Difference in Metaphysics Between Aristotle and Kant

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What is the central difference between metaphysics as Kant conceives it, and metaphysics as Aristotle conceives it? Argue in support of one or the other view.

Metaphysics is usually taken to involve both questions of what is existence and what types of things exist; in order to answer either questions, one will find itself using and investigating the concepts of being. Aristotle proposed the first of these investigations which he called ‘first philosophy’, also known as ‘the science of being’ however overtime his writings came to be best known as ‘Metaphysics’ in which he studied being qua being with a central theme of how substance may be defined as a category of being. Kant who is a nominalist criticized both Aristotelian and therefore realists’ ideas of metaphysics by suggesting that they seek to go beyond the limits of human knowledge. Furthermore Kant argued that the structure of the world as it is in itself is unreachable to us; metaphysicians must be content to explain the structure of our thinking about that world. In this essay I will examine the two main exponents of such a doctrine in favor of realists by looking at the main differences of Metaphysics as Aristotle and Kant conceive it, which is centered on the all important question of whether metaphysics is a science of mind or of being. There have been disagreements between philosophers about the nature of metaphysics; Aristotle sometimes characterizes the discipline as the attempt to identify the first cause or better referred to as the unmoved mover and other times as the very universal science of being qua being. It is however important to remember that both of these characterizations identify one and the same discipline. On the other hand the empiricists and Kant were critical of both Aristotelian and rationalist ideas of metaphysics, by arguing that both disciplines seek to exceed the limits of human knowledge. Kant argued that the structure of the world as it is in itself is inaccessible to us and that metaphysicians must be content to describe the structure of our thinking about that world. Realists such as Plato and Aristotle maintain that for language to even exist there must be some universal quality to phenomenon. To elaborate, human beings do not discuss each object as a completely independent entity to be analyzed but rather draw comparisons to other known objects to compile a series of properties to categorize it. Nominalists, on the other hand, while not denying that humans group things together by virtue of certain qualities, maintain that this is simply a convention of language based on people's perception of them. Just because two objects share the same perceptible quality does not necessarily warrant grouping them together in any real way; it's simply a human way of making sense of reality through the senses. As soon as one asks the most basic questions of ‘what is Aristotelian Metaphysics? What study does Aristotle believe himself to be undertaking in these essays?’ you find yourself, baffled immediately. ‘Metaphysics’ is in fact a compilation of a number of Aristotle’s writings that later on editors put together. It has a central theme of an inquiry into how substance may be defined as a category of being. Book Gamma appears to start on characterizing something which Aristotle calls ‘the science of being qua being’ and then goes on to a discussion of the principle of non contradiction. “There is science which investigates being qua being and the attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own” (Warrington, 1956, P116). In order to study being qua being, one has to simply study those qualities which hold of entities in virtue of the fact that they are entities. What sort of attributes are qualities of entities qua being? Aristotle insists on unity or oneness as such a feature, on the grounds that everything – everything which exists is one thing. However Aristotle’s characterization of the subject raises a few doubts: why is there...
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