Since what Aristotle says about theoria or “contemplation” in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Metaphysics seems highly important but still rather minimal, I wanted to consider what other historical resources there are for its interpretation.
On this score, the version of theoria in Plotinus yielded less than I had hoped. I had expected that in Plotinus, contemplation would look like what Kant calls an intellectual intuition, but hoped there would at least be a significant tie-in to the key Aristotelian notion of entelechy. But on closer examination, it seemed like the delicately nuanced Aristotelian framework of teleological explanation gets drowned out first by Plotinus’ emphasis on the One as the source of all, and then by his explicit reversal of Aristotle’s innovation of asserting the priority of actuality or being-at-work or fulfillment, which is critical to the way that Aristotle’s teleology works.
I already hinted at a connection of Aristotelian contemplation first with the Kantian notion of reflection, and then with the closely related notion of apperception. This is what I will explore next.