Aristotle on Knowledge, Belief, & other Mental States in the Posterior Analytics & Nicomachean Ethics VI – Graduate Seminar (MT 2023)

Wednesdays, 9–11am, Radcliffe Humanities (Ryle Room)

Convened by Prof Michail Peramatzis

Intended audience: MSt in Ancient Philosophy students and any graduates with related interests.

In his Posterior Analytics (APo) Aristotle offers an account of knowledge (epistêmê) in terms of grasping demonstrative arguments structured axiomatically. The sixth book of the Nicomachean Ethics (EN) discusses knowledge along with other mental states which are ‘truth-attaining’. We shall discuss the interpretative and philosophical issues arising from some key passages of these influential works.

Week 1: Soul, its ‘Parts’, States, and Excellences
Nicomachean Ethics VI.2, 1139a1-31; Categories 8 (8b25-9a13; 11a20-38; cf. 7, 6b1-6).

Week 2: Teaching, Learning, & Pre-existing Knowledge: the Case of Recognising & Knowing Particulars
Posterior Analytics I.1 & Prior Analytics II.21 (67a5-b11).

Week 3: the Definition of Epistêmê
Posterior Analytics I.2 & Nicomachean Ethics VI.3.

Week 4: Knowledge of the ‘Fact’ and Knowledge of the ‘Reason Why’
Posterior Analytics I.13 & II.1-2.

Week 5: Knowledge versus (True) Opinion
Posterior Analytics I.33; I.4-6 & Nichomachean Ethics VI.5, 1140b25-30; VI.9, 1142a31-b15.

Week 6: Sense Perception, ‘Induction’, and Knowledge
Posterior Analytics I.18 & 31.

Week 7: ‘Induction’ and Nous
Posterior Analytics II.19 & Nicomachean Ethics VI.6: (also EN VI.8, 1142a23-30; VI.11, 1143a25-b5).

Week 8: Wisdom
Metaphysics A.1-2 & Nicomachean Ethics VI.7.


Reading for week 1 (a longer reading list will be provided in class in week 1)

See texts under Week 1.

Taylor C. C. W., ‘Aristotle’s Epistemology’ in Everson S. (ed.), Epistemology: Companions to Ancient Thought, I, CUP, 1990.
Reeve C. D. C., Aristotle on Practical Wisdom: Nicomachean Ethics VI, Harvard University Press, 2013, p 101-120.
Ackrill J. L., Aristotle’s Categories & De Interpretatione, Oxford: OUP, 1963, p 103-5; 108-9.