Saturday, May 9, 2009

09 Aristotle

Aristotle, how to capture such a great mind in one lecture. This is of course impossible, but we may have a glimpse at what he has added to the realm of philosophy.

He has written about almost every subject, that was regarded of scientific interest: biology, psychology, ethics, physics, metaphysics , political theory and law.

What were the most important innovations, which Aristotle more than 300 years B.C . added to human knowledge and understanding.

I think you can say: two things.....logic and scientific method.

One great thing was his discovery that form and content of an reasoning are independent of each other. That means, whether the statements used in the reasoning are true or false....if the form of the reasoning is correct, the conclusion can not be denied.

Let me give you an example.

All A are B, C is an A, thence C is B.

This is just the form of a reasoning, but whatever content it will get...C MUST be a B. You can't deny that. You can't say that C is a B and at the same time it is a not-B.

To figure out what kind of reasoning forms exist Aristotle analyzed the kind of judgements about facts there were. He found four forms:

1. All A are B
2. No A are B
3. Some A are B
4 Some A are not B

Till the 19th century we have believed that these were the fundamentals of logic and reasoning to obtain knowledge.

In these judgements we combine concepts..All humans are mortal for instance. Thence Aristotle made the analysis of concepts the next step.What kind of concepts are there.

For Plato, what really existed were the Ideas of which the real things, we perceive, were only derived. We recognize something as a man because we have some recollection of the idea 'man'.

And here Aristotle leaves his master. He says, what really exist is the thing we see and feel. Not some general idea, but this individual thing here and now.

But then we have two questions to answer:
question one is: when we have only the individual object, say this man, how then is it possible to talk about man in general?

Question two: and what makes this particular man this particular man?

Aristotle was the first who came with a philosophical concept of matter. To him at the root of everything there is matter, undefined. Matter becomes knowable by its shape. So the combination of matter and shape bring the empirical world to life.

The procedure is that we try to abstract the universal shape from the individual objects and we try to understand what attributes of that object are accidental. We try to grasp the essence.

It doesn't matter what color hair someone has. That is an accidental property, but to be a human is because of the necessary form, which we have discovered by observing a lot of individual objects.

Empirical observation leads to knowledge and it is the mind that abstracts the real knowledge from the multitude of observations. A scientific approach was born.

Another new idea he brought in was the idea that everything strives after its ideal form. Change isn't an illusion, but a particular way of being.

A seed will change into a tree. For Aristotle it meant that this final form already potentionally is present in the seed, like the adult is potentially present in the child.

A new idea was born: there is a striving in matter to reach the ultimate form. Doesnt this sound like one of the basic theorems of the evolution theory?

This is just a glimpse at Aristotle's contribution to western philosophy. There is much more to tell, or actually...for you to study....
Good luck and when you run into a question or subject you would like to discuss here in class, just let me know.

The Discussion

[13:06] herman Bergson: Well..our extra 5 minutes are over..we can begin..:-)
[13:06] herman Bergson: Aristotle, how to capture such a great mind in one lecture. This is of course impossible, but we may have a glimpse at what he has added to the realm of philosophy.
[13:06] herman Bergson: He has written about almost every subject, that was regarded of scientific interest: biology, psychology, ethics, physics, metaphysics , political theory and law.
[13:07] herman Bergson:What were the most important innovations, which Aristotle more than 300 years B.C . added to human knowledge and understanding.
[13:07] herman Bergson: I think you can say: two things.....logic and scientific method.
[13:07] Linden Markova: The Good Life
[13:17] Cailleach Shan: My brain is hurting...
[13:17] herman Bergson: yes Caileach, I understand...
[13:17] Hope McAlpine: Cailleach.. me too
[13:17] herman Bergson: this was a long one
[13:17] Hope McAlpine: I did fairly well with this class at college but it doesn't mean it does not hurt anymore :-)
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL no!!
[13:18] Manoly Demina: me too
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: it has been a while tho
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: we have forgotten more then we ever knew
[13:18] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Was he the first to recognize nature as a concrete?
[13:18] herman Bergson: Yes you might say so Lighthorse
[13:18] Cailleach Shan: So to accept Aristotle's train of thought we must believe there is perfection
[13:19] herman Bergson: He took sensory experiences serious
[13:19] Lighthorse Wilkinson: If he had only known about DNA.
[13:19] Hope McAlpine: ermm.. he consider a deaf person who cannot hear to be seriously defective
[13:19] Hope McAlpine: but .. ermm. that is the beside the point
[13:20] Kristopher Apfelbaum: most philosophers of the 20th century reject his idea that things have essences
[13:20] herman Bergson: His thinking about reality was teleologic indeed....
[13:20] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Not if the seed has the inherrent potential to be a tree.
[13:20] herman Bergson: He saw reality as in two potentiality and in final form
[13:21] Kristopher Apfelbaum: yes, but the teleology (final form) of something does not have to be a state of perfection necessarily
[13:21] herman Bergson: no...just the end form...
[13:21] Kristopher Apfelbaum: right
[13:22] herman Bergson: There is another interesting thing in Aristoles theory
[13:22] Lighthorse Wilkinson: The final meaning at present.
[13:22] herman Bergson: Plato believed that the soul reincarnated
[13:22] herman Bergson: and inbetween reincarnations was in some sort of heaven where he behold the Ideas
[13:22] herman Bergson: which the soul forgot on birth....
[13:23] herman Bergson: In a christan way of speaking....everything is already there in God....
[13:23] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Bizarre.
[13:23] herman Bergson: Now..Aristotle took empirical data serious....
[13:24] herman Bergson: for him there were no 'heavenly' ideas...
[13:24] herman Bergson: matter and form were one....
[13:24] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Amen.
[13:24] herman Bergson: so he was very down to earth...
[13:24] Cailleach Shan: Hahah.... down to earth.
[13:24] Hope McAlpine: chuckle
[13:24] herman Bergson: what is interesting to see is that he will be forgotten for mere than 600 years
[13:25] Lighthorse Wilkinson: I wonder why?
[13:25] Hope McAlpine: what led to rediscovery?
[13:25] herman Bergson: and Plato's philosophy will be the prevailing one in those years
[13:25] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Did religion play a part in that?
[13:26] herman Bergson: Boethius translated all Aristotles work about 500 A.D.
[13:26] herman Bergson: and around 1100 the Arab philosphers brought Aristotle to Europe
[13:26] Cailleach Shan: Not so different to some modern spirituality..... We are one... we are all and everything..
[13:26] herman Bergson: btw..Boethius translated into Latin
[13:27] Hope McAlpine: Why was this important to Boethius?
[13:27] herman Bergson: I am not sure Hope..:-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: But it must have been a major effort to translate probably it was worth it in those days
[13:29] herman Bergson: but though there was a Latin version of the works it wasnt accepted by the Roman catholic thinkers of those days
[13:29] Hope McAlpine: if it weren't for Boethius to translate it then what kind of impact it would have miss on our society?
[13:29] herman Bergson: An important one...
[13:30] herman Bergson: First the Aritotelian logic....
[13:30] herman Bergson: the theory of sound reasoning....
[13:30] herman Bergson: If you imagine that it was used almost unchanged till the 19th century
[13:30] herman Bergson: It was accepted through the centuries
[13:31] herman Bergson: and second......the scientific approach of reality......acquiering knowledge of the general by observing the particulars
[13:31] Kristopher Apfelbaum: yes, and aristotle's view on physics dominated for more than 1000 years, until Newton came along
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes....he was of great importance....
[13:32] herman Bergson: all of a sudden the world was filled with substances (objects) which had attributes (properties)
[13:33] Linden Markova: Don't we frown apon argueing from the particular to the general these days?
[13:33] Kristopher Apfelbaum: i don't think so. Science is based on that kind of method.
[13:33] herman Bergson: so we try to discriminate the necessary (essence) from the accidental features of an object
[13:33] Linden Markova: Isn't racism based on that too?
[13:33] herman Bergson: there are two ways of reasoning
[13:33] herman Bergson: inductive and deductive...
[13:34] herman Bergson: Aristotle introduced both as valid methods
[13:34] Hope McAlpine: guess I'll have to bring my dictionary next time I come in
[13:34] herman Bergson: inductive means that you collect singular facts and come to a general conclusion
[13:35] Hope McAlpine: oh ok
[13:35] herman Bergson: deductive means that you derive a conclusion from given premisses
[13:35] herman Bergson: you could say it otherwise too...
[13:36] herman Bergson: inductive reasoning brings new knowledge.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: by seeing something a hundred times you come to some conclusion....
[13:37] herman Bergson: deductive reasoning actually doesnt bring new knowledge, for everything is comprised in the premisses
[13:37] Linden Markova: I'm not sure Herman, as philosophers don't we try to reach conclusions deductively?
[13:37] herman Bergson: All man are mortal......Herman is a man......
[13:37] herman Bergson: Now the conslusion isnt exactly an eyeopener...Thence herman is mortal...
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: So what we are doing in this class... by learning from previous Philosophers is all 'inductive reasoning'
[13:38] herman Bergson: two questions
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes I think a philosopher prefers a deductive reasoning....
[13:39] herman Bergson: We try to analyze what is implied in statements
[13:39] herman Bergson: And I dont think you could call this class inductive reasoning
[13:40] Kristopher Apfelbaum: in a good argument, not only must the argument have the proper FORM, but it must also have true premises. Philosophers usually debate on the truth of the different premises in teh arguments.
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes Krist...I think it is both....about truth value of statements and about the proper form of a reasoning
[13:42] Hope McAlpine: I'm sorry, sir. I do need to go. But I will come again during the weekend. Thank you Herman
[13:42] herman Bergson: all is in the blog too Hope....
[13:42] Hope McAlpine: oh!
[13:42] herman Bergson:
[13:43] Hope McAlpine: what blog?
[13:43] Hope McAlpine: great!!!
[13:43] Hope McAlpine: thank you sir
[13:43] Cailleach Shan: mmmm.. Deductive reasoning........God is alive.... I am alive.... I am God.
[13:43] herman Bergson: have a nice day Hope...thnx for coming
[13:43] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Yes.
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: mmmm
[13:43] herman Bergson smiles
[13:44] herman Bergson: very good Cailleach.....
[13:44] herman Bergson: before we discuss the truth we first should test the form of the reasoning....
[13:44] Gray Cardiff: except maybe the premise is wrong cailleach
[13:44] Lighthorse Wilkinson: I think not.
[13:45] herman Bergson: Just watch this one.....My dog feels sick....I feel sich thence I am my dog
[13:45] Cailleach Shan: Yes, is God alive..
[13:45] Lighthorse Wilkinson: There is noo am.
[13:45] Gray Cardiff: not necessarily in a form we recognise as the same as ours/
[13:46] herman Bergson: well....let me state is differently
[13:47] herman Bergson: some A is B, some C is A, thence C is B
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:48] herman Bergson: this might be the case but is not necessarily the conclusion....It is completely legit to say ...AND C is not B
[13:48] herman Bergson: Only if All C are A then C is B necesarrily
[13:48] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Yes.
[13:49] herman Bergson: so the form of the reasoning is not correct
[13:49] Linden Markova: Yeah
[13:49] herman Bergson: which means that the conclusion is not necesassily derived from these premises
[13:50] herman Bergson: and that is what we try to find...necessarily true conclusions
[13:50] Lighthorse Wilkinson: The former sounds like rationalizing to me.
[13:51] herman Bergson: True...Lighthorse....
[13:51] herman Bergson: it is absolute 100% rational to search for non contradicting statements
[13:52] herman Bergson: For Aristotle was the mind the ultime form of man
[13:52] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Amen.
[13:53] Cailleach Shan: We seem to come back to the same question each time.... What is truth
[13:53] herman Bergson: And in his ethics Aristotle believed that we would know what is good by rational reasoning
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes Cailleach....that question will never disappear form our class
[13:54] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Rational reasoning is our only hope.
[13:54] herman Bergson: Aristotle already believed that Lighthorse...
[13:54] Linden Markova: What other kinds of reasoning are there?
[13:55] Lighthorse Wilkinson: I like this man.
[13:55] herman Bergson: Well....I wont go into that to deep Linden, but now we have modal and deontic logic forinstance
[13:55] You: AhAh Reason one of the touch stones of Morernity
[13:56] Linden Markova: Soory no, I was remarking on the "rational reasoning " comment.
[13:57] herman Bergson: Deontic logic analyses the reasoning with statemants like...I Have to behave,
[13:57] herman Bergson: are right in fact it is tautological
[13:58] herman Bergson: reasoing is by definition a rational activity
[13:58] Linden Markova: Please tell us about the different modes of logic
[13:59] herman Bergson: Aristotle worked with statements in the form......A has property B
[13:59] herman Bergson: But inthe 19th century Betrand Rusell and Whitehead developed propositional logic...
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: ah yes
[14:00] herman Bergson: not dealing with subject and predicate but with statements, propositions as such
[14:01] herman Bergson: the modal logic investigates reasoing with words as 'possible'...'necessary'
[14:01] herman Bergson: It is necessary that I do X
[14:02] herman Bergson: the house is burning....I have to extinguish the fire.... well things like what necessary conclusions does this reasoning lead...
[14:02] herman Bergson: Very difficult in moral debates
[14:03] herman Bergson: We will run into these subjects ...dont worry
[14:03] herman Bergson: Well.... I caused already soem headaches...:-)
[14:03] Cailleach Shan: :)
[14:04] herman Bergson: so Unless there still is a question , let's go out and dance...:-)
[14:04] Lighthorse Wilkinson: A very fine class today, Herman.
[14:04] Linden Markova: Thanks Herman
[14:04] Cailleach Shan: It's is fascinating........ I love it... thanks Herman....
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: yes thank you very interesting
[14:04] herman Bergson: thank you, Lighthorse
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: bringing many questions
[14:04] Manoly Demina: thx herman
[14:04] Cailleach Shan: Dancing sounds good lol
[14:05] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[14:05] herman Bergson: It should bring many questions...:-)
[14:05] Gemma Cleanslate: yes each class should
[14:05] Gemma Cleanslate: probably more questions than answers
[14:05] Linden Markova: Can we request subjects for class?
[14:05] herman Bergson: Thank you again for your attention..:-)
[14:05] herman Bergson: Yes you can Linden
[14:06] Linden Markova: Now?
[14:06] Boron Homewood is Online
[14:06] You: Herman you might think about asking for Questions at the start of a class. Questions from the previous lesson
[14:06] Cailleach Shan: Ah.... Hope63 had a question he wanted to put Herman.... . What would a philosopher say to the premise that whenever you try to install something new (in your mind) you will necessarily have to destroy something existing to make room for it... what would a Greek philosopher say to - is it easier to demolish the old and install the new or vice versa..
[14:06] Cailleach Shan: Something to think about later maybe..
[14:06] herman Bergson: Good remark Osrum
[14:06] Cailleach Shan: Bye every one..
[14:06] Linden Markova: Could you do a class on feminism, please?
[14:07] herman Bergson: Nice question Cailleach
[14:07] Manoly Demina: bye Cailleach
[14:07] herman Bergson: A greek philosopher might have thought so
[14:08] Gemma Cleanslate: we wil have to extend to 90 minutes LOL!
[14:08] herman Bergson: but to interpret the mind as spacial is not the way we see it nowadays
[14:08] Gemma Cleanslate: bye all !
[14:08] herman Bergson: yes Gemma....that is the tricky thing in Osrums remark
[14:08] Manoly Demina: bye gemma
[14:09] Linden Markova: Bye Herman, thanks
[14:09] herman Bergson: If we start with questions....class will run the risk to last even longer
[14:09] herman Bergson: Bye Linden...

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-10-22 01:11:55

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