Forms/ Essences/Being

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Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 01:24 am
I want to see what anyone has to offer on Forms, essences, Being, etc. I'm not trying to focus on just one philosopher. I'm hoping to get whatever input you have on these and the relationship between them.

I see essences or concepts as Forms, but I'm not especially seeking debate but further insight into the matter. In what way do Forms exist? Do you think they exist in the first place? Is there a sort of logical/formal space prior to sensation? How does Kant fit into this?

I am especially looking for any personal insights you may have. References to especially good online material would also be appreciated. Smile
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:17 am
@Reconstructo,
There are many definitions of Form or Essences or Concepts (I will not even begin to discuss BEING), some of which are more strict than others. One should begin, perhaps, by understanding whether the three (or more) terms are interchangeable or able to be distinguished in some way or another.
The discussion might be furthered by the exposition of these terms, their relation to "logic" and whether (or perhaps, how) they are prior to experience. For Kant, there were transcendental conditions for the possibility of knowledge, and perhaps for experience itself, but the ontological status of these conditions was far different from Plato's Forms.
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:58 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;172867 wrote:
I want to see what anyone has to offer on Forms, essences, Being, etc. I'm not trying to focus on just one philosopher. I'm hoping to get whatever input you have on these and the relationship between them.

I see essences or concepts as Forms, but I'm not especially seeking debate but further insight into the matter. In what way do Forms exist? Do you think they exist in the first place? Is there a sort of logical/formal space prior to sensation? How does Kant fit into this?

I am especially looking for any personal insights you may have. References to especially good online material would also be appreciated. Smile


Perhaps you should just focus on one of these. Have you ever been to the ProjectGutenberg page? Has a ton of goodies.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 04:45 pm
@Ding an Sich,
Reading Barthes again today and he's talking about forms.

"Semiology is a science of forms, since it studies significations apart from their content....Semiology, once its limits are settled, is not a metaphysical trap; it is a science among others, necessary but not sufficient."
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:30 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;172916 wrote:
There are many definitions of Form or Essences or Concepts (I will not even begin to discuss BEING), some of which are more strict than others. One should begin, perhaps, by understanding whether the three (or more) terms are interchangeable or able to be distinguished in some way or another.


Thanks! I agree as to the necessity of distinguishing them. I suppose the difficult part is that the same words are used in so many different ways. Currently I see essences and concepts meaning the same thing. Forms are more complicated. It does seem that beings, if not Being, are unified by/as concepts. If you have personal opinions on the matter, I would be glad to here them. Thanks.

---------- Post added 06-04-2010 at 06:31 PM ----------

Ding_an_Sich;172921 wrote:
Perhaps you should just focus on one of these. Have you ever been to the ProjectGutenberg page? Has a ton of goodies.


Thank you. I would but I can't help but see a close relationship, and even perhaps identity here.

---------- Post added 06-04-2010 at 06:32 PM ----------

Deckard;173111 wrote:
Reading Barthes again today and he's talking about forms.

"Semiology is a science of forms, since it studies significations apart from their content....Semiology, once its limits are settled, is not a metaphysical trap; it is a science among others, necessary but not sufficient."


Excellent quote. "Apart from their content." I wonder how he distinguishes between form and content? Is content sensation, emotion, context, or what? I have read a little of Barthes. An interesting guy. He speaks of "grain of the voice," right?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 05:46 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;173127 wrote:
Thanks! I agree as to the necessity of distinguishing them. I suppose the difficult part is that the same words are used in so many different ways. Currently I see essences and concepts meaning the same thing. Forms are more complicated. It does seem that beings, if not Being, are unified by/as concepts. If you have personal opinions on the matter, I would be glad to here them. Thanks.



This does not have anything to do with form et al., but it has to do with the potential pursuit of insight about them.

whether to split semantic hairs or lump the three together has less to do with actual differences between the words, and more to do with the envirnoment in which they are being discussed. I have ran accross this in several fields archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, semiotics, biology. Any field that required some sort of taxonomy. The actual taxonomic makeup is arbitrary, one can place the a demarcation almost anywhere dividing one thing from another. The actual structure of the taxonomy tends to hinge on either a person/school of thought's predisposition, values, and already adopted precepts and/or the goal of the study. It may serve your purposes reinforce things that you already think or want to be true to lump them together or to split them apart. So my advice would be to approach from several different vantages and taxonomies, with several different people, then make an informed decision. It can never eliminate a taxonomical bias, but it can reduce it some.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 06:38 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;173132 wrote:
This does not have anything to do with form et al., but it has to do with the potential pursuit of insight about them.

whether to split semantic hairs or lump the three together has less to do with actual differences between the words, and more to do with the envirnoment in which they are being discussed. I have ran accross this in several fields archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, semiotics, biology. Any field that required some sort of taxonomy. The actual taxonomic makeup is arbitrary, one can place the a demarcation almost anywhere dividing one thing from another. The actual structure of the taxonomy tends to hinge on either a person/school of thought's predisposition, values, and already adopted precepts and/or the goal of the study. It may serve your purposes reinforce things that you already think or want to be true to lump them together or to split them apart. So my advice would be to approach from several different vantages and taxonomies, with several different people, then make an informed decision. It can never eliminate a taxonomical bias, but it can reduce it some.


Thank you. Your post makes good sense to me. The words are just tokens, with different meanings in different contexts. Really, I've already made a decision, but I wanted to open myself to something I might have missed. Everyone has been quite helpful, and this is appreciated. I suppose I was especially hoping for some passionate opinions on the matter. In my mind, this is perhaps the crucial issue in philosophy. We are, in my view, looking at the nature of thought itself. I would enjoy anything you have to say about abstraction, conception, form, universals, etc. Or anything about the basics of human thought generally, as I feel this is the cornerstone of philosophy. Smile
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 06:55 pm
@Reconstructo,
Sorry to disappoint, I have no passionate opinions on the matter, if fact I'm pretty sure I don't have a coherent opinion on the matter.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 07:10 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;173156 wrote:
Sorry to disappoint, I have no passionate opinions on the matter, if fact I'm pretty sure I don't have a coherent opinion on the matter.


Thank you for your honesty and directness on the matter. And also for that earlier post.
 
Mad Mike
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 09:16 pm
@Reconstructo,
Quote:

I suppose I was especially hoping for some passionate opinions on the matter. In my mind, this is perhaps the crucial issue in philosophy.


Hmm, and here I'm trying very hard to be dispassionate about everything.

As I always do, I'm going to give my Neoplotinian Platonist view, which despite its possible dogmatic sound really is my strong personal belief; I've thoroughly internalized this stuff, for better or worse.

The Pythagorean notions of Limit/Unlimited seem like a good place to start. "Being" as such would seem a likely candidate for unlimitedness, for example. "Limit" would then be whatever defines "this being" out of all potential beings, and so it would seem to have the character of defining an essence or imparting a form.

Plato, in his unwritten doctrine according to Aristotle, replaces the Limit/Unlimited pairing with the Indefinite Dyad, which, as I've written in some other thread here, seems to represent the "is" and the "what it is" of the things that come after the One. The "is" (i.e., Being) is a given for everything (we wouldn't be talking about a thing if it didn't have Being), so the "what it is" is really the only thing we can talk about.

Plato of course wants to talk about things dialectically, and his dialectic commences with the "greatest kinds" described in the Sophist: Being, Sameness, Difference, Motion and Rest. These are the minima, so to speak, of what's required to distinguish one thing from another.

I'm going to suggest that Essence is an aspect of Sameness and Form relates to Difference. In the first case, a being may be the same as another in some respects but not others, but every being is identical to itself. And this self-identity is the Essence of that being, the "internal" aspect of the "what it is."

Difference, of course, would be the "what it isn't," from one point of view: that which sets it apart from other beings despite any sameness it might share with them. So we could call it the non-identity of this particular being with all other beings, and thus the "external" aspect of the "what it is," the Form.

Just to round things out, Motion (or Change) and Rest refer to the activity or behavior of the being, and in these characteristics the being may be the same as some other beings and/or different from other beings. And by applying these binary judgments, we begin the process of sorting and relating things that is, in essence, Plato's dialectic (and also, incidentally, the original basis of all taxonomic systems).

So, one system of conceptualizing this subject. I hope it's useful in your thought-project.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 10:52 pm
@Mad Mike,
Mad Mike;173234 wrote:
Hmm, and here I'm trying very hard to be dispassionate about everything.

Perhaps you will agree that there is a sort of dispassionate passion? Or shall we say a passion that does not seek to possess?

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

Mad Mike;173234 wrote:

The Pythagorean notions of Limit/Unlimited seem like a good place to start. "Being" as such would seem a likely candidate for unlimitedness, for example. "Limit" would then be whatever defines "this being" out of all potential beings, and so it would seem to have the character of defining an essence or imparting a form.

Indeed. My version of this is the discrete and the continuous, and in human terms concept (digital/discrete/limiting) and sensation-emotion (continuous.)
In fact I think Form is a better word than concept, because concept leans too much toward idealism. Form is prior to mind/matter distinctions, I would argue.


---------- Post added 06-04-2010 at 11:56 PM ----------

Mad Mike;173234 wrote:

Plato, in his unwritten doctrine according to Aristotle, replaces the Limit/Unlimited pairing with the Indefinite Dyad, which, as I've written in some other thread here, seems to represent the "is" and the "what it is" of the things that come after the One. The "is" (i.e., Being) is a given for everything (we wouldn't be talking about a thing if it didn't have Being), so the "what it is" is really the only thing we can talk about.

This too is something I relate to. Form just is. Existence is the fundamental property of Form/concept. Do you think? And yet because it's so fundamental, it transcends property. It's deeper than property. It exists, and its a unity. That's my take. The rest is synthesis/negation of sensation/emotion/other forms?

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 12:01 AM ----------

Mad Mike;173234 wrote:

I'm going to suggest that Essence is an aspect of Sameness and Form relates to Difference. In the first case, a being may be the same as another in some respects but not others, but every being is identical to itself. And this self-identity is the Essence of that being, the "internal" aspect of the "what it is."

Difference, of course, would be the "what it isn't," from one point of view: that which sets it apart from other beings despite any sameness it might share with them. So we could call it the non-identity of this particular being with all other beings, and thus the "external" aspect of the "what it is," the Form.

Just to round things out, Motion (or Change) and Rest refer to the activity or behavior of the being, and in these characteristics the being may be the same as some other beings and/or different from other beings. And by applying these binary judgments, we begin the process of sorting and relating things that is, in essence, Plato's dialectic (and also, incidentally, the original basis of all taxonomic systems).

So, one system of conceptualizing this subject. I hope it's useful in your thought-project.


Difference seems to hinge on negation. Is negation something primal, foundation? I have speculated that essence is synthesized from the negation of accident. Usually, I am suspected of Metaphysics in the 1st degree when I say this sort of thing. You mention binary judgments. I think that the number 2, or duality in general, is central to human thought. Propositions are bits. The number line is bidirectional. Male and female. All the digital and continuous polar opposites/spectrums.

Do you think tings exist outside of essences, or outside of the human mind? I think we impose essences on sensation, and thereby experience things in a world that would otherwise be continuous sensation/emotion. THoughts?

Your post was quite helpful. Thanks. Smile
 
Mad Mike
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 07:39 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;173257 wrote:
Perhaps you will agree that there is a sort of dispassionate passion? Or shall we say a passion that does not seek to possess?

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


Indeed. My version of this is the discrete and the continuous, and in human terms concept (digital/discrete/limiting) and sensation-emotion (continuous.)
In fact I think Form is a better word than concept, because concept leans too much toward idealism. Form is prior to mind/matter distinctions, I would argue.


---------- Post added 06-04-2010 at 11:56 PM ----------


This too is something I relate to. Form just is. Existence is the fundamental property of Form/concept. Do you think? And yet because it's so fundamental, it transcends property. It's deeper than property. It exists, and its a unity. That's my take. The rest is synthesis/negation of sensation/emotion/other forms?

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 12:01 AM ----------



Difference seems to hinge on negation. Is negation something primal, foundation? I have speculated that essence is synthesized from the negation of accident. Usually, I am suspected of Metaphysics in the 1st degree when I say this sort of thing. You mention binary judgments. I think that the number 2, or duality in general, is central to human thought. Propositions are bits. The number line is bidirectional. Male and female. All the digital and continuous polar opposites/spectrums.

Do you think tings exist outside of essences, or outside of the human mind? I think we impose essences on sensation, and thereby experience things in a world that would otherwise be continuous sensation/emotion. THoughts?

Your post was quite helpful. Thanks. Smile


I just added another fairly bloated response to your last post on my introductorty thread that speaks to a lot of these issues. I guess I should be posting here instead; my intro really shouldn't stay at the top of the list forever.

I do want to say that I emphatically believe that things exist outside the human mind. In fact, in a certain sense the human mind exists outside the human mind; that is, the mind we experience as "my mind" is, so to speak, just the tip of the iceberg, or perhaps more accurately the little bit of light that shines through the pinhole.

The Platonist line on essences or forms, of course, is that they have an objective existence of their own and are just "reflected" in matter; we recognize them in material objects because that larger part of mind is where their objective existence is, and we're connected with it even when we aren't aware of it; so we re-cognize the form in the object.

And yes, I'm actually pretty passionate about this stuff, even though my mentors tend to urge apatheia.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Jun, 2010 12:58 am
@Mad Mike,
Mad Mike;173638 wrote:

I do want to say that I emphatically believe that things exist outside the human mind. In fact, in a certain sense the human mind exists outside the human mind; that is, the mind we experience as "my mind" is, so to speak, just the tip of the iceberg, or perhaps more accurately the little bit of light that shines through the pinhole.

Well, I should stress (to share my own currently favored view) that for me the mind is just an abstraction. For me Life is One, and within human experience forms like the self and the world are created, and can also be destroyed. For me, this is represented by the move from Kant to Hegel. Kant assumed a reality-in-itself outside our structuring experience of such. And this is pragmatically justified. But Fichte and Hegel (if I understand correctly) argued that this reality-in-itself was just a concept, just a part of our experience. And so is a concept like self. So I'm not an idealist. Or a realist. All of these concepts are created and not eternal. The only eternal concept is the form of forms, and this is just something I'm inferring. It's not central to my view but just a little to the left. What is central to my view is that Love is the point of life, and that clinging to self-concepts can cloud this love with fear, and make one focus on the melting candle rather than its universal flame.
Of course I know that when others die I remain. And I know that they were their own worlds. So we are like overlapping worlds. As to the source of all these, I honestly have not speculated much. I've been more interested in a sort phenomenological investigation that reveals life as the miracle it is. I wrote about this in Ineffable, and would enjoy your input. Sensation just is, in my opinion, and cannot be reduced to concept. Of course concepts/Forms are created and destroyed in relation to sensation and emotion. And "concept" has idealist connotations but I agree w/ Hegel that the real is rational. The way we think the world is its intelligible structure and the reverse is true. Distinctions between our thinking and the structure of the world are just more of this same self-world intelligible structure. Anyway, I clearly see that my own view doesn't offer anything as to the source, and Plotinus's views as presented by you and others are definitely appealing. Smile

---------- Post added 06-06-2010 at 02:04 AM ----------

Mad Mike;173638 wrote:

The Platonist line on essences or forms, of course, is that they have an objective existence of their own and are just "reflected" in matter; we recognize them in material objects because that larger part of mind is where their objective existence is, and we're connected with it even when we aren't aware of it; so we re-cognize the form in the object.

And yes, I'm actually pretty passionate about this stuff, even though my mentors tend to urge apatheia.


I do see that the world of sensation has a structure common in many ways to all of us. And indeed it has its forms. Interesting. The funny thing is this: if I speculate and/or adopt Platonic or other views I am still just at the moment changing the intelligible structure of my self-world. Of course Love is the cornerstone of my "system" and the reality of others is intense and beyond question, and we talk philosophy all the time. So overlapping self-worlds could benefit from an explanation of the "world" in which they meet, which is nothing in my mind but the presumed/experienced overlapping of their self-worlds. Something like Euler-Venn diagrams. I think you ideas are great, and also Prothero's. I suppose we are all working out dialectical coherence in our own sweet way. Again, I have only gratitude for the time you have taken to share this with me. And I look forward to more conversation. Smile
 
prothero
 
Reply Sun 6 Jun, 2010 02:16 pm
@Reconstructo,

[QUOTE=Reconstructo;173730] my own view doesn't offer anything as to the source, and Plotinus's views as presented by you and others are definitely appealing. [/QUOTE][QUOTE=Reconstructo;173730] if I speculate and/or adopt Platonic or other views I am still just at the moment changing the intelligible structure of my self-world. [/QUOTE] [QUOTE=Reconstructo;173730] Of course Love is the cornerstone of my "system" and the reality of others is intense and beyond question, . [/QUOTE]

Ultimately in constructing world view one must find a place for Truth, for Beauty, For Love, for Experience (all forms of Mind) as well for Reason and for Science in the modern world. Metaphysics is the search for unifying principle of reality and reality includes human experience (mind and reason), as well as sense perception and other "objects" (empiricism and independent reality).

If one thinks that "experience" and thus "mind" is confined to humans or a small number of higher life forms and organisms, then indeed, man (not just man but each individual) is indeed the "measure of all things". The world is ultimately without any particular aim or purpose and we each have to give whatever meaning or interpretation we can to our own individual lives and experience. There is no overarching unifying principle which would include anything like mind, reason, purpose, aims, values, aesthetics (these would all be purely human inventions and concepts with no independent existence apart from the individuals who hold them). I would say that is an a-theistic view of the world.

If one thinks the universe is constructed in such a way that it tends towards certain types of forms, values, or aesthetics then I would say that is a basically a theistic view of nature.
I personally see the universe tending towards order, towards complexity and self organization, tending under the right conditions towards life, mind, and experience.
For me these inherent tendencies follow the rules of reason and indicate intelligibility (comprehension by the application of reason and observation and expressible with the mode of logic represented by mathematics). I find it hard to comprehend this as the result of forces which themselves are fundamentally blind, purposeless, accidental, and themselves the result of chance (it just is, they just are; seems like the type of response that philosophy and particularly metaphysics should question).

The ultimate principle IMV is creative advance. The ultimate mechanism for this advance into novelty; is process which entails both material and experiential aspects or poles. The universe is engaged in a continuous process of creative advance of bringing that which is possible into actuality.

It is in the realm of "possibilities" that forms reside. The degree to which the forms have "essence", "being", "existence" depends on what one means by these terms. For Plato the "form of beauty" precedes and is necessary for any particular instance of beauty to be recognized by "mind". For Plato also learning and knowledge are remembrances (truth is remembered or discovered not created by man). This almost entails the notion of some form of preexisting mind, intellect, forms or ideals of which any particular object or any particular mind in the world is only a manifestation (or an emanation) of the underlying unifying form. There is an implied panpsychism or if you prefer psychialism or panexperientialsim in these views. I do not think one (in the modern world anyway) as a form for a horse, or a form for a cow, the forms are not particulars but unifying principle.

Plato also (at least in his later writings) seemed to see god (demiurge) as the process whereby forms were impressed upon the world (the blueprint being the form of the Good) through the efforts of the divine against the forces of chaos and of the void. Plato saw the divine as a persuasive not as a coercive (all powerful) agency. He is not really clear on this but I think it would be fair to place Plato (and for that matter Einstein) in the theist camp. Not the orthodox theism of the medieval ages but the type of theism where the world strives to achieve certain intelligible forms. The world has an aesthetic goal (an experiential goal) which it achieves through divine influence on the process of creative advance into novelty (forms wondrous and beautiful). The divine is both the source of the forms and the source of influence or persuasion in bringing aesthetic value onto primordial chaos and the formless void. This is not creation ex nihilo by an all powerful supernatural deity. This has implications for the "problem of evil" as a side note.

In choosing between such dramatically different worldviews, I do not think science or reason alone suffice. We often break our choices into dichotomies, (there is a god, there is no god) (the world has inherent purpose, the world has no inherent purpose). This is often the easy way out. It is much more difficult to explain what the nature of god (if there is one) and what the purpose of the world might be. It is easy to proclaim there is no god and the world has no inherent purpose. I assert that the purpose of the world is creative advance into novelty (the actualization of possibility (forms)) which occurs through process under the creative and ordering agent (an agent which is both rational, intelligible, and experiential but whose purpose is not human morality but the formation of value). This agent I refer to as God and this god has both a primordial eternal nature (forms and values) and a consequential and experiential nature (love, immanence and relationship to the world). In the end the world has but one mind and one purpose.

It is so much easier to be an a-theist. It really is. You do not have to explain anything. The world just is, its just that way, it just happens. Life is just complex arrangements of inert matter following laws of accident and chance, mind is just complex arrangements of insensate matter, experience is just physical chemical interactions in your brain. Aesthetics and values are just personal or group decisions or opinions . No god. No religion too. No ultimate purpose, no forms, no eternals. There is just something in me that rejects that materialistic, mechanical deterministic mindless, inert, insensate view of the world. It just does not seem to be the world I live, breathe and experience. I will be some sort of theist (mostly process theology and panenthism) till my dying day.

sorry for this too long post but the notion of forms is tied up with eternal values and truth and therefore with the source of eternals (god) and how eternals get represented in the (real or actual) world of sense perception and objects (divine action and persuasion). Of course for a materialist or an a-theist none of this requires any explanation.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Jun, 2010 06:22 pm
@prothero,
prothero;173871 wrote:

Ultimately in constructing world view one must find a place for Truth, for Beauty, For Love, for Experience (all forms of Mind) as well for Reason and for Science in the modern world. Metaphysics is the search for unifying principle of reality and reality includes human experience (mind and reason), as well as sense perception and other "objects" (empiricism and independent reality).

Thanks for your detailed reply.

I generally agree with you, except that for me it is an important point that experience does not reduce to mind. From my point of view, mind is a form used to organize experience. For me, the self/world, mind/matter dichotomies are learned/created. Now, from the usual practical angle we certainly have different bodies, but I think if we look at experience closely, we see there is no sure line between the self and the world. The distinction is practically necessary of course, but not really essential in my opinion. Wittgenstein writes the briefest case for this. And this is one reason why I connect him to Hegel, the other being the concern with logos as the intelligible structure of experience. (Discourse reveals being.) And "independent reality" is a way to describe certain aspects of experience usefully. Of course I am practical enough to understand the usual sense of the term, or I wouldn't have survived till now. For me, forms exists systematically, in a unified system. Parts of this network include the concepts of natural science, including the concept of experience-independent reality --which is a practical but otherwise strange notion. Smile

---------- Post added 06-06-2010 at 07:31 PM ----------

prothero;173871 wrote:

If one thinks that "experience" and thus "mind" is confined to humans or a small number of higher life forms and organisms, then indeed, man (not just man but each individual) is indeed the "measure of all things". The world is ultimately without any particular aim or purpose and we each have to give whatever meaning or interpretation we can to our own individual lives and experience. There is no overarching unifying principle which would include anything like mind, reason, purpose, aims, values, aesthetics (these would all be purely human inventions and concepts with no independent existence apart from the individuals who hold them). I would say that is an a-theistic view of the world.

All this makes sense to me. I should clarify that I don't hold the view described above, even if I understand someone interpreting me that way. And perhaps it's not directed at my viewpoint at all. I do reject idealism. True, I have used the word "concept" quite a bit, but this seemed like the best word at the time to get my point across. For me, the self and the non-self are both forms. Of course Plato is so associated w/ this word I don't know whether I should use it. Perhaps I should, because concept is so tinged with idealism. My interpretation of the real-as-rational is again that the intelligible structure of experience is systematic, and forms like mind and matter and self and other and truth all exist as nodes on this network, but so does this description of the network. But of course if I speak of overlapping experience-self-worlds, that does have an idealism flavor. I expect that animals are also self-worlds. There is a place where these experiencings meet, the "world." Life has evolved toward greater consciousness and mobility. Indeed, perhaps there is a Force involved. In my view, it's not ridiculous in any to speculate on such matters. But even if this Force exists, it can only exist as Form for a self-world if created within that particular self-world. For those who have not been exposed, how does this Force exist? Now they may be of this Force, and part of it, perhaps, w/o it being intelligible. Really, I'm quite open-minded on the matter, but it's not a crucial point for me. Smile

---------- Post added 06-06-2010 at 07:39 PM ----------

prothero;173871 wrote:

If one thinks the universe is constructed in such a way that it tends towards certain types of forms, values, or aesthetics then I would say that is a basically a theistic view of nature.
I personally see the universe tending towards order, towards complexity and self organization, tending under the right conditions towards life, mind, and experience.
For me these inherent tendencies follow the rules of reason and indicate intelligibility (comprehension by the application of reason and observation and expressible with the mode of logic represented by mathematics). I find it hard to comprehend this as the result of forces which themselves are fundamentally blind, purposeless, accidental, and themselves the result of chance (it just is, they just are; seems like the type of response that philosophy and particularly metaphysics should question).

I find all of this very reasonable. And I agree that all of this being purposeless is hard to swallow, for we ourselves are full of purpose. Purpose is a fundamental part of the human experience. I suppose I have walked between terms like "theist" and "atheist" because my quasi-religious views are focused especially on what is not conceptual. Love and Beauty are self-justifying. I do enjoy speculation, though. And for what it's worth, I think you have one of the most defensible positions on the forum. True, I have moved more toward "ism" than anything else lately. I would still argue that sensation and emotion are irreducible. While our experience includes the intelligible, I don't think that this intelligible aspect does anything to reduce the non-intelligible aspects of experience --except distract us from it. The beauty of a face, for instance. But I would also agree that there is a structure to beautiful faces, something they have in common, and yet variety is also part of this. Anyway, I agree that metaphysics should question all of this. I personally am caught up in the ineffable isness of certain aspects of our experience, but I certainly wouldn't want everyone to choose this path. It's good that we fan out, and then socialize to report our findings/creations.

---------- Post added 06-06-2010 at 07:41 PM ----------

prothero;173871 wrote:

The ultimate principle IMV is creative advance. The ultimate mechanism for this advance into novelty; is process which entails both material and experiential aspects or poles. The universe is engaged in a continuous process of creative advance of bringing that which is possible into actuality.

Stepping out of my own views/obsessions for a moment, I can only agree that this is quite feasible and an attractive viewpoint, worthy of consideration.

---------- Post added 06-06-2010 at 07:48 PM ----------

prothero;173871 wrote:

It is in the realm of "possibilities" that forms reside. The degree to which the forms have "essence", "being", "existence" depends on what one means by these terms. For Plato the "form of beauty" precedes and is necessary for any particular instance of beauty to be recognized by "mind". For Plato also learning and knowledge are remembrances (truth is remembered or discovered not created by man). This almost entails the notion of some form of preexisting mind, intellect, forms or ideals of which any particular object or any particular mind in the world is only a manifestation (or an emanation) of the underlying unifying form. There is an implied panpsychism or if you prefer psychialism or panexperientialsim in these views. I do not think one (in the modern world anyway) as a form for a horse, or a form for a cow, the forms are not particulars but unifying principle.

I do think "recollection" is a justified description of much in our experience. The tricky part for me is this. I can step out of the box of the theories I am working on, and comment from there. So please consider this is I seem inconsistent. It's a matter of leaning in to the "Other." That said, I feel that I understand what you are saying, and find it consistent. I can't say conclusive, or it would be my view as well. But certainly consistent. Smile
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Jun, 2010 06:59 pm
@prothero,
prothero;173871 wrote:

It is so much easier to be an a-theist. It really is. You do not have to explain anything. The world just is, its just that way, it just happens. Life is just complex arrangements of inert matter following laws of accident and chance, mind is just complex arrangements of insensate matter, experience is just physical chemical interactions in your brain. Aesthetics and values are just personal or group decisions or opinions . No god. No religion too. No ultimate purpose, no forms, no eternals. There is just something in me that rejects that materialistic, mechanical deterministic mindless, inert, insensate view of the world. It just does not seem to be the world I live, breathe and experience. I will be some sort of theist (mostly process theology and panenthism) till my dying day.

sorry for this too long post but the notion of forms is tied up with eternal values and truth and therefore with the source of eternals (god) and how eternals get represented in the (real or actual) world of sense perception and objects (divine action and persuasion). Of course for a materialist or an a-theist none of this requires any explanation.


I agree with you more on this than perhaps you expect/surmise. If I have praised atheism at all it's because I see it as a purifying fire against primitive limiting conceptions of God. Unfortunately, many adopt it wholesale and stop there, no longer really thinking about it, but only arguing from it w/ a certain contempt (not all of them of course) for those who venture a more courageous (they would say wishful) explanation /structure. Personally I utterly and absolutely reject any reduction of life to "complex arrangements of insensate matter," etc. Because this is nakedly absurd and even offensive, sad even. Why? Because all this "insensate matter" is just a form, just a concept. And beneath this form is emotion, sensation, all that just is.

A person who really feels that the world just is will probably feel this because they have recognized the limits of abstractions/forms. Although I don't use the word God much, because my version is so much different than most, I certain feel and experience a deep love and beauty that annihilates all hint of materialistic reduction. There may be an intelligence or force behind it all. But for me the most important thing is that it is and that we are and that it is beautiful and terrible. Perhaps I am focusing more on emotion and sensation as a refutation of abstract reductive materialism, etc., and you are working more on the conceptual level. For me the fusion of self and world, or rather the realization /experience of this and other dichotomies as accidental and not essential was deeply beautiful, exciting. I think the practical can obscure how dialectically unjustified these dichotomies are. And of course sensation and emotion are somehow ignore/forgotten and man tries within his huge experience to reduce this experience to one little piece of it like matter, which for me is just one way of interpreting sensation.

No doubt we have different views, but we can agree that the all too common reductive view is not the way to go. Thanks for the excellent conversation. Smile
 
Mad Mike
 
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:06 pm
@Reconstructo,
I seem to keep falling behind here, there's too much interesting stuff being posted for me to keep up if I have to go offline for a while. I want to pull out a couple of things that struck me especially:

prothero;173871 wrote:

I personally see the universe tending towards order, towards complexity and self organization, tending under the right conditions towards life, mind, and experience.

For me these inherent tendencies follow the rules of reason and indicate intelligibility (comprehension by the application of reason and observation and expressible with the mode of logic represented by mathematics). I find it hard to comprehend this as the result of forces which themselves are fundamentally blind, purposeless, accidental, and themselves the result of chance (it just is, they just are; seems like the type of response that philosophy and particularly metaphysics should question).

The ultimate principle IMV is creative advance. The ultimate mechanism for this advance into novelty; is process which entails both material and experiential aspects or poles. The universe is engaged in a continuous process of creative advance of bringing that which is possible into actuality.


This is something I've been thinking about, too. There are lots of people who see even from a materialist-naturalist perspective that we live in an "order-producing universe." Like you, I would extend this to a "life-producing" and ultimately an "intelligence-producing" universe, because these are simply what constitutes "order" within a specified kind of existence.

The statement that the universal process is "bringing that which is possible into actuality" could easily have been written by Plotinus. He saw all the "possibilities" as existing in timeless simultaneity in Nous but being brought one-after-another by Psyche into physical manifestation, borrowing Plato's phrase (from Timaeus) that time is "the moving image of eternity."

Reconstructo;173991 wrote:
A person who really feels that the world just is will probably feel this because they have recognized the limits of abstractions/forms. Although I don't use the word God much, because my version is so much different than most, I certain feel and experience a deep love and beauty that annihilates all hint of materialistic reduction. There may be an intelligence or force behind it all. But for me the most important thing is that it is and that we are and that it is beautiful and terrible.


You reminded me of Empedocles' theory that reality is the unfolding of a dynamic of Love and Strife (φιλία and νεῖκος, also personified as
Ἔρως and Ἔρις, the god Eros and the goddess Eris, known in Latin as Discordia). Love represents the force of attraction, Strife that of repulsion or division. Empedocles was influenced by the Pythagoreans, and this dichotomy bears more than a passing resemblance to the Unlimited/Limit duality we've been talking about: They both could be seen as the separating out of specific, discrete existences from the continuous "pool," so to speak, of Being.
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:38 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;172867 wrote:
I want to see what anyone has to offer on Forms, essences, Being, etc. I'm not trying to focus on just one philosopher. I'm hoping to get whatever input you have on these and the relationship between them.

I see essences or concepts as Forms, but I'm not especially seeking debate but further insight into the matter. In what way do Forms exist? Do you think they exist in the first place? Is there a sort of logical/formal space prior to sensation? How does Kant fit into this?

I am especially looking for any personal insights you may have. References to especially good online material would also be appreciated. Smile


I think, for the sake of time, that I should deal with one of these, namely, form. But as I do not have a very clear understanding on even this subject, I am allowing myself to sail off into the ocean of metaphysical nonsense. Here it goes:

Form deals with the objects of things as they are mere representation, that is, as appearances they are chracterized by traits that are not in-themselves, but are in us. We can derive from objects three things: time, space, and casuality, to which objects, as mere appearance, come and go. In essence, we cannot think of objects without a space (although maybe in time), but we can think of a space without an object (which would simply be its form).

Casuality is a whole other issue that I am not going to deal with here. I would like to address Platonic Ideas (Idee), but I profess that I have very little knowledge on this, and do not desire to make a complete fool of myself. Good day.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 06:37 pm
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;174766 wrote:
I think, for the sake of time, that I should deal with one of these, namely, form. But as I do not have a very clear understanding on even this subject, I am allowing myself to sail off into the ocean of metaphysical nonsense. Here it goes:

I enjoy your humor. I do feel that I should say that for me, forms are concepts. I'm glad you took the boat out.

---------- Post added 06-09-2010 at 07:45 PM ----------

Ding_an_Sich;174766 wrote:

Form deals with the objects of things as they are mere representation, that is, as appearances they are chracterized by traits that are not in-themselves, but are in us. We can derive from objects three things: time, space, and casuality, to which objects, as mere appearance, come and go. In essence, we cannot think of objects without a space (although maybe in time), but we can think of a space without an object (which would simply be its form).

For me, that entire quote is made of Forms/Concepts. Anything that bundles sensation, emotion, or other concepts is a concept or a form. I like your mention of spatial form. That's a tricky one. I personally think that spatial intuition is its own kind of Form. This is why math is so interesting to me. We see the collision of concept form (digital number) and spatial form (Euclid), and this collision can be awkward. Just look at pi.

Of course what I love in Hegel was his pointing out or agree that things-int-themselves are just a concept within our experience. Actually, as you probably know, Kant himself knew this. But he was practical enough not to stress the monistic implications. Personally I think that his "apperception of unity" is just one more concept. And so is the self. And so is all philosophy. This is a pretty radical way to think. A network of interdependent concepts, none of it are 100% justified logically but only practically. This is what I find in the TLP. Outside of contradiction and tautology, all of our concepts/knowledge is contingent, imperfect, dependent on sensation and emotion. Because propositions which are not tautological or contradictory must refer away from themselves for confirmation or rejection. And does not this depend on the senses? on the words of other humans? On feelings? I think he uses the word "senseless" in the sense of imperfectly precisely. We obviously get a sense of one another's meanings, but this meaning is blurry, vague, imperfect. One man's justice is another man's crime. What if the only permanent perfect essences/concepts are mathematical and logical? Basically just bits, completely abstract bits. All mathematics can be written in binary, it seems, while not forgetting the usefulness of symbols for pi and e, etc. But base-2 is enough for the usual numbers and symbolic logic (which I am brushing up on) is largely a matter of bits. Of course it's a broad field and all sorts of wickedness has been cooked up. In any case, pure precise abstraction might be the only perfect truth we have. And it's basically tautologous? So the world is opened up as something unexplained. Sensation and emotion are an ocean on which our fragile forms/essences/concepts make their way. Smile
 
Ding an Sich
 
Reply Fri 11 Jun, 2010 08:42 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo wrote:

Ding_an_Sich;174766 wrote:
I think, for the sake of time, that I should deal with one of these, namely, form. But as I do not have a very clear understanding on even this subject, I am allowing myself to sail off into the ocean of metaphysical nonsense. Here it goes:

I enjoy your humor. I do feel that I should say that for me, forms are concepts. I'm glad you took the boat out.

---------- Post added 06-09-2010 at 07:45 PM ----------

Ding_an_Sich;174766 wrote:

Form deals with the objects of things as they are mere representation, that is, as appearances they are chracterized by traits that are not in-themselves, but are in us. We can derive from objects three things: time, space, and casuality, to which objects, as mere appearance, come and go. In essence, we cannot think of objects without a space (although maybe in time), but we can think of a space without an object (which would simply be its form).

For me, that entire quote is made of Forms/Concepts. Anything that bundles sensation, emotion, or other concepts is a concept or a form. I like your mention of spatial form. That's a tricky one. I personally think that spatial intuition is its own kind of Form. This is why math is so interesting to me. We see the collision of concept form (digital number) and spatial form (Euclid), and this collision can be awkward. Just look at pi.

Of course what I love in Hegel was his pointing out or agree that things-int-themselves are just a concept within our experience. Actually, as you probably know, Kant himself knew this. But he was practical enough not to stress the monistic implications. Personally I think that his "apperception of unity" is just one more concept. And so is the self. And so is all philosophy. This is a pretty radical way to think. A network of interdependent concepts, none of it are 100% justified logically but only practically. This is what I find in the TLP. Outside of contradiction and tautology, all of our concepts/knowledge is contingent, imperfect, dependent on sensation and emotion. Because propositions which are not tautological or contradictory must refer away from themselves for confirmation or rejection. And does not this depend on the senses? on the words of other humans? On feelings? I think he uses the word "senseless" in the sense of imperfectly precisely. We obviously get a sense of one another's meanings, but this meaning is blurry, vague, imperfect. One man's justice is another man's crime. What if the only permanent perfect essences/concepts are mathematical and logical? Basically just bits, completely abstract bits. All mathematics can be written in binary, it seems, while not forgetting the usefulness of symbols for pi and e, etc. But base-2 is enough for the usual numbers and symbolic logic (which I am brushing up on) is largely a matter of bits. Of course it's a broad field and all sorts of wickedness has been cooked up. In any case, pure precise abstraction might be the only perfect truth we have. And it's basically tautologous? So the world is opened up as something unexplained. Sensation and emotion are an ocean on which our fragile forms/essences/concepts make their way. Smile


The funny thing about us is that we have a concept of something e.g. pain, but we also, at the same time, have a sensation of it as it affects the body. This is something that I have taken from Schop, that we form concepts from sensation (although this concept is an abstract and is devoid of sensation), and communicate it through language by means of the faculty of reason. This is something that Witty talks about in his PI, which I should be reading for the Fall. Jeez my reading list will never end.

The only things that we can really speak clearly of are tautologies and contradictions. I am going to have to read through the TLP again for this. It would seem that way, but I have to investigate.

Enjoying the new forum? Seems kind of lackluster if you ask me.
 
 

 
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