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Source: p 84 Middle. Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (1 ed 2000) by Julia Annas.

For Aristotle, we want to understand nature, including ourselves as parts of nature, because it is natural for humans to want to understand things. Isn’t this circular, though? Yes, but the circularity does not matter. Aristotle’s theories are naturalistic in the modern sense; they accept that the processes by which we come to understand nature are themselves a part of nature. They are not something mysteriously exempt from the conditions they study.
[1.] Philosophy, including the study of nature, begins in wonder; we are puzzled and interested by what we find around us, and do not feel satisfied until we have adequate explanations for it.
[2.] The search for explanation thus does not point beyond itself;
[3.] for Aristotle it would be beside the point, as well as foolish, for us to try to understand nature in order to exploit it for our own ends. [End of 3.]
Hence, although different methods are appropriate for studying different areas of nature, we are puzzled, and seek explanations, in our own case in the same way as happens with other living and non-living things.

  1. I do not understand 2. Does the author contradict herself: because per 1, does not the 'search for explanation' point toward our 'feel[ing] satisfied until we have adequate explanations'?

  2. Why would Aristotle think 3? What if we did not 'exploit' nature, but rather tried to use it morally?

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[2.] The search for explanation thus does not point beyond itself;

I do not understand 2. Does the author contradict herself: because per 1, does not the 'search for explanation' point toward our 'feel[ing] satisfied until we have adequate explanations'?

Yes, but the satisfaction is not external to the search. Therefore, when the search points to the satisfaction, it does not point beyond itself.

The feeling of satisfaction is, according to Aristotle, something that naturally accompanies the activity, the search for explanation, when it is done well. The satisfaction cannot be separated from the search. One could not get that satisfaction by other means (say, drugs) thus bypassing the satisfaction's natural cause, the search for explanation.

There are different kinds of satisfaction, which correspond to the different kinds of activity. As Aristotle says in the Ethics, regarding pleasures:

As then the Workings are different so are their Pleasures; now Sight differs from Touch in purity, and Hearing and Smelling from Taste; therefore, in like manner, do their Pleasures; and again, Intellectual Pleasures from these Sensual, and the different kinds both of Intellectual and Sensual from one another. (Ethics Book X sec III)

And as for

[3.] for Aristotle it would be beside the point, as well as foolish, for us to try to understand nature in order to exploit it for our own ends. [End of 3.]

Why would Aristotle think 3? What if we did not 'exploit' nature, but rather tried to use it morally?

3 seems to me a mistaken reading of Aristotle's. Aristotle says that knowledge has an intrinsic value beside its practical value. So there is also the practical value, and hence a kind of use (or exploitation) of nature. Only of philosophy does Aristotle claim that it is done only for its own sake, without any practical value:

But it is clear that this science [=philosophy] is not productive also from the early history of philosophy. For it was because of wonder that men both now and originally began to philosophize. . . So it is clear that we seek it for no other use but rather, as we say, as a free man is for himself and not for another, so is this science the only one of the sciences that is free. For it alone exists for its own sake. (Metaphysics Book Alpha Sec II)

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It seems to me that Annas' comment about Aristotle's view points at the "non-utilitarian" view of knowledge:

[Met, I, 980a22-980a27] All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves.

[980b26-981a12] Experience seems to be very similar to science and art, but really science and art come to men through experience; [...] With a view to action experience seems in no respect inferior to art, and we even see men of experience succeeding more than those who have theory without experience. [...] But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to art rather than to experience, and we suppose artists to be wiser than men of experience (which implies that wisdom depends in all cases rather on knowledge); and this because the former know the cause, but the latter do not. For men of experience know that the thing is so, but do not know why, while the others know the ‘why’ and the cause.

[981b25-982a3] Clearly then wisdom is knowledge about certain causes and principles. Since we are seeking this knowledge, we must inquire of what kind are the causes and the principles, the knowledge of which is wisdom.

Thus, knowledge (understanding, wisdom) is a "value" in itself, irrespective of its possible "practical" effects or applications.

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