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Transformation in knowledge : the Aristotlian concepts of actuality and potentiality and the Cartesian method


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Piskun, AF 2009 , 'Transformation in knowledge : the Aristotlian concepts of actuality and potentiality and the Cartesian method', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In this thesis, I will discuss the Anstotelian concepts of actuality and potentiality in
combination with the Cartesian method. On the one hand this will be done as an attempt to
balance the traditional English language interpretation of the relationship between Anstotelian
and Cartesian philosophy, which tends to characterise them as fundamentally opposed. On
the other hand, it will be done in order to generate legitimate unexplored conceptual
frameworks for viewing the work of both philosophers. There is an assumption central to the
greater part of English language scholarship on Descartes, attaining almost the status of self evidence,
that within the philosophical canon, the appearance of the Cartesian method marks a
definitive break between the ancient and the modern. Descartes signal achievement, on this
assumption, was that he found a way once and for all, to break philosophy free from the
shackles of Aristotelian thought. Such an idea is based upon the notion that, after Aristotle
and prior to Descartes, philosophy consisted of little more than the endless repetition, or
subtle modification of a hybrid Christian/ Anstotelian doctrine. The subsequent trajectory of
English language philosophy appears to attest to the validity of such a view, and its apparent
self-evidence from the perspective of this tradition serves to cover over other legitimate
approaches to interpretation and use of Aristotelian and Cartesian concepts. In this thesis,
rather than performing a comparison of the philosophy of Aristotle and Descartes, the
Aristotelian concepts of actuality and potentiality and the Cartesian method will be considered
ID light of a smgle task, namely, an attempt to theorise transformations in fundamental
structures of knowledge. This will be accomplished by identifying latent possibilities suitable
for such a task within Aristotelian and Cartesian conceptual structures, and extending them
accordingly. As such, this thesis must be understood as a speculative work rather than as a
work in history of philosophy.
Aristotle demonstrates the meaning and function of the concepts of actuality and potentiality
by way of analogy. This form of demonstration leaves the meaning of actuality and
potentiality open to further extension by analogy. As such, the concepts of actuality and
potentiality can be extended to cases not originally brought under these concepts by Aristotle.
In this thesis the concepts of actuality and potentiality will be extended, according to the
structure of the analogy by which Aristotle originally defines them, to an explanation of
transformation in structures of knowledge. At the same time, the Cartesian method will be
interpreted as a detailed account of a particular transformation from one structure of
knowledge to another. Whilst Descartes characterises his own project in terms of the
attainment of certainty, I intend to show that Descartes' stated intention in the creation of his
method is less significant in terms of his overall system that the transformation that this intent
brings about.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Piskun, AF
Keywords: Descartes, Rene,́ 1596-1650. Discours de la met́hode, Descartes, Rene, 1596-1650, Aristotle, Knowledge, Theory of, Science
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. Actuality -potentiality -- Ch. 3. Pros hen structure and non-generic unity -- Ch. 4. Thought and phenomena in the Cartesian Method -- Ch. 5. The actualisation of Cartesian metaphysics -- Ch. 6. Conclusion -- Bibliography

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