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Aristotle on the Meaning of Man

A Philosophical Response to Idealism, Positivism, and Gnosticism

Peter Jackson

Why was (and is) Aristotle «right» and why are we «wrong»? In other words, why are Aristotle’s philosophical reflections on man and the world full, real, and convincing and why is so much of our modern philosophy partial and false? This work offers a detailed assessment of Aristotle’s thought in response to these questions.

Using «man» as a case study, this work shows how Aristotle philosophically treats «him» as a physical, biological, social, political, ethical, creative, poeticising, and philosophising object in the world. It then continues by laying out his consequent conclusions regarding the necessary capacities of natural objects in the world.

Regarding the modern philosophical approach to «man», this work shows that it flows from several directions into narcissism, nihilism, and a desire to control and manipulate the world and other people. In short, this work considers these approaches and seeks to show that Aristotle’s philosophy is «right», true, and commendable and that our modern philosophy is (often) «wrong», vacuous, and distasteful.

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Chapter 1.10: Aristotle’s “Philosophical Man” Finds “God”

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← 178 | 179 →CHAPTER 1.10

Aristotle’s “Philosophical Man” Finds “God”

So, then, what can we generally conclude about Aristotle’s science and also about Aristotle’s philosophy?

I suggest (a) that Aristotle’s main overall concerns are with (i) the nature of motion and (ii) the location of meaning in the world and that these themes are actually the core or standard concerns of Ancient Greek philosophical thought (b) that Aristotle clearly sought to combine the philosophical thinking of Plato with the scientific thinking of the physiologoi to achieve a new philosophico-scientific synthesis and (c) that Aristotle seeks this synthesis because of his conscious belief that philosophy has primacy over science on the basis that:

We are seeking the principles and the causes of the things that are, and obviously of them qua being. For, while there is a cause of health and of good condition, and the objects of mathematics have their first principles and elements and causes, and in general every science which is ratiocinative at all or involves reasoning deals with causes and principles, more or less precise, all these sciences mark off some particular being – some genus, and inquire into this, but not into being simply nor qua being, nor do they offer any discussion of the essences of the things of which they treat; but starting from the essence – some making it plain to the senses, others assuming it as a hypothesis – they then demonstrate, more or less cogently, the essential...

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