There are various means of deciding what is true. Not all give the same answer.
Therefore, a society must put more faith in one approach than another. The order in
which various approaches are accepted determines the pattern of thought of the
society. Shifts in the order provide us with the basic paradigm of the history of
philosophy in the west.
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
2. The Ancient or Rationalist Period.
The ancients prefered reason and logic above observation and experience, because the
senses can easily be deceived, and they lacked the equipment to enhance the senses,
make precise observations, and record the data. They also noted that, although one can
deduce various laws governing triangles, spheres, circles, and the like, such things do
not exists in nature and so are outside of human experience. That is, there can be no
triangle in nature found with exactly180 interior degrees, any more than one can find
a precisely straight line.
In there use of reason, they prefered
, the demonstration of
derivations from known principles. The basic operation in demonstrative logic is
. The syllogism consists of three parts:
The major premise
Socrates is a man
, which simply states that Socrates belongs to
a category of object which we call "man."
The minor premise
all men are mortal
. All categories are defined by their
characteristics, some of which are
and some of which are accidental. The
accidental characteristics of the category of "man" include such things as height, IQ,
skin color, number of arms and legs (if less than three), and so forth. Essential
characteristics are such things as bipedal, mammal, and rational. The minor premise
simply specifies one if the essential characteristics of the category "man."
Socrates is mortal
. The major premise is based upon the
observation that "Socrates" displays the necessary essential characteristics to place
him in the caetegory of "man." If so, then Socrates has all of the essential
characteristics of the category.
A note: the categories are usually referred to as universals.