[lit-ideas] Re: The principle of the uniformity of nature

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2015 07:14:22 -0500

In a message dated 2/20/2015 9:16:59  P.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Greek  eskhatos "last, furthest, uttermost, extreme, most remote" in time, 
space,  degree, (from PIE *eghs-ko-, suffixed form of *eghs "out") ... Also, 
is an "a  priori conception" in any way similar to an Immaculate 
Conception? I can make  something up if you don't know.  

Well, I do think that the Immaculate Conception, as Geary (and many Popes,  
too) called it, HAS to do with 'eschatology', which as Geary rightly points 
out,  is merely an ornamentation of the word
to mean,
"last, further, uttermost, extreme, most remote".
But Grice distinguishes between what he calls THEOLOGICAL eschatology  
(where the Immaculate Conception pertains) and PHILOSOPHICAL eschatology. He  
thought he was being witty.
He says that Metaphysics broadly conceived has little to do, as Palma  
mentions, with 'beyond physics' -- Aristotle's ta meta ta physica) -- and 
 can be divided into TWO sub-disciplines:
I was thinking that the principle of the uniformity of nature (since McEvoy 
 and O. K. were discussing 'laws of nature') was an apt topic to introduce 
in  that it can be formulated propositionally. To wit:
i. Nature is uniform.
Kant and Hume (or "Hume and Kant", as Geary prefers -- "drop your names  
chronologically") agreed that it's metaphysical in nature. Since it's not 
really  an ontological remark, I thought it was 'eschatological'. For Grice,  
'eschatological' pertains to categories, and is more general than  ontology.
The negation of  (i), Grice notes, is _also_ eschatological
~i. Nature is not uniform.
Lord Russell (known to friends as "Bertie" and unfairly portrayed as pretty 
 nasty in "Tom and Viv", the life of T. S. Eliot and his aristocratic wife) 
 visited the United States once, and thought that 
as indeed refuted into
during Thanksgiving.
He was moved by the fact that the President of the United States would  
pardon the life of a turkey. "Something that would rarely happen in Wales" 
(Lord  Russell was born in Wales). 
In Wales, a turkey observes that every day when the farmer's wife came down 
 the path at dawn, it got its breakfast shortly after. 
The turkey in Wales is a good inductivist -- and abides by the  principle 
of the uniformity of nature ("the sun raises, the sun sets", "I get my  
breakfast shortly after the farmer's wife comes down the path at dawn"). 
So every day this happened, the turkey became a little MORE  certain (the 
probability increased) that the statement 
"When the farmer's wife comes down the path at dawn, then I will get my  
is true.
"On one Christmas Eve, I recall", recalls Bertie, "the farmer's wife  came 
down the path with a large axe and chopped off the turkey's head."
"That made a big impression on me, but also refuted the principle of the  
uniformity of nature".
"The turkey's reasoning, based on the principle of the uniformity of nature 
 [which the turkey thought was, to echo Geary, an a priori conception --  
something like the immaculate conception, only different] was faulty."
"I came to conclude," Russell writes, that "in reality it did not matter  
how many repeated observations the turkeymade of the allegedly uniform  
natural act of the farmer's wife feeding him breakfast, the statmement ""When  
the farmer's wife comes down the path at dawn, then I will get my breakfast."  
never became any more true."
"And the farmer and his wife lived happily ever after," Russell ironically  
KEYWORD: Philosophical Eschatology 
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