic
does, provide knowledge
of first
principles.
VIL Against Irwin
It has been shown that Aristotle does not
practice
a method that would
restrict
philosophical
theories to coherent sets of endoxa.
Therefore,
Aris
totle does not switch from that method to another. Whether Aristotle does
practice
the method of
"strong
dialectic" described
by
Irwin is another
question,
which cannot be
adequately
addressed here. But
strong dialectic,
insofar as it resembles what Irwin calls
pure dialectic,
is modelled on a
method to which Aristotle does not subscribe. This much is evident from
previous sections,
and it
implies
that Irwin's attribution of a
methodologi
cal shift from
"pure"
to
"strong"
dialectic is
unmotivated,
and it casts into
serious doubt the idea that Aristotle
practices strong
dialectic.
It is also worth
noting
that the endoxic method
Irwin,
based on his
reading
of the
Topics,
calls "dialectic" is not the method Aristotle describes
in that work. What Irwin calls "dialectic" has
knowledge
of first
principles
as its ultimate
goal.
But this is not the
goal
of Aristotelian dialectic. As
Aristotle makes clear in the first few lines of the
Topics,
the
goal
of dialectic
is
convincing reasoning
on
any subject:
Our treatise
proposes
to find a line of
inquiry whereby
we shall be able to reason
from
reputable opinions
(ta endoxa) about
any subject presented
us,
and also shall
ourselves,
when
putting
forward an
argument,
avoid
saying anything contrary
to
it(100al8-21).
Aristotle
goes
on to make it clear that dialectic is a form of
joint, public
argument
that
proceeds by question
and answer
among disputants
not neces
sarily engaged
in a search for truth.15 As Irwin conceives
it,
dialectic need not
involve
disputants
and does have
knowledge
as its
goal.
True,
in the
Topics
Aristotle does
say
that dialectic has a use
...
in relation to the
principles
used in the several sciences. For it is
impossible
to
discuss them at all from the
principles proper
to the
particular
science in
hand,
seeing
that the
principles
are
primitive
in relation to
everything else;
it is
through
endoxa about them that these have to be
discussed,
and this task
belongs properly,
or most
appropriately,
to
dialectic;
for dialectic is a
process
of criticism wherein lies
the
path
to
principles
of all
inquiries
(101a36-101b4).
But the
point
of this
passage may
not be that
coming
to know the truth of first
principles
is the
goal
of dialectic. It
may
rather be that dialectic is a
path
to
understanding
the content of a first
principle.
This is not the same
thing
as
coming
to know it.
Knowledge
of first
principles,
Aristotle
says
in the Posterior
Analytics,
is the
province
of nous.16 Dialectic
might
be a
"path"
to first
principles
insofar as
dialectical debate about a first
principle might goad
someone into
grasping,
via
nous,
its truth.17 But dialectical
argument, by itself,
cannot
get
there.
12 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
The
terminological point
that the dialectic of the
Topics
is not the
dialectical
(endoxic)
method Irwin ascribes to Aristotle is worth
making.
This is because recent
scholarship,
of which Irwin's is the most
prominent
example,
has tended to
identify
the dialectical method Aristotle describes
in the
Topics
with an endoxic method similar to that described
by
Nuss
baum, Barnes,
Irwin and others.18 Since Aristotle does not
practice
those
endoxic
methods,
but does believe in a
thing
called
"dialectic", nothing
but
confusion can result from
identifying
the former with the latter.19
VIII. The Truth
Aristotle
begins many
of his discussions of a
particular topic
with a
review of endoxa. He does not do
this,
it has been
argued,
because he
believes that this is the first
step
in the "method of
appearance-saving",
or
that there is a "Method of Endoxa" that will locate the truth immanent in
and restricted to
preexisting views,
or
that he is
seeking
a
knowledge
of
first
principles that,
as it turns
out, only "strong
dialectic" can deliver. The
prima facie
case
against attributing
one or another of these endoxic meth
ods to Aristotle is
plain:
if Aristotle did
practice
one or another of
them,
then we should think of him as
primarily
a
picky doxographer,
rather than
as we do:
namely,
as a
profoundly original philosopher.
So
why
does
Aristotle
so often concern himself with endoxa?
One reason is trivial. Aristotle is often
lecturing
to an
audience that
needs to be
acquainted
(or
reacquainted)
with the issues he will be discuss
ing
and
thereby
to be
put
in a better
position
for
evaluating
his contribu
tion. As Aristotle
explains
in the
Metaphysics,
"he who has heard all of the
contending arguments,
as if
they
were
parties
to a
case,
must be in a better
position
for
judging"
(995b4).
The reviews of endoxa
are,
in
part, attempts
to
get
the audience in a
position
for
judging.
A less trivial reason
why
Aristotle reviews endoxa
might
be this. In that
same
passage
from the
Metaphysics,
Aristotle
says
that
...
people
who
inquire
without first
stating
the difficulties are like those who
do not know where
they
have to
go; besides,
a man does not otherwise know
even whether he has found what he is
looking
for or
not;
for the end is not
clear to such a
man,
while to him who has first discussed the difficulties it is
clear (995a34-995b2).
This
passage
sounds like an allusion to Meno's infamous
"paradox
of
inquiry."
Meno asked Socrates:
How will
you
look for
anything, Socrates,
when
you
do not know at all what
it is? How will
you
aim to search for
something you
do not know at all? If
you
should meet with
it,
how will
you
know that this is the
thing
that
you
did not
know (Meno 80d)?
In the
passage
from the
Metaphysics,
Aristotle
may
be
suggesting
the
following response
to the
paradox. Inquiry
into a
subject
is
possible
because
it is
possible
to
begin simply by reviewing
the received wisdom
on the
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 13
subject.
What some have said
may
not be consistent with what other
people
have said.
Inquiry
can
begin by attempting
to resolve those inconsistencies.
Naturally, inquiry
will not
always
end there: it
may
be that none of the
preexisting
views on a
given subject
are
plausible.
But in
many cases,
it
may
be a start. So
perhaps
another reason for Aristotle's reviews of endoxa
is that without such reviews there is
(at least to
Aristotle,
or at least to his
audience)
a
worry
about how
inquiry
can
begin,
much less succeed.20
Some commentators have tried to
explain
Aristotle's
tendency
to review
endoxa
by appealing
to his
supposed presumption
in favor of the truth of
most of what has
gone
before.21 There is some textual evidence to
support
this.22 If one is interested in
finding
the
truth,
and if what has
gone
before
is
likely
to be
true,
then
prudence
dictates that one
take a look at
previous
opinions. According
to
some,
this is
why
Aristotle reviews endoxa. He
presumes
that most endoxa are true.
But if Aristotle
presumes
that most endoxa
are
true,
then he is
open
to
objections
reminiscent of Barnes's
against
the Method of Endoxa.
First,
it
might
be said if Aristotle
presumes
that most endoxa are
true,
then he
commits himself to the view that the task of
philosophy
is the restrictive
(descriptive)
one of
clarifying
and
systematizing preexisting
beliefs. This
objection
takes two forms: moderate and radical. The moderate version is
that while there
may
be a need for
organizing preexisting views,
there is
also a
need?perhaps
a
greater
one?for
revising
them. For
example,
some
argue
that
contemporary
advances in scientific
neurophysiology
demon
strate that we
ought
to revise or
altogether
abandon our
everyday
"folk
psychology".
A
presumption
in favor of the truth of
endoxa,
the moderate
revisionist
might argue, prevents
us from
taking
such a
possibility
seri
ously
The radical version of the
objection
from restrictiveness is that
endoxa in
every
area could be
fundamentally
flawed. Since this is a
logical
possibility,
continues the
objection,
we should not
rely
on endoxa as
starting
points
for
philosophical theorizing,
nor should we lend a
theory
credence
merely
because it coheres with endoxa.
Someone
might
also
argue
that a
presumption
in favor of the truth of
endoxa is vicious?that
is, impossible
to
justify Any attempt
to do so will
inevitably appeal
to and
depend
on
endoxa,
thereby assuming
the reason
ableness of what is in
question?namely,
a
presumption
that
preexisting
beliefs are true or
nearly
true.
Justifying
this
presumption
thus
requires
getting
"outside" of one's belief
system.
Since this is
impossible,
the
pre
sumption
is vicious.
These
objections apply
to
any descriptivist
who assumes that most of
what we
already
believe is
mostly
true and that
philosophy's
task is to
expand
those beliefs into an
orderly system. However,
it is not clear that
these
objections apply
to Aristotle. The reason is that Aristotle does not
presume
that most endoxa are true.
14 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
What Aristotle
presumes (or
discovers,
after
reviewing
them)
is that
some
endoxa are true or
nearly
true and that some
endoxa are false or
badly
confused. Aristotle does
not,
as the moderate version of the
charge
from restrictiveness
implies,
exclude the
possibility
that endoxa in a
given
area are
mostly
false. This is borne out
by
his
practice
and his
remarks,
especially
his comment from Book I of On the Soul that a review of
past
opinions
is as much for
avoiding
what is false in endoxa as it is for
benefitting
from what is true in endoxa
(403b20ff).
Thus,
a third reason for Aristotle's reviews of endoxa is not that he
believes that most endoxa are
true,
but rather that
doing
so allows him to
find and
adopt
whatever
happens
to be true in
them,
and to refute and
thereafter avoid what is false in them. It follows that Aristotle is not a
descriptivist.
He would not
agree
with Lewis's claim that
philosophy's
business is
mostly
limited to the
systematization
of our
preexisting
beliefs.
Like the revisionist Parfit
describes,
Aristotle not
only interprets
endoxa:
he
challenges
and
changes
them.
That is the truth about Aristotle's
"method,"
which can be characterized
as follows: When
planning
to theorize about some
subject,
find out what
other
people
have said about it.
Reject
what seems false and
accept
what
seems true. If
past opinions
are all
false,
or if what is true is not the whole
truth,
or if there
simply
are no
preexisting
views on the
topic,
then
suggest
something
new or
advance a novel
theory.
There is
nothing
controversial about this method.
Following
it does not
make one an
"internal
realist",
nor is it vicious or
restrictive,
nor does it
yield only
coherent subsets of
previous
beliefs. It is neutral with
respect
to
realism,
and
explicitly recognizes
that innovation is
possible
and some
times
necessary. Indeed,
the "method"
just
described is so bland and so
pervasive
that the
only
real
point
in
attributing
it to Aristotle is to distin
guish
it from the methods credited to him
by Nussbaum, Barnes,
Irwin and
others.
Nonetheless,
we should be
grateful
to them for
reminding
us of the
deep metaphilosophical
issues that lie
just
below the surface of Aristotle's
reviews of endoxa.23
University of Massachusetts,
Amherst
Received June
23,
1994
NOTES
1. All citations of Aristotle are from The
Complete
Works
of
Aristotle: The Revised
Oxford
Translation.
The
proper
translation of "ta endoxa" is a matter of
scholarly dispute.
Some
believe that ta
endoxa,
for
Aristotle,
include all manner of
preexisting opinions
on
a
subject;
others believe
they
include
only
the
reputable opinions?in
most
cases,
the
opinions
of other
philosophers. My
view is that Aristotle's texts and
practice
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 15
support
the former
interpretation,
but an
adequate
defense of this is
beyond
the
scope
of the
present paper.
For excellent
discussion,
see Jonathan
Barnes,
"Aris
totle and the Methods of
Ethics,"
Revue Internationale de
Philosophie,
vol. 34
(1980), pp.
490-511.
2. Martha
Nussbaum,
The
Fragility of
Goodness
(Cambridge: Cambridge
Uni
versity Press, 1986), pp. 240-63;
Jonathan
Barnes,
"Aristotle and the Methods of
Ethics," op. cit.;
Terence
Irwin,
Aristotles First
Principles
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
1988).
Page
references to these works are included in the text.
Aristotle's "method" has been much discussed in recent
years.
See J. L.
Ackrill,
Aristotle the
Philosopher
(Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1981), pp. 107-15;
John
Cooper,
Reason and Human Good in Aristotle
(Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University
Press, 1975), pp. 66-71;
John
Cooper,
"Review of Martha
Nussbaum,
The
Fragility
of
Goodness"
Philosophical
Review,
vol. 97
(1988), pp. 543-64; Roger Crisp,
"Aris
totle on
Dialectic," Philosophy,
vol. 66
(1991), pp. 522-24;
J. D. G.
Evans,
Aristotle's
Concept of
Dialectic
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977); Cynthia
Freeland,
"Scientific
Explanation
and
Empirical
Data in Aristotle's
Meteorology,"
Julia
Annas, ed.,
Oxford
Studies in Ancient
Philosophy,
VII
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press, 1990), pp. 67-102;
Paul
Grice,
Studies in the
Way of
Words
(Cambridge,
MA:
Harvard
University Press, 1989), pp. 305-8;
D. W.
Hamlyn,
"Aristotle on
Dialectic,"
Philosophy,
vol. 65
(1990), pp. 465-76;
W. E R.
Hardie,
Aristotle's Ethical
Theory
(Oxford:
Oxford
University
Press, 1968);
Jaakko
Hintikka,
"Intuitions and Philo
sophical Method,"
Revue Internationale de
Philosophie,
vol. 35
(1981), pp. 74-90;
Terence
Irwin,
"Aristotle's Method of
Ethics,"
D. J.
O'Meara, ed.,
Studies in Aristotle
(Washington,
DC: Catholic
University
of America
Press, 1981), pp. 193-223;
Sher
win
Klein,
"The Value of Endoxa in Ethical
Argument," History of Philosophy
Quarterly,
vol. 9
(1992), pp. 141-57;
Richard
Kraut,
"Review of Terence
Irwin,
Aristotle's First
Principles,"
The
Philosophical Review,
vol. 101
(1992), pp. 365-71;
G. E. L.
Owen,
"'Tithenai ta
phainomena',"
Martha
Nussbaum, ed., Logic,
Sci
ence,
and Dialectic
(Ithaca,
NY: Cornell
University Press, 1986), pp.
239-51. See
also Revue Internationale de
Philosophie,
vol. 34
(1980),
the whole of which is
dedicated to "La
Methodologie
D'Aristot" and which contains Barnes's "Aristotle
and the Methods of Ethics."
3. David
Lewis,
Counterfactuals (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University
Press,
1973), p.
88.
4. Derek
Parfit,
Reasons and Persons
(Oxford:
Oxford
University
Press, 1984),
p.
x.
5.
See,
for
example,
Strawson
(page
9)
whose distinction between
"revisionary"
and
"descriptive" metaphysics
I am
borrowing.
See also
Ackrill,
who writes:
... we can
recognize
a close relation between Aristotle's dialectic and
our
"analytical philosophy" -philosophy
concerned to
clarify
and
lay
bare the
system
of
concepts
which we use and which our
language expresses.
It is not
the
object
of such a
philosophy
to shake
up
our
way
of
seeing things,
or to
get
access to a
reality lying
behind the veil of mere
appearance;
it is
descriptive,
not
revisionary
(113).
Also,
the
method(s)
attributed to Aristotle
by Nussbaum,
Barnes and Irwin
imply
that Aristotle is a
descriptivist.
6.
Op
cit., Page
references to this work
appear
in the
body
of the text.
7.
Hilary
Putnam's first
attempt
at a
systematic explanation
of his "internal
realism" is his
Reason,
Truth and
History (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1981).
The
question
of whether the method Nussbaum ascribes to Aristotle
would indeed make him an internal realist is taken
up by Cooper
1988 and
by
Jack
Davidson, "Appearances,
Antirealism,
and
Aristotle," Philosophical Studies,
vol. 63
(1991), pp.
147-66.
16 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
8. William and Martha Kneale concede Aristotle's claim to
originality.
See their
Development of Logic
(Oxford; Oxford
University Press, 1963), p.
43. See also
Ackrill, p.
80.
9. A different
objection
is that even
though
Aristotle does not
explicitly
round
up
endoxa in the
Organon,
it does not follow that the views therein were not arrived
at,
behind the scenes, with the "method of
appearance saving".
This
objection
fails
to take
seriously
Aristotle's
claim,
cited
above,
that there were no endoxa
concerning
deduction to consider.
10. Nussbaum
might
counter that even
though
Aristotle finds that the received
views about the soul are almost all
false,
it does not follow that he is not concerned
to
"press
for
consistency" among
them. All that follows is that the set of consistent
views is rather small.
My reply
is that this
objection
misses
my point,
which is not
that Aristotle never finds that some endoxa are consistent.
My point
is rather that
Aristotle often
finds,
as in the case of views about the
soul,
that most endoxa are
false or not the whole
truth,
and that when this
happens
he does not and cannot
adopt
a method that
"thoroughly
commits itself to and circumscribes itself to the
ordinary"
(240),
11. See Freeland for excellent discussion of Aristotle's
procedure
in the
Meteorology.
12. Barnes believes that other
passages support
his
conception
of Aristotle's
method?for
example,
211a7-ll, 1214b28-1215a7, 1216b26-36,
and 1235bl3-18.
Not one of these
passages, though,
conforms
exactly
to what Barnes calls the
"Method of Endoxa." The evidence for that method is based
squarely
on 1145b2-7.
13. Ad hominem
against
Barnes,
his
charge
of restrictiveness is not
compatible
with his
charge
of
vacuity,
nor is his
charge
of
methodological backsliding compat
ible with his claim that "the Method is no theoretical
aside;
it
actually governs
a
large part
of Aristotle's
philosophical
researches."
14. Irwin
(1988).
There are
important
differences between this and Irwin 1981.
15.
See,
for
example,
155b4-14;
see also
Sophistical Refutations 172al5-20,
where
dialectic and
inquiry
into truth are
sharply distinguished.
These
passages
should
be contrasted with On the Soul 403a29.
16. As noted
above,
Irwin believes that Aristotle abandons his
theory
that nous
provides knowledge
of first
principles
instead the method of
strong dialectic,
which
does
provide
that
knowledge.
This
adoption
occurs,
on Irwin's
view,
in the
Metaphys
ics; strong
dialectic is the method of choice in the works that
follow, including
the
Nicomachean Ethics. The
difficulty
is that
Aristotle,
in Book VI of the
Ethics,
repeats
that the function of nous is
knowledge
of first
principles.
This claim is
entirely
out of
place
if Irwin's thesis is true.
17. This is
actually suggested by
Irwin
(1981),
who abandons it in Irwin
(1988).
18.
Among others, Ackrill, Crisp,
and
Hamlyn
are
guilty
of this identification.
19. For a similar
point,
see Kraut. For an accessible
summary
of the
Topics,
see
Stump.
20. Aristotle
explicitly
concerns himself with the
paradox
of
inquiry
at the
beginning
of the Posterior
Analytics (71a24-30),
where he takes his distinction
between
knowing universally
and
knowing
without
qualification
to solve the
para
dox. This does not count
against my suggestion, however,
since
part
of the
paradox
is this: How is it
possible
to
begin
an
inquiry,
if
you
do not know what
you
are
searching
for?
My suggestion
is that Aristotle is
implying
that
inquiry may begin
with an
attempt
to solve
puzzles
raised
by
endoxa.
21. For
example,
Ackrill
(p.
112)
and Barnes
(pp.
508-9).
22.
Metaphysics
993bl-6;
Nicomachean Ethics
1098b26-29;
and Rhetoric
1355al5-17.
ARISTOTLE'S METHOD 17
23. I wish to thank Gareth Matthews and an
anonymous
referee for the
History
of Philosophy Quarterly
for their
extremely helpful
comments on earlier versions
of this
paper.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ackrill,
J.
L.,
Aristotle the
Philosopher
(Oxford:
Oxford
University Press,
1981).
Barnes, Jonathan,
"Aristotle and the Methods of
Ethics,"
Revue Interna
tionale de
Philosophic
vol. 34
(1980), pp.
490-511.
Barnes, Jonathan, ed.,
The
Complete
Works
of
Aristotle: The Revised
Oxford
Translation,
two
vols., (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton
University Press,
1981).
Cooper,
John,
Reason and Human Good in Aristotle
(Cambridge,
MA:
Harvard
University Press,
1975).
Cooper, John,
"Review of Martha
Nussbaum,
The
Fragility of Goodness,1'
Philosophical
Review,
vol. 97
(1988), pp.
543-64.
Crisp, Roger,
"Aristotle on
Dialectic," Philosophy,
vol. 66
(1991), pp.
562-64.
Davidson, Jack, "Appearances, Aristotle,
and
Antirealism," Philosophical
Studies,
vol. 63
(1991), pp.
147-66.
Evans,
J. G.
D.,
Aristotle's
Concept of
Dialectic
(Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1977).
Freeland,
Cynthia,
"Scientific
Explanation
and
Empirical
Data in Aris
totle's
Meteorology,"
Julia
Annas, ed., Oxford
Studies in Ancient Philoso
phy, VII, (Oxford:
Clarendon
Press, 1990).
Grice, Paul,
Studies in the
Way of
Words
(Cambridge,
MA: Harvard Uni
versity Press, 1989).
Grube,
G. M.
A., trans.,
Plato's Meno
(Indianapolis:
Hackett
Publishing
Company,
1976).
Hamlyn,
D.
W,
"Aristotle
on
Dialectic,"
Philosophy,
vol. 65
(1990), pp.
465-76.
Hardie,
W F
R.,
Aristotle's Ethical
Theory
(Oxford:
Oxford
University
Press,
1968).
Hintikka, Jaakko,
"Intuitions and
Philosophical
Method,"
Revue Interna
tionale de
Philosophie,
vol. 35
(1981), pp.
74-90.
Irwin, Terence,
"Aristotle's Methods of
Ethics,"
D. J.
O'Meara, ed.,
Studies
in Ancient
Philosophy (Washington,
DC: Catholic
University
of America
Press,
1981).
Irwin, Terence,
Aristotle's First
Principles
(Oxford: Oxford
University
Press,
1988).
Klein, Sherwin,
"The Value of Endoxa in Ethical
Argument," History of
Philosophy Quarterly,
vol. 9
(1992), pp.
141-57.
Kraut, Richard,
"Review of Terence
Irwin,
Aristotle s First
Principles"
Philosophical
Review,
vol. 101
(1992), pp.
365-71.
Kneale,
William and Martha
Kneale,
The
Development of Logic
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
1962).
18 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
QUARTERLY
Lewis, David, Counterfactuals (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University
Press,
1973).
Nussbaum, Martha,
The
Fragility of
Goodness
(Cambridge,
MA: Harvard
University Press,
1986).
Owen,
G. E.
L.,
'"Tithenai ta
phainomena',"
Martha
Nussbaum, ed., Logic,
Science,
and Dialectic
(Ithaca:
Cornell
University Press,
1986).
Parfit, Derek,
Reasons and Persons
(Oxford: Oxford
University Press,
1984).
Putnam, Hilary, Reason,
Truth and
History (Cambridge: Cambridge
Uni
versity Press,
1981).
Strawson, Peter,
Individuals (London:
Methuen, 1959).
Stump, Eleonore,
Dialectic and its Place in the
Development of
Medieval
Logic
(Ithaca:
Cornell
University Press,
1989).