Saturday, May 9, 2009

10 Democritus

Although we discuss the philosophers well organized one by one it is not so that they succeeded eachother too in such an order.

We have the historical line of Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno and the line of Socrates, Plato , Aristotels.

The line of Heraclites is mainly focused on ontology, the question of what really exists.

The line of Socrates is more epistemologically oriented, focused on the question of how to obtain certain knowledge.

In Democritus we meet a man who was a young boy when Plato was old and an old man, when Aristotle was just ten years of age... So, a man in the middle of all ongoing philosophical debates.

And he was a genius. Just put yourself back in time...the Greek aera. The wheel was invented, that is about it....and then this man with such an imagination. This is what fascinates me so much in the human mind.

What were his philosophical considerations about reality?

He continued in the tradition of Heraclitus. He asked himself: what does at the end REALLY exist. And he came to the conclusion: atoms. Infinite small and undivisible particles, which move around in an infinite space.

Zeno would have objected that such a particle could not be the main principle, for you could split such a particle and you would have two, which you could split too and so on....

But Democritus had an answer in which he balanced mind and matter. Geomertry is about space....a line ..a triangle. In geometry you can devide a line infintely. Ok, but such would only be true for atoms, if there was space inside an atom.

Then you could devide the space between (parts of) atoms, but in Democritus opinion atoms were solid. Physically you could not split an atom, because it was solid, no space inside it. It occupied empty space. Ok..exit Zeno.

Heraclites would object to the permanent existence of a substance like atoms. What really exists is change.

Indeed, Democritus said, change is a necessary condition of nature, but it isnt the main principle of what is. Material objects are temporary combinations of atoms, which glue together or split up due to forces of nature. Exit Heraclites.

Parmenides was a tougher nut to crack. Atoms moving in infinite empty space. So we think of an atom and a kind of not-atom, emptiness. But when we can think of such a thing it has to exist, which is a contradiction in itself. Simply said when I think of nothing I think of something, so empty space isnt possible.

If Parmenides was right the universe would be, as he believed indeed, on big solid being, which implied that change wasnt a part of what really exists.

But if you want atoms to move around they need space. And here we see a deep philosophical problem, with which these Greeks already struggled: the ontological status of space, of emptiness.

If you say that empty space in which nothing is present, exists, then there exists something. Thence that cant be nothing, which makes empty space something.......and so on.

It would have to wait untill the 19th century before we would get a philosophical answer to this ontological debate, like we had to wait till then too in respect to the aristotelian logic.

Democritus solved this contradiction by saying that we should stop believing that (empty) space was a property of matter.For him the infinite space was just the absence of atoms.

It all is caused by our binary thinking: you only can define light if you have dark, good when you have evil. Such concepts depent on eachother, but does this count for matter too? Can space exist without emptiness? Democritus said: yes.

We needed a man like Einstein to solve this controvery.

Democritus had more modern ideas: all these moving atoms bumping in eachother. Reality is one big chainreaction. So once set to motion you actually could predict all ensuing motions of atoms.

So all of reality is determinated from the very beginning??!! Here the discussion of determinism and the possibility of free will is emerging.

For the first time, however, there was a clear notion of the relation between cause and effect. Everything had a cause. Everything?

It is amzing how human imagination can generate a concept of reality in those days which comes so close to our present interpretation of what is.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Well..this is Democritus....and indeed Gemma ...his imagination is breathtaking
[13:24] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: is it about cause & effect in general or in Democritus view?
[13:24] Maphisto Mapholisto: roney the first cause??
[13:25] herman Bergson: well let's keep it in general...
[13:25] herman Bergson: for indeed ..the idea of the First Mover.....
[13:25] herman Bergson: related to the idea of causality
[13:26] herman Bergson: it will play an important role in the future...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Interesting to see is that the line of Heraclites as I called it will dominate the future and the moral thinking of Socrates
[13:27] Ninia Loon: we can open a door only beacuse we imagine and want someone will enter a day.. i do this in sl...
[13:28] Maphisto Mapholisto: because two events are always sequentially related to eachother in time, how can we say one necessaily 'caused' the other (eg, bat hitting ball)
[13:28] herman Bergson: That was David Humes question too Maphisto
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: and Zen's
[13:29] herman Bergson: and here we are at the heart of the matter
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: Zen talks of 'mutual arisinf' and 'moon-in-water'
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: the moon does not intend to cast its reflection
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: the water does not to reflect its light
[13:30] Maphisto Mapholisto: neither causes the other
[13:30] herman Bergson: there is an important notion in your words..."intend"
[13:30] Maphisto Mapholisto: indeed
[13:30] Maphisto Mapholisto: not intended as volitional; intention
[13:30] herman Bergson: there are two ways to look at causality....
[13:31] herman Bergson: the first one is empirical
[13:31] herman Bergson: which means...we just SEE things happen one after another....
[13:31] You: I see the bat hit another ball etc
[13:31] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: but many empiricist sentences are truisms in disguise IMO
[13:32] herman Bergson: we are inclined to say A caused B, but what we see is B happened after A
[13:32] herman Bergson: and it appears to be so all the time...
[13:33] herman Bergson: the other way of looking at causality you could for instance relate to the teleological idea of Aristoteles.
[13:34] herman Bergson: rain causes a seed to grow and change into a plant.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: the seed already intended to do so.......
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: who.. the rain or the plant..
[13:35] herman Bergson: so causality then is some kind of innate feature of reality
[13:35] Rodney Handrick: hmm...pondering
[13:36] herman Bergson: The concept of Causality is worth a complete library...lots of books and articles on that subject...
[13:37] Maphisto Mapholisto: i think the zen understanding is more an exitential one. In our experiencing of the universe, all we can sy is that things arise to our consciousness in a patterned way. The arisings have no necssary connection to each other. Indeed, the pattern of connections may be as much a matter of how we perceive as how things are
[13:37] herman Bergson: For Democritus for instance the causality was a kind of necessary consequence
[13:37] Lighthorse Wilkinson: If A then B
[13:38] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: couldnt causality b a fenomenon itself?
[13:38] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: a part of episteme instead of a form of that?
[13:38] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: because its all we have
[13:38] Rodney Handrick: That's because we only have this space and time as a reference point...
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Rocker....
[13:39] herman Bergson: I think you will find that in Kant
[13:39] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: i just was coming there:)
[13:39] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: as casuality is tied to how we see the time
[13:39] herman Bergson: But these Greeks hadnt read Kant yet
[13:39] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: i know well, i asked before if we were talking in genral or relating to democritus
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: smiling
[13:40] herman Bergson: Ah ..I see...
[13:40] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: if we talk in that view i will keep silence :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: If we talk in general we need an extra few hours..:-)
[13:40] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: lol
[13:40] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: yes sorry
[13:40] Rodney Handrick: when was Kant making his statements?
[13:40] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: around 1780
[13:41] Rodney Handrick: thanks
[13:41] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: if i remember well
[13:41] herman Bergson: Kant...1724 - 1804
[13:41] herman Bergson: it was in his Kritik der reiner Vernuft....
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: I have to read about him...
[13:42] herman Bergson: a milestone in history too
[13:42] herman Bergson: we will meet him and his remarkable ideas about knowledge, dont worry
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: ok
[13:42] hope63 Shepherd: rod.. he's only 50 philosophers away in class lol
[13:43] herman Bergson smiles
[13:43] Rodney Handrick: hehe
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: depends if you include augustine of hippo
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: then 51
[13:43] herman Bergson: lol
[13:43] herman Bergson: He is in the list Maphisto
[13:43] oola Neruda: back to greece please
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: great
[13:44] herman Bergson: ok are right..:-)
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: crack the whip oola - we need it
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. why not put a list of the philosophers on your blog.. ssometimes i think i can't come.. but forr some i'll try t be hee,
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:45] Rodney Handrick: that's not a bad idea
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes...hope... I'll do that
[13:45] oola Neruda: GREECE
[13:45] Maphisto Mapholisto: i meant that in a nice way, gemma
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: ty.. i would appreciate..
[13:45] Rodney Handrick: then we could do a little background lookup
[13:45] You: the list was given out on the first lesson
[13:45] herman Bergson: sure....I remeber typing the list......but forgot where I left it
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: i was one step behind in my laugh not to you
[13:46] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Hello Democritus.
[13:46] herman Bergson: Now..ok....the Greek....
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: which could be useful for the discussions.rod..
[13:46] Rodney Handrick: thanks
[13:46] herman Bergson: What we should keep an eye on is how history will develop
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: Cailleach absorbs all these eridite comments....
[13:47] herman Bergson: how Aristotle will move to the background and Plato becomes favorite for centuries
[13:47] herman Bergson: and it will be interesting to see how Aristotelian thinking will return
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: herman.. why?
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: didn' the arabs consider aristoteles more important than plato?
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes....but what I am aiming at is the eternal debate between Empirism and Rationalism
[13:48] herman Bergson: which will bloom after the Middle Ages
[13:49] hope63 Shepherd: and when you say favorite isn't it because of christian theology?
[13:49] herman Bergson: which is the debate between Plato and Aristoteles
[13:50] herman Bergson: yes Hope...from say 350 till 1200 Platonistic thnking prevailed mostly
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: Is this what our society is based on today?
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: 1200.. we are in the midt of the crusades.. and thats when europe got to know about the greeks..
[13:52] herman Bergson: Epistmologically I think in philosophy of science empirism is dominating
[13:53] herman Bergson: and in general I think we have great trouble just believing things because someone says so....we want to see evidence
[13:54] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: but the whole theorical physics is based on a belief
[13:54] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: that cant be proven
[13:54] herman Bergson: but keep in mind ..we are talking stricly about Western philosophy
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: physical terms
[13:55] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: no in logical terms, and also empirical
[13:55] Rodney Handrick: ok...
[13:55] herman Bergson: I agree fact all theorems are 'believes'
[13:55] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: the sentence i refer to is
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: sorry about the zen reference
[13:55] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: "all the law of physics are true in each point of the universe"
[13:55] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: that can be true or false
[13:56] You: its sounds like Greek to me
[13:56] herman Bergson: I think it is time to reread all this and think it over.....
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: Whew...
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: yes I agree
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: with apologies to Heraclitus: They told me, Democritus, they told me you were dead, They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed. I wept as I remembered how often you and I Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky. And now that thou art lying, a handful of grey ashes, long long ago at rest; For Death, he taketh all.
[13:56] herman Bergson: here is rattled at so many doors...
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: rocker.. the universe cares a damn about whether we think it true or false..
[13:57] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: i refer to science, that is a human matter, not of the phis universe
[13:57] herman Bergson: lol.....a thinking and caring universe.
[13:58] Lighthorse Wilkinson: ?
[13:58] Maphisto Mapholisto: but we are the universe having made itself conscious, hope63
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: now we are back to the well einstein didn'tt exclude him
[13:58] herman Bergson: I think ...if anyone wants to continue the debate ..feel free.....
[13:58] Maphisto Mapholisto: teilard de chardin's noossphere, we are
[13:58] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Doesnt a proxy feud go on even today between Plato and Aristotle via religion and science.
[13:58] herman Bergson: but class is dismissed...:-)
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman.
[13:59] Maphisto Mapholisto: thnx mr berg - great stuff
[13:59] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Thansk you Herman.
[13:59] Rockerduck Bogdanovich: thank you herman
[13:59] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Thank
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: Thank so much for your work and time Herman
[13:59] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman
[13:59] herman Bergson: you all make me
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: what happened to the tip jar???
[13:59] oola Neruda: nice work Herman
[13:59] Maphisto Mapholisto: i couldn't it to work
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: me either
[13:59] herman Bergson: is in the back of the class
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: yes but ir does not seem to be working
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: and I am a couple weeks behind
[14:00] Maphisto Mapholisto: maybe it only takes cheques, not linden cash
[14:00] herman Bergson: oh..well...
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: Pay Herman instead..
[14:00] herman Bergson: takes only big
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: ok good idea
[14:00] Rodney Handrick: how big is big?
[14:00] herman Bergson: thnx..:-)

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-10-24 03:50:19

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