Thursday, March 5, 2009

A reply to Aristotle that would make Plato proud

Connections highlights interesting and delightful folks I'm meeting along The Sage Age journey.

My Twitter friend Dana Ben-Yehuda has delivered perhaps the best response I've ever seen to an idea presented by Aristotle.

My Twitter post was: “Aristotle stated all things fell to Earth because all was made of earthly substances and were attracted to their natural home.”

Dana's response was: "Does this mean that what we call death is really just that our spirit is attracted to its natural home and falls up?"

Besides her keen wit, Dana's reply also alludes to a disagreement between Plato and Aristotle. The two great philosophers are pictured here in a partial of the painting by Raphael, with Plato on the left and Aristotle on the right. The way their hands are pointing indicates the difference in their philosophies. Plato's famous notion of the Realm of Ideas and the templates of the Forms was transcendent and mystical in nature. Aristotle's views were based in realism and observation of actual events.

Plato's suggestion that the repository of the Immutable Forms being transcendent was revisited in more modern times by Carl Jung and most recently by Morphic Fields expressed in Rupert Sheldrake's book The Presence of the Past.

The painting is generally called "The School of Athens", which was founded by Plato. Aristotle attended this school and often argued with Plato and criticized his writings. Aristotle's own writings on ethics, physics, and metaphysics remained the foundation of the Church's scientific attitude until the European Renaissance.



Sun Singer said...

I like Dana's response a lot more than Aristotle's hypothesis.

What, I wonder, would Aristotle have said about why things fell in the Garden of Eden?

Many of us who didn't learn to discount a lot of Aristotle in school came to distrust him while reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

The ongoing debate between those who see only the material and those who provide for the spirit may never die in spite of some interesting wrinkles introduced by Max Planck.

It's fun watching the entanglements.


MaAnna Stephenson said...

Agreed, Dana's response is fab. Okay, now you did it. I may have to go back and read "Zen..." just to pick up on those parallels. Been a lot of years since I read that book and was before I started really digging into ancient philosophy. The Timeaus hurt my brain, but I did enjoy The Republic.

It's interesting to me that the only places in the world that have a debate of spirit/mind vs. matter are countries primarily influenced by Plato and Aristotle.