Saturday, January 06, 2018
Presupposing the presupposition.
According to Aristotle, the fact that all beings from ψύαις are in motion or at rest is evident: δῆλον ἐκ τῆς ἐπαγωγῆς. We usually translate the word ἐπαγωγής as "induction" and, taken literally, the translation is almost adequate. But with regard to the issue, i.e., as an interpretation, it is totally erroneous. Ἐπαγωγή does not mean running through individual facts and series of facts in order to conclude something common and "general" from their similar properties. Ἐπαγωγή means "leading toward" what comes into view insofar as we have previously looked away, over and beyond individual beings. At what? At being. For example, only if we already have treeness in view can we identify individual trees. Ἐπαγωγή is seeing and making visible what already stands in view - for example, treeness. Ἐπαγωγή is "constituting" in the double sense of, first, bringing something up into view and then likewise establishing what has been seen. Έπαγωγή, is what immediately becomes suspect to those caught up in scientific thinking and mostly remains foreign to them. These people see in it an inadmissible petitio principii, i.e., an "offense" against "empirical thinking," whereas the petere principium, the reaching out to the supporting ground, is the only move philosophy makes. It is the "offensive" that breaks open the territory within whose borders a science can first settle down.
P. 187
Aristotle on the petere principium:
ἀρχὴ δὲ πρὸς ἅπαντα τὰ τοιαῦτα οὐ τὸ ἀξιοῦν ἢ εἶναί τι λέγειν ἢ μὴ εἶναι (τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ τάχ᾽ ἄν τις ὑπολάβοι τὸ ἐξ ἀρχῆς αἰτεῖν), ἀλλὰ σημαίνειν γέ τι καὶ αὑτῷ καὶ ἄλλῳ: τοῦτο γὰρ ἀνάγκη, εἴπερ λέγοι τι. εἰ γὰρ μή, οὐκ ἂν εἴη τῷ τοιούτῳ λόγος, οὔτ᾽ αὐτῷ πρὸς αὑτὸν οὔτε πρὸς ἄλλον.
Metaphysics IV, 1006 a 19.
The starting-point for all such arguments is not the demand that our opponent shall say that something either is or is not (for this one might perhaps take to be a begging of the question), but that he shall say something which is significant both for himself and for another; for this is necessary, if he really is to say anything.
W. D. Ross.
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