Physical Events, Physics and Metaphysics

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Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:32 am
Quote:

The problem of pedagogy is not to educate the exterior man, the anthropos, but rather the interior man who thinks, feels and wants. Look, gentlemen, at the durable case that man offers: he moves himself in space, he goes from one place to another, and at the same time he carries within himself infinite space, the thought of space. His body is a physical body, but I ask, and physics itself, what is it? Physical bodies move, have weight, and decompose. Physics does not move, have weight, and decompose. Bodies gravitate one toward the other in inverse proportion to their distance: but the law of gravitation does not even weigh one adarme [1/16th of an ounce]. It's that physics, gentlemen, is beyond physical events: physics is a metaphysical event.


And later that year, in an article(2) regarding a polemic between two famous Spanish writers of the 19th century about the uselessness of metaphysics as compared with science, Ortega wrote:

Quote:

The better biology describes our animal origin, the better the privilege that separates man from the rest of nature, because that will mean that biology is even more exact. Well now, biology is not a biological event; like physics is not physical, but rather both are precisely, supernatural events, metaphysical.


Recent discussions elsewhere in this Forum have focused on how physics differs from metaphysics. It has been said that physics talks about physical events or "phenomena" and that metaphysics, among other things, talks about talk about physical events or phenomena, i.e., metaphysics talks about physics, but not about physical events. But this could lead to an infinite regression, for in talking about metaphysics and its relationship to physics, are we engaging in talk about talk about talk about physical events, or metametaphysics, and so forth.

Ortega avoids this regression by regarding physics, and also biology, as "metaphysical events." Thus metaphysics could be defined as the study of metaphysical events, including physics and biology.

Now the point also has been raised that physics involves experiments, which are physical events. Experiments are physical events performed to test hypotheses. But what are hypotheses? Hypotheses, in the case of physics, are statements about physical events. This is the part of physics that is usually understood as involving talk about physical events.

And what about the experiments themselves? The purpose of the experiment is to test whether or not the statements about the physical events correspond to the physical events occurring during the experiment. But what is involved in designing the experiment; that is, in making the plan of the sets of physical events to be performed by the physicist during the experiment? Is designing an experiment a physical event? Is it talk about a physical event? Is it a metaphysical event?

And what is talk? Is it a physical event or a metaphysical event? Or both?
Comments welcome.


El Imparcial, October 6, 1910.

[Note: All translations were done by longknowledge.]
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:29 am
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;95992 wrote:

El Imparcial, October 6, 1910.

[Note: All translations were done by longknowledge.]


I really don't believe there is anything to avoid. Physics is talk about the world, philosophy (metaphysics) is talk about talk about the world, and metaphilosophy is talk about talk about talk about the world. I don't see that there need be more levels of discourse, so the regress is not vicious, but even if there are more levels, so what? All regresses are not infinite, and even if a regress is infinite, it need not be a vicious infinite regress. Recursive definitions are infinite, but not viciously infinite. They are benign infinite regresses.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:57 pm
@longknowledge,
Thanks for the quotes.

I think no matter where one draws the line it is going to have to vanish. There really is no distinction between metaphysics and physics since they are both attempting to describe the same thing via different means. For me, when Heraclitus says All is in flux, this is no different and equally valid as Quantum Mechanics equations that describe nature via wave/particle equations. However, both descriptions are useful for different aspects of life.

Be that as it may, it useful for discussion purposes to keep the metaphysics and physics somewhat separate, so as not to upset scientists who believe their art is the superior art. It is a matter of practicality.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:09 pm
@richrf,
richrf;96048 wrote:
. For me, when Heraclitus says All is in flux, this is no different and equally valid as Quantum Mechanics equations that describe nature via wave/particle equations. However, both descriptions are useful for different aspects of life.


Rich


Sorry, but "for me' is not an argument.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:13 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96053 wrote:
Sorry, but "for me' is not an argument.


For me it is. It is one of the primary ways I communicate my feelings about the stock market to people, with great success. Much more so than any syllogism.

What one feels is often the only argument. For example, if someone says that they enjoyed playing tennis with me. I feel good. That is it.

Feelings are probably the most important factor in human development.

Rich
 
Rubix Cube
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 02:39 pm
@richrf,
If Ortega defines metaphysics as the study of metaphysical events, and metaphysical events include (and contain) physical studies, such as physics and biology, which discuss physical events, then by Ortega's definition of metaphysics, experiments and hypotheses are metaphysical and relating to physics. The Experiment is posing a question to a question about a physical event, talking about talk about something physical, IE: metaphysical. The hypothesis is talk about something physical, however, and therefore it is neither a physical event nor metaphysical. It is simply physics. The hypothesis, however, is not being further discussed. An experiment attempts to recreate a physical event, not achieve the hypothesis, this is why a hypothesis is not considered metaphysical.

Talk in general can be either a metaphysical event or a physical event, but never both at the same time. When expressing an emotion, feeling, thought, or anything else from within oneself, the act of speaking can be considered physical. When a discussion ensues about metaphysics v physics, however, it can be considered a metaphysical discussion.

This is my interpretation of the quotes and descriptions you provided. I may be missing something in my analysis. What do you think?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 05:42 pm
@richrf,
richrf;96055 wrote:
For me it is. It is one of the primary ways I communicate my feelings about the stock market to people, with great success. Much more so than any syllogism.

What one feels is often the only argument. For example, if someone says that they enjoyed playing tennis with me. I feel good. That is it.

Feelings are probably the most important factor in human development.

Rich


What one feels is not an argument in any sense of the the word, "argument" I am familiar with. The purpose of arguments is not to communicate feelings. The purpose is to establish a proposition as true. Perhaps you ought to look up the word in a good dictionary. You seem to be uncertain of its meaning. Words do not mean anything you please them to mean. You might notice that the people who have just won Nobel prizes did not win them for their feelings.
 
Rubix Cube
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:10 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96079 wrote:
What one feels is not an argument in any sense of the the word, "argument" I am familiar with. The purpose of arguments is not to communicate feelings. The purpose is to establish a proposition as true. Perhaps you ought to look up the word in a good dictionary. You seem to be uncertain of its meaning. Words do not mean anything you please them to mean. You might notice that the people who have just won Nobel prizes did not win them for their feelings.


I think what was meant here is that what one feels can be an effective tool to use in an argument, not an argument within itself. You can't refute the feelings of some one else. Say, for example, that you and I go and see a movie. When we walk out of the movie you say "I liked that movie." and I say "I disliked that movie." I can't tell you that you dislike the movie no matter how much I want to, because you did enjoy the movie. I can certainly give reasons as to why I disliked the movie to try and change your mind, but it's much harder to argue against when it's opinionated and not logical. Rich simply gave his opinion, opinions can be argued against, it's just not as easy when there's no clear cut answer to how a person should feel about a subject. And also, while Rich may not have been originally arguing with his initial two cents, you made it into an argument the moment you called it into question.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:27 pm
@Rubix Cube,
Rubix Cube;96089 wrote:
I think what was meant here is that what one feels can be an effective tool to use in an argument, not an argument within itself. You can't refute the feelings of some one else.


Yes, I agree. And more than this, for me life and philosophy is not simply a set of logical syllogisms, that are pieced together with the purpose of winning some argument. It is about understanding life, and one does this by understanding one's own feelings and those of others. How are they similar? How are they different? Why is this so?

Feelings tap into an aspect of life that thinking alone cannot.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:42 pm
@Rubix Cube,
Rubix Cube;96089 wrote:
I think what was meant here is that what one feels can be an effective tool to use in an argument, not an argument within itself. You can't refute the feelings of some one else. Say, for example, that you and I go and see a movie. When we walk out of the movie you say "I liked that movie." and I say "I disliked that movie." I can't tell you that you dislike the movie no matter how much I want to, because you did enjoy the movie. I can certainly give reasons as to why I disliked the movie to try and change your mind, but it's much harder to argue against when it's opinionated and not logical. Rich simply gave his opinion, opinions can be argued against, it's just not as easy when there's no clear cut answer to how a person should feel about a subject. And also, while Rich may not have been originally arguing with his initial two cents, you made it into an argument the moment you called it into question.


I don't think I follow you. How can my feelings be an effective tool in an argument? The question is not how one should feel about anything. The question is what feeling have to do with argument.

I think that opinions can be argued against too. But opinions are not just feelings. Or, at least they should be backed up by more than feelings, which are no support at all. Hitler was a bad person because I feel he was a bad person can only get the reply, "so what?". Feelings are not reasons.

---------- Post added 10-08-2009 at 09:29 PM ----------

richrf;96095 wrote:
Yes, I agree. And more than this, for me life and philosophy is not simply a set of logical syllogisms, that are pieced together with the purpose of winning some argument. It is about understanding life, and one does this by understanding one's own feelings and those of others. How are they similar? How are they different? Why is this so?

Feelings tap into an aspect of life that thinking alone cannot.

Rich


That may be true, for all I know. But you seem to have switched views. You are, at least, no longer saying that feelings are arguments. And that is an improvement.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:27 pm
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;95992 wrote:
Recent discussions elsewhere in this Forum have focused on how physics differs from metaphysics. It has been said that physics talks about physical events or "phenomena" and that metaphysics, among other things, talks about talk about physical events or phenomena, i.e., metaphysics talks about physics, but not about physical events. But this could lead to an infinite regression, for in talking about metaphysics and its relationship to physics, are we engaging in talk about talk about talk about physical events, or metametaphysics, and so forth.

Ortega avoids this regression by regarding physics, and also biology, as "metaphysical events." Thus metaphysics could be defined as the study of metaphysical events, including physics and biology.

Now the point also has been raised that physics involves experiments, which are physical events. Experiments are physical events performed to test hypotheses. But what are hypotheses? Hypotheses, in the case of physics, are statements about physical events. This is the part of physics that is usually understood as involving talk about physical events.

And what about the experiments themselves? The purpose of the experiment is to test whether or not the statements about the physical events correspond to the physical events occurring during the experiment. But what is involved in designing the experiment; that is, in making the plan of the sets of physical events to be performed by the physicist during the experiment? Is designing an experiment a physical event? Is it talk about a physical event? Is it a metaphysical event?...

And what is talk? Is it a physical event or a metaphysical event? Or both?
Comments welcome.


My take is that this really concerns our attitude towards knowledge itself. I am not familiar with Gassett, but he has made a fundamental point, which itself would be regarded as controversial by naive realists. He is calling attention to the role of the observing intelligence in the construction of all of our knowledge. Whereas the naive realist account will say that physics measures or gives an account of the nature of reality as such, Gassett here is pointing out that the giving of the account is as much a part of the subject as the objects at which it is directed. So there is a level of self-awareness and self-criticism implicit in this understanding which is not apparent in naive realism. That is my interpretation.

I don't really see how he will avoid a regression here though (other than by declaring 'it is avoided').

As regards some of the other points - it is important to think carefully about the specific use of words such as 'metaphysics' and 'phenomena' and so on. They are such broad words they can be understood in a huge variety of ways, which is often a prelude to confusion, in that then we will all be using the same words, but discussing slightly different ideas. The word 'metaphysics' itself is traceable back to Aristotle. From that time on, metaphysics occupied a particular role in the broader context of Western philosophy and was thought of in particular ways. This is important to understand, only insofar as it helps to form a background understanding of 'metaphysics' which is a notoriously slippery subject. There are many who will not use the word at all, and others who use it to refer to ideas completely outside the tradition in which it was first coined.

As regards phenomena - if you look at modern continental philosophy, the 'phenomenologists' also rejected traditional metaphysics. They talk about 'phenomena' in their effort to analyse 'appearances as such' without reference to the traditional metaphysics. So as soon as you say 'physics talks about phenomena' a slight alarm bell goes off for me, because in philosophical discourse, 'phenomena' has a slightly different connotation to what it might have in physics.

Anyway, overall I very much in agreement with what Gasset is saying here, but the subject is treacherous, one slip and you're in deep water.:bigsmile:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:10 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;96127 wrote:
My take is that this really concerns our attitude towards knowledge itself. I am not familiar with Gassett, but he has made a fundamental point, which itself would be regarded as controversial by naive realists. He is calling attention to the role of the observing intelligence in the construction of all of our knowledge. Whereas the naive realist account will say that physics measures or gives an account of the nature of reality as such, Gassett here is pointing out that the giving of the account is as much a part of the subject as the objects at which it is directed. So there is a level of self-awareness and self-criticism implicit in this understanding which is not apparent in naive realism. That is my interpretation.

I don't really see how he will avoid a regression here though (other than by declaring 'it is avoided').

As regards some of the other points - it is important to think carefully about the specific use of words such as 'metaphysics' and 'phenomena' and so on. They are such broad words they can be understood in a huge variety of ways, which is often a prelude to confusion, in that then we will all be using the same words, but discussing slightly different ideas. The word 'metaphysics' itself is traceable back to Aristotle. From that time on, metaphysics occupied a particular role in the broader context of Western philosophy and was thought of in particular ways. This is important to understand, only insofar as it helps to form a background understanding of 'metaphysics' which is a notoriously slippery subject. There are many who will not use the word at all, and others who use it to refer to ideas completely outside the tradition in which it was first coined.

As regards phenomena - if you look at modern continental philosophy, the 'phenomenologists' also rejected traditional metaphysics. They talk about 'phenomena' in their effort to analyse 'appearances as such' without reference to the traditional metaphysics. So as soon as you say 'physics talks about phenomena' a slight alarm bell goes off for me, because in philosophical discourse, 'phenomena' has a slightly different connotation to what it might have in physics.

Anyway, overall I very much in agreement with what Gasset is saying here, but the subject is treacherous, one slip and you're in deep water.:bigsmile:


Just a small point: the word, "metaphysics" is not traceable to Aristotle, but to editors of Aristotle's work in the Middle Ages. The book, which was called, "the metaphysics" was simply the book which came after "the physics", and "metaphysics" literally means, "after physics". Then, it also took on the meaning of, "about physics", and the rest is history. So, in fact, physics is talk about the world, and metaphysics is talk about talk about the world. Talk about physics, which is talk about the world.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:49 pm
@Rubix Cube,
Rubix Cube;96059 wrote:
If Ortega defines metaphysics as the study of metaphysical events, and metaphysical events include (and contain) physical studies, such as physics and biology, which discuss physical events, then by Ortega's definition of metaphysics, experiments and hypotheses are metaphysical and relating to physics. The Experiment is posing a question to a question about a physical event, talking about talk about something physical, IE: metaphysical. The hypothesis is talk about something physical, however, and therefore it is neither a physical event nor metaphysical. It is simply physics. The hypothesis, however, is not being further discussed. An experiment attempts to recreate a physical event, not achieve the hypothesis, this is why a hypothesis is not considered metaphysical.

Talk in general can be either a metaphysical event or a physical event, but never both at the same time. When expressing an emotion, feeling, thought, or anything else from within oneself, the act of speaking can be considered physical. When a discussion ensues about metaphysics v physics, however, it can be considered a metaphysical discussion.

This is my interpretation of the quotes and descriptions you provided. I may be missing something in my analysis. What do you think?


Ortega is saying that Physics and Biology, which involve the acts performed by Physicists and Biologists, including the formulation of hypotheses, the design of experiments to test those hypotheses, and even the performance of the experiments, are metaphysical events. Both the formulation of hypotheses and the design of the experiments can occur without their being written down or even spoken to anyone. They both can be done "in your head", i.e., they are ideas or thoughts.

But the performance of the experiment by the physicist or biologist usually involves physical actions as well (unless it is a "thought experiment"). These actions are performed according to the plan devised by the experimenter, who must "think" at each stage what step she will perform next. And, although I didn't mention it in my first contribution, after the experiment is performed the experimenter must analyze the results of the experiment and determine whether or not the hypothesis she was testing corresponds to the physical or biological events being studied. This step she can do also "in her head" and therefore may consists of more "ideas" or "thoughts".

Now it could be argued (and has been argued by some) that events occurring "in your head" are nothing but neural events occurring in your brain and therefore they also are "physical events". But here we have to first clear up what is meant by the term "physical events". "Physical events" could mean "the events studied by Physicists" or could mean "any events studied by so called 'Physical Scientists' (including Chemists, Biologists, etc.)". The latter definition results from the attempt to reduce the understanding of all events to the "laws" formulated by Physicists. Thus we have Physical Chemistry, Biophysics, etc. , and within Biophysics we have Neurophysics including the study of "physical events" occurring in the brain. However, attempts by Neurophysicists to correlate "physical events" occurring in the brain with specific thoughts occurring in the mind have been notoriously unsuccessful.

A further confusion arises with the terms "physical" and "metaphysical", because of the "accident" of assigning the name "ta meta ta physika" ("the (works) after the Physics") as the title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c. 70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to that customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical," and the name of the works was shortened and altered to (ta) "metaphysika" in Medieval Greek and rendered as "metaphysica" in Latin. Whence, the word "metaphysics" came to be used in English to mean "the branch of philosophy which deals with the first causes of things" (discussed in Arostotle's "Metaphysics") and "metaphysical" to mean "abstract, speculative".

So we have to look at the treatises of Aristotle labeled as "ta meta ta phisika" to examine the topics that he included in them and see if they represent something "beyond physics" in any sense other than bibliographic, but I'll leave for another day an examination of Aristotle's "metaphysical" works. [As an aside, I'm a bibliographer by training, as well as being a philosopher by temperament.]

The point here is that a lot depends on what we mean by a "physical" event and by a "metaphysical" event. Even the word "event" involves a speculation or interpretation that could be considered "metaphysical". Event comes from the Latin "e-" ("from outside") plus "venire" ("coming") which implies that it's a phenomenon "coming from outside". This assumes that there is an "outside" from which the phenomenon "came", an assumption that the so called "phenomenologists" have pointed out.

This is why I prefer the term "phenomenon" to "event". In the translations of the passages from Ortega's work I had difficulty deciding on how to translate the Spanish word "hecho", which is a noun as well as the past participle of the verb "hacer" ("to do"), and therefore "deed" would be the literal translation. A Spanish-English dictionary gave "fact" or "action" as the meaning, but I decided on "event" because it does not have a Spanish equivalent and it is closest to what I mean by "phenomenon", which does have a Spanish equivalent "" used by Ortega elsewhere in his works.

So in a narrow interpretation, "physical events or phenomena" would be those studied by Physicists and "metaphysical events or phenomena" would include those "events or phenomena studied by Metaphysicians ('metaphysicists'?)." Now the "events or phenomena" studied by Metaphysicians include those performed by Physicists in an attempt to study those "physical events or phenomena", starting with the "event or phenomenon" of characterizing certain events or phenomena as "physical". Realize of course that this process would be followed by so called "metaphysicians" for any discipline, so beware Chemists, Biologists, etc., we are "after" you! ("metachemists"?, "metabiologists"?) [Or maybe Metaphysicians should study only the "events or phenomena" performed by Physicians. (Doctors beware also!)]

I hope this is helpful in clearing up some of your confusion.

---------- Post added 10-09-2009 at 01:14 AM ----------

Quote:
The question is what feeling have to do with argument.


Sometimes we use the word "feel" as meaning the same as "think", especially when followed by the word "that". I hope you "feel" that "thinking" has to do with argument.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 02:35 am
@longknowledge,
But according to your definition above, what is usually understood as 'the philosophy of science' should actually be understood as 'metaphysics'. I don't agree that this is the case, and in fact is an example of why the word 'metaphysics' should be used very carefully.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:03 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;96179 wrote:
But according to your definition above, what is usually understood as 'the philosophy of science' should actually be understood as 'metaphysics'. I don't agree that this is the case, and in fact is an example of why the word 'metaphysics' should be used very carefully.


Since metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, metaphysics of science is a branch of philosophy of science. You also have an ethics of science, an epistemology of science, etc. However, I recall that Ortega himself was disdainful of using the expression "philosophy of . . .". I'll check out his reasons and let you know what they were.

I hope (a feeling) no one minds my using the word "recall" above, since it's followed by the word "that" and also "recalling" is a type of "thinking". Also, I recall that Ortega thinks that "thinking" is a type of "feeling": "touching with your mind". I'll check that out also.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:25 am
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;96155 wrote:


A further confusion arises with the terms "physical" and "metaphysical", because of the "accident" of assigning the name "ta meta ta physika" ("the (works) after the Physics") as the title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c. 70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to that customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical," and the name of the works was shortened and altered to (ta) "metaphysika" in Medieval Greek and rendered as "metaphysica" in Latin. Whence, the word "metaphysics" came to be used in English to mean "the branch of philosophy which deals with the first causes of things" (discussed in Arostotle's "Metaphysics") and "metaphysical" to mean "abstract, speculative".

So we have to look at the treatises of Aristotle labeled as "ta meta ta phisika" to examine the topics that he included in them and see if they represent something "beyond physics" in any sense other than bibliographic, but I'll leave for another day an examination of Aristotle's "metaphysical" works. [As an aside, I'm a bibliographer by training, as well as being a philosopher by temperament.]

.


Thank you. I want to quote this explanation of why the Metaphysics is called that on another thread. I hope you do not mind.

---------- Post added 10-09-2009 at 10:30 AM ----------

jeeprs;96127 wrote:


As regards some of the other points - it is important to think carefully about the specific use of words such as 'metaphysics' and 'phenomena' and so on. They are such broad words they can be understood in a huge variety of ways, which is often a prelude to confusion, in that then we will all be using the same words, but discussing slightly different ideas. The word 'metaphysics' itself is traceable back to Aristotle. From that time on, metaphysics occupied a particular role in the broader context of Western philosophy and was thought of in particular ways. This is important to understand, only insofar as it helps to form a background understanding of 'metaphysics' which is a notoriously slippery subject. There are many who will not use the word at all, and others who use it to refer to ideas completely outside the tradition in which it was first coined.



Originally Posted by longknowledge http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif

A further confusion arises with the terms "physical" and "metaphysical", because of the "accident" of assigning the name "ta meta ta physika" ("the (works) after the Physics") as the title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. The name was given c. 70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to that customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical," and the name of the works was shortened and altered to (ta) "metaphysika" in Medieval Greek and rendered as "metaphysica" in Latin. Whence, the word "metaphysics" came to be used in English to mean "the branch of philosophy which deals with the first causes of things" (discussed in Arostotle's "Metaphysics") and "metaphysical" to mean "abstract, speculative".

So we have to look at the treatises of Aristotle labeled as "ta meta ta phisika" to examine the topics that he included in them and see if they represent something "beyond physics" in any sense other than bibliographic, but I'll leave for another day an examination of Aristotle's "metaphysical" works. [As an aside, I'm a bibliographer by training, as well as being a philosopher by temperament.]
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 03:25 pm
@kennethamy,
?

"The message you have posted is too short. Please post a message of at least 16 characters"

????????????????
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 04:46 pm
@longknowledge,
My reading of the original quote is that it is polemical in nature.

Gasset deliberatrly refers 'not to the outer man, the anthropos' - meaning, the phenomenon studied by anthropologists, a being-in-the-world - but rather 'the interior man who thinks feels and wants' - meaning, the first person, the inner man; perhaps we could say 'the soul' but in an allegorical, rather than religious, sense.

He then contrasts his physical, outward nature, which moves and goes from place to place, with the imagination, or the intellect, which is capable of conceiving 'infinite space', or the very thought of space itself. This analogy is extended by the ironic observation that while the law of gravity can determine the exact means by which bodies gravitate towards each other, 'the law of gravitation does not weigh' anything.

I think he is making the point, in this science-obsessed age, that we are continually overlooking the presence and the role of the observing intelligence in the world. I see this passage as basically Kantian in nature - he is showing that despite the apparent solidity and massiveness of the external world, and of ourselves as beings in it, yet the very fact of intelligent observation, of deriving the laws of physics, belongs to a separate realm, that of the 'inner man', as distinct from the anthropos.

This is indeed an ancient intuition in Western philosophy - but one that is continually forgotten and indeed has been abandoned by much post-Enlightenment philosophy. It is an echo of the traditional philosophical tenet of 'the rational soul in the intelligible universe':

Quote:
Man's body, however perfectly formed, still connected him to the temporal and mortal world of animals. His soul, however, united him with the eternity and immortality of God. It was thus man's most noble possession and his greatest source of dignity....So while the highest faculty in animals was sense-perception, in man it was cognition'.


Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1:7, quoted in The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, Schmidt, Skinner, et al, p311.

However, having made that point, to then say that the study of physics itself, or biology in itself, is a metaphysical undertaking, is, I think, to misconstrue the polemical point that Gassett was making. I think he is calling us to be mindful of the irrefutable presence and importance of 'the inner man' (should we say 'person'?) as the final subject of education, but to thereby begin to analyse all of the various branches of the sciences as types of metaphysic would, I think, be a misinterpretation.
 
odenskrigare
 
Reply Sat 10 Oct, 2009 03:41 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96100 wrote:
That may be true, for all I know. But you seem to have switched views. You are, at least, no longer saying that feelings are arguments. And that is an improvement.


Good job

You didn't let the skirmish line distract you

---------- Post added 10-10-2009 at 05:49 AM ----------

richrf;96095 wrote:
Feelings tap into an aspect of life that thinking alone cannot


To paraphrase your koan about where one wave ends and another begins, it seems appropriate to ask where "feeling" ends and "thinking" begins

Descartes' Error - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Sat 10 Oct, 2009 10:06 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;96387 wrote:
My reading of the original quote is that it is polemical in nature.

Gasset deliberatrly refers 'not to the outer man, the anthropos' - meaning, the phenomenon studied by anthropologists, a being-in-the-world - but rather 'the interior man who thinks feels and wants' - meaning, the first person, the inner man; perhaps we could say 'the soul' but in an allegorical, rather than religious, sense.

He then contrasts his physical, outward nature, which moves and goes from place to place, with the imagination, or the intellect, which is capable of conceiving 'infinite space', or the very thought of space itself. This analogy is extended by the ironic observation that while the law of gravity can determine the exact means by which bodies gravitate towards each other, 'the law of gravitation does not weigh' anything.

I think he is making the point, in this science-obsessed age, that we are continually overlooking the presence and the role of the observing intelligence in the world. I see this passage as basically Kantian in nature - he is showing that despite the apparent solidity and massiveness of the external world, and of ourselves as beings in it, yet the very fact of intelligent observation, of deriving the laws of physics, belongs to a separate realm, that of the 'inner man', as distinct from the anthropos.

This is indeed an ancient intuition in Western philosophy - but one that is continually forgotten and indeed has been abandoned by much post-Enlightenment philosophy. It is an echo of the traditional philosophical tenet of 'the rational soul in the intelligible universe'[. . .]

However, having made that point, to then say that the study of physics itself, or biology in itself, is a metaphysical undertaking, is, I think, to misconstrue the polemical point that Gassett was making. I think he is calling us to be mindful of the irrefutable presence and importance of 'the inner man' (should we say 'person'?) as the final subject of education, but to thereby begin to analyse all of the various branches of the sciences as types of metaphysic would, I think, be a misinterpretation.


You are correct about the polemical nature of much of his writing. He was trying to educate a Spanish public that had not seen a major philosopher since Spinoza. Ortega made a deep study of Kant during this period (1908-1911), when he went to Germany to study under the neoKantians Natorp and Cohen. However, he went way beyond them in developing what he later called a "philosophy of life" that, as the historian John Graham puts it, "comprised a long-hidden beginning in a pragmatist metaphysics inspired by William James, and with a general method from a realist phenomenology imitating Edmund Husserl, which served both his proto-existentialism (prior to Martin Heidegger) and his realist historicism, which I situate between Wilhelm Dilthey and Benedetto Croce." (A Pragmatist Philosophy of Life in Ortega y Gasset (Univ. of Missouri Press, 1994, p. 1)

As you point out, Ortega contrasts man as a "being-in-the-world" with the "interior man who thinks, feels and wants". In terms of our discussion in this thread, the first would be his "physical being" and the second would be his "metaphysical being". A scientist "thinks" of a hypothesis, "feels" excited about it, and "wants" to prove it by performing an experiment. According to Ortega, these are all "metaphysical acts".
But, "the study of physics" is what the student does, not what the physicist does. The physicist makes observations, constructs hypotheses, conducts experiments, and analyzes results. The student of physics studies the results of the activities of the physicist.

Also, metaphysicists, in Ortega's view, study the actions of physicists, biologists, etc. as "metaphysical acts or events". (They are attempts to interpret physical phenomena. Elsewhere, Ortega says that science is only the latest of various ways of interpreting phenomena. Before science there was myth, religion, (Greek) poetry and philosophy. Remember that the individual sciences started as speculations by the early Greek philosophers. (By the way, he would also consider the actions of students in "studying physics" as "metaphysical acts". On this see the first chapter of his book, Some Lessons in Metaphysics, where he subjects what it is to be a "student of metaphysics" to a metaphysical analysis. This book should be required reading for all "students of metaphysics", and it wouldn't hurt to have those who claim to be "metaphysicians" read it as well.)

[I would also like to clarify why I refer to Jose Ortega y Gasset as "Ortega". In Spain it is common to have two last names, representing the last name of the father and the mother's maiden name. Occasionally, the word "y" ("and") is placed between them, so "Ortega" is his father's last name and "Gasset" (one "t") is his mother's maiden name. But he is often referred to by his father's last name only, "Ortega".]
 
 

 
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