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Hellenistic, Medieval, and Early Modern Thinkers

Analisia Roberson


Jan 27, 2011

Dr. Farshad Sadri

Hellenistic, Medieval, and Early Modern Thinkers

In 250 to 500 words, briefly describe either Plato or Aristotle’s ideas about metaphysics or epistemology.

As for Plato, Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology are closely bound together. The nature of what we know is tightly bound up with what it is we know. Like Plato, Aristotle takes his cue from language, though, again like Plato, the objects of his enquiry are not linguistic items, but ontological ones. The classification of categories is of things, not terms. metaphysics is not interested so much in making a huge list of things, but in describing what kinds of things there are and how those kinds are related to one another. Plato and other ancient philosophers divide philosophy into three parts: Ethics, Epistemology and Metaphysics. While generally accurate and certainly useful for pedagogical purposes, no rigid boundary separates the parts. Ethics, for example, concerns how one ought to live and focuses on pleasure, virtue, and happiness. Since, according to Plato (and Socrates), virtue and happiness require knowledge, e.g., knowledge of goods and evils, Plato's ethics is inseparable from his epistemology. Epistemology is, broadly speaking, the study of what knowledge is and how one comes to have knowledge. Among the many topics included in epistemology are logic, belief, perception, language, science, and knowledge. (‘Science’ derives from the Latin ‘scientia’, which in turn translates the Greek ‘episteme’, from which English derives ‘epistemology’.) Integral to all of these notions is that they (typically) are directed at something. Metaphysics, or alternatively ontology, is that branch of philosophy whose special concern is to answer the question ‘What is there?’ These expressions derive from Aristotle, Plato's student.

In 250 to 500 words, briefly describe the...
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