Erasmus, Praise of Folly

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Charlie MacDonald
2/4/2011
Philosophy

1.) In Joe Sachs translation of, Aristotle’s on the soul and on Memory and Recollection, we are presented with the idea that our soul is broken up in to the contemplative and the practical forms of intellect. We use our contemplative and practical intellect to identify what is good for us, so that our desires reflect our needs. Although, they both work towards the same goal, both are separate and depend on ineffable forces for success. The contemplative intellect is fueled by our curiosity for knowledge. Aristotle was a major believer in contemplation because he believed that living a contemplative life is how humans should live. A contemplative life allows humans to lead a morally sound life. The more humans engage in contemplation, the closer they are to their gods and the happier they will be. The contemplative intellect is our capacity to determine the potentiality of the practical intellect. The practical intellect is our response to our contemplation. Contemplation can prolong political disasters and prevent us from using practicality. But, we have no choice but to contemplate because to understand we must contemplate and to act morally we must be able to understand. Being able to understand is being able to grasp the potentiality of something. Misunderstanding something’s potentiality is the reason leading a practical life is more difficult. It is human nature to contemplate.

Distinguishing the two intellects is tricky because Aristotle stresses that we are one soul part of a larger one. However, if it is the same soul producing practical and contemplative intellect, how can life be divided into these two things? Our individuality controls our actions. So, our contemplative is what makes us what we are and our existence is the reason we act (practical). Practicality and contemplation are distinctions within our intellect. Contemplation is to be looked at as human nature, it helps us understand. Understanding gives way to the practical intellect. These two separate intellects not only involve different unknown forces, but they also utilize different types of motion. Practical is a physical motion, while contemplation is a motion in the sense that whenever we are thinking and contemplating, we/our minds are in motion.

The soul seeks truth. Contemplation leads us towards the truth, while practicality is a truth. These intellects are virtues in different parts of the soul. To acquire happiness one must have moral virtue to choose correctly and practicality to choose ‘how.’ For example, one might attain the knowledge, facts, and actuality of how to ride a bike. But, knowing those facts does not determine your potential to ride the bike. Aristotle provides an affective example, “There is something that has knowledge in the way that we say any human being is a knower, because humanity is part of the class of what knows and has knowledge, but there is also a sense in which we mean by a knower the one who already has, say, grammatical skill; and each of these is in potency but not in the same way, but the former is because his kind and his material are of a certain sort, while the latter is because he is capable of contemplating when he wants to, if nothing outside him prevents it” (417a 23-30 Aristotle). Aristotle tells us the there are different types of potentiality and actuality here. This example demonstrates a ‘knower.’ A knower would be human, know grammar, and talking (exercising knowledge). This example is important in the distinction because it describes the process and the different roles of contemplation and practicality. The contemplative intellect, in this case, would be that the knower is human and has potential without actual knowledge. The knower, with grammatical knowledge, has this knowledge but is not thinking about it. The knower would be exercising knowledge through recognizing grammatical errors in conversation,...
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