Aristotle on Heuristic Inquiry and Demonstration of <i>What it is</i>

Kei Chiba

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Aristotle on Heuristic Inquiry and Demonstration of What it is

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  • Classical Philosophy
  • Epistemology


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In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle develops a theory of demonstration as a way of gaining causal knowledge of things or events (pragmata) under the general plan of constructing both an ideal structure for demonstrative science and a unified, comprehensive theory of heuristic inquiry. The Aristotelian idea of “demonstrative science” is derived from his attempt to characterize the conditions for “knowledge simpliciter (epistêmê haplôs),” that is, causal and necessary knowledge. This article first shows that Aristotle's inquiry theory is a heuristic theory and as such yields scientific knowledge within the scope of his theory of demonstration, and then examines the difficulties which arise concerning the relation between demonstration and definition. In particular, if demonstrations and definitions turn out to be unrelated in terms of their objects, predications, or methods, Aristotle's general plan will be a failure. The article explores how Aristotle attempts to construct a demonstration of what it is. Finally, by analysing his new theory of definition, the article considers how far he has succeeded in developing his heuristic demonstrative inquiry theory.

Keywords: Aristotle; Posterior Analytics; demonstrations; knowledge; demonstrative science; inquiry theory; heuristic theory; definitions; theory of demonstration; demonstrative inquiry theory

Article.  17238 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Epistemology

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