PHIL 402: Aristotle
Prepares students for advanced work on some aspect of the philosophical thought of Aristotle.
PHIL 402: Aristotle - Aristotle on Logic and Science
Dr. Joshua Mendelsohn
Aristotle’s Prior Analytics is the founding text of logic, and his Posterior Analytics is arguably the first systematic work in the philosophy of science. In this course, we will conduct a close reading of key passages from Aristotle’s Prior and Posterior Analytics and work to understand Aristotle’s project across these two joined works. We will begin by studying Aristotle’s logic in the first book of the Prior Analytics before tackling the theory of scientific knowledge and proof Aristotle develops on its basis in the Posterior Analytics. Since we will approach the study of logic through its founder’s own exposition, no background in logic will be presupposed. Topics will include Aristotle’s idea of the syllogism, scientific proof or “demonstration”, essentialism, the aims of science, definition and our knowledge of first principles. If time permits, we will read parts of Aristotle’s scientific works and consider to what extent Aristotle’s scientific practice reflects his philosophy of science. Students who take the course will be in a good position to do further work on Aristotle, the history of logic and the history of science. Knowledge of Greek is desirable but not required.