References

Aristotle: A Brief Biography
A short yet informative survey of his life.

Philosophy Talk: Aristotle
Listen to this excellent radio program and take notes. The segment is about one hour. The free Real Player is required for streaming audio.

The Philosophy of Aristotle
A well produced overview of Aristotle's main ideas from The Radical Academy.

Aristotle's Ethics: The Theory of Happiness
Mortimer J. Adler

Virtue Theory: Five Virtues (44 min.)
Lawrence M. Hinman (University of San Diego)
lectures on Aristotle's treatment of the virtues courage, compassion, self-love, friendship, and forgiveness. This streaming video requires the RealVideo Player. Be aware that streaming video online is not a perfected medium. It may not, unfortunately, work for you. If it does, then by all means use it!

 

Aristotle: Syllogisms

When someone wants to strongly say that a claim is completely false, they may say; "I categorically deny it." By categorically they mean in no instance is the statement true; it is false within the entire category. When this is said, the person is referring back to Aristotle, the creator of Categorical Logic. This form of logic involves identifying the rules by which categories of things can be put together to produce valid deductions. These rules are represented as patterns of categorical statements. A categorical statement is one that is predicated by "all", "none", or "some". Categorical statements are about classes or categories of things. Categorical logic maps the ways in which categories can be related. This may sound rather abstract so far; it is! But these categorical processes of reasoning are not alien to you. Try the following exercise:

Carefully read the two premise statements, then type into 3. the exact statement that necessarily follows from them:

1. Whales are mammals

2. Mammals are warmblooded

Therefore:

3.

Does that seem intuitive to you? Aristotle held that the human mind thinks in terms of categories. We categorize our experience and knowledge into a model of reality. By identifying the patterns of how categories interrelate, he sought to discover the internal mechanism of thought. The study of these mechanisms of thought is Logic.

Now, it would take a huge, if not infinite, description to cover all possible categories of things and statements about them. So Aristotle created categories of thought patterns - the syllogisms. These are abstractions of categorical thinking. Your mind understands these abstractions just fine. Try the following example:

Carefully read the two premise statements, then type into 3. the exact statement that necessarily follows from them:

1. All A is B

2. All B is C

Therefore:

Did that work for you? Now compare these two patterns:

Whales are mammals
Mammals are warmblooded
Therefore
Whales are warmblooded

All A is B
All B is C
Therefore
All A is C

Logically these are the same pattern. Any content that can be put into these patterns this way will result in a valid syllogism. Aristotle sought to identify all of the possible categorical patterns of thought. He also discovered rules for combining them and transforming them. From this basic level of logical knowledge (i.e. knowledge about the structures of thought) our understanding has grown to the point where we can externalize logical patterns by creating computers. Please note that the above is just a tiny step to describing Aristotle's accomplishment in founding logic in around 350 BCE. Hopefully, from this introduction, you can see how crucial this achievement was in the philosophical quest of human beings to understand themselves.

 

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2002