First Principles Essay

1124 WordsDec 18, 20135 Pages
Aristotle & First Principles Philosophy 1D03 A first principle is an origin and by nature it is one that cannot be deduced from any other. Aristotle states that when there is an inquiry involving these first principles, scientific knowledge is formulated as a result of their exploration. He argues that all science must fall into a demonstrative process and that process must follow a demonstrative syllogism. Therefore, scientific knowledge is a system of statements organized hierarchically and every such statement at a lower level must always be deducible from its immediate primary premise. It follows that in this hierarchically organized system, a primary premise must sit at the top from which all of its children are deduced, thus creating the problem of reaching that premise and proving it to be necessarily true. Aristotle believes that these primary premises, or first principles, can be discovered through induction when in fact induction alone is not sufficient enough to achieve this. This essay will use Aristotle’s own induction definition to break down why a first principle cannot be discovered using that method in the first place; followed by examples of contradictions within Aristotle’s work on scientific reasoning and logic to show the flaw in his method of thinking. Finally it will go on to conclude with a redefinition of first principles. This essay will break down Aristotle’s own thoughts and then provide logical arguments disproving them. “Among our intellectual states that grasp the truth, some – knowledge, and understanding- are always true, whereas others – for example, belief and reasoning-admit of being false” (Posterior Analytics, page 24, paragraph 2, lines 1-3). According to Aristotle, induction is the process of going from specifics to universal, or generalizing from facts acquired through observation. Generalizing by nature is a

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