• Wayfarer
    21.1k
    I am not familiar with Vervaeke.Paine

    You’ll find a thread that I’ve created about him here.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    You’ll find a thread that I’ve created about him here.Wayfarer

    :ok:

    I waffled a bit when I wrote "and oppose(s) naturalism." I think it is clear that Vervaeke is a Platonist, but his relationship with naturalism seems a bit complicated. Maybe it would be better to say that he wishes to redirect naturalism away from its anti-Platonist history. It may all come down to the question of how Plato and Vervaeke understand God and transcendence. At the very least I would say that Vervaeke is opposed to the standard, reductionist tropes of naturalism, such as materialism. What do you think?
  • Paine
    2.1k

    I have been thinking a lot about how the components making up a 'philosophy of history' relate to statements about existing conditions. For instance, Plotinus' view of what is happening in his moment is pretty darn ahistorical. As it was, is now, and forever shall be.

    Hegel's view, by contrast, argues we cannot know what is happening outside of the process of human changes we have undergone.

    The advantage of the ahistorical approach is that we are who we are, including our past experiences. The disadvantage of it is that we pop up out of nowhere.

    The advantage of the historical approach is that a view of genealogy is possible. The disadvantage is that the past becomes the servant of the narrative of what is changing.

    I accept that many series of events led to me thinking what I think now and it was different in the past. But there is a 'paradise lost' aspect to your versions of the history of ideas that I do not subscribe to. The view is entangled with how to read specific texts in the past.
  • Wayfarer
    21.1k
    I've quoted your question in the Vervaeke thread so as not to divert this one.

    there is a 'paradise lost' aspect to your versions of the history of ideas that I do not subscribe to.Paine

    It's not so much 'paradise lost' as 'forgotten wisdom'. That there was an 'sapiential wisdom teaching' that was original to Western culture, that has been occluded by scientistic technocracy and 'the instrumentalisation of reason'. But again, maybe better discussed in the other thread than this one.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    I think the matter belongs to a discussion of what Aristotle intended. Folding his efforts into an omlette of other ideas is what I am challenging.

    On that point, the 'forgotten wisdom' idea was central to Plato's Statesman, where the idea of time moving backwards or forwards moved us closer or further from the true stuff.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    In school we learned that something/someone can act and that someone/something can be acted on.tim wood

    And did you learn that something which doesn't exist yet can be acted on? Or, did you learn that it is really a project (goal or intention) which was being acted on, and not the non-existent thing which is being acted on? I learned the latter, when the mentioned object has no material existence, and is being built, it is a project which is being acted on.

    That can only mean that for you, it is meaningless to say that anything is (ever) acted upon.tim wood

    For me, no object which does not yet have material existence is ever acted on. You cannot act on a thing unless it exists materially. However, a project, goal, or final cause, is acted on. But this is a case of an individual being moved by the project (having passion for it), not a case of the project being moved by the individual.
  • Paine
    2.1k
    For me, no object which does not yet have material existence is ever acted on.Metaphysician Undercover

    Can you point to some place in the text where this is claimed? Where do beings move from the not-material to the material?
  • Wayfarer
    21.1k
    I think the matter belongs to a discussion of what Aristotle intended. Folding his efforts into an omlette of other ideas is what I am challenging.Paine

    And as I've said, I'm interested in Aristotle in the context of the history of ideas, which is the study of an omelette. It is nearer to what John Vervaeke is covering in his course materials.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    I guess my challenges are meaningless in that context.

    To wit: There are these ideas and they are what they are because that is what said of them.

    That is not the anti-Protagoras view argued continuously throughout the book.
  • Wayfarer
    21.1k
    I guess my challenges are meaningless in that context.Paine

    They're really not. I will always read the texts that are presented with interest. It's more that my interests are tangential to the topic and I'm ever mindful of derailing a discussion.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    I do not understand this "tangential" relationship you describe. For my part, people say stuff and other people say other stuff. Your stuff is one of the things described.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    Can you point to some place in the text where this is claimed? Where do beings move from the not-material to the material?Paine

    That is called "generation", or "coming to be", when a thing changes from not being to being. It's discussed at length by Aristotle in a number of different places. A good discussion of the principles of generation can be found in Metaphysics Bk 7, principally Ch 6-8. He distinguishes coming to be by nature, by art, and spontaneously, and discusses how the matter receives the form which it gets, in each of these circumstances.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    I take your point that generation is the counter example of the productive arts.

    But you were making a claim about when beings actually existed 'materially'.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    I take your point that generation is the counter example of the productive arts.Paine

    By art is one type of generation, by nature is another type.

    But you were making a claim about when beings actually existed 'materially'.Paine

    Yes I was. "Being" for Aristotle implies having both matter and form. We cannot attribute properties of "a house" to matter which is does not yet have the properties of a house. The house is not being acted on because the matter being acted on does not have the form of a house when the matter does not yet have the properties required for it to be a house. When the house is being built, what is acted on is matter in the form of something else, stones, cement, boards, etc. A house is not being acted on at this stage, because the matter does not have the form of a house. And when the matter does have the form of a house, the house is no longer being built, it is already built.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    A house is not being acted on at this stage, because the matter does not have the form of a house. And when the matter does have the form of a house, the house is no longer being built, it is already built.Metaphysician Undercover
    And as pointed out quite a while ago, the consequence of all of this is that a house cannot be built. A nice piece of nonsense. Do you think Aristotle would agree?

    Corollary: nothing can be built.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    And as pointed out quite a while ago, the consequence of all of this is that a house cannot be built.tim wood

    That is a deficiency of language, not a deficiency of action. And Aristotle has much respect for that type of sophistry which issues forth from this deficiency. Consider the following problem which Aristotle pointed out.

    If at t1 the sate of being is describable as A, and change (becoming) occurs, so at t2 the state of being is describable as B, then there must be something which occurs between t1 and t2 which is signified by the term "change". If we propose another describable state of being, C, as the middle, between A and B, then change must occur between A and C, and C and B. Therefore we'd have two more describable states of being, D between A and C, and E between C and B. This leads to an infinite regress of distinct describable states of being, where the actual change between the states never gets described.

    Aristotle used this argument to show how we must allow for either a violation of the law of non-contradiction, or a violation of the law of excluded middle, in order to account for the reality of change, becoming. The issue is that becoming is distinctly incompatible with being, and if we adhere to those formal laws of logic, the sophists (like Zeno, and you), can prove absurdities. Aristotle insisted that we maintain the law of non-contradiction, and allow for a violation of the law of excluded middle, with the concept of "matter". Matter, being potential, allows for the reality of what may or may not be. And this is why dualism is required to understand the nature of reality. "Form" refers to the intelligible aspect of reality, while "matter" refers to the unintelligible aspect.

    So it is not the case that it is impossible for a house, or anything else, to come to be (be built), as your sophistry concludes. It is simply the case that there are aspects of this process which we cannot describe, as they are unintelligible to us. And you seize on the reality of this failure of the human intellect and the language which enables it, to conclude that because we cannot describe it, it cannot occur.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    Which shows that language itself, "put to the question," can be made to yield absurdities like, "No house can be built." Akin to Achilles never overtaking the tortoise, the arrow never moving, and we not only never being able to get where we're going, but also never being able to leave where we are.

    So what is true? The absurd conclusions of tortured language? Or language that accurately describes/represents the world? (This not to say that description/representation is always problem-free, but instead to say that absurdities are not solutions - and at best signal that the thinking that has led to them has to be re-thought.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    So what is true? The absurd conclusions of tortured language? Or language that accurately describes/represents the world? (This not to say that description/representation is always problem-free, but instead to say that absurdities are not solutions - and at best signal that the thinking that has led to them has to be re-thought.)tim wood

    You are the one who used language to come to the absurd conclusion, that houses cannot be built. So it's your thinking which needs to be rethought. I believe that houses are being built all the time. However, much of the process remains unintelligible and indescribable to us, because it consists of things we do not adequately understand, namely the relationship between final cause and material cause.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    You are the one who used language to come to the absurd conclusion, that houses cannot be built.Metaphysician Undercover
    ^sigh* No. It was you who completely misread my post. It was - is - your argument that the house not existing before it is built, cannot be being built, and once built, is no longer being built, hence - on your argument - the house cannot be (being) built.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k

    You made that conclusion that a house cannot be being built, not I, and you did so because you misunderstood me. I said that when we say "a house is being built", we refer to a project, not to a particular house. And the subject "house" is a goal, objective, or end, not a material object. You appear to be fooled by the deficiencies of human language, into believing that "house" in this context refers to a material object when it really does not. It refers to an idea.

    The way to reveal your mistake is to distinguish between the particular and the general, or universal. "A house" refers to something general, a universal concept, not a particular which has material existence. So "a house is being built" clearly does not refer to any particular material object. Furthermore, if in an attempt to refer to a particular house, we say "the house" is being built, or "my house" is being built, then we see very quickly that the particular house referred to, which is being built, exists only as an idea, a plan, or goal, not as a material object.
  • tim wood
    8.9k
    Let's set aside translation. Question to you: is it possible to build a house? Yes? No?tim wood
    You thought this a stupid question - maybe you still think so. But observe how tortured your understanding is. A - or the or my - house can be built, but it cannot be being built. What you apparently don't get is that with that kind of reasoning nothing can be built. You spoke of acting on raw materials as realizing the goal of the house. But "acting on raw materials" does not in, of, or by itself produce a house. First the ground is prepared - built, a foundation built, a frame built, all the parts of the house that are not the house itself are built - the roof beams and trusses, the staircases, and so on, all are built. But cannot be being built. And you say the house is built as a goal -- from a plan no doubt. But how, exactly, does that work? My answer is nothing gets built unless it is being built.

    And this is plain language. And plain language is what I find in Aristotle, Doesn't mean he leaves it unquestioned, but I am not aware of any instance where he overthrows plain language.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k

    As I explained, Aristotle's description is like this. At t1 there is not-being of the house. At t2 there is being of the house. The time in between involves change, becoming. Becoming is incompatible with being, and cannot be described in the same logical terms, (subject/predicate). This is because we need to allow that the thing which is becoming either violates the law of non-contradiction (both is and is not at the same time), or it violates the law of excluded middle (neither is nor is not). Aristotle opted for the latter, becoming violates the law of excluded middle, and proposed that the concept of "potential" could account for the reality of that which neither is nor is not.

    We could proceed to discuss the relationship between Aristotle's proposal of a violation of the law of excluded middle, and some modern day metaphysics like dialetheism and dialectical materialism, which following Hegel, propose a violation of the law of non-contradiction, if you could obtain an adequate grasp of this problem.

    And this is plain language. And plain language is what I find in Aristotle, Doesn't mean he leaves it unquestioned, but I am not aware of any instance where he overthrows plain language.tim wood

    Wow, I don't think you've read Aristotle, if you think his writings are "plain language". Why do you think there has been endless discussions as to what he meant, for thousands of years, if his writing is "plain language?
  • Paine
    2.1k
    Good posts. I agree with what you say about Aristotle in them. I would have to go back to see what you've said about Plotinus.Leontiskos

    Since it relates to the topic of the OP (regarding the Unmoved Mover), I will take make my argument from the horse's mouth:

    Aristotle says that the first existence is separated from sense objects and is an intelligible existence. But when he says that "it thinks itself," he takes the first rank away from it. He also asserts the existence of a plurality of other intelligible entities in a number equal to the celestial spheres, so that each of them might have its principle of motion. About the intelligible entities, therefore, Aristotle advances a doctrine different from that of Plato, and as he has no good reason for this change, he brings in necessity.
    Even if he had good reason, one might well object that it seems more reasonable to suppose that the spheres as they are coordinated in a single system are directed towards the one end, the supreme existence. The question also might be raised whether for Aristotle the intelligible entities from one originating principle or whether there are several originating principles for the intelligible entities. If the intelligible entities proceed form on principle, their condition will be analogous to that of the sense spheres where each contains and dominates all the others. In this case, the first existence will contain all the intelligible entities and be the intelligible world. Just as the spheres in the world of senses are not empty, - for the first is full of stars and each of the others has its stars,- so their movers in the intelligible world will contain many entities, being that are more real than sense things. On the other hand, if each of the movers is an independent principle, their interrelation will be subject to chance. How then will they unite their actions and agree in producing that single effect which is the harmony of the heaven? What also is the reason for the assertion that the sense objects that are in heaven equal in number their intelligible movers? Further, why is there a plurality of movers since they are incorporeal, and no matter separates them from on another?
    Thus those among the ancient philosophers who faithfully followed the doctrines of Pythagoras, of disciples, and of Pherecydes, have maintained the existence of the intelligible world.
    — Plotinus, Ennead V, i, 9, translated by Katz

    The mention of Pythagoras is important because that is a pivot for Aristotle regarding how souls are embodied:

    [9] There is another absurdity, however, that follows both from this account and from most of the ones concerning the soul, since in fact they attach the soul to a body, and place it in a body, without |407b15| further determining the cause due to which this attachment comes about or the condition of the body required for it. Yet this would seem to be necessary. For it is because of their association that the one acts, whereas the other is acted upon, and the one is moved, whereas the other moves it. None of these relations, though, holds between things taken at random. These people, however, merely undertake to say what sort of thing the soul is, but about the |407b20| sort of body that is receptive of it they determine nothing further, as if it were possible, as in the Pythagorean stories, for any random soul to be inserted into any random body, whereas it seems that in fact each body has its own special form and shape.96 But what they say is somewhat like saying that the craft of {13} carpentry could be inserted into flutes, whereas in fact the |407b25| craft must use its instruments, and the soul its body. — De Anima, 407b10, translated by C.D.C Reeve

    The issue of the receptivity of matter raises the question of how there can be "natural" beings in a world where necessary events occur in conjunction with accidental ones. The view leads to an argument about the nature of actuality and potentiality (as I refer to upthread). What I have seen in Gerson overlooks the importance of the 'material' in Aristotle's pursuit of the natural.

    Coincidentally, it is interesting that Plotinus chides Aristotle as a poor Platonist when the role of Necessity is an important part of the Timaeus.

    Edited to remove unnecessary meta-afterword.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    Do you accept that a claim of ancient wisdom is largely dependent upon a description of what those old people were saying?
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    The issue of the receptivity of matter raises the question of how there can be "natural" beings in a world where necessary events occur in conjunction with accidental ones. The view leads to an argument about the nature of actuality and potentiality (as I refer to upthread). What I have seen in Gerson overlooks the importance of the 'material' in Aristotle's pursuit of the natural.Paine

    Okay thanks, I think I sort of see where you are coming from. It is something like the idea that Gerson fails to recognize Aristotle's naturalism insofar as he overlooks the importance of the 'material' in Aristotle's thought. For Aristotle the specific matter in question must be receptive to the form it holds, and an undue emphasis on form will tend to neglect this thesis. Is it something like that?

    I don't quite understand how the quote from Plotinus fits in. Presumably it highlights a Platonic critique of Aristotle, in which the formal principle(s) is clearly seen to overpower the material principle(s)? That for the pure Platonist Aristotle's matter will not be sufficiently determinate or explanatory?
  • Wayfarer
    21.1k
    Do you accept that a claim of ancient wisdom is largely dependent upon a description of what those old people were saying?Paine

    No. Different epochs (and that is what they are) are characterised by different ways of being. There were of course many aspects of ancient life which are rightly condemned by today’s standards but the insights preserved in the classical texts have been preserved for good reason. Also many of these texts are from the Axial Age, which has a special significance, and which deserves a thread in its own right, although I’m not going to post one as I’m taking a spell from forums for a while.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    Thank you for considering the argument.

    It will take me several days to respond to your questions. They present challenges I do not want to minimize or treat off the cuff.
  • Janus
    15.8k
    Do you accept that a claim of ancient wisdom is largely dependent upon a description of what those old people were saying?Paine

    This intrigues me; are you saying that claims that (some of) the ancients were wise depend on current interpretations of what they have written? The problems of anachronism and hermeneutics?
  • Paine
    2.1k

    It looks like we will have to agree to disagree. For the time being, anyway.
  • Paine
    2.1k

    Yes.
    Or at least we do not have a method that does not rely heavily upon self-identified methods of interpretation. I favor some over others, but I cannot argue for an authority beyond that.
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