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Aristotle on Platonic Recollection and the Paradox of Knowing Universals: Prior Analytics B.21 67a8-30

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The paper provides close commentary on an important but generally neglected passage in Prior Analytics B.21 where, in the course of solving a logical puzzle concerning our knowledge of universal statements, Aristotle offers his only explicit treatment of the Platonic doctrine of Recollection. I show how Aristotle defends his solution to the "Paradox of Knowing Universals", as we might call it, and why he introduces Recollection into his discussion of the puzzle. The reading I develop undermines the traditional view of the passage and lends fresh insight into Aristotle's conception of Plato's particular version of innatism; more specifically, when understood as I recommend, the passage strongly suggests that, on Aristotle's view, Plato's theory of Recollection is specifically designed to explain our apprehension of universal truths. The reading I propose also enables us to see how the allegedly non-standard use of the technical term επαγωγη in B.21 can be understood in a perfectly straightforward fashion to refer to an inductive inference from singular statements to the universal truth they exemplify. Owing to this last point in particular, the paper carries serious consequences for our understanding of the purported doublet in the problematic opening chapter to the Posterior Analytics where Aristotle offers his only explicit attempt to solve Meno's Paradox.

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