The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 45, 1998

Theory of Knowledge

James B. Freeman
Pages 88-93

Aristotelian Intellectual Intuition, Basic Beliefs and Naturalistic Epistemology

I first argue that Aristotelian intellectual intuition (recognizing archai through epagoge and seeing their truth by recognizing their explanatory power through nous) generates basic beliefs which are not inferred — inductively or deductively — from other beliefs. Both involve synthetic intuitive insight. Epagoge grasps a connection and nous sees its general applicability. I next argue that such beliefs are properly basic by adapting an argument made by Hilary Kornblith. According to Kornblith, the world is objectively divided into natural kinds. We humans perceive the world divided into natural kinds. There is empirical evidence suggesting that we divide the world not only as it is objectively divided, but in making inductive inferences, that is, in inferring that an object will have certain properties on the basis of its having others. This grounds the reliability of (certain) inductive inferences. But the leading principles (in Peirce’s sense) of these inferences are basic beliefs generated through intellectual intuition. Hence intellectual intuition generates certain properly basic beliefs.