Why hasn’t any philosopher ever been able to bring a certain and final answer to great metaphysical questions, these which for instance ponder the meaning of life ? Do they even have any meaning, isn’t asking them pure insanity ? Wouldn’t a rigorous analysis of the language be enough to make them disappear ? This is what Wittgenstein, in the 20th century, reflects on. Knowing though that he was himself often described as a strange individual, how should we consider his discernment ?
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This book offers the first synoptic study of how the primary elements in knowledge structures were analysed in antiquity from Plato to late ancient commentaries, the main emphasis being on the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition. It argues that, in the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition, the question of starting points was treated from two distinct points of view: from the first perspective, as a question of how we acquire basic knowledge; and from the second perspective, as a question of the premises we may immediately accept in the line of argumentation. It was assumed that we acquire some general truths rather naturally and that these function as starting points for inquiry. In the Hellenistic period, an alternative approach was endorsed: the very possibility of knowledge became a central issue when sceptics began demanding that true claims should always be distinguishable from false ones.