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Foundation of Knowledge: Aristotle on Epistemology

A brief explication of Aristotle and his foundational theory of epistemology or theory of knowledge. Foundationalism is most widely accepted as the grounds for knowledge and justified, true, belief.

Aristotle was the first to formalize a foundationalist epistemology. Foundationalism is the idea that knowledge claims are ultimately justified by first principles. I intend to define and describe these first principles as well as explain how it is we come to know the first principles.?A first principle is an infallible truth, kath auto, in itself. These first principles are not conclusions of prior arguments, but the absence of the need of an argument, in and of itself. First principles are also called the archai, nous, understanding and the axioms. When Aristotle speaks of Archai and axioms his meaning is, that which is ‘the beginning’. It is for this reason that geometry passed down the language of the axioms.  Of first principles there are two main types:

1. Axioms or common principles, are the general or universal truths

2. Posits or proper principles are the thesis’ or truths to a certain science. Also, among the posits are suppositions, that something is or is not, and definitions of what something is.

The only way to know the first principles is through nous. Nous uses induction through perception to grasp the first principles. Nous is the capacity of rational thought and understanding. It is through a perceptual process that the first principles can be known.?The process followed in coming to know the first principles is through, use of perception, a potentiality that Aristotle believes all animals possess in varying degrees.

1. Sensation is the first step, and the grounds for memory.

2. Memory is a potentiality that many animals possess.

3. Experience comes from the foundation of memory; some animals have the potential to experience.

4. Human beings alone have the potential to make a rational account of their perceptions. ?

The axioms and first principles can only be induced from that which persists in the world we experience; the world as we know it. 

In many ways Aristotle’s epistemology has survived the tests of time. It seems correct, Aristotle’s foundational views are accurate. As a linear theories of justification Aristotle leaves us with a justified belief, with which we can have a great certainty in relation to its validity. Full filling the common test of epistemology as a justified, true, belief. There is little or no truth attributed to an infinite regress of justification. Just as there is little or no ground for circular theories of justification. Either proposes a void in justification, by justifying with a prior axiom or by always continuing to a deeper axiom in need of justification. The believe that the first principles do exist and that they can be grasped through the human faculty, known as nous, is shared implicitly by much of the world today and is the legacy of Aristotle.

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Comments (3)
Ranked #7 in Philosophy

Yes Jerrod i accord to the legacy of this brilliant man, humans have the higher intelligence to introspect about life and beyond...like/tweet/stumbled! thanks for the share.

Thank you very much :) Though deep down I don't consider myself an Aristotelian I cannot deny that my whole philosophy is in some way combating his influences on thought. Much appreciated that liked as well as tweeted and stumbled :)

Knowledge, like it

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