• The Importance of Being Earnest: Study guide.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest Study guide.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde.

In addition, class time is a chance to meet and interact with other students in your class.

(November 11, 2008).The Importance of Being Earnest.

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Four days after The Importance of Being Earnest was first performed, Wilde was called out by his boyfriend's dad for being gay. This led to a series of events: Wilde was tried, sentenced to two years of hard labor, and imprisoned. He died less than five years later.

CliffsNotes on The Importance of Being Earnest.

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Aristotle’s illustration does succeed in showing that there isconceptual space between mere family resemblance and pureunivocity. So, he is right that these are not exhaustiveoptions. The interest in this sort of result resides in itsexportability to richer, if more abstract philosophical concepts. Aristotle appeals to homonymy frequently, across a full range ofphilosophical concepts including justice, causation,love, life, sameness, goodness, andbody. His most celebrated appeal to core-dependent homonymycomes in the case of a concept so highly abstract that it is difficultto gauge his success without extended metaphysical reflection. This ishis appeal to the core-dependent homonymy of being, which hasinspired both philosophical and scholarly controversy.[] At one point, Aristotledenies that there could be a science of being, on the grounds thatthere is no single genus being under which all and only beingsfall (SE 11 172a9–15). One motivation for his reasoningthis way may be that he regards the notion of a genus asineliminably taxonomical and contrastive,[] so that it makes ready sense to speak of a genus of being only if onecan equally well speak of a genus of non-being—just as amongliving beings one can speak of the animals and the non-animals,viz. the plant kingdom. Since there are no non-beings, thereaccordingly can be no genus of non-being, and so, ultimately, no genusof being either. Consequently, since each science studies oneessential kind arrayed under a single genus, there can be no scienceof being either.


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As Aristotle quite rightly observes in this passage, we findourselves regularly and easily speaking in teleological terms whencharacterizing non-human animals and plants. It is consistentwith our so speaking, of course, that all of our easy language in thesecontexts is lax and careless, because unwarrantedlyanthropocentric. We might yet demand that all such language beassiduously reduced to some non-teleological idiom when we are beingscientifically strict and empirically serious, though we would firstneed to survey the explanatory costs and benefits of our attempting todo so. Aristotle considers and rejects some views hostile toteleology in Physics ii 8 and Generation andCorruption i.[]

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Aristotle’s hylomorphism was formulated originally to handlevarious puzzles about change. Among the endoxaconfronting Aristotle in his Physics are some strikingchallenges to the coherence of the very notion of change, owing to and . Aristotle’s initial impulse in the face of such challenges, as wehave seen, is to preserve the appearances (phainomena), toexplain how change is possible. Key to Aristotle’s responseto the challenges bequeathed him is his insistence that all changeinvolves at least two factors: something persisting and somethinggained or lost. Thus, when Socrates goes to the beach and comesaway sun-tanned, something continues to exist, namely Socrates, evenwhile something is lost, his pallor, and something else gained, histan. This is a change in the category of quality, whence thecommon locution ‘qualitative change’. If he gainsweight, then again something remains, Socrates, and something is gained,in this case a quantity of matter. Accordingly, in this instance wehave not a qualitative but a quantitative change.

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Generally, Aristotle does not respect these sorts ofcommitments. Thus, to the extent that they are defensible, hisapproach to aitia may be regarded as blurring the canons ofcausation and explanation. It should certainly not, however, beceded up front that Aristotle is guilty of any such conflation, or eventhat scholars who render his account of the four aitia incausal terms have failed to come to grips with developments in causaltheory in the wake of Hume. Rather, because of the lack ofuniformity in contemporary accounts of causation and explanation, and apersistent and justifiable tendency to regard causal explanations asfoundational relative to other sorts of explanations, we maylegitimately wonder whether Aristotle’s conception of the fouraitia is in any significant way discontinuous with later,Humean-inspired approaches, and then again, to the degree that it is,whether Aristotle’s approach suffers for the comparison. Be thatas it may, we will do well when considering Aristotle’s defenseof his four aitia to bear in mind that controversy surroundshow best to construe his knowledge-driven approach to causation andexplanation relative to some later approaches.

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In its most rudimentary formulation, hylomorphism simply labels each ofthe two factors: what remains is matter and what is gained isform. Aristotle’s hylomorphism quickly becomesmuch more complex, however, as the notions of matter and form arepressed into philosophical service. Importantly, matter and formcome to be paired with another fundamental distinction, that betweenpotentiality and actuality. Again in the caseof the generation of a statue, we may say that the bronze ispotentially a statue, but that it is an actual statuewhen and only when it is informed with the form of astatue. Of course, before being made into a statue, thebronze was also in potentiality a fair number of otherartefacts—a cannon, a steam-engine, or a goal on a footballpitch. Still, it was not in potentiality butter or a beachball. This shows that potentiality is not the same aspossibility: to say that x is potentially F is to say thatx already has actual features in virtue of which it might bemade to be F by the imposition of a F form upon it. So, giventhese various connections, it becomes possible to define form andmatter generically as