Problem of demonstration in Aristotle
Scott, John A.
"It is an interesting and largely unexplored question whether Aristotle is in practice faithful to the general idea of science, and to the rules of method, sketched in his Analytics".It is this issue, "the Problem of Demonstration," which this study is concerned to explore. The objective of this study is not so much to render a detailed and definitive solution to the problem, but rather to suggest a context within which such a solution may be reached. Further, this study is intended not as an historical critique of an historical question in a classical author but as a philosophical enquiry into the roots, in Aristotle, of a perennial philosophical question. The structure of the study is as follows: In the first chapter the problem is stated, and the possible modes of response to the problem are briefly canvassed, in order to set the framework of the response to be offered here. The second chapter attempts, through an examination of certain texts from the Posterior Analytics and elsewhere, to specify and to raise objections to the particular elements in the traditional inter¬ pretation of Aristotle's methodological intentions which have generated the problem of demonstration. Aristotle's teachings concerning the nature of knowledge include reference both to the distinctive object of knowledge and to the psychology of knowing. At one time Aristotle gives a more subjective and psychological, at other times a more object-based account of what is essential to knowledge. In the third chapter it is suggested that we must examine the manner in which Aristotle accommodates these two aspects when he comes to design a methodology of science. Aristotle's views on the aim of science are, therefore, examined as a source of insight into the balance struck between these two aspects in his writings. It is here argued that when we attempt to understand Aristotle's methodological intentions concerning the apodeictic syllogism we must not underestimate the importance in Aristotle's thought of the doctrine. It is this doctrine which, chiefly, enables Aristotle to produce a methodological doctrine which is consistent with his accounts of the nature of knowledge. Chapter four considers the evidence for understanding the Analytics as a training in critical technique, and why Aristotle feels that the apodeictic syllogism is unsuited to the task of communicating findings. The principal theme of this chapter is an examination of the Aristotelian doctrine which holds that the logical training as provided by the Analytics constitutes a and, as such, is unsuited to the task of publication. Chapter five draws together the results of the discussion, and attempts to reconstruct the specific Aristotelian context which renders Aristotle's theory and practice coherent, and which may make it possible to determine the degree of consistency operative throughout his works. A model is presented which, it is suggested, reflects the position intended by Aristotle for those bodies of demonstrated judg¬ ments prefigured in the Posterior Analytics within the economy of Aristotle's methodological theory and practice in science and philosophy.