Monday, March 2, 2009

Analogical thinking

Painting: Aristotle and Alexander

The work of art is at the starting point of Aristotle's analysis. For this he has been much criticized. However, his critics often didn't understand that his approach was an analogical one.

The work of art is closer to human sensibility than nature, and thus closer to our psychological conditioning. It is therefore logical, even cunning, to start with our manner of analyzing a human craft to highlight the essential creases of intelligence, creases which constitute the manner in which we analyze and seek the proper principles of reality.

Well then in front of a work of art we interest ourselves firstly in what determines in the order of intelligibility (it's a bicycle or a computer or a table). Thus we look at form (form amswers the question: what is it?), then matter, then the author or agent (i.e. the efficient cause, or the origin), then the purpose or end (in view of what the work is made) and finally the exemplar cause (on what model it was created).

We can put these five interrogations in parallel to our five senses: what it is (sight or the formal cause), of what it is made (touch or the material cause); where it comes from (hearing or the efficient cause), in view of what it is (smell or the final cause), on which model it is (taste or the exemplar cause).

These five questions are then extended to nature and to man. One must therefore extend this interrogation of the "why" of man, following the formal cause of what is. I know reality in its descriptive form, for example "Valerie is a woman", but I want to discover in me (or someone else) what comes first. That is the true appetite of intelligence, for the principle is what is first in its order and that beyond which I cannot go.


  1. I don't knnow about paralleling these to the five senses, what basis do you have for doing that? For example, smell can hardly be connected to the final cause in my opinion.
    please explain further

  2. Hi! Good question! I must admit this is an area I (the translator) need to think over in more depth. We speak here of an alliance between 5 "causes" and 5 senses. The contact point between our intelligence and what is (reality) is realized through the 5 senses- hence 5 fundamental creases of intelligence.

    From the original author (AVATAR)
    “Linked to vision, intelligence seeks to make more precise the determination of reality which is seen: what it is (formal cause). Linked to the sense of touch, it seeks what is fundamental in the reality which is touched: what is it made of (material cause); linked to hearing, it seeks what is the origin of such reality experimented by sound: where does it come from (efficient cause)? Linked to smell, intelligence seeks in view of what is such reality which attracts by its odor, etc These are orientations of intelligence, which lead to interrogations.”

    I realize its its sketchy, but the advantage of realistic thought is that it builds on experience...

    We are speaking here of inductive reasoning, what crosses the bridge between the visible and the invisible. The real quality of intelligence is our inductive capacity - to discover the proper principles of the realities which we experiment - much more than our capacity to deduce (logic).

    Sorry if my answer isn't completely satisfying.

    Something to play around with.

  3. I was tempted to not comment but this post really touched me. I never consider art appreciation a cognitive exercise before. I just know what I like, but sometimes I don't know why. Reading this post makes me want to take my appreciation of culture to a higher level.

    My husband runs a podcast where he gets together with friends and delves deeply into almost any topic. I've attempted to participate before but I never seem to fit in. As an adult I am just know realizing that I don't routinely talk about my interest or passions. That has hurt my social life; I'm finding that I have very little to talk about.

    If I can learn to articulate my interest and hobbies I think that will help sharpen my mind and build my confidence.

    Bravo! I found this article highly stimulating. (I don't usually talk like that I just want to sound smart) : )

    Thank you so much for this post, sincerely


  4. THank you for opening your heart LLnL. Artists do "enter" into metaphysics/first philosophy through philosophy of art, as thy are in touch with quality, although many remain PLatonian - ie mix the artistic and the philosophical approach.

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for posting this. I wonder if we are working on the same author :) I'm now writing something to complete this part : the links between the senses and the causes reviewed through external experience.

    To respond to the question from Anonymous about the relation between odor and final cause, here is my reflexion:the way in which the odor directs us to the final cause is by the presence of something which is already there but can not be seen or perceived directly. We are aspired to know it, even to "possess" it. The external experience does not give us immediately the "concept" of what causes are; rather, it disposes our intelligence to a further knowledge of the reality through certain ways of questioning.


    ps will that interest you to read my work about this relation between senses and French?

  6. That's fantastic sophia.therèse, thanks for completing this. I admit, in the area of alliance between the senses and the causes, it is borderline psittacism on my part :)

    I am very much interested in reading your work on this question. You've got mail. :)