Ana Laura Edelhoff, Oxford, and Ekrem Çetinkaya, Uppsala

Joint Double Seminar – The Higher Seminar in the History of Philosophy, UU, and The Stockholm History of Philosophy Workshop, SU

(NB, time and venue)

13–15, Ana Laura Edelhoff, Somerville College Oxford: "Ontological Priority and Simultaneity Among Relatives in Aristotle’s Categories 7"

Both in the Categories and in the Metaphysics Aristotle is interested not only in classifying entities, but also in determining ontological dependencies among these entities. In Categories Aristotle is specifically interested in ontological dependence relations among relatives. I argue that Aristotle uses the following criterion for ontological priority (=asymmetric ontological dependence; Aristotle calls it “priority in nature”) in Categories:

– A is ontologically prior to B, if necessarily, A’s being implies B’s being, but, not necessarily, B’s being implies A’s being.

In addition, I will contend that Aristotle proposes the following account of simultaneity in nature (=symmetric ontological dependence):

– A and B are simultaneous in nature, iff necessarily, A’s being implies B’s being, and necessarily, B’s being implies A’s being; and neither is the cause of the other.

In the Categories Aristotle claims that all relatives reciprocate. He claims that in most cases relatives are simultaneous in nature, but in some cases there holds a priority in nature between them. I argue that these claims are in tension. Aristotle cannot reconcile his commitment that all relatives reciprocate with the claim that an ontological priority holds between in some cases. I then go on to argue that this tension cannot be resolved by bringing in the more nuanced account of relatives in the Metaphysics.


15–17, Ekrem Çetinkaya, Uppsala University: "Aristotle on Protagorean Relativism"

It is a fairly established interpretation that to Aristotle, sense perception is for animals a reliable source for gathering information about their environment. Nonetheless, there are occasions when sense perception fails to be such a reliable source, bringing about conflicting pieces of information about the same object: The sun appears to be smaller than it actually is, or the same wine tastes bitter to someone but not so to another, or the houses by the river look as if they were moving to the one who sails past them but not to the one who stays put. Such occurrences of conflicting appearances prompt different kinds of philosophical reactions. In this chapter, I will examine whether Aristotle thinks of these kinds of examples as a serious threat to his perceptual realism. He engages with Protagorean relativists who depart from considering conflicting appearances—which many would deem to be non-veridical—to be true, to eventually form their doctrine that man is the measure of all things. It becomes thereby crucial to explore the ways Aristotle copes with the case Protagoreans propose: Can he, and if so how, save his perceptual realist account from the challenge of the perceptual relativism in which the world, on the basis of its diverging appearances, is made relative to individual perceivers? There are especially two important points made in the following pages: First, I will defend and develop the idea that contrary to what their measure doctrine suggests on the surface, according to Aristotle, the relativists do not attribute any subjectivity whatsoever to our sense perceptions of the world but rather question the very objectivity of the world. Second, I will show that according to Aristotle, instead of altering our metaphysical picture of the world, we should handle examples of conflicting appearances within psychology as perceptual deceptions originating in (among others) certain anomalous physical conditions of percipient subjects.