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On Purpose$
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Michael Ruse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195957

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter One Athens
On Purpose

Michael Ruse

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about Aristotle who implied that knowledge is the object of inquiry, and men do not think they know a thing till they have grasped the “why” of it. He was not the first to raise the question of causation, for it was nigh an obsession of his philosophical predecessors, back through his teacher Plato, to Socrates, and to the earlier “pre-Socratic” thinkers, including Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and the atomist Democritus. They all grasped that in some sense causation is both a backward-looking and forward-looking matter. Backward-looking in the sense that this happens because a hammer was picked up and used to hit the head of the nail; forward-looking in the sense that this happens because the builder wants to tie the planks together to support a roof. The chapter also argues that the forward-looking side to causation lends itself to different approaches: “external” teleology, “internal teleology,” and “eliminative” or, more positively, “heuristic” teleology.

Keywords:   Aristotle, causation, Plato, Socrates, backward-looking, forward-looking, teleology

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