A subjective-objective question: How do you know that I exist?

Basically I am talking about formal causality. There are some things that are more than the sum of their parts, and then there are some things which aren’t. If you want to learn more go and see what Aristotle has to say about it.

Just because something exhibits order is not indication that it is artifical.

Oh my yes. You are definitely right.

You said that artificial and natural can be told apart.

No. I said artificial and natural unity as found in the aristotelian tradition can be told apart.

Why do you say that the capacities are “not” identical?

First, the sets of capacities are not identical, otherwise you would have one set of capacities and not two. And you didn’t set up the scenario that way.
Second, you have clarified that you have set up the scenario with two sets of capacities that are formally identical. In other words there are two instantiations of the same set of capacities. I’m fine with this scenario, because in this case the two entities that have these capacities would be the same kind of being, provided that the entire set of capacities is formally identical with the other set.
And third, the more interesting scenario is when one has two sets of capacities that are not identical nor formally identical, but similar. These sets of capacities might be extremely similar to each other, making it harder for us to discern their difference. And it just might be that we aren’t able to tell the difference. Regardless if it is rational or not to believe the two sets are identical, the fact is that they are not and we would be mistaken.

If there is no method to find a difference - even in principle - then to assume that there is a difference is nonsensical.

Yes, if that were true then it would be nonsensical. But that’s just it, there is a method to find the difference in principle. But in practice there might not always be a method that reaches the correct conclusion. Let me explain further…

Here is why your use of “in principle” is misplaced. There are instances of two formally similar (but not identical) sets of capacities that we can and do distinguish between. Sure, the interesting scenario where two sets of capacities are really really really similar says we can’t reach the correct conclusion. But if you have opposite conclusions under the same type of scenario, then it isn’t correct to say that “in principle” there is no way to find a difference.

As long as the only information you have access to, is the being’s actions, you must draw your conclusions based upon that.

Correct, but irrelevant to my point that I am trying to make.

And yes, the sum of the actions actually defines what the being is. What else would it be?

Sure. But the sum of actions is not the being simpliciter. What I am condemning is the philosophically naïve position that a being’s action is the being. Action requires a subject. To dislocate action from a subject (let alone call that action the new subject) is nothing but nonsense.

If I am not mistaken, David Hume fell into this error. And it has spread to those who defend the philosophical position of materialism today. It’s a silly mistake, but what else is one to do if one denies formal causality–not much.

Still meaningless. It that a causality dressed in a tuxedo? As opposed to informal causality dressed in t-shirt and blue jeans? Words and expressions do not have intrinsic meanings. In our specific communication channel you use certain words and assign some meaning to them. Unless you explain your meaning to me, I will not be able to make heads or tails out of them.

This is perfectly true and completely trivial. What does it have to do with natural, living organisms as opposed to artificial ones? Consider those 3 twigs on the beach. They could have gotten there “naturally” due to the random movements of the wind and the tide, or they could have been placed there deliberately, artificially by someone. Which one has “natural unity”? Let’s concentrate on the problem of “naturally living” and “artificially constructed” organisms, where the behavior of these two are identical.

Sorry, I could not care less about those archaic gobbledegooks what Aristotele or Aquinas said. If you can explain in simple, good English, at least I will see what you mean. And that would allow us to move forward. Let me be frank about it. I am not interested in what other people say. I am very much interested in what you say. If you wish to use other people’s concepts, please translate them into a common language.

You’re not helpless. Go look it up. There’s important background knowledge as well that you will need if the term is “meaningless” to you. If you don’t want to go through all the trouble and you assume that what anyone could possibly say on the matter is useless and mere sophistry, then remain in ignorance. But the medievals weren’t this dogmatic.

If you want reading suggestions I will be happy to give you some more contemporary sources.

This is perfectly true and completely trivial. What does it have to do with natural, living organisms as opposed to artificial ones? Consider those 3 twigs on the beach. They could have gotten there “naturally” due to the random movements of the wind and the tide, or they could have been placed there deliberately, artificially by someone. Which one has “natural unity”?

Neither example has a natural unity, which makes it apparent that you don’t grasp the gravity of the concept. Not all things natural have a natural unity and not all things human-made have a natural unity (in fact, none do bar some apparent but superficial counter-examples). If you have a being that has a natural unity, if that is part of what makes it the thing that it is, then how is someone supposed to make an artificial version, especially if in the very act of being human-made doesn’t confer any natural unity.

Let’s concentrate on the problem of “naturally living” and “artificially constructed” organisms, where the behavior of these two are identical.

Are their capacities formally identical, or as far as you can tell they are formally identical?

Sorry, I could not care less about those archaic gobbledegooks what Aristotele or Aquinas said.

Then why are you bothering with talking to me. Really, I don’t want to have to surreptitiously spoon-feed you aristotelian-thomistic metaphysics and philosophy of nature by another name. I wouldn’t want to take all the credit.

Because I was interested in what you have to say. Thanks for the exchange. It was enjoyable.

That’s fine. But you alienate your interlocutor when you disparage his sources as merely “archaic gobbledegooks”. It would be the same for you as if someone disparaged what Newton or Einstein said as mere nonsense, except in this case I would be concerned as well.

You are always welcome back into the conversation, of course.

Its called Solipsism - the funny thing about this is they say astronauts have shown signs of this and its a possible problem with long space flights - they call it Solipsism syndrome - they have even said that 3 percent of people have this syndrome - I’m part of the 97 percent that doesn’t have it. In my mind all other people are real and if I thought they were not I would think I’m crazy - but then how would I know I’m crazy. I know others are real and if I had Solipsism syndrome maybe that reality would seem real and normal too.I’ll stick with the math and stay with the 97 percent that say all people are real.

I did not mind when you called what I said: “lousy philosophy”. I call them as I see them, but I stay open for explanations. If none is forthcoming, my assessment stays.

What would be the point? You use terminology which is alien for me. I asked you to clarify. You declined.

True, you offered me some modern sources, but I am not interested in investing a lot of time of going out and trying to spend a lot of hours on trying to understand a few terms. It is my experience that there are no hard-to-explain ideas, only confusing ways to present them (maybe it is intentional to hide the fact that they have nothing to say). Moreover, I already wasted a lot of time on reading some much touted philosophers and apologists, like Kreeft, Strobel, Craig, Plantinga, and I was very disappointed at the stupid arguments presented in favor of their ridiculous and shallow views.

Technically you didn’t ask me to clarify. But hey, I’ll take what I can get as in previous conversations you have only said ‘meaningless!’ without clarifying that you don’t understand and are willing to learn. I thought it would be quicker if you looked it up yourself and I was rather impatient yesterday. So anyways, formal causality…

It is easy enough to define, but perhaps not in terms that will be familiar to you. And it is intimately connected with efficient, material, and final causality – all terms that you wouldn’t probably be familiar with either if you weren’t familiar with formal causality–that is why I think you have heard of these things before and do understand some of it. And I am somewhat surprised that you didn’t come across such things in the writings of those writers you listed. Well, I guess not all of them are aristotelians (though I thought Kreeft was, at least in part. He may have used such concepts with different terminology to appeal to those who aren’t familiar with them). Though I don’t think I’m on board with all of those writers and everything they present either. Plantinga’s ontological argument, or any ontological argument for that matter, is not sound because it neglects the way we come to know things. But this is another story…

Formal causality could be understood as a formal explanation. Many times people get confused when they see the word “causality” because they think of billiard-ball causation as the only kind of causation. If they would like to define their terms like that, then fine. But it should be understood that, translated to post-modern philosophy speak, formal causality can be understood as a formal explanation. Hence, Aristotle’s famous 4 causes (surely you’ve studied this?) could today be understood as Aristotle’s 4 explanations.

So what is a formal explanation? It is merely the description of what something is or its whatness. It’s very closely tied to essence but is broader in scope because it does not specify essential whatness, but just whatness (note: if I am not mistaken you didn’t agree with essences. Fine, but in order to disagree you need to understand the concept and therefore there shouldn’t be a problem on your part since I don’t expect you to agree but only understand).

It’s as simple as that. But of course, much more could be said about it because it has developed out of a very particular and precise philosophical system grounded in the world of experience that has been corrected and refined over many centuries. Formal causality is a description of a necessary principle (form) which is needed to make sense out of change in general. And here is where I will stop for now.

In the context of natural unity, I should have said essence as it is more precise; though if I am not mistaken I used it elsewhere. But I chose to use formal causality. It’s true that an essence instantiated as a substance has a natural unity, but not all formal causes directly assert the essential but instead focus on the accidental.

I won’t speak much about the writers you listed, but in order to understand medieval philosophy and see the force of many of the arguments that I talk about one has to distance himself from some of the assumptions about nature found in a lot of modern philosophy and the philosophy that followed in general (at least for the moment). Descartes is famous for his mechanistic view of nature that ignores final causality. But that’s just it, the ignoring of final causality inherent in nature is not the same as an argument refuting it. It could be argued, and has, that from this mistake many of the modern and post-modern conclusions about the world follow. The nihilist picture and all that.

I still recommend the book The Last Superstition by Edward Feser for a good introduction to this line of thought. It’s also relatively short.

Ever since Descartes we have been chopping away at the tree of knowledge with an axe of doubt. Rather than trying to defeat all subjectivists in one post why not ask the new question… Does it matter to the Catholic whether he can prove the existence of others? No.
We are called to live a life of the highest good.! “Be perfect as I am perfect.”. Even if everything is a subjective self creation is it still not better to love beyond yourself. To love that which is distinct from us (or appears to be) AS we love ourselves. Should we not love everything as if it were our own creation. Someone else’s son as if they were ours?
Even if you are the only existent being you are called to love. Using yourself is just as bad as using others. Basically all the tenements of faith would still apply exactly the same as each tenement is there to make you perfect. You can doubt but that leads to imperfection where faith leads to perfection.

Matt Marchand

I like the implicit idea in your passage that we shouldn’t waste too much time squabbling over these things when one of the most important things is to get out there and love others.

However, the problem with reality being a mere self creation is that there is nothing beyond yourself to love. No God even since the individual takes the place of God.

The problem with letting our brothers and sisters believe this is that it will lead them down the wrong path. Some of us are called to enter into the discipline of philosophy to help clear away some of the nonsense so Faith has room to grow.

Take care,
Michael

First, I thank you for taking the time and effort to post this. Since I am very visual, and I think that a few well-chosen examples help with understanding, give me some examples of “efficient” (as opposed to inefficient or bumbling?) causation. I suppose that “material” causation would be the “billiard ball” you talk about, but maybe I am mistaken. And what is “final” causality? Is it the first element in a causal chain? (Just kidding.) Let’s get down to specifics.

I hope you will give examples of the other kind(s).

Yes, and they make no sense to me. I most vehemently disagree with “telos”. There is no “telos” in and by itself. We (as thinking beings) assign “telos” to processes.

Now, here some examples are in order. Please describe what is the “whatness” of a car. Also describe the “whatness” of a planet, a planetoid and a comet. And the “whatness” of a human being. I think that these might be a useful starting point.

Edward Feser gives many good concrete examples in his book The Last Superstition. For example, take a blue rubber ball. The material cause is what it’s made out of—in this case rubber. The formal cause would be what it is, namely a ball, or something with a spheroid-like shape. The efficient cause would be the factory that manufactured the ball. And the final cause would be what the ball is for, which in general, would be for play. In other words, the 4 causes describe what something is, what it’s made out of, what it’s for, and where it came from. There are various levels of detail, of course.

When I mentioned “billiard-ball causality”, I had in mind efficient causality as one ball is the origin of the movement for the next and so on.

Note: efficient causality doesn’t make sense without final causality. For once you have something that exists, you have something that has capacities, however general. And once you have something with capacities, you have something that is directed to a certain effect or range of effects in principle. Hume made the error of looking at causality too loosely (perhaps on purpose) and came to the notion that there is no necessary cause/effect relationship. Well, if one takes the time to see what events are composed of, namely, entities that act on other entities, one will find that there is a certain fundamental simultaneity associated with cause and effect. For example, Hume might give the example of event A which is the throwing of a brink at a window, and event B which is the glass shattering. Hume said that there was nothing inherent in event A which would necessitate event B. But really, when one looks closer one sees that the glass breaks simultaneously as the brick pushes into it.

Hume’s position is false because when a brick is thrown at a window the world doesn’t explode… nor could it. Throwing a brick has certain possible outcomes, excluding other outcomes.

Yes, and they make no sense to me. I most vehemently disagree with “telos”. There is no “telos” in and by itself. We (as thinking beings) assign “telos” to processes.

I’m a little confused because in my quote I was picking out formal causality and not necessarily final causality (which will probably be the one closest to whatever your conception of telos is). To answer, though, I’d say that some things have a telos that we assign and some things don’t. And, like I said, efficient causality doesn’t make sense without final causality—they are a package deal.

Now, here some examples are in order. Please describe what is the “whatness” of a car. Also describe the “whatness” of a planet, a planetoid and a comet. And the “whatness” of a human being. I think that these might be a useful starting point.

It’s kind of easy in a way. If you point to or name anything that makes up the object in question you are specifying its whatness. You might have had in mind something more narrow with your examples, such as essential whatness or essence. I don’t know if I could give the definitive essence of all of those examples, however (if indeed there are).

Good questions.

Now I get to ask you a question. Could you have the discipline of science without existence (universe, anything at all)? In other words, could you have the discipline of science without its subject matter?

Ok, let’s take this example and analyze it.

1. Is that ball really “blue”? Only to an eye, which happens to perceive a certain wavelength of elecromagnetic radiation. If an eye cannot perceive that wavelength, the ball will not be “blue”. So “blue” is not an objective attribute.

2. Is that ball really made out of rubber? Or perhaps plastic of some kind? Maybe out of leather? So the material “cause” is an unfounded spaculation - unless you can perform some physical tests.

3. Is that ball really close to spherical? Maybe it is a rugby ball, with some ovoid shape and you happened to look at it from the “wrong” angle. Strike the formal “cause” - unless you can perform the test to look at the ball, which is again a physical test.

4. Was that ball manufactured in a factory? Probably, but it might have been shaped naturally. Or it could have been made at home. So even your efficient “cause” is in doubt - unless of course you have information where that particula ball was manufactured (if at all).

5. is that ball really intended for playing? Maybe it is just an exhibition piece, which was never inteded to used in a game. Gone is the final “cause” - again, unless you have extra information.

My point is that even in such a simple case there are an awful lot of “assumptions” and all you can offer is speculation - unless you perform the necessary physical tests and/or obtain other extra information which cannot be deduced from the object itself. And here we talk about an object which is most probably manufactured for a specific purpose out of some probablr material. What about a natural event or object? Choose some unliving objects, like a stone, or boulder and a pebble. Tell me what are the 4 “causes”? One of the problems is the terminology. Why would these be considered “causes”?

That is what causality is all about.

“Directed”? By what and whom? What is the final “cause” of loose snow on the side of the mountain? It may be loose enough to become an avalanche. Is the destruction of a village the final “cause” of that snow? And if there comes a heat wave and the slow simply melts without causing an avalanche… then what was the final “cause”? Sorry, my friend, the idea of final “cause” does not hold any water. It is just speculation.

What is the final “cause” of a virus? The depopulate cities? These are not rhetorical questions. I would like to see if there is an answer to them.

Only if the glass can be broken by that brick.

True, but trivial. There are certain “laws” of nature. What does that have to be with “abstract” causality?

So far you said so. So explain the final “causality” of that snow on the mountainside, and the virus.

No, it is not simple at all. I am a space alien, who is on the way to visit your planet. All I know that there are some objects which are referred to as “cars”. We are able to communicate verbally, and that is the only level of information exhange for us. I am asking you to tell me what is the “whatness” of those things called “cars”. It is not easy or trivial at all. How much more difficult is to describe the “whatness” of a human being?

No, of course not.

1. Is that ball really made out of rubber? Or perhaps plastic of some kind? Maybe out of leather? So the material “cause” is an unfounded spaculation - unless you can perform some physical tests.

This is a straw-man of his argument. Its actually quite hilarious how you have distorted everything your opponent has said. I didn’t see your opponent suggest that the material cause is evidently any particular thing, only that there is a material-cause insofar as it is made out of something. He gave the example using a rubber ball. Its quite clear to me and easy to discern.

Borz, it’s apparent that you’re looking for ‘any port in a storm’. In other words, you aren’t seriously interested in these ideas; you’ve already made up your mind and what I say probably won’t change it. MindOverMatter2 is correct.

That said, I will answer your questions not entirely for you, as I see the game you are playing, but for anyone else who has happened onto this thread. Mock away.

Irrelevant. The color wasn’t pertinent to my example.

1. Is that ball really made out of rubber? Or perhaps plastic of some kind? Maybe out of leather? So the material “cause” is an unfounded spaculation - unless you can perform some physical tests.

Irrelevant. I don’t care even if it’s made out of pink styrofoam. Why did you ask me to give an example to explain a concept if you’re just going to ignore what I said? (rhetorical)

1. Is that ball really close to spherical? Maybe it is a rugby ball, with some ovoid shape and you happened to look at it from the “wrong” angle. Strike the formal “cause” - unless you can perform the test to look at the ball, which is again a physical test.

I don’t know why you keep emphasizing the physical. I don’t know how else one would really know that a ball is a ball without looking at it. But that this operation is somehow necessarily scientific is blatantly false. But nonetheless this is irrelevant too. Change the given example any way you want, and when you are done, I could continue and try to make my point.

1. Was that ball manufactured in a factory?..

See response to #2, same gist.

1. is that ball really intended for playing? Maybe it is just an exhibition piece, which was never inteded to used in a game. Gone is the final “cause” - again, unless you have extra information.

I don’t care if its function is subjectively super-added in the case of the ball or innate in the case of the realization of the capacities of a tree. If you have a capacity, if you have a possibility towards some outcome rather than another, then you necessarily have final causality. To deny final causality is necessarily (read: necessarily) to deny any kind of capacity or function. Yes, it’s that strong of a contradiction. It is time that modern philosophy owns up to this absurdism.

What about a natural event or object? Choose some unliving objects, like a stone, or boulder and a pebble. Tell me what are the 4 “causes”? One of the problems is the terminology. Why would these be considered “causes”?

Again, in your speak they rather mean explanations rather than causes. Surely in answering what something is made out of, what it is, what it is for (or its functions), and where it came from we are explaining something about the object in question? (rhetorical)

There is often the misunderstanding that everything must have a final cause, or more crudely, that everything must have a purpose. Final causality is only present insofar as efficient causality is present. So you must have something in act, which rules out the question of what is the final causality of a rock until we have a little bit more information. I mean, I suppose we could talk about gravity.

That capacities are unintelligible without an effect or range of effects (whether possible or actual) is not trivial, but is the very idea of final causality. Simple as that. This is what you are really against when you deny final causality. And if you are not against this, then help correct contemporary confusion and advocate for its proper understanding.

“Directed”? By what and whom? What is the final “cause” of loose snow on the side of the mountain? It may be loose enough to become an avalanche. Is the destruction of a village the final “cause” of that snow?

A test that can eliminate this confusion can be summed up as this: would the snow still be snow if there weren’t any villages around?

I agree that your notion of final causality is very arbitrary and I wouldn’t believe it either if I were in your shoes.

What is the final “cause” of a virus? The depopulate cities? These are not rhetorical questions. I would like to see if there is an answer to them.

While your questions may not be rhetorical they are desperate. Really, please read The Last Superstition and do me and many others a favor… so we aren’t hearing the same empty objections time and time again.

First, why do you assume that there is only 1 final cause for a virus? And second, why wouldn’t you think the final cause would be more along the lines of propagation rather than something more accidental to it? Did you spend much time thinking about these counter-examples before you started throwing them at me? (rhetorical)

No, it is not simple at all. I am a space alien, who is on the way to visit your planet.

I figured as much.

No, it really is very simple. Essential form is somewhat more complicated to define, but form in general is plain easy. Anything about it that’s described will work. Anything that you point to about the object also works.

No, of course not.

You have now accepted one of the presuppositions of science. If you think that some actually do science then you must accept the existence of its subject matter. In so doing you have refuted the popular but misguided notion of Scientism, that science is the only method to obtain truth or that scientific truths are the only kind.

What about change? Do you think that change is presupposed by science? (not rhetorical)

I really like, when people “know” my state of mind.

If it is not pertinent, why put it there?

You said that the “material” cause is what it was made of, and you said that it was made of rubber. Now it could be any other substance? I am merely pointing out that the “material cause” is very loosely “defined”. It boils down to “the object is made of something”. DUH. A true, and meaningless statement.

Because you insinuated that somehow, just out of the blue we gain information by pure speculation.

Ah, so you concede that the “efficient cause” is “something”, but undefined. No information can be gleaned from that.

Nonsense. The possibility of becoming “something” but not “something else” is trivial. It follows from the laws of nature, and it cannot be reached by speculation, but only by rigorous and physical research.

The point is that none of your “causes” adds one iota of actual information. It is all general “fluff”.

Objects are “made of” something. Objects have certain “attributes” or “properties”. Objects can have certain “relationships”. And objects have certain “activities”. That is what you propose and guess what, I agree. But all of it is empty, unless one can fill up the “blanks”. That is why I asked for specific examples.

Of course. But only if you give precise descriptions of all these, not just a “something”.

Yes, there would be a whole lot of frozen water molecules.

Thank you!

Who cares about “general”? I am talking about the “particular”. Especially, when I ask what is “whatness” of human being? And the only answer can be “human is as human does”. What is it “made of”? Not revevant. The material can change, and it does change every time one eats something. How did it come into existence? Who cares? It could be natural conception, artificial insemination, fully grown in a test tube, or put together in a lab, or production line. As long as it behaves like a human, it is a human being. And that is what the original post asked about. I asked those specific questions not out of “desperation” as you surmised, but with a very specific aim in mind: to show that the Aristotelian concept you presented is nothing but a bunch of generalities, it is all “fluff” and no substance.

Since I never advocated “scientism” (whatever it might be), that sentence does not mean a lot. Objective reality exists. We can obtain information by observing it. Our observations can either be verified or not. If they can be verified, we obtain information, or knowledge.

Not every observation leads to information. One can look at “Guernica” and see a masterpice. Others see a bunch of lines. One can listen to Wagner’s Ring and are amazed by its beauty. For others it is a horrible experience. These are subjective categories, outside of rational consideration.

Since change is an innate capacity of STEM, obviously it is taken for granted. But this is not an ivory-tower speculation. Like it or not, every one of these general principles come from zillions of observations. Sometimes the wrong inferences are drawn, like in the case of “ether”. But everything starts with the physical reality.

Like I said, ‘any port in a storm’. I guess I don’t know for sure if you realize what you’re doing or not, but you’re doing it.

I am merely pointing out that the “material cause” is very loosely “defined”. It boils down to “the object is made of something”. DUH. A true, and meaningless statement.

First, it is not loosely defined at all. The concept of material cause is meant to be “the object is made of something”. It is supposed to be obvious just like the other causes are obvious. This is the beginning of philosophy of nature, and if one doesn’t start with the real world and the basics how is anyone to conclude anything of more “substance”? (rhetorical)
Second, I’m not exactly sure what a “true and meaningless statement” could be. It’s not possible for something that is meaningless to be true.

Because you insinuated that somehow, just out of the blue we gain information by pure speculation.

This is the furthest thing from my mind (now you know). But if you can quote the words I gave that led you to believe I was insinuating this, I will try to be more careful in the future.

Ah, so you concede that the “efficient cause” is “something”, but undefined. No information can be gleaned from that.

No, no. It is very much defined. If anything I am conceding that efficient cause is the reason why something came into being. I am not here to point out particular efficient causes, but I suppose I could if you want me to delve into another example—though I should know better by now.

Nonsense. The possibility of becoming “something” but not “something else” is trivial. It follows from the laws of nature, and it cannot be reached by speculation, but only by rigorous and physical research.

Please be a little bit more precise. “Nonsense” is obviously not the correct word to use, otherwise why would you follow up with another sentence that gives the impression that you understood what I said. Also, tautologies are trivial, the 4 causes are not tautologies and not trivial but instead some of the beginnings of philosophy of nature. Start with the basics.
In any case, it seems like you need science to tell you that a rock is made out of something, that it has capacities that are directed to a certain effect or range of effects and not others, that it was caused, and that it is a rock instead of a hippo.

The point is that none of your “causes” adds one iota of actual information. It is all general “fluff”.

Philosophy isn’t into the business of granting man magical powers over nature. If anything, it is to help others understand better what we actually experience… But nonetheless you already conceded that the material causality and final causality are true, however trivial you think they may be. True materialist philosophers would be shocked at your concession.

Objects are “made of” something. Objects have certain “attributes” or “properties”. Objects can have certain “relationships”. And objects have certain “activities”. That is what you propose and guess what, I agree. But all of it is empty, unless one can fill up the “blanks”. That is why I asked for specific examples.

You’re close. Though I think the terminology you use is too loose. For efficient causality is not just that the object has certain relationships, but that it has a relationship to the entity responsible for its coming into being. And so forth for the others—a bit more detail is needed.

Who cares about “general”? I am talking about the “particular”. Especially, when I ask what is “whatness” of human being? And the only answer can be “human is as human does”.

For identifying purposes, perhaps. But to say that a human is his activities, that being is doing, is nothing other than plain false. I am not running. I am not reading. I am not typing. However, I am a runner. I am a reader. I am a typer. To take what you say literally, is nothing other than to confuse the exercise of our capacities with the capacities. It’s a philosophical no-no.

I asked those specific questions not out of “desperation” as you surmised, but with a very specific aim in mind: to show that the Aristotelian concept you presented is nothing but a bunch of generalities, it is all “fluff” and no substance.

And that is why you are not being honest with me. Because you pretend like you haven’t heard of these concepts and ask me to explain anyways… with the goal of not being open to learning, but the goal of trying to dismantle my position with any possible thread of an argument. Now perhaps you are hiding this attitude from yourself. I only challenge you to look back over your posts and ask yourself this question: am I open to learning or am I trying to mess with someone?

Since I never advocated “scientism” (whatever it might be), that sentence does not mean a lot. Objective reality exists. We can obtain information by observing it. Our observations can either be verified or not. If they can be verified, we obtain information, or knowledge.

Sounds good. Though perhaps you can spell out what verification means. For if I recognize that Aristotle’s 4 causes are necessary for any possible change to exist, and given that I recognize that change exists, I would say that Aristotle’s 4 causes are verified (true).

(continued)

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These are subjective categories, outside of rational consideration.

Fine. But remember that you have conceded material and final causality as true, and perhaps efficient and formal causality as well (though your summary needs to be a bit more specific). In other words, Aristotle’s 4 causes are not subjective and you agree.

Since change is an innate capacity of STEM, obviously it is taken for granted. But this is not an ivory-tower speculation. Like it or not, every one of these general principles come from zillions of observations. Sometimes the wrong inferences are drawn, like in the case of “ether”. But everything starts with the physical reality.

Yes, I agree that philosophy starts with physical reality and experience. But I ask you, how many times do I need to see an instance of change before I know that change exists?

This is good. You recognize that science presupposes its subject matter, and that its subject matter undergoes change. So if you accept science, you must now accept Aristotle’s 4 categories. If you wish to learn more about why this is the case, then ask. If you wish to poke fun at ancient gobblegook philosophers then move along, move along.

You got to be kidding. How could some totally trivial proposition “help” understanding anything? Understanding comes from information.

The problem is multifold. One part is the misleading terminology, which makes communication awkward. But that could be forgiven, if that terminology would lead to some non-trivial information, if it woul lead to some new understanding. And that is what is sorely missing. Philosophy leads to no new ideas. It does not help to understand anything. No wonder that “real” scientists do not care about “philosophy”. They say, and they are right: “calculate, don’t speculate”.

Objects are made of something. DUH. Objects have certain attributes, but not others. DUH. Objects may have certain relationships and not others. DUH. By the way, the rock was not “made” it simply “is”. Final “causality” is nonsense. There is no “final” aim for “things” in nature. We, as sentient beings assign “aims” to our endeavors.

Obviously we talk past each other. I did not say that a human being == its activities. I am looking at a human being and see the material it is made of. I am looking at the “source” it might have come from. None of these are pertinent. That being could consist of different material, and would still act in a certain fashion. It could have come from a different source, and still act as a human acts. But take a biological entity, which looks like a “human” but cannot perform the activities (since he is dead or in persistent vegetative state), and you are not talking abot a human being any more - the word is a “has been”. What makes us what we are is the activity of our brain.

Of course I do not equate the being with its activities. What I am saying that all the other “stuff” could be changed, and the being would still be a “human”, but take away the activities and keep everything else and it will cease to be a human.

Stephen Hawking cannot run. He cannot type. He cannot read without someone turning the pages for him. Yet he is a human, even if he cannot perform some of the usual activities. But what he can do, better that anyone around, is to think. To exercise his mind. That is the one and only activity that is required to be a human.

What you call material “causality” is trivial. Of course I agree that things are made of some material substance. (If you agree that you should deny all the gods, demons, angels, devils… I hope you do). Final “causality” makes no sense at all. Both the “efficient” and “formal” causalities are so vague that they carry no information.

I did not say that they are subjective. Partially they are trivial, and partially ridiculous (“final”??) and contain not one bit of information. They belong to the “who cares” category.

First, Aristotle’s 4 causes are not trivial. Again, tautologies are trivial and his 4 causes are not tautologies.
Second, you seem to equate knowledge with power over nature. Perhaps there are truths that do not grant us a manipulative power but are valuable nonetheless.
Third, some people are very confused about what they experience. Like you, for instance, when you don’t think you experience final causality—of the aristotelian flavor and not what you keep mislabeling as final causality.

Philosophy leads to no new ideas. It does not help to understand anything.

That’s a very harsh philosophical claim (to put it lightly).

No wonder that “real” scientists do not care about “philosophy”. They say, and they are right: “calculate, don’t speculate”.

First, the assumption that philosophy equates with speculation is yours and most unfounded.
Second, I really doubt that you’ve talked to many scientists. And if you have, why should their expertise in science give them the experience and knowledge to comment on all of philosophy? Not to mention the area of philosophy that deals with the presuppositions of their field.
Third, some of the biggest advances in science have been made because scientists were familiar with the history of philosophy. They welcomed learning what you don’t.

Objects are made of something. DUH. Objects have certain attributes, but not others. DUH. Objects may have certain relationships and not others. DUH.

Then you failed to learn the definitions. As I said, they aren’t quite the same as you repeat. If you would like, I could try to explain them in other ways so you can get a more detailed grasp. Otherwise we can’t progress past the basics.

By the way, the rock was not “made” it simply “is”. Final “causality” is nonsense. There is no “final” aim for “things” in nature. We, as sentient beings assign “aims” to our endeavors.

First, that the rock simply “is” is unsupportable. If it simply “is” then there would not be a discipline called geology, at the very least.
Second, you don’t quite get what final causality is and how fundamental it is. Purpose, yes, is a kind of final causality but it is not synonymous. There are many other kinds of directed-ness in nature. What Aristotle means by final causality and what I mean is found in the example of a tree able to sway in the wind and not talk; for a rock to fall to the ground and not sprout wings and drink cherry Coke. It’s as simple as the other 3 causes. It’s not what you think.

Obviously we talk past each other. I did not say that a human being == its activities.

I realize that. My point was that, taken literally, your words meant it. But thank you for clarifying your position. In the process you have distanced yourself from a Hume and a Nietzsche.

I am looking at a human being and see the material it is made of. I am looking at the “source” it might have come from. None of these are pertinent.

At one level you are correct. But on the level of natural possibility you are wrong. There are some materials (or combination) that a human being just couldn’t be made out of without violating the “laws” of nature. Let’s stick with a philosophy that is grounded in the real world.

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