RE: First philosophy (Was: Refuting Aristotle et al (was Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record))

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 12:46:24 EST

Dave said:
"The logical notion that there has to be a single first does not necessarily apply to reality."

This is too general of a statement to be true. It depends on what the 'first' is. For example, I could arrange "The first annual Sciligion Potluck." Or there could be the 'first' time Dave and I speak over the phone.

But if it comes to a continuum, you can't find the first. For example, a sliding scale from white to black in 1 million increments, and I ask you to show me where 'grey' first appears, or even 'white' or 'black.' There are some 'black's" that look the same, and our eye can't tell the difference. Evolution is the exact same. And evolution created mankind. Every descendent appears to be almost exactly the same as their ancestor, male/female mixed.

(Friend of the ASA)
From: [] On Behalf Of dfsiemensjr
Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: Refuting Aristotle et al (was Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record)

There are a number of problems with Aristotle. For example, try to apply the laws of excluded middle and contradiction to "bald" or any other characteristic that admits of degrees. Or try to do astronomy on the basis that all celestial bodies are composed solely of the quintessence. Or try to do chemistry on the basis of only four terrestrial elements. It must also be noted that syllogistic (including the additional modal logics) is not totally the same as medieval logics, and is quite different from contemporary logics (from Frege on).

As for 2+2=4, it is not necessarily true, for there is modular arithmetic.

As to a first entity of some sort, it is entirely possible that the first one possessing all the human characteristics, by being in a breeding group, did not have any offspring with the same complete set of characteristics. There has to be a slowly changing breeding group for speciation. The logical notion that there has to be a single first does not necessarily apply to reality.
Dave (ASA)

On Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:55:19 -0500 Schwarzwald <<>> writes:

Sorry, but this cuts no ice. If Gregory were simply making an appeal to the Church fathers such that they or revelation should be trusted over modern science... well, I'd have some problems with that, but "The year is 2009" would *still* not suffice as a meaningful argument. There are problems with trusting revelation over science (when the two are actually in dispute, rather than it being a clash of philosophies), but the 'modern world' hasn't done anything but make that view unpopular.

But when Gregory is talking about how there must have been a first, I don't see him as making a theological appeal. It's a logical appeal, one of reason. Along the lines of, "Beings of type X exist now. Beings of type X have not been reproducing since eternity. Ergo, there must have been a first." That's the sort of reasoning a classic greek may have used - but today's date does not change the validity of it.

To give another example: Aristotle is credited with the law of identity, of contradiction, and the excluded middle. Old, old "laws". Is "It's 2009" anything close to an adequate way to dismiss them? Does it even begin to do that?

Same for math. 2+2=4. You can find as much 'argued' (discovered?) in some old, old references. Is the reasoning outdated? Is the conclusion now suspect because of the passage of time?

So the "the world is fundamentally different" line doesn't go all that far. Nor does, necessarily, scientific advancement. If tomorrow a scientist tells me "2+2=71", he better have more than a declaration of "It's 2009" onhand when I ask him to defend his view.
On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 5:32 PM, Murray Hogg <<>> wrote:
Schwarzwald wrote:
Not nearly enough, Murray. And I'll bluntly say that the tactic of refutation by referring to the date is the stuff of glaring intellectual weakness. It can be deployed for just about any position, even contrary ones.

The difference in scientific perspective between the ancient world and today makes any appeal to Aristotle and the Church Fathers problematic in the extreme - particularly when their opinion (as it is on the question of the "first" human) is so markedly a product of their particular view of the created order.

Simply citing those authorities as if they can be considered determinative in any theological debate is PRECISELY to attempt to do theology in a pre-modern intellectual context.

Let me note, further, that I purposefully used quote marks on "refutation." I am aware that simply pointing to a calendar doesn't disprove Greg's argument - but it DOES introduce a major consideration that has to be addressed.

So the fundamental point is that our conceptual world is fundamentally different from that of Aristotle and the Fathers. The only "glaring intellectual weakness" is on the part of those who pretend otherwise.

In that respect, pointing out that there's been 2000 years of intervening scientific progress since Aristotle (and 1500 years of same since the Church Fathers) is not quite irrelevant.


To unsubscribe, send a message to<> with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

Online Loan
Click for online loan, fast & no lender fee, approval today<>

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Dec 18 12:46:54 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Dec 18 2009 - 12:46:54 EST