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post #17 of Old 12-07-2007
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Book I


ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the
delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness
they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of
sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not
going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything
else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know
and brings to light many differences between things.
By nature animals are born with the faculty of sensation, and from
sensation memory is produced in some of them, though not in others.
And therefore the former are more intelligent and apt at learning than
those which cannot remember; those which are incapable of hearing
sounds are intelligent though they cannot be taught, e.g. the bee, and
any other race of animals that may be like it; and those which besides
memory have this sense of hearing can be taught.
The animals other than man live by appearances and memories, and
have but little of connected experience; but the human race lives also
by art and reasonings. Now from memory experience is produced in
men; for the several memories of the same thing produce finally the
capacity for a single experience. And experience seems pretty much
like science and art, but really science and art come to men through
experience; for 'experience made art', as Polus says, 'but
inexperience luck.' Now art arises when from many notions gained by
experience one universal judgement about a class of objects is
produced. For to have a judgement that when Callias was ill of this
disease this did him good, and similarly in the case of Socrates and
in many individual cases, is a matter of experience; but to judge that
it has done good to all persons of a certain constitution, marked
off in one class, when they were ill of this disease, e.g. to
phlegmatic or bilious people when burning with fevers-this is a matter
of art.
With a view to action experience seems in no respect inferior to
art, and men of experience succeed even better than those who have
theory without experience. (The reason is that experience is knowledge
of individuals, art of universals, and actions and productions are all
concerned with the individual; for the physician does not cure man,
except in an incidental way, but Callias or Socrates or some other
called by some such individual name, who happens to be a man. If,
then, a man has the theory without the experience, and recognizes
the universal but does not know the individual included in this, he
will often fail to cure; for it is the individual that is to be
cured.) But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to
art rather than to experience, and we suppose artists to be wiser than
men of experience (which implies that Wisdom depends in all cases
rather on knowledge); and this because the former know the cause,
but the latter do not. For men of experience know that the thing is
so, but do not know why, while the others know the 'why' and the
cause. Hence we think also that the masterworkers in each craft are
more honourable and know in a truer sense and are wiser than the
manual workers, because they know the causes of the things that are
done (we think the manual workers are like certain lifeless things
which act indeed, but act without knowing what they do, as fire
burns,-but while the lifeless things perform each of their functions
by a natural tendency, the labourers perform them through habit); thus
we view them as being wiser not in virtue of being able to act, but of
having the theory for themselves and knowing the causes. And in
general it is a sign of the man who knows and of the man who does
not know, that the former can teach, and therefore we think art more
truly knowledge than experience is; for artists can teach, and men
of mere experience cannot.
Again, we do not regard any of the senses as Wisdom; yet surely
these give the most authoritative knowledge of particulars. But they
do not tell us the 'why' of anything-e.g. why fire is hot; they only
say that it is hot.
At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the
common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men, not only
because there was something useful in the inventions, but because he
was thought wise and superior to the rest. But as more arts were
invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to
recreation, the inventors of the latter were naturally always regarded
as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of
knowledge did not aim at utility. Hence when all such inventions
were already established, the sciences which do not aim at giving
pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered, and first in
the places where men first began to have leisure. This is why the
mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly
caste was allowed to be at leisure.
We have said in the Ethics what the difference is between art
and science and the other kindred faculties; but the point of our
present discussion is this, that all men suppose what is called Wisdom
to deal with the first causes and the principles of things; so that,
as has been said before, the man of experience is thought to be
wiser than the possessors of any sense-perception whatever, the artist
wiser than the men of experience, the masterworker than the
mechanic, and the theoretical kinds of knowledge to be more of the
nature of Wisdom than the productive. Clearly then Wisdom is knowledge
about certain principles and causes.
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