Chapter

Aristotle on Protagoras and early conceptions of thinking and perceiving

Mi-Kyoung Lee

in Epistemology after Protagoras

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199262229
Published online October 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602924 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199262225.003.0007
 Aristotle on Protagoras and early conceptions of thinking and perceiving

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In the Metaphysics, Aristotle attempts to identify the picture of thinking that lies behind Protagoras’ measure doctrine. According to this picture, thinking, like perceiving, is produced through direct, passive affection of the body by external objects. Aristotle argues that this is a mistake, made not only by Protagoras, but by almost all the Presocratic philosophers. On such a view, all thoughts are produced in such a way that it is impossible to think a false thought, and thus error is impossible. Aristotle’s diagnosis of Protagorean relativism leads to his insistence on distinguishing properly between perception and thinking, which in turn leads to some of his own ideas about what an account of thinking must explain.

Keywords: thinking; knowing; perceiving; affection; error; conflicting appearances; undecidability; skepticism; alteration; like-by-like

Chapter.  26750 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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