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WILLIAM FLEMING - 1890 - Table of contents

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H- I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W  

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden


Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





CRITERION (κριτήριον, κρίνειν, to discriminate; κριτὴς, judge).—(1) An organ by which truth is attained; (2) a ground of judgment, or a test of certainty, including forms of evidence, or standards of judgment. It has been distinguished into the criterion a quo, per quod, and secundum quod—or, the being who judges, the organ or faculty by which he does so, and the rule according to which he judges. The last is criterion in the proper sense.


"With regard to the criterion (says Edw. Poste, M.A., Introd. to transl. of Poster. Analyt. of Aristotle), or organs of truth, among the ancient philosophers, some advocated a simple and others a mixed criterion. The advocates of the former were divided into Sensationalists or Rationalists, as they advocated sense or reason; the advocates of the latter advocated both sense and reason. Democritus and Leucippus were Sensationalists; Parmenides and the Pythagoreans were Rationalists; Plato and Aristotle belonged to the mixed school.

 Among those who advocated reason as a criterion, there was an important difference: some advocating the common reason, as Heraclitus and Anaxagoras; others, the scientific reason, or the reason as cultivated and developed by education, as Parmenides, the Pythagoreans, Plato, and Aristotle. In the Republic (bk. VII.), Plato prescribes a training calculated to prepare the reason for the perception of the higher truths. Aristotle requires education for the moral reason. The older Greeks used the word measure instead of criterion; and Protagoras said that man was the measure of all truth. This Aristotle interprets to mean that sense and reason are the organs of truth, and he accepts the doctrine, if limited to these faculties in a healthy and perfect condition." The question of the criterion of truth became still more prominent in the Post-Aristotelian schools.

"If truth consists in the agreement of a cognition with its object, then this object must thereby be distinguished from others. Now an universal criterion of truth would be such as holds good of all cognitions, without distinction of their objects. It is plain, however, that as in the case of such a criterion there is abstraction from every matter of cognition (reference to its object), and truth precisely concerns this matter, it is quite impossible and absurd to ask still after a criterion of the truth of this matter of the cognitions; and that, therefore, it is impossible also to assign any adequate criterion of truth that shall at the same time be universal. What is to be said here, then, is that of the truth of cognition as regards matter there is no universal criterion to be required, for any such were a contradiction in itself. But it is equally plain, as regards cognition in mere form (all matter apart), that a logic confined to the universal and necessary rules of the understanding must furnish first in these rules criteria of the truth. For what contradicts these is false, inasmuch as the understanding would then contradict its own universal rules of thought, and consequently its own self... The merely logical criterion of truth, agreement of cognition, namely, with the universal and formal laws of the understanding and reason, is certainly the conditio sine qua non, or the negative condition of all truth. Further, however, logic cannot go; and the error which concerns not the form, but the matter, is not to be detected by any touchstone of logic" (Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, pt. II., introd., sec III.; Stirling's Text-Book of Kant, p. 176, Meiklejohn, 51). On the criteria of Evidence or Testimony, see Sir G. C. Lewis, On Authority in Matters of Opinion.



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