Saturday, May 9, 2009

22c Thomas Aquinas (Universals III)

[13:28] Herman Bergson: our final lecture on Universals
[13:28] Herman Bergson: that a special subject, for the problem will stay with us all the time

About 2307 years ago man formulated an answer to the question of the universals: these odd things that dont behave like individual objects. One property can be in two places at the same time, for instance.

Plato was the first one to come with an answer. He said: we have three things....the individual object, its property (being green for instance) and its Form (being an apple),which causes the property to be in the individual object.

He believed that you only could explain why we know something is a green apple by postulating the existence of the Forms, which manifests itself in the green of the apple.

These Forms had to existed, according to Plato, outside the spatiotemporal material world and everything participated in these forms, while we recognize these forms in the material objects.

Aristoteles had a different opinion about this matter. He didnt need those peculiar immaterial Forms. You have the individual object and its properiy and you dont need a Form to ground the possession of this property. Just subject and predicate.

So there exist two things..the individual object and in in space and time its property, which has the peculiar characteristic of being able to be in multiple places at the same time.

This is the Realist position: properties have an independent existence, they are real "things". That explains how we can have true knowledge about objects and their properties.

No, says the opposition...we only have individual, spatiotemporal, material objects. Period. And those "real" properties dont fit that description. Exit realisme and we enter nominalisme.

The nominalist claims that he can explain qualitative identity and resemblance without relying on universals. Like Ockham later would say: Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate (Dont postulate more entities than necessary)

The tomato and apple are red. Two individual objects and the linguistic expression "is red". This only means that it can be truely said of both object that they have a property in common. That's all. We just talk about commonality among individual objects by refering to individual objects.

This kind of nominalism just ignores the whole universals problem. But questions remain. For instance..what explains that we know for sure that some objects are similar?

Let me summarize the situation. We have two options regarding universals. Option one is: we postulate the existence of immaterial non-spatiotemporal entities to explain why we see resemblance in individual objects,

Option two is: we claim that there only exist individual objects, of which we can say certain things truely. We truely can say, that some object has property X. Actually, this is just an empirical fact.

A final option for avoiding universals is to make generality not a feature of reality, but instead a feature of our mind and the concepts or ideas in our mind. This is called Conceptualism.

Thomas Aquinas takes his position in this (still ongoing) debate. He says , that many things can differ in properties. Something can be hot or less hot, good or less good. These differences in quality are caused by something that holds the ultimae most perfect quality in itself.

Like the sun is the warmest object and being warm of other objects is caused by this, in that sense there must be a perfectly , absolutely good thing that makes all other things (more or less) good. This of course is God.

A realist position. which explains that all properties at the end are in God.

One proof of the existence of God by Thomas I really dont want to keep from you. Just hear this: we all see things appear and again disappear. It is clear that not everything can be like that, for then there could have been a moment, that everything had disappeared.

Then there would have been nothing. But nothing can not generate something, so there always had to be something. And that first something man calls God.

I love the logic of this argumentation.....I dont know why, but it makes me think of the Big Bang theory which astronomers have invented to explain the existence of the univers.

The Discussion

[13:48] Herman Bergson: If anyone has a question or remark..plz fel free..:-)
[13:48] Maphisto Mapholisto: how do Realists explain our knowledge of universals? Otherwise, Ockham is most relevant - why invent Universals to explain knowledge of individual particulars when we now need to explain knowledge of universals themselves.
[13:48] Herman Bergson: yes indeed Maff...
[13:49] Herman Bergson: personally I am not a realist at all
[13:49] Herman Bergson: I see the universal problem more as a linguistic problem
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: as do i
[13:50] oola Neruda: can you explain that statement
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: agreed..
[13:50] oola Neruda: universal problem as linguistic
[13:50] Herman Bergson: so I think we will return to this matter when we come to people like Russell and Wittgenstein
[13:50] Maphisto Mapholisto: i think it is a kind of 'anthropmorhism' to materialise one's own thoughts as external realities
[13:50] Herman Bergson: Oh...sorry..sure oola...
[13:51] Herman Bergson: there is a good example...
[13:51] Herman Bergson: that proof of the existence of god deducing it from the word nothing
[13:52] Herman Bergson: parmenides would have said it is impossible that there is nothing
[13:52] Herman Bergson: for when you can think about it it must be something...
[13:53] oola Neruda: word games...semantics...?
[13:53] Maphisto Mapholisto: how could parmenides know? it is impossible for the human (a something) to imagine nothing ... but quite possible for nothing to not exist
[13:53] Osrum Sands: now where headed for eternity
[13:54] Gray Cardiff: infinity
[13:54] Herman Bergson: in the beginning of the 20th century peolpe like Russell and Wittgenstein tried to eliminate such reasoning
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: in a way i think its allybout that opola.. try to understans eternity.. infinite..
[13:54] Herman Bergson: It all comes down to meaning and refrence
[13:55] Osrum Sands: my brain hurts
[13:55] Herman Bergson: the word something has reference....refers o something
[13:55] Herman Bergson: but does the word nothing do too?
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: as so the word nothing has a refeence too..
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: but 'thinginess' is a universal, lol
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: caught in th3e dualistic thinkibng..
[13:55] Herman Bergson: no said the linguistic analysts...
[13:56] hope63 Shepherd: how to overcome to expalin infinite..
[13:56] Herman Bergson: the word nothing is a combination of not and something...
[13:56] Herman Bergson: so it makes no sense to try to find a reference for nothing
[13:57] Maphisto Mapholisto: vacuum?
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: and we understand not as SOMETHING opposed to nothing
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: asd something is.. nothing is what..
[13:58] Herman Bergson: the word something refers to any individual object in general
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: can refer to anm abstract.. a feeling..
[13:58] Herman Bergson: the word nothing doesn refer to anther special individual object or entity
[13:58] Maphisto Mapholisto: zen understood that to think about nothing, one must stop thinking
[13:58] Herman Bergson: but only states that there is no reference to any object
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: we cannot understand nothing without referreing to something..
[13:59] Maphisto Mapholisto: "if you have nothing, throw it away"
[13:59] Herman Bergson: nothing means..I am not refering to any particular object or entity
[13:59] hope63 Shepherd: not in my direction maff lol
[13:59] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[14:00] Herman Bergson: dont start throuwing with nothing in class Maff
[14:00] Herman Bergson: order in class!!
[14:00] hope63 Shepherd: lol
[14:00] Maphisto Mapholisto: they meant that worrying about having nothing is still to have something, lol
[14:00] Osrum Sands: dont worry Proff its only nothing
[14:00] Herman Bergson: something to worry about..:-)
[14:00] Maphisto Mapholisto: it's nothing really
[14:00] hope63 Shepherd: nothing is lacking something.. like my purse for example..
[14:00] Ze Novikov: lol
[14:01] Herman Bergson: see how much fun you can have with nothing
[14:01] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[14:02] Maphisto Mapholisto: told you it would be party games
[14:02] Osrum Sands: hahah
[14:02] Herman Bergson: but in a way it is shows us how words can create or suggest a reality
[14:02] hope63 Shepherd: i can see what you can't see?
[14:02] Osrum Sands: or lack of one
[14:03] Herman Bergson: far Thomas class will be on Duns Scotus
[14:03] Maphisto Mapholisto: hoots
[14:03] Herman Bergson: and we'll continue our journey through history
[14:03] hope63 Shepherd: i hope cal can come.. for the scot lol
[14:03] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[14:03] hope63 Shepherd: she'll be in kilt..
[14:03] Herman Bergson: yes..I hope so too..:-)
[14:04] Herman Bergson: Ah....ok..I will be too!
[14:04] hope63 Shepherd: wow.. i better get my camera ready..
[14:04] Herman Bergson: you sure should, Hope..:-)
[14:04] Maphisto Mapholisto: no low-angle shots
[14:04] Ze Novikov: lol
[14:04] Gray Cardiff: steady guys im half scottish
[14:04] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. you have been to scotland maff lol

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-11-25 19:27:29 |

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