I said that Geoffrey Lloyd began the May Week Seminar. He did so by first drawing a contrast with an Symposium Aristotelicum that had he had attended and which met almost exactly 30 years earlier to discuss the Parva Naturalia, and which was generally preoccupied with arguments about which 'strata' from periods in Aristotle's development were evident at different places in those works, with Nuyens' theory supplying the context of the discussion. Lloyd said that developmentalism in this area was out of fashion now, in part because the best theories, such as Nuyens', had all been exploded, and in part because it had since become clear (if it wasn't always so) that a philosophical understanding of the texts (for instance, whether there truly is a difference of outlook in different parts of the text, and, if so, what this amounts to, and what might be the reasons for someone's changing from the one outlook to the other) is properly prior to developmental considerations. He added, however, that perhaps the initial problems which motivated developmentalism have not been explained satisfactorily. (In fact, Menn in the seminar seemed to be suggesting that, since these problems were all very much alive, developmental considerations simply could not be put off until later, even if in some sense philosophical understanding is prior.)
Lloyd then posed two sets of questions. The first have to do with Aristotle's relationship in the De Somno, De Insomniis, and De Divinatione to what might be called the endoxa, and are as follows:
- Why does Aristotle tackle questions in the way that he does? What is his approach?
- What is Aristotle's relationship with antecedents as regards sleep and dreaming, for instance, the medical literature, or Plato?
- Why does he omit certain subjects found in the 'lay' literature? What does he dismiss? Why does he select the order of discussion that he does?
- What is the role of the common sensorium in cognition and in vital functions generally?
- What is the role of perception as opposed to nous as regards images?
- How do we square the doctrine that thinking is not a faculty of an organ of the body with the doctrine that it is not without phantasmata or aisthesis?
- How does physiology affect thought? The activities of the proton aistheterion are interrupted by sleep to preserve us, Aristotle says, but why can't we think continuously?
- How does thinking involve waking?--since Aristotle believes that thinking can occur in beings who do not sleep at all.
- Phantasmata are 'non-paradigmatic phenomena' (Schofield). But how come? What does this mean? Is it failed perception? Clearly not. Or is an analogy (perhaps) the way in which, according to Aristotle, a male parent produces a female child who resembles her mother?
- There are illusions in phantasmata. But this seems to threaten Aristotle's notion of (what might be called) a 'cognitively friendly universe' for human beings.