Aristotle is the father and chief defender of the view that the human mind is capable of achieving a deep and rich understanding of the world in terms of fundamental principles, which can be derived ultimately from sense-perception. His view can be contrasted with rationalism (the view that understanding is made possible only by principles grasped independently of perception) and with empiricism (the view that we have no way of grasping such principles and so are limited to superficially describing unintelligible phenomena). Aristotle's position represents a high point in the history of human thought, but the writings in which he expressed it are so obscure that most readers find it difficult to appreciate their significance or even to make sense of them. Nothing else in the philosophical canon is at once so seemingly incomprehensible and so eminently worth comprehending.
This course offers a way into this difficult material. The student will be introduced to Aristotle's most important insights into the nature of knowledge and the methods by which we can achieve it; and he will be pointed to the texts in which these insights can be found and provided with a context that will enable him to explore them profitably.
The supplemental materials include Dr. Salmieri's translations of all the passages discussed (with ample surrounding context) as well as recommendations for further reading on each of the topics covered.
This course was recorded at the 2010 Objectivist Summer Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
(MP3 download; 4 hrs., 31 min., with Q & A, 218 MB)