• tim wood
    3.5k
    OK, if this is the case, then you ought to be able to state these presuppositions which you believe Aristotle was operating with, and we can discuss whether he actual was or not, and if he was, we can determine whether your judgement that it is wrong is justified.Metaphysician Undercover

    After some consideration, I choose not to play water-polo with you in your pool. Aristotle is your subject. As to matter, my only point has been that whatever the jr. high school science teacher means by "matter," it is not in any way or sense what Aristotle meant. As to presuppositions of Aristotle, I feel no need to list them. They're there in Stanford.edu, such as they are. In any case he was not a modern scientist. He observed and tried to make sense. A modern scientist asks questions and does experiments to find answers.

    Does some of Aristotle's thinking seem to "flow" with modern thinking? The best and only answer is that an astonishing amount of it seems to. Is it modern thinking? Certainly and obviously not. And is it interesting thinking? Different strokes.... Mainly it is significant thinking in the history of thinking.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    After some consideration, I choose not to play water-polo with you in your pool. Aristotle is your subject. As to matter, my only point has been that whatever the jr. high school science teacher means by "matter," it is not in any way or sense what Aristotle meant. As to presuppositions of Aristotle, I feel no need to list them. They're there in Stanford.edu, such as they are. In any case he was not a modern scientist. He observed and tried to make sense. A modern scientist asks questions and does experiments to find answers.tim wood

    Yes I would agree with all that. That Aristotle was not a modern scientist is a rather obvious and trivial point, unless perhaps someone here thought he was, then there might be a need to point that out.

    Mainly it is significant thinking in the history of thinking.tim wood

    What exactly does this mean to you, "significant thinking in the history of thinking"? Suppose that someone thinks, and comes up with some influential ideas. Would this constitute significant thinking in the history of thinking? Does this put Aristotle in the same category as someone like Einstein?

    Earlier you said "The history of ideas shouldn't be confused with ideas in themselves." What does this mean? How would you propose to create a separation between an idea and the history of that idea? An idea has a temporal presence, an extension in time. Doesn't it appear to you, that to describe an idea is to describe its extension in time, its influence on people through time, how different people understand the same idea, etc.. What do you think would be 'the idea itself'? Consider the example of Einstein's general theory of relativity. The history of that idea would be how different people interpreted it, applied it, and the effects that it had on the people in general. What would be the idea itself? Suppose you tried to tell me what the idea of general relativity is. Wouldn't that just be an expression of how the idea affected you, and therefore just a small part of the history of that idea?
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    "The history of ideas shouldn't be confused with ideas in themselves." What does this mean?Metaphysician Undercover
    In brief, it means that, for example, studying what people have done and thought is usually helpful to current effort.

    So long ago I do not remember the particulars, an economist addressed the challenge of new manufacturing in countries that did not have good manufacturing and wanted it. This question (c. 1962?) was, why don't countries without good manufacturing just buy "stuff" and copy it, maybe improving it in the process?

    By way of answer, the author noted that BMW made excellent motorcycles. The Soviets (as I recall) had bought several and taken them apart on the assumption they had merely to copy and make. They made, they ended up with, the Ural. A look-a-like motorcycle, but in quality as a horse chestnut is to a chestnut horse (thank you Mr. L.). The idea was that in order to have good manufacturing, you have to travel at least most of the path to get there. To learn to make good tools, have good steels, make good plants - a problem of its own - have skilled labor and technicians and management, and on and on. That is, copy and make just is not that simple.

    In the same way, the history of philosophy - the history of ideas - is at least as valuable. I've read it - if I could cite I would - that philosophy just is the history of philosophy. Call it the propaedeutic part.

    As to the rest of the latter part of your remark, that's too much deconstruction for (my) present purpose.

    Suppose you tried to tell me what the idea of general relativity is. Wouldn't that just be an expression of how the idea affected you, and therefore just a small part of the history of that idea?Metaphysician Undercover

    "... just be an expression of..."? Isn't that both minimalist and reductionist beyond sense? It implies that idea is based in a mind and has no independent existence. Granted that people can express ideas in different ways, but the idea itself, to stand as an idea, must have something constant in it independent of either yours or my twist of it. You may have feelings about two plus two equaling four, but they don't touch it, yes?

    We might well discuss, then, just what exactly an idea is, shorn of all idiosyncratic expression or understanding of it. But that a different topic for a different thread.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    In brief, it means that, for example, studying what people have done and thought is usually helpful to current effort.

    So long ago I do not remember the particulars, an economist addressed the challenge of new manufacturing in countries that did not have good manufacturing and wanted it. This question (c. 1962?) was, why don't countries without good manufacturing just buy "stuff" and copy it, maybe improving it in the process?

    By way of answer, the author noted that BMW made excellent motorcycles. The Soviets (as I recall) had bought several and taken them apart on the assumption they had merely to copy and make. They made, they ended up with, the Ural. A look-a-like motorcycle, but in quality as a horse chestnut is to a chestnut horse (thank you Mr. L.). The idea was that in order to have good manufacturing, you have to travel at least most of the path to get there. To learn to make good tools, have good steels, make good plants - a problem of its own - have skilled labor and technicians and management, and on and on. That is, copy and make just is not that simple.

    In the same way, the history of philosophy - the history of ideas - is at least as valuable. I've read it - if I could cite I would - that philosophy just is the history of philosophy. Call it the propaedeutic part.

    As to the rest of the latter part of your remark, that's too much deconstruction for (my) present purpose.
    tim wood

    Sorry Tim, but I just can't understand what you're trying to say here.

    "... just be an expression of..."? Isn't that both minimalist and reductionist beyond sense? It implies that idea is based in a mind and has no independent existence. Granted that people can express ideas in different ways, but the idea itself, to stand as an idea, must have something constant in it independent of either yours or my twist of it. You may have feelings about two plus two equaling four, but they don't touch it, yes?tim wood

    What do you mean by "the idea itself"? And how does an idea "stand as an idea"? Isn't an idea dependent on a mind? Do you think that an idea can stand alone out in a field, like a horse? We have books, and written material which maybe could be considered to stand alone, as representations of ideas, But to refer to the idea itself, wouldn't this be referring to what the mind produces from the reading and understanding of the book? And this is in a mind. What do you think is this "constant" thing? I believe that my understanding of two plus two equaling four is similar to your understanding of this, but similarity is not the same as "constant thing".
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    A mind? How about minds?

    Or maybe you're just arguing that in the whole entire history of the universe every single instant that ever was or ever will be is unique. Not only can you not step into the same river twice, you cannot even once. Is that where you're going? And every thing, which requires continuity, is just a dream, because nothing is the same from moment to moment. - wait! not even in dreams! Is that where you're aiming?
  • Wayfarer
    9k
    In the same way, the history of philosophy - the history of ideas - is at least as valuable. I've read it - if I could cite I would - that philosophy just is the history of philosophy. Call it the propaedeutic part.tim wood

    :up:

    The whole point about Platonic idealism, and even Aristotelian realism, is that there is a sense in which ideas are real in their own right. They're not real by virtue of being 'patterns of neural activity' which is the almost irresistible way of thinking about them we nowadays have. They can be best understood as the organising principles by which we make sense of reality - the principles of intelligibility, if you like. I refer frequently to Augustine on Intelligible Objects by way of explanation. This entry on objective idealism is also useful.
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    In the Augustine citation almost the first qualification that meets the eye is "...must be independent of particular minds...".

    I buy the notion that no mind(s) at all, then no ideas. Plenty to think about, but no one to do the thinking, or even to think about the possibility. But given minds, you get something like Mind, the collective and dynamic wisdom of..., that as history plays out, ebbs and flows, and has its spring and neap tides, its seasons of flood and drought.

    A difficulty I have with any notions of being-less minds being the author and communicator to us of reality-as-we-perceive-it, is that the people who themselves create such theories do it to give an account, and the only account they can think of, of what we perceive and how we perceive it. In every case they simply do not have access to any understanding of the history of the development of mind - brain - itself over, what, most of five-hundred-million years? Maybe four hundred million?

    Arguably the human brain given its methods of perception has itself evolved into a cognizing organ of very great sensitivity to the world it finds itself in - or more accurately, to the world as it perceives it. Were we whales or porpoises or squid, or had we thousands of eyes like a fly, or if like May flies we lived a day, or some other things that live very long times, or if we were just plain a lot different that we are, then likely we would have very different ideas of our world.

    So what I find in most ancient philosophies and religions - and imo all religions are ancient, even the modern ones, is the attempt to make sense, but with the only recourse to make the sense being non-sense - and a credulous audience. Unfortunately credulity too is both an ancient and a modern trait, with some excuse for them, and not-so-much or hardly any at all for us.

    Of course this Mind in question is human mind, its wisdom, as opposed to knowledge, mainly in good and astute psychology. But this won't do at all for either of the myth-ifiers or the mystifiers. Just leaves the question if we will survive them.
  • Wayfarer
    9k
    Arguably the human brain given its methods of perception has itself evolved into a cognizing organ of very great sensitivity to the world it finds itself in - or more accurately, to the world as it perceives it. Were we whales or porpoises or squid, or had we thousands of eyes like a fly, or if like May flies we lived a day, or some other things that live very long times, or if we were just plain a lot different that we are, then likely we would have very different ideas of our world.tim wood

    Right - so basically a Darwinian account, that mind is the product of an evolved brain, and the brain a product of the evolutionary process. That is what almost every accepts, but I question it on the basis that at a certain point in evolutionary history, we became language-using, rational beings - and thereby transcend the biological, so to speak.

    There’s an interesting dialogue between Einstein and Ravindranath Tagore, Hindu poet and mystic. Worth reading. But it contains this paragraph:

    EINSTEIN: I cannot prove scientifically that Truth must be conceived as a Truth that is valid independent of humanity; but I believe it firmly. I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man.

    The question I would have asked Einstein is, who knows this other than man? It is a fact that can only be grasped by a rational intellect. So, yes, it’s independent of your mind or mine; but it is an intelligible, rather than a material, object. And we construct our ‘meaning-world’ around such principles.

    what I find in most ancient philosophies and religions - and imo all religions are ancient, even the modern ones, is the attempt to make sense, but with the only recourse to make the sense being non-sense - and a credulous audience.tim wood

    Disappointed in that remark. I am of the view that such figures as Socrates and the Buddha were historical persons, and were possessed of real wisdom. What happened in Western history, was an undue emphasis on belief in or acceptance of religious dogma (especially in Protestantism); but there’s far more to it than simply the acceptance or rejection of dogma.
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    That is what almost every accepts, but I question it on the basis that at a certain point in evolutionary history, we became language-using, rational beings - and thereby transcend the biological, so to speak.Wayfarer

    So do a lot of animals. The squirrels at the entrance to The Public Gardens in Boston have taught themselves to talk to humans. Here is what they say (and do): they position themselves about ten yards in front of people entering the Garden (there are gates) and tell them very clearly that unless they part with a handful peanuts, they are not going to get out of the way, but will block them and continue to be as intimidating as only a squirrel can be. Cats communicate. Dogs communicate. The news is full of stories of animals that communicate. And I have learned a noise squirrels make as a warning, an emphatic tch-tch-tch with indrawn breath. When I make that noise they take cover, then they look at me with clear annoyance on their faces.

    The question I would have asked Einstein is, who knows this other than man?Wayfarer

    And were I he, I'd reply that the knowing wasn't the point, rather that it is the case, the way it works, and it's for a mind to find it out.

    I am of the view that such figures as Socrates and the Buddha were historical persons, and were possessed of real wisdom.Wayfarer

    No doubt. And Socrates believed in the Gods, yes? Or no? We have some evidence of what he might have said. -But are you sure you know if he did, and if he did, what he understood in his own belief God(s) to be?

    It's akin to the question today, "Do you believe in God?" Trouble is, no one on either side of the question stops to find out what anyone is talking about! The Christian - the real Christian - entertains no such nonsense. "We believe..," is his creed, and the belief is not in a material being, but in a kind of efficacy, good and astute psychology personified into an exotic trinity of beings.
  • Wayfarer
    9k
    Cats communicate. Dogs communicate. The news is full of stories of animals that communicate.tim wood

    But I think their communicative abilities can be understood in terms of behaviourism, stimulus and response. Certainly animals signal each other, bee dances, and whatever. But...

    ...human language involves the capacity to generate, by a recursive procedure, an unlimited number of hierarchically structured sentences. A trivial example of such a sentence is this: “How many cars did you tell your friends that they should tell their friends . . . that they should tell the mechanics to fix?” (The ellipses indicate that the number of levels in the hierarchy can be extended without limit.) Notice that the word “fix” goes with “cars,” rather than with “friends” or “mechanics,” even though “cars” is farther apart from “fix” in linear distance. The mind recognizes the connection, because “cars” and “fix” are at the same level in the sentence’s hierarchy. ...

    Animal communication can be quite intricate. For example, some species of “vocal-learning” songbirds, notably Bengalese finches and European starlings, compose songs that are long and complex. But in every case, animal communication has been found to be based on rules of linear order. Attempts to teach Bengalese finches songs with hierarchical syntax have failed. The same is true of attempts to teach sign language to apes. Though the famous chimp Nim Chimpsky was able to learn 125 signs of American Sign Language, careful study of the data has shown that his “language” was purely associative and never got beyond memorized two-word combinations with no hierarchical structure.

    Stephen M. Barr, review of Why Only Us: Language and Evolution by Robert c. Berwick and Noam Chomsky.

    The Christian - the real Christian - entertains no such nonsense. "We believe..," is his creed, and the belief is not in a material being, but in a kind of efficacy, good and astute psychology personified into an exotic trinity of beings.tim wood

    Fair point, but forecloses the possibility of there really being an experience of union with the divine. I'm sure such states of being a exceedingly rare, but they've been documented.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    A mind? How about minds?

    Or maybe you're just arguing that in the whole entire history of the universe every single instant that ever was or ever will be is unique. Not only can you not step into the same river twice, you cannot even once. Is that where you're going? And every thing, which requires continuity, is just a dream, because nothing is the same from moment to moment. - wait! not even in dreams! Is that where you're aiming?
    tim wood

    I'm not arguing anything here, I'm just trying to get some clarification of what you mean. You say things which do not make sense to me. For instance, why do you say "minds" instead of "mind"? I can have an idea in my mind, which does not seem to be dependent on any other minds, so why would you jump to this conclusion that ideas are dependent on minds, not on a mind?

    Isn't it true that every instant of time in the history of the universe is unique? That seems very obvious, once something has happened we cannot go back to how things were before. Why would I need to argue this? Where do you get the idea of "continuity" from? We observe that some aspects of reality stay the same even as time passes. Aristotle posited matter as the principle of continuity, to account for the reality of what is observed. Newton took matter for granted, as the substance of "a body" and gave matter the property of inertia (continuity); Newton's first law. You seem to think that this idea is wrong, and ought to be replaced by a modern conception of "matter", how so?

    In the Augustine citation almost the first qualification that meets the eye is "...must be independent of particular minds...".

    I buy the notion that no mind(s) at all, then no ideas. Plenty to think about, but no one to do the thinking, or even to think about the possibility. But given minds, you get something like Mind, the collective and dynamic wisdom of..., that as history plays out, ebbs and flows, and has its spring and neap tides, its seasons of flood and drought.

    A difficulty I have with any notions of being-less minds being the author and communicator to us of reality-as-we-perceive-it, is that the people who themselves create such theories do it to give an account, and the only account they can think of, of what we perceive and how we perceive it. In every case they simply do not have access to any understanding of the history of the development of mind - brain - itself over, what, most of five-hundred-million years? Maybe four hundred million?

    Arguably the human brain given its methods of perception has itself evolved into a cognizing organ of very great sensitivity to the world it finds itself in - or more accurately, to the world as it perceives it. Were we whales or porpoises or squid, or had we thousands of eyes like a fly, or if like May flies we lived a day, or some other things that live very long times, or if we were just plain a lot different that we are, then likely we would have very different ideas of our world.

    So what I find in most ancient philosophies and religions - and imo all religions are ancient, even the modern ones, is the attempt to make sense, but with the only recourse to make the sense being non-sense - and a credulous audience. Unfortunately credulity too is both an ancient and a modern trait, with some excuse for them, and not-so-much or hardly any at all for us.

    Of course this Mind in question is human mind, its wisdom, as opposed to knowledge, mainly in good and astute psychology. But this won't do at all for either of the myth-ifiers or the mystifiers. Just leaves the question if we will survive them.
    tim wood

    There's a deep inconsistency here. Let's take the assumption that an idea is dependent on minds, and cannot be produced, nor maintained simply by the single mind of an individual human being. Because of this assumption you are forced to jump to "Mind", which is supposed to represent some sort of collective mind, as this is what is required to support the existence of ideas. But then you belittle this Mind by saying "this Mind in question is human Mind". Do you see the inconsistency? A human mind is a particular mind of an individual human being. If you assume some sort of collective Mind, it is impossible that this is a human mind. The assumption of a collective Mind is not so easily supported as you make it sound.
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    There's a deep inconsistency here. Let's take the assumption that an idea is dependent on minds, and cannot be produced, nor maintained simply by the single mind of an individual human being.Metaphysician Undercover
    This I neither thought nor said. What I mean is that there are individual minds, "and given minds, you get something like Mind." Offhand I'd agree that ideas - the content of them - originate in one mind, or a few working together - I suppose one must always be first. But as the knowledge becomes generally known, it becomes a community possession. No special mystery here.

    But then you belittle this Mind by saying "this Mind in question is human Mind".Metaphysician Undercover

    You apparently missed that the article wasn't there. Human mind, not a human mind.

    It seems to me you wish me to have said something exotic that you could disagree with. Sorry to disappoint.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    This I neither thought nor said. What I mean is that there are individual minds, "and given minds, you get something like Mind." Offhand I'd agree that ideas - the content of them - originate in one mind, or a few working together - I suppose one must always be first. But as the knowledge becomes generally known, it becomes a community possession. No special mystery here.tim wood

    There's no mystery here, only an invalid conclusion. The point, is that many human minds does not make a "Mind". That's like saying many horses makes a "Horse". There's no justification for such a conclusion. No matter how many human beings with minds you put into the same room, they do make a Mind which is human, but which is not a human mind. You've inverted subject for predicate by pluralizing, such that a number of human beings with minds becomes a Mind which is human. How could you possibly justify such an illogical maneuver?

    You apparently missed that the article wasn't there. Human mind, not a human mind.tim wood

    That's nonsense. You're saying that this proposed "Mind" is not a human mind, though you said it is human, it's simply human mind. So there's this thing called Mind, and it's not a human mind, it's human mind. What are you guys smoking down there at the Boston Common?
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    Just common sense and common usage. Yours is an illegitimate reification of a notion of mine. Consider, for example, American freedom, such as it is these days. Where and in what does in inhere? Steve's mind? Bob's mind? Stephanie's mind? Perhaps some aspect of it, some sense of it, in all their minds. What do you call that collectivity when it includes 300+ million Americans? I'd call it the American mind - not necessarily restricted to Americans. Is the American mind a thing? Have you ever the hear the expression "American mind"? I guess according to you that's all nonsense. Well nonsense it may be by the nonsensical standard you're measuring it by, but otherwise perfectly intelligible.

    Or where is language stored? For example, English? In the minds of English speakers. What might you call that collectivity? Or any kind of thinking that comes in groups. So-and-so has a mathematical mind, or a legal mind, or an artist's mind, and so forth. This is all just common usage. You don't get any points at all by measuring it with the wrong yardstick or applying the wrong understanding to it.
  • Andrew M
    796
    My own view is that the unmoved mover should be understood in terms of Aristotle's hylomorphism and naturalism and not in Platonic terms. That would be consistent with his rejection of Plato's forms.
    — Andrew M

    Interesting to consider how that might work.
    AJJ

    So Aristotle gives a concrete example in Physics Book 8 where he describes a man who moves a stone with a stick.

    Consider this in terms of a golfer hitting a golf ball with a golf stick. The golf stick is the moved mover of the golf ball (the efficient cause). In turn, the golfer's hand is the moved mover of the golf stick. But what causes the golfer to move his hand? Aristotle identifies a different kind of cause - a final cause. The golfer moves his hand because he desires to play golf. Thus he is the unmoved mover that causes the golf ball to move.

    But note also that the golfer's hand moves, which is a part of his body. So he is the compound of a moved mover and an unmoved mover (in different causal senses). In this scenario, it is the "unmoved mover" explanation that finally grounds the golfer's activity. It is this intentional aspect of the golfer (his purposes, thoughts and desires) that explains the motions of the golfer, golf stick and golf ball throughout the game.

    That is the kind of concrete and observable scenario that Aristotle generalizes from to explain all activity (or change) in the universe as by an unmoved mover in terms of final cause. In both the specific and universal contexts, the locus of causality (in terms of Aristotle's four causes) are the natural particulars.

    I like the Aristotelian emphasis on the material, as opposed to the Platonic notion of the world being something we must ascend from; but I’m inclined also to think the world is an imitation of things higher than it - seems there’s enough ambiguity to hold to both approaches.AJJ

    A subtle but important point: Aristotle's hylomorphism is not merely material, nor merely ideal. Instead it combines both aspects in the natural particulars that we observe.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    Just common sense and common usage. Yours is an illegitimate reification of a notion of mine.tim wood

    Don't try to turn the table, you are the one making the illegitimate reification, talking about this Mind, as if it is a real thing. If it's not a real thing, then what are you talking about other than a group of human beings, each with one's own mind?

    So, it's up to you to tell me, what are you talking about, a real thing called Mind, or real individual human minds. You talk about "Mind" as if it is something other than individual human minds, and when I point out that's nonsense, you say you weren't talking 'mind' as is it's a real thing. What were you talking about then, a bunch of individual minds? I think so. So stop calling this group of minds "Mind" if there's no such thing as Mind.
    Consider, for example, American freedom, such as it is these days. Where and in what does in inhere? Steve's mind? Bob's mind? Stephanie's mind? Perhaps some aspect of it, some sense of it, in all their minds. What do you call that collectivity when it includes 300+ million Americans? I'd call it the American mind - not necessarily restricted to Americans. Is the American mind a thing? Have you ever the hear the expression "American mind"?tim wood

    I've never heard of such a thing as the "American mind". You're still talking nonsense. Freedom is not something that inheres in a mind, unless you are talking about free will. But free will is proper to each mind individually. We are each free to choose, individually, in one's own way, we do not choose collectively.

    Or where is language stored? For example, English? In the minds of English speakers. What might you call that collectivity?tim wood

    What are you talking about, "where is language stored"? Have you never heard of "memory"? Each one of us has one's own memory. There's nothing collective about that, it's personal. Where do you get this idea that language is stored in some sort of collective memory? Do you mean books? But books just contain written symbols, which must be read and understood by individual minds, through reference to one's memory.

    Or any kind of thinking that comes in groups. So-and-so has a mathematical mind, or a legal mind, or an artist's mind, and so forth. This is all just common usage.tim wood

    "Thinking that comes in groups"? That is not common usage at all. We might classify a person as having this type of mind or that type of mind, just like psychiatry identifies "states of mind" which are common to different people, but in no way does this indicate that there is thinking which comes in groups. It is just classifying similar ways of thinking.

    Saying "all human beings have a mind" doesn't justify talking about "a Mind which all human beings have", just like saying "all grass is green" doesn't justify saying "there is a Green which all grass has". You're either being totally abusive of the English language, or you really misunderstand simple logic.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k
    Aristotle identifies a different kind of cause - a final cause. The golfer moves his hand because he desires to play golf. Thus he is the unmoved mover that causes the golf ball to move.Andrew M

    This is where the concept of free will is derived, a cause which is not itself caused.
  • tim wood
    3.5k
    I thought English was your first language - Sorry, my mistake. Back on your meds, MU.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.3k

    The issue is not a matter of my capacity with the English language. It is a matter of your inability to explain what you mean with terms like "Mind", and phrases like "American mind", "where language is stored", and "thinking that comes in groups". When you explain your use of these, simply by saying that this is common usage therefore I ought to know what you mean, this gives me no indication that you have any idea of what you are talking about. You could be a parrot, or a bot, for all I know. You've heard it, now you repeat it. Get back down to the Common, smoke some more of that weed, maybe try some psilocybe this time, and clarify your ideas, why don't you, tim?
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