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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 2.3: Plato’s “Clever Modern Man” Loses Himself


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Plato’s “Clever Modern Man” Loses Himself

I have, then, hopefully shown Aristotle’s “subtlety” and the value of that subtlety and I now move on to consider “reduction” and its disvalue. I suggest (a) that “reduction” and “reductionism” has the positive value of being a method through which we can ignore the values and individuality of the things of the world in order to understand and also to some extent control those things through our abstractions and through the reduced terms of our special sciences and (b) that it is only when these abstractions, these short-hand scientific constructions, and these reductions are overlaid upon the world in order to (supposedly) inform us about true “values” that we encounter the abuse of “science” which is commonly referred to as “scient-ism”.1 I will try to draw out this point by showing below that this “scientism” is not a “noble lie” or a harmless conceit but that it is a peculiarly dangerous corruption of science, philosophy, and religion.

As regards the origin of this divergence of science from scient-ism I suggest (1) that this distinction is, to some extent, founded upon the divergence of Aristotelian “realism” from Platonic “idealism” and (2) that scient-ism reduces the world – and mankind – to mathematics in order to seek a definite abstract “utopia” in which man is fused with and is used by and for technology and in which “man” is made to conform to a scientific representation...

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