Author Topic: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?  (Read 383 times)

Offline Geremia

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Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« on: May 09, 2020, 05:57:04 PM »
Anyone here read Feser's Aristotle's Revenge?

Offline cgraye

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 12:38:31 PM »
Yes.  It's a very good book, and definitely worth a read.
 

Offline Geremia

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 05:15:58 PM »
Yes.  It's a very good book, and definitely worth a read.
What did you think of his thesis that
Quote
takes the philosophy of nature to amount not only to a distinct species of knowledge from natural science, but to be of a distinct genus as well, and in particular to amount to a branch of metaphysics. This view was presented in some of the manuals of Thomistic philosophy of the Neo-Scholastic era, such as Andrew Van Melsen’s text on the philosophy of nature (1954, chapter 3).
As my characterization of the philosophy of nature above indicates, my sympathies are with this third approach to the subject
?
I'd've expected him to support "River Forest Thomism," that "natural science and the philosophy of nature as continuous, amounting to the more concrete and the more abstract aspects, respectively, of a single species of knowledge distinct from metaphysics (Wallace 1982)" or even Maritain's thesis that "natural science and the philosophy of nature to be distinct species of knowledge, but nevertheless species in the same one genus, which is itself distinct from metaphysics."
Feser is careful to distinguish philosophy of nature from metaphysics, so I was surprised to seem him support Van Melsen's thesis.

Offline cgraye

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 09:01:39 PM »
I've read enough of his other work that touched on the subject that it didn't surprise me that he took that position.  He generally comes at it from the more abstract, metaphysical side, e.g. "What must be true in order for any of this at all to be possible, regardless of the specific results of experiments?" rather than looking at empirical results and reasoning from them to some conclusion.  Obviously there is always a little of the latter in any attempt at natural philosophy, or even metaphysics, because we always have to work from some knowledge gained from our senses.  But I think his approach is pretty common among philosophers who are not also trained in any empirical sciences, and it also matches up to Feser's particular interests in the area of natural philosophy in general, which seem to be addressing either cases where one starts with metaphysical errors and produces some bad natural philosophy from it, or else cases where one takes some empirical results and wrongly argues from them to a bad metaphysical conclusion.
 

Offline Geremia

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2020, 02:18:16 PM »
I've read enough of his other work that touched on the subject that it didn't surprise me that he took that position.  He generally comes at it from the more abstract, metaphysical side, e.g. "What must be true in order for any of this at all to be possible, regardless of the specific results of experiments?" rather than looking at empirical results and reasoning from them to some conclusion.  Obviously there is always a little of the latter in any attempt at natural philosophy, or even metaphysics, because we always have to work from some knowledge gained from our senses.  But I think his approach is pretty common among philosophers who are not also trained in any empirical sciences, and it also matches up to Feser's particular interests in the area of natural philosophy in general, which seem to be addressing either cases where one starts with metaphysical errors and produces some bad natural philosophy from it, or else cases where one takes some empirical results and wrongly argues from them to a bad metaphysical conclusion.
That's a good assessment.
His book should be subtitled: "The Methodological Foundations of Physical and Biological Sciences", but considering his position, it makes sense he'd say Metaphysical instead.

I mostly agree with Feser when he writes:
Quote
Disagreement about whether to label the ideas in question “scientific” or “metaphysical” seems at the end of the day much less important than these matters about which there is agreement.
However, it's dangerous to subject physics to metaphysics because so much "metaphysical" baggage/scaffolding—such as epicycles, Descartes's vortices, the phlogiston, mechanical models, or, lately, the field, "Length contraction, time dilation, Lorentz’s invariance, Lorentz’s transformations, covariant laws, invariant laws, Minkowski’s metric, Minkowski’s spacetime, four-dimensional space-time, energy-momentum tensor, Riemannian geometry applied to physics, virtual photon, Schwarzschild’s line element, tensorial algebras in four-dimensional spaces, quadrivectors, metric tensor gμν, Christoffel’s symbols, string theory, super strings, curvature of space, dark matter, dark energy, wormholes, etc." (Assis 2014, 310)—has crippled the advancement of modern physics.

Offline cgraye

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2020, 03:22:19 PM »
Well, I wouldn't consider most of those things metaphysics.  Those are more like pieces of mathematical abstractions used to construct models that allow us to predict the outcomes of experiments.  True, sometimes we can be guilty of the fallacy of reifying abstractions, and that can lead us astray, but usually not in the physics itself.  But I don't think genuine metaphysics like the four causes, the distinction between act and potency, etc. can ever be dangerous to the study of physics.  On the contrary, it grounds it in a solid understanding of the fundamental nature of reality.
 

Offline Geremia

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Re: Feser's «Aristotle's Revenge»?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2020, 10:57:53 AM »
I wouldn't consider most of those things metaphysics.
No, they're not real metaphysics; but, like true metaphysics, they are not deducible from the first principles of natural philosophy / physics.