Aristotle on the many senses of priority by Professor John J. Cleary

By Professor John J. Cleary

Cleary discusses the starting place, improvement, and use of the numerous senses of precedence as a important thesis in Aristotle’s metaphysics.Cleary contends that probably the most revealing difficulties for the anomaly of Aristotle’s courting to Platonism is that of the ontological prestige of mathematical gadgets. In aid of his declare, Cleary analyzes a curious passage from Aristotle’s issues, the place he seems to just accept a schema of priorities that makes mathematical entities extra vast than good things.How does Aristotle try and reconcile the ordering of items dictated by means of sciences like arithmetic and dialectic with the ordering of experience event upon which his personal physics and metaphysics are established? to discover the reply, Cleary reports 3 various outlines of the various senses of precedence given via Aristotle himself and located in different types 12-13, Metaphysics Delta eleven, and Metaphysics Theta eight. Cleary indicates there's an implicit hierarchy for Aristotle that leads him to posit the best Mover at its apex as entire reality and, consequently, because the concentration for the concept that of precedence. Having reviewed Aristotle’s therapy of the numerous makes use of of precedence, Cleary demonstrates how the concept that is utilized in a few commonplace arguments by way of Aristotle for his mature metaphysical positions.

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He feels compelled to make this distinction because he recognizes that the mathematical sciences require a kind of thinking that is different from the ordinary. Thus, at the end of the passage, he contrasts our ordinary intelligence with the precise and extraordinary understanding demanded in mathematics. Since our ordinary understanding of things is dominated by sense perception, what is more intelligible to us sometimes happens to be the complete reverse of what is more intelligible by nature, especially in the case of mathematical objects.

Through a comparison with the more expansive treatment of priority in Metaphysics Delta, I will try to show that at least some of the criteria are inherited from Plato. 4 The final chapter of this book will attempt to work out some of the implications of this claim as they appear in parts of the Metaphysics and of the Physics. In this way I hope to illustrate the importance of the concept of priority for understanding some of his most characteristic metaphysical positions. "5Since 'being' is a pros hen equivocal, according to Aristotle, the crux of this issue is how many kinds of substance there are and which is prior.

Some of the mythical resonance of the question about "beginnings" () can still be heard in Plato and Aristotle when they ponder the mystery of beginnings in the universe and in thought. All this should be recalled while we are dealing with the prosaic topic of the different senses of priority. Perhaps this is the best place to enter a caveat against a possible confusion of Aristotle's notion of priority with Kant's notion of a priori. The latter has a special meaning by contrast with a posteriori within an epistemological framework that is quite foreign to the thought of Aristotle, even when the latter is considering how we know necessary truths.

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