Sunday, May 10, 2009

32 Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was the English mathematician and physicist whose fundamental work revolutionized the study of the physical world. He was not a philosopher in the real sense of the word, but he was a great mind. One we can not ignore.

His achievements had a great influence on philosophers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant, who are in our list too of course.

Just single human mind comes up with a theory that changes everything. In 1665 Newton stayed away from the university for 18 months. It was closed because of the plague. He was 23 years old then!!

During this period he formulated the basic features of his great work in mathematics, mechanics , astronomy and optics. In 1667 he became a professor of mathematics and it was 1669, that he communicated about his findings for the first time.

Unbelievable...he could have died of the plague or some other illness, but fortunately that didnt happen. Even better, he reached the age of 85. Exceptional in those days.

What fascinates me in this man is not primarily what theories he developed. I guess I dont understand any of them really, for I am no mathematician of physicist. What fascinates me is the question: how can just one single human mind get such unique ideas and thoughts?

This is not exactly a philosophical question, but we can try to look at it from a philosophical point of view. What was the philosophical situation in those days. Newton was 8 years old when Descartes died. So he has read his work definitely.

The culmination of Rationalism on the continent. In England we have seen men like Bacon and Hobbes. Empiricistic and materialistic philosophers. Newton has read them all. He definitely must have been interested in Bacon's ideas about induction.

There are two ways or reasoning: inductive and deductive. Inductive reasoning means that you gather as much information as possible and then come to a generalisation: this tomato is red, that tomato is red, so I conclude that all tomatos are red.

This means, that at the start your head is empty. No tomato there at all untill you see the very first tomato in your life and notice that it is red. So your generalisation about tomatos is new knowledge. Before you didnt know it. The empiricist way of thinking.

Deductive reasoning is just the opposite. It presupposes that we are born with the wisdom about tomatos: they are red. From that wisdom, still in your cradle, you are dreaming of the first moment you will meet a tomato.

And when that moment comes, you will not be surprised by the looks of the tomato, for at a young age you already had deduced from the statement that all tomatos are red, this one had to be too. In fact you didnt learn anything new. The rationalist way of thinking.

Newton stated that his methode was empirical and inductive and not rationalistic and deductive. And here we are at the core of the still ongoing debate between empirism and rationalism in philosophy.

Or in other words, when we are born, what is there in our minds? Is it as empty as a white sheet of paper, or is there already written something on that paper? And if so, who wrote that?

When you keep that in mind, the philosophers to come will be fascinating because of their position in this debate. Which side will they choose and what arguments do they have. Will we have the final answer after philosopher 100...? ;-)

The Discussion

[13:08] Herman Bergson: well....time to begin..
[13:09] Herman Bergson: First I have a not so pleasant announcement...
[13:09] Herman Bergson: it is sad to begin the new year like this but things happen
[13:09] Herman Bergson: I got word from Maphisto that he wont be able to attend our class anymore till August.
[13:10] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[13:10] AristotleVon Doobie: Noooo
[13:10] Laila Schuman: oooo
[13:10] Osrum Sands: bummer
[13:10] Gemma Cleanslate: we won't be the same!!!
[13:10] Cailleach Shan: mmmm.... rats!!!
[13:10] Gray Cardiff: sad
[13:10] Herman Bergson: He was a fine student and a joy in the debates
[13:10] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:10] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:10] Herman Bergson: yes..a great loss
[13:10] Rodney Handrick: yes he was
[13:10] Gemma Cleanslate: a reason?
[13:10] Herman Bergson: but as I is unfair..:-)
[13:11] Herman Bergson: yes..reason is his RL time schedule...I guess his job
[13:11] Gemma Cleanslate: oh well he can keep up in the blog anyway
[13:11] Osrum Sands: why should life be fair in the fiorst place
[13:11] Gemma Cleanslate: and we can talk about him lol
[13:11] AristotleVon Doobie: he shall be sorely missed
[13:11] Herman Bergson: Well after this said..I am really happy to see you all again
[13:11] Gemma Cleanslate: 'and he can laugh
[13:11] Cailleach Shan: lol Gem...
[13:11] Alarice Beaumont: :-)
[13:12] Rodney Handrick: lol
[13:12] Herman Bergson: no Gemma for everything we say will be in the
[13:12] Gemma Cleanslate: well
[13:12] Herman Bergson: he still is listening in
[13:12] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:12] AristotleVon Doobie: good
[13:12] Gemma Cleanslate: good
[13:12] Rodney Handrick: good
[13:12] Gemma Cleanslate: we will im him then
[13:12] Laila Schuman: smiles
[13:12] Herman Bergson: good..:-)

[13:21] hope63 Shepherd: a final answer?
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: no
[13:21] Herman Bergson: So far on Newton..:-)
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: we will not
[13:22] Herman Bergson: I must last remark was a joke..:-)
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: I will think about it
[13:22] hope63 Shepherd: lol.. got
[13:22] Cailleach Shan: lol and we all thought you were serious.
[13:22] Herman Bergson: lol..and I should believe that?
[13:23] AristotleVon Doobie: of course evidence must be provided that it is not clean slate
[13:24] Herman Bergson: that respect Kant may be interesting and Hume too
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: and Newton was a smart man so he must have thought hard on it
[13:25] Cailleach Shan: I think there is a case for the 'collective unconscious'
[13:25] Herman Bergson: Yes, but that is an idea of Jung
[13:25] Herman Bergson: from a psychoanalytical background
[13:26] Herman Bergson: He believed our mind is filled with archetypes...
[13:26] Cailleach Shan: Well, he gave it an identity and a name...
[13:26] Osrum Sands: and that raises all sorts of questions re the nature of reality and the human condition
[13:26] Herman Bergson: but here you see a rationalist at work..
[13:26] Herman Bergson: in a way a Platonist even
[13:27] Herman Bergson: the archetype idea isnt far from Pato's theory on forms
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: I have heard of this giant udder in the sky
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: and everone has a teat
[13:27] Herman Bergson: lol...what?? Aristotle
[13:27] Cailleach Shan: lol.... is this a PG sim?
[13:27] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: yes and this collective knowledge is in this udder?
13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: for every one
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: at birth
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: no no no
[13:28] Herman Bergson: well...when I look at the sky I only see the sun..:-)
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:29] Gray Cardiff: in holland
[13:29] Herman Bergson: lol.....ok..I was lieing
[13:29] Herman Bergson: But what is interesting is
[13:30] Herman Bergson: when we look at Jung..we now know where to put him...rationalism versus empiricism
[13:30] Herman Bergson: main focus is epistemology...
[13:30] Herman Bergson: what can I know to quote Kant
[13:31] Herman Bergson: so it is up to you to decide for yourself...
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: of course I jest a little, but where is the proof that we have preknowledge
[13:31] Herman Bergson: because it has it consequences
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: perhaps it's more called instincts
[13:32] Gray Cardiff: i agree Aris
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: I admit to the ancient brain having these instincts
[13:32] Herman Bergson: where its the proof we are not preprogrammed?
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: there is none
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: survival instincts
[13:32] Alarice Beaumont: no
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: either way
[13:32] Alarice Beaumont: yes Aristotle.. so that's something to build on!
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: in the eastern philosophies
[13:32] Laila Schuman: i've been putting off mentioning... instinct vs conciousness... a baby will suckle within minutes or hours of being born....and.... what is conciousness... are animals concious? what is it
[13:32] Herman Bergson: What comes to my mind is what people thought in these days...
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: yes but we have deveoloped through evolution a cerbral cortex to keep these instincts in check
[13:33] Herman Bergson: man is a machine..Lamettrie
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: he is a machine
[13:33] Herman Bergson: In those days they got a kind of mechanistic idea of man
[13:33] hope63 Shepherd: no.. an organism,herman,, a machine cannot change.. an organism can
[13:34] Osrum Sands: thats what my lover thinks of me
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: a fuel burning organism
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: lol...
[13:34] Herman Bergson: and know I am tempted to say that man is an organism...a system with its own rules of operating
[13:34] Herman Bergson: that means I didt get a step further than Lamettrie then
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: well we certainly are amachine that reasons
[13:35] Herman Bergson: yes we are..
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: certainly? sorry
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: no.. machines don't change.. they stay what they are.. but organisms develop mew systems..
[13:35] hope63 Shepherd: no complex patterns..
[13:35] Herman Bergson: but did we develop through history Hope?
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: SOMETHING NEW
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: not a machine designed by nature
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: sure.. read lorenz?
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. we developed throught history. I would say
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: learning process
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: yes al
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: on agression?
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: keeping / storing the knowledge
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: All we have done is to accumulate new data...... nothing has changed in the basic design.
[13:37] Laila Schuman: niezsche and solome would say through history we just run in circles...doing the same thing over and over
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: agression is a leak in the limbic system
[13:37] Herman Bergson: yes...that might be true Laila
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: and at times we have to agree with them
[13:38] Herman Bergson: get back to Newton and his world....
[13:38] hope63 Shepherd: thinking has not developed very much.. as jaspers said.. we are not furtheraway from platon-- and i agree.. but behaviour patterns have changedd..
[13:38] Herman Bergson: suddenly the world had become a world ruled by laws of nature
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: ok, Newton remained religious?
[13:39] Cailleach Shan: Laws of nature Herman...... kill or be killed!!
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Yes...he was religious
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: if you look at humanity from the beginning. cal.. not too much has changed.. but some..
[13:39] Herman Bergson: oh...just something else...
[13:39] Cailleach Shan: True Hope..
[13:39] hope63 Shepherd: wrong approach cal..
[13:40] Herman Bergson: We have a very interesting issue here regarding God...
[13:40] hope63 Shepherd: not kill.. noone killes basically for pleasuire.. only to survive..
[13:40] Herman Bergson: When there are laws of nature...God isnt allmighty anymore
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes the development of wasy to retstain the ancient brain has been refined hope
[13:40] Cailleach Shan: Isn't that the basic desire of nature.... to survive.
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: callled culture paroi :)
[13:41] Herman Bergson: I guess you are having your own discussion..:-)
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes and anything is acceptable to survive according to our instincts
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: sorry
[13:41] hope63 Shepherd: no.. i don't think so.. not everything.. only what is useful..
[13:41] Cailleach Shan: oops....sorry.
[13:42] Cailleach Shan: Would you elaborate on your statement Herman...
[13:42] Herman Bergson: There is an interesting issue in Newton's ideas....
[13:42] hope63 Shepherd: shall we all shut up and let herman say what he wants to say..:)
[13:42] Laila Schuman: YES
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Laws of nature....God has to obey them too...
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: what of omnipotence
[13:43] Ludwig John: or god has made laws of nature?
[13:43] Osrum Sands: are you still joking there Herman
[13:43] Herman Bergson: Yes Ludwig...that is the point
[13:43] Herman Bergson: I read an article about our concept of god and the islamic concept of allah
[13:43] Herman Bergson: they are totally different...
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: isn't god a horse? lol
[13:44] Herman Bergson: allah is still allmighty...
[13:44] Herman Bergson: in islamic thought Allah can do as he pleases...turn night into day or whatever...
[13:45] Herman Bergson: that he doesnt is his choice but he can if it suits him...
[13:45] hope63 Shepherd: that is what the bible says..-- the sun stood still
[13:45] Herman Bergson: we have a totally different concept of god...
[13:45] Osrum Sands: the old thisg - can God make a rock so big he can't life it ?
[13:45] Herman Bergson: and that explains the fatalistic attitude of some islamic people....
[13:46] Herman Bergson: you never know what allah will do the next day
[13:46] Ze Novikov: hmm yes
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: But Newton did not belive that God could change nature.
[13:46] Herman Bergson: In Newton's time religion was undergoing great changes...Luther Calvin....
[13:46] Rodney Handrick: once again...the concept of god is different for most people
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: martyrs where existing in christian religions long before islam..
[13:47] Alarice Beaumont: ah but he said that everything is moved by some kind of "force"
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: So in Newton's time if God was questioned..... everything could be questioned.
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: the time of newton we had akbar in india.. who tried to reconcile the religions..
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: isn't that funny..
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: one god..
[13:47] Herman Bergson: That was a complete different concept of martyrs, Hope
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: for all..
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: What did the church say of Newton?
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: difference is between passivwe and active.. herman..
[13:48] Herman Bergson: Yes good question Aristotle, for Newton proofed in what way the solar systm operates...
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: I see it this way...the force of nature is still one...however due to our degrees of language we give it different names
[13:48] Herman Bergson: He perfectly could predict any astronomical phenomenon of his time
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: he vindicated previous excomunicats
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: yet...the meaning is still the same...
[13:49] Herman Bergson: And Rome already had dealt ( and lost) with Galileo
[13:49] Herman Bergson: In that respect Newton was a final irrefutable blow
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: yes the knock out punch
[13:50] Laila Schuman: measuring and calculating a train track or a train... does not mean they don't exist
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: I think Galileo and Newton were from the same "soul" matrix
[13:50] Laila Schuman: measuring the planetary whatevers... does not mean that god does not exist...necessarily
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: on the same teat?
[13:50] Herman Bergson: Whatever that is Rodney, but I guess you are right..:-)
[13:51] Herman Bergson:
[13:51] Cailleach Shan: If we are tabula rosa then there is no matrix
[13:51] AristotleVon Doobie: amenn Cal
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: rosa?
[13:51] Herman Bergson: rasa Hope..
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: lol. i wondered..
[13:52] Cailleach Shan: I think I prefer roses....:)
[13:52] Gray Cardiff: red shane
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Well..our next philosopher is Rene Descartes....THE ultimate rationalist
[13:52] hope63 Shepherd: red light..
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: Ah...Rene...:-)
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Thank you for your attention and good discussion
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: couod you hold you lecture in french for me?
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you Herman, missed this.
[13:53] Rodney Handrick: thank you Herman
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: LOL
[13:53] Ze Novikov: yes, TY
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: Thx Herman
[13:53] Herman Bergson: si tu veux, Hope, mais tous le monde parle anglais ici..:-)
[13:53] Laila Schuman: i meant to say... measuring the train etc... does not mean their creator did not exist
[13:53] Lena Montreal: TY, Herman:)
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: ty Herman
[13:54] Herman Bergson: Oh..I have a guestbook here now...
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: where is the tip jar Herman?
[13:54] Herman Bergson: next to the door...
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: zut.. i just read somewhere that it helps to read the texts in the original lol
[13:54] Herman Bergson: works at tip jar too..:-)
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: nice
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: more scholarly
[13:55] Herman Bergson: if you want to make an entry in the book, feel free to do so. I appreciate it
Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-01-06 17:42:47

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