The Aristotelian Revolution: The Autonomy of the Theoretic Life and the Dream of Universal Science
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Aristotle departs in a revolutionary way from Platonism by distinguishing the theoretic life and the political life. The basis of this distinction lies in Aristotle’s rejection of the Socratic equation of virtue and knowledge. Aristotle distinguishes between the moral and intellectual virtues, and correspondingly between the practical sciences concerned with action, and the theoretical sciences concerned with the pure contemplation of truth. The content of the theoretic life will thus involve the theoretic sciences of natural philosophy, mathematics, and natural theology distinguished from each other according to their respective relations to the world of change and materiality. Aristotle will argue not only for the autonomy of the theoretic life but also its superiority. The highest science will be the ruler and not the servant of the others; and so. It will also be the most “leisured” in the sense of having its own nobility and excellence transcending all considerations of utility. Such a science will also be the most universal, being concerned with being as such rather that particular forms of being. Hence was born Aristotle’s metaphysics – the dream of a universal science which would provide the foundation for all the other sciences.
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