• Andrew M
    696
    What does "dualism" mean to you?Metaphysician Undercover

    Dualism assumes there are entities that have a reality independent of particulars. In this context it's the Platonic Forms (which Aristotle rejected).

    This position, that the actuality of formal existence is prior to potentiality of material existence is reinforced by the logic that if there was ever a time when there was only potential without anything actually, there would always be potential without anything actual, because that potential could not actualize itself. However, what we observe is that there is actual existence. Therefore it is necessary that the actual is prior in time to the potential, in an absolute sense.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, but as an actual particular, not as an independent form. Adapted to a modern scientific context, the universe is that grounding existent and, in its reference frame, is the unmoved mover (with nothing external to it). Note the parallels with a modern scientific analysis:

    It suggests that time is an emergent phenomenon that comes about because of the nature of entanglement. And it exists only for observers inside the universe. Any god-like observer outside sees a static, unchanging universe, just as the Wheeler-DeWitt equations predict. [bold mine]Quantum Experiment Shows How Time ‘Emerges’ from Entanglement

    So it's true, as you say that the geometer, as a physical object, did act to bring about the geometrical construction on paper, but the cause of that act was a final cause, intention.Metaphysician Undercover

    The final cause was the geometer himself, who acted intentionally. You seem to be reifying intention here - it is the particular that acts (in this case, an intelligent human being), not the form.

    The One, being most universal is first, and imparts itself to the less and less universal, with the form of the individual being the last. What Aristotle demonstrates is that the form of the particular thing is necessarily prior in time to the material existence of that thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    The universe is as universal as it gets and it is the precondition for the (particular) subsystems for which change and time are applicable.

    I do believe there was fruit before there was pears or apples.Metaphysician Undercover

    That is a Platonic form that Aristotle rejected. For Aristotle, fruit does not exist in separation from pears and apples, but it can be considered separately (i.e., in abstraction). We might see the potential for fruit in prior particulars, just as a scientist might see the potential for life in earlier states of the universe.

    As I said, Aristotle clearly denied matter without form, but he did not deny form without matter. In fact, the principles of his Metaphysics necessitate it, as is evident in his cosmological argument. Understanding Aristotle's cosmological argument is very important to understanding his metaphysics, because it unlocks the door to understanding the consistency between Aristotle, Neo-Platonists, and Christian theology.Metaphysician Undercover

    I've addressed the cosmological argument above. Aristotle's rejection of Platonic forms just was his denial of form without matter.

    I contend that the pre-modern mentality was very different in this respect, as it didn't conceive of the world as being essentially machine-like but as animated by intelligence. (After all, Aristotle's 'de anima' is translated as 'On the Soul'.) So the whole conception of the human's place in the universe was different, in ways that we generally don't understand, because of the incommensurability of these orientations; much more of an 'I-thou' relationship (Martin Buber's term) than 'I see it'.Wayfarer

    For a non-dualist take on the unmoved mover that is sympathetic to what you say above, you may find this essay interesting.
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    Thanks, seems a good summary.

    Adapted to a modern scientific context, the universe is that grounding existent and, in its reference frame, is the unmoved mover (with nothing external to it). Note the parallels with a modern scientific analysis:

    It suggests that time is an emergent phenomenon that comes about because of the nature of entanglement. And it exists only for observers inside the universe. Any god-like observer outside sees a static, unchanging universe, just as the Wheeler-DeWitt equations predict. [bold mine]
    Andrew M

    I read The Theological Origins of Modernity (Michael Allen Gillespie) a few years back. One of the underlying arguments of this book is precisely that modern culture has tended to equate the cosmos itself with the totality of existence, therefore, in some sense, the cosmos ('all there is', according to Carl Sagan's well-known aphorism) has displaced God. (Although the remark about time being observer-dependent seems a re-statement of the claim made in the post about Andrei Linde above.)

    I think a natural theologian would be quite justified in arguing, however, that the source of the underlying order which manifests as stars, matter and atoms is not itself disclosed within the cosmos; that whilst science can identify (at least to some extent) the order of the Universe, in the form of universal laws, their source may not be something disclosed by science.

    Notice in the blog post above, it is said of the 'unmoved mover' that 'For something to be eternal, it is neither created nor destroyed, but always has and always will exist.' I wonder if there is anything corresponding to this, on a very high level, in current scientific discourse? Because it seems, if the big bang cosmology is true, that it doesn't apply to the Universe as a whole.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Dualism assumes there are entities that have a reality independent of particulars. In this context it's the Platonic Forms (which Aristotle rejected).Andrew M

    I look at this as contradictory. An entity is by definition a particular. I find this to be a common problem with modern day philosophers, they define "dualism" in such a way as to make dualism impossible, then they frown on dualism as if no rational individual would ever accept it.

    Yes, but as an actual particular, not as an independent form. Adapted to a modern scientific context, the universe is that grounding existent and, in its reference frame, is the unmoved mover (with nothing external to it). Note the parallels with a modern scientific analysis:Andrew M

    The universe, as it is understood in modern cosmology, does not qualify as an unmoved mover according to Aristotle's principles. In Bk. 12, Ch.7 of Metaphysics he describes the unmoved mover as a thinking which has as its object, the same thing as the object of its desire, such that the apparent good is the same as the real good. This is a final cause, as motion is caused by "being loved". Many commentators refer to this as a divine thinking, thinking on thinking, This produces eternal circular motion such as the motion of the planets. Circular motion is eternal because the perfect circle can have no beginning point nor end point. I admit that the no-boundaries theory of the universe is similar to Aristotle's eternal circular motion, but it does not contain the final cause, which is an essential part of "unmoved mover", as the cause of the motion. This is why Aristotle is very clearly dualist, the cause of motion of material objects is a 'thinking'.

    The universe is as universal as it gets and it is the precondition for the (particular) subsystems for which change and time are applicable.Andrew M

    The "universe" is not necessarily the precondition for particulars. We observe particulars, and we can conclude the reality of particulars, from empirical evidence, but we need a principle of unity to conclude that all the particulars are part of a whole, "the universe". Empirical knowledge brings us to assume the reality of particulars, but it gives us nothing to validate "the whole", because we do not see that which causes unity. Without the principle of unity, 'the universe" is an untenable concept, and this is exactly what has happened in modern physics resulting in "the multiverse". Prior to special relativity, "time" was regarded as an absolute, and this was, for practical purposes, the principle of unity, every particular shares the same "now" in time, thus a unity of "what is". This is represented in The Old Testament as God, 'I am that I am', and Plato's Parmenides, 'the Idea is like the day, no matter how many different places partake of the day, it does not affect or change the day itself. Unity is ideal.
  • Andrew M
    696
    I read The Theological Origins of Modernity (Michael Allen Gillespie) a few years back. One of the underlying arguments of this book is precisely that modern culture has tended to equate the cosmos itself with the totality of existence, therefore, in some sense, the cosmos ('all there is', according to Carl Sagan's well-known aphorism) has displaced God.Wayfarer

    That may have been fine with Aristotle who had a natural theology and located his unmoved mover within the universe. As he wrote, "the things nearest the mover are those whose motion is quickest, and in this case it is the motion of the circumference that is the quickest: therefore the mover occupies the circumference." (Physics 8.10.267b.7-8)

    (Although the remark about time being observer-dependent seems a re-statement of the claim made in the post about Andrei Linde above.)Wayfarer

    Yes, they are talking about the same thing.

    Notice in the blog post above, it is said of the 'unmoved mover' that 'For something to be eternal, it is neither created nor destroyed, but always has and always will exist.' I wonder if there is anything corresponding to this, on a very high level, in current scientific discourse? Because it seems, if the big bang cosmology is true, that it doesn't apply to the Universe as a whole.Wayfarer

    The Wikipedia page for the Big Bang has a discussion including the emergent time option ("Certain quantum gravity treatments, such as the Wheeler–DeWitt equation, imply that time itself could be an emergent property.")

    Also Sean Carroll canvasses various options and some of their philosophical implications in this paper (for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics).
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    "the things nearest the mover are those whose motion is quickest, and in this case it is the motion of the circumference that is the quickest: therefore the mover occupies the circumference." (Physics 8.10.267b.7-8)Andrew M

    However, he also says it is 'clear that it is indivisible and is without parts and without magnitude' (which is the basic argument of the whole section); so rather difficult to imagine the sense in which the unmoved mover is 'located within the universe'; for without parts or magnitude, how can something be located?

    Don't think I'll trouble with Sean Carroll, I'm not much impressed by his efforts at philosophy, thanks all the same.
  • Andrew M
    696
    I look at this as contradictory. An entity is by definition a particular. I find this to be a common problem with modern day philosophers, they define "dualism" in such a way as to make dualism impossible, then they frown on dualism as if no rational individual would ever accept it.Metaphysician Undercover

    The context here is Aristotle's hylomorphic particulars. Aristotle rejected the existence of anything separate from hylomorphic particulars - and specifically Platonic Forms.

    I admit that the no-boundaries theory of the universe is similar to Aristotle's eternal circular motion, but it does not contain the final cause, which is an essential part of "unmoved mover", as the cause of the motion. This is why Aristotle is very clearly dualist, the cause of motion of material objects is a 'thinking'.Metaphysician Undercover

    The thinking is not a Platonic Form, it is the thoughts of the unmoved mover. If the unmoved mover is the universe itself then the universe is also the final cause of the changes that occur within it (in any observer's reference frame). Also scientific theories wouldn't normally reference a final cause as they are usually represented in a Humean framework rather than an Aristotelian framework - a separate philosophical issue to dualism. Sean Carroll briefly discusses the theory framework choice here:

    The difference between the two conceptions is that the former [Aristotelian view] naturally associates things that happen with a deeper kind of reason why they do, while on the latter [Humean] view every “why” question is definitively answered by “the dynamical laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe.Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? - Sean Carroll

    The "universe" is not necessarily the precondition for particulars. We observe particulars, and we can conclude the reality of particulars, from empirical evidence, but we need a principle of unity to conclude that all the particulars are part of a whole, "the universe".Metaphysician Undercover

    A reference frame provides this (see the experiment I linked earlier). The universe is an inseparable and unchangeable unity (in the universal frame of reference). Whereas in our frame of reference, the universe is separable and changeable.
  • Andrew M
    696
    "the things nearest the mover are those whose motion is quickest, and in this case it is the motion of the circumference that is the quickest: therefore the mover occupies the circumference." (Physics 8.10.267b.7-8)
    — Andrew M

    However, he also says it is 'clear that it is indivisible and is without parts and without magnitude' (which is the basic argument of the whole section); so rather difficult to imagine the sense in which the unmoved mover is 'located within the universe'; for without parts or magnitude, how can something be located?
    Wayfarer

    Just my quick thoughts here, but if the unmoved mover is identified with the universe itself then, from the universe's frame of reference, it would have no location. Location (like time) would have no meaning in that reference frame. However from each of our reference frames, the universe does have parts and magnitude.
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    Fair point. I feel there’s an answer to that, but I’m not going to say that I know what it is. (I notice the Complete Works from which I sourced that quote, is around 1200 pages. :sad: )
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    The context here is Aristotle's hylomorphic particulars. Aristotle rejected the existence of anything separate from hylomorphic particulars - and specifically Platonic Forms.Andrew M

    Sure, Aristotle rejected Plato's form of dualism, to introduce one which he thought more reasonable. Rejecting Platonic Forms does not make one monist. I reject Platonic Realism but I am still dualist.

    The thinking is not a Platonic Form, it is the thoughts of the unmoved mover. If the unmoved mover is the universe itself then the universe is also the final cause of the changes that occur within it (in any observer's reference frame).Andrew M

    But the unmoved mover is not the universe itself. It cannot be, for the reasons I've given. And a final cause is an intentional act, which is completely inconsistent with our conception of "the universe". Some people say that the universe was created by a final cause, but it is impossible that "the universe" as we understand it, is a final case.

    What is said in BK.12, Ch.7, is that the unmoved mover is a final cause, and the type of motion caused by this final cause is circular. Notice the distinction between cause and effect at 1072b: "The final cause, then, produces motion as being loved, but all other things are move by being moved." (4) "For motion in space is the first of the kinds of change, and motion in a circle the first kind of spatial motion; and this the first mover produces."(9).

    What Aristotle has argued, consistently throughout Metaphysics, is that the form of the particular is necessarily temporally prior to material existence of that particular, as a cause of it. His cosmological argument shows that the form of the universe (as a particular material thing) is temporally prior to the material existence of the universe. This means that it is necessary to interpret Aristotle as dualist, because the form of a particular exists independently from the material existence of that particular, prior to that material existence. To insist that Aristotle does not allow the form of the material particular to exist independently of the material particular (as you and dfpolis do), in order to make it appear as if Aristotle's Metaphysics is consistent with modern science, is a seriously mistaken interpretation.

    A reference frame provides this (see the experiment I linked earlier). The universe is an inseparable and unchangeable unity (in the universal frame of reference). Whereas in our frame of reference, the universe is separable and changeable.Andrew M

    But a reference frame is artificial, and must be supported with valid principles to be other than arbitrarily chosen. To say that "X" reference frame will give us a unified universe requires that "X" reference frame be supported. There is no theory of everything, so such a reference frame does not exist.

    That may have been fine with Aristotle who had a natural theology and located his unmoved mover within the universe. As he wrote, "the things nearest the mover are those whose motion is quickest, and in this case it is the motion of the circumference that is the quickest: therefore the mover occupies the circumference." (Physics 8.10.267b.7-8)Andrew M

    This is a good example of such a misinterpretation. What he describes here is a problem with locating the unmoved mover as within the universe. He says that things closest to a mover move the quickest, but with circular motion the quickest is the circumference. This leads us toward the conclusion that the unmoved mover is not within the universe.

    However, he also says it is 'clear that it is indivisible and is without parts and without magnitude' (which is the basic argument of the whole section); so rather difficult to imagine the sense in which the unmoved mover is 'located within the universe'; for without parts or magnitude, how can something be located?Wayfarer

    That's right, Aristotle at this point is arguing that the unmoved mover is not within the universe. This is the point where dfpolis and I had extensive disagreement. Df argued that Aristotle taught that the principle of actuality of a thing (its form) came from within the matter of the thing. But this is clearly inconsistent with Aristotle, who argues specifically at Metaphysics Bk.7 Ch.7, that the form of a thing is given to that thing from something else, whether it's a thing produced by art, or by nature
  • Andrew M
    696
    What Aristotle has argued, consistently throughout Metaphysics, is that the form of the particular is necessarily temporally prior to material existence of that particular, as a cause of it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Perhaps you could specifically quote where you think Aristotle argues this. If you simply mean that there is potential for things in prior (actual) states of the universe, then that is not at issue. But neither does that imply dualism.

    What he describes here is a problem with locating the unmoved mover as within the universe. He says that things closest to a mover move the quickest, but with circular motion the quickest is the circumference. This leads us toward the conclusion that the unmoved mover is not within the universe.Metaphysician Undercover

    Aristotle doesn't say or imply anything about the unmoved mover not being in the universe. You're ignoring his natural cosmology.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Perhaps you could specifically quote where you think Aristotle argues this. If you simply mean that there is potential for things in prior (actual) states of the universe, then that is not at issue. But neither does that imply dualism.Andrew M

    We've been through this already, and I referred you to some of the sections. If you still don't get it, pick up the book and read it from beginning to end. As I said, it's consistent throughout the book.
  • Andrew M
    696
    What Aristotle has argued, consistently throughout Metaphysics, is that the form of the particular is necessarily temporally prior to material existence of that particular, as a cause of it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Going back to this. Is your claim that this temporally prior form is itself separate from particulars? If so, then why would that not be a Platonic form on your view?
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    I don't see 'the forms' as temporally prior - before in time - but ontologically prior, i.e. the form is something that is 'realised' to a greater or lesser degree of perfection by the particular.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    Going back to this. Is your claim that this temporally prior form is itself separate from particulars? If so, then why would that not be a Platonic form on your view?Andrew M

    It is a particular, but it's prior to and therefore separate from material particulars. It is better understood as a Neo-Platonic Form, because Plato was rather confused in his efforts to relate the universal to the particular (Timaeus). But the Neo-Platonists manage to do this with the fundamental unity "One". See, "One" is both a universal and a particular. It is a Platonic form and a particular. Plato's Parmenides actually leads in this direction.

    I don't see 'the forms' as temporally prior - before in time - but ontologically prior, i.e. the form is something that is 'realised' to a greater or lesser degree of perfection by the particular.Wayfarer

    If the form is "realised" in the perfection of the particular, then the form is necessarily prior in time to the particular. It's like when you try to draw a perfect circle, the form, the perfect circle, exists in you mind, prior in time to the one you draw, acting as a cause (in the sense of final cause) of the less than perfect circle which you will draw.

    The "Ideal", (in the sense of "the perfect"), is a particular because it cannot be anything other than perfect as this would make it less than ideal. The Ideal is therefore a unique thing, a particular. In the sense that we strive to produce the ideal, the ideal is a cause, and therefore prior in time to the multitude of less than perfect things which we produce in that effort. The vast multitude of the less than perfect circles which we draw may be classified under the universal category of "circle", but this is only because we allow the universal to be less than the Ideal, which is a particular.

    This is where Plato was confused in Timaeus, he wanted to put the universal first, and have the particulars emanate from the universal. But Aristotle turned this around, and showed how the particular must be prior, so the Neo-Platonists proceeded with the One as first. We can understand the One as the Ideal.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    I don't see 'the forms' as temporally prior - before in time - but ontologically prior, i.e. the form is something that is 'realised' to a greater or lesser degree of perfection by the particular.Wayfarer

    Yes, if the forms are immanent and inseparable from their particulars, they obviously cannot be temporally prior.

    If the forms are transcendent, then logically they are eternal, not temporal, in which case a claim of temporal priority would be incoherent. So, either way, no temporal priority.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.9k
    If the forms are transcendent, then logically they are eternal, not temporal, in which case a claim of temporal priority would be incoherent. So, either way, no temporal priority.Janus

    Now, Aristotle demonstrated that the Ideas of Pythagorean idealism (the Forms of Platonic realism), cannot be eternal. But that does not force the conclusion that forms are inseparable from material particulars. There is another option, the one which Neo-Platonists and Christian theologians prefer, and that is to conceive of Forms as particulars. Apprehending Forms as particulars is the source of our notion of perfection, the Ideal.

    This puts "matter" in an awkward position conceptually, because matter is now not necessary for the existence of the particular. The particular, as a form, the Ideal, is independent from any material particular. Prior to Aristotle, the defining feature of the particular was that it was a body, material. After Aristotle there was the conceptual structure available to conceive of the particular as a pure Form. The pure Form, as a particular, is validated by the good (Plato), what is intended, a particular object (goal), in perfection. The material existence of the particular, however, what comes about as a result of an attempt to produce this perfection, is always deficient. This is the fact that no act is perfect, there is always some degree of mistake.

    For many, this points toward matter as the root of evil and mistake. It is assumed that faults inherent within matter itself are responsible for the privations of material objects, and consequently our own failures. I believe that a principle similar to this is fundamental to Manichaeism. Christian theology, on the other hand, teaches that privation is formal, and therefore not intrinsic to matter. It is not the fault of matter, that we cannot produce the perfection desired, but a problem with the form which the human mind apprehends (the form is less than Ideal). This points right to the concept of Original Sin, which might be an attempt at reconciliation between the principles of Christians and Gnostics. In dualism, the cause of evil is a difficult question. Is the cause of sin inherent within the soul of the human being (form), such evil is a necessary product of the free will, or is it produced by the material aspect of the human being, and necessitated in this way?

    It's not an easy question, because the human body is already a composite of matter and form, so we have to look toward the principles which produce this composition, and this is beyond what is evident to the human experience. This is why it is a mistake to limit epistemology to what is empirically known, because this would exclude the possibility of knowledge in moral issues. Appropriate mental training, discipline, is required in order that one may proceed logically and coherently within this body of knowledge which is not grounded in empiricism. This is the top section of Plato's divided line.
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