On Perception's Role in Aristotle’s Epistemology
CitationGasser, Marc. 2015. On Perception's Role in Aristotle’s Epistemology. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractAristotle thinks all our knowledge comes from perception. Yet he doesn't say much about the sense in which our knowledge might be based on or derived from the things we perceive. So what exactly does perception contribute to the more advanced cognitive states that make up our intellectual lives, and how should we understand the nature of its contribution?
I argue that perception contributes to these more advanced states by putting us in touch with particular things in a way that's responsive to the universals governing their behavior: perceptible particulars possess certain features because they instantiate certain universals, and perception allows us to discriminate these features and experience them as action-guiding aspects of our environment. So for instance, a patient might exhibit feverish features because she instantiates malarial disease, and a doctor might perceive these feverish features and experience them as soliciting some course of action---as soliciting that the patient be leeched, say.
I explain how perception, so understood, can serve as a basis for the development of a perceptually driven form of practical knowledge (ἐμπειρία); roughly, the form of knowledge possessed by a doctor who knows how to cure a range of patients but could not explain why or how her treatments work. I then explain how such practical knowledge can itself serve as a basis for the theoretically sophisticated grasp of universals Aristotle takes as his cognitive ideal.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:17467304
- FAS Theses and Dissertations