Aristotle Homework

Bill,

<o:p></o:p>Thanks for sending in your homework.

Reminder to everyone else – work on your homework forTuesday. It’s not due in written form. Bill sent it because he’ll miss thecall.

Back to your points below, Bill:

– I think it’s an older translation – and that’s why weget “premiss.”

– Original premise or truth – I think the currentscientific method would say that that approach dispels the philosophicalproblems by relying on repeatable experiments to test hypotheses. you don’tneed to know the truth ahead of time – you hypothesize and then test. and thenrepeat.

– As for Aristotle – I believe you are right that hesettles on definition and “things which cannot be proved” as hisfoundation.

– As for me, I straddle the scientific method approachand the post- modern approach. I think truth might itself be a challengingconcept. 

I think there is something that is fundamental – but Ithink we also participate in creating both the questions and answers. It’sdifficult to formulate my point-of-view here because I alternate betweensomething more traditionally scientific and something more influenced byelements of the post-modern approach.

– In either case, my neurons continue to dance

Phil

On Apr 3, 2009, at 10:38 AM, Swislow, Bill wrote:

<o:p></o:p>

Phil, here are my thoughts on a passage from Aristotle. SorryI’ll miss the discussion.

On page 113, line 36, he writes:

<o:p></o:p>”A man must believe in some, if not in all, ofthe basic truths more than in the conclusion.

<o:p></o:p>

<o:p></o:p>And then:

“The conviction of pure science must beunshakable.”

This seems like part of the payoff for his lengthyconsiderations of syllogisms and the relationship of the premisstothe predicate. In short, the premiss of a syllogism must be betterfounded than the predicate. But how is the premiss to be founded? Ifyou believe in the unshakable conviction of science, it’s not going tobe tolerable to have infinite regress (that is, every premissisfounded on some preceding premise into infinity) or to rely oncircular logic to establish the foundation of knowledge.

What’s not clear from these passages is what, otherthan “conviction,” constitutes that foundation. It’s possible I didn’tread all the way to that payoff, or that I missed it because I didn’tfollow his argument. But if he does posit a convincingfoundation, Western civilization in all the centuries since should feelpretty foolish, since we still struggle with the issue. The best wehave to offer still seems to be faith — whether in Godunderpinning all reality or in the perfection of mathematics as the foundationof all knowledge — or some version of existentialism: Faced with the prospect of infinite regress or ofreligion, let’s more or less arbitrarily settle on the most plausibleanswer and run with it.

That seems to be more or less what Aristotle did: Inhis statement on page 124, line 31, it appears he did not pretend tohave solved the problem: “I call the basic truths of everygenus those elements in it the existence of which cannot be proved.”

<o:p></o:p>However, he does seem to hope that many of thosebasic truths can be settled upon by definition. If  a triangle has three sides by definition, we can assert as a basic truth that alltriangles have three sides.

Anyway, my other great confusion is why thistranslations uses “premiss” rather than “premise.”

Bill

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One Response to Aristotle Homework

  1. April 06, 2009 at 12:21 PM says:

    <p>Bill,</p><p>I too am a fan of math – both pure and impure ;-)</p><p>But I worry that optimism around math can lead to all kinds of mistakes being made (witness the current downturn – where math was<br>*misused* to justify all kinds of mistakes).</p><p>Whether it be math or some kind of underlying physical reality as demonstrated by physics – or patterns that seem to be repeated as in biology and psychology – there is something here that is not nothing.</p><p>I agree that wit can compensation for foolishness – though my wit has never been strong enough to hide my lack of wisdom. So I must suffer my foolishness as I attempt to finetune an understanding of the world.</p><p>Phil<br></p>

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