The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

Aristotle on Knowledge, Nous and the Problems of Necessary Truth

Thomas Kiefer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Thomas Kiefer presented “Aristotle on Knowledge, Nous, and the Problems of Necessary Truth” to the Society at its meeting with the Eastern Division in Atlanta in 2001. Transformed, it became part of his Aristotle’s Theory of Knowledge, Bloomsbury Academic, 2007.

Thomas Kiefer teaches at Creighton University


In this paper, I argue that nous for Aristotle concerns necessary truths. (1) Nous is the solution to the dilemma raised in Posterior Analytics I.3. (2) Knowledge and nous have necessary truths as their subject matter, and are identical to this subject matter. (3) This position creates two problems concerning (i) the innateness of knowledge and nous, and (ii) the mind-dependency of necessary truths. (4) The end of DA III.5 reveals an attempt to solve (i) and (ii): The necessary truths of knowledge and nous are for us innate in a certain way, appear to come to be and pass away due to the characteristics of the body in which they are required to inhere, but in separation are not mind-dependent.