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Archive for the ‘Aristotle’ Category

Audio/Video: Socrates

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 5, 2009

A few days ago I published some youtube audio on Aristotle: Giant of Philosophy.  Today, I’m posting on Socrates.  The presentation is in 17 parts, averaging less than 10 minutes each.  Below you will find the first three parts, the rest can be accessed here.

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Videos: Aristotle, Giant of Philosophy

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 3, 2009

A seventeen part audio series narrated by Charlton Heston.  The first three can be listened to below.  All seventeen parts can be accessed here.

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Aquinas: On Being and Essence

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 12, 2009

A brief, early work by St Thomas, considered to be one his most important and foundational works. The document can also be viewed here..

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Frederick Copleston’s History of Philosophy Online

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 28, 2009

A few months ago I posted about the fact that two volumes of Copleston’s famous work were available online; today I found out that more volumes are posted.  Below is the first volume, and beneath this links to the others.

Volume 2.  Medieval Philosophy from Augustine to Duns Scotus.
Volume 3.  Late Medieval Philosophy and Renaissance Philosophy.
Volume 4.  Modern Philosophy From Descarte to Leibniz.
Volume 5.  Modern Philosophy From Hobbes to Hume.
Volume 6.  Modern Philosophy From The French Enlightenment to Kant.
Volume 7.  Modern Philosophy From Post-Kantian Idealists to Nietzsche.
Volume 8.  Modern Philosophy, Empiricism, Idealism, and Pragmatism, from Britain and America.
Volume 9.  Modern Philosophy From French Revolution to Levi-Strauss.

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More Links To Online Works About Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 18, 2009

My previous document WORKS BY AND ABOUT ST THOMAS AQUINAS has done fairly well on Scribd.  Below is another document on Aquinas I just uploaded to that site.

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Is Logic A Science Or An Art?

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 24, 2009

The Science of Logic
Chapter 2
: General View Of The Nature And Scope Of Logic
Article 9: Is Logic A Science Or An Art?

9.  Is Logic A Science Or An Art?-It is both; or rather there is a Science of logic-a practical science-and an Art of logic.  This, in brief, we consider to e the most satsifactory answer to a disputed question of secondary importance.

A scientific knowledge of any subject-matter is a knowledge of it through its causes, and reasons, and principles, a knowledge of its laws, a systematized, co-ordinated knowledge of it, got by mental application, analysis, demonstration.  Science is speculative if the knowledge is acquired for its own sake and has no immeidate application to practical ends, no immediate influence on conduct, no immediate utility for any ulterior object; it is practical if the knowledge is acquired not so much for its own sake as with a view to using it for some ulterior purpose to which it is immediately applicable: Finis speculativeae, veritas; finis operativae sive practicae, actio.  Manifestly this distinction is not a fundamental one; for, in so far as its springs, not from the motive entertained in studying the science, but from the nature of the knoweldge acquired, it is merely a matter of degree, since all true knowledge has, or can have, some practical influence on external conduct; and furthermore, it is one and the same mind, one and the same reason, that acquires all science, whether speculative or practical; and finally, even the most practical knowledge may be acquired for the sake of its own truth, apart altogether from its ulterior value, and will be, under this aspect, speculative.

An art, according to the ordinary use of the term, is understood to mean a collection of practical rules or canons or precepts for our guidance in the performance of some work, usually external:-facere, faire, to make, machen;-not merely mental-agere,agir, to do, thun.  But it also commonly means practical skill derived from experience in the application of those principals or rules.  The principals themselves are partly the fruit of study-like the truths of science-and partly of actual experience itself.  The main divisions of the arts is that into the fine arts-music painting, sculpture, ect.-and the various mechanical arts and crafts.

Now immediately, logic is a science, for it studies and analyses our mental processes and teaches us a systematized body of truths concerning those processes.  It is even speculative in character, both in so far as  the knowledge yielded by such analysis is desirable for its won sake, and inasmuch as even its practical aim is precisely to secure that very object which all speculative science aims at-knowledge of the truth.  This is St Thomas’ point of view when he writes: “In speculativis alia rationalis scientia est dailectica…et alia scientia demonstrative” (St IIa IIae, q. 51, art. 2, ad. 3).

Since, however, the knowledge acquired, the truths brought to light, by logic, are immediately applicable to the exercise of thought; since they are in the nature of canons for securing correct thought, for avoiding and detecting inaccurate reasoning; since the logician brings them to light from his analysis of thought, not merely for the pleasure of contemplating them, but with a view to using them: is is equally manifest that the science of logic is rather a practical than a speculative science.  its immediate object being distinctly practical, it must be ranked as a practical science.

Finally, is logic not merely a practical sicence but even an art?  In the narrower meaning, which would confine the scope of this term to collections of rules for the execution of external works, logic would not be an art.  but if we extend the terms to those rules which direct even internal, mental activity, we may legitimately call it an art-the art of correct thinking, of accurate reasoning.  That is to say, the discovery and formulation of those rules or canons-which are no less the outcome of experience in thinking than of an analytic study of the processes of thought-would be the practical science of logic; and the application of those rules, the actual reasoning according to those precepts (whether unconsciously or consciously) would be the art of logic.

Every art has some ackground of theoretical truths or principles behind it; every department of external experience has some counterpart or complement of internal, rational study.  The system of practicle rules and laws arrived at by the study of our mental processes was called by the Scholastics Logica Docens-logic in the teaching; the application of those fruits of study for the guidance of those processes, they called Logica Utens-logic in action.~THE SCIENCE OF LOGIC, by Peter Coffey

Posted in Aristotle, Books, Logic, Philosophy, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Videos: Martha Nussbaum On Aristotle

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 20, 2009

This interview by Bryan Magee is in 5 parts and totals about 45 minuets.

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Videos: Introduction To St Thomas Aquinas’ Metaphysics

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 18, 2009

I’ve watched some of these videos and think the guy does a pretty good job, though I make this judgement on the basis of my own very limited understanding of the subject.  Below the videos I’ve posted some links to both brief and extended online texts introducing the subject.

Please note that I’ve posted only the first three videos here; there are twelve total.  The rest can be viewed HERE.

Online Text Resources:

Brief texts:

Catholic Encyclopedia: Succinct, but a bit dated.  The text is hyperlinked to articles on related subjects. from NEW ADVENT.

Introduction to Philosophy: Metaphysics and its problemsThis is a very short essay from THE RADICAL ACADEMY.

What Is Metaphysics According To Thomas Aquinas? very brief presentation from AQUINAS ONLINE

Extended texts:

Metaphysics by Aristotle: The famous translation by W. D. Ross.  Obviously more than just a short introduction.  Readers may find the next link to the text much more convinient.

Aristotle’s Metaphysics: hosted by eBooks@adelaide.  Ross’s translation

Aquinas’ Lectures on the Metaphysics of Aristotle: Contains the text of Aristotle with Aquinas’ commentary.

A History Of Western Philosophy: An online book (two volumes) by Ralph McInerrny.  Treats of the main subjects in philosophy from the Pre-Socratics through William of Ockham in the 14th century AD.

Ontology, or The Theory of BeingA introduction to General Metaphysics in the Scholastic tradition.  A college level textbook by Peter Coffey

Volume 1: The Metaphysics Of The School On Scholastic Metaphysics by Thomas Harper, S.J.  Contains books 1-3.

Volume 2: The Metaphysics Of The School:  Contains books 4&5, with Appendices.


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Metaphysics Bk. 1, Ch. 2, Text and Notes.

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 14, 2009

The following contains the text of Book 1, Chapter 2 of Aristotle’s METAPHYSICS. The translation is that of W.D. Ross and is in the public domain. The source I used for the text is copyrighted under the GNU Free Documentation License.   Ross’ text is in plain black script. Section headings in bold type are from McMahon’s METAPHYSICS OF ARITOTLE.  Notes from McMahon or other non-copyrighted works are in red. My own notes, if any, are in blue. One should also consult St Thomas’ Commentary on The Metaphysics for fuller treatment of this chapter.  For previous installments on The Methphysics see HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Metaphysics: Book 1, Chapter 2 (1)
1.  Aristotle, having shown, in the first chapter, the the science under investigation-which he here calls wisdom, though elsewhere by a different denomination-is conversant about causes, proceeds now to lay down what sort these causes are, their nature, and number.

1.  Wisdom conversant about primary and universal causes.

Since we are seeking this knowledge, we must inquire of what kind are the causes and the principles, the knowledge of which is Wisdom. If one were to take the notions we have about the wise man, this might perhaps make the answer more evident.

2.  Threefold proof of this; first, from the definition of wise man.

We suppose first, then, that the wise man knows all things, as far as possible, although he has not knowledge of each of them in detail; secondly, that he who can learn things that are difficult, and not easy for man to know, is wise (sense-perception is common to all, and therefore easy and no mark of Wisdom); again, that he who is more exact and more capable of teaching the causes is wiser, in every branch of knowledge;

2a. second proof: from the definition of wisdom.
and that of the sciences, also, that which is desirable on its own account and for the sake of knowing it is more of the nature of Wisdom than that which is desirable on account of its results, and the superior science is more of the nature of Wisdom than the ancillary; for the wise man must not be ordered but must order, and he must not obey another, but the less wise must obey him. “Such and so many are the notions, then, which we have about Wisdom and the wise.  

2c. Third proof: from the applicability of these definitions to the present science.
Now of these characteristics that of knowing all things must belong to him who has in the highest degree universal knowledge (2); for he knows in a sense all the instances that fall under the universal.  And these things, the most universal, are on the whole the hardest for men to know; for they are farthest from the senses. And the most exact of the sciences are those which deal most with first principles; for those which involve fewer principles are more exact than those which involve additional principles, e.g. arithmetic than geometry (3). But the science which investigates causes is also instructive, in a higher degree, for the people who instruct us are those who tell the causes of each thing. And understanding and knowledge pursued for their own sake are found most in the knowledge of that which is most knowable (for he who chooses to know for the sake of knowing will choose most readily that which is most truly knowledge, and such is the knowledge of that which is most knowable); and the first principles and the causes are most knowable; for by reason of these, and from these, all other things come to be known, and not these by means of the things subordinate to them. And the science which knows to what end each thing must be done is the most authoritative of the sciences, and more authoritative than any ancillary science; and this end is the good of that thing, and in general the supreme good in the whole of nature.

2.  During the first age of Greek philosophy it was styled “sophia”, or “wisdom,” and its cultivators were termed “wise men;” and the term philosopher was first applied to Pythagoras.  This change, no doubt, betokened a corresponding change in men’s mode of thought; for thereby an element hitherto undiscovered was brought into notice,-namely, the relation of our emotions to scientific investigations.

3.  There is the same reasoning adopted by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics, book 1, chapter 2.

3.  Conclusion from the foregoing: that wisdom is a science of causes.

Judged by all the tests we have mentioned, then, the name in question falls to the same science; this must be a science that investigates the first principles and causes; for the good, i.e. the end, is one of the causes.

4.  What sort of a science wisdom is-not active but speculative-proof thereof.

4a. From the earliest philosophers. That it is not a science of production is clear even from the history of the earliest philosophers(4) . For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant (whence even the lover of myth is in a sense a lover of Wisdom (5), for the myth is composed of wonders); therefore since they philosophized order to escape from ignorance, evidently they were pursuing science in order to know, and not for any utilitarian end. And this is confirmed by the facts; for it was when almost all the necessities of life and the things that make for comfort and recreation had been secured, that such knowledge began to be sought. Evidently then we do not seek it for the sake of any other advantage;

4. Aristotle shows that the science under investigation is speculative, not active, from the fact that the earliest philosophy sprang from wonder,-that wonder that flows from ignorance,-that the removal of ignorance amounts to knowledge,-that this was accomplished by speculation and not practice; ant that therefore wisdom, the source of the highest knowledge, was speculative and not active.  Compare Alexander Aphrodisiensis on the passage, and also Thomas Aquinas in his remarks on the Proemiun of Aristotle.

5.  Philosophy necessarily, at first, partook largely of the nature of the fabulous, on account of its being therewith deeply tinged through the influence of poetry.  This is manifest from the works of Greek antiquity in the instances of Linus, Musaeus, and Orpheus.

5.  This science is most liberal.

but as the man is free, we say, who exists for his own sake and not for another’s, so we pursue this as the only free science, for it alone exists for its own sake.

6.  Not human in origin: proved from the poets.

Hence also the possession of it might be justly regarded as beyond human power; for in many ways human nature is in bondage(6) , so that according to Simonides ‘God alone can have this privilege’, and it is unfitting that man should not be content to seek the knowledge that is suited to him (7). If, then, there is something in what the poets say, and jealousy is natural to the divine power, it would probably occur in this case above all, and all who excelled in this knowledge would be unfortunate (8). But the divine power cannot be jealous (nay, according to the proverb, ‘bards tell a lie’),

6. Men are often the slaves of thier nature on account of their superabundant bodily necessities-Asclepius.

7. Aristotle’s object, in bringing forward Simonide, is to show that this wisdom, on account of the very elevated speculations it contains, seems a thing of Divine growth, as being inconsistent, in regard to its origin, with the frail faculties and condition of man.

8. Their superior qualifications would excite the rancour of the Deity, on the supposition of the truth of the poetic idea of the Divine as a nature essentially envious.  Herodotus was of the same opinion, that the character of the Divinity being envious, there resulted misfortune, sent by the invidious Deity upon those amongst the human race that shone above their fellows.

7.  This science is most honorable.

nor should any other science be thought more honourable than one of this sort. For the most divine science is also most honourable; and this science alone must be, in two ways, most divine. For the science which it would be most meet for God to have is a divine science, and so is any science that deals with divine objects; and this science alone has both these qualities; for (1) God is thought to be among the causes of all things and to be a first principle (9), and (2) such a science either God alone can have, or God above all others. All the sciences, indeed, are more necessary than this, but none is better.

9. This is a remarkable passage to occur in the writings of Aristotle, about whose deism or atheism so much has been said and written.

8.  This science developed in an order contrary to the early philosophy.

“Yet the acquisition of it must in a sense end in something which is the opposite of our original inquiries (10). For all men begin, as we said, by wondering that things are as they are, as they do about self-moving marionettes, or about the solstices or the incommensurability of the diagonal of a square with the side; for it seems wonderful to all who have not yet seen the reason, that there is a thing which cannot be measured even by the smallest unit. But we must end in the contrary and, according to the proverb, the better state, as is the case in these instances too when men learn the cause; for there is nothing which would surprise a geometer so much as if the diagonal turned out to be commensurable.

10. That whereas the old philosophy originated from wonder,-that is, ignorance,-and attained unto a sort of knowledge, yet that when man reached this knowledge, knowledge, as such, became the great actuating motive in speculation.  This present science under investigation, however, would set out from an opposite point in this progress, because it started from the consideration of that which is the highest object of speculative knowledge.

“We have stated, then, what is the nature of the science we are searching for, and what is the mark which our search and our whole investigation must reach.

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Metaphysics Bk. 1, Ch. 1 Text and Notes

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 16, 2009

The following contains the text of Book 1, Chapter 1 of Aristotle’s METAPHYSICS. The translation is that of W.D. Ross and is in the public domain. The source I used for the text is copyrighted under the GNU Free Documentation License. Ross’ text is in plain black script. Section headings in bold type are from McMahon’s METAPHYSICS OF ARITOTLE.  Notes from other non-copyrighted works are in red. My own notes, if any, are in blue.  A brief analysis from McMahon can be found HERE.

The Metaphysics of Aristotle(1).

(1) Metaphysics is sometimes taken as meaning “beyond,” or “above” physics because, according to Aristotle himself, this science is superior to all others. It should be noted, however, that Aristotle did not give this name to his work. According to MacMahon, the designation of it as “Metaphysics” comes from Andronicus of Rhodes “who, out of the materials employed in compiling the Physics, set down after them, and designated as meta physika whatever he found unsuited for insertion here.” Apparently Andronicus, finding that the subject matter of this body of writing was different from The Physics, separated them from that work in his compilation of Aristotle’s texts. Thus the word originally designated their place with in the Organon (body of work) of Aristotle: they were put after (meta) the physics. Other scholars maintain that the term is derived from the fact that it was considered appropriate to study this particular subject only after (meta) having studied The Physics.

1. Man’s natural thirst for knowledge, and a proof thereof.

“ALL men by nature desire to know (2). An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses(3); for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else(4). The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things.

2. “all men desire to know.” This, probably, is what Cicero means when he says, in the De Officiis, I, 4,- “In primisque hominis est, propria veri inquisitio atque investigatio.” The assertion, however, that all men desire knowledge, has been objected to, on the ground that in some this desire is wholly absent; but this absence merely mounts to a suppression of the natural desire from various causes; e.g., want of leisure for intellectual pursuits, constitutional laziness, voluptuous habits. This natural craving for knowledge leads to a concentration of individual abilities on particular studies, and thus to a subdivision of intellectual labor. Aristotle omits to notice here the connection between this desire and our social capacities, which ensures the mutual communication between mankind of their mental and scientific discoveries.

Aquinas, in his commentary on the Metaphysics notes that Aristotle gives three reasons why men desire by nature to know: 1. a thing naturally desires its own perfections; 2. by nature things are inclined to perform operations proper to them, and understanding is proper to man’s nature; 3. each thing is inclined to be untied to its source. See Aquinas’ Commentary on the Metaphysics, Lesson 1, under the heading “commentary,” # 2-4.

3. Aristotle thus assigns two reasons for our love of the senses,-their utility, and their being sources of knowledge; or, as Thomas Aquinas expresses it, “in quantum sunt utiles ac gognoscitivi.”

4. “ we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else.” Aristotle’s reasoning amounts to this. Man loves knowledge, and loves the senses, therefore, for their own sakes; that is, so far forth as they are the inlets of knowledge, and, consequently, the sense of sight for the cause he assigns. The elevation of this sense above the others was in accordance with the notions of the old philosophers, and of the scholastics; and this superiority was grounded on the immediateness of the perceptions afforded by the organ of vision, compared with the others which came in through a medium. This notion is discarded by the moderns. All the sense, as such, are equally the source of knowledge, as is most satisfactorily proved by Brown, and with much originality too, in his Philosophy of the Human Mind. I’m not sure this is a fair assessment of all scholasticism which gave more than one reason for sights superiority.

2. Different degrees of knowledge in the brute creation, and their different order of development.

“By nature animals are born with the faculty of sensation, and from sensation memory is produced in some of them(5), though not in others. And therefore the former are more intelligent and apt at learning than those which cannot remember; those which are incapable of hearing sounds are intelligent though they cannot be taught, e.g. the bee, and any other race of animals that may be like it; and those which besides memory have this sense of hearing can be taught.

5. “from sensation memory is produced in some of them (brute animals), though not in others.” That memory is a distinct faculty of man, much less in brutes, is denied by Brown; but that what we term memory in the human species is found in brutes, is shown by Locke in the instance of birds, after a few attempts, learning to warble particular airs of music.

3. Comparison between men and brutes.

“The animals other than man live by appearances (6) and memories, and have but little of connected experience; but the human race lives also by art and reasonings.

6. “Appearances.” It is not, however, quite so easy to determine the meaning of this word in the philosophic works of the ancients. In the present case, Aristotle seems to mean those ideas that are conveyed into the minds of animals by means of their representative power…Thomas Aquinas, in his commentary, defines (the word) thus: Quae est motus factus sensu secundus actum;” which reminds us of Hobbes’ definition of sensation itself.

4. The different degrees of human knowledge, and their order of development.

Now from memory experience is produced in men; for the several memories of the same thing produce finally the capacity for a single experience. And experience seems pretty much like science and art.

5. The generation of art and science from experience.

but really science and art come to men through experience; for ‘experience made art’, as Polus says, ‘but inexperience luck.’ Now art arises when from many notions gained by experience one universal judgement about a class of objects is produced. For to have a judgement that when Callias was ill of this disease this did him good, and similarly in the case of Socrates and in many individual cases, is a matter of experience; but to judge that it has done good to all persons of a certain constitution, marked off in one class, when they were ill of this disease, e.g. to phlegmatic or bilious people when burning with fevers-this is a matter of art.

6. The comparison of art to experience, in regard to practice.

“With a view to action experience seems in no respect inferior to art, and men of experience succeed even better than those who have theory without experience. (The reason is that experience is knowledge of individuals, art of universals, and actions and productions are all concerned with the individual; for the physician does not cure man, except in an incidental way, but Callias or Socrates or some other called by some such individual name, who happens to be a man. If, then, a man has the theory without the experience, and recognizes the universal but does not know the individual included in this, he will often fail to cure; for it is the individual that is to be cured.)

7. The superiority of art over experience, in regard of knowledge.

But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to art rather than to experience, and we suppose artists to be wiser than men of experience (which implies that Wisdom depends in all cases rather on knowledge); and this because the former know the cause, but the latter do not.

8. Three proofs in support of the above proposition (#7)

The first proof. For men of experience know that the thing is so, but do not know why, while the others know the ‘why’ and the cause. Hence we think also that the masterworkers in each craft are more honourable and know in a truer sense and are wiser than the manual workers, because they know the causes of the things that are done (we think the manual workers are like certain lifeless things which act indeed, but act without knowing what they do, as fire burns,-but while the lifeless things perform each of their functions by a natural tendency, the labourers perform them through habit); thus we view them as being wiser not in virtue of being able to act, but of having the theory for themselves and knowing the causes.

The second proof. And in general it is a sign of the man who knows and of the man who does not know, that the former can teach, and therefore we think art more truly knowledge than experience is; for artists can teach, and men of mere experience cannot.

The third proof. “Again, we do not regard any of the senses as Wisdom; yet surely these give the most authoritative knowledge of particulars. But they do not tell us the ‘why’ of anything-e.g. why fire is hot; they only say that it is hot.

9. Speculative rather than active art is wisdom.

“At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men, not only because there was something useful in the inventions, but because he was thought wise and superior to the rest. But as more arts were invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to recreation, the inventors of the latter were naturally always regarded as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of knowledge did not aim at utility. Hence when all such inventions were already established, the sciences which do not aim at giving pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered, and first in the places where men first began to have leisure. This is why the mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly caste was allowed to be at leisure (7).

7. Aristotle here shows the paths through which men must travel into this “wisdom,” or first philosophy; and for this purpose adduced the example of the Egyptian priests, who were enabled to construct the speculative sciences of geometry and mathematics by having enjoyed the leisure from the laborious employments of life. They were thus allowed an opportunity of contemplating the heavenly phenomena, and, from such observations of experience, of deducing the abstract sciences. The student will do well to consult Alexander’s Commentary on the passage, and the more elaborate explanation of Asclepius, taken from Ammonius.

10. That wisdom is a science of causes, reaffirmed, and stated as the object of the present treatise.

“We have said in the Ethics what the difference is between art and science and the other kindred faculties; but the point of our present discussion is this, that all men suppose what is called Wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principles of things; so that, as has been said before, the man of experience is thought to be wiser than the possessors of any sense-perception whatever, the artist wiser than the men of experience, the masterworker than the mechanic, and the theoretical kinds of knowledge to be more of the nature of Wisdom than the productive. Clearly then Wisdom is knowledge about certain principles and causes.

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