While reading this book, the first passage caught my attention; however, puzzled me. Aristotle states “In every line of inquiry into something that has principles or causes or elements, we achieve knowledge– that is, scientific knowledge– by knowing them; for we thinking we know a thing when we know its primary causes and primary principles, all the way to its elements.” The wording of this is tricky; however, I think by breaking it down I can understand more clearly.
I think this passage is saying that a piece of knowledge has principles and causes. When we want to learn about something or gain knowledge it is common for us to start with the principles that we understand easily, and then start to move towards the principles that are understood by nature, or knowledge without qualification. Aristotle then moves on to discuss “universals and particulars” which confused me. What I understood from this discussion was that the things that we initially understand are wholes, and then once we break it down the elements and principles become clear. So we move from universals to particulars. The parts or principles that make up the universals allow us to gain knowledge.
I picked this passage because I know it is an important concept to Aristotle; however, I don’t understand it fully. I think breaking down the passage sentence by sentence provided me with more clarity surrounding this theory; however, I’m hoping I will understand better after class discussion.