Grounding, Analogy, and Aristotle’s Critique of Plato’s Idea of the Good

Part of the Philosophers in Depth book series (PID)


In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in Aristotelian metaphysics. Among the prominent contemporary neo-Aristotelians one would include Gideon Rosen, Jonathan Schaffer, and especially Kit Fine, whose interest in Aristotelian approaches dates back at least to the 1980s. Doubtless, there are many differences among their respective views. But it is safe to say that all of them emphasize a relation of grounding or dependence that serves to mark some entities as fundamental, foundational, or basic and other entities as derived or founded upon, or grounded in, the basic items. (A card-carrying Platonist myself, it strikes me as curious that pride of place is given to Aristotle in promoting the idea that there is this sort of dependence. Of course, Aristotle makes much of dependence in his critique of Plato whereas dependence is arguably less central to Plato’s project. But more on the relation of Plato to Aristotle below.) Questions about whether certain items exist, for example, numbers, tables, minds, are secondary. “Of course they [numbers] do! The question is whether or not they are fundamental.” (Schaffer, 2009, p. 346) Indeed, worries about existence are generally, though not entirely, dismissed as part of the Quinean and Carnapian orthodoxies against which these neo-Aristotelians set their sails.


Good Thing Prime Mover Primary Substance Nicomachean Ethic Basic Entity 
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© Allan Silverman 2013

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