Aristotle's Philosophical Method

C. D. C. Reeve

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Aristotle's Philosophical Method

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  • Classical Philosophy



A problem (problêma) is posed: Is pleasure choiceworthy, or not? The answerer claims that yes, it is (or, alternatively, that no, it is not). The questioner must refute him by asking questions—by offering him premises (protaseis) to accept or reject. The questioner succeeds if he forces the answerer to accept a proposition contrary to the one he undertook to defend, and fails if the answerer always accepts or rejects premises in a way consistent with that proposition. To a first approximation, dialectic is the distinctive method of Aristotelian philosophy. At the heart of dialectic is the dialectical deduction (dialektikos sullogismos). This article discusses Aristotle's philosophical method, focusing on dialectical premises, endoxa (reputable beliefs), and aporiai (puzzles). It also examines the uses of dialectic in intellectual training (gumnasia), ordinary discussion (enteuxeis), and the philosophical sciences, as well as in regard to scientific starting points or first principles (archai). The article concludes by returning to dialectic and philosophy and an important difference between them.

Keywords: Aristotle; philosophy; dialectical deduction; dialectic; premises; endoxa; aporiai; scientific starting points; intellectual training; reputable beliefs

Article.  10732 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy

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