, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 303-315
Date: 09 Oct 2012

Science and metaphysics in Aristotle’s philosophy

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The transition from the Analytics to the Metaphysics

In the first two chapters of the second book of the Posterior Analytics (=APo.), Aristotle distinguishes between four types of question which are of interest for scientific inquiry: whether x exists, whether x is F, what x is, and why x is F. He links our inquiry into whether x exists with that into whether x is F. Similarly, our knowledge of definition—what x is—is connected to our causal-explanatory knowledge—why x is F. This last point, it should be noted, is not merely a claim of epistemic or pragmatic interdependence between the practices of defining and explaining (or demonstrating from explanatory premises). Rather, it also aims to track a deeper metaphysical interdependence between essence (a thing’s what it is) and the cause or explanation for its being as it is but also for its having the necessary features it possesses.

In APo. II.8–10, Aristotle develops these twin interdependencies in his discussion of scientific inquiry i