[lit-ideas] Re: Shall we consider another philosopher?

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Lit-Ideas <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 17:50:02 +0900

To continue, then, here is another statement by Stenger re Whitehead:

*"Perhaps one had to be a mathematician to realize that it is not
appropriate to take seriously, for one instant, the unavoidable dilemmas
and the insurmountable alternatives that philosophers produce in order to
give their demonstrations a necessity that also enables them to criticize
and denounce. Yet a humor of thought was also necessary in order not to
overestimate this knowledge, so as not to transform it into an instrument
of judgment, to know that, unlike mathematical definitions, definitions in
philosophy are just as interesting by what they deny, judge, or refuse to
think, as by what they affirm. Philosophical statements must generally be
heard twice: in the mode of creation, they find their necessity in the
problem that set the philosopher to work; in the mode of judgment, the
designate what the philosopher has taken to silence and disqualify...."*

Awaiting enlightenment,

John


On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>wrote:

>  There was a misunderstanding, I think that we have now reached a more or
> less correct interpretation of A. in that passage (I don't know Greek
> either, other than some expressions like eudomenia etc.) and I was now
> moving to express a certain criticism of A.'s proposals in that passage.
> For one thing, a rhetorician, just like anyone else, often makes factual
> claims that can be verified or falsified. I can hardly make an ethical or
> political argument that we should we take John's car away without somehow
> implying that John has a car in the first place, and that latter claim can
> be empirically verified or falsified. Also, while we can possibly agree
> that rhetorical arguments do not demand demonstration, I would at least
> expect that the conclusion follows from the premises, provided that these
> are true. Demonstration in A. means both that the premises are certainly
> true and that the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises, and he
> does not expect to hold ethical or political arguments to such a high
> standard, but I am not sure that I agree that the standards of proof should
> be lowered when someone is arguing for a protracted war, for example, or
> for social policies that might affect even future generations, while they
> should be kept higher when talking about the 'forms' whose existence or
> non/existence hardly affects anyone in any visible way. That was about the
> gist of what I was saying.
>
> O.K
>
>
>   On Monday, January 27, 2014 12:59 AM, John McCreery <
> john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>  Omar,
>
> Isn't this one of those cases in which context is very important? As I
> read the following statement,
>
> "In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be
> received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in
> each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it
> is [clearly/surely/plainly] equally foolish to accept probable reasoning
> from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific
> proofs" [Nicomachean Ethics, I.1]
>
> Aristotle has set up a contrast between probable reasoning and
> mathematical proof. The former Is what we expect from a rhetorician, the
> latter what we expect from a mathematician. It makes no sense to accept
> only probable reasoning from a mathematician from whom we expect
> mathematical proofs. It equally makes no sense to demand mathematical
> proofs for a rhetorician who can, at best, offer only probable reasoning.
> We are still perfectly free to examine the evidence that the rhetorician
> deploys and how well he deploys it, to judge how probable the argument
> seems. To me, that means anywhere on a scale from nonsense to beyond a
> reasonable doubt.
>
> I expect that in this case you will make that judgment based on
> consideration of the evidence in the quote presented above. You might still
> reject my argument. I, for example, know no Greek and must, therefore
> depend on the translation from which the quote is taken. I can imagine a
> rebuttal based, for example, on the claim that the Greek term translated
> "proof" has some meaning significant differential from what is now meant by
> "proof" in books on mathematical logic. That would open up a new and, to me
> at least, interesting line of inquiry. But the relevant arguments would all
> be based on probable reasoning and, thus, given Aristotle's distinction, as
> I understand it, in the realm of the rhetorician and not that of the
> mathematician.
>
> Does this makes sense to you.
>
> John
>
> Sent from my iPad
>
> On 2014/01/27, at 3:49, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>
>
> In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be received;
> for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class
> of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is
> [clearly/surely/plainly] equally foolish to accept probable reasoning
> from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific 
> proofs.[Nicomachean Ethics, I.1]
>
>
>
>


-- 
John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324
jlm@xxxxxxxxxxxx
http://www.wordworks.jp/

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