8 - Aristotelianism
from Part II
Aristotelianism holds that we gain some of our knowledge from the abstraction of concepts from our experience and reflection on these concepts. This may sound more like empirical knowledge than a priori knowledge, but the justification involved is remarkably similar to analytic justification. In analytic justification, we learn the meanings of words empirically. Then using these meanings together with only our reasoning abilities we determine if a particular sentence is true. According to Aristotelianism, we first abstract concepts from experience and then reason by reflecting on these concepts. We can characterize Aristotelian justification as the process of reasoning using concepts that are abstracted from experience (rather than, say, concepts that are innate or those that we associate with the meanings of words).
Aristotelian justification is very much like the rationalists' rational insight. Aristotelian justification, unlike rationalists' justification, is restricted to those cases in which the concepts involved are abstracted from experience.
Aristotelianism is an attractive theory of the a priori. It does not involve innate concepts. It allows a priori justification about objects that are independent of our minds. It also fits well with empiricism.
I begin the chapter, as usual, with a history of the theory. Then I defend Aristotelianism against the charges that it is not a form of a priori reasoning and that it is not reliable. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of the relationships between Aristotelianism and coherentism, reliabilism and foundationalism.
- A Priori , pp. 123 - 137Publisher: Acumen PublishingPrint publication year: 2011