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So do we. Looking at a medical system so different from our own, but one which lasted for many centuries, teaches us that we should never accept anything without challenging it and without being prepared to rethink if new evidence comes along. But the Greeks also teach us that medicine needs to make sense to its audience. It was holistic, preventative, and tailored to the individual.
Similarly, in the wake of modern genetic studies, customising medicine to each person has become a focus of medicine once more. We can learn a lot from the ancient Greeks. UEA Inaugural lecture: Alternative performance measures: do managers disclose them to inform us, or to mislead us? Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.
Helen King , The Open University. New old treatments The idea that we might uncover an unknown treatment in a forgotten treatise looks like a promising reason to study the ancient Greeks. No poetry reading here. History Ancient history History of medicine. More like hot air. Letter VII. Plato saw any political regime without the aid of philosophy or fortune as fundamentally corrupt. This attitude, however, did not turn Plato entirely from politics. He visited Sicily three times, where two of these trips were failed attempts at trying to turn the tyrant Dionysius II to the life of philosophy.
He thus returned to Athens and focused his efforts on the philosophical education he had begun at his Academy Nails 5. Since Plato wrote dialogues, there is a fundamental difficulty with any effort to identify just what Plato himself thought. Plato never appears in the dialogues as an interlocutor. If he was voicing any of his own thoughts, he did it through the mouthpiece of particular characters in the dialogues, each of which has a particular historical context. As John Cooper says,. Cooper xxii. Both of these words are rooted in verbs of seeing. Thus, the eidos of something is its look, shape, or form.
But, as many philosophers do, Plato manipulates this word and has it refer to immaterial entities. Why is it that one can recognize that a maple is a tree, an oak is a tree, and a Japanese fir is a tree? What is it that unites all of our concepts of various trees under a unitary category of Tree?
The forms can be interpreted not only as purely theoretical entities, but also as immaterial entities that give being to material entities. Each tree, for example, is what it is insofar as it participates in the form of Tree. That is, if anything can be known, it is the forms.
Since things in the world are changing and temporal, we cannot know them; therefore, forms are unchanging and eternal beings that give being to all changing and temporal beings in the world, if knowledge is to be certain and clear.
In other words, we cannot know something that is different from one moment to the next. The forms are therefore pure ideas that unify and stabilize the multiplicity of changing beings in the material world. The forms are the ultimate reality, and this is shown to us in the Allegory of the Cave. We are to imagine a cave wherein lifelong prisoners dwell. These prisoners do not know that they are prisoners since they have been held captive their entire lives.
They are shackled such that they are incapable of turning their heads. Behind them is a fire, and small puppets or trinkets of various things—horses, stones, people, and so forth—are being moved in front of the fire. Shadows of these trinkets are cast onto a wall in front of the prisoners. The prisoners take this world of shadows to be reality since it is the only thing they ever see. If, however, we suppose that one prisoner is unshackled and is forced to make his way out of the cave, we can see the process of education.
At first, the prisoner sees the fire, which casts the shadows he formerly took to be reality. He is then led out of the cave. After his eyes painfully adjust to the sunlight, he first sees only the shadows of things, and then the things themselves.
After this, he realizes that it is the sun by which he sees the things, and which gives life to the things he sees. The sun is here analogous to the form of the Good, which is what gives life to all beings and enables us most truly to know all beings. This dialogue shows us a young Socrates, whose understanding of the forms is being challenged by Parmenides.
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Parmenides first challenges the young Socrates about the scope of the forms. It seems absurd, thinks Parmenides, to suppose stones, hair, or bits of dirt of their own form c-d. The forms are supposed to be unitary. The multiplicity of large material things, for example, participate in the one form of Largeness, which itself does not participate in anything else.
In other words, is the form of Largeness itself large? If so, it would need to participate in another form of Largeness, which would itself need to participate in another form, and so forth. In short, we can see that Plato is tentative about what is now considered his most important theory. Indeed, in his Seventh Letter , Plato says that talking about the forms at all is a difficult matter. The forms are beyond words or, at best, words can only approximately reveal the truth of the forms. Yet, Plato seems to take it on faith that, if there is knowledge to be had, there must be these unchanging, eternal beings.
We can say that, for Plato, if there is to be knowledge, it must be of eternal, unchanging things. The world is constantly in flux. It is therefore strange to say that one has knowledge of it, when one can also claim to have knowledge of, say, arithmetic or geometry, which are stable, unchanging things, according to Plato. Moreover, like Cratylus, we might wonder whether our ideas about the changing world are ever accurate at all. Our ideas, after all, tend to be much like a photograph of a world, but unlike the photograph, the world continues to change.
Thus, Plato reserves the forms as those things about which we can have true knowledge. How we get knowledge is difficult. 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? If so, then it seems that one cannot even begin to ask about X. In other words, it seems that one must already know X in order to ask about it in the first place, but if one already knows X, then there is nothing to ask.
The theory of recollection rests upon the assumption that the human soul is immortal. At any rate, Socrates shows Meno how the human mind mysteriously, when led in the proper fashion, can arrive at knowledge on its own. This is recollection. Again, the forms are the most knowable beings and, so, presumably are those beings that we recollect in knowledge.
Plato offers another image of knowing in his Republic. True understanding noesis is of the forms. Below this, there is thought dianoia , through which we think about things like mathematics and geometry. Below this is belief pistis , where we can reason about things that we sense in our world. The lowest rung of the ladder is imagination eikasia , where our mind is occupied with mere shadows of the physical world de.
In any case, real knowledge is knowledge of the forms, and is that for which the true philosopher strives, and the philosopher does this by living the life of the best part of the soul—reason. Plato is famous for his theory of the tripartite soul psyche , the most thorough formulation of which is in the Republic. The soul is at least logically, if not also ontologically, divided into three parts: reason logos , spirit thumos , and appetite or desire epithumia. Reason is responsible for rational thought and will be in control of the most ordered soul.
Spirit is responsible for spirited emotions, like anger. Appetites are responsible not only for natural appetites such as hunger, thirst, and sex, but also for the desire of excess in each of these and other appetites. Why are the three separate, according to Plato? The argument for the distinction between three parts of the soul rests upon the Principle of Contradiction. Just because, however, that person might desire a drink, it does not mean that she will drink at that time. In fact, it is conceivable that, for whatever reason, she will restrain herself from drinking at that time.
Since the Principle of Contradiction entails that the same part of the soul cannot, at the same time and in the same respect, desire and not desire to drink, it must be some other part of the soul that helps reign in the desire b. The rational part of the soul is responsible for keeping desires in check or, as in the case just mentioned, denying the fulfillment of desires when it is appropriate to do so.
Why is the spirited part different from the appetitive part? To answer this question, Socrates relays a story he once heard about a man named Leontius. Despite his disgust issuing from the spirited part of the soul with his desire, Leontius reluctantly looked at the corpses. Socrates also cites examples when someone has done something, on account of appetite, for which he later reproaches himself. The reproach is rooted in an alliance between reason and spirit. Reason, with the help of spirit, will rule in the best souls. Appetite, and perhaps to some degree spirit, will rule in a disordered soul.
The life of philosophy is a cultivation of reason and its rule. The soul is also immortal, and one the more famous arguments for the immortality of the soul comes from the Phaedo. This argument rests upon a theory of the relationship of opposites. Hot and cold, for example, are opposites, and there are processes of becoming between the two. Hot comes to be what it is from cold. Cold must also come to be what it is from the hot, otherwise all things would move only in one direction, so to speak, and everything would therefore be hot.
Life and death are also opposites. Living things come to be dead and death comes from life. But, since the processes between opposites cannot be a one-way affair, life must also come from death Phaedo 71c-e2. The souls must always exist in order to be immortal. We can see here the influence of Pythagorean thought upon Plato since this also leaves room for the transmigration of souls. The disordered souls in which desire rules will return from death to life embodied as animals such as donkeys while unjust and ambitious souls will return as hawks 81ea3.
The best life is the life of philosophy, that is the life of loving and pursuing wisdom—a life spent engaging logos. The philosophical life is also the most excellent life since it is the touchstone of true virtue. Without wisdom, there is only a shadow or imitation of virtue, and such lives are still dominated by passion, desire, and emotions. On the other hand,.
The soul of the philosopher achieves a calm from such emotions; it follows reason and ever stays with it contemplating the true, the divine, which is not the object of opinion. Nurtured by this, it believes that one should live in this manner as long as one is alive and, after death, arrive at what is akin and of the same kind, and escape from human evils.
Phaedo 84a-b. The Republic begins with the question of what true justice is. Socrates proposes that he and his interlocutors, Glaucon and Adeimantus, might see justice more clearly in the individual if they take a look at justice writ large in a city, assuming that an individual is in some way analogous to a city ca. The guardians will rule, the auxiliaries will defend the city, and the craftspeople and farmers will produce goods and food for the city.
The guardians, as we learn in Book VI, will also be philosophers since only the wisest should rule. This tripartite city mirrors the tripartite soul. How is it that auxiliaries and craftspeople can be kept in their own proper position and be prevented from an ambitious quest for upward movement? Maintaining social order depends not only upon wise ruling, but also upon the Noble Lie.
The Noble Lie is a myth that the gods mixed in various metals with the members of the various social strata. The guardians were mixed with gold, the auxiliaries with silver, and the farmers and craftspeople with iron and bronze a-c. He even seems to recognize this at times. For example, the guardians must not only go through a rigorous training and education regimen, but they must also live a strictly communal life with one another, having no private property.
Adeimantus objects to this saying that the guardians will be unhappy. In anticipation that such a city is doomed to failure, Plato has it dissolve, but he merely cites discord among the rulers d and natural processes of becoming as the reasons for its devolution. Not even a constitution such as this will last forever. Yet, it is possible that the lust for power is the cause of strife and discord among the leaders.
In other words, perhaps not even the best sort of education and training can keep even the wisest of human rulers free from desire. Yet, just as he challenges his own metaphysical ideas, he also at times loosens up on his ethical and political ideals. Socrates, to his own pleasure, rubs his legs after the shackles have been removed 60b , which implies that even philosophers enjoy bodily pleasures.
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Phaedo recounts how Socrates eased his pain on that particular day:. I happened to be sitting on his right by the couch on a low stool, so that he was sitting well above me. He stroked my head and pressed the hair on the back of my neck, for he was in the habit of playing with my hair at times. Plato, with these dramatic details, is reminding us that even the philosopher is embodied and, at least to some extent, enjoys that embodiment, even though reason is to rule above all else.
Aristotle B. He was the son of Nichomacus, the Macedonian court physician, which allowed for a lifelong connection with the court of Macedonia. After serving as tutor for the young Alexander later Alexander the Great , Aristotle returned to Athens and started his own school, the Lyceum. Aristotle walked as he lectured, and his followers therefore later became known as the peripatetics , those who walked around as they learned.
When Alexander died in , and the pro-Macedonian government fell in Athens, a strong anti-Macedonian reaction occurred, and Aristotle was accused of impiety. He fled Athens to Chalcis, where he died a year later. Unlike Plato, Aristotle wrote treatises, and he was a prolific writer indeed. He wrote several treatises on ethics, he wrote on politics, he first codified the rules of logic, he investigated nature and even the parts of animals, and his Metaphysics is in a significant way a theology.
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His thought, and particularly his physics, reigned supreme in the Western world for centuries after his death. Aristotle used, and sometimes invented, technical vocabulary in nearly all facets of his philosophy. It is important to have an understanding of this vocabulary in order to understand his thought in general.
Like Plato, Aristotle talked about forms, but not in the same way as his master. For Aristotle, forms without matter do not exist. I can contemplate the form of human being that is, what it means to be human , but this would be impossible if actual embodied human beings were non-existent. Similarly, we cannot sense or make sense of unformed matter. There is no matter in itself. Matter is the potential to take shape through form. Form is thus both the physical shape, but also the idea by which we best know particular beings.
Form is the actuality of matter, which is pure potentiality. A thing is in potentiality when it is not yet what it can inherently or naturally become. An acorn is potentially an oak tree, but insofar as it is an acorn, it is not yet actually an oak tree. When it is an oak tree, it will have reached its actuality—its continuing activity of being a tree. The form of oak tree, in this case, en-forms the wood, and gives it shape—makes it actuality a tree, and not just a heap of matter.
When a being is in actuality, it has fulfilled its end, its telos. All beings by nature are telic beings. The end or telos of an acorn is to become an oak tree. If it reaches this fulfillment it is in actuality, or entelecheia, which is a word that Aristotle coined, and is etymologically related to telos. It is the activity of being-its-own-end that is actuality.
This is also the ergon, or function or work, of the oak tree. The best sort of oak tree—the healthiest, for example—best fulfills its work or function. It does this in its activity, its energeia, of being. This activity or energeia is the en-working or being-at-work of the being. To know a thing thoroughly is to know its cause aitia , or what is responsible for making a being who or what it is.
For instance, we might think of the causes of a house. The material cause is the bricks, mortar, wood, and any other material that goes to make up the house. Yet, these materials could not come together as a house without the formal cause that gives shape to it. The efficient cause would be the builders of the house.
The final cause that for which the house exists in the first place, namely shelter, comfort, warmth, and so forth. We will see that the concept of causes, especially final cause, is very important for Aristotle, especially in his argument for the unmoved mover in the Physics. The soul is the actuality of a body. Alternatively, since matter is in potentiality, and form is actuality, the soul as form is the actuality of the body a Form and matter are never found separately from one another, although we can make a logical distinction between them.
For Aristotle, all living things are en-souled beings. Soul is the animating principle arche of any living being a self-nourishing, growing and decaying being. Thus, even plants are en-souled a Without soul, a body would not be alive, and a plant, for instance, would be a plant in name only. There are three types of soul: nutritive, sensitive, and intellectual. Some beings have only one of these, or some mixture of them. If, however, a soul has the capacity for sensation, as animals do, then they also have a nutritive faculty b Likewise, for beings who have minds, they must also have the sensitive and nutritive faculties of soul.
A plant has only the nutritive faculty of soul, which is responsible for nourishment and reproduction. Animals have sense perception in varying degrees, and must also have the nutritive faculty, which allows them to survive. Human beings have intellect or mind nous in addition to the other faculties of the soul. The soul is the source and cause of the body in three ways: the source of motion, the telos, and the being or essence of the body b The soul is that from which and ultimately for which the body does what it does, and this includes sensation. Sensation is the ability to receive the form of an object without receiving its matter, much as the wax receives the form of the signet ring without receiving the metal out of which the ring is made.
Mind nous , as it was for Anaxagoras, is unmixed a Just as senses receive, via the sense organ, the form of things, but not the matter, mind receives the intelligible forms of things, without receiving the things themselves. More precisely, mind, which is nothing before it thinks and is therefore itself when active, is isomorphic with what it thinks a To know something is most properly to know its form, and mind in some way becomes the form of what it thinks.
Just how this happens is unclear. So, mind is not a thing, but is only the activity of thinking, and is particularly whatever it thinks at any given time. This work is an inquiry into the best life for human beings to live. The life of human flourishing or happiness eudaimonia is the best life. Thus, it is possible for one to have an overall happy life, even if that life has its moments of sadness and pain.
Happiness is the practice of virtue or excellence arete , and so it is important to know the two types of virtue: character virtue, the discussion of which makes up the bulk of the Ethics , and intellectual virtue. Character excellence comes about through habit—one habituates oneself to character excellence by knowingly practicing virtues. To be clear, it is possible to perform an excellent action accidentally or without knowledge, but doing so would not make for an excellent person, just as accidentally writing in a grammatically correct way does not make for a grammarian a One must be aware that one is practicing the life of virtue.
If, says Aristotle, human beings have a function or work ergon to perform, then we can know that performing that function well will result in the best sort of life b The work or function of an eye is to see and to see well. Just as each part of the body has a function, says Aristotle, so too must the human being as a whole have a function b This is an argument by analogy. So, the happiest life is a practice of virtue, and this is practiced under the guidance of reason. Examples of character virtues would be courage, temperance, liberality, and magnanimity.
One must habitually practice these virtues in order to be courageous, temperate, and so forth. For example, the courageous person knows when to be courageous, and acts on that knowledge whenever it is appropriate to do so a Each activity of any particular character virtue has a related excessive or deficient action a The excess related to courage, for example, is rashness, and the deficiency is cowardice. Since excellence is rare, most people will tend more towards an excess or deficiency than towards the excellent action.
For example, if one tends towards the excess of self-indulgence, it might be best to aim for insensibility, which will eventually lead the agent closer to temperance. Friendship is also a necessary part of the happy life. There are three types of friendship, none of which is exclusive of the other: a friendship of excellence, a friendship of pleasure, and a friendship of utility b Likewise, the friendship of excellence is the least changeable and most lasting form of friendship b The friendships of pleasure and use are the most changeable forms of friendship since the things we find pleasurable or useful tend to change over a lifetime a For example, if a friendship forms out of a mutual love for beer, but the interest of one of the friends later turns towards wine, the friendship would likely dissolve.
Again, if a friend is merely one of utility, then that friendship will likely dissolve when it is no longer useful. Since the best life is a life of virtue or excellence, and since we are closer to excellence the more thoroughly we fulfill our function, the best life is the life of theoria or contemplation a This is the most divine life, since one comes closest to the pure activity of thought b It is the most self-sufficient life since one can think even when one is alone. What does one contemplate or theorize about?
Some have criticized Aristotle saying that this sort of life seem uninteresting, since we seem to enjoy the pursuit of knowledge more than just having knowledge. For Aristotle, however, the contemplation of unchanging things is an activity full of wonder. Seeking knowledge might be good, but it is done for the sake of a greater end, namely having knowledge and contemplating what one knows. For example, Aristotle considered the cosmos to be eternal and unchanging. So, one might have knowledge of astronomy, but it is the contemplation of what this knowledge is about that is most wonderful.
The end for any individual human being is happiness, but human beings are naturally political animals, and thus belong in the polis, or city-state. Indeed, the inquiry into the good life ethics belongs in the province of politics. Since a nation or polis determines what ought to be studied, any practical science, which deals with everyday, practical human affairs, falls under the purview of politics ab The last chapter of Nicomachean Ethics is dedicated to politics.
Aristotle emphasizes that the goal of learning about the good life is not knowledge, but to become good a5 , and he reiterates this in the final chapter b Since the practice of virtue is the goal for the individual, then ultimately we must turn our eyes to the arena in which this practice plays out—the polis.
Laws must be instituted in such a way as to make its citizens good, but the lawmakers must themselves be good in order to do this. Human beings are so naturally political that the relationship between the state and the individual is to some degree reciprocal, but without the state, the individual cannot be good. In the Politics , Aristotle says that a man who is so self-sufficient as to live away from a polis is like a beast or a god a That is, such a being is not a human being at all. In Book III. The three good constitutions are monarchy rule by one , aristocracy rule by the best, aristos , and polity rule by the many.
These are good because each has the common good as its goal. The worst constitutions, which parallel the best, are tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy, with democracy being the best of the three evils. These constitutions are bad because they have private interests in mind rather than the common good or the best interest of everyone.
The tyrant has only his own good in mind; the oligarchs, who happen to be rich, have their own interest in mind; and the people demos , who happen not to be rich, have only their own interest in mind.
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Yet, Aristotle grants that there is a difference between an ideal and a practically plausible constitution, which depends upon how people actually are b The perfect state will be a monarchy or aristocracy since these will be ruled by the truly excellent. Since, however, such a situation is unlikely when we face the reality of our current world, we must look at the next best, and the next best after that, and so on. Aristotle seems to favor democracy, and after that oligarchy, but he spends the bulk of his time explaining that each of these constitutions actually takes many shapes.
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For example, there are farmer-based democracies, democracies based upon birth status, democracies wherein all free men can participate in government, and so forth ba The male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind. Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better , the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master.
Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend reason; they obey their passions. Politics b For Aristotle, women are naturally inferior to men, and there are those who are natural slaves. In both cases, it is a deficiency in reason that is the culprit. It is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret Aristotle charitably here. For slaves, one might suggest that Aristotle has in mind people who can do only menial tasks, and nothing more.
Yet, there is a great danger even here. We cannot always trust the judgment of the master who says that this or that person is capable only of menial tasks, nor can we always know another person well enough to say what the scope of his or her capabilities for thought might be. So even a charitable interpretation of his views of slavery and women is elusive. Motion is not merely a change of place. It can also include processes of change in quality and quantity a For example, the growth of a plant from rhizome to flower quantity is a process of motion, even though the flower does not have any obvious lateral change of place.
The change of a light skin-tone to bronze via sun tanning is a qualitative motion. In any case, the thing in motion is not yet what it is becoming, but it is becoming, and is thus actually a potentiality qua potentiality. The light skin is not yet sun tanned, but is becoming sun tanned. This process of becoming is actual, that is that the body is potentially tanned, and is actually in the process of this potentiality. So, motion is the actuality of the potentiality of a being, in the very way that it is a potentiality. In Book 8.
There could not have been a time with no motion, whatever is moved is moved by itself or by another. Rest is simply a privation of motion. Thus, if there were a time without motion, then whatever existed—which had the power to cause motion in other beings—would have been at rest. If so, then it at some point had to have been in motion since rest is the privation of motion a Motion, then, is eternal. What moves the cosmos? This must be the unmoved mover, or God, but God does not move the cosmos as an efficient cause, but as a final cause. That is, since all natural beings are telic, they must move toward perfection.
What is the perfection of the cosmos? It must be eternal, perfectly circular motion.
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It moves towards divinity. Thus, the unmoved mover causes the cosmos to move toward its own perfection. It is also arguably his most difficult work, which is due to its subject matter. This work explores the question of what being as being is, and seeks knowledge of first causes aitiai and principles archai. First causes and principles are indemonstrable, but all demonstrations proceed from them. They are something like the foundation of a building.
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