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Given that there are limits to the rationality of chimpanzees, wolves, dogs, etc., does it not logically follow that there are limits to the rationality of homo sapiens?

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

What we are questioning is your suggestion that Objectivism is tainted with certain prescientific gobbledygook.

I am suggesting or speculating that Objectivism, being built on the basic "chassis" (structural, conceptual foundation) of Aristotelianism, carries over, in an implicit and "unconscious" way, certain pre-scientific, now discredited concepts that were a part of the original system of Aristotle.

This view is built on the view that great philosophical systems, such as those of Aristotle and Ayn Rand (and also others, such as Kant's, Hegel's, Marx's) are systems, and that each part of the system is necessary for the whole system to work, much as, in the internal workings of a mechanical windup clock, all the internal parts are necessary, none of its parts are superfluous.

For example, Aristotle's system contained God, who is called the Unmoved Mover and the First Cause. Now, was God essential to Aristotle's system? Some philosophers say that it was. And so, my suggestion or speculation is that when Ayn Rand built her system on the chassis of Aristotelianism, she carried over God into her system, despite her intentions to the contrary. Most of the other latter-day schools of Aristotelianism that I am aware of are openly and enthusiastically theistic (e.g., the Natural Law philosophy of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, on the Supreme Court). 

This case of God is just one example.

There are so many pre-scientific, now discredited concepts within the original Aristotelianism, and it is arguable that many of them were essential to the whole functioning, internal logic, integrity, and legitimacy of his system. And so, I propose that is it worth investigating whether many of these pre-scientific, now discredited concepts are implicitly present in latter-day forms of Aristotelianism, such as Objectivism.

At the very least, I just disagree with the claim by adherents of any of the latter-day schools of Aristotelianism, that they can just cut away any part of the original Aristotelianism that they don't like, and keep the parts that they do like. I am suggesting that, when you are dealing with complex, integrated systems of thought, the "a la carte" approach really doesn't work.

Moreover, Aristotle, despite all his brilliance, was a pre-scientific, pre-Darwin, pre-Newton, pre-Einstein, pre-Freud, pre-Pasteur, pre-Crick and Watson man. Aristotle was a genius, but he still was living in a relatively primitive time. Aristotle, if he came back alive now, would, I propose, after studying modern science, modern philosophy, and world history, quicky repudiate most of this philosophy. (When modern people go back to ancient philosophies, I speculate that it is because they are trying to undo the present or stop the future, so to speak. This is the essence of "Conservatism." And I admit there are many good reasons to undo the present or stop what seems to be coming in the future. But I tend to doubt that trying to revert society to ancient systems of thought is going to be the solution.)

This idea that the "a la carte" selection from existing systems of though doesn't work--this isn't my original idea. There are many professional philosophers who espouse this view. I learned from them. Of course, they could be wrong. But, to me, they don't seem wrong.

Today we have people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announcing that they are "Socialists," yet insisting that they do not accept or carry forward the bad parts of the worldwide tradition of Socialism as seen in Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc. But I believe this "a la carte" approach does not work. 

At the very least, to me, all this all seems worth investigating in the case of Objectivism and Aristotelianism.

If I were writing a Master's thesis or Ph.D. dissertation, this might be my topic. 

Edited by The Laws of Biology
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Any 'a la carte' item or proposition can be pulled from any source or system and tested against axiomatic concepts to determine the item's relationship to reality eg it's truth value. Adding or discarding an 'item' within a 'system' doesn't alter the item's relationship to reality, were Aristotle to be presented a 'scientific' fact whose apprehension would alter a hierarchical concept based a false conclusion drawn upon a non-apprehended but prior existing contradiction ,the 'fact' would not change.   As far as I understand "O"bjectivism , does not provide for discarding any facts regardless any damage 'to the system'.

Wouldn't any dissertation in that vein be in essence an argument for a search and justification for rationalism, ( the 'bad' kind re O'ism)?

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2 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But Ayn Rand, as I understand it, never permitted her students to even consider the possibility that there might be errors in her system of philosophy that would need to be corrected by future or contemporary philosophers.

This, as I understand it, is why Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's designated philosophical heir, has declared that Objectivism is a "closed system."

Wrong. Objectivism could be 100% incorrect and it would still remain a closed system. Whether or not it is a true philosophy has no relevance whatsoever. When we say that Objectivism is a closed system, we mean that it is the philosophical system that Ayn Rand developed and wrote about. You can certainly build on top of Rand's core philosophic ideas (see Peikoff's theory of induction), but this is not a part of Objectivism nonetheless. 

I would recommend Rand's essay titled "Who Is the Final Authority in Ethics?", as I judge it to be somewhat related. 

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2 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

I personally, at the present time, see no way to justify the view that philosophy was an open system from the time of ancient Greece up until 1982, and then became a closed system forever after that time.

System building rests on the assumption that reality is a closed system, i.e. that facts are aspects of a larger picture, and merging them will reveal that picture. An 'open system' is an oxymoron.

The term 'open', when applied to a system, means that its application to various issues is open to options.

For example, Objectivism advocates the primacy of existence. It is not open to views which rest necessarily on the primacy of consciousness. In this, and other issues regarding fundamentals, it's closed.

In regard to its application to concrete cases, such as a romance, hobbies and political events, it allows for a variety of options and applications, which is why some disagreements are possible. In this, it is open.

2 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But Ayn Rand, as I understand it, never permitted her students to even consider the possibility that there might be errors in her system of philosophy that would need to be corrected by future or contemporary philosophers.

This, as I understand it, is why Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's designated philosophical heir, has declared that Objectivism is a "closed system."

Hearsay is never conductive to any fruitful conclusion or discussion. Always go straight to the source.

Relevant: Peikoff answers this question

Ditto for Objectivism being 'built on the chassis' of Aristotle. That's false. Agreeing with someone on big issues is a completely separate issue from building a system on top of his system.

On this matter, one resource I suggest is the course 'Objectivism Through Induction', available for free on the ARI website. There, Rand's methodology of system-building is explained.

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4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But Ayn Rand, as I understand it, never permitted her students to even consider the possibility that there might be errors in her system of philosophy that would need to be corrected by future or contemporary philosophers.

No idea where you got that from.

4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

This, as I understand it, is why Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's designated philosophical heir, has declared that Objectivism is a "closed system."

No he wasn't, he is the designated heir of her estate. Rand said he understood Oism better than anyone else in her estimation, but she never did call him a philosophical heir.

 

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4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

For example, Aristotle's system contained God, who is called the Unmoved Mover and the First Cause.

His system did not, the unmoved mover is not God, nor did he have a first cause. The unmoved mover is not a first cause, because there is no absolute first in his system. It is eternal, with no beginning or end. There could be a first movement, but this is different than the first cause as thought of by Aquinas.

4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

And so, I propose that is it worth investigating whether many of these pre-scientific, now discredited concepts are implicitly present in latter-day forms of Aristotelianism, such as Objectivism.

All of his scientific beliefs were derivative to his philosophical beliefs. None of them have a particular effect on the specifics of his philosophy, but they do reveal the way he investigated the world. His beliefs about astronomy were the most inaccurate, but this makes sense given that telescopes were not invented yet. Even if you did demonstrate that one of his scientific beliefs had a considerable impact on his philosophy, you never did mention which beliefs Oism grew out of. What you mentioned about rationality was a completely wrong interpretation of what both Aristotle and Oism advocate.

 

I couldn't quote things in a single post, that's why I made 2.

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On 12/7/2021 at 12:50 PM, Boydstun said:

My lead paper of this thread Rand and the Greeks was written in 2010. The following year the volume Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue was issued in the series of books Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies. In that work, Darryl Wright has some additional insights into differences between the ethical theories of Aristotle and Rand (pages 9-11). . . . The Ayn Rand Society, a group under the American Philosophical Association, has been working a long time on a volume comparing the philosophies of Rand and Aristotle, which will include their theories of ethics. I expect that book will issue next year.

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On 2/25/2022 at 1:45 PM, The Laws of Biology said:

. . .

Ayn Rand's Objectivism is a form of Aristotelianism.

. . . This has been recognized by many professional university-based philosophers who are experts in the philosophy of Aristotle. 

. . . 

I've gotten to see a few hundred philosophers deliver papers at meetings of the American Philosophical Association over the last 25 years, and I've gotten to read more than a few hundred books by professional philosophers of the decades after 1957. None of them I recall are as sloppy in classifying philosophies as that. Could you quote and cite a professional philosopher making that claim?

Objectivism is not a form of Aristotelianism any more than Thomism is a form of Aristotelianism or any more than Kantianism is a form of Berkeleyism or Spinoza's philosophy a form of Descartes's. For that matter, any more than Rand's is a form of Locke's or of Nietzsche's. Or mine a form of Rand's. None of those "form of' are true.

You can read exactly what Rand thought was the scope of teleology in nature in comparison to Aristotle, what she thought of his hylomorphism, what she thought of his "the mind becomes all things", what she thought of the last book of his Metaphysics. There is no need to fancy what she thought and argue with that. Read her. Argue exactly with that.

Edited by Boydstun
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LB,

A principal of the Ayn Rand Society (affiliate of the American Philosophical Association) wrote the entry for Darwinism at SEP, which you might like to examine. 

Books on my shelf that would seem to be up your alley:  

Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior   Robert J. Richards

Philosophy after Darwin  —Michael Ruse, editor

How Biology Shapes Philosophy  —David Livingstone Smith, editor

Pragmatism's Evolution  —Trevor Pearce

Darwin in Russian Thought  —Alexander Vucinich (from early 1860’s to October Revolution)

Edited by Boydstun
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/5/2022 at 8:53 PM, Boydstun said:

I've gotten to see a few hundred philosophers deliver papers at meetings of the American Philosophical Association over the last 25 years, and I've gotten to read more than a few hundred books by professional philosophers of the decades after 1957. None of them I recall are as sloppy in classifying philosophies as that. Could you quote and cite a professional philosopher making that claim?

Objectivism is not a form of Aristotelianism any more than Thomism is a form of Aristotelianism or any more than Kantianism is a form of Berkeleyism or Spinoza's philosophy a form of Descartes's. For that matter, any more than Rand's is a form of Locke's or of Nietzsche's. Or mine a form of Rand's. None of those "form of' are true.

You can read exactly what Rand thought was the scope of teleology in nature in comparison to Aristotle, what she thought of his hylomorphism, what she thought of his "the mind becomes all things", what she thought of the last book of his Metaphysics. There is no need to fancy what she thought and argue with that. Read her. Argue exactly with that.

Thank you. I appreciate the information. Thomism not a form of Aristotelianism? I thought it was. But I am an amateur student of philosophy, so, I certainly can be wrong. I am inspired to investigate further. Thank you.

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On 3/6/2022 at 6:37 AM, Boydstun said:

LB,

A principal of the Ayn Rand Society (affiliate of the American Philosophical Association) wrote the entry for Darwinism at SEP, which you might like to examine. 

Books on my shelf that would seem to be up your alley:  

Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior   Robert J. Richards

Philosophy after Darwin  —Michael Ruse, editor

How Biology Shapes Philosophy  —David Livingstone Smith, editor

Pragmatism's Evolution  —Trevor Pearce

Darwin in Russian Thought  —Alexander Vucinich (from early 1860’s to October Revolution)

Thank you for references to those sources. I have perused the volumed edited by Michael Ruse, Philosophy After Darwin, and was a little disappointed. 

I have for some time now had the impression that, in human thought concerning the human mind, human conduct, human history, and the human future, there were two eras: Before Darwin (B.D.) and After Darwin (A.D.).

I fully recognize and admit that I am not well enough read in philosophy proper to make any strong assertions about such things.

Still, I can't but help feel that there is some merit in this perspective. And there are philosophers and scientists of some significance who, in various ways and to various degrees, do seem agree with this Before Darwin (B.D.) and After Darwin (A.D.) conceptualization of intellectual history.

So, according to this scene, as I see it, the branch of phllosophy known as "metaphysics" has become obsolete in this A.D. (After Darwin) period of history.

Some people cheered when Darwin liberated humankind from a literal belief in the Bible's Book of Genesis.

But according my conception of things, what was not so widely noticed or celebrated, was Darwin's discoveries also made it impossible to take seriously the ancient idea of metaphysics as conceived of by people like Aristotle.  

As I see it, any philosophizing that is done in the general form within which Aristotle does regarding his "metaphysics" is, from the point of view of thought in the A.D. (After Darwin) period, entering into the realm of the supernatural, or Hege's "geist," or Spinoza's "God," or spirituality, or divine realm. "Super+natural" is very similar to "beyond+physics." I'm not sure, but I think Wittgenstein also came to this same general point of view about metaphysics. 

I don't know whether it is correct to say that Karl Marx's philosophy has, strictly spreaking, a formal metaphysics or not. In any case, as I see it, Marx's fatal error was in in not understanding Darwin's Origin of Species. He read it. He gushed about it. He wanted to dedicate his own book to Darwin. But he misunderstood Origin of Species. He badly misread it. He saw in it only those elements that lended support to his theory of history. Marx was educated mainly in Hegal and British empiricist philosophers like Locke, Adam Smith, and so on. Marx seems to have been unable to think like about philosophy from a geniuinely scientific point of view. And so, in my conception, Marx was an antique thinker who was stuck in the B.D. (Before Darwin) way of thinking. Sadly, Marx's B.D. (Before Darwin) way of thinking became "weaponinzed" in the the USSR by modern technology such as railroads, machine manufacturing, atomic bombs, radio, telephones, and so on, and millions were enslaved and murdered in the hope of liberation from Capitalism and from what Darwin called the Laws of Biology.

While I see metaphysics (beyond+physics) being rendered null and void in the A.D. (After Darwin) period, the other branches of philosophy are also profoundly changed, even if not eliminated. Ethics, for example, becomes something very different in the A.D. (After Darwin) period. Any conceptual system of ethics can only be evaluated, judged, and understood in terms of its survival value, for individuals and groups, in the biological "struggle for life" that Darwin wrote about as one of the Laws of Biology that all DNA-based animals (humans included) are always following. 

But surely I must be wrong about all this. The vast majority of professional philosophers of all schools and varieties write on about metaphysics and ethics and more as if Darwin had never existed.

One exception might be Alex Rosenberg, who promotes "scientism" and "nice nihilism." But practically all his colleagues say he is wrong, and claim to show his errors, so I guess he must be wrong.

Well, I hope some soul has enjoyed reading the above, or at least didn't hate it. I light of memo mori, tempus fugit, and all that, I hate being part of Troll Nation. I don't want to treat others on the Internet as punching bags to take out my life frustrations. I always enjoy being a part of a gentle, courteous, convivial, respectful, and enlightening dialogue, such as we see in Plato's Socratic dialogues, such as his The Republic.

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On 3/6/2022 at 6:37 AM, Boydstun said:

A principal of the Ayn Rand Society (affiliate of the American Philosophical Association) wrote the entry for Darwinism at SEP, which you might like to examine. 

Now, that is fascinating. Thank you. I did not know that about the author of that article. I will be sure to read that article carefully in the near future.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2022 at 6:37 AM, Boydstun said:

A principal of the Ayn Rand Society (affiliate of the American Philosophical Association) wrote the entry for Darwinism at SEP, which you might like to examine. 

Well, I have begun reading the above article, and I am a little disappointed. As I read it, the author wrote that article as a work within the conceptions of the sub-field known as "The Philosophy of Biology."

But, to me, when examining the impact of Darrwin's discoveries on the philosophy of ancient philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, the Stoics, the Epicureans, etc.), the modus vivendi should be just the reverse of that: The Biology of Philosophy

My rationale is this: What are we? We are biological beings. So, all phlosophizing is being done by biological beings. Not by gods, Not by angels. Not by demigods. Not by silicon chip computers.

All philosophizing has been done and is being done by biological beings composed of the smallest unit of biology, the cell. 

Therefore, philosophizing is a biological phenomenon.

It's more than than that, too.

But all thought is biological.

What else could it be?

Well, the ancient philosophers, and today's supernaturalists, saw and see human thought as being an aspect of the human soul which in turn is a part of the divine mind of God or the Logos.

But Darwin's discoveries showed that we don't need concepts like that in order to explain and undertand biological beings (including humans). 

As I see it, there is a explanatory hierarchy of Knowledge that goes something like this:

  • The ancient people explained everything by means of Religion and Philosophy. Lacking the modern scientific method, and lacking modern methods of objective historical research, the ancients did the best they could to provide individuals and societies with codes of ethics, political philosophies, and answers to questions about the origins of life, origins of races, destinies of souls, etc.
  • Now, we know that Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology explain Religion and Philosophy of the sort that the ancients developed.
  • And, furthermore, we know know that Biology explains Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology.
  • And finally, Physics (I'll lump Chemistry in with Physics) explains Biology.

What's beyond physics?

Well, the ancients thought that Metaphysics (beyond-physics) and Religion (super+natural) were beyond physics.

But Napoleon asked Laplace why his theory contained no mention of God. Laplace is said to have replied, “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (“I had no need of that hypothesis.”)

But surely I must be mistaken in all this. Virtually all the professonal philosophers and theologians write and teach on as if Darwin had never existed.

Still, I wonder.

And so, mere amateur researcher that I am, I continue on, trying to see what other thinkers are saying and not saying. 

(Just to clarify: When I write of "ancient philosophy" I mean those philosophers who believed that they were producing or discovering actual, real, objective, eternal knowledge about things like ethics, metaphysicis, political philosophy, physics, biology, astronomy, physiology, etc. By contrast, most modern "schools" or varieties of philosophy generally don't claim to be producing or discovering real knowledge about anything in ethics or poltiics, but are just acting like midwives to help people process through their options and come to political agreements.)

Edited by The Laws of Biology
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44 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

"beyond+physics."

As I understand it, metaphysics does not mean "beyond physics" in some mystical sense.  It means "after physics" in the sense that, in the usual physical ordering of Aristotle's books, metaphysics comes after physics.

50 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

"metaphysics" has become obsolete

Metaphysics includes the primacy of existence and the principle that each thing has an identity.  This is not obsolete.

52 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Any conceptual system of ethics can only be evaluated, judged, and understood in terms of its survival value,

Not just survival, but flourishing.

53 minutes ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But practically all his [Rosenberg's] colleagues say he is wrong, and claim to show his errors, so I guess he must be wrong.

This doesn't prove anything.  Some people would say something similar about Ayn Rand.

 

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4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

"Super+natural" is very similar to "beyond+physics."

In the first century CE, an editor put togheter a few fragments of Aristotle into the treatise now known as Metaphysics. The word means 'after the Physics' (the Physics was another of Aristotle's works). It does not mean 'beyond physics', but the order of study within the curriculum, i.e. that the study of nature comes before. Though the proper hierarchy is obviously metaphysics first, since the study of nature relies on its assumptions.

Colloquially, 'metaphysical' is used to describe the occult and matters of the supernatural, but that is not what the term means in philosophy. There are naturalistic metaphysics that reject the supernatural, and also many mystical metaphysics.

To illustrate what metaphysics means, take this statement of yours:

4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But according my conception of things, what was not so widely noticed or celebrated, was Darwin's discoveries also made it impossible to take seriously the ancient idea of metaphysics as conceived of by people like Aristotle.

What is presupposed by it? That the world is the way it is, independently of people's knowledge. What is true, was true before B.D. (before Darwin), it's just that people only started being clued on it in the A.D (after Darwin). This is an instance of the law of identity, a part of metaphysics. Are you, then, relying on B.D superstition to discredit B.D superstition?

3 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

the modus vivendi should be just the reverse of that: The Biology of Philosophy

I assume that the biology of philosophy means: for what survival and reproduction purpose does philosophy occur in living organisms; and how does this play out? If so, that's not a question for philosophy, but for science.

Say a bird suddenly develops reason, but does not shed its programming, which dictates it must build nests. Such a creature would have the ability to obtain a much better and safer type of shelter, but its programming would force it to backwards-rationalise reasons to keep the nest situation, even if it means obfuscating the truth. This is because its survival strategy is hard coded into its nervous system, and is inflexible.

This seems to be the trend in modern views of human nature. Many scientists do not clearly delineate the difference between need (food, reproduction), instincts (such as nest-building) and biological features (e.g. high calorie foods tasting better). It's not metaphysics that needs to catch up to biology. It's advocates of evo psy et. al who need a tighter grasp of logic.

Edited by KyaryPamyu
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

In the first century CE, an editor put togheter a few fragments of Aristotle into the treatise now known as Metaphysics. The word means 'after the Physics' (the Physics was another of Aristotle's works). It does not mean 'beyond physics', but the order of study within the curriculum, i.e. that the study of nature comes before.

Yes. I blundered.

Thank you giving me the correct information. I had heard that before, but had forgotten it, or blocked it out, or something.

I suppose we can't be completely sure about how the name "metaphysics" came about for that treatise. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online) says this:

"But Aristotle himself did not use that title or even describe his field of study as ‘metaphysics’; the name was evidently coined by the first century C.E. editor who assembled the treatise we know as Aristotle’s Metaphysics out of various smaller selections of Aristotle’s works. The title ‘metaphysics’—literally, ‘after the Physics’—very likely indicated the place the topics discussed therein were intended to occupy in the philosophical curriculum. They were to be studied after the treatises dealing with nature (ta phusika)."

That same article goes on to say this:

Aristotle himself described his subject matter in a variety of ways: as ‘first philosophy’, or ‘the study of being qua being’, or ‘wisdom’, or ‘theology’.

"Theology"? Aristotle used the word "Theology" to describe what professional philosophers now refer to as "metaphysics," and to describe his own metaphysics?

Well, I guess my initial reaction is to wonder if Aristotle using the term "theology" to describe his metaphysics doesn't lend some degree of credence and validity to my earlier musings that Aristotle's metaphysics has some overlap or identity with the concept of the "supernatural." 

The same article gives some further explanation of what Aristotle meant by his "theology," and here's a bit of that:

"In Book Ε, Aristotle adds another description to the study of the causes and principles of beings qua beings. Whereas natural science studies objects that are material and subject to change, and mathematics studies objects that although not subject to change are nevertheless not separate from (i.e., independent of) matter, there is still room for a science that studies things (if indeed there are any) that are eternal, not subject to change, and independent of matter. Such a science, he says, is theology, and this is the “first” and “highest” science."

The "theo" in the Greek word "theology" is of course a reference to God. Probably not the personal, anthropomorphic God as per the ancient Hebrews and Christians, but at least a God akin to the God of the Stoics or of Spinoza, I assume.

Therefore, I now think there is some validity and value in this observation: "super+natural" is very similar to "beyond+physics."

So, I can't help wonder if the person in ancient times, who coined or adopted the word "metaphysics" to use as the title for Aristotle's treatise on "theology," had a deep understanding of the theological content of the treatise, and so saw muiltiple meaning in "metaphysics."

Surely it is not just accidental or random that Aristotle's treatise on theology followed Aristotle's treatise on physics on the shelf where the treatises were being stored, if that was the case. Theology, or "first philosophy," or "the study of being as being," is, by its nature, above physics, above biology, above chemistry, and so on, in the hierarchy of knowledge, isn't it? 

I believe the world would be far better served if Aristotle's treatise which is now called "Metaphysics" was called by one of the names that Aristotle himself gave to the content of the treatise.

It should be called Aristotle's treatise on Theology.

I think, henceforth, that is how I will refer to it. 

This fits with my inclination to view Aristotle's system of philosophy as having God as an integral part of the whole system.

This also supports my inclination to wonder if more modern forms of Aristotelianism are at least implicitly or unconsciously theological, even if they expressly deny being so. 

But then I wonder: Why does this even matter?

I guess I've been worried about Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's apparent plan to make "Natural Law" (a modern form of Aristotelianism, in my interpretation) part of the U.S. Constitution, under the thesis that the writers of the Constitution had Natural Law philosophy's principles in mind when writing it.

Some people believe that Barrett and other Christian Conservatives aim to circumvent the Constitution's "No establishment of religion" clause by making use of this so-called "Natural Law" philosophy to judicially outlaw abortion, homosexual sex, same-sex marriage, divorce, Social Security, Medicare, Child Labor Laws, Minimum Wage Laws, women's right to own property, etc., by claiming that this "Natural Law" isn't religious.

But what if Natural Law philosophy, despite the word "natural" in the name, really is religious, and deeply so, just like Aristotle's treatise on metaphysics is misleadingly misnamed and is really a treatise on theology

So, that's why this sometimes matter to me. 

But I guess I should try to be Stoic, or Epicurean, and just go with the flow and accept the Fate that unfolds on the national scale.

In the hurly-burly world of high stakes power politics, no one gives a darn about the finer points of philosophy.

No U.S. Senator asked Amy Comey Barrett about her commitment to Natural Law philosophy in her Senate confirmation hearings. 

Edited by The Laws of Biology
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

In the first century CE, an editor put togheter a few fragments of Aristotle into the treatise now known as Metaphysics. The word means 'after the Physics' (the Physics was another of Aristotle's works). It does not mean 'beyond physics', but the order of study within the curriculum, i.e. that the study of nature comes before. Though the proper hierarchy is obviously metaphysics first, since the study of nature relies on its assumptions.

Colloquially, 'metaphysical' is used to describe the occult and matters of the supernatural, but that is not what the term means in philosophy. There are naturalistic metaphysics that reject the supernatural, and also many mystical metaphysics.

To illustrate what metaphysics means, take this statement of yours:

What is presupposed by it? That the world is the way it is, independently of people's knowledge. What is true, was true before B.D. (before Darwin), it's just that people only started being clued on it in the A.D (after Darwin). This is an instance of the law of identity, a part of metaphysics. Are you, then, relying on B.D superstition to discredit B.D superstition?

I assume that the biology of philosophy means: for what survival and reproduction purpose does philosophy occur in living organisms; and how does this play out? If so, that's not a question for philosophy, but for science.

Say a bird suddenly develops reason, but does not shed its programming, which dictates it must build nests. Such a creature would have the ability to obtain a much better and safer type of shelter, but its programming would force it to backwards-rationalise reasons to keep the nest situation, even if it means obfuscating the truth. This is because its survival strategy is hard coded into its nervous system, and is inflexible.

This seems to be the trend in modern views of human nature. Many scientists do not clearly delineate the difference between need (food, reproduction), instincts (such as nest-building) and biological features (e.g. high calorie foods tasting better). It's not metaphysics that needs to catch up to biology. It's advocates of evo psy et. al who need a tighter grasp of logic.

I found this comment to be very interesting and thought-provoking in many ways. It will certain influence my ongoing research. Thanks. 

This discussion forum is valuable because the people who participate here tend to be very well educated in one or more systems or schools of philosophy.

Edited by The Laws of Biology
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1 hour ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Therefore, I now think there is some validity and value in this observation: "super+natural" is very similar to "beyond+physics."

I was addressing the origin of the name, not of the science (Aristotle didn't originate metaphysics). The first metaphysician in the western tradition was likely Anaximander. The SEP article on metaphysics suggests Andronicus of Rhodes as "in all probability" the originator of the term.

As I said, opinions in metaphysics range from naturalism to full blown mysticism.

---

To add to the biology - metaphysics connection, let's imagine that Homo Sapiens has evolved an innate biological instinct of procuring as much meat as possible. A biological adaptation occurs, namely a science called 'meatosophy'. The function of this science is not truth, but helping people persuade or trick other people into giving away their meat supply.

What does this theory entail, metaphysically?

Existence: there is something, as against nothing. Identity: biological theories can be true, even if theologians disagree. Causality: biological organisms act in ways which further their survival and reproduction. 

This tongue-in-cheek example illustrates how the philosophical approach works, more or less. You are already operating under a metaphysical framework, whether you argue for nihilism or the best TV drama. And this fundamentality to human cognition or living is what makes it philosophy, not physics or biology.

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9 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

I was addressing the origin of the name, not of the science (Aristotle didn't originate metaphysics). The first metaphysician in the western tradition was likely Anaximander. The SEP article on metaphysics suggests Andronicus of Rhodes as "in all probability" the originator of the term.

As I said, opinions in metaphysics range from naturalism to full blown mysticism.

---

To add to the biology - metaphysics connection, let's imagine that Homo Sapiens has evolved an innate biological instinct of procuring as much meat as possible. A biological adaptation occurs, namely a science called 'meatosophy'. The function of this science is not truth, but helping people persuade or trick other people into giving away their meat supply.

What does this theory entail, metaphysically?

Existence: there is something, as against nothing. Identity: biological theories can be true, even if theologians disagree. Causality: biological organisms act in ways which further their survival and reproduction. 

This tongue-in-cheek example illustrates how the philosophical approach works, more or less. You are already operating under a metaphysical framework, whether you argue for nihilism or the best TV drama. And this fundamentality to human cognition or living is what makes it philosophy, not physics or biology.

There are many profound, true, insightful, and helpful points made in this comment above. Thank you.

But perhaps I can be forgiven if I pivot to another angle: Why does metaphysics matter?

I hypothesize, based on biological science, that some people care so much about abstruse topics like metaphysics, and the Western Philosophical Tradition in general, because, in the final analysis, "all philosophy is political philosophy."

In other words, all philosophy, I'm proposing, is ultimately about who gets to be the boss in society. I.e., who gets to rule over whom. Who has to clean the toilets in the office building, and who gets to sit in the spacious corner office overlooking the park below having a servant bring in lattes and croissants. 

Am I proposing a Socialist perspective? All Socialism is science-denialism, in my view.

As I see it, I am proposing a scientific Biological perspective, based on the writings of Charles Darwin. 

I Googled this phrase in quotation marks: "all philosophy is political philosophy" and I got some interesting results. The philosopher Leo Strauss was in several of the search results on the first page.

Also on the first page was this statement:

“Sandel [goes to] the heart of the epistemological confusions inherent in modern philosophical liberalism…. The real consequence of Sandel’s argument is…to reassert [the] fundamental lesson…that at the heart of all philosophy is political philosophy."

Sandel, whose views are being summarized in that quote, is a professor at Harvard University, Michael J. Sandel. 

Of course, none of that proves anything. In these brief comments, I'm doing all that can be done in this context: indicate, suggest, propose, etc.

People (me included) have such passionate interest in things like metaphysics because metaphysics is ultimately a tool or weapon used by Homo Sapiens in what Darwin called the "struggle for life." Everything in this perspective is about the struggle to survive and reproduce. This is a scientific theory with a great deal of evidence in its favor.

The point is: Science explains philosophy. Phllosophy does not explain science. 

Philosophy is still a necessary aspect of human psychological and sociological functioning, just as it was in the days of Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Washington, Jefferson. Lincoln, Lenin, Mao, Castro, and Trump. That's because Homo Sapiens haven't changed much or at all in terms of the evolution of the human brain in the last several thousand years. 

But there was one big change in the development of human intellectual culture: The modern scientific method was developed, beginning about the time of Galileo. And that method led to Darwin's epoch changing discoveries about the nature of all biological beings. 

And so, biology (actually, its sub-disciplines, psychology and sociology) explains philosophy. Philosophy does not explain biology.

None of this perspective is original to me. None of it. I have gotten all of this from professional philosophers and scientists, whose names would be a burden to track down and cite. But all this information is out there. For example, Ernest Becker and Terror Management Theory seem to have a lot of explanatory power.

But why do I bother to post information about this perspective on websites like this?

Ah, good question!

I could congratulate and valorize myself by saying something like "I love the truth and want the truth to be known."

But would that be the truth (reality)?

Of course not!

That's the sort of thing Evangelical Christians say or Jehovah's Witnesses say when they are trying to convert me and you over to their belief system.

Sometimes I tell myself that maybe, maybe, the realities described in the old Roman sayings, "Homo homini lupus" (man is wolf to man) and "Libido Dominandi" (the Will to Dominate) could be less prevalent in the present-day world if more people understood the solid science that explains human thought and behavior. 

Yeah, I guess that's my reason.

I want to survive. I want human civilization and culture (all the art! all the music! Beethoven! Michelangelo! Shakespeare! Peanut butter! "Citizen Kane") to survive. I want children to still play in kindergartens! So, I imagine my personal survival and the survival of the whole human "world" can be better secured if more people understood the solid science that explains human thought and behavior. 

But, most of the time I know that's a pipe dream, a fantasy, a delusion. Why so?

Because few people have any interest in understanding the solid science that explains human thought and behavior. And even worse, such understanding does not substantially change human though or behavior. We are too animalistic. The ancients (Socrates, Aristotle) had their own delusion, which was that "Reason" (rationality) could be used by humans to totally control their own behavior and the behavior of societies. 

Well, in a roundabout way, I have here suggested a scientific perspective about what "metaphysics" and "philosophy" really are. A part of me hopes that such scientific knowledge can save the world. But a bigger part of me knows better. Alas!

The logic of all of this is why Sigmund Freud expressed such pessimism in his book "Civilization and Its Discontents."

The logic of all this is well expressed in the movie written by Rod Serling (of "Twilight Zone" fame) and by Michael Wilson (an accomplished screenwriter who was blacklisted for Communist activities). The movie? The 1968 "Planet of the Apes." The ape character in that movie who is named Dr. Zaius is given lines of dialogue that provide what I regard as realistic and accurate commentary and perspective on science, religion, history, and philosophy. Dr. Zaius is really the hero of the story, albeit a tragic hero. Who is the villain/antagonist? I don't want to give away the big secret of the movie!

In my heart of hearts I know that, in these days of relative peace, law and order, and liberty in the USA, people should ignore all these terrible and scary issues, and should just be productive in honest work, make money, enjoy spending money, enjoy relationships with family and friends, live, grow old, and die (ideally with as little pain as possible). Worrying about the end of civilization, and worrying about the role of religion and philosophy in causing or preventing the end of the world, won't accomplish a thing! I know that's the approach I should take! With apologies to Zola, I say, "Je m'accuse!"

 

 

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11 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

As I said, opinions in metaphysics range from naturalism to full blown mysticism.

Yes. This a very important and valid point, one that I think calls forth serious consideration, investigation, and examination. 

I noticed there is an article titled "Metaphysical Naturalism" in Wikipedia. The same topic seems to be covered in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in an article titled "Naturalism." 

For what's it's worth, here's my preliminary idea of why people speak of their being theological (supernatural; divine; mystical) metaphysical theories and there also being secular (natural; non-theological) metaphysical theories

I hypothesize that all metaphysical theories were originally theological. Notice that Aristotle never used the word "metaphysics" to refer to his metaphysics. Rather, he used the word "theology." 

Eventually, there arose opponents to religion. They no longer wanted their nations to be run by priests and theologians or by kings who were under the influence or control of priests and theologicans.

So, they countered religious metaphysics with naturalistic metaphysics. And, it worked!

At one time every nation in Western Civilization had and enforced laws against blasphemy. But now none do! So, the proponents of naturalistic metaphysics achieved their political goal. (Religion did not come to an end. But religion's control over politics, economics, and culture was greatly diminished.)

But, in my view, they ignored or hid, for valid, defensible, pragmatic political purposes, the fact that there is a contradiction and incoherence in the concept of naturalistic metaphysics. It's the same contradiction that is more apparent in the phrase "Naturalistic Supernaturalism."

In other words, I propose that all metaphysics is supernatural in nature.

It is far, far beyond the scope of brief comments like this to prove such a hypothesis. I think this hypothesis has been written about at length by a number of professional philosophers, but forgive me if I don't footnote this comment. 

Yes, whether or not metaphysics is inherently and intrinsically supernatural/theological is the issue. I think it is an issue worth investigating.

I well realize that there are HUGE numbers of living professional philosophers who do NOT express in their writings the view that metaphysics is inherently and intrinsically supernatural/theological. The vast majority are in this camp, I imagine. And historically speaking, the same is true, I imagine. 

Still, Aristotle opens his treatise on the subject he called "Theology" (the treatise that is commonly and confusingly called "Metaphysics") with the line: "All men by nature desire to know." 

Fox Mulder had that poster in office which said "I want to believe." By contrast, others say "I want to know."

Edited by The Laws of Biology
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2 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

Science explains philosophy. Phllosophy does not explain science. 

Which science, do you hold, explains philosophy? 

Why do you hold that philosophy does not weigh in on science?

Have you considered the possibility that philosophy may be a science?

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4 hours ago, The Laws of Biology said:

But perhaps I can be forgiven if I pivot to another angle: Why does metaphysics matter?

The answer is readily available to anyone. To live, we can't escape making judgements. What should I eat, what should I do this weekend, why is some people's behaviour the way it is? You mentioned that you want to flesh out some theories in the future, so let's go with that.

We want to know whether our theories are certain, or, only plausible. Or not plausible at all. So we need a study-aid, a method to help us validate the theory.

This method helps us avoid errors. Cusation vs. correlation, using a certain word but meaning something different, straw manning when referring to other people's theories etc.

This is logic and epistemology. They are useful for any theory, any judgement, about anything. They are the province of philosophy.

Now let's say that some philosophers with PhD's from the Catholic University of Divine Studies read your book, and come to your book launch event. In the Q & A section, they mention things like this:

"Well, all of this is perfectly logical. And I can't spot any methodological erros either. But, on what ground is logic supposed to be an infallible authority? If you try to prove logic, the proof is circular: you prove logic by means of logic. See? And Kant showed how reason can disprove God, and also fully prove God - so logic can prove anything you want. Plus, we don't see reality as it is, because it's filtered through our five senses. What if God is behind those filters?..."

Now, if you know metaphysics and epistemology, you know how to refute this, and the million other objections raised throughout the history of thought. You can't do a science experiment to show that the senses are valid - you have to use your eyeballs to see the results. So you're stuck with concluding (internally) 'Well, I guess I can't be 100% certain. But I'll go with the sciency camp because unlike theology, it has shown great results in other realms, like technology". Under this situation, it would be a miracle if anyone would prefer objectivity to simply a hobbyist-kind of stacking the deck, as you mentioned.

The Copenhagen interpretation, evo psy, Chomsky's theories and so on, are examples of what happens when people do not have a firm grasp of proper epistemology and metaphysics.

In every day and age, we need guidance on how to dissect an idea without appeals to its pedigree. If you told me that the science whose topic is causality and the law of identity was originated by the Sumer civilization as a means to develop magic spells to control nature, I would never say 'well, time to drop causality'. It would not make a damn difference regarding the function of metaphysics for human cognition, not to mention holding an accurate view of it. Anybody can pick this post, or any other post in this thread, and show how the claims contained inside are grounded on metaphysical assumptions.

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49 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

The answer is readily available to anyone. To live, we can't escape making judgements. What should I eat, what should I do this weekend, why is some people's behaviour the way it is? You mentioned that you want to flesh out some theories in the future, so let's go with that.

We want to know whether our theories are certain, or, only plausible. Or not plausible at all. So we need a study-aid, a method to help us validate the theory.

This method helps us avoid errors. Cusation vs. correlation, using a certain word but meaning something different, straw manning when referring to other people's theories etc.

This is logic and epistemology. They are useful for any theory, any judgement, about anything. They are the province of philosophy.

Now let's say that some philosophers with PhD's from the Catholic University of Divine Studies read your book, and come to your book launch event. In the Q & A section, they mention things like this:

"Well, all of this is perfectly logical. And I can't spot any methodological erros either. But, on what ground is logic supposed to be an infaillble authority? If you try to prove logic, the proof is circular: you prove logic by means of logic. See? And Kant showed how reason can disprove God, and also fully prove God - so logic can prove anything you want. Plus, we don't see reality as it is, because it's filtered through our five senses. What if God is behind those filters?..."

Now, if you know metaphysics and epistemology, you know how to refute this, and the million other objections raised throughout the history of thought. You can't do a science experiment to show that the senses are valid - you have to use your eyeballs to see the results. So you're stuck with concluding (internally) 'Well, I guess I can't be 100% certain. But I'll go with the sciency camp because unlike theology, it has shown great results in other realms, like technology". Under this situation, it would be a miracle if anyone would prefer objectivity to simply a hobbyist-kind of stacking the deck, as you mentioned.

The Copenhagen interpretation, evo psy, Chomsky's theories and so on, are examples of what happens when people do not have a firm grasp of proper epistemology and metaphysics.

In every day and age, we need guidance on how to dissect an idea without appeals to its pedigree. If you told me that the science whose topic is causality and the law of identity was originated by the Sumer civilization as a means to develop magic spells to control nature, I would never say 'well, time to drop causality'. It would not make a damn difference regarding the function of metaphysics for human cognition, not to mention holding an accurate view of it. Anybody can pick this post, or any other post in this thread, and show how the claims contained inside are grounded on metaphysical assumptions.

Well said.

Before I say anymore, I see that I should obtain a genuine and thorough education in the subjects traditionally called, within the Western Philosophical tradition, Metaphysics and Epistemology . I need to stop proposing my initial impressions. I am acting like a philosophica impressionist, like a philosophical Monet or a philosophical Renoir, with everything painted in a fuzzy, hazy manner. What's the good of that? Nothing. So, off I go to my studies! Thank you.

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Which science, do you hold, explains philosophy? 

Why do you hold that philosophy does not weigh in on science?

Have you considered the possibility that philosophy may be a science?

Very good questions.

Before I say anymore, I see that I should obtain a genuine and thorough education in the subjects traditionally called, within the Western Philosophical tradition, Metaphysics and Epistemology . I need to stop proposing questions and dispensing my initial impressions as answers. I am acting like a philosophica impressionist, like a philosophical Monet or a philosophical Renoir, with everything painted in a fuzzy, hazy manner. What's the good of that? Nothing. I do like the impressionist paintings, but I don't see them as providing any objective knowledge about reality or objective guidance for living. They are just pretty pictures, in my estimation. 

So, off I go to my studies! 

I respect and admire the philosophy of Objectivism. I appreciate the high level of philosophical competence among Objectivists. 

Thank you. 

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