Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Platon

Aristotle attended Platon’s Academia for 20 years before his instituted his own school in Athens 25 years later.  Platon’s Academia lasted 900 years and was closed by political decree of the Christian Church in Constantinople, and not by lack of disciples.  There is this mania among scholars to opposing Aristotle’s teachings and positions to his teacher Platon, as if it is urgently necessary in order to comprehend Aristotle works on their own values. For example, you read: “The concept of knowledge to Platon is acquired by rational dialog, while Aristotle privileges demonstrations and experimental methods for gathering facts.”  How can anyone believe that Platon could deny demonstration methods and observations?

A professional in a disciple has a toolbox of techniques and methods relevant to his profession; he is familiar with this toolbox (among many other relevant toolboxes) for demonstrating or experimenting and gathering data and observations.  I don’t have to be proficient in a particular method in order to accepting the validity of what has been proven as true or how a phenomenon behaves.  I do have to be proficient in the method if I have to critique a peer-reviewed article and discover the errors in the design and manipulation of the experiment.  That is called dissemination of knowledge, and dialog is one method transmitting knowledge.  Fact is, professionals, especially scientists, rely on dialog by sending letters and documents to one another and attending conferences.  Scientists receive most of their ideas and concepts from communicating their research topics and difficulty facing demonstrations.

Another point that scholars permitted the two philosophers to come in a face-off challenge, is how ideas are generated? Are ideas produced by transcendental ways or by experimentation? Many scientists would claim that they had the idea in a dream or a form of transcending method; fact is, most probably, the idea or method was stored in their deeper layers of memories, in a different form, resulting from dialog, reading, and communication. How and when the idea was registered in memory?  Is not recollecting the idea or concept another way of agreeing in the transcendental approach?

Most philosophical debates are not on the proper scientific methods of comprehending the universe and living creatures but mainly siding to powerful institutions at specific periods:  The powerful classes (clerics or aristocrats or middle classes) that have vested interests in opposing the dissemination of a particular concept that they view will prejudice their status-quo privileges.

Collecting data or observations from haphazard experiments lead to no where:  It is only when a reasoned method or a proper design of the experiment is contemplated, run, and analyzed for interrelations among the independent variables or controlled factors that data make sense.  Adopting abstract logical deduction from a set of axiom cannot result in anything meaningful if the theory is not submitted to experimentation for validation.  A single advantage of mathematicians is that their discipline encourages development of abstract theories, even if no scientist cared to test any of them.  Thus, scientific methods in the various philosophies do not contradict the essence for reaching truth.

Mathematicians never claimed to be scientists, and scientists know that their work will not go far unless a mathematical law is generated from data collected. Scientists may spend years categorizing and classifying samples gathered in their research and this task is intrinsically a rational method otherwise, how links can be found if no implicit or explicit hypotheses are generated to compare among samples?

Note:  After the German Hegel exposed his theory in the 18th century that “human civilization has developed by historical dialectic or the historic process of thesis, antithesis, and followed by synthesis”. The theory meant that at one period, scholars and philosophers agree on a consensus of propositions to comprehending the universe and mankind (I think due to political pressures of religious institutions and the power-to-be).  The next period witness an opposite current agreeing on contrary propositions.  The following period necessarily work out a synthesis of the two previous periods for a consensus on equitable propositions that reflect new knowledge.  This cycle begins again with a new set of propositions, transformed and modified from the initial propositions in period #1, strong with acquired new scientific facts; and civilization advances in that historical fashion of thesis periods, followed by antithesis periods, and rearranged by synthesis periods.  Since then, most philosophers and philosophy critics think they are obliged to considering opposing sets of propositions before delivering their own synthesis.

Aristotle’s empiricism (-384-322): Got to experiment for facts

Three centuries before Aristotle, scholars studying sciences, also called philosophy, were mainly settled in coastal city in the Near-East such as Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.

You have  cities as Millet, Ephesus, Tyr, Sidon, in Sicily…Scholars have been questioning mythology and investigating into cosmology, natural physics, and rational logic.

Pythagoras (magical proportion of numbers corresponding to natural laws), Thales (cosmology), Heraclitus (living things are constantly in movement and changing), Parmenides (what we sense are moving illusions), and Empedocles.

Democritus had written: “Who commits injustice should be the most unhappy person:  We are ashamed for behaving badly.” Xenon is the master of rhetoric:  We can master the art of arguing on anything.

Platon moved from Athens to Megara where Euclid was settled, as many of Socrates’ disciples after Socrates opted to drink poison rather than go into exile.

Aristotle spent 20 years in Platon’s school in Athens, “Platon’s Academia“,  which hanged the directive: “You cannot be admitted If you don’t know geometry”.  Aristotle studied rhetoric and dialectic for a year in Isocrates’ school.

As Aristotle was born, Macedonia was expanding its territory under Amyntas III, grandfather of Alexander.

Aristotle lived in his native town of Stagira while his father Nicomac was the official physician of Amyntas in the Capital Pella

A few years later, Aristotle is playing with Philip (heir to the kingdom) and Antipater (later the regent of Macedonia and Greece while Alexander is pursuing his expansion in Asia).

Aristotle lost simultaneously, his father, mother, and Amyntas III of an epidemic.  He would write: “How come natural phenomenon return, after a cycle, to their original nature (for example clouds) while living creatures don’t?  Man must not be as necessary to the equilibrium of the universe and he just appears by pure hazard:  Your father’s birth does not necessarily engender your birth.”

One of his sisters, married to Proxenos adopts him and settles in Turkey facing the island of Lesbos.  Later, Aristotle would adopt Proxenos’ son Cleisthenes.

Cleisthenes would become a famous disciple and historian “History of the sacred war” in 10 volumes.  Alexander would torture and assassinate Cleisthenes:  he started mocking Alexander’s antics of considering himself a divinity.

It is a great loss to mankind because Cleisthenes would have left accurate eye-witness account of Alexander vast campaign.

At Alexander reached 13 of age, his father Philip demanded from Aristotle to be the preceptor of his son.  Three years later, Alexander felt that he has no patience for further study:  He wanted to join the military campaigns of his father.

One of the assignment of Alexander was to tame revolts in the other provinces in Greece; the ancient and illustrious city of Thebes was raised from the map; Thebes was built by the Phoenicians several centuries before Athens existed.

When Alexander became king, Aristotle visited the new monarch who didn’t care for his teacher’s counsels.  Mankind is lucky that Aristotle stayed in Greece instead of wasting time tending to Alexander’s caprices.

Aristotle developed a new mode for reasoning by syllogism; for example, all members of B are in A, or all members of C are in B, then, all members of C are in A.  He gathered 14 kinds of syllogisms; sort of modern math concept.

Only when observations through experiments contradict a conclusion can we revised one of the erroneous premises. Aristotle demanded from his disciple to list references of books and documents on every known subject of study.

He observed jointly with his disciples and experimented on phenomena.  He was interested in natural physics, cosmology, political constitutions and structures, animals (especially horses), botany, logic, ethics, poetics.

His disciple Theophrastus will become one of the first renowned botanist.

Aristotle believe in a general or collective providence, the “intellectual agent”, and not an individual providence that is the cause for running the universe but not the creator of the universe.

Aristotle opened a school in Athens, with additional funding coming from Antipater the regent of Macedonia, on a sanctuary called Lycian, thus the French name of Lycee for schools.

He used to teach while walking in the alleys between the arcade, called Peripatus, thus, the name given to his disciples the “peripatecians”.  The school lasted as Alexander was alive.

When the Athenians got the news of the death of Alexander, they forced Aristotle out.  Aristotle dies a year after Alexander and leaves a detailed testament.

The story goes that Aristotle’s disciple Theophrastus was in charge of preserving all the manuscripts.  The king of Pergamus intended for his library to rival Alexandria; thus, the son of Theophrastus hid the manuscripts in Scepsis so that the king of Pergamus won’t take them.

Apellicon of Teos sold the manuscripts to the Roman consul Sylla in 82 BC.   In 60 BC, Andronicos of Rhodes recopied the manuscripts and classify them in two major categories: Physics and after physics (meta physics).

Note 1:  There is this mania of opposing Aristotle’s positions with Plato’s, as if the two philosophers were foreign to one another and did not complement one another.

Plato’s school lasted 900 centuries:  The official Christian Church in Constantinople decided to close this “pagan” school around 550 AC.

Note 2:  Maimonides (12 years younger than Averroes and from the same city Cordoba) relied on Ibn Rushd’s works to perpetuate the rational and scientific trend.

Maimonides wrote: “We may dispense of Plato’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works are difficult and many propositions cannot be comprehended without the commentaries and interpretations of Ibn Rushd.”

Note 3: This topic was mainly extracted fro the French book “Lighthouses” by Jacques Attali




May 2023

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