Saturday, 24 March 2018

John Dewey on Aristotle’s Naturalism

John Herman Randall, in his book Aristotle (Chapter: “Science as Right Talking: The Analysis of Discourse”), says that “the relations of the syllogistic instrument of science to the conception of science itself, and to the kind of world in which that instrument functions, are summed up in the following statement” from John Dewey’s article:
Aristotle was above all a naturalist. He asserted that the universal is united with particular existences, binding them together into a permanent whole (the species) and keeping within definite and fixed limits the changes which occur in each particular existence. The species is the true whole of which the particular individuals are the parts, and the essence is the characteristic form. Species fall within a graded order of genera as particular individuals fall within the species. Thinking is the correlate of these relations in nature. It unites and differentiates in judgement as species are united and separated in reality. Valid knowledge or demonstration necessarily takes the form of the syllogism because the syllogism merely expresses the system in which, by means of an intervening essence, individuals are included in species. Definition is the grasp of the essence which marks one species off from another. Classification and division are counterparts of the intrinsic order of nature.
The above text is from John Dewey’s article on “Logic” (published in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, IX, 599). In a footnote on the same page of Aristotle where he offers the excerpt from Dewey’s article, Randall says that he sees a problem in Dewey’s view. Randall writes: “It is doubtful whether Aristotle thought of the universal as “keeping within definite and fixed limits the changes which occur in each particular existence.””

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