Volume 3, 1998
Marie I. George
Aristotle on Paideia of Principles
Aristotle maintains that paideia enables one to judge the method used by a given speaker without judging the conclusions drawn as well (I.1 De Partibus Animalium). He contends that this "paideia of principles" requires three things: seeing that principles are not derived from one another; seeing that there is nothing before them within reason; and, seeing that they are the source of much knowledge. In order to grasp these principles, one must respectively learn to recognize what distinguishes the subject matters studied in different disciplines, see first principles as coming from experience and acquire the habit of seeking them in one’s experience and, finally, see first principles as being the source of conclusions. While the second and third points might at first seem to pertain to "nous" and science, respectively, rather than to paideia, the case can be made that paideia involves more of a firm grasp of principles than "nous" and a less perfect way of relating conclusion to principles than science.