• TheMadFool
    10k
    Imagine a sphere and a cube.

    Scenario 1:

    The sphere is heated slowly. The sphere changes temperature. Before heat is applied, it's cold and after it's heated, it becomes hot. How would Heraclitus have described this sphere-heating event? He would've said: the sphere changed from cold to hot. The intriguing aspect of this description is that Hercaltius' description can be rephrased as: The sphere was cold and (now, aftering heating it) the sphere is hot. Notice though that, Heraclitus, despite the fact that he claims the temperatures are different, he's talking about the same sphere.

    In other words, the temperature has changed but the sphere is the same.

    If so, Hercalitus is right - change occurs (temperatures are different); Parmenides is also right - no change occurs (the sphere is the same sphere). Both are right!

    However, if one is to subscribe to the view that both Heraclitus and Parmenides can't be right we would necessarily have to create some form of heirarchy of properties such that an object's essence is defined in terms of one of the possibly many levels in it. For instance, I could say temperature is a secondary property and is of lesser significance than the shape which is a primary property. Thus, we could say that in this scenario there's no change as the sphere remained a sphere and temperature change is inconsequential. On this view Parmenides is right and Heraclitus is wrong.

    On the other hand, if every property of an object is equally important, Heraclitus is right - change does occur.

    However, Heraclitus faces a problem. As part of his theory that all things change, as can be discerned from his description, there has to be something that doesn't change. In the example above, "...something that doesn't change..." is the sphericity of the sphere. For Heraclitus, there must exist a continuity between two things A and B to make the assertion that A changed into B. What happens if the necessity for some kind of continuity is removed from the conditions that need to be met for change to have to occured. See scenario 2 vide infra.

    Secnario 2:

    Keep the sphere and the cube side by side. If continuity isn't necessary for change to have occurred, we're fully warranted to say the sphere has changed into a cube. The problem here is that the sphere is, after heating, hot but the cube, spared this mistreatment, is cold and then we would have to say that the same thing is both hot and cold, a contradiction.

    Thus, Heraclitus must concede a continuity between something and that thing which it's changed into. What is continuity but just another name for no change?

    Since Heraclitus continues to refer to the hot sphere as the same object as the cold sphere, that which doesn't change in the sphere, that which establishes the continuity, is part of the, or is the very quality that defines, the essence of the sphere and let's not forget that the temperature change did nothing to alter the object's essence for precisely the same reason.

    In conclusion, Heraclitus is in a bind. He can't talk about change unless he believes/accepts that something doesn't change (the basis for the continuity); also since he refers to both that which was and that which what was becomes as the same thing, it must be that whatever the change that has occurred, it did nothing to alter the essence of that which underwent the change. Basically, Heraclitus, despite being right about change occurring, must agree to an heirarchy of properties, the highest level ones being those that become the basis of the continuity necessary for the concept of change but in doing that he's admitting that change in essences can't occur and that maybe exactly what Parmenides has in mind when he said, "change is impossible."
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    In conclusion, Heraclitus is in a bind. He can't talk about change unless he believes/accepts that something doesn't change (the basis for the continuity); also since he refers to both that which was and that which what was becomes as the same thing, it must be that whatever the change that has occurred, it did nothing to alter the essence of that which underwent the change. Basically, Heraclitus, despite being right about change occurring, must agree to an heirarchy of properties, the highest level ones being those that become the basis of the continuity necessary for the concept of change but in doing that he's admitting that change in essences can't occur and that maybe exactly what Parmenides has in mind when he said, "change is impossible."TheMadFool

    For Heraclitus, the whole of the world (the highest or top in the hierarchy) always seems to remain the same:

    "This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out." Fragment 30
    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Fragments_of_Heraclitus#cite_note-20

    I also do not believe that pure or absolute flux is logically conceivable. In my opinion, it needs a non-flowing counterpart that makes it understandable what flux means through the contrast.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    I also do not believe that pure or absolute flux is logically conceivable. In my opinion, it needs a non-flowing counterpart that makes it understandable what flux means through the contrast.spirit-salamander

    The same applies to change in general. You need a non-changing background or counterpart in order to notice changes in a given object.

    For example, if two trains are simultaneously moving in the same direction at the same speed then a person standing or sitting in one of the trains may not notice that train's movement in relation to the other train. But he or she will notice it against the background of fields and other stationary objects that the train passes by.

    From that perspective, the world can be in constant flux yet at the same time and on a different level changeless in the same way an object may preserve its external physical shape whilst its constitutive elements are changing.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    If I take a red sphere and put it on a conveyor belt, part of which is hidden by a curtain, and out on the other side emerges a yellow sphere, the usual response of most people would be the sphere changed color.

    In the same setting, if I place a cup of water on the converyor belt and then a burning candle emerges from the other side, people would generally think the cup of water was replaced by a burning candle.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k


    Well, yes, because people's belief is based on their perception of change. In the case of the sphere the object retains its shape, therefore, psychologically it is "the same object" with a different color whilst the cup has changed into a candle and, psychologically at least, it is a different object.

    The way we perceive or interpret things psychologically isn't the same way they are seen in scientific terms.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    Well, yes, because people's belief is based on their perception of change. In the case of the sphere the object retains its shape, therefore, psychologically it is "the same object" with a different color whilst the cup has changed into a candle and, psychologically at least, it is a different object.

    The way we perceive or interpret things psychologically isn't the same way they are seen in scientific terms.
    Apollodorus

    The matter is, to my reckoning, wholly determined by some pecking order for properties à la Hume's notion of primary and secondary qualities. If not, there's no continuity between something and that which it changes into and the distinction x changed into y and x was replaced by y can't be made. It's still a bit hazy for me.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k


    I think it does seem a bit hazy, but ultimately it comes down to the way you look at it. It's a bit like science stating that the earth goes around the sun when ordinary perception suggests that it's the other way around. Sometimes different perspectives can be reconciled and other times they can't. So, you can use different perspectives for different purposes and/or in different situations or go for a hierarchy of perspectives in which scientific, psychological, and philosophical/logical perspectives are arranged in some kind of order that makes sense to you and, if possible, to others.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    I think it does seem a bit hazy, but ultimately it comes down to the way you look at it. It's a bit like science stating that the earth goes around the sun when ordinary perception suggests that it's the other way around. Sometimes different perspectives can be reconciled and other times they can't. So, you can use different perspectives for different purposes and/or in different situations or go for a hierarchy of perspectives in which scientific, psychological, and philosophical/logical perspectives are arranged in some kind of order that makes sense to you and, if possible, to others.Apollodorus

    You might've hit the nail on the head there. Anekantavada (not-one-sidedness doctrine)

    Anekāntavāda (Hindi: अनेकान्तवाद, "many-sidedness") is the Jain doctrine about metaphysical truths that emerged in ancient India. It states that the ultimate truth and reality is complex and has multiple aspects.[2] Anekantavada has also been interpreted to mean non-absolutism, "intellectual Ahimsa" — Wikipedia

    By the way, it appears that anekantavada is precisely the view that my exposition on Heraclitus and Parmenides in the OP espouses. When one hears/reads the word "change", we immediately jump to the conclusion that these two Greek sages were talking about the same thing and in the same sense, causing us to wrongly infer that they were contradicting each other.

    Nevertheless, note that Parmenides insisted that change was/is an illusion, contradicting, as it were, Heraclitus for whom change was/is all there is. Zeno of Elea thought up a series of paradoxes to prove his teacher Parmenides' position that change was/is an illusion. For some reason, Zeno focused on motion and through some clever arguments generated contradictions around it. The objective? To demonstrate motion as illusory.

    Then Newton and Leibniz come along and invent calculus, the former executing this tour de force "...on just a dare..." according to Neil deGrasse Tyson :fire: . Anyway, calculus features in the "solution" for Zeno's paradoxes using, to my knowledge, the mathematical notion of limits. I vaguely remember someone using the word, "flux"; seems apposite since Newton talks of fluxions in his calculus.

    I have a feeling that Zeno's paradoxes eventually lead up to the debate between rationalism and empiricism because motion is impossible if, well, you think about it (mathematically that is) but motion is actual/possible if we observe it.

    Zeno used infinity in his paradoxes. Spells trouble any which way you slice that cake.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    I have a feeling that Zeno's paradoxes eventually lead up to the debate between rationalism and empiricism because motion is impossible if, well, you think about it (mathematically that is) but motion is actual/possible if we observe it.TheMadFool

    Therefore Heraclitus has to take motion as an inexplicable axiom, against which nothing speaks. He would have to accept, as Nietzsche did in his spirit, any kind of movement as not graspable for our mind.
    However, for his concept to be coherent, movement always needs a stationary contrast.

    You need a non-changing background or counterpart in order to notice changes in a given object.Apollodorus

    Or a very very slow-changing background.
  • EricH
    354
    I don't have the time to read through the OP, but just on a superficial level it reads like something out of Existential Comics
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    I have a feeling that Zeno's paradoxes eventually lead up to the debate between rationalism and empiricism because motion is impossible if, well, you think about it (mathematically that is) but motion is actual/possible if we observe it.TheMadFool

    We need to remember that ancient philosophers were not messing about, they took their job of discovering truth seriously even though we may sometimes doubt their suggestions or conclusions when we analyze them from a modern perspective.

    But Zeno's paradoxes and Socrates' questions tend to remind me of the koans of Zen Buddhism which have the same function as Socrates' questions of bringing the mind to a state of perplexity in order to assist it in attaining higher or enhanced levels of consciousness or obtain insights into reality that would otherwise remain out of reach.

    By the way, did you know about anekantavada before or have you just happened to come across it now?
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    Or a very very slow-changing background.spirit-salamander

    Not necessarily very very slow in all circumstances, but certainly slower than the changes taking place in the changing object. Ultimately, even the very very slow-changing background may necessitate an absolutely non-changing reality as a point of reference. And when you get to that point, then presumably, you go beyond change and beyond time and find yourself somewhere else that at the same time is already here.
  • TheMadFool
    10k
    We need to remember that ancient philosophers were not messing aboutApollodorus

    You can say that again! They were...er...dead serious. Sorry, couldn't avoid that pun.

    By the way, did you know about anekantavada before or have you just happened to come across it now?Apollodorus

    Someone mentioned it in another thread many Earth Sols ago. I couldn't get the spelling right and Google refused to autocorrect. I had to find the wikipedia entry on it in a roundabout way -> had to go the Jainism page first but luckily, the link to anekantavada was right there.

    Therefore Heraclitus has to take motion as an inexplicable axiom, against which nothing speaks. He would have to accept, as Nietzsche did in his spirit, any kind of movement as not graspable for our mind.
    However, for his concept to be coherent, movement always needs a stationary contrast.
    spirit-salamander

    By the way, motion is a physical phenomenon i.e. it's emprical and not something that can be deduced by pure thought alone. Ideas, the mind's stock-in-trade don't move, right? :chin:
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    Ideas, the mind's stock-in-trade don't move, right?TheMadFool

    You mean ideas as in Platonic Ideas or Forms or ideas we have in the mind in everyday consciousness?

    If the latter, they probably don't move in the sense of running around or moving house, but they do change which implies some form of movement at least in time if not in space.
  • Gregory
    3.3k


    I think that the world is never in a stable state, nor anything in it. Our thoughts make it seem stable (phenomenological thoughts) but when thoughts become more in tune with the world they become flux as well and you can act practically but become a relativist in ontology. That's my two cents
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