• Wayfarer
    15.7k
    My main understanding of Eastern metaphysics was based on Hinduism which I did a term module on when I was a student and it was based on Theravada Buddhism.Jack Cummins

    :roll:
  • Paine
    497
    I've only read snippets of Gerson.Wayfarer

    I have found this essay of Gerson's that works at giving an 'Aristotelian' basis for speaking of a 'disembodied person.' It is an impressive bit of scholarship and the footnotes taught me things I did not know. But I think he solves a problem (the two intellects versus one) that was never a problem if one understood identification of causes as Aristotle intended.
  • Wayfarer
    15.7k
    Thanks! Will definitely add that to the list of must-reads.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    I actually meant Theravada Hinduism but there is a fair amount of overlap between Hinduism and Buddhism, which makes sense considering that Buddhism developed from Hinduism. I have read some of Hegel's writings. I have definitely got to the point of thinking that percep)tion is of major importance and hope to read more phenomenology.

    I read Karl Popper's, 'Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem' last week which looks at the complexity of the mind and body relationship. One main argument which he developed is based on the idea of emergent evolution. He suggests that, 'The novel structures which emerge always interact with the basic structure of physical states from which they emerge. The controlling system interacts with the controlled system. Mental states interact with the physiological states. And world 3 interacts with world 2, and through it with world 1.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    Your comments seem to imply that you are denying some basic and generally acknowledged facts. A person’s power of optic perception or sight, for example, may operate differently in different surroundings. In a prison cell, one might see some light through a small window, but outside the cell one will see the direct sun light and even its source (the sun) itself, together with all the objects it illuminates: the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything else under the sun.Apollodorus

    You, Appolodorus have opted for the belief that the intellect , or "mind" is an immaterial power. Therefore the comparison with sight, which is a power dependent on the material body, will not work for you. If you accept the belief that the human intellect is a power dependent on the material body, as I've explained, then we can make the comparison with sight. However, by doing this we forfeit the idea that a human intellect, or "mind" can continue to exist after the death of the material body.

    Since you make mind distinct from sight in this way, you cannot even claim to have an understanding of Plato's cave analogy, as you leave mind as being incomparable with sight. The comparison can only be made if you understand mind as a power of the soul, just like sight, but then mind becomes dependent on the material body, just like sight. That's why the intelligible objects, as intelligible, are dependent on "the good", and not absolutely independent.

    Obviously, if the soul or nous has knowledge prior to embodied existence, it must also have consciousness of that knowledge, otherwise it could have no recollection of it.Apollodorus

    You are making the mistake of equating "soul" and "mind". Making the separation between these two concepts is exactly what Aristotle spends a significant portion of De Anima doing.

    To infer that is for the purpose of rejecting "the whole idea of an eternal "mind" as fundamentally incoherent" runs into the fundamental problem that Aristotle keeps referring to precisely that idea throughout his writings.Paine

    It is not a "fundamental problem", nor is it in any way strange or unusual, to refer over and over again to the idea which you are refuting or discrediting. Any idea to be rejected or refuted, must be fully exposed, and all of its weaknesses laid bare, well explained and left unprotected, in order that the idea may be properly understood, so that it may be rejected.

    This we find in Plato's treatment of Pythagorean idealism. Plato draws out this form of idealism, explains the theory of participation which supports it, and in the meantime he exposes the weakness of participation. The untrained philosopher, who does not thoroughly read a significant portion of Plato's work, and perhaps along with a study of the work of Aristotle, who was a student of Plato, might think that Plato was doing what he could to support Pythagorean idealism. But this would be a mistake, not seeing that Plato, with the method of Socratic skepticism, was actually working to expose its weaknesses.

    We see this in Aristotle's references to 'prime matter'. Many modern philosophers will insist that Aristotle supported the idea of 'prime matter'. But it's very clear from Bk9 of his metaphysics, in what is called the cosmological argument, that he rejects "prime matter'. And all those before him whom he has discussed as employing this idea, are dismissed as misdirected in this idea.

    Now, It is clear from the passage I quoted from De Anima, that Aristotle rejects this idea of the mind moving itself through eternal circular motion. He attributes this idea of the mind moving itself to Plato's Timaeus, and he rejects it, for the reasons given in the quoted passage. The description is spatial, and that which is immaterial cannot be described in spatial terms.

    But then, in Bk10-12 of Metaphysics, the same idea, circular motion of the mind, seems to be accepted. When I took a course on Aristotle's Metaphysics in university, the professor told us that it was debatable as to whether Aristotle actually wrote this part. He attributed the writing to some other (unknown) Neo-Platonist, and so we did not study it with the rest of the text.

    I am not proposing a reversal of a property but observing the role of the statement in Aristotle's argument. The passage I quoted at 408b starts with "The case of the mind is different." What it is different from is the argument that started at 408a30 which distinguishes the soul from the vehicle it is in. The vehicle can move in space but that is not the soul that is moving. Regarding the experience of man, the lack of motion of the soul is put thusly:Paine

    You are neglecting the part which I quoted, which is at 407, prior to 408. Here, it is explained why "the case of the mind is different". The case of the mind is different because the mind is said to move itself, in an eternal circular motion. As such, it has no need for the soul, or psyche, as the active principle. The mind in this conception is properly independent, as self-moving. But this is the idea which Aristotle is rejecting. He wants to place the soul first, and not have the mind as independent sort of soul. If the mind is a self-moving sort of soul, then it has no need for the "soul" as Aristotle is defining, as the source of activity. That would separate "soul" in the sense of mind from "soul" in the sense of first actuality of a living body.

    And it's very evident from the last line of the passage you quoted "That the soul cannot be moved is therefore clear from what we have said, and if it cannot be moved at all, manifestly it cannot be moved by itself." This is clear reference to the previously explained conception of "mind" as a self-moving eternal circular motion. And it excludes thus sense of "mind" from being a soul, rendering the concept useless.

    The sharp contrast between saying the nous is self-moving while the psyche is not, places the problem squarely in the wheelhouse of first philosophy while also not trespassing the causal formula Aristotle demands for 'combined' beings.Paine

    But this expresses a misunderstanding. The Platonic notion of a self-moving nous is dismissed at 407a, in the passage I quoted, and it's discredited further through 407b. So the point at 408b is that the soul does not move the body in the way proposed by the Platonists, as a self-moving mind. This leaves the question of how the soul actually moves the body as completely unanswered. And we leave Bk1 in that condition.

    On the level of the cosmic order as a whole, the way that neither nous nor psyche can be made entirely the part of the other is recognized as a problem in the narrative of the Timaeus but not resolved there. Aristotle does not explain it away somewhere.Paine

    As we proceed through Bk2 and 3, an explanation is provided. This is the actual/potential division. The way that the soul moves the body is by means of the powers, which are potentials. The potentials are not naturally active, they need to be actualized. So I do not think it is the case that we consider one to be a part of the other, but they exist in this relationship which is the active/potential relationship of hylomorphism, matter/form.

    With the above distinctions applied to what 'universal principles' might mean, I don't understand your last paragraph. It seems to me that you are blowing past boundaries Aristotle went to great effort to put in place. He is trying to make the question harder for us, not easier.Paine

    I don't understand this. What boundaries are you referring to? And why do think that Aristotle would want to make things more difficult for us? Do you recognize the two distinct senses of "form" in Aristotle, as I described?

    Maybe I was too blunt, and I apologize for that. But I'm well informed on Aristotelian hylomorphism and it's not like what you were presenting. The problem with what you presented, concerning "sense knowledge", is that we do not ever get the form of the particular through the senses. (That's what Kant pointed to with the phenomenon/noumenon distinction.) We always get an abstracted form, and the form of the particular, complete with accidents, stays united with the material object. This is why our knowledge of particulars is always incomplete, as Kant pointed out.

    hylomorphism, (from Greek hylē, “matter”; morphē, “form”), in philosophy, metaphysical view according to which every natural body consists of two intrinsic principles, one potential, namely, primary matter, and one actual, namely, substantial form. — https://www.britannica.com/topic/hylomorphism
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    It's just that idealism bears a close resemblance to dreaming.
  • ernest
    10
    This thread is not aimed to attack and criticize science, but just to look at its role and values from a critical point of view. Also, even though I use the words 'objective' and 'truth' in the title, I realise these words are open to question. My own meaning of objective is as something which lies beyond the individual and can be measured. I am not sure that there absolute 'truths', but that is not to say that everything is relative. The whole point in using such terms is that they are used by some writers and that even questioning such terms is important in critical examination of science. Any thoughts...?Jack Cummins

    Well hello, and to answer your question, it seems likely there are no absolute truths, only truths in context.

    One of the biggest problems newer sciences have run into is that they don't meet the strict guidelines for defining 'scientific truth' as defined by Popper, that is, that hypotheses must be falsifiable. What I observed as the commencement of this in the USA was a particular effort by atheists to counter Creationist beliefs by extending the 'theory of evolution' so much it has in fact become unfalsifiable. With its most recent bells and whistles, such as 'soft selection,' there doesn't even need to be selection pressure to explain the evolution of characteristics with no competitive advantage. Thus it can explain everything, and nothing can refute the theory anymore. In prior generations that would have been regarded as transforming evolution itself into a religion.

    However with the glut of people working in the sciences, there has also been a selection pressure on science to dissolve the necessities of corroboration of a hypothesis against results of a valid control group, because in 'soft sciences' such as psychology and sociology there exists no possibility of testing against a valid control. So now statistical variations are simply sought for their meaningfulness, and if a statistical result is shown not to be random, it is immediately touted as 'proof' for some new 'truth.'

    Even so it's still regarded as the same 'scientific truth' as for Popperian hard sciences, which seems to me wrong. I was going to write a dissertation on that, but due to covid and declining health I had to abandon my hopes for returning to university. But I wish someone would pick up that cause, because 'truth' has become a real problem even in the scientific arena where it should have been the most secure.
  • Wayfarer
    15.7k
    Maybe I was too blunt, and I apologize for that.Metaphysician Undercover

    Not blunt, as in brusque, but blunt, as in not sufficiently sharp. But, no apology required. :-)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k

    I'd say blunt as in direct, not blunt as in something you smoke.

    The question of how to understand the passive and active intellect is very interesting, and one I believe has never been satisfactorily answered. Aquinas wanted to hold the immateriality of the intellect, but there was a problem with the passive aspect of intellect, passivity being associated with matter. I believe he ended up proposing a passivity which is not material, to maintain the immateriality of the intellect, thus allowing for the disembodied intellect which Apollodorus clings to. Augustine has as good a representation of the human intellect as anyone, with his tripartite intellect (in comparison with the Holy Trinity). It consists of memory, reason or understanding, and will. I don't think he avoids the problem of passivity though because memory appears to be a passive aspect.
  • Apollodorus
    3.3k
    I think he solves a problem (the two intellects versus one) that was never a problem if one understood identification of causes as Aristotle intended.Paine

    The assumption that there are "two intellects" occurs about as frequently as the assumption that there are "two (or more) kinds of knowledge" or "three parts of the soul", etc. Gerson does indeed debunk many of these misconceptions.

    On the "two intellects", he says:

    The general point of this chapter [De Anima, Gamma 5)] is frequently represented as the introduction of two intellects: the passive (παθητικός) intellect and the productive or active or agent (νοιητικός) intellect. But as has been often noted, Aristotle does not use the latter term and the former is used only here, predicatively ... Aristotle's general account of intellect leads him to distinguish the actuality of cognition that is the presence of an intelligible form in the intellect and the further actuality that is the awareness of the presence of that form. And as we have also seen, this twofold actuality belongs to a unified intellect (Aristotle and Other Platonists, pp.153-4).

    You, Appolodorus have opted for the belief that the intellect , or "mind" is an immaterial power ....Metaphysician Undercover

    This isn't about me "opting" for anything. The nous is described as immaterial by Plato and Aristotle, and as having the powers mentioned in my comment.

    You have admitted that intellect is immaterial and that it has the power of knowledge:

    immaterial intellect, (a divine intellect), has a superior knowledge which is completely different from the knowledge of the human intellect, which is tainted by the human intellect's dependence on the material body.Metaphysician Undercover

    And you are contradicting yourself by denying that the intellect has those powers:

    What you have stated there, are the features of the embodied intellect, "consciousness, happiness, will-power, knowledge and action". What is absurd is to say that an immaterial existence, eternal and immutable, has these same features.Metaphysician Undercover

    As for your dogmatic insistence on reading Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas, what can I say? Plato lived from 428 to 348 BC. Aquinas lived from 1225 to 1274 AD, i.e., more than a millennium and a half after Plato. It is absurd to claim that ancient readers of Plato and Aristotle were ignorant of what they were reading and had to wait more than fifteen centuries for Aquinas to tell them!

    It is evident from Plato’s Timaeus (30a ff.) that Intellect (in the form of Creator-God) possesses the powers of consciousness, happiness, will, knowledge, and action.

    1. It has consciousness as it is aware of the pre-cosmic chaos.
    2. Will-power as it makes a conscious and purposeful decision to impose order on the chaos and create the universe.
    3. Knowledge of the divine model on which he creates the universe.
    4. Power of action which it uses to create the universe.
    5. Power of happiness as it rejoices at its own creation.

    Incidentally, the Creator-God’s divine model is often described in translations as an “intelligible animal”, “intelligible creature” or "living animal". However, the fact is that the word “zoon” here does not mean animal at all but model, this being the term normally used for an artist’s real-life model. The artist himself in Greek is called “zographos” (zoos-graphos), literally, one who paints or draws from real life (as opposed to one who draws from imagination). Therefore, the correct translation of noeton zoon (30c) is “(real) intelligible model”.

    In any case, it is obviously incorrect to say that the immaterial and eternal has none of the powers that even embodied intelligence (nous) has.

    Aristotle himself says that the Intellect’s activity is the cause of the universe (Physics 198a10-13), that the activity of the Gods which is supremely happy is a form of contemplation (Nicomachean Ethics 1178b20), etc., etc., all of which clearly indicates that intelligence has those powers, indeed, it is those powers.

    As Aristotle puts it:

    It is this intellect which is separable and impassive and unmixed, being in its essential nature an activity … It is, however, only when separated that it is its true self, and this, its essential nature, alone is immortal and eternal (De Anima 430a23).

    As I said, remove those powers from disembodied intelligence and you succumb to materialism. That’s where your “interpretation” of Plato and Aristotle takes you to. But do carry on, by all means .... :grin:
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    Hello, I think that you are new to the forum, so I welcome you and hope that you find a lot of helpful discussion. What is good here is that there is a lot of diversity of thought on what the 'truth' is. As you may have discovered if you have read some of this thread there is questioning of science rather simply people being blinded and mystified by its power.

    As far as the the relationship between science and religion, it is complex, and I have struggled with it. I don't consider myself as an atheist but have a general interest in religious experience. When I first learned the story of evolution at school, by a teacher who said that he was an atheist, when I was about 9 or 10, I was horrified because I was being brought up by a Catholic family. I requested to be sent to a Catholic school and I stayed in Catholic schools until I was 18. But, what I discovered by about the age of 13 or 14 was that some of the Catholic teachers believed in evolution or were struggling with knowing how to evaluate it.

    I found that the English teacher helped me to make sense of it. He explained how the nature of scripture and Biblical narratives are so different. 'The Book of Genesis' is not like newspaper journalism. It was based on mythical and folklore traditions, which were written down. The authors had not witnessed the creation of the world in 7 days and an actual Adam or Eve. So much is symbolic; but that represents a different kind of 'truth', rather than literal.

    So, generally, I think that the story of evolution is definitely important, but it probably doesn't represent the whole truth. One of my own interest is in the evolution of consciousness and culture, and this is extremely complex. Science is important, yet all theories, like stories and metaphors are models. It is worth trying to modify them in line with empirical evidence, although it is important to be aware that they are only models and may have big gaps.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    The resemblance between dreaming and idealism is interesting. It conjures up ideas of solipsim and the idea of 'Maya' and everyday 'reality' being an illusion. It does lead to the questioning of the philosophy of realism, and how ideas of objective 'reality' can be established. I see it as an interesting area of speculation, but I am sure that some people may come up with more 'definitive' answers.
  • Paine
    497
    He wants to place the soul first, and not have the mind as independent sort of soul. If the mind is a self-moving sort of soul, then it has no need for the "soul" as Aristotle is defining, as the source of activity. That would separate "soul" in the sense of mind from "soul" in the sense of first actuality of a living body.Metaphysician Undercover

    If this is Aristotle's intention, why is it placed in Book 1 of De Anima, devoted to the criticism of his predecessors' views of the soul, and not in Book Lambda of the Metaphysics, where the immovable mover is shown to be the first principle of all? In chapter 6 of the same book, Aristotle approaches the models of his predecessors with this observation (1071b12): "So there is no gain even if we posit eternal substances, like those who posit the Forms, unless there is in them a principle which can cause a change" (translated by H.G. Apostle). On this basis, Aristotle says:

    This is why some thinkers, like Leucippus and Plato, posit eternal activity; for they say that motion is eternal. But they do not state why. But they do not why this exists nor which it is, nor yet its manner or the cause of it. For nothing is moved at random, but there must always be something, just as it is at present with physical bodies which are moved in one way by nature but in another by force or by the intellect or by something else. Then again, which of them is first? For this makes a great difference. Plato cannot even state what it is that he sometimes considers to be the principle, that is, that which moves itself; for as he himself says the soul came after and it is generated at the same time as the universe. — 1071b30, translated by H.G. Apostle

    It seems like your interpretation should appear somewhere in this discussion if it is what Aristotle intended to say.

    The separation you are calling for also makes it difficult to understand De Anima, Book 3, Chapter 4. In that chapter, the role of the intellect, as expressed in certain kinds of souls, is presented side by side with the view of an activity not conditioned by that role.
  • Paine
    497

    I am beginning to feel guilty about the extent I am discussing Aristotle on the basis of your OP. Would you prefer this sort of thing happen in a different tree house?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    As for your dogmatic insistence on reading Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas, what can I say? Plato lived from 428 to 348 BC. Aquinas lived from 1225 to 1274 AD, i.e., more than a millennium and a half after Plato. It is absurd to claim that ancient readers of Plato and Aristotle were ignorant of what they were reading and had to wait more than fifteen centuries for Aquinas to tell them!Apollodorus

    And you live in 2022. Why should I listen to anything you say about these ancient writers then?

    If this is Aristotle's intention, why is it placed in Book 1 of De Anima, devoted to the criticism of his predecessors' views of the soul, and not in Book Lambda of the Metaphysics, where the immovable mover is shown to be the first principle of all? In chapter 6 of the same book, Aristotle approaches the models of his predecessors with this observation (1071b12): "So there is no gain even if we posit eternal substances, like those who posit the Forms, unless there is in them a principle which can cause a change" (translated by H.G. Apostle). On this basis, Aristotle says:Paine

    I don't see your point. The nature of the soul, and its relation to mind is exactly what Aristotle is discussing at this point in De Anima Bk1. I gave you the quote. His discussion of the 'mind soul' and his dismissal of that idea of a self-moved, eternal circular motion, goes on for about three pages. He very clearly discredits this idea in a number of ways. It's right there for you to read, but you'd prefer to ignore it.

    The text called "Metaphysics" consists of a scattered bunch of writings put together by others, long after Aristotle's death. That's why I said, it's debatable as to whether Book Lambda was actually even written by Aristotle. Some conclude it was written by an unknown Neo-Platonist. This is probably because it is inconsistent with Aristotle's dismissal of this Platonist principle, in "De Anima", at the point of my reference, and "De Anima" is known to be Aristotle's work, while this debated idea is clearly a Platonist principle.

    The separation you are calling for also makes it difficult to understand De Anima, Book 3, Chapter 4. In that chapter, the role of the intellect, as expressed in certain kinds of souls, is presented side by side with the view of an activity not conditioned by that role.Paine

    Yes, this is the difficult part. Notice here that mind is potentially anything, but not actually anything until after it thinks. 429a,24 & 429b,31. But even after the man becomes a man of science, and the mind has thought a set of possible objects, such that the man can now exercise that power, "its condition is still one of potentiality, but in a different sense from the potentiality which preceded the acquisition of knowledge by learning or discovery: the mind too is then able to think itself." 428b 8-9. So even after learning, the mind is still described as a "potential".

    Now we know that in Aristotle's physics, what has the characteristic of potential, is matter. And at "De Anima" Bk3, Ch4, he is comparing the mind's activity to sensation which is explicitly described as dependent on the body. But on this page here, Aristotle states that "...the faculty of sensation is dependent upon the body, mind is separable from it." 429b, 4. He provides justification for this statement, and I will say that his justification is weak.

    However, this point, that the power of the intellect is described as a potential is also what gave Aquinas trouble, as I said in my last post in my reply to Wayfarer, because potential is associated with matter. Aquinas as well, wanted to maintain the immateriality of the intellect, and if I remember correctly his solution was to propose a type of "potential", distinct from matter. Notice in my quoted passage from Aristotle, there is two senses of "potentiality" referred to.

    The problem now, is that by Aristotle's cosmological argument, anything eternal must be actual. So even if the mind is assigned some type of potentiality other than matter, it is still excluded from the category of eternal because it is a potentiality.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    I don't object in any way to you discussing Aristotle here. His ideas are very important, especially in relation to science.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    As for your dogmatic insistence on reading Plato and Aristotle through Aquinas, what can I say?Apollodorus

    So, when we discussed Plato you derided me for interpreting Plato through an Aristotelian perspective. Now we discuss Aristotle, and my interpretation of Aristotle is what you call "through Aquinas". Let's just call it what it is, 'my perspective'. And the fact is that I've read a lot of material from many great philosophers, and I do not rely on one only, to produce my metaphysical perspective.

    What is good here is that there is a lot of diversity of thought on what the 'truth' is. As you may have discovered if you have read some of this thread there is questioning of science rather simply people being blinded and mystified by its power.Jack Cummins

    A significant way, in which science loses track of the truth, is that the scientific mind neglects, or even outright denies the importance of the individual. This has occurred as a very complex process, but we see first the trend toward understanding everything, even the actions of individual human beings, through universal formulae. Then, evolutionary theory has replaced the will to survive, which is evident in the individual, with a fictional survival of the species; the "individual" now being an individual species. But you can see how the will to survive cannot be logical transferred to a will of the species to survive. The desire of the individual to survive is expressed in ideas about an immortal soul, not in the longevity of the human species.

    To make matters worse, mathematical axioms have been formulated which allow an interpretation which provides that if two things are equal they are actually the same thing. That's an interpretation of the law of identity which involves an inversion fallacy. The law of identity would allow that one and the same thing is equal to itself, but not necessarily that two equal things are the same thing. So we now lose the law of identity as fundamental to logic, and the principle which dictates the reality of a particular, individual, inanimate object is obscured to us. Therefore we have physicists who see a quantum of energy emitted here, and a quantum of energy absorbed over there, who insist that because these are equal amounts of energy they must be "the same photon", without being able to demonstrate the continued existence of said "photon" in the meantime.

    "But all that can be made out of the elements of a quantum is a quantum, not a substance." Aristotle On the Soul Bk1, Ch5, 410a, 21

    These mistakes in science lead to contradictory metaphysical principles by those who insist that science is the be all and end all of knowledge. A common expression of one such contradiction is a principle of pragmatism, stated something like "a difference which doesn't make a difference". You can see how this somewhat common philosophical expression is actually contradictory, because in order for someone to apprehend something as "a difference", it is necessary that it has already made a difference.
  • Paine
    497
    He very clearly discredits this idea in a number of ways. It's right there for you to read, but you'd prefer to ignore it.Metaphysician Undercover

    I have been disagreeing with your interpretation of its purpose in the text. It doesn't match what Aristotle says later in De Anima. You discredit references to cosmology outside the book where the differences between actuality and potentiality are discussed in detail in relation to first causes.

    There is nothing more I can contribute to this discussion. I will put my efforts elsewhere.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    I have been disagreeing with your interpretation of its purpose in the text. It doesn't match what Aristotle says later in De Anima. You discredit references to cosmology outside the book where the differences between actuality and potentiality are discussed in detail in relation to first causes.Paine

    You are simply refusing to accept the facts of what is written, and the logical conclusion derived from them. I've addressed what is said "later in De Anima". And, I've addressed what has been stated in cosmology "outside the book where the differences between actuality and potentiality are discussed in detail in relation to first causes".

    So, I'll recap below, (1) what is said at the disputed reference. (2) What is said later in De Anima. And (3) what is said in cosmology outside the book:

    1) Aristotle discredits the Platonic idea of a mind soul, which is supposed to an eternal circular motion of a mind thinking of itself, "De Anima" Bk1 Ch3. The basis of this dismissal is that the proposed sort of actuality, a circular motion, is not properly non-spatial, and therefore cannot adequately represent an immaterial substance.

    2) The human mind is described as a potential, both prior to learning, and after learning. "De Anima" Bk3, Ch4, 429b 5-9.

    3) No potential is eternal. "Metaphysics" Bk9, Ch8: "But (b) actuality is prior in a stricter sense also; for eternal things are prior in substance to perishable things, and no eternal thing exists potentially. The reason is this. ..." 1050b 7
  • Apollodorus
    3.3k
    And you live in 2022. Why should I listen to anything you say about these ancient writers then?Metaphysician Undercover

    I never said you should listen to what I say. What I did say is that the original texts should be read as they are:

    It is simply a matter of reading the original texts as they are, without putting a spin on them or dismissing whole chapters for being "inconsistent" with the reader's preconceived ideas.Apollodorus

    By your own admission, you are dismissing everything in the texts that is inconvenient to your preconceived opinion:

    So I would dismiss this point as inconsistent with his overall logical structure.Metaphysician Undercover

    these statements of immortality of the intellect are inconsistent with the logic of Aristotle's overall conceptual structure, and ought to be dismissed as oversight, or mistake.Metaphysician Undercover

    As I said already, these statements of immortality of the intellect are inconsistent with the logic of Aristotle's overall conceptual structure, and ought to be dismissed as oversight, or mistake.Metaphysician Undercover

    Therefore these passages you have quoted, which were derived from that intuition, ought to be dismissed as misguided.Metaphysician Undercover

    Etc., etc.

    IMO it is simply wrong to dismiss whole passages and chapters as "mistakes" and to call the author "misguided".

    A more logical approach is to look into whether the passages you are choosing to dismiss can be read in a way that makes them consistent with the rest of the text. This is what Platonists like Plotinus and Proclus are doing and so do scholars like Gerson (see Aristotle and Other Platonists).

    Unfortunately, you are unable to do that because you are committed to an "interpretation" of the text that requires dismissing too many parts of the text. This is why you aren't convincing anyone.

    So, frankly, I think you are flogging a dead horse there. But, as I said, feel free to carry on. I’ve got other things to do …. :smile:
  • ernest
    10
    Science is important, yet all theories, like stories and metaphors are models.Jack Cummins

    Well this is my bone lol. What has happened is a split between the Academy of Science and the AAS, emobied by this definition split in the Wikipedia:

    The United States National Academy of Sciences defines scientific theories as follows:

    The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the Sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics)...One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed.[14]

    From the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

    A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory". It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

    i really object to the statement in bold. It's quite clear you understand why, lol.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.1k

    I guess that what you are talking about is scientific fundamentalism which can be as concrete as religious fundamentalism. It just leaves no scope for further thinking. It may be that the process of evolution is nearer to what happened in the sense that it didn't take place in 7 days and there was no actual Adam and Eve. However, there is a lot which still remains unknown, especially the evolution of culture and language. It also appears that rather than some of the earliest people being 'primitive' some of the ancient people were very advanced, such as the in the civilisation of Egypt and Greece. As far as I am aware there is some evidence of a flood, and, of course, there is a lot not known, such as ice ages.
  • Paine
    497

    The matters are clear to you, so my objections are merely proof of my incapacity. I have no objection to that sort of rhetoric as such. I would have continued on that basis if I understood what you are convinced of.

    When I piece together what you ascribe to Aristotle, I don't understand it as a thought by itself.

    By way of contrast, I disagree with many things Gerson asserts. He is not around to answer my challenges, but I understand what he is saying. I don't understand what you are saying. You have a vivid image of something and I cannot make it out.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    IMO it is simply wrong to dismiss whole passages and chapters as "mistakes" and to call the author "misguided".Apollodorus

    Hey, that's philosophy. When an author states unacceptable principles, we reject them, regardless of how revered the person is.


    Thanks for the consideration. There are many different facets to the ideas at play here. The key principle is time. That's what validates the potential/actual distinction. Understanding the potential /actual distinction as a temporal distinction is the key point to the image I have. Notice in the passage I quoted from "De Anima" Bk1, Ch3, Aristotle rejected eternal circular motions because that was a spatial representation, whereas he said thoughts have a "serial unity". The serial order is a temporal order and the cause of the unity is something outside the order itself.

    The "eternal circles" produces a conception of "eternal" which can be described as a never ending (infinite) process. But when we look to the serial order, as a temporal order, there is a need to assume something outside of time, as the cause of the temporal order. In this case "eternal" means outside of time. Metaphysically, these two are very different. And when we apprehend the need for a cause which is outside of time, we cannot avoid the need to reassess our conception of time. Being enamoured by the eternal circular motions makes us blind to that need.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k

    To expound a little bit more, the question of what happens to the soul after death is premature from my perspective. It's a question which we cannot even look at, because we do not have the relevant knowledge required to even make it an intelligible question. The soul is seen as the cause of the body, in the sense of being what actualizes that potential. Therefore that question is like asking what happens to the cause, after the effect. Well, the answer is that the cause is in the past. Unfortunately, we do not have a conception of time which provides even so much as the minimum requirement toward understanding what it means to be in the past.

    The closest thing we have, that I know of, is Aquinas' "aeviternal". If you read what he says about time and eternity, he distinguishes "eternity" as the measurement of being the same, "immutable", from "time" as the measurement of change. This distinction allows that we can understand an object or a being, as having both a permanence of being, as well as change annexed to it, in so far as it recedes from that permanence. In order that we can relate these two distinct types of measurement, (the logical permanence of being, or truth, having been demonstrated by Aristotle as incommensurable with change), it is necessary to posit a medium, or "mean", between them (in a similar way as Plato proposed passion or spirit as the medium between body and mind). So Aquinas proposed aeviternal as the mean, and this concept allows for the reality of, and the further development of "a point in time".

    https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1010.htm

    The final question in this referred section, whether there is one aeviternity or many, has important relevance. If all spiritual substances have an equality in relation to God, then each has its own distinct relation to eternity, thereby being a distinct aeviternity. But if there is a hierarchy of spiritual substances, one would be nearest to God and eternity, making that the one true aeviternity which all others are related to.

    Aquinas chooses the latter on the basis of his understanding of "equality". He believed that the distinction between individual things proceeds directly from God, as matter is directly created by God. But I don't think his conclusion is sound. The reason for this, is that we need to account for the scale of higher or lower by which inequalities are judged to produce a hierarchy, higher or lower. If that scale is not related directly to God, rather than conceiving of it as relations between the various spiritual substances, then the relations become arbitrary, without a grounding principle. In other words, the "inequality" of being which proceeds directly from God, in His creation of matter, must have inherent within it, the principles for higher and lower because God as eternal, is the one principle which encompasses the whole of created being, or permanence. So the scale must be based in eternity or permanence, giving each spiritual substance a position relative to eternity, each constituting a distinct aeviternity as a mean between permanence and change, the points on the scale being each related to the overarching principle, rather than to each other..
  • Apollodorus
    3.3k
    Hey, that's philosophy. When an author states unacceptable principles, we reject them, regardless of how revered the person is.Metaphysician Undercover

    Well, you can twist it as much as you want. :smile:

    The fact is I wasn't talking about "unacceptable principles". I was talking about your admitted method of dismissing passages from one author because they are "inconsistent" with your spurious interpretation of other passages from the same author, while disregarding the very real possibility that the cause of the "inconsistency" may lie in your faulty interpretation.

    Gerson shows how such misinterpretations can arise and how they can lead to passages or chapters being dismissed by those who misinterpret them. This has nothing to do with "philosophy" but with an inability (or unwillingness, in some cases) to correctly understand the authors in question.

    More generally, you are using Aristotle to attack Plato, Aquinas to attack Plato and Aristotle, etc. This is a pattern we’ve seen before and I think we know where it is coming from ....
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.9k
    The fact is I wasn't talking about "unacceptable principles".Apollodorus

    I was talking about unacceptable principles. When an author whom a person respects to a great level, proposes unacceptable principles, like eternal circular motions for example, then one must dig deep within that author's work to uncover the reasons for that mistake.

    You can approach this with the attitude that eternal circular motions is completely consistent with all of Aristotle's work, in which case we'd have to reject all his work as being based in an unacceptable principle, or we can look to see where this principle is inconsistent with the rest of his work, and keep the rest. Or do you happen to believe that eternal circular motions is an acceptable principle?

    I was talking about your admitted method of dismissing passages from one author because they are "inconsistent" with your spurious interpretation of other passages from the same author, while disregarding the very real possibility that the cause of the "inconsistency" may lie in your faulty interpretation.Apollodorus

    The fact that I back up my so-called "spurious interpretation' with reference to other well respected philosophers, and you do not, indicates that it is more likely that your interpretation is faulty, rather than that mine is faulty. And this is exactly the problem. You imply that referencing Aristotle when explaining Plato's philosophy, and referencing Aquinas when explaining Aristotle's philosophy, a procedure which indicates a well educated interpretation, is more likely to produce a faulty interpretation than a completely uneducated reading.

    Gerson shows how such misinterpretations can arise and how they can lead to passages or chapters being dismissed by those who misinterpret them. This has nothing to do with "philosophy" but with an inability (or unwillingness, in some cases) to correctly understand the authors in question.Apollodorus

    It's possible that there is a misinterpretation, but it's also possible that the author is mistaken. Therefore, we refer to other well educated philosophers to consult with their interpretations. You seem to think that it's wrong to consider the possibility that the author is mistaken, and therefore wrong to consult the interpretations of others.

    More generally, you are using Aristotle to attack Plato, Aquinas to attack Plato and Aristotle, etc. This is a pattern we’ve seen before and I think we know where it is coming from ....Apollodorus

    This is nonsense, pure and simple. Each and every philosopher makes some good points and some bad points. We are all only human, and no human being can have perfection in one's philosophy. So we take the good points and we reject the bad. However, the good and the bad must be demonstrated as such, and this is called justification. That a philosopher like myself accepts the majority of another philosopher's work, yet rejects some fringe aspects, and produces demonstrations as to why these fringe aspects are inconsistent with the majority of the work, does not constitute a matter of attacking the other philosopher. It's just a realization, and acceptance of the fact, that no human being is perfect in one's philosophy. So we need to proceed with due diligence in our justifications.
  • Gregory
    4.2k
    It seems to me that Aristotle's God, which is a final not efficient cause of an eternal system, is in accord with Leibniz's God of fulgarations. Aquinas changed Aristotle by claiming he was wrong to say God is not the efficient cause of the world and that there could be multiple Gods. He provides his arguments to back them up. But I see a major flaw in Aquinas's argument. If God is omniscient than he knows what he will do. Except that God's choose to create is not due to his nature. So then in that case we have God completely freely choosing to create, instead of just loving himself freely and necessarily. Yet God knows he acted thusly in creating and thus knowing is knowledge. Aquinas says God is his knowledge, so the free choice to create would change God's nature in Aquinas's system!!
  • Apollodorus
    3.3k
    The fact that I back up my so-called "spurious interpretation' with reference to other well respected philosophers, and you do not, indicates that it is more likely that your interpretation is faulty, rather than that mine is faulty.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's exactly the kind of argument that Fooloso4 would come up with. Apparently, we had to accept everything he said because he had "the degrees to show that he was right". :smile:

    You have backed up your interpretation with nothing but more of your own baseless interpretations and opinions which, as others have noted, are pretty incoherent and make no sense.

    As I already pointed out a few pages back (page 6), there is no reason why Aristotle’s “eternal circular motion” should be deemed less acceptable than the Christian idea of God as “an old man sitting on a throne in the sky”, for example:

    Some people claim that God is an old man sitting on a throne in the sky. How exactly is that any better or more logical?!Apollodorus

    You chose not to answer my point (and many others) for the obvious reason that an honest and objective answer would have instantly demolished your untenable position.

    The fact is that if Aristotle’s principles are “unacceptable” from a Thomist perspective, Aquinas’ principles may be equally unacceptable from other perspectives, e.g., of modern science, Marxism, or Islam.

    If your argument is that Aquinas is scientifically acceptable but Plato and Aristotle are not, your argument or claim proves absolutely nothing except your own personal bias. You may call it “educated interpretation”, but I think objective observers can see it for what it is, namely anti-Platonist and anti-Aristotelian disinformation and propaganda.
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