Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 20, number 58, abril 1988
El fundacionismo de la epistemología aristotélica
[Foundationalism in Aristotelian Epistemology]
Alejandro Cassini
Universidad de Buenos Aires


The aim of this paper is to make an evaluation of the Aristotelian axiomatic method of justification of knowledge in the light of the epistemological foundationalism.

Its main theses are: 1) the Aristotelian axiomatic model of justification is an example of foundationalism in the wide sense of the term, which not restrains it to empiricism. 2) Aristotle’s foundationalism consists exclusively in his postulation of proper principles, but not in that of the common axioms. 3) His foundationalism is not based upon the immediate access —by perception or intellectual intuition— to the basic knowledges. The first principles of science are not data, and they are not evident nor self-justified. 4) The principles are not incorrigible statements, because their discovery is fallible. Moreover, they admit to be justified by a dialectical procedure. 5) Aristotle’s fallibilism is strongly limited: the principles are not —like in some modern epistemologies— always provisional. They become, in a finite time, necessary truths. This occurs when an essential definition is discovered after a mediate process, which has an inductive-dialectic character. These definitions are the proper principles of each science, strictly the foundations, and they are, once stated, incorrigible. The fallibilism of the process of discovery is not essential, but, according to Aristotle, accidental. 6) These assumptions produce two “absolutist” features in the Aristotelian conception of scientific knowledge: a) it is not provisional, but definitive; b) it is capable of to be complete. 7) Both features are supported by the basic assumption that a science is a finite set of necessary truths. 8) In this rigid model of scientific justification there is a scarce place for the concept of progress.


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