• Gnomon
    Systems Theory is especially applicable to Philosophy.... — Gnomon
    But the holistic systems view is hylomorphic rather than essentialist. There's that.
    Off Topic :
    I suppose "that" depends on whether you view Matter or Form as fundamental, or as equal partners. For Plato, Form is abstract, ideal, and timeless. But Matter is concrete, real, and changeable (perishable). So, which do you think is more Essential (absolutely necessary) : the multitude of physical Entities, or the unique metaphysical Form*1 ?

    I assume you are describing Systems Science from the perspective of a pragmatic, reductive scientist. But this is a Philosophy forum, so what do you think would be the description of Holistic Systems from the perspective of a theoretical, generalizing Philosopher? Does Essence precede Instance? Is the Extension more fundamental than the Intention?

    All physical systems in the real world are indeed compounds of matter & form. So, for a Chemist, the Matter (passive) may be more important than the Structure (interrelationships). But, for a Physicist, the energetic (active) component may be more important than the malleable substance. And, from a philosophical perspective, Matter is local & particular, while Form is universal & general. So, there's that. :smile:

    *1. Aristotle's Causes :
    Formal Cause: the essence of the object. Final Cause: the end/goal of the object, or what the object is good for.

    *2. Systems Theory :
    In essence, systems theory operates on a simple guiding principle: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
    Note --- The parts may be material, but the whole is an interrelationship between parts. And it's the relations that bind the parts into an integrated system. So, which is more fundamental to the system, the interchangeable pieces or the whole puzzle picture?
  • apokrisis
    But this is a Philosophy forum,Gnomon


    But Matter is concrete, real, and changeable (perishable)Gnomon

    Sounds a little self contradictory. Not what you would expect from an essence. More work might be needed.
  • Gnomon
    But Matter is concrete, real, and changeable (perishable) — Gnomon
    Sounds a little self contradictory. Not what you would expect from an essence. More work might be needed.
    What are you implying? That a non-space-time essential principle could not produce mundane Matter from scratch? Such a non-noumenal notion may be the basic unproveable presumption of Materialism. Hence, a materialist would not expect a material object to be derived from an immaterial essence.

    Even Aristotle, the guy who proposed the notion of dualistic HyloMorphism, viewed Essence as Causal*1. What I would expect from causal Essence is that it would give Form (design) to the malleable clay of Matter. When a potter produces a beautiful pot from ordinary clay, where did the Form and the Beauty come from? Was it inherent in the clay on a river bank, or in the noumenal mind of the creator?

    Perhaps your notion of a concrete & real Essence needs more work. How did Materialists*2 arrive at the conclusion that many-form Matter is the monistic fundamental substance? Did they just take it for granted*3? Even old Hylomorpher himself defined Substance*4 as Being Itself, and Matter as contingent & accidental*5. Did they, like most Reductionists, ignore the contribution of an immaterial Mind to the dualistic combination of hyle and morph? Are Minds too spooky for you? :cool:

    *1. Essence as Causal :
    Aristotle frequently describes essence as a “cause” or “explanation”, thus ascribing to essence some sort of causal or explanatory role. This explanatory role is often explicated by scholars in terms of essence “making the thing be what it is” or “making it the very thing that it is”.
    Note --- The Essence (beingness) of a thing is not the particular instance, but the universal design.

    *2. Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental states and consciousness, are results of material interactions of material things. ___Wikipedia
    Note --- My thesis is based on an immaterial Monism --- causal Information (energy + form + action) --- which is an essential "substance" instead of a contingent "accident".

    *3. Materialism is a Belief :
    a. The best argument against materialism is the observation that the word material has lost all meaning. Materialism does not exist anymore. . . . .
    c. The third best argument is that syntax cannot be derived from physics and semantics cannot be derived from physics. . . . .
    f. The fifth best argument is the observation that materialists, apart from not existing, do not actually argue for their cause, they merely assume it to be true.

    Note --- I suppose he means that Materialism, over millennia, was based on Atomism. But modern Physics has whiffed on each of its "fundamental" particles of matter : elements, molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks. Now their Essential substance is a holistic mathematical Field (cartesian Plenum) with no matter in its dimensionless points. Need references?

    *4. Substance is being existing in itself; accident is being existing in another as its subject. -- Being is known either as something which subsists in itself without needing to be sustained by another, or as something which needs a subject in which and by which it may exist.
    Note --- The modern notion of "Substance as material" is a reductive corruption of the original essential concept. Modern Science is necessarily Materialistic: Philosophy not necessarily.

    *5. Matter is Accidental not essential :
    Aristotle made a distinction between the essential and accidental properties of a thing. For example, a chair can be made of wood or metal, but this is accidental to its being a chair: that is, it is still a chair regardless of the material from which it is made.
    Note --- The Essence of a chair is the concept of Chairness. Concepts are what we know with, not what we make chairs out of.
  • Gnomon
    But this is a Philosophy forum, — Gnomon
    Would you agree that Scientific Laws and Philosophical Principles are only "approximations" of Universal Essences? Obviously those "Ideals" are not real material things, so why do "wise" men continue to seek out such non-entities? Are they ignorant or stupid or god-smacked, or do they know something the rest of us don't? Perhaps, that there is more to the world than what meets the eye.

    No need to reply. This post is just something to think about. :grin:

    Note --- Irving Copi was the author of Introduction to Logic.

    Harpur College, State University of New York
    In a recent paper Copi has argued for the admission of the term "essence" into scientific terminology. His primary reason is that the increasing adequacy of scientific theories is evidence of a gradual approximation to the real essences of things. Copi is aware that the laws of modern science are not to be taken as formulations of essences. But, he claims, "that is an ideal towards which science strives... Centuries hence wiser men will have radically different and more adequate theories, and their notions will be closer approximations than ours to the real essences of things."

    Wise Man and his Essences :
    Albert Einstein reinterpreted the inner workings of nature, the very essence of light, time, energy and gravity. His insights fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe--and made him the most famous scientist of the 20th century.
  • apokrisis
    I suppose "that" depends on whether you view Matter or Form as fundamental, or as equal partners.Gnomon

    To dissect in more detail, matter and form are terms needing more clarification here. But they are certainly equal partners in the deal as they arise together in dichotomous fashion. Each – as one of a pair of complementary limits on enmattered and informed Being – exists to the degree it stands in sharp contrast to its "other". They form a dichotomous relation, in other words. Logically speaking, matter and form are "mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive" as a pair of natural categories.

    So matter and form become reifications in our mouths. They speak to the two extremes of Being that emerge when we apply our causal analysis. They are precisely what are not there right at the beginning, yet are what then emerge to create a state of substantial hylomorphic being. We can't speak of a world that is made of matter and form. We must speak of a world that becomes organised in the fashion we would call enmattered and informed.

    Thus beyond the apparent duality of matter and form is their common origin in what Anaximander called an Apeiron, what Peirce called a Vagueness. A pure potential beyond any material or formal distinction. An essence without yet any essential. A vague everythingness that was equally a great nothingness.

    What seems like a fundamental duality becomes instead a triadic relation where that duality is the hard outcome of a "soft launch". The beginning is where something first imperceptibly starts to happen as pure possibility begins to reveal the immanence of the sharp separation it can eventually become.

    So you are talking in a way that takes matter for granted as that which already exists as a fact in its own ontic domain, just simply lacking the "other" of a shaping hand of a form. It is a primal stuff that thus concretely occupies a place and time. It comes with the inherent property of being able to sit still and unchanged. Or alternatively – and rather confusingly – to be squished and moved about. It is a stuff supposedly as maximally amorphous as potter's clay, yet still perfectly substantial in being able to take on form, or alternatively resist form, or even perhaps find its own forms if it gets a little more hot, a little more cold. Like the clay that gets baked or becomes too watery.

    Then you pair this rather complicated "fundamental stuff" with an equally equivocal story on a matching realm of form. A place of mental stuff. A place that seems to be the mind of some intender or creator. It is the origin of both purpose and pattern. It can will any change, and yet seems mathematically restricted in what it can in fact impose. The Platonic solids are a good example of that.

    This is the problem with a dualism of matter and form. It becomes an argument for two different domains of cause – one in the material world and one beyond it. The domains themselves seem confused and self-contradictory in the jobs they are suppose to do. How the two connect is as much a problem. The metaphysics is shot full of holes. It is not the way hylomorphism can be done.

    But what I am talking about is quite different. In the beginning there is a vagueness beyond all distinctions. However the one thing that can then result from this is the birth of a primal distinction – the distinction we call the mutualising dichotomy of formal cause and material cause. It is a distinction that feeds on itself and so naturally grows to become a contrast that is sharp and strong. We quickly evolve to a state of being that is a general somethingness. A state of being that is fully substantial in being enmattered and informed. It has its complexity of materials and its complexity of structures. The two complexities between them compose a complexly realised reality.

    Science now offers us concrete models of this kind of hylomorphic logic. It is the story of the Big Bang. It is the story of particle physics. It is the story of dissipative structure theory.

    Everything begins in the systems dichotomy of a differentiation and an integration. A material possibility and its structural incorporation. The emergence of wholes that are more than the sum of their parts to use the clumsy expression. The incoherence of a quantum fluctuation and the thermal decoherence that then fits it into a growing pattern that is a history of actual particle events.

    Science is rich with the proper logical and mathematical language to talk about a hylomorphic principle of Being. Unfortunately everyday speech is only rich in the language of reductionism. Even dualism is just reductionism doubled.

    A systems metaphysics is triadic. It starts itself beyond the differentiation~integration that is the materiality of local energetic actions and the formal cause of globally cohesive constraints. It starts right before anything can be said to exist by the virtue of the fact that things might also not have existed.

    So what is essential or fundamental is the everythingness that was a nothingness yet could then become divided into the somethingness of a substantial world becoming ever more complexified in terms of its material and structural possibilities.

    No need for transcendence or duality. Spontaneous symmetry-breaking or dichotomisation is a self-organising and immanent process in Nature. Science sees that everywhere it looks, even if that is not a well understood fact as yet.
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