This volume presents the papers delivered during the Fall 1999 lecture series of the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. It originates from the wish to trace across the centuries the continuous presence of the five intellectual virtues set forth by Aristotle in book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics. All speakers were asked to consider their author’s position as regards the concepts of art, prudence, science, wisdom, understanding, and look for reactions to Aristotle’s original understanding of them. Of course, this was a very specific question, and although the speakers were encouraged to consider this issue, they were not necessitated to do so. It was rather suggested they looked into the general issue of the impact of Aristotle on the philosophers they were familiar with, namely Zabarella, Galilei, Suárez, Semery, Leibniz, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Gadamer. For the sake of precision, the scope of the volume was limited to modern philosophy, i.e., to the period that begins with the Renaissance and ends with the twentieth century. It is true that many representative philosophers are considered in the volume, but just as many are missing. On the other side, the inclusion of Hellenistic or early and late medieval philosophy would have made a thorough reconstruction of the impact of Aristotle’s intellectual virtues a sheer impossibility. Obviously, the restriction of the diachronic scope does not bring with itself a claim at completeness. Finally, it needs be recognized that it was not only and not simply Aristotle that influenced modern philosophy. The impact the contributors have written about is rather the impact of a tradition, the tradition Renaissance Aristotelianism, which was first molded by Aldo Manuzio’s edition of Aristotle’s Opera (Venice, 1495-98), found its standing in the monumental edition of the Giunti with Averroes’ commentary (Venice, 1550-52), and reached its blossoming by means of the European diffusion of the Paduan School. It has never been obvious to deal with Aristotle, and Sir Anthony Kenny’s recent essays on Aristotelianism, the volume on the questions “whose Aristotle? whose Aristotelianism?” edited by R. W. Sharples, and the volume on the impact of the Paduan School on early modern philosophy edited by Gregorio Piaia prove that. Aristotle is both the most praised and the most condemned philosopher of all times. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Ernst Cassirer described the shift that took place from sixteenth to seventeenth-century philosophy as a shift from the concept of substance to the concept of relation. As long as the concept of substance and the idea that a property is predicated of an individual subject maintained scientific primacy, Aristotelianism was in great demand and was able to defeat threatening alternatives such as Ramism; but as soon as Descartes established the convenience of expressing all scientific problems in terms of function, i.e., in terms of the relation of two or more ideas or bodies in space and time, Aristotelianism began an inexorable descent. By the middle of the eighteenth century, Aristotelianism virtually disappeared from university curricula and from scientific publications all over Europe. This did not mean, however, that Aristotle was forgotten. Kant kept referring to Aristotle all of his life, and the sections dedicated to Aristotle in Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy prepared the Aristotle Renaissance of the early nineteenth century, which was made possible by Immanuel Becker’s edition of the Opera (Berlin, 1831-36). Finally, that Aristotle experienced a further Renaissance all over the twentieth century was due to Leo XIII’s proclamation of Thomism as the official doctrine of the Catholic Church in the encyclical letter Aeterni Patris of August 4, 1879; and it was also due to the reappraisal of his philosophy that began with Werner Jaeger and ended with Gadamer. This volume is about the history of a tradition, the tradition of Renaissance and modern Aristotelianism. It does not aim at replacing any of the existing works that have been dedicated to the whole or to parts of the history of Aristotelianism. It aims, however, at tracing the impact of Aristotelianism on modern philosophy in the form of a clear line that goes through the writings of the philosophers of the Western tradition. Each paper of this volume provides an original contribution in as far as it illuminates the role played by Aristotelianism as one of the sources, if not as the dominant one, of one individual philosopher. Often, to deal with Aristotle or Aristotelianism meant to take a stance concerning an issue that was discussed in one’s own age—this was the case, e.g., for Kant when he looked into a new understanding of the concepts of art, prudence, science, wisdom, and understanding. However, one should not look into this volume for an exposition of the history of the five concepts that constitute Aristotle’s theory of the intellectual virtues. No individual contributor has pursued this object. What they have rather tried to reconstruct, and what they have accomplished all together is a thoughtful discussion of a problem that crosses the ages and is always actual, namely the problem whether one may consider Aristotle’s list of five intellectual virtues to be complete, and, if not, by means of what other virtues it might be completed.
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