Aristotle’s Theory of Knowledge and Hellenistic Epistemologies

Theory of Knowledge and
Hellenistic Epistemologies

The Principles of Demonstration in the Ancient Commentary Tradition

Orna Harari

6 June 2023 – 5 PM (CEST)

The account of the principles of demonstration found in the Greek commentary tradition on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics is significantly different from Aristotle’s own account. Whereas Aristotle classifies the principles mainly according to their intrinsic characteristics as propositions, the commentators do so by appealing to the knower’s cognitive attitude towards them.

In my lecture I explain this difference, arguing that it reflects the commentators’ adaptation of Aristotle’s theory of demonstration to the epistemological theories originated in the Hellenistic era, specifically to the view that the intellect and perception are criteria of truth.

This explanation brings to light the considerations underlying the commentators understanding of the principles of demonstrations, and clarifies why they held that the knowledge of the axioms and the knowledge of the other principles are derived from different sources.

About the Speaker ...

Orna Harari is Professor of Classics and Ancient Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University.

Her interests lie in ancient logic, proof-theory, and mathematics. Her current work focuses on the reception of Aristotle’s theory of demonstration in the ancient commentary tradition. In her published works she has studied topics such as the logical role of geometrical constructions, ancient philosophical accounts of constructions and diagrammatic reasoning, the relationship between proof and explanation, relational attributes, and the epistemic status of the principles of proof. Her most recent publications include Knowledge and Demonstration: Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2010) and the paper ‘The Principles of Demonstration and Tekmeriodic Proofs in the Late-Antique Commentary Tradition’, Revue de Synthèse, 134/6, 2013: 246-266.

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