While reading Book I of Aristotle’s Physics, I ran across this delightful passage on “nature.”
What nature is, then, and the meaning of the terms ‘by nature’ and ‘according to nature’ has been stated. That nature exists, it would be absurd to try to prove; for it is obvious that there are many things of this kind, and to prove what is obvious by what is not is the mark of a man who is unable to distinguish what is self-evident from what is not.
Aristotle has hit the nail, er, the skeptic, on the head here. The skeptic, in asking for proof of the axioms of philosophy, is requesting a proof of “what is obvious by what is not.” Such attempts at proof shall always be failures.
I’m currently working on a paper on Aristotle’s approach to the obvious and self-evident, such as the laws of logic. Aristotle will, I hope, serve as a useful jumping-off point for an alternative to the standard social convention versus a priori alternative of contemporary metaphysics. So I’ll probably be posting more on this topic over the next few months.
But first, I’m off to work on a paper on the problems in his views on primary and secondary substances from the Categories.