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Extra resources for The Modern Schoolman, vol. 80, n. 3, 2003
THREE ARISTOTELIAN PASSAGES SUGGESTIVE OF A CONSTANT CONJUNCTION BETWEEN THE UNIVERSALS WANTING AND GOOD In the first sentence of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says that since every art and every inquiry, and every [rational] action and choice is thought to aim at some good [presumably a different one in each case], the good [now a single thing] has been rightly declared (kalos apephenanto) to be that at which all things aim. Modern interpreters have almost always taken this good at which all things aim, being singular, to be the supreme good at which everything is thought to aim.
Otherwise the claims are the same, and involve the same constant conjunction of Aristotelian universals. "Very well," it might be conceded, "perhaps Aristotle's universal generalizations are structurally similar or even identical with Humean constant conjunctions. 136b36-147a 11. Here Aristotle is offering advice as to how to refute believers in the Theory of Forms. For this passage shows Aristotle employing exactly the kind of one-to-one correspondence between his universals and Plato's Forms that I have been promoting—each being the kind of entities that for their author could function in statements of constant conjunction.
It is true that later, at Euthydemus 288c293a, Socrates raises a certain difficulty—about circularity—for that knowledge. Since that turns out to be the same circularity difficulty as the present passage of the Republic raises for knowledge as a candidate for the good, let us discuss that point directly. Socrates tells us at 505b5-6 that the many think Pleasure is this good (= the Form of the Good: to agathon at 505b6 surely goes back to each of bl and b3, which must in turn be the Form at a6, a5 and a2), while the more sophisticated who think knowledge is this good (the Form of the Good), if asked what knowledge it is, say, "Knowledge of the good", as if, when we don't know what the good is in the first place, we'll understand it when it occurs in the phrase "knowledge of the good" (505b6-cl4).