Ways of existing?

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Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 01:14 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;150477 wrote:
Not at all. It is a distaste for the prevailing culture generally, which is consumerist, scientistic, materialistic and generally anti-spiritual. As you acknowledged in one of our previous dialogues, the overwhelming majority of academics in all kinds of disciplines are generally atheists. I am not opposed to atheism from the viewpoint of Christian evangelism. I am opposed to it because it is based on a general outlook which I regard as materialist. I know there are many individual philosophers who don't subscribe to those views, but I think that the majority do.


We've already been over this. ALL of your arguments against the Western Philosophical Tradition are AD HOMINEMS. You attack the person, and then blame the discipline. That's illogical. To be consistent you need to start faulting every other discipline such as mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry--since atheism predominates everywhere in academia. Philosophy always goes through transitions, so who cares.

I am confident you don't even understand what materialism is today in philosophy. It is also coupled with a strong Idealist bent. And your views actually fit right in. Materialists today take a purely anti-realist stance toward whether science has anything to do with the truth about the world at all: most of them say scientific theories are literally false, idealistic, and purely instrumental devices for prediction and control. They deny objectivity in exchange for pragmatic consensus, and find nothing inherently problematic about that. They deny objective moral truth exists, and most of them are cultural relativists of some sort.....

jeeprs;150477 wrote:
Actually, I was thinking of Trial of Galileo for heresy, and his subsequent house arrest and forced recantation of those elements of his discoveries that were thought to be in contradiction of Holy Writ. It is a fact that an apology of sorts was only offered for this by Pope John Paul II in the early 80's (I think it was). I do understand that the circumstances surrounding the issue are considerably more nuanced than many will allow.


huh??? Oh, I see. Next, you're going to give me a fashionable, but false, bumper sticker line like "When religion ruled the world the called it the dark ages," right? The Church was the only surviving institution that kept learning alive back then, while Europe was being ransacked by barbarian hordes from every direction--and any atheist historian will tell you that. The Church has never been opposed to science and philosophy. Never. In fact, the entire historical tradition of the Church the past 2000 years proves otherwise.

Read the context back then concerning Galileo. It was his own fault. There was no "direct challenge to Holy Writ." There never has been anything contained in Church doctrine stating that people have to believe in the Geocentric theory of the solar system anyway. It was Galileo himself who made the controversy a theological matter; the church didn't care. The Church had no problems with the investigations of scientists concerning the Copernican and Ptolemaic models of the solar system. In fact, you can even find historical records of Church authorities encouraging the debate--that is, until Galileo had to make such a purely theological fuss about an unsupported astronomical theory.

So it wasn't Galileo's actual views that were problematic. The problem was that Galileo wouldn't keep his mouth shut because he wouldn't stop fanatically preaching a new theory all over Europe that wasn't well-supported at all. He continued to directly confront Rome itself, make fun of the Pope, and insisted on pushing his quasi-scientific views into theological realms about scripture and tradition. The Church didn't push the controversy; Galileo did. The Church simply didn't care.

Whether or not the New Copernican model of the solar system was correct was already very debatable, and Galileo simply did not have enough evidence which decided that dispute. Galileo's own theory could not explain much that wasn't already explained by the older Ptolemaic Model. In fact, Tycho Brahe and other of Galileo's colleagues were huge opponents of Galileo's view because the Older Model was explanatorily more powerful and accounted for a wider range of celestial and terrestrial phenomena that the new Copernican model couldn't explain at all....It wasn't as if Galileo had some priviledged access to the evidence from his telescope which everyone lacked. It's rather that people could explain that evidence in better ways with the older system than with the new one, just as we see scientists today dismissing any new unsupported revolutionary idea that pretends to challenge the prevailing well-established theory.

So instead of being the cool-headed scientist he should have been, Galileo was a fanatic who continued to directly challenge the Pope himself, and he went around Europe vociferously preaching that everyone should be abandoning the old model and accept his own unsupported new quasi-scientific idea. He was warned several times to stop inciting everyone. So it eventually came down to the fact that the Church literally had to silence him because he wouldn't shut up.

I learned all this from an atheist professor of the Philosophy of Science, btw...

jeeprs;150477 wrote:
But I believe that at the time of the original Council of Nicea and the formation of the early Church, many 'sapiential' elements in early Christianity were suppressed along with Gnosticism, and a literalist interpretation of Scripture adopted, among many other things which has had disastrous consequences for the development of religious doctrine in the West. (See, e.g., When Jesus became God, Richard E Rubinstein.)


Most of the extant gnostic texts (if not all of them) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls were development 200 to 300 years later after the Church fathers had been writing on these matters. These texts didn't have "disastorous developments" for doctrine. They were all forgeries! The Church never once even seriously considered these texts as authentic, because they weren't. Arianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Manicheaism, NeoPlatonism, etc,...were bastardizations of the original message handed down through tradition and teaching. The Church simply had to finally make it clear to everyone in the Later Councils what its position was regarding the Truth about Christ because of the rampant religious pluralism of the day. Why should error about the Truth of Christ be tolerated anyway? I sure don't tolerate it, just as I don't tolerate the alleged "new and liberally improved" politically correct Jesus I see people like John Shelby Sponge proposing. All this is just the same old Gnosticism all over again the Church dealt with 1700 years ago. So I don't find any of this problematic for the Church.

(Rubinstein is just one "historian," and obviously the title is biased. And there sure is not any consensus at all about these matters among historians.)

jeeprs;150477 wrote:
In any case, it is indisputable that the construction of religion in the western world has led to a divorce of science and religion, whether you like it or not. This is not my invention.


Oh, please. Yes, it is your invention, and it's an unsupported completely non-historical urban myth you picked up from pop-culture and the mass media concerning the recent evolution/ID issue encountered in the past century. Do I really need to send you a list of all the scientists throughout recent history who were religious? I don't see any evidence for this other than some crazy fanatics here and there challenging that evolution should be taught in public schools, or the very few conservative Muslim groups in the world who actually fly planes into buildings. But there doesn't exist some kind massive affront coming from "Western Religion"--whatever that is. Evolution is totally consistent with Catholic doctrine, I hope you know--and I know many Catholics who believe it (including priests). I'm not sure what I believe, but I certainly don't find science a threat to my own beliefs. There's not a "science vs. religion" debate at all. Only the uneducated make it that way, including uneducated atheists and religious fanatics alike.

In any case, evolution itself is problematic, anyway, and it is arguable whether anything about it is scientific at all. Many mainstream physicists throw it out as a science because they think there is nothing testable about it at all--which there isn't. And I even know a published atheist philosopher named Brad Monton, who specializes in probability theory and thinks ID is the better of the two competing theories on the matter about the origins of species. So I get tired of this "black and white" stamp people put on things. Only the simple-minded describe things in "absolutes" concerning the alleged "conflict" between science and religion. The alleged debate is simply not there, and I wish people would let it go.

jeeprs;150477 wrote:
Something is seriously amiss in Western culture in this whole area. In fact I don't understand what you are defending, and what you think I am criticizing.


I am not defending "Western Culture." I think most of it is amiss too. I am only defending Western Philosophy and Western Religion as a whole which you repeatedly attack. You are clearly ethnocentrically biased, and it is because of your own Westernized-Eastern views.

jeeprs;150477 wrote:
That is a good question.It is a question that should be asked, and all I am really doing is encouraging people to ask that question. There is not a myriad. There are many schools, and nowadays quite a few people trying to develop businesses in the area, but if you study the field, there are some standouts and well established traditions, across a wide range of cultures. I am not pushing any particular school, but have already declared my allegiance with Mahayana Buddhism.


Your own private allegiances are fine. Just know that when your allegiances cause you to ad hominem an entire academic field of study, I will point that out because your strawman attacks are fallacies.

I am upset because you attack my very own profession. If you had people on this forum condemning "Eastern Philosophy" as a whole, without giving any of it consideration, you'd be upset too.

Honestly, Jeeprs? In spite of your attempts to maintain a clear and open mind about matters, I haven't seen anyone in this forum yet speak in such ethnocentrically biased generalities about entire groups of people. You might want to check that out. You might try a little "mindful awareness" before you gloss and whitewash entire fields of study without having any knowledge of it yourself. [/QUOTE]

---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 01:49 AM ----------

Sorry, I just can't stand hearing this same old thing about Galileo being brought up by people.

So, Here's More on Galileo:

Centuries earlier, Aristotle had refuted heliocentricity, and by Galileo's time, nearly every major thinker subscribed to a geocentric view. Copernicus refrained from publishing his heliocentric theory for some time, not out of fear of censure from the Church, but out of fear of ridicule from his colleagues.

Many people wrongly believe Galileo proved heliocentricity. He could not answer the strongest argument against it, which had been made nearly two thousand years earlier by Aristotle: If heliocentrism were true, then there would be observable parallax shifts in the stars' positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun. However, given the technology of Galileo's time, no such shifts in their positions could be observed. It would require more sensitive measuring equipment than was available in Galileo's day to document the existence of these shifts, given the stars' great distance. Until then, the available evidence suggested that the stars were fixed in their positions relative to the earth, and, thus, that the earth and the stars were not moving in space-only the sun, moon, and planets were.

Thus Galileo did not prove the theory by the Aristotelian standards of science in his day. In his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina and other documents, Galileo claimed that the Copernican theory had the "sensible demonstrations" needed according to Aristotelian science, but most knew that such demonstrations were not yet forthcoming. Most astronomers in that day were not convinced of the great distance of the stars that the Copernican theory required to account for the absence of observable parallax shifts. This is one of the main reasons why the respected astronomer Tycho Brahe refused to adopt Copernicus fully.

Galileo could have safely proposed heliocentricity as a theory or a method to more simply account for the planets' motions. His problem arose when he stopped proposing it as a scientific theory and began proclaiming it as truth, though there was no conclusive proof of it at the time. Even so, Galileo would not have been in so much trouble if he had chosen to stay within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology. But, despite his friends' warnings, he insisted on moving the debate onto theological grounds.

"During this period, personal interpretation of Scripture was a sensitive subject. In the early 1600s, the Church had just been through the Reformation experience, and one of the chief quarrels with Protestants was over individual interpretation of the Bible.

Theologians were not prepared to entertain the heliocentric theory based on a layman's interpretation. Yet Galileo insisted on moving the debate into a theological realm. There is little question that if Galileo had kept the discussion within the accepted boundaries of astronomy (i.e., predicting planetary motions) and had not claimed physical truth for the heliocentric theory, the issue would not have escalated to the point it did. After all, he had not proved the new theory beyond reasonable doubt.


Galileo "Confronts" Rome


Galileo came to Rome to see Pope Paul V (1605-1621). The pope, weary of controversy, turned the matter over to the Holy Office, which issued a condemnation of Galileo's theory in 1616. Things returned to relative quiet for a time, until Galileo forced another showdown.

At Galileo's request, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit-one of the most important Catholic theologians of the day-issued a certificate that, although it forbade Galileo to hold or defend the heliocentric theory, did not prevent him from conjecturing it. When Galileo met with the new pope, Urban VIII, in 1623, he received permission from his longtime friend to write a work on heliocentrism, but the new pontiff cautioned him not to advocate the new position, only to present arguments for and against it. When Galileo wrote the Dialogue on the Two World Systems, he used an argument the pope had offered, and placed it in the mouth of his character Simplicio. Galileo, perhaps inadvertently, made fun of the pope, a result that could only have disastrous consequences. Urban felt mocked and could not believe how his friend could disgrace him publicly. Galileo had mocked the very person he needed as a benefactor. He also alienated his long-time supporters, the Jesuits, with attacks on one of their astronomers. The result was the infamous trial, which is still heralded as the final separation of science and religion.


Tortured for His Beliefs?


In the end, Galileo recanted his heliocentric teachings, but it was not-as is commonly supposed-under torture nor after a harsh imprison- ment. Galileo was, in fact, treated surprisingly well.

As historian Giorgio de Santillana, who is not overly fond of the Catholic Church, noted, "We must, if anything, admire the cautiousness and legal scruples of the Roman authorities." Galileo was offered every convenience possible to make his imprisonment in his home bearable.

Galileo's friend Nicolini, Tuscan ambassador to the Vatican, sent regular reports to the court regarding affairs in Rome. Many of his letters dealt with the ongoing controversy surrounding Galileo.

Nicolini revealed the circumstances surrounding Galileo's "imprisonment" when he reported to the Tuscan king: "The pope told me that he had shown Galileo a favor never accorded to another" (letter dated Feb. 13, 1633); " . . . he has a servant and every convenience" (letter, April 16); and "n regard to the person of Galileo, he ought to be imprisoned for some time because he disobeyed the orders of 1616, but the pope says that after the publication of the sentence he will consider with me as to what can be done to afflict him as little as possible" (letter, June 18).

Had Galileo been tortured, Nicolini would have reported it to his king. While instruments of torture may have been present during Galileo's recantation (this was the custom of the legal system in Europe at that time), they definitely were not used.

The records demonstrate that Galileo could not be tortured because of regulations laid down in The Directory for Inquisitors (Nicholas Eymeric, 1595). This was the official guide of the Holy Office, the Church office charged with dealing with such matters, and was followed to the letter.

As noted scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead remarked, in an age that saw a large number of "witches" subjected to torture and execution by Protestants in New England, "the worst that happened to the men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof." Even so, the Catholic Church today acknowledges that Galileo's condemnation was wrong. The Vatican has even issued two stamps of Galileo as an expression of regret for his mistreatment."
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 03:53 am
@kennethamy,
Very interesting and I thank you for it. Ironic that you are deploying many of the same arguments that I have done in various skirmishes over the religious implications of Darwinism. But to return to the question at hand: are there 'modes of being'? Is reality heirarchical? Are there 'higher truths' or more refined levels of reality to which the only the philosophically educated, and/or the spiritually purified, might have access. Kennethamy has already answered in the negative on these points? What is your view of it?

---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 08:08 PM ----------

Extrain;150482 wrote:
ethnocentrically biased generalities


You might care to expand on that, because it does sound rather more like an attempted insult, than a criticism, per se.

I fail to see how a position based on the idea of a 'perennial philosophy' which atttempts to encompass viewpoints drawn from various religious and philosophical traditions, can be characterised as 'ethnocentric'.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 04:35 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;150500 wrote:
Very interesting and I thank you for it. Ironic that you are deploying many of the same arguments that I have done in various skirmishes over the religious implications of Darwinism. But to return to the question at hand: are there 'modes of being'? Is reality heirarchical? Are there 'higher truths' or more refined levels of reality to which the only the philosophically educated, and/or the spiritually purified, might have access. Kennethamy has already answered in the negative on these points? What is your view of it?


As far as I can tell, I'm in agreement with Kennethamy. But I'm not sure you correctly characterized the view you think he is actually abandoning. I get what he is attempting to say....

I just don't think there is anything elitist about "truth." Funny, that even sounds just like a gnostic idea itself. If anybody should be a gnostic, it should be me. Plato is one of my favorites, but I deny gnosticism through and through precisely because of its elitism. (FYI, I don't think Plato would ever have endorsed the later "Neo" platonism that came along in Hellenistic Greece from people like Plotinus...plato was not a "mystic.")


jeeprs;150500 wrote:
You might care to expand on that, because it does sound rather more like an attempted insult, than a criticism, per se.
I fail to see how a position based on the idea of a 'perennial philosophy' which atttempts to encompass viewpoints drawn from various religious and philosophical traditions, can be characterised as 'ethnocentric'.


But it is ethnocentric. It's the "new and improved" quasi-Eastern attempt to unite the pluralism of our now global world culture into one common religion by ignoring differences, while whitewashing the uniqueness of each piece in the mosaic which only succeeds in destroying the pluralistic masterpiece that is already there right in front of you.

You lose so much by doing that, and I think it is consequence of a failure to be open-minded about the real distinctions that are already there. There is something very misguided and shallow about that, yet also secretly tyrannical in the attempt to impose your own view on others as if you already understood each particular view in its entirety--for that is exactly the presupposition you are making, are you not? if you think disparate things can be "combined"?

Campbell tried to do it, which is precisely why I find his views quite boring and unilluminating, actually. It's like trying to interface Da Vinci's Last Supper with a painting by Jackson Pollock. You lose the value of both, because they are inherently different expressions of the different aspects of the human being.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 05:03 am
@kennethamy,
Back to the case in point, though. Herewith a very brief summary of the Platonic epistemology:

Types of knowledge in Platonism

1. Philosophical knowledge (noesis) Forms, Form of the Good

2. Mathematical knowledge (dianoia) Number, geometric order

3. Beliefs about physical things (pistis), Scientific knowledge, knowledge of physical objects

4. Opinions, illusions (eikasia), shadows, illusions, things with no actual being

Now for the definition of 'noesis' again from Wikipedia:

Quote:
Now you say that "Plato is one of your favourites" but on the other hand that "you refuse to be elitist about truth".

So a couple of observations.

Do you think there is anything in the Platonic epistemology? Do you think there really is, or isn't, a "noesis" which corresponds with "the realm of forms"? Does it have any actual meaning outside the museum of thought?

Second, if you refuse to be elitist about truth, then I am afraid there is no hope for you in the Academy! Plato was unabashedly aristocratic in this regard. He felt that very few had the aptitude, or the interest, to really reach this plane of "noesis" which was the basis of all of the "first principles" of philosophy. This is one of the reasons that Popper attacked Plato as an enemy of "the open society".

Where, do you think, is the notion of "Noesis" preserved in the modern philosophical lexicon? If indeed the modern worldview maintains the idea that there are levels of reality, or realms of being, and types of knowledge that correspond with them, then please tell me where to find it. I read assiduously.

---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 09:08 PM ----------

As to Plato not being a mystic, and Plotinus not representing Platonism, both these statements are completely wrong, I am sure. Please refer to The Shape of Ancient Thought by Thomas McEvilly for more detail. (I might quote some passages on these points later, but have other business to attend to meanwhile.)
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 05:26 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;150507 wrote:
Back to the case in point, though. Herewith a very brief summary of the Platonic epistemology:

Types of knowledge in Platonism

1. Philosophical knowledge (noesis) Forms, Form of the Good

2. Mathematical knowledge (dianoia) Number, geometric order

3. Beliefs about physical things (pistis), Scientific knowledge, knowledge of physical objects

4. Opinions, illusions (eikasia), shadows, illusions, things with no actual being

Now for the definition of 'noesis' again from Wikipedia:

Now you say that "Plato is one of your favourites" but on the other hand that "you refuse to be elitist about truth".

So a couple of observations.

Do you think there is anything in the Platonic epistemology? Do you think there really is, or isn't, a "noesis" which corresponds with "the realm of forms"? Does it have any actual meaning outside the museum of thought?

Second, if you refuse to be elitist about truth, then I am afraid there is no hope for you in the Academy! Plato was unabashedly aristocratic in this regard. He felt that very few had the aptitude, or the interest, to really reach this plane of "noesis" which was the basis of all of the "first principles" of philosophy. This is one of the reasons that Popper attacked Plato as an enemy of "the open society".

Where, do you think, is the notion of "Noesis" preserved in the modern philosophical lexicon? If indeed the modern worldview maintains the idea that there are levels of reality, or realms of being, and types of knowledge that correspond with them, then please tell me where to find it. I read assiduously.


huh? Actually, Platonic inluence is everywhere in Academia in spite of what you may think, and in spite of some people like Quine or Rorty who denounce it...see these Stanford articles about it, for instance:

Platonism in the Philosophy of Mathematics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Platonism in Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Did you know that Frege is often heralded as the number one Platonist of this century?? But I don't think you can see that because you have too often expressed that analytic philosophy is contrary to the "spirit" of real Platonism.

So I wouldn't exactly be taking a Wiki source on this stuff as the complete picture. I strongly suggest accessing the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy online instead. For instance, what does "Russian" philosophy have to do with anything? Maybe the quote is just out of context.

And though Plato was "aristocratic" in his thinking (since he did, after all, give philosopher-kings the position of authority in his Utopian State), I just don't think there is anything about "truth" that should be reserved only for a select class of people. That's where I would differ with plato.
Plato was clear about the fact that people employ these Forms of Knowledge/Being in their everyday thinking, they just don't always know exactly what it is that they are implicitly "using" in everyday discourse. But that doesn't matter.

Most people are not philosophers "by bent" anyway. But that doesn't mean they don't understand what is Right, Good, and True. Of course they do. Plato's elitism, in this regard, can "take a hike" I guess.

I agree with Noesis as the fundamental source of all knowledge, but I certainly don't think people are incapable of accessing it at all. And I think you may not really understand what Noesis means for Plato. You seem to think it is some kind of "rational intuitive insight" independent of dialectical reasoning. But it is not. I look at Plato the same way I see Frege. They both tried to get at the pure forms of thought in all human thinking by employing strict logical methods to arrive at these pure forms of thought. Read Frege's The Thought. Great piece.....I consider Kant Platonist in spirit, too. That's exactly what the Critique is all about.

All these philosophers were lovers of Rationality, Logic, and well-Structured Thought. They are more like mathematicians than mystics. And I can tell you don't quite get that. But that's fine...

I don't particularly know who that author was you mentioned, or whether that person has any credentials...but I will say this:

Platonism is NOT NEOPLATONISM.

I only see similarities. But Plato was definitely a through and through rigorously Rationalist Philosopher on the same lines as Kant and Frege later. Plotinus and the Neoplatonists only expounded on Plato's ideas and represented what Copleston called "the intellectual's cry for salvation."

Have you ever sat down with these guys and compared Plato and Plotinus at length? They are drastically different philosophers. The difference between the two philosophies is analogous to the difference between Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Deepak Chopra's personalized mystic theosophy.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 05:33 am
@kennethamy,
You condescension is irritating, but one has to learn not to be annoyed by these things. You seem to construe every conversation as a chance to start an argument - but then as you seem to take such delight in 'being right' I suppose all of us ignorant yokels should indulge you and be grateful for the opportunity of being sneered at.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 05:39 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;150511 wrote:
You condescension is irritating, but one has to learn not to be annoyed by these things. You seem to construe every conversation as a chance to start an argument - but then as you seem to take such delight in 'being right' I suppose all of us ignorant yokels should indulge you and be grateful for the opportunity of being sneered at.


Quite honestly, I guess I just lose my own patience time and again because I see so much misuse of philosophers by those who attribute views to them they didn't actually hold. This results from people reading poorly formulated second-rate views on the subject instead of taking the time to investigate the primary source documents along with the real philosophical scholarship needed to understand what it is these philosophers actually said. Charity is a necessary virtue too often overlooked by so many on this forum.

---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 06:53 AM ----------

Since I was asked, I guess I will mention it. Here is a piece of a conversation with a member from another forum I had regarding the same topic relevant to this thread.

Quote:
In general, it can be said that ... a being is greater the more being it has. Another way to say this is a thing is greater the more things it has. Here are some ways a being can possess being in varying degrees:

- Knowledge: knowledge exists and thus it is a being. The more knowledge a thing has the more being it has ... and hence the greater the being is. A thing that does not have the capacity for knowledge is hence intrinsically less in being than a thing that does have such a capacity.

- Power: This is the capacity for doing something (usually, to cause a change in something). Powers also fall under being (because they exist) and hence the more power a thing has the greater that thing is (because it would have more being).

- Action: This is operation of actually doing something (not just the capacity for it). Since actions exist and are thus beings, and since the actions of a thing are a part of that thing ... then the more actions a thing performs the more being that thing has ... and thus the greater it is. Also, a thing is greater the more things it affects, since its actions (which a part of the thing) grow greater in existence with greater number of recipients.

- Existence: Obviously (as said before) a being is greater the more it exists. An actually existing being is greater than a potentially existing being. Also, the more a thing exists throughout space and time, the greater it is, for the greater points in space and time the thing occupies, the more it can be said to exist.


Though I have a deep respect for Aristotle, this way of talking about "being" above has always disturbed me greatly since I take "being" to mean nothing but "existence." For this reason I disagree that there are "degrees" or even "kinds" of being. Existence and being I take to be a 1 or 0 kind of notion. So I have a question: do you take the meaning of "being" as completely overlapping the meaning of "existence" as I do, or are their meanings partly non-overlapping?

In direct disagreement with much existentialism and some Greek philosopy, I simply can't understand the meanings of "different ways of being" or having "more rather than less being" at all. If one object takes up a greater spatial extent than another object, it doesn't exist more than the other. It simply occupies a greater number of spatial points; the object doesn't have more existence than the other object. If I have more knowledge than my friend, my knowledge doesn't exist any more than my friend's knowledge exists. I may have more knowledge than my friend, but the knowledge that I do have does not exist "more" than the existence of the knowledge that my friend has. Likewise, a locomotive train may have more power than a baseball in trajectory, but the power that the train does have does not exist more than the the existence of the power of the baseball. A greater power "exists" no more than a lesser power, even though both powers are of different degrees.

Similarly, I take the behavior of running to be different way of locomotion than walking, not a different way of being. And tables, and concepts, and words don't "exist in different ways" from eachother. They all exist, period. A table, a concept, a word are different kinds of entities, so they may have a different way of enduring, I suppose, spatio-temporally and non-spatio-temporally. But they don't have different ways of "existing." They either exist or don't exist.

Similarly, I think Hamlet does not exist. So he has no being at all. He doesn't "subsist," in some Meinongian fashion as an abstract idea, simply because Hamlet is not an idea. He is purportedly a person. And ideas are not persons.

Alot of this older way of talking seems to confuse matter rather quickly and has many unpalatable consequences for one's ontology and for quantificational logic. For instance, it introduces variety of different meanings of "Ex" in existentially quantified statements, so that saying "Hamlet exists" is just as plausible as saying "Obama exists." So we quickly get into alot of trouble if we don't have a univocal meaning of "to exist."

Quote:

Being can be subdivided into "Real Being," "Ideal Being," and "Logical Being."

"Real Being" (i.e. Reality) can be subdivided into "Actual Being" and "Possible Being."

"Ideal Being" (i.e. Ideas) can be subdivided into "Subjective Being" and "Objective Being."

In short, Possible Being and Objective Being are exactly the same ... except the former is considered as being outside the mind, whereas the latter is considered as being understood by the mind.

Also, very oftentimes, we speak of "existing things" and "real things" when we are specifically only referring to "actual things" (though possible things are also real as well ... and of course Real, Ideal, and Logical Being all exist in some sense).


"Potential" Powers:
There are really existent dispostions, or powers to do this or that, and that these latent powers are simply lacking the conditions which makes them manifest in the world around them. It is not as if they potentially exist and then become actually existent. That doesn't make sense. Rather, they've always existed, there's just no outside efficient cause that has made them kinetically interactive with the world around them.

Essences:
Why can't we just say that the object's essence is simply what an existent object is, as opposed to the "way" in which an object exists? The latter way of talking is claiming that "to be human," for instance, means "existing-humanly" as if that is what one object does to be distinguished from "existing-artifactually" as if that is what another object does such as a table, and that "existing" is what they both do differently. So this supposes there are two kinds of existence itself. Though this may sound intuitively correct to you, to me it seems plainly false. Here's why:

The vast difference between me and the table does not consist in our having vastly different sorts of being--the Heideggerian Dasein, or "that it is"--but consists rather in our having vastly different sorts of nature--Wesen, was sein, or "what it is." So existence is what both the table and I have in common, and with respect to existence, we do not differ at all--we differ only in our natures, not in our existing. If different objects had different "ways of existing" then the table and I would be differing with respect to existence itself. But this is plainly false because that we both exist is true for the both of us, while the kinds of things that we are is where we differ. So "that we exist" should be univocal, while "distinguishedly human, or distinguishedly artifactual" should be the only characteristics that make us different in kind.

I've noticed that undergraduates and continental philosophers alike will fall effortlessly into this older way of talking, and it is very difficult to convince anyone who subscribes to it that it is false--or even that it is not obviously true. But it is false. Here is at least another reason for thinking it is false. Gilbert Ryle in The Concept of Mind (1949) was one who dealt similarly with univocity of existence in manner similar to Quine (and perhaps with Carnap-style different takes on linguistic frameworks). He says:

Quote:
It is perfectly proper to speak in one logical tone of voice and that there exists minds, and in another logical tone of voice that there exists bodies. But these expressions do not indicate two different species of existence . . . They only indicate two different senses of "exist," somewhat as "rising" has different senses in "the tide is rising," "hopes are rising," and "the average age of death is rising." A man would be thought to be making a poor joke who said that three things are now rising, namely the tide, hopes and the average age of death. It would be just as good or bad a joke to say that there exist prime numbers and Wednesdays and public opinions and navies; or that there exists both minds and bodies.


Concerning Predication:

I am not saying anything new here at all. I am proposing, like Kant, to stop treating the term "to exist" as if it were a predicate at all. Quine said this: "to be" is merely to be a value of a variable in existentially quantified statements. So "x" in "Ex" merely acts as a place-holder for all objects that exist. There are only two ways we can give this idea expression: (Ex) or ~(Ex). But the quantifier and its negation are not verbs at all that are saying "to exist" or "not to-exist." This is precisely why people get confused by talking about "different ways of being." That just doesn't make any sense to me. I suppose physical objects have a different way of "enduring" than abstract conceptual entities such that one set of entities have spatial-temporal location, while the others do not, or some such thing--but I don't think whatsoever that concepts and physical objects have "different ways of being, or existing."

The copula of "predication" serves to make proposition truth-valuable, because it indicates the possession of a property by relating a the subject to a predicate. The bare copula "is" on the other hand is not even properly a copula (not in logic anyway), and cannot do anything by itself when it is conjoined with an object. It can't make an object "true." That doesn't even make any sense. How can an object be true? We require both a subject and predicate to be able to speak of anything being true; and from subjects and predicates, we construct statements, sentences, or propositions--and only propositions, sentences, and statements are the bearers of truth--not objects, not properties, not individuals.

It is only sentences and propositions that say things. Nouns don't say things; they denote objects. Predicates don't say things, they denote properties. But because existence can't be one of these predicates, then what function does "is" have? In fact, it has the most bare meaning ever, if anything. It's not a predicate, it's not a property, it's not a verb, it's not thing, it's not an entity--so what the heck is it? It's a place-holder for an existent object. For instance,

"The firetruck is red."

Red(firetruck)

R(x)

(Ex) Rx

Honestly, I don't even know how to make sense of it otherwise. For instance, how would I quantify the statement "Obama exists"??? I can't. In fact, if the name "Obama" denotes an actually existent object, then we are saying something redundant when we utter the sentence "Obama exists." We are saying "The existent entity denoted by the name 'Obama' exists," so "an existent entity exists." But this isn't saying anything about Obama that is unique or peculiar or informative at all--so it is not even truth-valuable. In fact, we are not saying anything about Obama at all. We are merely denoting an object, if that object exists, whenever we utter the name "Obama." So we need to predicate something to him such as "president of the usa" in order to say, mean, or assert anything informative at all about Obama.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 07:43 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;150477 wrote:







I would be most obliged if you could supply a reference for that. I have been looking at the online version of Summae, although I will freely admit I am not qualified to even comment on it, never having been instructed in it. But I am on safe ground saying that Thomas certainly believed in 'incorporeal beings' such as God, and angels.

Tell me how 'the existence of God' could be regarded as the same kind of thing as 'the existence of creatures', if God exists everywhere, at all times, and is not embodied? The same can be said for angels. Their 'manner of existence' surely must be radically different from that which Thomas would call 'corporeal entities', would it not?

Now analytic and modern philosophy will not try and address this question, as far as I know. Many modern philosophers will assert that God does not exist or will say that whether God exists or not is a matter of faith, not of philosophy. But if there is a modern philosophical consideration of the nature of the existence of deity or angels I would be interested to read it.



I did do some research, but I could not find the reference, but I am morally sure that Aquinas did write that. But, I don't think that who wrote it is very important. After all, I am not citing Aquinas as an authority, but only to cite a particular view. The question, it seems to me is whether the view is correct, not who expressed it. And of course Aquinas believed in God and angels. That is not the issue at all. Aquinas' point was that to say that God exists in some different sense from the ways trees or stones exist is to put His existence into question, and to begin on the road to atheism. Perhaps it would be clarifying if I distinguished between ways (manner) of existence, and the meaning of the term, "existence". If God is omnipresent (to use your example) then I can see justification for saying of Him that he exists in a different way (manner) from the way ordinary objects exist. That is a large enough difference between God and (say) a stone, to make it reasonable to talk that way. That could be an answer to the question, "How does God exist?" "He exists everywhere, his existence is different from the stone's existence". Of course that is true because God, if He exists, would be a very different kind of entity from a stone, and the difference would be great enough to justify talking about God in that way. (In the way that if unicorns exist who are creatures with magical powers, it might be justified to say they are equines, but their manner of existence, if they existed, would be very different from horses).
But talking about a different meaning (sense) of "existence" seems to me to take an additional step that is unjustified. That is partly because I think that we have a pretty good understanding of what it means to say of something, X, that it exists, and I see no reason to think that God, however different He is from mundane objects, would not exist in exactly the sense in which mundane objects exist, despite the vast difference between the way (manner) God exist, and mundane objects exist.

It is peculiar, because you resist saying that God exists as mundane objects exist because you think that talking that way reduces the difference between God and mundane objects, and might lead to unbelief in God, but the view I have ascribed to Aquinas comes from the opposite direction, and is that if God is said to exist in a different sense from the sense in which mundane objects exist, that will so increase the difference between the mundane objects and God, that it will also lead to atheism. So my proposal is that we strike an irenic (maybe ironic too) compromise, and distinguish between ways (manner) of existence, and the meaning of existence. How does that strike you?

P.S. I have just read Extrain's excellent post, above. I agree completely with him. My proposal is (I hope) complementary to his.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 07:45 am
@Extrain,
Famous Kant passages with respect to his denial that existence was a predicate:

Quote:

Being is obviously not a real predicate, i.e., a concept of something that could add to the concept of a thing. It is merely the positing of a thing or of certain determinations in themselves. [(1)] In the logical use it is merely the copula of a judgment. The proposition "God is omnipotent" contains two concepts that have their objects: God and omnipotence; the little word "is" is not a predicate in it, but only that which posits the predicate in relation to the subject. [(2)] Now if I take the subject (God) together with all his predicates (among which omnipotence belongs), and say "God is," or "there is a God," then I add no new predicate to the concept of God, but only posit the subject in itself with all its predicates, and indeed posit the object in relation to my concept. (A598/B626)


It is interesting to note that Kan't own theory of judgment (which shows up reminisciently among later philosophers and propositional logic) is so essential for having a univocal meaning of "to exist." So both in the "absolute" and "relative" sense of "to exist," neither copula is a predicate at all since all judgments involve the subject and predicate logical form. And because existence is not a predicate, therefore, no judgments can be made about a subject's "existence".

Here's the reason why:

Quote:

I ask you: is the proposition, "This or that thing exists"--is this proposition, I say, an analytic or synthetic proposition? [(1)] If it is the former, then with existence you add nothing to your thought of the thing; but then either the thought that is in you must be the thing itself, or else you have presupposed an existence as belonging to possibility, and then inferred that existence on this pretext from its inner possibility, which is nothing but a miserable tautology. The word "reality," which sounds idfferent from "existence," in the concpet of the predicate, does not settle it. For if you call all positing (leaving indeterminate what you posit) "reality," then you have already posited the thing with all itse predicates in the concept of the subject and assumed it to be actual, and you only repeat that in the predicate. [(2)] If you concede, on the contrary, as in all fairness you must, that every existential proposition is synthetic, then how would you assert that the predicate of existence may not be cancelled without contradiction?--since this privilege pertains only in the analytic propositions, as resting on its very character. (A598/B626)


---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 08:06 AM ----------

P.S. I found myself thinking the same thing about Kennethamy's recent post. I hope what I said complements what he says.

Kind of funny they both got posted together at once....Smile
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 08:56 am
@Extrain,
Extrain;150521 wrote:
Famous Kant passages with respect to his denial that existence was a predicate:



It is interesting to note that Kan't own theory of judgment (which shows up reminisciently among later philosophers and propositional logic) is so essential for having a univocal meaning of "to exist." So both in the "absolute" and "relative" sense of "to exist," neither copula is a predicate at all since all judgments involve the subject and predicate logical form. And because existence is not a predicate, therefore, no judgments can be made about a subject's "existence".

Here's the reason why:



---------- Post added 04-11-2010 at 08:06 AM ----------

P.S. I found myself thinking the same thing about Kennethamy's recent post. I hope what I said complements what he says.

Kind of funny they both got posted together at once....Smile


Great minds, they say, think alike.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 04:29 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150531 wrote:
But talking about a different meaning (sense) of "existence" seems to me to take an additional step that is unjustified. That is partly because I think that we have a pretty good understanding of what it means to say of something, X, that it exists, and I see no reason to think that God, however different He is from mundane objects, would not exist in exactly the sense in which mundane objects exist, despite the vast difference between the way (manner) God exist, and mundane objects exist.


I find this very interesting because I'm still haunted by it. You said there is a compromise between (sense) exist and (manner) exist. What does that mean?

If something exists in a different manner than another thing, are we not introducing new adverbial "ways" of verbially-existing back into discourse?

Do there become pluralistic notion of (Ex), then? Can we do this? Should we be doing it?

I'm not sure how to deal with this (I'm thinking of Quine's criticism of Carnap's introduction of different linguistic frameworks (or domains) which presumably allows us talk about numbers, for instance, as distinct from physical objects)...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 04:48 pm
@Extrain,
Extrain;150616 wrote:
I find this very interesting because I'm still haunted by it. You said there is a compromise between (sense) exist and (manner) exist. What does that mean?

If something exists in a different manner than another thing, are we not introducing new adverbial "ways" of verbially-existing back into discourse?

Do there become pluralistic notion of (Ex), then? Can we do this? Should we be doing it?



I'm not sure how to deal with this (I'm thinking of Quine's criticism of Carnap's introduction of different linguistic frameworks (or domains) which presumably allows us talk about numbers, for instance, as distinct from physical objects)...


I was just trying to suggest a way of expressing the notion idea that two things (or kinds of things) are so different from each other that such a difference deserves emphasis. So, it seemed to me that one way to do that would be to use the expression, "manner of existence". That seems to be all right as long as we do not confuse it with some kind of ambiguity of the term "existence" which seems to me at least false, if not worse. If, as you suggest, it does imply ambiguity, then, of course, I withdraw the suggestion.

Yes, Quine (as I recall) rejected the notion of different linguistic frameworks on the ground that it supposed the abhorrent analytic/synthetic distinction. I don't mean for my (I hoped) innocuous suggestion to have the kind of philosophical significance you ascribe to it.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 05:11 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150618 wrote:
I was just trying to suggest a way of expressing the notion idea that two things (or kinds of things) are so different from each other that such a difference deserves emphasis. So, it seemed to me that one way to do that would be to use the expression, "manner of existence". That seems to be all right as long as we do not confuse it with some kind of ambiguity of the term "existence" which seems to me at least false, if not worse. If, as you suggest, it does imply ambiguity, then, of course, I withdraw the suggestion.


That sounds right to me...I think you articulated that pretty well in your post.

kennethamy;150618 wrote:
Yes, Quine (as I recall) rejected the notion of different linguistic frameworks on the ground that it supposed the abhorrent analytic/synthetic distinction. I don't mean for my (I hoped) innocuous suggestion to have the kind of philosophical significance you ascribe to it.


Yes, I think this is where some of the trouble starts to arise. I don't know where I stand on it either. It seems to me that Quine and Carnap were right in one way, but both wrong in another...

Can we maintain the analytic/synthetic distinction while maintaining a univocal meaning of (Ex)? There doesn't seem to be anything dubious about this. I think it is perfectly reasonable. But the problem comes down to this analytic/synthetic distinction as it is seen in linguistic frameworks.

Carnap thought metaphysics was misguided (as the positivists do) because he accused it of asking questions about the ontological status of entities independent of that very framework within which it is asking that question:

For instance,

"Do numbers exist"? is analytic for Carnap, and the answer is trivially "yes." It is question that is internal to that number-framework. E.g., like, "what is the number of 2+2?" Or, "are there unicorns in the world"? Science says no.

"Do numbers exsit"? is senseless if it is asked in a deep ontological sense...It is an external question "do numbers really exist at all"? The answer is either meaningless or it is pragmatic.

This is like asking, "Are there really 64 squares on a chess board"? In the game of chess, the answer proposed externally becomes senseless. Within the framework, the answer is trivially "yes."

So ontology can only ask pragamtic questions like, "should we be adopting a framework in which numbers are countenanced to exist since adopting this framework is pragmatically useful"?

Quine thought all questions were pragmatic, and every linguistic framwork is subject to revision, precisely because he rejected the analytic/synthetic distinction.

But in addition to rejecting the analytic/synthetic distinction, Quine accused Carnap of introducing a pluralistic ontology. So for those of us who maintain this distinction, might get trapped in ontological pluralism....(perhaps).

Any thoughts about this?
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 10:49 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150520 wrote:
But talking about a different meaning (sense) of "existence" seems to me to take an additional step that is unjustified. That is partly because I think that we have a pretty good understanding of what it means to say of something, X, that it exists, and I see no reason to think that God, however different He is from mundane objects, would not exist in exactly the sense in which mundane objects exist, despite the vast difference between the way (manner) God exist, and mundane objects exist.

In Ortega's scheme, My Life is the Radical Reality in the sense that all other realities appear or "exist" within it. "The most abstruse mathematical equation, the most abstract and solemn philosophic concept, the very Universe, even God himself, are things that I find in my life." So according to Ortega God, to the extent that S/He/It (if I'm allowed to say that:D) manifests Her/Him/It-Self in My Life, would also have a "mundane" existence.

:flowers:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 11:07 pm
@Extrain,
Extrain;150626 wrote:
That sounds right to me...I think you articulated that pretty well in your post.



Yes, I think this is where some of the trouble starts to arise. I don't know where I stand on it either. It seems to me that Quine and Carnap were right in one way, but both wrong in another...

Can we maintain the analytic/synthetic distinction while maintaining a univocal meaning of (Ex)? There doesn't seem to be anything dubious about this. I think it is perfectly reasonable. But the problem comes down to this analytic/synthetic distinction as it is seen in linguistic frameworks.

Carnap thought metaphysics was misguided (as the positivists do) because he accused it of asking questions about the ontological status of entities independent of that very framework within which it is asking that question:

For instance,

"Do numbers exist"? is analytic for Carnap, and the answer is trivially "yes." It is question that is internal to that number-framework. E.g., like, "what is the number of 2+2?" Or, "are there unicorns in the world"? Science says no.

"Do numbers exsit"? is senseless if it is asked in a deep ontological sense...It is an external question "do numbers really exist at all"? The answer is either meaningless or it is pragmatic.

This is like asking, "Are there really 64 squares on a chess board"? In the game of chess, the answer proposed externally becomes senseless. Within the framework, the answer is trivially "yes."

So ontology can only ask pragamtic questions like, "should we be adopting a framework in which numbers are countenanced to exist since adopting this framework is pragmatically useful"?

Quine thought all questions were pragmatic, and every linguistic framwork is subject to revision, precisely because he rejected the analytic/synthetic distinction.

But in addition to rejecting the analytic/synthetic distinction, Quine accused Carnap of introducing a pluralistic ontology. So for those of us who maintain this distinction, might get trapped in ontological pluralism....(perhaps).

And it seems to me worse if one consequence of the notion is that any proposition of the form, "X exists" turns out to be analytic as it does for Carnap.
Any thoughts about this?


I am not a fan of "frames of reference" or, "language games", or "different worlds", or any of these notions that smack if Idealism of some kind; i.e. that whether something (or kind of thing) exists depends on our concepts in some way or other. Quine expresses this distaste somewhere of other, and I agree with him.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 11:11 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150721 wrote:
i.e. that whether something (or kind of thing) exists depends on our concepts in some way or other.
Presumably the answer to the question of whether or not concepts exist, depends entirely on our concepts.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2010 11:28 pm
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;150723 wrote:
Presumably the answer to the question of whether or not concepts exist, depends entirely on our concepts.


Yes, that's the worm eating itself. But I suppose that those who talk the language of frames of reference, and so on, would reject my characterization of their view that they hold that what exists depend on our concepts.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 12 Apr, 2010 12:41 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150520 wrote:
So my proposal is that we strike an irenic (maybe ironic too) compromise, and distinguish between ways (manner) of existence, and the meaning of existence. How does that strike you?


Well it is definitely a step forward. I have some further questions though. I have been reading of the debate between Hobbes and Descartes which I think is instructive.

Quote:
For Descartes there is a pure thinking separate from the imagination. Our capacity for such pure thinking is in fact something we share with God. Descartes explains....that our true "ideas" are th same as those in the divine mind that has no corporeal imagination. Implicitly, Descartes thus argues here that that man as res cogitans is divine or at least participates in some aspects of the divine....For Hobbes, by contrast, we can have no idea of an incorporeal thing. Even things like emotions...are in Hobbes' view nothing other than the thing that evokes the emotion plus the effect on our body. Hobbes thus concludes that since we have no idea of our self or of God except as body, Descartes' whole argument collapses. Descartes argues, on the contrary, since we do have an idea of God, Hobbes objection collapses. Argument at this point can go no further, since the parties fundamentally disagree about the nature of man, his capacities and his relation to God
The Theological Origins of Modernity, Michael Allen Gilliespie, p267.

The idea of 'pure thinking separate from the imagination' is a clear echo of the Platonic noesis, I would think. It also recalls the active imagination of Aristotle, namely, that element of the intellect that perceives the 'noetic' level of reality.

But the debate from which this is drawn is also an interesting study in the contrast of Hobbes' materialism, in which there is only one substance, namely matter, and Descartes' idea of the different kinds of substance, namely material substances, thinking substances (minds) and infinite substance (God). Each of these types of substances also has modes, although the modes refer to the types of attributes peculiar to that substance (i.e. thinking for cognitive substance, size and shape for material substance.)

It seems to me that historically speaking, Hobbes' view won the day. It is not hard to see how we get from Descartes to materialism by merely eliminating res cogitans and declaring that we are merely a res extensia that happens to think. If I am correct, this is what 'the materialist theory of mind' proposes.
 
Extrain
 
Reply Mon 12 Apr, 2010 12:52 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;150721 wrote:
I am not a fan of "frames of reference" or, "language games", or "different worlds", or any of these notions that smack if Idealism of some kind; i.e. that whether something (or kind of thing) exists depends on our concepts in some way or other. Quine expresses this distaste somewhere of other, and I agree with him.


I agree completely. I was just drawing attention to the resemblance between "different manners of existing" and Carnap's "external/internal framework" distinction.

How can we countenance "different manners of existence" if (Ex) is univocal? We shouldn't be doing such a thing...
 
 

 
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