Tag Archives: ontology

On Anaxagoras

All things were together; then came Mind and set them in order.
(Anaxagoras, 500~428BCE)

1.
While Anaxagoras is considered the first Western philosopher to place mind above matter, this quote should also be noted that it suggests that matter came first before mind.

I wholly agree that matter comes first. I also agree that there is no “order” to matter but only that it exists. It is the mind (with a little ‘m’) that organises, categorises matter into any order. In other words, order, organisation and categorisation are processes of a mind.

The question of whether mind exists without matter is the primary concern of philosophers, East and West, now and then. Doubt it will be ever resolved. One can only hold positions by reasoning. Given Evidence A I draw Conclusion B. It is all too easy to reject A and not reach B. It is harder to give reason to reject A, for which this should be the task of philosophers.

2.
I am puzzled at the purpose of matter if mind is sufficient without matter. Perhaps this is a strange way to put it.

I have seen evidence of matter surviving mind, but not mind surviving matter. The argument against this is to shut down sensation and perception, ignore the sensory evidence, belittle perception. I have also talked about The Coma as again evidence for a case against mind over matter. Again, a mind without a reality has nothing to function upon. That is enough evidence against prioritising mind over matter. We would be far happier if we are to accept matter over mind as a starting point, scientifically, philosophically and spiritually.

Sleep, time, reality

“Those who step into the same river have different waters flowing ever upon them.” (Heraclitus, in Freeman, 25)

Heraclitus observing the world accepted change as the its fundamental nature. Often Heraclitus is paraphrased as everything is in flux. Time is seemingly a fundamental part of observed material reality. It can be observed to pass at a constant rate. This, of course, is all  but sense observation. But nonetheless, we function on, coordinate, avoid accidents, play games of tennis with our shared understanding of time. And we have no other choice but observe time with the senses.

Think of coma patients. For day, months, perhaps even years they are in a locked-in state of non-awareness of the “outside” sensed world. The shock comes when they come out of their comatose state feeling something only like a single night’s sleep. For them, time had stood still.

Our daily slumber also feels like this. The time between closing your eyes to sleep and waking up is but an instant in your mind.

This, to me, is sufficient evidence of the nature of time and its relationship to reality. Every night is a miniature coma.

Innate ideas

Think about the innate idea of the iPhone. If we take innate ideas on face value, then the innate idea of the iPhone should have existed during Plato’s lifetime (or eternally according to the theory).

If this is true, then why didn’t we have the iPhone then, or even mention of it somewhere? Clearly this is nonsense. Innate ideas do not exist. We only have things as they come into existence and then known when experienced.

Space

Imagine pure space without a single object in it. Not even you, the observer, but nonetheless for some reason you are still able to “observe” this space.

In what way can you differentiate one dimensionless point in this space to another dimensionless point? By what means can you understand the distance these two dimensionless points? How do you discover the size of this space? Or else does this space have a size at all? And how do you differentiate between a point and space, when there is no way to differentiate between the two?

Democritus and Leucippus called this void, but only when compared or contrasted to atoms. In other words, void is defined by the things, or the absence thereof, not by any positive means.

Parmenides found this troubling. For then void cannot be truly void. Nothing must be “something”. He drew the conclusion that all is one, and that change as observed in the world is an illusion.

Einstein described with the equation E=mc2 the world as mass, space, time, and energy. For any one of these elements to have a value would mean the entirety is zero, nothing or void. But nothing seems to have zero energy. Atoms brought to near zero Kelvin slows motion but can never stop it. Everything is in flux as Heraclitus had concluded. So space is energy, and not empty void as such.

Space is likely a thing, but because of its nature as a “homogenous” thing it cannot be observed directly but only by indirect means or inferred through the relationship of things.

Things, space, time, reality

There are things.

There is no other way to express the first encounter with the world. It may be that this is not the first encounter as such. Perhaps the first encounter is with nothing. But we can never know that. To suggest that nothing can be encountered is counterintuitive and illogical. I too must have been nothing. Nothing cannot be there, for that there would have to be no place. 

This world then must be there at the moment of its encounter. What the thing that is encountered matters not for now, only that there is a separation between there and not there. 

Space is inferred by the relationship of things.

I cannot make contact with space. It is there only from the sensing of things. Eventually, I will make contact with other things. And space will be inferred from this. 

Time is inferred from the change in the relationship of things.

Like space I cannot directly know it. I know time by things and space. The movement of things is the measure of time. I cannot be sure time exists other than from knowing it through things and space. 

Reality is the entirety of things, space, and time.

All that can be known is derived from reality.

From the relationship of things

Space cannot be known without things. I know what space is from the relationship of things.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the last mind

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the latin title of Wittgenstein’s first and only work published within his lifetime.  It translates roughly to A Treatise on Logic and Philosophy.

The stance then is that of logic.

I do not agree that logic is the best place to start. Logic, to me, seems to be an activity of the mind. And the mind is physical object take performs such processes. To me, place to start is ontology and then epistemology.

Someone commented in a previous post that it is ironic that one must use logic to even start to ask ontological and epistemological questions. I agree. And that tells us something about the inescapability of the act of thinking in order to get to the understanding. Logic, in other words, is a physical act. Logic cannot occur without the availability of the body or mind. This extends to knowledge (the epistemological act) as well. Logic and knowledge do not exist without a mind perform these acts. When the last mind extinguishes form this world so too does logic and knowledge. What continues to remain is the physical world, the reality. And logic and knowledge will restart when another mind comes into (for lack of a better word) being.