Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Did Susanne Langer invent virtual reality? (Aesthetics Today post)

Interesting read for some perhaps. Langer was Whitehead's student and in her own right deserves more attention than has been paid to her in the history of philosophy.

Did Susanne Langer invent virtual reality?
// Aesthetics Today

I have long thought that Susanne Langer originated sthe term "virtual reality."  She did not, however there is reason to believe that she inspired the term since "virtual" this and virtual that appear throughout her Feeling and Form (1953).  Here is an account of the origin of the term from Science Focus:  The online home of BBC Focus Magazine  (author unknown)  "The History of Virtual Reality"    here

"In 1982, Thomas G Zimmerman would file a patent for such an optical flex sensor, and would go on to work with Dr Jaron Lanier – the man who coined the term 'virtual reality' – to add ultrasonic and magnetic hand position tracking technology to a glove. This led to what would become the Nintendo Power Glove sold alongside a small number – two – of NES games in 1987. "Virtual reality originally meant an extended version of virtual worlds," says Lanier, who these days is to be found working for Microsoft Research as well as writing books and music. "Ivan [Sutherland] had talked about the virtual world that you would see through a headset like that. He didn't make up that term; it actually comes from an art historian called Susanne Langer, who was using it as a way to think about modernist painting. To me, what virtual reality originally meant was moving beyond the headset experience to include some other elements, which would include your own body being present, so to have an avatar where you could pick up things, and also where there could be multiple people, where it could be social."

Langer, of course, was not an art historian but a philosopher of art.  Feeling and Form, which I will discuss in my next post, was a major work of mid-20th century aesthetics.   Also, Langer used "virtual" not just in relation to modernist painting but in relation to several arts including sculpture, architecture, and dance.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Program for Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism (April 13th & 14th)

Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

2018 Theme: 
Mind, Semiotics, and Symbols in Nature

Drew University, Madison, NJ – April 13th and 14th

 Leon Niemoczynski (Moravian College) and Robert S. Corrington (Drew University)

All papers, meals, wine, beer, coffee, and non-alcoholic drinks will be in the Founder’s Room of Mead Hall (Administration Building)

Friday April 13th

Registration Table Open all Day and Tomorrow by Desmond Coleman

9:00-10:10: Cosmology

  “Re-Imaging the Human Mind in the Mysteries of Space-Time and the Existence of Gravitational Waves” – Moon Son (Yonsei University)
  “Ecstatic Naturalism and Quantum Physics in Terms of Consciousness”- Wang-Eun Serl (Drew University)

10:30-11:40: Semiotics

  “Ecstatic Naturalist Semiotics of the Sexed Body” – Susan Erke (CUNY)
  “Relations and Insides: Using the Semiotic of John Deely to Think Natural Interiority” – Desmond Coleman (Drew University)

11:50-1:00: Psychoanalysis

  “The Spirit In-Between the Pulsing Heart of Nature: Interrogating Iterative Nihilation as Integral to Ecstatic Difference” – Frank Scalambrino
  “Absolute Void and Bleak Cosmos” – Leon Niemoczynski (Moravian College)

Lunch 1:00-2:00

Group Photograph 2:00-2:30

2:40-3:50: Mind in Nature
  “Mind, Extended. or Artificial, or Naturalized?: An Ecstatic Naturalist Quest for Mind and Nature” – Iljoon Park (Methodist Theological Seminary)
  “Human Mind and Nature’s Mind” – Gene Nasser

4:10-5:20: Eco-Theology and Panpsychism
  “A Study of Eco-Cosmological Theology from a Naturalist Perspective” – SooYoun Kim
  “As so Many Sense-Organs of the Earth’s Soul: The Continuing Relevance of William James’s Reflections on Panpsychism “ – Jonathan Weidenbaum (Berkeley College)

5:30-6:00 Announcement of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for the Best Paper by a Junior Scholar ($500)

Dinner and Reception 6:00-7:30

7:45 – Panel: Interview of Dr. Robert S. Corrington by Dr. Leon Niemoczynski
“Questions Concerning Mind in Nature

Saturday April 14th

9:00-10:10: Expression of Mind

  “On the Participation of Nature in the Emergence of the Sacred: Bateson’s Ecology of Mind, Ecstatic Naturalism, and Environmental Ethics” – Sarah O’Brien (Drew University)
  “Deep Pantheism: Nature Naturing and the Problem of Consciousness” -Thomas Millary

10:25-11:35: Metaphysics

  “Transcendentalist Metaphysics of the Semiosis of Nature” – Nicholas L. Guardiano (Southern Illinois University)
  “The Object Objects: An Animist Turn to the Visceral Semiospheric Commens” – Emile Wayne (Drew University)
11:50-1:00: Other Thinkers

  “The Post-human and Today’s Understanding of Paul: ‘The Remnants,’ ‘Becoming’ and the Ecstatic Naturalist Mind” – Ick Sang Shin (Sunkonghoe University)
  “To Find Reality: Bradley and Ecstatic Naturalism” – Guy Woodward

Lunch 1:00-2:00

2:10-3:20: Asian Religion

  “Learning from Water: A Daoist Ecstatic Naturalism” - Jea Sophia Oh (West Chester University)
  “Thinking ‘Creative Integrity’: Non-Coercive Ethical Agency in Ecstatic Naturalism and Confucian Rule Ethics” – Joseph E. Harroff (East Stroudsburg University)

3:35-4:45: Community and Cosmos

  “Beloved Community as Cosmic Symphony” – Rory McEntee (Drew University)
  “ Peirce and Ordinal Psychoanalysis: A Jungian Approach” – Robert S. Corrington (Drew University)         

Concluding Remarks

Refreshments: Dinner on your own

Special Korean Session – Monday April 16th at 3:00 in Seminary Hall

  “The Mind and Nature in the Prophetic Tradition” – Ji Eun Park

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Iain Hamilton Grant: Palaeonoetics thought on the move

FYI for those in Germany and surrounding, care of Merve Verlag.

Berlin, Today, Easter Sunday, Apr 1, 08:00 pm, Volksbuehne. 

Iain Hamilton Grant: "Palaeonoetics thought on the move."

Call for Papers: Philosophy’s Religions: Challenging Continental Philosophy of Religion

Copying from their website, link below.


Philosophy’s Religions: Challenging Continental Philosophy of Religion

International Conference, 5th – 7th September 2018

Faculty of Theology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Keynote Address: Jean-Luc Marion
Continental philosophy of religion (CPOR) has succeeded in many ways to question modern divides between philosophy and theology, thus opening up new, postmodern possibilities for encounter and dialogue. However, this process also has been perceived with suspicion from both sides. On the one hand, some philosophers accuse CPOR of a crypto-theology that colonizes philosophy; on the other hand, theologians often regard it as a Trojan horse designed to further weaken the fundaments of religion. This conference wishes to examine the complex relationship between contemporary philosophy and religion/theology by turning its attention to the vast field of phenomenology and hermeneutics. Its major tasks are to unveil the variety of religious topoi implicit within these disciplines and to further assess their potential for dialogue with theology. 
Recent French phenomenology has expanded upon the notions of phenomenality, rationality, and the overcoming of metaphysics. Thinkers such as Levinas, Marion, or Henry have altered the very notion of transcendence and thus became valuable interlocutors for theology. Levinas’ work has been appropriated within theology, even within Catholic dogmatics, to the point of provoking some opponents to mock of his becoming a new Church father. In general, there is increasing awareness among theologians that theology cannot immunize itself from the ongoing weakening of traditional metaphysics and its assumed overcoming. Marion’s phenomenological thought has perhaps the highest, yet vastly unexplored potential for theology to respond to this challenge. What is required, on the one hand, concerns a thorough consideration of Marion's theoretical presuppositions without too quickly domesticating his terminology (e.g., saturation, revelation, gift, etc.) within a theological discourse. From the side of philosophy, on the other hand, Marion’s phenomenology rightly demands an attitude of bracketing the recurrent prejudices concerning a hidden theological agenda. Given this, the critical reception of this work allows and even necessitates the pursuit of general questions (as does every phenomenology of religion) in our search for a fragile equilibrium that neither hides behind a "methodological atheism" nor drifts into an unavowed theology. But tracing the line of demarcation also is an issue for theologians: are those philosophical topoi bearing a strong religious affinity (e.g., the call-response structure, topologies of the gift, love, gratuity, etc.) that we find at work in contemporary French phenomenology of religion (including thinkers like Chrétien, Lacoste and Falque) compatible with concrete religion(s) and their theology(ies)? And if so, to what degree? Do re-appropriations of Christianity (such as in the case of Henry's phenomenology or Vattimo's hermeneutics) deepen and enhance religious discourse, or do they rather run the risk of violently distorting the original self-understanding of a concrete religion? 
Unlike phenomenology, hermeneutics always has maintained strong ties with theology, especially within a Judeo-Christian context, since this tradition was one of the birthplaces of hermeneutics. The kerygmatic character of the Christian message and its inherent historicity still forms a natural affinity to philosophical hermeneutics, which, since Heidegger, has extended its ambitions to promote an all-encompassing role of understanding, overshadowing and replacing the role of ontology. But this development of hermeneutics has led, simultaneously, both to proximity with and distance from theology. The constant weakening of ontology (disqualified as a strong and violent metaphysics of presence) has put in jeopardy the concept of transcendence, which traditionally has been at the core of religious self-understanding. This deconstructive (Caputo) and “nihilistic” tendency of hermeneutics (Vattimo) has not been accepted without contradiction. Indeed, it recently has been countered by its “metaphysical” opponents (to use Grondin’s terminology), who advocate for a “constructive” ideal of Gadamer’s method and for the reconciliatory character of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics. In Greisch’ hermeneutical anthropology, to mention just one example, still remains the “function meta” after the decline of traditional metaphysics. Finally, a truly unprecedented challenge for religion/theology is raised by the recent turn of hermeneutics towards sensibility and corporeality. This twist is recognizable not only in “carnal hermeneutics” (Kearney), but also in inquiries into the cosmic dimension (cosmopoetics in Caputo) or the “sensible transcendental” (Irigaray). All these lead to new, explicitly “material” understandings of religiosity. 
As this short description has demonstrated, it is difficult to assess whether it is within the philosophical or the theological landscape that the variety of contemporary re-conceptualizations of the religious incites greater controversy: to start this inquiry, explore the related controversies, and assess their potentials for both fields, is the major intent of this conference. Thus viewed, it seeks to provide a place of encounter for different approaches to religion within the broader context of phenomenology and hermeneutics. It also welcomes contributions from other relevant disciplines – in particularly theology, with its own internal diversifications and confessional differences – that might help highlight the afore-mentioned tensions, and enrich the dialogue between philosophy and theology today. 
Conference language: English 
Paper proposals with the title of presentation and an abstract of no more than 200 words should include the author’s full name, contact address, institutional affiliation and academic position. Please send them to 
Abstract submission deadline: 10th May 2018. 
Notification of acceptance: 1st June 2018. 
Participation fee: 50 EUR 
Organizing committee: Branko Klun (University of Ljubljana), Michael Staudigl (University of Vienna), Lenart Škof (Science and Research Centre, Koper), Luka Trebežnik (University of Ljubljana)
Conference websites link HERE.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Quote of the day

Plato (423-347 BCE)

"There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse."
    - Socrates, in Plato's Phaedo (89d)

"Opinions without knowledge are shameful things."
    - Socrates, in Plato's Republic (506c)

"The virtue of reason is, above all, divine."
    - Socrates, in Plato's Republic (518d)

"The subject of measure is useful for the sake of knowing rather than trading...It leads the soul upward and compels it to discuss the numbers themselves...and then understanding and truth itself."
    - Socrates, in Plato's Republic (525d)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Monoskop on accelerationism

Monoskop has a page posted that is an excellent resource on accelerationism. Be sure to spend some time there going through the multitude of great resources found in a variety of media formats. Such a great page, I highly recommend it. Link HERE. (As an aside, check out After Nature with a humble introduction to the philosophy of Nick Land, HERE.)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Is it "crazy" to go to college?

Those who, in retrospect of their college careers, find that their past education was just some "crazy" hurdle that they've jumped merely in order to "make money" miss the point of education entirely.  College isn't something crazy that you do "for" money. Not a college education that involves an exposure to the liberal arts, at least.

If one thinks that the craziest thing they've done for money is go to college then either they did not receive a quality education or they did not make the most out of the quality education that they may have received.

It's a shame how ignorant such talk can be, and no wonder how someone like that would settle for just "making money" and not much else. On the other hand, as the quote comes from a Millennial, holding up and being resilient, remaining pragmatic without childish optimism or pessimism, and not complaining wouldn't be a strong suit. Afterall, it is easier to claim "introvert" and blame the world for your problems than it is to recognize that the first mind which needs to be "elevated" is your own.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Aristotle, De Anima (NDPR Review)

C.D.C. Reeve's translations are impressive for sure, hence me posting the below.
Aristotle, De Anima

View this Review Online

C.D.C. Reeve (tr., ed.), Aristotle, De Anima, Hackett, 2017, 227 pp., $22.00 (pbk), ISBN 9781624666193.

Reviewed by Caleb Cohoe, Metropolitan State University of Denver

This is an excellent translation of Aristotle's De Anima or On the Soul, part of C.D.C. Reeve's impressive ongoing project of translating Aristotle's works for the New Hackett Aristotle. Reeve's translation is careful and accurate, committed to faithfully rendering Aristotle into English while making him as readable as possible. This edition features excellent notes that will greatly assist readers (especially in their inclusion of related passages that illuminate the sections they annotate) and an introduction that situates the work within Aristotle's scientific method and his overall view of reality.

Reeve's introduction discusses the status of Aristotle's science of the soul. His treatment is not merely an overview of this topic but a significant and welcome...

Read More


Thursday, March 22, 2018

A quick reflection and Reza’s post: Euclid’s Elements, a philosophical thriller (Toy Philosophy repost)

Insightful as ever and just plain interesting, Reza from Toy Philosophy blog analyzes Euclid's Elements in Part 1 of a philosophy of mathematics thriller. Thus, I repost the below but - as always, please visit the original as well, even if only to survey the layout. (As an aside, the student taking my Philosophy of Mathematics independent study has been accepted to a paid internship at MIT this summer. She is brilliant and while procrastinates, produces beautifully elegant work. She and I are both learning much about the deep and at times murky philosophical theory which underpins all of mathematical thinking.)

In reposting the below I leave the post in its original form. Typically I italicize posts to indicate that they are not mine, when I repost others' blog posts. In this rare case I leave as-is, only because the post has so many important titles and translations that italicizing it would take away from its coherence.

Euclid's Elements, a philosophical thriller (part 1)
// Toy Philosophy

Among the greatest mathematical treatises in the antiquity and beyond, no title matches Euclid's Elements in simplicity, elegance, popularity and sheer hair-raising brilliance of analytic imagination. It is a book that is accessible to any person who wishes to initiate into that fathomless realm we call mathematics. But the same thing can be said about Elements's philosophical depth. Elements is in fact a book in which the boundaries between mathematics and philosophy completely fade. In this marriage between philosophy and mathematics via the geometric method, we see a form of intuitive mathematics whose results are both sophisticated and non-trivial even in terms of modern mathematics, and a philosophy which points towards possibilities of formal and systematic thinking.

The aim of this series is to dissect the tissue between geometrical and philosophical problems and tropes in Elements, using concepts and ideas situated at the nebulous interstices between philosophy, logic and mathematics. The first few installments will focus on the overall characteristics of the Euclidean universe. But as we proceed, we will shift the attention toward analysis of particular examples.

If you remember the school days, you recall your teacher treated Elements in terms of analytic geometry alone. But Elements is equally a work of philosophy. While it is quite controversial to claim that Euclid was a Platonist, we can imagine that the philosophical climate during the life of Euclid was saturated with Platonic ideas, above all the doctrine of forms or ideas. Even though Euclid might not be at the end of day, a platonist, he nevertheless is preoccupied by the same philosophical concerns which preoccupied the Plato of the late period, particularly the Plato who revised his early doctrine of forms beginning with Theaetetus and brought it to maturity in Philebus.

Suffice to say that the very core of Elements deals with the dialectics between universal forms and fleeting particularities. But this dialectic as I will elaborate is not Aristotelian insofar as it involves something more than the existential interpretation of mathematics or to be more specific analytical geometry—i.e. the correlation between the genus and species—where all the proof of a general concept demands is finding or constructing a particular instance that can be subsumed under the general concept, like this rectangle and rectangularity as such. The framework in which the Euclidean oscillations between particulars and universals is expressed is what Plato calls craftsmanship or world-building which is an enterprise undertaken by the mind. The mindcraft draws as its raw material physical becoming which is only endowed with forms of elemental powers and no higher forms. The process of the craft itself proceeds by way of patterns. A pattern is, however, not a thing, but that by which a thing is structured, made or designed. Moreover, patterns are not discrete. For at each level in the hierarchy of particularities and universalities (e.g., these straight segements-cum-acute angles, this triangle, this particular kind-of-traingle and triangularity as such), there are such uniformities as patterns mainly by virtue of how—rather than merely what—things hang together—that is, the question of structure as the designation of Being.

Yet patterns are not exhausted by how and what things hang together, for they can be patterns of how different patterns hang together. For example, think of Book 1, propositions 2 (henceforth, I.2) in Elements which we will have the occasion to examine in the next installments. In this demonstration, you require not only the patterns by which lines hang together, but also how circles and a straight segment hang together (for the purpose of constructing an equilateral triangle). Furthermore, you should know how different circles, and the vertices of an equilateral triangle—i.e. composite patterns and simple patterns—can hang together in the right way so as to build a diagram that demonstrates the proposition.

Source: Wilfrid Sellars, The Soul as Craftsman

From this brief discussion on the world of Plato-Euclid mindcraft, we can conclude that the process of the craft consists of sensory stuff, patterns after which things are made, patterning patterns (patterns for organizing and structuring other patterns which are greater wholes) and recipes which are instructions concerning how and what patterns pertaining to what material ingredients and/or lower patterns should be mixed together. But the objective of a recipe is to make a product that can in turn be incorporated as an ingredient into another recipe. Therefore, in addition to the above components, there should also be something like a craft test or demonstration whereby

Thus recipes are, broadly speaking, objective principles or practical intelligibilities which have as their ingredients even theoretical intelligibilities as well as more mundane ingredients (e.g., sensations, material things which might be in fact the products of other materials-cum-forms-cum-recipes such as a tanned leather with tumble finishing or in the case of Elements, an equilateral and equiangular pentagon).

Source: Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid's Elements (II.7)

In short, recipes whose equivalents in Elements are procedural diagrammatic constructions represent the engines of the craft by which not only we can make things but also, demonstrate how materials, products, and even single recipes hang together such that the ensuing craft is a universe—a world-soul—in which all (spatial) relations between things (particular instances) and forms (universals), or forms and forms are articulated and rendered intelligible. But this resulting craft or universe can also be imagined as a universe in which ever more complex forms or higher mixtures (to mikton) can be made. An apposite metaphor for this universe, is a river whose source is a mountain. The limits of the mountain is the earthly ground and a given sky which is demarcated by the snowy peaks. Even though the river's origin is limited by material sediments and heavenly forms—the melting snow—the river soon finds its path along the geodetic path to the sea where strange fauna, forms and adventures await us. But the course of the river is always tortuous as it passes through forests of intermediary forms before it shapes estuaries where the tidal waves of complex forms and discrete instances and patterns meet together. This is nothing other than Plato's vision of the revised doctrine of ideas—the craftsmanship of the soul—where the craft of the mind coincides with a new bottomless expanse of forms. The possibility of constructing a new world or a nested hierarchy of forms from the limited resources of the existing world is the sure conclusion of this vision.

In this respect, the recipe or the ongoing instruction regarding how to navigate between the particular and the universal, local and global has something more than just material ingredients and forms. The recipe consists of elementary ratios and proportions which in Euclid's universe can be compared with principles in Elements which are common notions (principles1) and postulates (principles2) which respectively signify undergirding assertions and elementary construction recipes. Common notions are quantitive assertions or intuitive axioms such as 'Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.' Postulates, on the other hand, instruct certain kinds of elementary constructions like Postulate 2 that states, 'To produce a finite straight line continuously in a straight line.' Whereas, the relations between principles1 and theorems are deductive to the extent that the truth of the conclusion is contained in the truth of the premise, the relations between principles2 and problems are not deductive for the construction cannot be considered as a deductive inference from the postulate.

Moreover, the focus of a recipe is not restricted to pure construction. The idea of craft as Plato has suggested also entails a function called 'limiting' (to peras). In Theaetetus, Plato speaks of a function that 'freezes or fixes the flux of things' (183a7), or 'make things stand still' (157b7) and limits that which is unlimited, or more precisely, indeterminate (apeiron), thus bringing it into determination and intelligibility. This limiting or determining function is attributed to that of language and logos and is closely associated with measure (metron) which depending on the context can be epistemological, ontological or axiological. In the epistemological context, metron signifies the quantification of the apeironic flux or the continuum of greater-and-smaller into intelligible degrees or grades (e.g., being hot, warm, lukewarm and cold, or being extended this-such and being extended that-such). It is precisely the study of this limiting function that later on via the influence of neo-Platonists on scholastic philosophy culminates in Nicole Oresme's work (Tractatus de configurationibus qualitatum et motuum) on diagrammatic configurations known as latitudes of forms—intensive and extensive elaborations of qualities— which in turn paved the road for articulation of differential equations of motion that scaffolded the revolutions of Copernicus and Kepler.

It is, however, important to realize that quantification for Plato so as for Euclid is not exclusive to the domain of numbers but can also include geometrical-spatial extensions. Once the limiting or determining measure in the latter sense (e.g., line as the limit1 of surface, or the definition of angle as the limit2 of its construction) is established, we can derive determining spatial relations between determined or limited geometrical figures. Only when such determinate spatial relations are available, a diagram can be constructed on previous diagrams so that we can move from one proposition or problem to another.

Finally, in addition to the recipe, there should be such things as craft tests or in Euclid's world, demonstrations. If the Euclidean construction is understood as effecting what we aim to effect via diagrams, demonstration can be thought as a stepwise procedure for confirming that the construction has indeed effected what it says it has. Throughout the course of demonstration that covers every step of the construction rather than only the final result, tests can be executed either as objections (enstasis) or cases made against the current construction or diagram. If the former i.e. objection wins, the entire construction is null and void. But if the case—which can be understood as a diagram model that serves or effects the same purpose in a different context—wins, the construction is not necessarily erroneous, since it might prove or demonstrate the same thing in another diagram or geometrical context (allos).

Moreover, demonstrations are applied to two different aspects of the diagrams or products of the craft:
(1) those attributes of diagrams which pertain to participation (methexis) of elements or part-whole relationships. Such methexis-related aspects can include mereological relationships between regions, and segments or lines which demarcate boundaries as in the case of the notorious diagram in I.1 where two circles whose centers are the two endpoints of the same straight segment should intersect at exactly one point. But there is no explicitly stated rule in Elements guaranteeing that such a configuration would invariably result in an intersection point. Imagine circles made with lines with different breath or thickness, or made of squiggly lines. The result won't be guaranteed to yield an exactly one intersection point. Yet if we see the implicit desideratum of intersecting circles in terms of how the components should hang together from a mereological perspective we can say that given such and such regions and boundaries appear to participate mereologically, the two circles should in fact intersect.
(2) The second aspects are what can be dubbed as analogical (analogon) attributes in the sense that Plato defines them ('ana ton auton logon'), namely, ratios, proportionalities and the equality of non-identicals. Whereas methexis-related aspects are based on the appearance of diagrams, analogical aspects are not concerned with how diagrams look like.
Attributes (1) and (2), therefore, roughly correspond to what Kenneth Manders in Diagram-Based Geometric Practice calls exact (analogical aspects) and co-exact (methexis-related aspects of diagrams) attributes.

The final products of the craft—i.e. constructions which have withstood demonstration or validation—are mixtures (mikton) or determinate complexes which are demonstrated diagrams. Only once such mixtures are available, it is possible to use them as ingredients of another craft or construction.
At this point, it is perhaps necessary to make a brief point about the nature of Euclidean demonstrations as Platonic craft tests. So far I have used the words demonstrations and proofs interchangeably. But demonstrations are not exactly proofs in a technical modern sense—only in the very loose sense of proof (we will return to this point in next installments). Furthermore, even the word demonstration is not accurate for describing the system of Euclid. The phrase quod erat demonstrandum not only should not be translated as that which was require to prove, but also itself is an inaccurate Latin translation of the Greek verb deiknumi whose precise translation is the Latin monstrare i.e. to show. In Second Analytics, Aristotle fully distinguishes deiknumi as an informal and epistemological investigation from apodeiknumi or apodeixis (proof) which has an exact connotation within the lexicon of syllogistic logic as an inference that draws certain conclusions from certain premises. While this comment might appear as a petty etymological indulgence, as Andrei Rodin has detailed in The Axiomatic Method and Category Theory, it indeed has a significant implication given Euclid's own remarks and Proclus's commentary on Elements. The difference between monstration (Euclid's focus) and demonstration vis-à-vis proof suggests that we can arrive at sound and non-trivial results in mathematics without relying on an axiomatic method in the sense we understand it today. Even the Euclidean givens (data) are not exactly formal axioms since not only they are underdefined / undefined but also all the rules for building on the data are not explicitly stated.
Within the framework, we can now see that the genius of Euclid's Elements is not as much in devising new feats of proof and demonstration as it is in setting up a generative space—a unified process of craft—that accommodates all previous works done in analytic geometry.

1. Plato-Euclid's World of Mindcraft
                                                     ┌───────────┐                                                       │ Mindcraft │────────────────────1────────────────────┐                                                       └───────────┘                                         │                                                                                                             │                                                                                                             │      ┌───────────────┬─────────────┐                                                                        │      │               │             │                                                                        │      │               │             │                                                                        ◁──────────┐      │    Go to 1    │    Go to 2  │                                                                        │          │      │       △       │       △     │                                                                        │          │      │       │       │       │     │                                                                        │          │    .───.   .───.   .───.   .───.   │                                                                        │          │   ( Yes ) (  No ) ( Yes ) (  No )  │                                                                        │          │    `───'   `───'   `───'   `───'   │                                                                        │          │      △       △       △       △     │                                                                        │          │      └───┬───┘       └───┬───┘     │                                                                        │          │          │               │         │                                                                        │          │   ┌─────────────┐ ┌─────────────┐  │                                                                        ▽          │   │             │ │   Testing   │  │  ┌──────────────────┐          ┌──────────────────┐          ┌──────────────────┐ │   │             │ │  against a  │  │  │  Sensory stuff   │          │Elementary Recipes│          │  Basic Patterns  │ │   │             │ │case (a proof│  │  │                  │          │                  │          │                  │ │   │Withstanding │ │ of another  │  │  ╠══════════════════╣◁───3─────╠══════════════════╣◁───2─────╠══════════════════╣ │   │  Objection  │ │  diagram /  │  │  ║   Intuitive or   ║          ║   Principles:    ║          ║   Definitional   ║ │   │ (enstasis)  │ │ alloos, or  │  │  ║    Perceptual    ║          ║  Common Notions  ║          ║  Givens (Data)   ║ │   │             │ │demonstration│  │  ║   Ingredients    ║          ║    Postulates    ║          ╚══════════════════╝ │   │             │ │ in another  │  │  ║   of Diagrams    ║          ╠══════════════════╣                    │          │   │             │ │  context)   │  │  ╚══════════════════╝          ║Limits (to peras) ║                               │   └─────────────┘ └─────────────┘  │            │                   ║Determinations of ║                    │          │          △               △         │            │                   ║   geometrical    ║                              12          │               │         │            │                   ║     figures      ║                    │          │          │               │         │            │                   ╚══════════════════╝                    ?          │          └───────┬───────┘         8            4                                                           │          │                  │                 │            │                                                                      │                  7                 │            │                                                           │          │                  │                 │            │                                                                      │                  │                 │            ▽                                                           │          │        ┌──────────────────┐        │  ┌──────────────────┐          ┌──────────────────┐          ┌──────────────────┐ │        │     Craft or     │        │  │Craft of Mixtures │          │ Final Product of │          │    Patterning    │ │        │Construction tests│        │  │                  │          │    the craft     │          │ Patterns (logoi) │ │        ╠══════════════════╣        │  ╠══════════════════╣          ╠══════════════════╣          ╠══════════════════╣ │        ║  Demonstrations  ║        │  ║   Diagrammatic   ║    ┌────▷║   Demonstrated   ║────10───▷║                  ║ │        ║                  ║        │  ║ Construction of  ║    │     ║   Mixtures or    ║          ║   Determinate    ║ │        ║  attributed to   ║        │  ║ Complex Diagrams ║    │     ║   Geometrical    ║          ║Spatial Relations ║ │        ║different aspects ║        │  ║                  ║    │     ║    Complexes     ║          ║                  ║ │        ║   of mixtures:   ║        │  ╚══════════════════╝    │     ╚══════════════════╝          ╚══════════════════╝ │        ║                  ║        │            │             │               │                             │          │        ║ methexis aspects ║        │            │             │               └──────11──────┬──────11──────┘          │        ║       and        ║        │            │             │                              │                         │        ║ratios-proportions║        │            │             9                              ▽                         │        ║     aspects      ║        │            5             │                    ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┓                │        ║                  ║        │            │             │                    ┃ Complex Patterns ┃                │        ║                  ║        │            │             │                    ┃   and Products   ┃────────────────┘        ╚══════════════════╝        │            │             │                    ┃   (to Mikton)    ┃                  △                 │            ▽             │                    ┗━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┛                  │                 │  ┌──────────────────┐    │                              │                  │                 │  │Raw Product of the│    │                              ▽                  │                 └─▷│      craft       │────┘                    ┌──────────────────┐                  │                    ╠══════════════════╣                         │  Building Loop   │                  │                    ║  Undemonstrated  ║                         │ (Repeat 1 to 12) │                  │                    ║   Mixtures or    ║                         └──────────────────┘                  └─────────6──────────║   Diagrammatic   ║                                   │                                       ║    Complexes     ║                                   ▽                                       ╚══════════════════╝                                                                                    Euclidean World-soul ?                                                                                     (psyche ton pantos)    
Having gone through this brief introduction, we should now ask: what is exactly Platonic about the universe of Elements? Absent a a more detailed response, the above introduction—particularly, the comparison between the role of construction in Elements and the process of craft in the late dialogues—would be hardly anything other than an impressionistic account. Yet to answer this question, it is also imperative to suspend some of the most dogmatic clichés about the work of Plato inherited from the misinterpretations of Aristotle and neo-Platonists (e.g., the Third Man, the equivocations of ideas with numbers a la Pythagorean arithmosophy and the misrepresentation of the Good as the divine demuirge) as well as their almost exclusive attention to the dialogues of the early and the middle periods. Plato is notorious for being the most watchful and unforgiving critic of himself. So the answer simultaneously calls for a direct engagement with the dialogues, particularly, the later ones and a critical correction of Aristotelian-neoPlatonic commentaries which make almost the entire body of Platonic studies until the late nineteenth century—a trend that comes to an end with the rise of Marburg, Tübingen and analytical schools of Platonic studies as represented by figures such as Natorp, Reale and Vlastos.

We know that after the second trip to Syracuse, Plato became critical of his early doctrine of forms (e.g., Parminedes) as represented in the works of the middle period such as The Republic. He began to see forms as classificatory universals, namely, categories or ta koina (see Theatetus and Sophist). As ta koina, forms or ideas no longer have the earlier characteristics of the Socratic and Pythagorean theories of forms, or at least such characteristics are not prominent anymore. The inception of this new doctrine of forms or ideas begins with the transitional dialogue Theatetus, but it is only in Philebus that Plato gives a complete account of his new doctrine.

According to this new thesis, the aim of the doctrine of forms is Demiurgen, world-construction or craftsmanship of the mind. In Timaeus, we are dealing with god as the Demiurge but in Philebus, this abstract divinity is suddenly replaced with a neutral word, to demiurgen. It is now the human mind that is akin to the good which is beyond all gods and beings and even truth and beauty, and not the god as the ideal of the nous. This manifestation of the good is like a recipe or an objective principle for building worlds. It is a recipe precisely in the sense that Wilfrid Sellars talks about a recipe for making a cake, a recipe consisting of theoretical and practical intelligibilities.

If you have made a cake from scratch, you know very well that it is not an easy task. For a a recipe for making a cake—unlike a recipe for making a soup—involves precise ratios, proportions and stages of how and what elements should be added together. The formulas of this recipe are what called objective principles or rules as in contrast to the social nomos or conventions. To build a house as a shelter (the external purpose of the construction), we ought to abide by such and such principles like taking care of the foundation, beams, etc. The specific formula of how we lay the ground or what beams—made of out of what materials—we use might change over time, but the objective principles endure. A house needs a foundation and a ceiling even if the foundation is bottomless and the ceiling extends to the sky. These principles pertain to the domain of forms or ideas. While the nomos is always prone to corruption (as in the case of the codes of building issued by a corrupt builders guild which dictates that all houses should be built out of the material ingredients over which it has sole monopoly), objective principles are genuine objects of rational examination and revision.
Parallel to this Platonic account, the fleeting shadows on the wall of the human cave could not even be recognized if some dim light was not present in the cavern. This light is not a literal analogy for purity, it is rather a metaphor for intermediating forms or universals, the mathematicals or analytic idealities. These are construction principles which intermediate between pure ideas and eikones or sensory shadows. In this sense, Plato is the enemy number one against the myth of the given, for he thinks that the structuring factor is not within the domain of sensory fluxes—the fleeting shadows or eikones—but in the dim light i.e., intermediating forms which imitate the light of the sun qua pure forms or generalized structures: that is to say, mind as the dimension of structure.

In Philebus, Plato makes that claim of impiety for which Socrates was executed. He says the human mind is akin to the Good. We know that what Plato means by the Good in Philebus is the principle of structure (the kernel of intelligibility and intelligence which is even more fundamental than truth, beauty or justice). A few pages later Plato tops up his thesis with a new claim, 'and the good is beyond all being'. In other words, Plato suggests the structure—or the mind as a configuring or constituative element—is the very factor by which Being comes to the fore and can be talked about coherently. Plato's articulation of Being in terms of intelligence or mind is quite similar to the view of the mature Parmenides who has relinquished the early Eleatic confusion of Being and thinking, and instead interprets the thesis of 'Being and thinking are one' as thinking or structure being the very designation of Being. To speak of Being without the dimension of structure or mind is the apotheosis of sophistry and the aporia of the unintelligible (cf. Lorenz Puntel's Structure and Being).

However, the dimension of structure or in Plato's terms the limiting (to peras) is not an index of solipsistic idealism, for it requires a fourfold view of the universe qua structure where episteme not only gains traction upon an external world but also thoughts or more generally, intelligence (nous) is no longer passive. Intelligence is now defined in terms of what it does—the unfolding of the intelligible even that of itself or the enrichment of reality—and not in terms of passive receptivity of an external reality. Accordingly, the Platonic fourfold view is defined in terms of an activity called craftsmanship whereby through various ingredients, structuring factors (logoi) and principles (dialectica) intelligence makes itself and reveal the intelligible dimension which is that of Being. But insofar as there is no a priori limit to the intelligible, there is no limit to the self-cultivation of intelligence or the poesies of mindcraft either. The twist in this scenario is that the mindcraft or intelligence posits qua an an active rather than a passive factor of intelligibility, it also has the capacity—as Rosemary Desjardins elaborated—to posit (tithemi) a new kind of reality pertaining to both Being and itself (see Plato and the Good, p.61).

The Platonic fourfold as presented in Philebus is nothing but a new interpretation of the analogy of the divided line in The Republic. The divided line is a diagram of how global conditions of thinking, action and value can be related to the local conditions. It consists of four segments which give us four domains with their corresponding modes of cognition/sensation, episteme (knowing) and their objects. From segment one to the segment four we have eikasia(eikones), aisthesi or pistis (aisthêta), logos dianoia(mathêmatika) and epistêmê(ideai).

The genius of this diagramatic analogy is in identifying the extreme segments (segments 1 and 4) under two modes of relations to time. The true forms or ideai are timeless or time-general whereas the sensory eikones are time-specific or temporal. In a sense, the divided line is about how what is timeless connected with what is temporal, how the oneness is mixed with the multiple, or how pure forms gain traction upon and are connected with the sensory shadows. The answer lies in the intermiadting domains or segements which are represented in the divided line as mathêmatika and aisthêta / pistis.

So what is the significance of these intermediating levels? Recall that sensory fluxes of eikones or imagistic impressions are too transitory to be arrested as anything you might call a sensible object. Pure ideas in a similar vein are too detached from particularities to gain traction, by themselves, on the worldly or the cavernous affairs. Another problem is the question of how oneness (of pure forms) as an organizing principle comes into contact with the multiplicity of things. The ideas are multiples but individually each idea is always a unique kind of form (i.e. it is one). On the other hand, eikones or what you might call registers of the apeiron—that is, the indeterminate and transitory flux of smallers and greaters. At the level of the first segment which is that of eikasia whose objects are the fleeting imagistic impressions eikones, there is no such a thing as multiplicity of things. Why? Because even multiplicity of things require a principle of unification. It is only when we organize the fleeting sensations as the affects impinged upon us by one and the same object (here, the object is the higher principle closer to ideas or formal constitution) that the fleeting sensible shadows become multiple things, this shadow-puppet, that shadow-puppet, etc. So the question of multiplicity does not even arise at the level of pure sensation. It only arises at the level of opinions or dogmas regarding the appearance of objects. In otherwords, it is only when the mind posits a thingly whole (object or in Kant's sense gegenstand) which binds together different properties that we can talk about multiplicity of either properties or sensible things. The following quote by Desjardins should shed some further light on the matter:
For, on the one hand, a physical object seems to be distinctly different from any or all of its properties: they are quite separate kinds of things; on the other hand, what is exactly a physical object over and above its physical properties? While there is no difficulty in thinking of a phys­ical object that has no actually perceived properties, our notion of an object seems nevertheless to be such that it does not make sense to talk of a physical object that has no perceivable properties: such a notion of a bare particular seems incomprehensible. This of course, only exacerbates the question, however, for what then is the rela­tion between an object and its properties? We seem to be hoist on a dilemma in which, on the one hand, we want to say both that, in some elusive sense, the object and its properties are different, and that, in no less an elusive sense, they are somehow the same; and on the other we want to say that the object is neither simply the same as, nor simply different from, its properties. But, as the Parmenides suggests, if the relation between two things is neither sameness nor difference, then perhaps it is that of whole and part (l46b3-5). Plato's model for such a relation does seem in fact to be what he conceives of as a whole of parts, where on the one hand, the whole is nothing other than the parts (there is nothing added to the parts), on the other, the whole is indeed other than (i.e., more than the sum of) its parts. In short, while a whole is analyzable into its parts, it is not reducible to those parts. Thus as I understand Plato, while a physical object is analyzable into its physical properties, it is nevertheless not reducible to those properties.

Thus, the whole of the sensible object—like the moving shadow on the wall—we can conclude, is not given by sensory fleetings, but is in fact the product of what can be called transcendental constitution—a semblance of what Plato calls intermediary forms qua mathematicals. Therefore, the multiplicity of the physical furniture of the world is not given to us through sensory eikones, it is engineered—a la positing a new kind of reality—by the semblance of the higher principles which are mathematicals qua objects of logos dianoia.

But now a new question raises its head: What are mathematicals and what is their role?

I will answer this question in the next installment, until then, ciao.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Personalism and the philosophy of religion

Randy Auxier has posted to his page a paper, "God as Catholic and Personal," HERE.  The paper is part of an International Philosophical Quarterly issue that is Festschrift to Fordham's W. Norris Clarke, S.J. Of note is that Clarke himself appears in the issue as does James W. Felt, another Jesuit friendly to process metaphysics from a neo-Thomist perspective.

I found the paper particularly interesting for a number of reasons. Readers of After Nature will know that for the majority of my philosophical career (until very recently, in fact) I have taught for Catholic institutions while wrestling with the creation of a process panentheist "neoclassical" metaphysical system, not at all unconducive to neo-Thomism and the metaphysics of Whitehead/Hartshorne alike. Only very recently, around the time I left Immaculata (read about that HERE) and moved to Moravian did I really shift my energies to the creation of a new system which I have been referring to as "speculative naturalism."

Personalism, I think, could certainly use an update to its metaphysical perspective, an update that looks more like "agentialism" in the sense that it could be expanded to include non-human persons mutually recognized as autonomous "agencies" not much different from, or perhaps even equal to, human agencies in most or all respects.