William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Essence Is Of The Essence

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This is Part II of my answer to Mayo’s quip. See Part I. Obviously, it’s only a wee fraction of what could be said.

Are you you? I do not ask in jest. Consider that yesterday parts of what-might-have-been-you are no longer with you. What-might-have-been-you ate, what-might-have-been-you digested, some cells of what-might-have-been-you are no more, and some cells are new. Change has occurred from what-might-have-been-you to what-might-be-you now.

Given change occurred, the question is not an empty one: are you you?

Answer: of course you are you!

“You honor, I move to have this case dismissed. The client I represent is not the person who robbed the bank. My client wears a hat, whereas the person who robbed the bank did not.”

You are you because nothing essential that made you you changed, only things accidental to your essence changed, and accidents, as they are technically called, do not define essence. You are still you even though you’ve digested a banana, put on a hat, or dyed your hair. Cell content, hat status, and hair color (assuming you have any left) are accidents. That you can apprehend, intellectually grasp, this sentence is essential to making you you. Your rationality, your intellect, mind, and body make you you. Take something essential away, like rationality, by for instance gouging out your heart Aztec-style, and the corpse which remains is no longer you—even if the heart is stitched back in.

And of course people with heart transplants are still the same people. What about head transplants?

Everybody believes in essence, even those people who say they don’t. For the first thing people who do not believe in essence will do is to try to find other people to convince these other people that they don’t exist!

If there is no such thing as essence, there are no such things as people, because people are defined by the essence common to human beings. The committed non-essence holder must be willing to talk to ’57 Buicks, kumquats, and politicians and convince these non-entities that there are no such things as Buicks, kumquats, and politicians, and that the only reason they are not considered people is because of a wholly arbitrary definition.

If you say there is no such thing as essence, the only logically compatible belief is that everything is nothing. You cannot even say there are molecules, atoms, or even quarks, because defining these requires essence. If there is no essence, everything that is just is and any regular persisting pattern which might seem to exist really doesn’t. But if you don’t believe in essence, you cannot claim that some people are misled into seeing patterns, because creatures that can discern patters are defined by the (partial) essence of creatures-that-can-discern-patterns, and these cannot exist. That is, these creatures can exist, but lumping any two of them together based on any universal criteria makes no sense. Why should your criteria be my criteria?

Anyway, essence is trivial. But knowing it often isn’t.

Pug Cavet, Tex Covington, Oscar Stanage, Squanto Wilson, and Tyrus Raymond Cobb (a nice guy: no, really) in 1911 played a game the essence of which we call baseball. They (and others) played for a team called the Detroit Tigers. The field on which they played was called Bennett Park, which in 1912 became Navin Field, which in 1938 became Briggs Stadium (you heard me), which in 1961 became Tiger Stadium, and which is now a forlorn empty field named after the greatest announcer who ever lived, Ernie Harwell. The Tigers, if there is such an essential thing as the Tigers, now play at Comerica Park, which is in a new location, but still in Detroit.

It’s now 2016. Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and Victor Martinez are on the team. None of the men from 1911 are on the 2016 roster. The manager is not the same (Brad Ausmus now, Hughie Jennings then). The owner is not the same (Mike Ilitch now, Frank Navin then). The uniforms are not exactly the same. The fields are not the same, as we saw. The rules of baseball are not exactly the same then and now (there is now the dismal time-wasting soul-sucking play review, whereas before people realized perfection was impossible and it was just a game).

Question is, are the Detroit Tigers the Detroit Tigers?

If so, there has to be something that defines the essence of the Tigers. Can’t be the players, nor managers, nor owners, nor stadiums, nor precise uniforms, nor precise rules. I certainly think the Tigers are the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean I can specify with exactitude just what it is that makes them the same team through time.

The team has persisted, in the sense there was always some kind of continuous overlap, whether in men, uniform, name, location. That persistence is what convinces me the Tigers are the Tigers. It’s why I root root root for them every year.

So if the Tigers are essentially the Tigers, are the Dodgers essentially the Dodgers, given their shift from Brooklyn to LA? They certainly think so. You?

123 Comments

  1. Someone tried to convince me yesterday (on Facebook) that Buddhism is true and that there is no self, that he said the word “I” only out of convention because he no longer “was,” and that he had reached the level where he no longer had any personal suffering or wants. This is the practical problem of Buddhism — one might believe that in theory people can achieve Nirvana and merge with everything because the real truth is that there is no difference between them and everything, but they really can’t do such a thing while alive. This was are still a guy sitting somewhere, logged in to Facebook, thinking and typing, and obviously (to the rest of us) NOT one with everything. You cannot have your essence and not have it at the same time (no, that’s not a koan) — not in the real world. If such a duality is true, it has to transcend what we think of as the real world — which this did NOT.
    This is a backwards reply to your piece on essense — a fellow claiming there isn’t any, and that he doesn’t have any, but obviously still being and having it.

  2. Gail:

    I would not judge Buddhism based on a conversation with one person.

    Briggs’s notion of essence may or may not resonate with Buddhist practice. You mention koans. Presumably you know these are traditionally “problems” given to students to “solve.” The way the practice works, the student at intervals has private interviews with the teacher and the student is asked to demonstrate his/her understanding to the teacher. Not explain, but demonstrate. One famous koan you may be familiar with is:

    Show me your face before your parents were born.

    There are at least two aspects relating to essence in it. (“Face” is often used in Asian culture as a label for what we might call a person’s “essence.”) One aspect is the question of who are you (what is your “essence”) including now but also outside of this brief time in which you live. The other part is how do you “show” that essence. The demonstration is something between the student and teacher. As with most koans the “answer” cannot be “explained,” only demonstrated. That is consistent with a common view that Buddhism is a practice, not a body of precepts and scriptures. There are precepts and scriptures but they usually are viewed as pointers to the practice, not the “essence.”

    Another view relating to essence in Buddhism is an often quoted verse from a scripture called the Diamond Sutra. (There are various theories about who actually said it and who actually wrote it down, but that is irrelevant.) There are several translations but the most charming for English speakers is usually taken to be (like most poems, I find it conveys its meaning best if it is read slowly, not scanned)

    So you should view this fleeting world —
    A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
    A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
    A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

    Depending on the reader, it may or may not capture something in one’s mind relating to essence. I used it in once in a eulogy I was asked to give and it seemed to provide some comfort.

  3. Does utility determine essence? To an atheist I think it might.

  4. Synonyms for essence: aspect, basis, bottom line, character, core, crux, element, heart, lifeblood, meaning, nature, principle, quality, reality, root, significance, soul, spirit, structure, substance, attribute, backbone, base, being, bottom, burden, caliber, constitution, entity, fiber, form, fundamental, germ, grain, kernel, life, marrow, meat, nitty-gritty, nub, nucleus, pith, point, property, quiddity, quintessence, stuff, timber, vein, be-all and end-all, chief constituent, main idea, name of game, virtuality.

    More words related to essence: base, fundamental part, authority, chief constituent, evidence, foundation, groundwork, important part, infrastructure, key, origin, primary element, principal, principle, root, source, underpinning, foundation for belief, axiom, background, backing, bedrock, cause, center, chief ingredient, data, dictum, evidence, explanation, footing, fundamental, hard fact, heart, infrastructure, justification, keynote, keystone, law, nexus, nucleus, postulate, premise, presumption, presupposition, principal element, principle, proof, reason, root, rudiment, sanction, security, source, substratum, support, theorem, theory, underpinning, warrant, marrow

    Word Origin & History

    essence late 14c., from L. essentia “being, essence,” abstract n. formed in imitation of Gk. ousia “being, essence” (from on, gen. ontos, prp. of einai “to be”), from prp. stem of esse “to be,” from PIE *es- (cf. Skt. asmi, Hittite eimi, O.C.S. jesmi, Lith. esmi, Goth. imi, O.E. eom “I am;” see be). Originally “substance of the Trinity,” the general sense of “basic element of anything” is first recorded in English 1650s, though this is the base meaning of the first English use of essential (mid-14c.).

    – Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition

    So what is the essence of the word “essence”?

  5. Thank you, Gary. You’ve given me my first headache of the day. 🙂

    (At least my head didn’t explode so I can still eat the tasty fried potatoes my hubby just made. I don’t know if they have essence or not and I don’t care!)

  6. Fah, you got to Gail before me.

    Gail, a bodhisattva recognizes the noble truths of suffering. I think the person was talking about his attitude towards and handling of suffering, basically he doesn’t hold on pleasure or sufferings and has a way to end his suffering.

  7. Thanatos Savehn

    August 19, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Is the essence of a heap of salt traceable to, or derivable from, a single grain of it? Only the conscience mind’s experience of the heap reveals its heap-y-ness. Fear of what this truth implies may be the essence of the denial of essence.

    P.S. Bought your book. Full price too! So far so very good.

  8. Essence is unknowable.

    The Mississippi River is still the Mississippi River. We do not have to refer to the essence of the Mississippi River. Water likes to follow gravity and, as long as it continues to do so in a particular geographic location, we will continue to have a Mississippi River. In fact, if an essence applies, the essence of water is likely more important than any Mississippi River essence.

    Not that this person you are trying to correct is right or anything. I’ve just seen too much word magic with the word essence.

  9. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Only things have essences, or essential forms. Heaps do not. The Mississippi River may or may not qualify as a thing.

    Ouisia is used in the sense of subtantia, that which “stands under.” The English “thing” is a reasonable translation of we bring along the implication of a unifying principle. Briggs is a substance. It cannot be said of another. Accidents exist in another. There is no red without a red thing. The color red is not.

  10. Used to have a high school science teacher who would say he still had his great-grandfather’s hammer. He replaced the head once and the handle 3 times but cherished still owning his great-grandfather’s hammer. He was joking with us. However, the essence of the hammer was still there. Insofar as a hammer can have a lineage it was traceable to the great-grandfather. So was it his great-grandfather’s hammer?

  11. Sander van der Wal

    August 19, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    @YOS

    A heap is a number of static things piled together in the gravity field of a very much larger thing, of heap. Earth itself is probably a thing, even though it can also be seen als a self-gravitating heap. The same for the Sun.

    Then is a galaxy a thing? A cluster of galaxies? The galaxies themselves change when they are in a cluster. A supercluster of galaxies?

  12. A much better example would be pop groups, where the entire set of players might die or leave, but the name still remains…

    As far as I can see, ‘essence’ refers to nothing more mystical than a brand name – a marketing commodity. The Detroit Tigers are simply the Tigers because that is the brand name of the club team.

    A person is more interesting – their sense of ‘I’, with all the associated memories and habits, resides in their neural makeup. The rest of the body is incidental, and can readily be replaced by transplants, or machinery if required – indeed we do this today. If you damage the neural structure, the person starts to disappear. This is exactly what relatives report about patients with neural degenerative diseases such as Altzheimer’s.

    In theory, once we understand enough about the workings of the brain, and once we had the computing technology, we could reproduce the entire neural structure of a person in software. That system would then have a similar sense of ‘I’, and would behave, at least initially, in a very similar way to the original person. It would, of course, be a different person, and since the brain self-modifies depending on its sensory perceptions, the software person’s thinking would soon diverge from the original wetware person’s thinking – assuming that their experiences were different…

  13. Using the word process encourages thought about what we observe, both what changes and what appears not to change.

  14. Briggs’ original remark (http://wmbriggs.com/post/19509/) referred to an “essential model” — “It’s crucial we distinguish essential and empirical MODELS,…” [EMPHASIS added]

    In that post the “crucial” distinction between an “essential” and an “empirical” “MODEL” was never presented.

    And we’re still waiting for that “crucial” distinction…

    By the way, consider this enlightening remark: “I certainly think the Tigers are the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean I can specify with exactitude just what it is that makes them the same team through time.”

    That’s the sort of vision one has when one tries to force-fit particular tools on a situation.

    Had Briggs considered his philosophical constructs were inappropriate to the situation, he’d then consider others … and might eventually hit on “law” … shortly after which the so-called “essence” of a sports team thru time & personnel changes would become pathetically obvious.

    Gotta apply the right tools to the problem, folks…not force-fit everything into one’s personal favorite.

  15. ANY extension, of any kind, whether in time, in space, or in number, of an Essence/Substance/Form, generates the ancient, enormous, and notorious problem of the One and the Many.

    Put differently, the very existence of anything at all that has time, space, and/or number, represents a severe, perhaps even fundamental, challenge to the idea of a time-less, extensionless Essence/Substance/Form/Perfection/etc.

    At very least, the idea that a time-less, extensionless Essence can somehow inhere-within/inhabit/ensoul/etc. a thing that has extension, and further, has not always existed, and will eventually pass out of existence, requires significant philosophical argument.

    Second, that we can have knowledge of such Essences, though we seem to pass in-and-out of existence, take up (different) space, and are, somehow, also different in other ways (in number, at very least), has also been recognized as a fundamental difficulty.

    Plato’s ‘answer’ for this, seems to be that we’re actually immortal, eternal beings, because we somehow do have real knowledge of the immutable, eternal Forms — which would be impossible, otherwise.

    And so on.

    Not sure how much light the Detroit Tigers can shed on this. If anything, the Tigers look a lot like a social/legal consensus, rather than a ‘thing’ that has an Essence. (That is, when they’re not losing 100 games a season; then they embody the Essence of Suck). Of course, that rather provides evidence for Matt’s opponents on the Essence debate.

    Sometimes, Matt’s a-historical grasp, and presentation, of philosophy and metaphysics, can get a tad grating. And that goes for his philosophical mentors, too.

  16. The essence of “essence” appears to be subjective. It’s whatever classification model is used by an individual. Outside of agreed upon definitions there are no objective essences. What you call a dog may be a wolf to someone else. What I call yellow you may call gold.

    Why would your idea of a dog be any better than mine?
    Why would an “essential” model be any better than a “non-essential” one?


    The “Are you you?” question reminds me of an essay I read years ago (in some collection with a forgotten name. Editor maybe Feigenbaum) where various thought experiments were discussed.

    One of them was, if you were to replace every neuron in your brain with an artificial but functional equivalent, would you still be you? The question centers on how much of your body can be replaced and you would still be you. The answer seems to be “you” are what you mean when you say “I’. It’s your perception of yourself.

    Other interesting questions were considered. One them was: if you are operating a remote device where what you see is entirely at the device’s location. Where are you? At the operating position or at the device’s location?

    Another: yo maneuver the device to enter the operations room and you see someone at the controls. Who are you? The person at the controls or the device?

    In Star Trek, the transporter would literally annihilate your body and replicate it elsewhere. You would be the replicant while the former-you ceased to exist? An interesting question: what if the transporter replicated you without destroying the original? Would you be in two places? Or only until your experiences differ?

    —-

    The switch to someone else changes things. How much of another person’s body can be replaced before they cease to be that person? What if your brother sent off to war and was horribly disfigured and fixed with artificial replacements. Suppose he further received brain damage to the point his personality changed. Lacking a DNA test, when he returns is he still your brother?

    What about if he went to war and came back with a personality change?

  17. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    the idea that a time-less, extensionless Essence can somehow inhere-within/inhabit/ensoul/etc. a thing that has extension

    This seems to be a Cartesian misunderstanding. An essence (short for “essential form”) is not a thing, and there is no more problem with its “inhabiting” an extended body than with sphere inhabiting basketball.

    What you call a dog may be a wolf to someone else. … Why would your idea of a dog be any better than mine?

    It makes it easier to have a natural science if you admit of natures. Also, it makes one less likely to be eaten.

    Why would an “essential” model be any better than a “non-essential” one?

    Less risk of identifying human beings by some accident like skin color.

  18. I don’t see any tangible purpose for essentialism beyond apologism, and often apologism for the worst sorts of behavior.

    JMJ

  19. Lately I find myself agreeing with Briggs sometimes and would give him some high marks on his posts. On this one I think I would give him about a C- or D based on failure to address the question completely.

    The notion of essence he seems to be describing here requires more definition. In particular it requires a definition of the observer’s universe and the proviso that the nature of essence (as he describes it) is dependent on that universe. Unless he wishes to maintain that there is some “universal” universe in which an absolute specification of the essence of things can be defined, in which case it is simply a problem for a particular observer to figure out what that universe contains. Let me use an example. Assume I am a mathematician and I wish to study various particular systems.

    In one system I want to study, the universe is defined as the three sets {}, {2}, and {4}. I might wish to do so with the inclusion of the usual set operations union and complement. So, in this universe, what is the essence of 1? It must have no essence because it does not exist in this universe, literally. This is entirely due to the choice of the universe under consideration.

    In another system I might wish to study the so-called natural numbers, i.e. the counting numbers N = { 1,2,3,4,…….} (leaving out zero in this case). However I wish to study them without any operators except the two set operators and an identity operator I(a,b) that outputs “yes” when a = b in the literal symbolic sense (not an arithmetical comparison because my system has none) and outputs “no” when a is not equal b in that same sense. This means in particular, there is no notion of order or magnitude for the elements of the set. In this universe, what is the essence of 1? Well, we can describe that completely by specifying the subsets of N which do and do not contain 1 as well as the complements of sets to do and do not contain 1.

    In yet another system, I might wish to include an operator on the objects studied in the last system, say a “multiplication” operator. It maps pairs of members of the set to another member of the set. Since I have not assumed an order for this set I am free to define the multiplication operator any way I wish and I might choose to define the identity operator to be multiplication by 1 if I wish. In that case the essence of 1 would be as it was in the last case, with the addition that it is now the identity element. However, I could just as easily define multiplication by 2 (or 11 or 254321) to be the identity operator. In which case the “essence” of 1 would no longer contain being the identity.

    Now let’s say I love mathematics so much that I study and study and never spend time with friends or family and finally want to study something called Appert’s topology (it is googleable, but that isn’t necessary). (A topology on a set is a specification of what subsets of the set are what are called “open” sets, where open means something specific to mathematicians). Now Appert’s topology requires an ordering on the set in the usual arithmetic way so that we can compare whether things are less than or equal to others and it requires the notion of division. In Appert’s topology, a set is defined to be open if it does not contain 1 or if a certain function of the number of elements less than n tends to 1 as n tends to infinity. In my little mathematician’s universe the essence of 1 would now be that it includes the essence of 1 in the natural numbers but that now it includes the determination of open sets in my topology. (It does this by virtue of being the lowest magnitude number of the set, and that it is the required limit of the defining function.)

    It is likely that if I were not such a lover of mathematics, I would not know about Appert’s topology and if I were asked the essence of 1, I would never include that in my essence. In fact, unless I happened to be considering a universe defined by natural numbers with this topology, 1 would not possess that essence.

    In short, it seems to me that essence is not sufficiently well described by Briggs here to be a well-defined concept. If he wishes to maintain that the “essence” of 1 must contain all possible “essences” then he is demanding that the observer have a complete knowledge of mathematics, to include 1 as a pure symbol, a counting number, as a limit of sequences, as a topological determinant, as a Boolean nomenclature, as a binary number representer, etc. etc. In that case the “essence” of something is unknowable by any individual.

    This little example only scratches the surface. There are other uses of 1 meaning a union, such as to become “one” with the universe. I remain to be convinced that the concept of “essence” as described here is much practical use. I did agree with the distinction between essential and empirical models as it finally came to be understood in the last post. In that case, “essential” was a much more restricted concept with a practical definition, particularly in comparison to “empirical.”

  20. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t see any tangible purpose for essentialism beyond apologism

    For what was Aristotle apologizing? Or Plato (though his essences were different). http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/Forms.html

    Or do you believe that all forms are accidental, so that skin color is just as important as the ability to understand sentences?

    One tangible purpose is that if things do not have essences (natures), there is no basis on which to found a natural science. Some here have contended that it is enough to collect the values of all accidents that can be measured on dogs in order to get the concept of dog. But this begs the question. How do we know what collection of things on which to make the measurements if we do not have a prior grasp of what we mean by dog in the first place? Why measure the properties of Fido, Rover, and Spot and not the properties of Fido, Tabby, and a stalk of celery?

  21. But this begs the question. How do we know what collection of things on which to make the measurements if we do not have a prior grasp of what we mean by dog in the first place? Why measure the properties of Fido, Rover, and Spot and not the properties of Fido, Tabby, and a stalk of celery?

    So when did you acquire the concept of “dog”? Most likely you weren’t born with it and so you extracted it from examples. How did you do that without a prior grasp of what is meant by dog?

  22. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 19, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    How did you do that without a prior grasp of what is meant by dog?

    By recognizing dogs when we perceive them. You see Fido, you see Spot, you see Fluffy, and recognize that the first two are the same kind of thing and the third is a different kind.
    +++

    fah: So, in this universe, what is the essence of 1? It must have no essence because it does not exist in this universe

    It is an abstraction, a mathematical concept; not a thing. But even in our own universe, a thing may have an essence without an act of existence. Everyone grasps the essence of a unicorn even though unicorns do not exist.

    (It is, however, a fine example of how materialism cannot be true. It’s like the problem of o. Is o the omicron, the sound of small oh? Is it the zero, a lack of number? Is it a circle, a geometric shape? The meaning is not in the matter of the pixels or ink or groove carved in stone. It depends on the final cause (or purpose, in this case) of the person writing it and reading it. Artifacts like number-symbols receive their natures from the intentions of their inventors.)

    The reason you can find no essence for “1” is that you have used “1” for several distinct concepts. That is, the “1” in your first example is not the same kind of thing as the “1” in your second example. There is no reason, supposing concepts to have essential forms in the first place, that these essences be the same, simply because the shapes used to signify them are the same.

  23. By recognizing dogs when we perceive them.

    Presumes you have a prior concept of “dog”. Answers nothing.

    I asked how you acquired it originally when you had no prior concept.

    You asked: How do we know what collection of things on which to make the measurements if we do not have a prior grasp of what we mean by dog in the first place?

    The most reasonable answer is you develop the concept through the study of examples eventually eliminating celery stalks, etc. and eventually refine your concept through further examples.

    The concept you develop is yours alone. If the concepts were universal then when someone sees a dog, horse or whatever in a cloud formation, they wouldn’t have to tell you what they see as you would immediately see it, too.

    Same with other things. Canis Major doesn’t look at all like a dog o me. In fact, none of the constellations look like their names except for the “Big Dipper” which is its common name. I don’t see it as a bear. As an animal, it looks more like a beaver.

  24. Think of a baby struggling with its first words. He or she will be able to identify a dog as a “dog” or “puppy” because he or she has seen dogs or puppies and some caring adult told the baby the name of the thing. All of baby’s early vocabulary aims at the “essence” of the noun. When the child asks for milk, he or she is not requesting a White Russian (white liquid, in a glass). It only takes learning to confuse what was once so clear.

  25. The notion that only animate things have an “essence” is a restriction that Briggs did not express clearly at all. His previous discussion of “essential” models explicitly applied the notion of essence to inanimate things, be they symbols, or symbols that represent measureable objects. He explicitly included climate models and the weatherman’s prediction of the weather in his discussion. He only used the dogs for an example. His intention was clear that he spoke of essence as something characterizing nature, animate or not. He also talked about the essence of a game (called baseball) which is an abstraction, separate from the people playing it at any particular time. And he talked about the abstraction of a team called the Tigers, which he disconnects from the specific animate participants of a particular time. In fact one could argue that the Detroit Tigers is itself a symbol, not an animate entity, and that if they were sold, they might lose that “essence” of the Detroit Tigers and become something else. I think there was a baseball team or possibly football team in Washington DC called the Senators, or perhaps something Sox, but they were sold and the name changed. Did the “essence” change? If yes, then the “essence” is not connected to the animate participants but instead a symbol.

    Since the question here is what does Briggs mean by “essence,” he should speak up. Does the concept of essence he proposes apply only to animate objects and not to anything inanimate, symbolic, or otherwise non-corporeal? If so, then he should say so. There is no point trying to interpret his words when he can type for himself and say clearly what he means.

    Before discussing the application or not to specific entities and their relation to the universe in which they are defined, and what could be considered to be the relativity of essence, Briggs needs to answer the above question. What does he mean?

  26. I think the Materialism should be called “Stunted Mind Syndrome” because its proponents are pathologically inhibited from being able to see the forrest for quibbles about the physignomy of a particular tree.

    A forrest is a “thing” (Briggsy will be canvasing for me to be condemned to the deepest pits of Hell for unrepentant “reification” again) somewhat independent of its particular makeup, size, location, etc.etc.

    Most of you reading this will claim to be “American” (an arrogantly presumptuous claim that implies that Canadians, Mexicans, Bolivians etc. are not native to the Continent(s), but that’s another argument). Anyhow, the guts of it is does it mean that, therefore, you cannot be a short, fat, red haired, bespectacled chess player because you have defined yourself as “American”?

    The “essence” of a “thing” can be somewhat independent of its physical form, construction, components, or “accidents”. A staircase is a staircase whether it’s made of wood, or iron, or plastic.

    The “essence” of “things” is pretty easy to grasp once Materialistic dogmas are put in their proper place. The notion of “being” is, however, somewhat more inimical to fashionable Naturalistic/Materialistic assumptions.

  27. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 1:08 am

    I asked how you acquired it originally when you had no prior concept.

    Oh, probably my father or mother told me to use the mouth-sound “dog” when encountering that particular kind of thing. Remarkably, I did not have to be told over and over as I encountered boxers, poodles, Alsatians, mutts, etc. that each was essentially a dog. However, it is not the recognition that my parents needed to tell me; it was the mouth-sound that was used to designate it; whether Hund, or canis, or whatever.

    The concept you develop is yours alone.

    And yet, we have little problem in securing agreement on dogginess among folks, even those speaking other languages.

    A star-grouping is not a dog, even when given a fanciful name. For that matter, the vague shapes sometimes imagined in clouds are not the things designated by the names. cf. Magritte’s painting “This is not a Pipe.”

    The Plough (or Big Dipper) does not look like a dipper unless you first privilege particular stars as making up the supposed star-group. Why these seven stars, and not those nine, or those four? Or those 27? The stars in a constellation do not constitute a natural thing except in the mind of the dreamer.

  28. Question: Can a singularity have an essence?

  29. Question: Can a singularity have an existence?

  30. Briggs

    August 20, 2016 at 5:47 am

    “Can a singularity have an existence/essence?”

    Well, a good question. What might the answer be? Before we can answer, we first have to know the definition of singularity, yes? Any takers?

  31. “Well, a good question. What might the answer be? Before we can answer, we first have to know the definition of singularity, yes? Any takers?”
    Resource material:
    http://www.singularitysymposium.com/definition-of-singularity.html
    http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/essencex.html

  32. Oh, probably my father or mother told me to use the mouth-sound “dog” when encountering that particular kind of thing. Remarkably, I did not have to be told over and over as I encountered boxers, poodles, Alsatians, mutts, etc. that each was essentially a dog.

    Wow! You learned from a single example. And from that example you were able to distinguish dogs from cats, sheep, cows, horses, hyenas and whatever. Never needed to be told this is my dog or any other reference to dog. A genius! Or someone with poor memory.

  33. Good leads, Dowdy.

    I assumed that the “singularity” referred to is the imaginary point of infinite density… the “nothing” that “contains” the “everything” as is commonly proposed as an unassailable conjectural “fact” of Naturalistic Relativity.

    However, for there to be an “essence” of a thing there must be an existence of the thing. Existence is not conferred by some mathemagical “model” or “credible theory”… it is what is. Reality may be poorly seen (observed) or understood but it is never self-contradictory. Wherever there is an apparent contradiction between versions of the same thing either one is wrong or both are wrong… no other options.

    Relativism is the religion of egotistical dunces.

  34. Oldavid. Agree. God is the only singularity where existence and essence are the same. https://www3.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc1_22.htm

  35. I recommend anyone who wants to know what Briggs means by “essence” read his book. I just went through his book, searching for the string “essen” and a number of passages came up. From this can be discerned a couple of basic facts about his use of “essence”

    1. It is a philosophical concept, derived from and based in metaphysics.
    2. It applies generally, i.e. to animate as well as inanimate objects.

    Based on 1) my interest wanes. For better or worse, philosophical excursion is just not my Nature.

    The rest of this post is long, basically a selection of passages from Briggs’s book, so not all readers may want to go through it all. Paragraphs quoted are not necessarily contiguous in the text. I heartily recommend the curious to read his book.
    Excerpts:
    From the introduction: [“essence” is essentially [[no pun]] metaphysical]
    “Despite this, probability, and more generally our conception of truth—indeed our conception of anything—must inevitably be anchored in a metaphysical ground. Our understanding of essence and our incomplete and often faulty knowledge of it make this inevitable.”

    In Section 1.2, Realism [where it is stated that “essence” applies to animate and inanimate objects]
    Catness exists and so do individual cats. We can tell cats from dogs because we know the nature or essence of both. Knifeness exists as do individual knives, even though it’s not always clear if a given object is a knife or only acts like one.

    Section 2.1 Language [“essence” is distinct from universal]
    For example, when we say “Men are taller than women” we do not imply that the shortest man is taller than the tallest women. Instead we mean it is in the nature or essence of men to be taller than women, a truth conditional on extensive observation and the induction to the generalization.

    3.1 Metaphysics [speaks for itself]
    Why a section on metaphysics in a book about probability? Because probability, like the philosophy of anything else, must rest on some ground. That ground is our knowledge and understanding of essence, substantial forms, intellection, on the quiddity (the whatness of things) and (in the old way of speaking) induction.
    To expand on the examples above, the essence of thing is not merely a collection of its properties. The lumberyard, which contains all the necessary components for a house, is not a house. We need to marry the material of the house with its substantial form for the house to come to be. An accident is a property that does not necessarily have to belong to an object for it to retain its essence. Houses can be white or green; a house’s color is an accident; that is has a color is part of its essence. Humans can wear shorts, dresses, pants, or nothing; clothing is an accident. Everybody can grasp that this is a house or that is a human regardless of the accident of color or clothing. It is a necessary or essential property of houses to have roofs and for humans to have hearts, even “arti?cial” ones (the word acknowledges essence). It is the essential properties of a thing that de?ne the thing.

    From 3.3 Grue [again “essence” is applied to inanimate as well as animate objects]
    The reason we expect (via induction) unobserved emeralds to be green is we expect that whatever is causing emeralds to be green will remain the same through time. Whether this is the formal, material, ef?cient, or ?nal cause depends on the perspective one takes, of course, but unless there is other speci?c information, we expect constancy of cause. We comprehend the essence of what it is to be an emerald is unchanging. And that is what induction is: the understanding of this essence, an awareness of cause. Rather, that is one form of induction, as we now know.
    Nobody has ever seen a fast emerald; neither are blithe, winsome, electrifying, salty, nor brutal emeralds observed. Nobody has ever seen a blue one either, yet it is blue that is the traditional alternate predicate stated in the “problem”, not fast or blithe, etc. The choice of alternate predicate is arbitrary; there is nothing special about blue. Using an absurd one like fast makes the so-called problem of grue disappear, because we realize that no emerald can suddenly change nature from green to fast. That is, our understanding (via induction) that it is the essence of emeralds to be green, that some thing or things are causing the greenness, is what leads us to reject the idea that this cause can suddenly switch and create blithe or fast emeralds instead of green ones.
    What does the arbitrary time have to do with the essential composition of an emerald? Not much; or rather, nothing. Again, the reason we expect (via induction) unobserved emeralds to be green is we expect that whatever is causing emeralds to be green will remain the same. That is, the essence of what it is to be an emerald is unchanging, and that is what induction is: the understanding of this essence, an awareness of cause. Groarke emphasizes that the time we observe something is not a fact about the object, but a fact about us. And what is part of us is not part of the object.

    7.3: [impact of quantum mechanics]
    The goal is to discover universal deterministic models, which contain necessarily true premises and which lead to certainty and where the nature and essence of the events are understood. Given the results of quantum mechanics, it appears this goal cannot be met for ef?cient causes for some events. No full, universal ef?cient deterministic model of nature exists: if one did, it would be the prized Theory of Everything. Even though we are barred from complete knowledge, rich and useful conditional models abound.

    10.7: [The Calling]
    My prayer is that predictive methods catch on; indeed, that they replace the parameter-centric, hypothesis testing decision-is-probability classical procedures that we now know are so productive of over-certainty.

    And [ at last, “essence” is a philosophical concept]
    The real problem may be in how we teach students probability. Math should, at ?rst, be de-emphasized; philosophy should come ?rst.

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 9:36 am

    However, for there to be an “essence” of a thing there must be an existence of the thing.

    It’s the other way around. A unicorn has an essence but not an act of existence. But something cannot exist and not be essentially something in particular.

  37. Essence is the gateway drug to philosophical intoxication.

    DAV: On your Star Trek transporter question—that was covered in STNG with a duplicate Riker. (Second Chances was the episode.) You are, of course, free to debate the conclusion of the episode writer.

    JMJ: I am surprised you aren’t fully into this “talk” stuff. Talk and no action is what progressives do best.

    Anon: Well said. Too much learning and one is completely confused!

  38. Can a singularity have an existence/essence?

    1. It depends what the meaning of “is” is. In Briggs’s language it would mean answering the question: what is the “essence” of existence? Are “essence” and “existence” necessary and sufficient for each other? Existence clearly includes animate and inanimate entities but unresolved is the question of whether purely conceptual entities “exist” or have an “essence.” If conceptual entities can “exist” that opens up questions of whether strictly mathematical constructs exist. (Or whether the concept of “unicorn” exists.) I personally don’t care how one chooses to answer these questions, but whatever your answers, that must be part of your consideration of existence.

    2. Singularities, at least in physics, are conceptual entities, in particular computed quantities based on some “guess” (in Feynman’s parlance) on how some aspect of physics works, i.e. it is the mathematical consequence of assuming some particular model. They generally represent physical things that in principle should be measurable but are computed to have the value infinity, not a limit at infinity, but the value infinity, meaning some potentially realizable physical state would generate an infinite quantity. Many singularities occur in the practice of physics, not just the popular notion from relativity. Many theories on fundamental forces, fields, and particles generate singularities under certain conditions. In the usual practice of physics, this is taken to indicate that there is some problem in the theory, or at least in the math, but that is based on the lack of observation of singularities in such cases. Some singularities are viewed as “essential,” meaning they occur no matter how one does the math, some are viewed simply as mathematical or coordinate singularities, which can be transformed away via some mathematical manipulation.

    From the mundane viewpoint of the practice of physics, singularities are simply one of many conceptual tools for investigating the consequences of a particular “guess” or model of some phenomenon. Finding singularities in predictions is usually taken to mean you better check your math.

  39. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    It depends what the meaning of “is” is.

    That’s what Aristotle said.
    “In what sense is it asserted that all things are one? For ‘is’ is used in many senses.” — The Physics, I.2
    That is, “Bacon’s big, blue, bouncy ball “is” blue in a very different way than it “is” a ball. Grasp the distinction and you are close to the distinction between accidental forms and essential forms.

    Are “essence” and “existence” necessary and sufficient for each other?

    Essence is not necessary for existence. But every thing that exists must be some thing; that is, must have an essential form. With inanimate forms, this may be as simple as the number and arrangement of protons and electrons that give an atom its powers, or in more animate cases it can be exceptionally complex and difficult to describe except through its effects.

  40. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Wow! You learned from a single example. And from that example you were able to distinguish dogs from cats, sheep, cows, horses, hyenas and whatever.

    It was pretty clear that a dog was not a horse. You don’t need two dogs to do that. In fact, as I said, how do you know you have two “dogs”? Even if you don’t know the mouth-sound, you can recognize that these two things are the same kind of thing.

  41. As usual (so predictably actually, that it has become dull and boring), the stream of misunderstandings is wide and flowing from all the anti-essentialists. In all fairness though, part of the problem lies with essentialists (myself included) that do a less than stellar job explaining it.

    note(s):
    – I will be using “natures” and “essences” interchangeably, although there are some subtle differences between them in Scholastic writings, but nothing that really matters here.

    So to pick on just one strand (but a rather typical one), usually named conventionalism about essences, let us quote one of the objectors:

    “The essence of “essence” appears to be subjective. It’s whatever classification model is used by an individual. Outside of agreed upon definitions there are no objective essences. What you call a dog may be a wolf to someone else. What I call yellow you may call gold.”

    This is an outright denial not only of essences but even of essential properties. If follows then that it is merely conventional, rather than objectively essential, that a human being be alive. From which it follows that if I kill the utterer of this sentence, no *essential* change has happened. Depending on our proclivities, we can either say that a human being still exists (since it is only conventional that human beings are essentially alive) or that a human being no longer exists simply because no human being has ever existed, much less the utterer of this sentence. After all it is only a convention and depends on “whatever classification model is used by an individual”. We should start tearing down all courts of justice as they are ridiculously redundant and deal with only convenient fictions.

    But the situation is even worse because conventionalism about essences is self-contradictory — this argument is due to Crawford Elders and lifted from his book “Real Natures”. To fix ideas, let us take a materialist (similar arguments can be lodged against other antirealists of other persuasions, like Cartesian ones). For a materialist, a mental event is physical event in the brain. And all materialists are logically committed to the proposition that the existence of (human) brains is logically prior to the occurence of mental events.

    Yet human brain are entities that seem to have some essential properties, for they can survive qua brains some changes but not others — say blender them into brain pure. Suppose a brain undergoes this change. In virtue of what is this change a destruction but rather merely an accidental change under which the brain continues to exist? Conventionalists will have to answer: in virtue of the conventions about individuation we happen to have. But having certain conventions is a matter of having certain mental events, of thinking and talking in certain ways. So the occurrence of at least some human mental events is logically prior to the existence in the world of human brains. For it is in virtue of our conventions that there are in the world entities having essentially the properties of structure that human brains have essentially. But this flatly contradicts the materialist commitment pointed in the first paragraph.

  42. Without wishing to repeat myself I will.
    On definitions and arguing about the world:

    If essence is defined in each example (which it cannot be because essence cannot be fully understood and therefore cannot be defined) we would all agree. Where’s the fun in that?

    I’m going to guess that this is why Briggs doesn’t define it for this example. It can’t be done, only attempted.

    There is confusion about what essence is and what is is. i.e. what is’s essence is.

    The domain of the essence of a stone or a sports team is not helpful when
    referring to a living thing. The essence of a living thing has a different dimension. like comparing a penciled circle to a hedgehog in a ball, it’s that bad.

    It’s as silly as that.
    Insert mathematical examples or singularity and it obscures the silliness of arguing about this. There is no argument there is only misunderstanding and mistake.

    The example of the dog and YOS’s description suit YOS’s experience of Dog.
    For recognition purposes nobody will argue. It is where the unknowable stuff reside where the problem begins. My experience of dog differs, clearly, from YOS’s and from others who fail to recognise the degree of intelligence of animals. Here we see the insertion of the claim that the individual making the claim is fooling themselves. It is the same argument used agains the soul.

    Trigger’s broom or the Tigers, sorry Briggs, are rather imagined essences. The difference is that with sports teams there is a collective spirit or fellowship which conjures the experience into a reality. The person who thinks their broom is the same one is kidding themselves. it is the same in abstract only. It is still ‘trigger’s broom’ that’s the only thing left. The handle and brush have gone.
    I’m not down on sports teams but they have one up on trigger’s broom, they have location and joint experience and a list of other things which tie the thing together. It is what is experienced in the mind and since we don’t know what others experience we can only guess or assume, which those who are certain tend to do.
    Whether they are lovers of ai and neuro-replication or lovers of religious dogmas which claim they have mind and soul sorted, they are similar in one thing. That is that they are too certain about essence. As I started in the beginning, we cannot be certain on essence.
    It cannot be defined outside of a superficial dictionary definition.

  43. It was pretty clear that a dog was not a horse. You don’t need two dogs to do that.

    And never once saw a horse and thought “What a big dog!” And of course, you only needed to learn the word for a dog since you knew from birth what a dog is and along with being capable of recognizing all the variations dogs and how they differ from a horse. Sure.

  44. DAV: Some people are better than others at seeing and recognizing patterns.

  45. we cannot be certain on essence.

    I see it as a classification problem. How many variables and along with their value ranges are needed to distinguish items? We apply our mental models to see which fits the best. It’s not really possible to say a priori what is needed in many cases. How much of a dog and what parts have to be present before you recognize the dog? If I were to show a picture of a dog with all but the torso erased, would it still be recognizable as a dog? If not what would I have to add? A leg, the tail, either, both, certain combinations?

    The “essence” would be whatever is needed. Sometimes more while at other times less depending on the image and its contents.

    When it comes to things unseeable (or otherwise physically detectable) then I guess it would be the core of the concept that distinguishes it from other concepts. We do this when searching for sameness. (“This problem is just like this one with the following unimportant differences”)

    What we get from our eyes are a lot of unconnected pixels. How do we know what pixels need to be connected to recognize an object? It was asked earlier why certain stars were selected in a constellation. It’s the same problem we continually have when using sight.

    Rorschach had a lot of fun with “essences”.

  46. Actually the phrase ‘it depends on what the meaning of “is” is’ was a quote from Bill Clinton concerning his rationale for why he had not been lying under oath about his relationship with an intern. It was meant as a slightly humorous backside way to reference this whole discussion.

    For my part, the basic point concerning his view of “essence” from quoting Briggs’s book was that “essence” is a philosophical concept derived from metaphysics. At that point as I said, my interest wanes. Discussion of what it is or is not, or what has it or has it not, or whether someone’s words in the past relate to it or nor, etc. are not where I care to spend my intellectual cycles. That is just my “essence.”

  47. In addition, I did not raise the specter of what “is” is to foment a general discussion on the nature of all things, but was specifically referring to Briggs’s question with regard to singularities. As I tried to point out in item 2 of that post, in physics, a singularity is a conceptual entity, not a measured one (at least so far and in the foreseeable future). As such, it occurs frequently in the process of exploring consequences of theories. If one wishes to argue with oneself or others as to whether or not singularities (again as the concept is used in physics) exists, one needs to argue about whether any such conceptual entity “exists” or at least the one entity under discussion, a singularity. Again, I really don’t care what one believes or convinces others about such things. I have spent and continue to spend a fair amount of intellectual cycle time with singularities, and on that basis alone singularities “exist” for me. I am happy to explore the concept of singularities in the context of physics and let others argue among themselves about whether they feel they “exist” or not, in their own personal world view.

  48. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    And never once saw a horse and thought “What a big dog!”

    Nope.

  49. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I did not raise the specter of what “is” is to foment a general discussion on the nature of all things,

    Of course not. You meant it as a hip, post-modernist quip. Yet, it still looked into the heart of the matter.

  50. Since there is not a single comment produced by anti-essentialists worthy of response, here goes a quote by Brian Ellis:

    Every distinct type of chemical substance would appear to be an example of a natural kind, since the known kinds of chemical substances all exist independently of human knowledge and understanding, and the distinctions between them are all real and absolute. Of course, we could not have discovered the differences between the kinds of chemical substances without much scientific investigation. But these differences were not invented by us, or chosen pragmatically to impose order on an otherwise amorphous mass of data. There is no continuous spectrum of chemical variety that we had somehow to categorize. The chemical world is just not like that. On the contrary, it gives every appearance of being a world made up of substances of chemically discrete kinds, each with its own distinctive chemical properties. To suppose otherwise is to make nonsense of the whole history of chemistry since Antoine Lavoisier. End quote

    What Ellis talks about chemical compounds also applies to elementary particles, biological species, or to just about any classificatory scheme, strictly scientific or not, since one of the aims of the true knowledge is to give a classification of existing things into kinds (which implies essences), ideally an exhaustive classification.

  51. Sure, just as all “knowledge” is conceptual the appreciation of “essences” is also conceptual. That does not mean that the “concept” of the universals that make for “dogyness” have no “existence” other than a mental concept. Nor does it mean that all the canine features that make “dogyness” distinguishable from “sheepiness” must be known to make the distinction. Even a blind sheep can distinguish a dog from a Man or another sheep.

    If one cannot make the distinction from the universals that make up the “essential” differences then there is some serious deficiency of comprehension. In the case of those arguing against the essentials of “essences” here I suspect some kind of wilful insanity.

    I will contend that a thing that doesn’t exist cannot have a real essence… it is a fantasy; not a concept or description of a real thing or type of thing.

    I will contend also that the mind is a metaphysical “thing” and the brain is but the physical organ that connects the mind with the physical world of sense and activity. A malfunction of the brain does not eliminate the mind or the ESSENtial “personhood” of the person; it is a disruption of communication between the metaphysical and the physical.

  52. “I will contend also that the mind is a metaphysical “thing” and the brain is but the physical organ that connects the mind with the physical world of sense and activity. A malfunction of the brain does not eliminate the mind or the ESSENtial “personhood” of the person; it is a disruption of communication between the metaphysical and the physical.”

    Very good Oldavid. The mind is the soul of the person.

  53. “I will contend that a thing that doesn’t exist cannot have a real essence”
    or a real anything since the statement disallows it.

    “Even a blind sheep?”
    Most mammals i’ve ever met socially trust their noses before their eyes.

    Don’t know about sheep but certainly cats and dogs do.

    DaV makes an important point when he refers to the obsession with the visual with respect to this type or any type of truth seeking.
    Rodrigues comment paraphrases what most commenters have already said on here.
    The argument is about categorisation and where the start point and premises are. “essentialists” horrid word, just go one stage further.

    I have an excellent nose!

    If I smell a rodent I am ALWAYS right. I can identify perfumes by constituent parts and so on.

    If someone stirs the coffee with a teaspoon prior to stirring the tea then I know for sure that there are a few moles of coffee in my tea. Nothing against coffee, just don’t want the two mixed and since I can distinguish the difference without using eyesight I know that I have understood enough about the essence of coffee to recognise it. Same for sugar, don’t even wave the spoon over mine.

  54. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 21, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Just in case, here is Chastek:

    Aristotle spoke everywhere of “the what-it-is” or “the what-it-is-to-be”. The Medievals learned Aristotle by these quirky substantive pronoun sentences, but then coined a word essence and made it identical to another word that would have been better left distinct: nature. But “essence” is just shorthand for the pronoun. Our attention should have been drawn to the “is”. The word is the nexus of all affirmations and denials, and therefore of all truths for us, and yet it has a fascinating declension of meanings. I find that whenever my kids ask me “what things are X” I find myself casting about for things that are the X at least in the sense that Aristotle calls said-of-all (kata panton) but what I’m really looking for are the things said per se. At our most precise, we want even more in addition to this, what Aristotle called kathalou, or “universally”.

    Now there is certainly something about things that makes them such that we can have this declension of meanings for “is”. If you want to call this thing “an essence” that gives rise to the per se, then fine. But our initial access to this thing is through our attempt to speak about it and articulate what we know, and this frequently will involve a larger class of data than the word “essence” is appropriate for, even though they are exactly what Aristotle wanted to include among things that were later called “essences”. The division between correlation and causality, for example, is an appeal to the per se, and eventually toward the per se and kathalou. Correlations can never be more than said-of-all. The desire for a causal connection is thus an aspect of “essence” in the sense that Aristotle is insisting on it, even though the word does not tend to include this in its field of meanings. Again, the long history of trying to figure out what heat is was a continuous attempt to figure out not only what was hot per se (we always knew that fire, the sun, living mammal bodies, etc. were hot per se) but what was hot per se and kathalou. Again, penguins or living things evolve per se, but they are not what evolve per se and kathalou, and a good deal of what one thinks about evolution can be muddled by treating something that is non-kathalou as though it is.

    Now there is a good deal of controversy over whether the sciences attain the per se and kathalou simply speaking, or whether all they are interested in is correlating events to quantitative and operational measure-numbers. Dewey, for example, claimed that a scientist telling you “heat is molecular motion” was no different than a power company telling you “heat is $110 for November”. Neither is an attempt to talk about what heat is, but only to relate it to useful units for the purposes of those who are interacting. Dewey is right that this is an aspect of all scientific discourse, and to the extent that it is, it makes no sense to distinguish the per se from the merely said-of-all. But to the extent that science is actually trying to explain what things are (and it simply goes to far to deny that it does) then the whole point of the quantification is to give a verisimilitude of what is per se and kathalou.

  55. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Gah. Close italic before “, then fine.”

  56. M D, I would say that the mind is OF the soul… as there’s more to an “animating principle” (soul) than intellect and will. Even plants have a “soul” of sorts; the thing (reification again. Briggs will be groaning in despair) that is the essential difference between a live organism and a dead one.

    Joy, the point is that even sheep can pick the “essence” of the difference. Just what those essential differences are is immaterial… the fact is that there are essential differences.

    YOS, still trying to flog the “evolution” impossibility by wrapping it up in a delicious sounding wordy pie?

    To convince me you’ll have to demonstrate that inanimate chemistry can produce its own metaphysical animator. I reckon that you’ll have to lie awake all night trying to create verbal contortions to make that seem to “work”.

  57. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 21, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    YOS, still trying to flog the “evolution” impossibility by wrapping it up in a delicious sounding wordy pie?

    Where did that come from?

    demonstrate that inanimate chemistry can produce its own metaphysical animator.

    “It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in tmes to come.
    — St. Augustine of Hippo, On the literal meanings of Genesis V.4.11

    “Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.”
    — Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, I.73.1, reply3

    there’s more to an “animating principle” (soul) than intellect and will.

    Indeed, there is. In addition to the inanimate powers of gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear and radiative forces, there are
    the “vegetative powers” of ingestion/digestion, metabolism, homeostasis, and reprodiction;
    the sensitive powers of sensation, perception (incl. memory and imagination), emotion (or “appetite”) and motion; and
    the rational powers of intellection and volition.

    The mind is the soul of the person.

    I would say it is more precise to say that the mind is an expression of the powers of the soul. But it is through the effects that we know the cause.

  58. I underestimated you, YOS. You didn’t have to lie awake all night.

    However, the essence of the argument is unchanged. Inanimate processes do not become animate or alive spontaneously from their own nature or “essence”. Nor does one “essential thing” turn itself into some essentially different thing.

    The “essence” of a penguin does not “become” the essence of a Leopard Seal by “Evolution”. A Hydrogen atom cannot turn itself into a Man no matter how long you wait in hope.

    Penguins are created with the essential of “penguin-ness”, some accidental differences of form are built into penguin-ness but that does not include essential transformation from, or into, an albatross or dolphin.

  59. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 21, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    You didn’t have to lie awake all night.

    The night is yet young.

    Inanimate processes do not become animate or alive spontaneously from their own nature

    Processes? Things have essences, processes do not. But I fear you buy into the Modern notion of Nature as being composed of dead matter that must be pushed around by forces; whereas the medieval believed that God had endowed material things with natures capable of acting directly upon one another. “Nature,” wrote Aquinas, “is but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.”

    A Hydrogen atom cannot turn itself into a Man no matter how long you wait in hope.

    Of course not. Why do you suppose it might? It can, however be transformed into a helium atom by means of nuclear fusion in the core of stars. Helium atoms have a different essence than do hydrogen atoms, as dirigible-makers inform us.

    The “essence” of a penguin does not “become” the essence of a Leopard Seal by “Evolution”

    Of course not. They belong on two entirely different branches of the family tree. You may as well say that Oldavid does not “become” his second cousin once-removed. It’s true, but so what? Even the mother does not “become” her child.

    Penguins are created with the essential of “penguin-ness”,… that does not include essential transformation from, or into, an albatross or dolphin.

    Of course not. Where do you get these ideas from? A dolphin is a mammal and a penguin is a bird. You can’t get there from here. But you’re looking at two twigs on a tree and saying there is no direct connection.

    Keep in mind that although we talk colloquially about the essence of a large group or class of beings, it is the individuals themselves who possess these natures and, while they may be similar from one to another and from generation to generation, they may well change from mother to daughter — and by this I mean for the literal-minded that they may well change over the course of many generations.

  60. To: Oldavid. Thanks for your reply.
    What do you think of this observation: Concerning inanimate things Man determines essence because it is determined by utility. God determines essence in the animate because He determines their purpose.

  61. Oldavid,
    “the fact is that there are essential differences.”
    Of course there are. if there is essence there must inevitably be differences in essence. Otherwise it would be indistinguishable.
    I am with you regarding your correcting YOS over the nature of the soul.

    In my view it is the height of hubris to declare and preach certain on the soul’s true nature or make up. Rather high minded, one might say.
    There is opinion and fact, some are confused about the difference.

    For YOS,
    Who cares what “the medieval’s” as a collective thought! Or what the majority of vikings thought in the dark ages. This is not an exercise in history.
    That might be useful if you’re trying to apportion blame or credit for a given way of thinking. Nobody has a lever or a handle or a grasp on what the soul is made of or what is beyond the purely physical.
    Fah’s comments, and I though them very useful, state that his interest wanes when going beyond the physical into metaphysics. For me that’s when it becomes interesting and I am interested in YOS’s opinion. I don’t have to take it as gospel or truth ab out soul. He KNOWS as much about the soul as anybody else. i.e. diddly squat.

    If medievals were interesting with regards to thoughts on soul, it would have no bearing on the true nature of anything.
    The truth is unchangeable. We cannot always know the truth.

    M.D I like your last comment.

  62. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 22, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Who cares what “the medieval’s” as a collective thought!

    Given that we are talking about essences, and “essence” was a term coined by the medievals in order to translate Aristotle’s Greek “what-it-is,” I would say all should care. Otherwise, they would not know what we’re talking about.

  63. ‘Given that we are talking about essences, and “essence” was a term coined by the medievals in order to translate Aristotle’s Greek “what-it-is,” I would say all should care. Otherwise, they would not know what we’re talking about.”
    “I would say all should care.”

    So if I should care, why don’t I?
    My comment prior to your Aristotle reference shows you that it is not necessary since the discussion is about the very definition of definitions.
    The argument, not the post, is about what is is.

    I arrived at this conclusion without knowing what the Greeks thought or the medievals given the Ancient Greeks’ thoughts. I know that your first port of call in any academic endeavour seems to be to start, like Julie Andrews, at the very beginning but we don’t all have that luxury and I for one reached the conclusion without the help of Aristotle.
    Just a little thought. A ver little thought.
    I have been waiting for somebody to say something profound.
    Here’s to waiting.

  64. YOS , I replied to your justification for defining essence and ‘hat it is’
    or was it “hat is it”?
    It’s awaiting moderation!

  65. Seems Briggs’s ‘enemies’ are at work again.
    “what” was typed but ‘hat’ is what appeared.
    Let’s see if it does it again.

  66. I’m not writing it out again. You’ll have to ask Briggs to post it. There was no insult, no foul language, no other reason for moderation that is clear except that he has my old computer marked and not my new one.

    This was enough:
    If medievals were interesting with regards to thoughts on soul, it would STILL have no bearing on the true nature of anything.
    The truth is unchangeable. We cannot always know the truth.

  67. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    If medievals were interesting with regards to thoughts on soul, it would STILL have no bearing on the true nature of anything.

    A;though it might have some bearing on what was being discussed.

  68. If medievals were interesting with regards to thoughts on soul, it would have no bearing on the true nature of anything.
    The truth is unchangeable.

    Sorry, but if the medievals are interesting in this regard it would be because what they had thought does have a bearing on true nature on the soul, in this instance.

  69. comment still awaiting modification?
    Briggs is pretending he isn’t reading.

    YOS,
    No, we know what we’re talking about.
    Your reference to medievals sheds no further light on the subject. (That is, for Anybody with a basic grasp of English coupled with a little thought, very little.)

    Dover,
    No, logically speaking, it does not have a ‘bearing’ i.e, it carries no weight. The argument is no different without it since we were already there before he brought it up, or I was.

    The truth is separate from medievals or you or me or even Briggs or YOS. A claim must be substantiated if it is claimed to be absolutely true (I mean absolute in the same sense that the word essence is intended.)

    Of course if YOS wishes to continue to argue about the definition of definitions he can.

    What medievals thought or didn’t think proves nothing. It might or might not be interesting. Since YOS never stops selectively quoting ‘medievals’ I reserve the right to be utterly disinterested in what ‘they’, ‘the special ones’, thought.

    It doesn’t mean that my definition of essence or understanding of the word (not essence itself) differs at all from his. I just don’t agree with him on the soul and I never will.
    I’m still waiting to hear something convincing that isn’t just a classical reference to somebody else’s thought.
    In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit vexed about this to say the least. It matters for many reasons most of which are obvious less importantly it matters for personal reasons.
    YOS my lovely,
    it’s nothing personal, you’re the only one brave enough to stick around and defend this and I admire you for that, very much.

  70. No, logically speaking, it does not have a ‘bearing’ i.e, it carries no weight.

    “Carrying weight” is not the only sense of ‘bearing’.

    Of course if YOS wishes to continue to argue about the definition of definitions he can.

    What medievals thought or didn’t think proves nothing. It might or might not be interesting. Since YOS never stops selectively quoting ‘medievals’ I reserve the right to be utterly disinterested in what ‘they’, ‘the special ones’, thought.

    But YOS is not saying that the medievals are right because they are medievals, he is arguing that what the medievals are saying about X or Y captures something about the truth of the matter about X or Y, and that this makes them particularly interesting and not mere curiosities.

  71. Dover,
    Yes but that is the point; it captures something of the truth of X or Y for YOS.
    It is a simple credit to somebody else’s thought. Not a difficult thought but a rather obvious one. He is simply giving credit to someone who first wrote about a thing. Whether or not it does capture the truth is another matter entirely and I already addressed that. YOS differs from me in this small but important, all important viewpoint. The soul is not made up of the intellect and the will and that’s it. It would not be worth fighting for and life would not be worth preserving. To argue that is IS is to diminish the value of the soul.
    There is nothing more precious.

  72. YOS:

    “Processes? Things have essences, processes do not. But I fear you buy into the Modern notion of Nature as being composed of dead matter that must be pushed around by forces; whereas the medieval believed that God had endowed material things with natures capable of acting directly upon one another. “Nature,” wrote Aquinas, “is but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.” ”

    I am quite sure that Tom did not mean what you impute with your cunning sleight-of-mind trick. It is incompatible with lots of other things he said about causes and movements. Anyhow, ole Tom is not infallible and his opinions or decrees cannot change the Natural Order.

    It can be reasonably said that plants consume Earth, Air, Fire and Water to produce leaves, fruits etc. but that does not mean, as you appear to be trying to insinuate, that the Elements spontaneously produce the plants.

    Everyone (except highly diseducated wise-guys) intuitively knows that only a live thing can consume the Elements to grow and reproduce. The life is transmitted from a prior live thing… all the way “back” to The Life that gives life to all types or kinds of live things.

    To repeat the essence of the argument: organic life does not spontaneously arise from the Elements that are necessary to sustain organic life. And the corollary that one type or kind of life does not spontaneously transmute into another kind.

    Life is a “thing” or “stuff” that is a prior necessity to order the physical processes that constitute organic life.

    I think you should have laid awake all night thinking about it.

    Perhaps I should have said a “singularity” turning itself into a Man rather than an Hydrogen atom turning itself into a Man.

  73. Goodness graceous me,
    ‘To argue that It IS”
    Was what I meant.

  74. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    What medievals thought or didn’t think proves nothing.

    Prove, schmove. It was their word. They got to define it.

    It doesn’t mean that my definition of essence or understanding of the word…

    I recall a meeting once called by the Group Vice President at a plant where I once worked. He had heard of a program that had been highly successful at Ford Motor Company called Vendor Certification. “Our first task,” he told the assembled supervisors on the task force, “is to define what Vendor Certification means for us.” With some hesitancy, I suggested that our first task might be to learn what the term meant for Ford Motor Company, because their success lay in the tasks they performed, not in the label they gave to the tasks. Otherwise, we might be in the absurd position of using their term while doing something completely different and (should matters run true to form) failing to match their success and concluding “Vendor Certification may have worked for them, but it did not work for us.”

    If we get to define every word according to our preferences — there’s “my truth” and “your truth,” but never “truth,” simpliciter — then we can never talk about the same thing. This may suit the nihilists among us, but the biologist will be frustrated because the creationist defines “evolution” in his own idiosyncratic manner, shows it to be incoherent and then chortles as if he has proven something about biology. Or the evolutionary biologist — I’m looking at you Dawkins — may decide to frame the Argument from Gradation according to his own understanding and chortle because he has shown Aquinas to be a fool. But in fact, it is not the biology that is incoherent in the first case or the theology in the second, but the laymen who are wildly flailing away at straw men of their own devising.

    Some folks are acting as if terms like “essence” or “anima” are just floating out there waiting for meanings to be attached to them like ornaments to a tree. In fact, the meanings came first, and the terms were coined as shorthand for the meaning. I have seen this happen all too often in business management, and never with happy outcomes. Perhaps we can define what “statisitics” means “for us.”

  75. Dowdy:
    “What do you think of this observation: Concerning inanimate things Man determines essence because it is determined by utility. God determines essence in the animate because He determines their purpose.”

    With a couple of rather pernickety reservations (probably irrelevant) I think your observation is a beauty.

  76. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    The soul is not made up of the intellect and the will and that’s it.

    Not exactly “made up” of it. They are two powers of the rational soul, not components of. But the remaining powers are shared with other creatures. Further, they are the aspects of the soul that can be argued to survive the body, since they do not have as their proper object any material thing.
    +++

    I am quite sure that Tom did not mean what you impute with your cunning sleight-of-mind trick.

    What, the doctrine of secondary causation? Of course, he meant that. By his time, it was a done deal, (and was not rejected in the West until David Hume dismissed causation and elevated correlation in its place.) See S. theologica I.115.2
    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/FP/FP115.html#FPQ115A2THEP1
    If we recall an earlier Briggs post to the effect that in God all times are present — effectively, the block universe of Minkowski 4-space — then as Pope Benedict once wrote, “Creation should be thought of, not according to the model of the craftsman who makes all sorts of objects, but rather in the manner that thought is creative. And at the same time it becomes evident that being-in-movement as a whole (and not just the beginning) is creation…”

    organic life does not spontaneously arise from the Elements that are necessary to sustain organic life.

    Theories of evolution do not claim this. They only cover the emergence of new kinds of living things from old kinds.

    And the corollary that one type or kind of life does not spontaneously transmute into another kind.

    Of course not. There’s nothing spontaneous about it. But we note that new kinds have appeared from time to time over the eons. Once upon a time, there were no flowers. The two possibilities are that new kinds emerge from older kinds by some natural process (which may or may not be “natural selection”) or they “poof” into existence. Let me know when you have evidence of poofing.

  77. Ornaments on a tree? Very funny.
    For my reply you could just read my first comment.
    I wrote it before you took the time to lecture us on what the definition of essence is. Or was it ‘what essence is”? Which?
    Is this about what ‘is’ is
    or is it about what ‘is is’ is. Which is it?
    Should I say ‘which ‘is is’, is it?
    Seriously…
    I really don’t care about the definition any more because I’m going to say I’m happy about whatever the OED says and whoever wrote it gets the prize. You can rest assured that they probably, I’m willing to bet, rely on whoever is your favourite.

    However,
    You have me completely wrong if you think I am mistaken about Truth. I’m crystal clear. No point trying to hand me somebody else’s ideas on truth and whether it is universal or not.
    Dover refers to ‘the truth of a thing’
    I say we don’t know in this instance.
    We can know who first said a thing if you think that proves something but that’s not the point.
    it’s the essence itself which we are arguing about and nobody actually knows, ‘everybody is guessing.’ I like the poets or the artist’s explanation
    or description. I certainly don’t think the soul is like an engine which can be dismantled or examined in it’s constituent parts. In quoting a poet or an artist I don’t argue that I am certain enough to have proved anything. There is only mathematical proof, (John Lennox says so). That is what you appear to be doing. Am I wrong?

  78. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Dover refers to ‘the truth of a thing’. I say we don’t know in this instance.

    Certainly not if everyone gets to make up his or her own definition. But if that’s the case, you’re not talking about “essence” any more, but about some notion of your own to which you have applied a technical term from metaphysics. It’s like trying to talk about mathematics or physics using common dictionary usage. A topological space X is compact if every open cover of X contains a finite subcover, and it does no good to insist that the dictionary says compact means “closely and neatly packed together” if what we are talking about is X.

  79. Odd said:
    “organic life does not spontaneously arise from the Elements that are necessary to sustain organic life.”
    YOS said:
    “Theories of evolution do not claim this. They only cover the emergence of new kinds of living things from old kinds.”

    Balderdash!
    You are trying to cunningly insinuate your own version of “intelligent design” evolution into Materialistic “Evolution”. As an extension of your “evolution” we would eventually have to conclude that there are no miracles because everything is a miracle. Or, we could say that we can’t see a miracle because there is no consistent Natural Order to be suspended or overridden.

  80. To: Oldavid. Appreciate your comment. It makes sense to me that utility defines essence; that things are what they do. For us personally, if we wish to be good we must act good.

  81. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Balderdash!

    Holey moley. I haven’t seen anyone say ‘balderdash’ in ages. Is this an evocation of the Norse god Baldur?

    In any case, I don’t see what’s so dashed about the balder. The current theory of how evolutions proceed is that unfavorable variations in an existing species are eliminated by the exigencies of nature, so that the survivors become progressively better fit for their jobs; be that gray squirreling or Bengal tigering. Neither, be it noted, is a job for amateurs. But as with all natural processes, you have to start with something and “move it around a bit.” The process of natural selection simply does not operate on inanimate matter, which does not struggle for existence nor reproduce to the utmost.

    Now, there may be a natural process by which the “clay” is prepared for the “breath of life,” and this seems upsetting to those who apparently believe that the workings of nature are somehow independent of God! To those who focus exclusively on the clay, it would seem that it simply “came to life” because they can’t see the source of the breath. To those who focus exclusively on the breath, they can’t see how the clay was molded before the breath was granted. But a synolon is a compound of body and soul.

    You are trying to cunningly insinuate your own version of “intelligent design” evolution into Materialistic “Evolution”.

    I notice that you subtly elevate materialism over the designer by supposing it is the design that must be insinuated into the “materialist evolution,” and not vice versa. I’m not sure what your objection to “intelligent design” is.

    As an extension of your “evolution” we would eventually have to … say that we can’t see a miracle because there is no consistent Natural Order to be suspended or overridden.

    That’s weird. Just the other day you were perturbed when I referenced Augustine and Aquinas regarding secondary causation and the common course of nature. Go figure.

  82. I have been at some pains to explain that the “evolution” you are now espousing is not a creation of a new thing or “kind”; it is the elimination of certain characteristics from a kind or type as untold generations of diligent farmers and stock breeders have been practicing for millennia. Even the most painstaking, intelligent and purposeful selection (even more rigorous than the magical “natural selection”) has never produced even one new species.

    You are clearly ideologically committed to this “Evolution” notion. Perhaps you cannot chuck it because it is the mainstay for Modernism in all its forms… brave new world, brave new religion, brave new Man, brave new God, brave new everything!

    Or maybe you’re just a wimp afraid that Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox and all their mates will jump out of your computer and give you a thrashing.

    Ah, well…

  83. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I have been at some pains to explain that the “evolution” you are now espousing is not a creation of a new thing or “kind” it is the elimination of certain characteristics from a kind or type as untold generations of diligent farmers and stock breeders have been practicing for millennia.

    Surely.

    Even the most painstaking, intelligent and purposeful selection (even more rigorous than the magical “natural selection”) has never produced even one new species.

    You forget that sometimes molecular mechanisms change and alter the genome, and these novelties are also subject to the winnowing of nature. At times, the novelty proves more useful and a amphicyonid becomes more ursid or more canid at different ends of its range. These biomolecular processes can propagate alterations, repair damages, and so on, and can result in changes that are massive, particular, and sudden. (Of course, that’s “sudden” on a different time scale!)

    A fair analogy is the “ring species” by which various breeding populations of an arctic bird are mutually interfertile with their neighbors (and therefore of the same species by the common biological definition) but from one end of their range in Britain to the other end in Greenland, the two end-point populations are not interfertile and thus are distinct species. Now, imagine this sequence as extended in time rather than space. Each generation is indistinguishable from its predecessor and successor; but at the extreme ends of the sequence, the populations are distinct.

    There is nothing very magical about this. Certainly not more magical than Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism or Newton/Einstein’s laws of gravity.

  84. I said:
    “Dover refers to ‘the truth of a thing’. I say we don’t know in this instance.”
    You replied:
    “Certainly not if everyone gets to make up his or her own definition.”
    Who did that? Not me.
    “But if that’s the case, you’re not talking about “essence” any more,”
    This is circular because you won’t move off the first square.
    “but about some notion of your own to which you have applied a technical term from metaphysics.”
    What rubbish. You don’t agree so you say I’m making up my own definitions and misappropriating them. I don’t think you’ve read what I wrote or if you did you didn’t give it a thought because either you’re failing to understand on purpose or by accident.

    Metaphysics? technical term? That’s just silly. Only a dogmatic person would say such a thing or use the word technical in the same sentence as metaphysics. It’s betraying that certainty again about the unknown.

    There was me thinking I might have actually asked you a straight question. It seems to me you don’t want to talk about the soul because you’re implying there are technicalities which will be beyond my understanding or some other equally untrue statement.
    I have to tell you that it is not necessary for you to repeat yourself again in yet another version. It is now over to you to answer straight forwardly and not keep harping on about ‘my’ definition. This looks like obfuscation.
    Don’t tell me,
    “if I accept your definition and your premises I will agree with you about the soul.”
    I’m suspicious why you haven’t just moved on and said this, but that would be to state something obvious which is why you’re harping on about definition and telling me I’m wrong.

    The conclusion is about something which is unknown and unknowable. Yet you think you have the premises and definitions all sorted.

  85. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 23, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Metaphysics? technical term? That’s just silly. Only a dogmatic person would say such a thing or use the word technical in the same sentence as metaphysics.

    Every field has its technical terms or ‘terms of art,’ if you prefer. In this case, “essence” was coined with a particular meaning and was used that way by Aristotelians and Thomists. So it is a form of bait-and-switch to use their term to refer to something else and then use that difference to insist there is no meaning at all.

  86. There goes Mr slippery:
    “Every field has its technical terms or ‘terms of art,’” Hmm. Okay YOS.
    Why do you not use terms which describe metaphysics for what it is?

    Answer? because you want to believe it can be measured, crafted, sliced and diced and so on. i,e. you want to pretend that it is a special subject wherein only certain people are allowed to ‘dabble’, ‘tinker’ and that the realm has no place for true art or true open hearted depiction.
    I have news for you YOS

    It is fundamentally important to you as it is to me.

    You know nothing about the soul or the essence of anything.
    (It seems it is you who have pretended to confuse the (hideous words) epistemology with ontology by refusing to recognise the points I made about definitions.
    There’s sophistry if ever I saw it.

    Your non argument or dodging of the main argument is surprising for someone who is so sure of himself. You are stuck pointing at the wall and I’m talking about the door. It’s worse, I’ve noted and acknowledged your pointing at the wall and you’re still pointing, claiming I have no right to talk about the door.

    Your argument is a definition, only of a word.
    This word just happens to be the one which underpins everything else, or doesn’t, if it is disputed, This is why there is special grounds for those who are tempted to deliberately muddy the water.
    If I thought you lacked brains I would escuse you for not understanding or following what is being said. Since you don’t have that excuse I can only assume you are simply chosing to be ignorant of what is being written.

    It’s not fooling me YOS. It is, however, again, insulting that you think it might just wash with me.

    It is beneath you to admit that you know nothing about what essence is.
    You know how it is defined by the person who first pointed at it and you can describe what it is only.

  87. …and furthermore YOS
    If you think I can manage a switch and bait trick on this you’ve mistaken me for somebody who doesn’t care about the truth.
    With all your dodging, it’s all I can do to make you stick to the point and remember that I’m arguing my point and not the one you handed to me.

  88. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 24, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    you want to believe it can be measured, crafted, sliced and diced and so on. i,e. you want to pretend that it is a special subject wherein only certain people are allowed to ‘dabble’, ‘tinker’ and that the realm has no place for true art or true open hearted depiction.

    Nah. I only think if anyone wants to discuss “essence” the logical starting place is the definition thereof by the person who coined the term in the first place, and which was used by everyone else who discussed the matter from then until fairly recently.

    The same would be true of anyone wanting to discuss the topology of function spaces or the evolution of species and any other specialized topic. The what-it-is is not an easy thing to grasp, but it’s well known that man-on-the-street definitions are not often logically tight and do not hold up under scrutiny.

    It is beneath you to admit that you know nothing about what essence is. You know how it is defined by the person who first pointed at it…

    That person would be Aristotle, although the Latin term “essence” was a medieval translation of the what-it-is.

    You know nothing about the soul or the essence of anything.

    Perhaps “nothing” would be going too far. I do know a little about what over a thousand years of philosophy have determined, at least in the Aristotelian/scientific tradition. I do understand that the Platonic/mystic tradition have some different ideas, given their different take on the forms — and the essence of a thing is its substantial form.

    I’m not sure what tradition directs one to make accusations of bad faith and other attacks on one’s character.

  89. YOS said:
    “You forget that sometimes molecular mechanisms change and alter the genome, and these novelties are also subject to the winnowing of nature. At times, the novelty proves more useful and a amphicyonid becomes more ursid or more canid at different ends of its range. These biomolecular processes can propagate alterations, repair damages, and so on, and can result in changes that are massive, particular, and sudden. (Of course, that’s “sudden” on a different time scale!) ”

    Upon what reasonably certain premise is it that a (maybe) extinct “bear-dog” turned into a bear in one place and into a wolf in another? You need only a cursory look at the array of “monkey- men” or “man-monkeys” to see how prone the ideological prejudice of “Evolution” is to making fantastic creations to rationalise itself. We have an array of artist’s impressions of “missing links” made out of a few bits of ape jaw, and human cranium, or “fortuitous” combinations of all sorts of bones from all sorts of places. We even had one “missing link” made entirely from a pig’s tooth.

    Let’s get down to philosophical basics! Men are essentially different to monkeys or any other beast (although the antics of some Men would make one wonder) and apes are essentially different to lemurs but the mere similarity of some “accidents” does not mean that one can, or does, or did turn into another.

    As I sort-of said before; this assumption of “Evolution” is the one-and-only mainstay for Modernism in all its forms (both secular and “theological”). Any “conservative” objection to the “new” is only part and parcel to the Hegelian dialectic of competition, synthesis, and “progress”.

  90. “Nah. I only think if anyone wants to discuss “essence” the logical starting place is the definition thereof by the person who coined the term in the first place, and which was used by everyone else who discussed the matter from then until fairly recently”
    I got that the first time! I acknowledge it in my first or second comment in reply to you an I think more than once. I think, though I haven’t reread it before posting this that my first remark implies exactly that!
    (without reference to the man who’s name begins with A”
    However that’s not fun for you, you are getting some kind of esoteric kick out of repeating yourself.

    “That would be Aristotle”
    Yep I got that and before you told me! Did you get that?

    “The same would be true of anyone wanting to discuss the topology of function spaces or the evolution of species and any other specialized topic. ”
    More repetition, you are telling me something I told you! This isn’t the first time definition discussions have come up on here. They were coming up eight years ago! See Bernie (I miss Bernie, such a gentleman)
    You are not saying anything that isn’t patently obvious and yet you are finding it necessary to say it over and over. Claiming, not directly, but by implication that I haven’t understood or taken in what you wrote. Yos the boot is on the other foot.
    Still you are pointing at the wall. Everybody knows it’s there!

    “Perhaps “nothing” would be going too far. I do know a little about what over a thousand years of philosophy have determined, at least in the Aristotelian/scientific tradition.”

    Not at all the word is absolute. I meant it precisely as I wrote it.
    The word you are avoiding looking at is the word ‘know’
    but then you might have to show some humility, if that is the reason for this hamster wheel debate.

    “over a thousand years of philosophy have determined” Determined?
    there’s a useful word to skirt the obvious point. You don’t fool me for a moment.
    “I do understand that the Platonic/mystic tradition have some different ideas,”
    The false dichotomy!
    Implication, mystics, or sensible people? Hmm.

    “I’m not sure what tradition directs one to make accusations of bad faith and other attacks on one’s character.” “one?” which “one”? You’re claimed faith is your own business.

    There’s just the slightest whiff of satan in your last remark. You’re barking up the wrong tree.
    You are King Lear and I am Cordelia.

  91. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 25, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    “That would be Aristotle”
    Yep I got that and before you told me! Did you get that?

    So what’s the problem with “essence”?

  92. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 25, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    I hit reply before finishing. Sorry….

    “over a thousand years of philosophy have determined”
    Determined? there’s a useful word to skirt the obvious point.

    Dialectic arguments may determine conclusions, but they do not demonstrate them. Mathematics deals in demonstrations, which are far more certain. QED

    “I do understand that the Platonic/mystic tradition have some different ideas,”
    The false dichotomy!

    The dichotomy between Aristotelian forms and Platonic forms is not false.

    Implication, mystics, or sensible people? Hmm.

    Do you have something against mystics? Or against those who start from the senses?

    “I’m not sure what tradition directs one to make accusations of bad faith and other attacks on one’s character.”
    “one?” which “one”?

    “One” in an indeterminate pronoun in English.

    You’re claimed faith is your own business.

    Now you’re equivocating on the word “faith.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_faith

    There’s just the slightest whiff of satan in your last remark.

    Eek. I’ve never been accused of being satan before. What is with this over-the-top reaction of yours?

  93. It is what it is: No really it is!
    “The what-it-is is not an easy thing to grasp, but it’s well known that man-on-the-street definitions are not often logically tight and do not hold up under scrutiny.” I am not the man on the street. I am Joy.
    1. Yes it is (easy to grasp) even though you need it to be difficult.

    2. Common on the street is a slight. You are handing me view points of your choosing; the truth of which you have as yet not even acknowledged!

    3. ‘hold up under scrutiny” You have held nothing up let alone scrutinised it.
    You have held up somebody else’s ideas and palmed them off on me.

    That, YOS, undisclosed and hidden assumption is a basic error of reasoning.
    Once is an oversight. Many times is deliberate.
    Your comments are loaded. To be on the receiving end is either to ignore it so as not to be lured into the distraction or to tackle it head on and show it for what ‘it’ is.

    That oversight and misplacement of argument was therefore an argument ‘in bad faith’. Yes that is what it is and was. w
    Where ”it’ is defined as Your, i.e. YOS’s comment for the purpose of this and the previous sentence, just to be clear on our definitions.

  94. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    @Oldavid, riding his own particular mare:

    Upon what reasonably certain premise is it that a (maybe) extinct “bear-dog” turned into a bear in one place and into a wolf in another?

    Well, it ain’t mathematics, so perfect certainty is impossible; but it seems that the existence of “ring species” if applied to the time dimension certainly indicates the reasonableness of a progression from one type to another. Furthermore, modern genetics has shown that such changes need not even be gradual. There are examples where an entire genome gets rearranged from one generation to the next. Geologically, ursids appear at one end of the bear-dog range and canids at the other. The two later crossed Beringia in opposite directions.

    I’m curious: if bears did not appear as modifications of bear-dogs, did they then “poof” out of nothing? If not, what is the third possibility?

    You need only a cursory look at the array of “monkey- men” or “man-monkeys” to see how prone the ideological prejudice of “Evolution” is to making fantastic creations to rationalise itself.

    There is no doubt that enthusiasm often runs ahead of evidence for a lot of folks, and evolutionary theories, being more metaphysical than, say, those of the hard sciences, are especially prone to their own version of “Bible stories” and “Flood geology.”

    Let’s get down to philosophical basics! Men are essentially different to monkeys or any other beast

    Obviously. That’s why it is useful to distinguish between biological humans and metaphysical humans. The rational soul, being immaterial, does not leave fossils.

    the mere similarity of some “accidents” does not mean that one can, or does, or did turn into another.

    Two end-points do not turn into one another. Dogs do not turn into bears. But bear-dogs might give birth to offspring that are more bearish than their parents. Substantial forms are immutable insofar as the individual creature is concerned, but recall that a species is not an organism. It is not even especially well-defined. Rather it is a second abstraction from matter: a collection of organisms that are more-or-less alike. Some more, some less. This variation is the material cause of evolution (just as the tendency to breed to type is the formal cause and natural selection (and/or other processes) are efficient causes and the struggle for survival, the final cause.)
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/essence-and-history/

  95. This is supposed to be fun!
    “Dialectic arguments may determine conclusions, but they do not demonstrate them. Mathematics deals in demonstrations, which are far more certain. QED”
    That’s as near as I will ever get to an admission of an over certain statement from you. That’s about as good as it gets, I ought to be pleased. I know what determinate and determine mean, I know about mathematical proofs and demonstration. Not the difference? I don’t know any or many mathematical proofs other than baby ones. I know about them, you see?

    “The dichotomy between Aristotelian forms and Platonic forms is not false.”
    Yes it is. Neither has the answer.

    “Do you have something against mystics? Or against those who start from the senses?”
    I would say define mystics but I fear another blind alley and I don’t care about what you call mystics or what they call themselves.. Send all mystics to hell today whoever they are.

    I have something against arguers who are not arguing in good faith because there are always distractions, obfuscations or ulterior motives to deal with. I sometimes argue when I’m joking and I sometimes joke when I argue. That’s not bad faith, it’s just humour. I wasn’t actually calling you a scoundrel!

    “One” in an indeterminate pronoun in English.”
    Yes, and I asked you to clarify as it is not determinate.
    Instead, you defined the use of ‘one’ instead of saying which ‘one’!

    ‘Now you’re equivocating on the word “faith.”
    No I’m not, I’m being insulting, I really was and that was mean.

    “Eek. I’ve never been accused of being satan before. What is with this over-the-top reaction of yours?”
    I wasn’t. I found your remark was typical of the sort that likes to exaggerate by implying dark magical traditions and mysticism. There was the whiff of satanic insinuation. @me.

    If Aristotle was a movie, I’d never go and watch it. There’d be an Aristotle 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and we’d never be done.

    If only he was here today he could tell you you’ve got him all wrong. When he said ‘what’ he meant ‘which’.

  96. “and demonstration. Not the difference? I don’t know any or many ”
    Note the difference?

  97. YOS said:
    “There is no doubt that enthusiasm often runs ahead of evidence for a lot of folks, and evolutionary theories, being more metaphysical than, say, those of the hard sciences, are especially prone to their own version of “Bible stories” and “Flood geology.” ”

    It’s clear that you are not going to let logic or observation interfere with the speculations that become suppositions, which become possibilities, which become “credible theories”, which become “accepted facts”, but which are really only ideological prejudices.

    You need to do some real homework. The popular media is not a reliable “resource” for any kind of scientific investigation.

    As I said before, I get really peeved with cunning snake-oil salesmen, charlatans, trying to rationalise nonscience superstitions. Most particularly objectionable are the diabolical con-men who try to pervert good science, logic and theology to “agree” with the superstitions. T’Googlio Monster desperately needs the likes of you to underpin his “brave new religion”.

    Here is a link to one of my most recent arguments on this topic. Right at the end you might find some useful links if you can follow the convoluted discussion that far.

    http://www.fisheaters.com/forums/index.php?topic=3472039.0

  98. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Once again, I will repeat my question:

    If species do not emerge from prior species, do they then “poof” into existence? Or do you know of a third way?

  99. God can do poof too.
    That is, if you believe in miracles or acts of God. Not just the permitted ones.
    Best ask the inquisitors, better still ask Aristotle, he’ll tell you what to think.
    Failing that just ask nurse.

  100. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    God can do poof too.

    Certainly. Though as William of Conches wrote a long time ago, “God can make a cow out of a tree; but has he ever done so? Therefore, show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.”

    This is like folks saying that natural selection can explain all sorts of wonderful things without the ugly necessity of showing that it actually did so.

  101. Ye Olde Statistician
    August 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm
    “Once again, I will repeat my question:
    If species do not emerge from prior species, do they then “poof” into existence? Or do you know of a third way?”

    You are a slippery fish. Is there nothing so specious that you will not add it to your confusion?

    I thought that I had made it abundantly clear that observed Laws of Nature coupled with even the most intuitive logic of an intellect indicate conclusively that the World is not a self-perfecting organism. In fact, it is a gradually self-destructing organism (as in entropic processes). Even the most infantile rational mind can reasonably conclude that anything that decays must have a greater beginning.

    When God created Adam and Eve (and all the other stuff) He “saw that it was good”. In spite of the accumulation of technology that we’re all so diabolically proud of I doubt that He’d say the same about any of us (except the Mother and the Son exclusively).

    I can’t say that I’m looking forward to your next spurious rationalisation but I’m not going to run and hide.

  102. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 26, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I thought that I had made it abundantly clear that observed Laws of Nature coupled with even the most intuitive logic of an intellect indicate conclusively that the World is not a self-perfecting organism. In fact, it is a gradually self-destructing organism

    You and Nietzsche, strange bedfellows. But does this mean that new species poof into existence or not. This is now the fourth time I have asked.

  103. “There is no doubt that enthusiasm often runs ahead of evidence for a lot of folks,”
    Although I wouldn’t call it enthusiasm, rather group think and hooking one’s star to the critical mass when it comes to arguments about which you’ve given little thought. I would say there’s nothing wrong with relying on the expert but they should be on tap not on top both in politics and in governance of
    the mind.
    So some have hooked their intellectual star on that which gives the best image, not the best argument. They will have to climb down at some point because it is intellectually indefensible.

    It is wrong for ‘folks’ to be certain on soul beyond the apparent ‘what it isn’t.’
    i.e. for recognition of subject, for the purpose of discussion,
    which is to use the dictionary definition.

    To construct anything else is the domain of the arts, not sciences (to use the beloved medieval system of nomenclature of academia.)
    Mathematics is classed as an art in one of the oldest universities in England and therefore the world. Rightly so and don’t forget it.

    As for quoting the argument against miracle or God’s acts, You are employing the same argument used against the existence of God himself.

    To accept the premise of God is to accept that he produced the whole show anyway. Minor tinkering or intervention must entail a God who, in the Christian faith, sent his son to die. This already implies that all was not finished or right. If it were, this would negate the purpose or at least our understanding of the word purpose.
    Not to accept the premise of God is a position which I cannot take myself but I understand that people do. I can’t persuade a certain atheist to consider ‘before’ and he doesn’t subscribe to the ideal of big bang. In terms of Catholic philosophy, measured by this blog, it is an ideal. For others who are not catholics it might be considered ideal. It looks like ‘a poof’ to use the technical term, it is the “God if the gaps.” fallacy which I believe you are implying that I am using. That is JH’s argument too.

    Personally I think it is wrong but just as with evolution, my faith doesn’t rest on it. I have listened to hours of John Lennox and my view is closest aligned to his. Not just because I like him but because he hasn’t lost his spark of imagination and curiosity. He knows far more than I will ever know and does not give way to dogma, remains critical in his thinking and argument. He doesn’t give way to intellectual bullies to suit the boys. He doesn’t argue about big bang because he doesn’t need to and accepts it’s concept as resting within the realm of physics which has no dominion over metaphysics.
    His view on evolution is refreshing.
    It explains certain mechanisms but leaves a lot unexplained. Nobody has yet managed to explain it fully and mechanically. There is a good reason for that.

    Thomas, it seems to me, is focussed on the physical world and looks for mechanical explanations to reconcile so that God’s existence is not contradictory.
    Yet moderns like YOS who believe in big bang do so because they can always say that God lit the match. So critical thinking on big bang has come only from the atheist side, unfortunately. If there’s nothing wrong with big bang theory then only good can and will come of it. Let’s see. The truth always finds a way to the surface.

  104. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    “There is no doubt that enthusiasm often runs ahead of evidence for a lot of folks,”
    Although I wouldn’t call it enthusiasm, rather group think and hooking one’s star to the critical mass when it comes to arguments about which you’ve given little thought.

    What happened to “no single explanation”? As a management consultant, I was quite familiar with group-think, both in theory and in practice. But enthusiasm — for one’s own theory or for novelty that overthrows the wisdom of the ages (whether it does or not) — is also important. People get excited about what they think is a new idea precisely because it is new, and afterward they see it everywhere they look. Thus, people who realize that natural selection explains a great deal about life then to see it everywhere and spin “adaptation stories” or even start applying it to stellar evolution or galactic structure as if the mere fact of change-through-time means the same mechanism is in play.

    I would say there’s nothing wrong with relying on the expert but they should be on tap not on top both in politics and in governance of the mind.

    This is one of those enthusiasms of the Late Modern Age: You’ve heard the “experts.” Now let’s hear what Joe down the corner has to say. The insidious effects of democracy is that, seeing it as a good everywhere, we lean toward not “majority=truth” but that each of us has his own truth and Adam’s is just as good as Betsy’s.

    Now in some subjects there really are experts: those who have read closely and thought deeply about a subject. Dawkins is probably reliable as regards etymology (which I think was his training) but his expertise in that area carries no weight in theology. He does not even understand the arguments.*

    (*Nor are the arguments easy to understand. Terms had different meanings in other eras. It’s not a simple matter of translation for words like motus or anima. People’s categories of thought were different and there are often no modern terms that adequately captures the meanings of the older words. (cf. e.g., Guy Consolmagno, “Medieval Cosmology and World-building”, in Medieval Science Fiction, ed. Carl Kears & James Paz (Kings College London, 2016))

    They will have to climb down at some point because it is intellectually indefensible.

    I agree. It is precisely for this reason that we should pay attention to those who have thought long and deep and worked out the consequences and complications.

    It is wrong for ‘folks’ to be certain on soul beyond the apparent ‘what it isn’t.’

    But it is not wrong for folks to be certain what Aristotle or Plato or Maimonides or ibn Rushd meant by the word they used which we translate as “soul.” Everybody knows that “soul” refers to a style of music originating in the black American culture during the early Sixties, evolving from R&B. 🙂

    Mathematics is classed as an art in one of the oldest universities in England and therefore the world.

    That’s because at the time mathematics was for practical applications to surveying, accounting, astrology, music, perspectiva (which was not quite the same as “optics”) It was not studied as it is today for its own sake. Science and art were the two perfections of the intellect: science was “know what” and art was “know how.” (The words “artist” and “artisan” did not part company until the 19th century.) Which means the whole science/art thing was a spin-off of the Aristotelian-Thomist understanding of the soul.

    As for quoting the argument against miracle or God’s acts, You are employing the same argument used against the existence of God himself.

    You lost me. Which argument was that?

    To accept the premise of God is to accept that he produced the whole show anyway. Minor tinkering or intervention must entail a God who, in the Christian faith, sent his son to die. This already implies that all was not finished or right. If it were, this would negate the purpose or at least our understanding of the word purpose.

    So when God looked on all that he had created and saw that it was good, it wasn’t really all that good and needed constant correction and adjustment?

    I can’t persuade a certain atheist to consider ‘before’ and he doesn’t subscribe to the ideal of big bang.

    Which is funny because in other fora atheists defend the Big Bang against creationists and call them “science deniers.” As you said: at some point … it is intellectually indefensible. Folks who don’t “think it through” often wind up caught in such contradictions.

    In terms of Catholic philosophy, measured by this blog, it is an ideal. For others who are not catholics it might be considered ideal. It looks like ‘a poof’ to use the technical term, it is the “God if the gaps.” fallacy which I believe you are implying that I am using. That is JH’s argument too.

    Well, not really. It is a solution to the field equations of general relativity. That model seems to have held up rather well and its predictions have been confirmed to quite a few decimal places. There are some shaky bits, but the overall structure seems sound. It’s not a God-of-the-gaps argument because it does not invoke God in any way. Its originator, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and mathematician, made that very clear: it does not describe a “moment of creation.”

    Thomas, it seems to me, is focussed on the physical world and looks for mechanical explanations to reconcile so that God’s existence is not contradictory.

    Read him again. In philosophy he held to the idea that all the arguments should originate in what is sensible, that is, sensory experience. But the arguments themselves are metaphysical, not mechanical. I don’t know that he would have recognized a mechanical argument: there were no examples of self-operating machines that he could rely upon as paradigms. In the same manner, early evolutionists rejected vitalism because they had no examples of software to serve as paradigms.

    Yet moderns like YOS who believe in big bang do so because they can always say that God lit the match.

    No, because it is a solution to the field equations that has so far held up to observation.

    Besides, God is Primary Cause, not merely the initial secondary cause in a sequence. He does not operate in the same mode as material causes. It was not so much that he “lit the match” as it is that (allegorically speaking) he is responsible for the existence of the match.

    Something similar can be said about evolution. The term simply means a “rolling out” and originally applied to reading a scroll. Darwin, who was smarter than sometimes realized, avoided the term and almost always said “descent with modification.” As such, it’s hard to say that it doesn’t happen. The real question is what is the process by which it happens. But some folks have seized hold of it and declared that evolution has done away with the need for God, which is silly on the face of it. Does the physics of vibrating strings do away with the need for the violinist? But such an assertion is not a conclusion of the science; it is simply an imposition of a prior belief or assumption on the model. It’s hard to see how this one scientific topic generates so much heat while gravity or electromagnetism do not. None of them invoke God and they work quite well without a term in their equations for the deity.

  105. YOS has the stamina of a young man. God Bless him!

  106. Dover Beach,
    YOS Not so much the patience of a saint, he has the cheek of the devil and if you can’t spot that then you are extremely biassed, since unobservant might be considered a slight.
    He has to defend this hut not as a point of genuine interest. He is, however, forgiven in advance. I am determined to break through his hard shell.

    He still defends by foul means and hasn’t changed his tactic at all despite it being pointed out. His argument so far is false because it is grounded on what some might call a straw man approach coupled with the ignorant approach to the view which is presented, preferring to modify it prior to srving it back.
    If this was tennis, he’d serve back a square ball and catch a corner,
    Then claim the ball was mine all along. If the argument is so strong then it isn’t necessary to do this at all.
    Yos, I’ll catch you in a while when I”ve waded through all of your false representation of my argument.
    You are arguing with an imaginary person. Whipe it clean and imagine you are not talking to someone who just came up the river on a bike.
    I have all day and I’m waiting for you to say something in response to my actual points rather than your ones. Be it the modern’s one or the progressive one or the liberal one, or the transexual one, or the French one, or the man on the street one or the feminist one or the imagined mystical one.
    Just straight talk, with no resort to snark or superciliousness.
    It doesn’t wash with me. You’ve been copying someone else for too long, or perhaps they’re copying you. Bernie would sort this out in a thrice.

  107. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    YOS has the stamina of a young man. God Bless him!

    Yes, I keep him in a cage where he runs on a hamster wheel and generates electricity in lieu of burning fossil fuels.

    Joy seems to be projecting or something, since in her last missive I largely agreed with what she had to say, adding only a few additional observations based on my consulting and other experiences re groupthink, confirmation bias, and other sundries. It is dangerous to disagree with this inaptly-named person but, it seems, almost as hazardous to agree.

  108. Odd said:
    “I thought that I had made it abundantly clear that observed Laws of Nature coupled with even the most intuitive logic of an intellect indicate conclusively that the World is not a self-perfecting organism. In fact, it is a gradually self-destructing organism”

    YOS said:
    “You and Nietzsche, strange bedfellows. But does this mean that new species poof into existence or not. This is now the fourth time I have asked.”

    You would need to define “poof”.
    If it means that species are created by a great power, intellect and will then the answer is yes.
    If it means that they spontaneously appear without cause, mechanism or purpose (as in the spontaneous generation of the “Evolution” paradigm) then the answer is no.

    I have not been so exasperated with specious evasions, glib, gratuitous assertions and just plain nonsense red herrings since I was arguing with Rick DeLano the bully-boy of the Sungenis Geocentrism lobby. Before that it was trying to argue with radical student “social reformers” of the Saul Alinsky school.
    I’ve not tried arguing with Scientologists yet , but I can only imagine that it would be more of the same.

    That you cut off the explanatory part of my observation above; “In fact, it is a gradually self-destructing organism (as in entropic processes). Even the most infantile rational mind can reasonably conclude that anything that decays must have a greater beginning.” only serves to indicate that you are trying to create a false impression, or straw man.

    My simple response is to deliver a summary ultimatum much the same as I do with the Geocentrists: to make Geocentrism “work” you need to demonstrate that ordinary, well known, easily demonstrable Natural Laws like gravity and inertia (or in your case Thermodynamics, (entropy) and logic) do not exist or do not apply.

    If you come up with some vague “intelligent design” model “Evolution” (as you have already) then you wade into another quagmire of inconsistencies that I have already alluded to.

    Not that I think that would be of any concern to you; you have assumed the ideological superstition of “Evolution” and you are smug at cherry-picking out-of-context quotes and name-dropping to rationalise the assumption.

  109. “What happened to “no single explanation”?
    I never had it and I’m NOT sitting on it, be.

    I suppose you are quoting me? Or are you paraphrasing? Either way let me be clear.
    There is only one explanation but we won’t know what that is. Therefore, as a result of that, there isn’t one explanation, there are many, countless, and some will be better or more acceptable than others given that some things in life and death are unknowable. So what is really real might be one explanation which is perfect. However given that that can’t happen there will be many. As to the definitions debate. My first comment covered this.Briggs did not define essence, go and tell him off. It’s patently obvious that words have different meanings. It’s also obvious that for discussion purposes just as with the word soul, we know what we’re talking about and not just the special people you speak of. What is is different from what we know about what is. Both of those have room for ambiguity and error and this discussion has been a stunning example of how to confuse both and confuse what is meant by both, simultaneously.

    My argument with you et al about the soul is that you are 1, too certain, 2 have it wrong as far as I have read your views et al. Given that nobody knows about 2’s truth, I reserve the right to hold 2 as true conditional on 1 being true, which it is and you already conceded but is self evidently true since neither of us has been to the other side.

    Some truths are unknowable. We would have to create a counterfactual situation where all aspects of everything real is known in it’s entirety, essence and all. That doesn’t mean that the truth isn’t there. Neither does it mean we can’t know some things and get very close in other examples. Sometimes we all agree on those, sometimes the certainty is not enough to prevent argument. That is as it should be. It is important to remain modest in discussions of this kind and particularly on matters so delicate as life and death.

    There is a single explanation but it is not our realm ever to own it. Whether you speak of metaphysics or physics, at present anyway, the case is the same.
    Or do you mean something else?

    I’ve already said truth is not relative. I have never held it to be and without the help of anybody else. The term ‘universal truth’ is a label I fitted to that thought on reading this blog several years ago. I am very grateful for that.
    I’d had the relative truth argument used against me at college and with one of my good friends who is a Liberal, right on type. He would also agree that truth is universal if he thought about it for a moment but would probably give up looking sooner than me. That’s what dogmatic Catholic types have done. They’ve given up looking.
    “you might find future Faure’s into alternate philosophies futile.” Wm Briggs, that’s poetry, apparently.

    Democracy?
    You know I don’t need any encouragement.
    “Democracy is the worst system of government, except all the others.”
    and
    “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
    We have a monarchy and parliamentary democracy and ours has survived longer than the others.
    On democracy you imbue a notion which I do not hold. Although I don’t take the idealist, puritanical and tyrannical alternative implied by your argument against it. I won’t defend US politics on this occasion. Dismantle it at your peril though.

    Experts should be on tap not on top. Is the right way. Leadership requires different skills than that of a mathematician or an engineer, although an engineer might make quite a good Prime minister. So might a mathematician. Their role is to rely on witnesses from fields of discovery and scientific endeavour and this includes offices of statistics. If those experts aren’t worth their salt the politicians can’t do their job. When politicians chose ‘experts’ to sing them the song they want to hear then there is trouble. This is what caused the global warming lie. Maggie and her machinations to justify moving to nuclear from coal. She started a monster that hasn’t laid down quite yet but it’s already on the wain if I read Teresa May correctly.
    If we started it, we can finish it. We must.

    Do you think saying ‘the wisdom of the ages says ‘it is so’ and therefore I must swallow?
    As for governance of the mind do you know there’s still a department of the inquisitors. They’re not allowed torture or murder as long as no blood is spilled any more but they are allowed to summon and question people. How can you be happy to live under that sort of intellectual tyranny?
    Nobody tells me what to think or how to feel. The media does this as well and not for fair reasons. How to think is quite another matter.

    I see wisdom in more places than you, apparently, are prepared to count.

    It’s a shame some people believe there is one kind of wisdom or place where it resides.

  110. “yes, I keep him in a case…”
    There’s a really good joke but I am too grown up to make it and you mmight think I am calling you old.

  111. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 26, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    It’s patently obvious that words have different meanings.

    Certainly. All the more reason to stick to the operative one in the case at hand; viz., “essence” as it was defined by the folks who invented the word.

    My argument with you et al about the soul is that you are 1, too certain, 2 have it wrong

    Maybe so; but then Aquinas and whole boatload of others have also had it wrong. “Anima” meant what it did. Maybe English doesn’t translate it well enough, although OE sawol does seem similar in meaning. It’s only been since Descartes that it’s gotten messed up.

    That’s what dogmatic Catholic types have done. They’ve given up looking.

    Why keep looking when you’re already there?
    I notice you overlook the Orthodox. Why’s that?

    Do you think saying ‘the wisdom of the ages says ‘it is so’ and therefore I must swallow?

    No, but if you are going to refute their reasoning, you need to stick to the definitions that they used.

    do you know there’s still a department of the inquisitors.

    The Roman Republic developed the jurisprudence as an alternative to accusatio because in criminal cases it was problematic for a plaintiff to gather witnesses personally (or with the aid of his familia and compel testimony before the praetor. So instead, the public is represented by two separate and equally important magistrates: the police who investigate crimes and the prosecutors who bring them to trial. (Basically, accusatio is civil law and inquisitio is criminal law.) In its original form the “investigating magistrate” — which is why district attorneys still have their own staff of investigators. Similar institutional expressions of inquisitio are the coroner’s inquest, the grand jury, and (in America) the special prosecutor.

    When Roman civil law was resurrected in the High Middle Ages, this process was vastly superior to the rule “what pleases the prince has the force of law,” although even Germanic tribal law had something like the inquisitio.

    Of course, in the Modern Ages, the Inquisition has become simply a “boo” word.

  112. “Now in some subjects there really are experts:”

    those who have read closely and thought deeply about a subject. Dawkins is probably reliable as regards etymology (which I think was his training) but his expertise in that area carries no weight in theology. He does not even understand the arguments.*

    “He does not even understand the arguments.*”

    How do you know what he understands? Answer? you do not. How do I know? well…it’s what you say to me. So the benefit of the doubt is with Dawkins at the moment. It’s a truth I hold conditionally. Like the one you hold about ‘he doesn’t understand’. You are guessing.
    The very starting point of the theist argument or the converse rests on a world view, a deeply held, and I always argue emotional view although I know you don’t believe in that, it all happens in the intellect, I don’t care right here. It is a temperamental knife-edge. Providing there is enough doubt or the thinker is right near that knife edge, the individual can be persuaded. To move from one side to the other requires being torn apart. That happens in the emotions and the senses, not the intellect. It is said that the only intellectually defensible position is agnosticism. I understand that logic but I don’t really believe in that. I think it really is one or the other. People just don’t always know they have faith. The agnostic’s condition exists only on paper and in print. Like lots of internally logically consistent things. They are not the really real always necessarily.

    I’d hazard a guess that Dawkins dismissed all of theology because he has already dismissed the first premise. He would say something like
    “why do I have to be an expert on fairies when I’ve already decided they don’t exist?” He’d be wrong, of course!! I am one. He’s got his definition wrong.

    However, John Lennox did/does a sterling job in debate with him and they both gave each other some understanding when it came to definitions. Each one knew what the other was referring to and when there was ambiguity it was always cleared up. That is the problem with this medium. It allows time to think and for arguments to be made without interruption which is vital but misunderstanding abounds! As well as misunderstanding the nature of the misunderstanding.

    All I can do is to tell you over and over that I do not fail to understand. If you insist that I do because you have decided I am not able to understand then the problem is on your side.

    I used to hold that atheists are libertine bounders, cold, heartless and hateful, always trying to hurt people who have faith. (except my Dad, who is a shining star) Some of them do. However, I also think that the opposite is true and I have only recently shifted my attitude to ‘believe’ that I have witnessed, this time around that there are some who bare false witness in their behaviour towards atheists. They must be allowed their dignity, respect and not treated like rag dolls.
    This is not an emotional argument in the sense that it is a false one. The truth doesn’t have to change for people to treat each other just a little bit more kindly. Those things are separate. I don’t have the energy for the hate. It is soul sucking.

    lllllllllllllllllllll (you should hear voiceover say that.)
    “(*Nor are the arguments easy to understand. Terms had different meanings in other eras. It’s not a simple matter of translation for words like motus oranima. People’s categories of thought were different

    (cf. e.g., Guy Consolmagno, “Medieval Cosmology and World-building”, inMedieval Science Fiction, ed. Carl Kears & James Paz (Kings College London, 2016))”

    “and there are often no modern terms that adequately captures the meanings of the older words.”
    We have to take this on faith. The words are there, just not in singular. Sometimes a description with several words must suffice.
    There are always adequate words to translate meaning. Unless meaning is written in code and the only person who wrote it died. That could be tricky. There are not words to describe what is in the mind always necessarily. Once it’s reached paper, it contains meaning.

    The translators must be up to the job, honest and so on.
    John Lennox is a linguist and in correspondence with a Hebrew scholar. He reports that the word “day” as in the seven days in the bible had several meanings in ancient Hebrew. This gives rise, he reports, to about fourteen separate possibilities of ‘meaning’ to the claim scripture’s seven days.
    He referred to ‘era’ or ‘period’ as a more accurate translation and yet we can still use the word ‘day’ and mean it in a similar sense: ‘back in the day’ does not mean ‘back on the day’. We know it means during that era, or ‘in the olden days’ to be really babyish and embarrass everybody. The bible is not inconsistent with evolution (not to mean any open ideas on evolution, of course, but the lose ideas which seem unarguable to me.) It’s better than big bang.

    On climbing down:
    “I agree. It is precisely for this reason that we should pay attention to those who have thought long and deep and worked out the consequences and complications.” YEP!

    We? I won’t be climbing down. I am not the one who claims certainty on the soul. They will have to admit they’re jumped the gun in rather a foolish ostentatious fashion. Aristotle was wrong about teeth but nobody climbed down yet and called him fallible. He did not write the bible. He cannot be treated as the word of God.

    “But it is not wrong for folks to be certain what Aristotle or Plato or Maimonides or ibn Rushd meant by the word they used which we translate as “soul.””

    You’re playing tricks!
    I have already said that if we all agree on the definition we will agree on the conclusions if the logic is correct. You have thrown a whole bag of history into one sentence, assumed a lot about what everybody understood (past tense) and now claim that everybody’s singing from the same song sheet.
    EVERYBODY knows what is meant by the word soul. If you define what is meant and bundle it with ‘what it is’ you’re simply claiming ‘it is so’ because we say it and that’s how we define it!.
    I thought things were better than that! It’s even worse.

    Soul music? YOS. Briggs thinks the Beatles are sol sucking. He hasn’t been on the receiving end of his personal attacks. If soul sucking means what I think it means. I wonder if he was meaning soul in the Aristotelian sense or just the crass idiotic one that everybody uses.

    When you said ‘soul music did you mean the crass idiotic sense of the word or the posh one?

    The prearranged definition which includes the argument that it is only intellect and will?
    Of course they know what they’re talking about but that’s utterly uninteresting. The truth is, I believe, elsewhere.

    “That’s because at the time mathematics was for practical applications to surveying, accounting, astrology, music, perspectiva (which was not quite the same as “optics”) It was not studied as it is today for its own sake. Science and art were the two perfections of the intellect: science was “know what” and art was “know how.” (The words “artist” and “artisan” did not part company until the 19th century.) Which means the whole science/art thing was a spin-off of the Aristotelian-Thomist understanding of the soul.”

    Why do you think I mention it?
    …………
    I said,

    “As for quoting the argument against miracle or God’s acts, You are employing the same argument used against the existence of God himself.

    You answered,

    “You lost me. Which argument was that?”

    The one you made where you say there is no other explanation you can think of except to say that the theory must be true because poof was the only other possibility. That argument.
    Poof is one possibility and God can do poof. There may be other more terrestrial explanations, I haven’t considered it.

    On God sending his son you said:

    “So when God looked on all that he had created and saw that it was good, it wasn’t really all that good and needed constant correction and adjustment?”

    That’s the atheist argument. It is relying on a lot of weight on the word ‘good’ which I noted recently in Thomas’s work.
    If I build a house for a duck and I see that it is good what do you think it will ‘look like’ to me after it’s been out in nature? Will it’s goodness still exist? Yes, but it’ll need a bit of caulking and after even longer, big changes might be required.

    The problem is that nothing in the physical world is perfect if perfect has to mean that it cannot decay.
    Everything needs sustaining that is physical. Otherwise we would live forever.
    As for sending his son, It’s hard to see how you can hold a Christian faith and hold that God was not making an adjustment.
    which entails good not meaning always perfect. A bucket of ‘good’ might be perfect but physical things contain good and bad.

    On Big bang true or false:

    “Which is funny because in other fora atheists defend the Big Bang against creationists and call them “science deniers.” As you said: at some point … it is intellectually indefensible. Folks who don’t “think it through” often wind up caught in such contradictions.”

    Yep as I have said, there is no true argument between science and religion. Atheists want it to be so.
    My personal view which is only a hunch is that big bang is wrong. I don’t care any more because as I argued with Luis years ago. Science and religion are like oil and water they cannot be mixed. Lennox puts it more acceptably and more understandably when he explains that they are in different categories. When I described that I was thinking better. Now I have the descriptions I currently don’t have the thinking power. John came to the rescue.

    “Well, not really. It is a solution to the field equations of general relativity. That model seems to have held up rather well and its predictions have been confirmed to quite a few decimal places. There are some shaky bits, but the overall structure seems sound. It’s not a God-of-the-gaps argument because it does not invoke God in any way. Its originator, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and mathematician, made that very clear: it does not describe a “moment of creation.””

    On the decimal places, Without going into the maths which would require my going to college, studying A-level, going to university, taking a Bsc, then an Msc at the very least, I am not able to go into the details to defend my position. I have it on some authority from someone who did understand and did achieve a first class degree in physics that it is a load of waffle, an atheist! He said that everybody was singing the same song but nobody really understood. Even the lecturers who simply repeated the story parrot fashion. When the maths was ‘near enough’ it was considered ‘good enough’.

    Do you think when they said that they saw big bang and it’s mathematical demonstrations and they knew that it was good that it meant that it was perfect? When they said ‘well it’s not a Higgs but it’s so close that we’ll call it one because then we have a proof, that that is okay?
    It’s not very important to me but it matters to people who have other ideas.

    When I described Thomas’s explanations I was very unclear and to the point of ridiculous.
    So what I intended was that he does use logical and familiar examples from the physical world in a ‘mechanical way to attempt to retain the logic and inarguable Nature. Clearly and self evidently he is talking a bout metaphysics. Metaphysics is the subject, God is the subject but not in every sentence in the grammatical sense. He is using analogy. There’s something arcane but modern about him all at once. translations must work both ways like a sea-saw without contradiction or ambiguity to send people along the wrong path. When it’s done on purpose! Well.

  113. Goodness me I’m falling behind!
    You have a better hamster than me.

  114. Incidentally, I realise that my disagreeing with big bang is an indulgence. It wold be intellectual suicide for someone wanting to be listened to in physics if they expressed doubts. Some intellectuals are pragmatic in what they chose to argue about. They hold the distaff at the moment.

    If I were proved right the intellectuals will still claim so what you never understood it anyway! As if smelling a rat before seeing it counts for nothing. Who cares, you’re still stupid and I’m clever.

    “It’s patently obvious that words have different meanings.

    Certainly. All the more reason to stick to the operative one in the case at hand; viz., “essence” as it was defined by the folks who invented the word.”

    Are we arguing about a word or a thing?

    “Maybe so; but then Aquinas and whole boatload of others have also had it wrong.”

    Maybe! but it’s more likely that the translators were rubbish and dogmatic in their enthusiasm about the perfection and completeness of the work.
    They were under the influence of Catholic government.
    I expect they were “enthusiasts”. I doubt Thomas A would be sticking to the modern translation. I also suspect he wuold have added caveats.

    Look how Tyndall got on wen he tried to produce a modern translation! It was considered a threat. Theology was for a select few. (Very Christian, in both senses.)
    The rest is history.

    “Anima” meant what it did.”
    everything meant what it did.

    “Why keep looking when you’re already there?”
    It is inadequate, clumsy, incomplete, lacking, blunt, wanting, at least on dimension short of a full soul. It is a claim of essence like a land grab but in more than three dimensions.
    Those who first pointed at it are not to blame. It’s those dogmatic enthusiasts.
    It just happens to flatter them, so they cling to it like limpets.

    “I notice you overlook the Orthodox. Why’s that?”

    I speak of those who are ostentatious in their certainty about anything which they cannot know they can claim to think but not to know.
    Whoever they are. I say they are wrong and too certain. It’s unnecessary, dishonest and unhelpful. Note I am not calling Thomas A dishonest. I am calling the practice of preaching certainty what it IS.

    “If you are going to refute their reasoning,….”
    I am refuting and have refuted their certainty.
    ‘You need to stick to the definitions that they used.’
    I am disputing the constitution of the soul. If they start with an empty glass and then say the glass is empty who am I to argue? It doesn’t mean I don’t know that the glass is the subject.

    On the inquisitors and their rehab, I will spare you.

  115. “No single explanation”:
    There are also explanations which people will agree about but which are quite different. Like: The kettle is boiling
    ‘because someone wants a cup of tea.’
    or
    ‘because someone switched it on and the electric current is giving power to heat the element causing the water to boil.’
    Only some atheists argue there is no such thing as ‘why.’

  116. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 27, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    “He [Dawkins] does not even understand the [theological] arguments.*”
    How do you know what he understands?

    Dawkins has written several articles in which he tries to demolish the arguments. He gets these wrong, rebutting instead a straw man of his own devising rather than the actual argument.

    “and there are often no modern terms that adequately captures the meanings of the older words.”
    We have to take this on faith. The words are there, just not in singular. Sometimes a description with several words must suffice. There are always adequate words to translate meaning.

    You don’t have to take it on faith. You can actually examine the words. For example, Thomas gives an argument for the existence of God called “the Argument from Motion.” People today are apt to read “motion” as referring to local motion (change of location) and suppose that the invention of inertia has thrown it in a cocked hat and therefore there is no God. But “motion” is an English word, and the modern translators of Aristotle have tended to be humanists. Aristotle wrote “kinesis” which is more closely “change” but specifically a dynamic change, by which a potency is moved to actuality. The what-it-is becomes the what-it-is-to-be. Hence, an acorn, which is potentially an oak tree, is “in motion” as it grows to maturity. There is no one word in English that gets this across.

    One of the things that held science back in ancient Greece was that they lacked a word for “velocity” and “acceleration.” (You will note that they are Latin terms, a gift from the medievals.) It was not that the Greeks could not write of these things, but that they had to write in circumlocutions, which makes it more difficult.

    Similarly, Paul speaks of Christ triumphing over “powers, principalities, virtues, and dominions.” The modern reader naturally interprets these in political terms; but to the ancients they referred to the intelligences required to account for any local motion other than up and down. These were the planetary intelligences that moved the various stars. [Consolmagno, “Medieval Cosmology and World-Building,” in Kears & Paz Medieval Science Fiction] But you won’t find these meanings even by painstaking examination of the words in Greek, Latin, or English. They lie in the world-view of the people writing them and reading them.

    In the same manner,

    Aristotle spoke everywhere of “the what it is” or “the what it is to be”. The Medievals learned Aristotle by these quirky substantive pronoun sentences, but then coined a word “essence” and made it identical to another word that would have been better left distinct: nature. But “essence” is just shorthand for the pronoun.
    — Chastek, https://thomism.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/epistemological-notes/

    Everything since then is just other people screwing around with Aristotle’s terminology, trying to make it mean something different. But just as if you modify a part in your automobile from OEM, you are likely to end up with something that doesn’t quite fit together right.

    You are employing the same argument used against the existence of God himself.
    “You lost me. Which argument was that?”
    The one you made where you say there is no other explanation you can think of except to say that the theory must be true because poof was the only other possibility.

    I asked our friend Oldavid if he knew of a third possibility other than that
    i) new species emerged from existing species* or
    ii) they simply poofed into existence.

    So far, none have been forthcoming. It would be much easier to simply present an alternative than to merely claim that I am not allowing for these alternatives.

    *) There may be a great many ways in which new species emerge from old. So i) is not restricted to natural selection. There is also natural genetic engineering. http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2013.Rethinking_the_(Im)Possible_in_Evolution.html

    Poof is one possibility and God can do poof

    And as William of Conches said back in the 12th cent., “God can make a cow from a tree, but has he ever done so? Therefore, show some reason why a thing is so or cease to hold that it is so.” It would be much easier to simply present an example of a species that poofed into being than to merely claim that it might could happen.

    I have it on some authority from someone who did understand and did achieve a first class degree in physics that it [the Big Bang] is a load of waffle, an atheist! He said that everybody was singing the same song but nobody really understood.

    OTOH, I have it on some authority from many people with Ph. Ds in physics that it is not a load of waffle. Go figure. They would dearly love to overturn it, as there is no greater path to fame in physics than overturning an established theory, but so far none of the criticisms has stood the test. Milne’s kinematic theory of relativity is still in play, I have heard, but that does not eliminate a “big bang”.

    “So when God looked on all that he had created and saw that it was good, it wasn’t really all that good and needed constant correction and adjustment?”

    That’s the atheist argument. It is relying on a lot of weight on the word ‘good’ which I noted recently in Thomas’s work.

    God continually sustains the world in existence, but that is not the same as adjusting the laws of physics to keep the balls in the air. He is the lawmaker of those laws, no? Did he do such a shoddy job as to need patching up? Is the wear and tear of material existence something beyond his ken? How old and worn must a universe be for the laws of electromagnetism to get ragged? Do you really think that miracles are merely physical tricks rather than revelations of God’s glory?

    The problem is that nothing in the physical world is perfect if perfect has to mean that it cannot decay.

    A good thing then that it does not mean that. Besides, I did not say the physical world is perfect. I said that God looked on all that he had created and saw that it was good. “Perfectus” means “thoroughly made.”

    A good doctor is one who keeps his patients healthy. A good general is one who wins his battles. A good cook is one who prepares delicious and nourishing meals. A doctor, et al. is bad because of a shortcoming in the various perfections of her craft, sometimes due to extraneous circumstances. Sometimes people die in spite of good doctoring. Sometimes battles are lost by misfortune.

    The shortcomings of matter do not affect the skill of the divine carpenter. There can be no contradiction between relativity and quantum mechanics, only shortcomings in our knowledge of them. Laws of electromagnetism do not conflict with laws of gravity. Like the work of a good carpenter, all the parts of the world fit together, the clearances are tight, and there is no need of theokinetics to keep the planets moving along.

    “But it is not wrong for folks to be certain what Aristotle or Plato or Maimonides or ibn Rushd meant by the word they used which we translate as “soul.””

    You’re playing tricks!

    What are you talking about? I only indicated that while those who have not studied the matter may disagree on the nature of the soul, it is a matter of objective fact what the A-team had to say about it. They had developed a psychology (science of the soul) that fit together with tight clearances and logical consistency. Not their fault if the Moderns came along, mucked things up, and created all sorts of uncertainties and “problems.”

    It’s hard to see how you can hold a Christian faith and hold that God was not making an adjustment [when he sent his son].

    God is immaterial and therefore outside time, so he sees all moments as present. The divine plan, I have been informed, was present from the beginning. Think of the surprise twist in a mystery book, does that mean that the author made an adjustment as she neared that point of the narrative?

  117. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 27, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Maybe! but it’s more likely that the translators were rubbish and dogmatic in their enthusiasm about the perfection and completeness of the work.

    Regarding the translation of Aquinas, you can do it yourself. The Latin can be found here:
    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeAnima.htm
    and you can render it into English at your own pleasure. Meanwhile, you can compare the parallel texts

    As regards Aristotle, I cannot translate Greek, but I understand its study was sine qua non in English universities up through the high modern ages. An English translation can be found here:
    http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/soul.1.i.html
    This brief note in the journal Philosophy put out by the Royal Institute of Philosophy, points out some of the problems of rendering ancient Greek in to modern English: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=3518948

    They were under the influence of Catholic government.

    Ooh, Catholic cooties! The translator of the first lives in Eugene, OR, USA. The translator of the Aristotle, J. A. Smith was “the Jowett Lecturer of philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford from 1896 to 1910, and Waynflete Professor of Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, carrying a Fellowship at Magdalen College in the same university, from 1910 to 1936. He was born in Dingwall and died in Oxford.” Whatever one may say about an Oxford don of the early 1900s, “under the influence of Catholic government” does not spring sprightly to mind.

    +++
    Regarding the example of why the kettle is boiling, that is a great example of the distinction between final causes and efficient causes! I have used myself.
    +++
    On the inquisitors and their rehab, I will spare you.

    This book — Inquisition, by Edward Peters — provides not only the history of inquisition, but the myth of the history and the history of the myth.
    https://www.amazon.com/Inquisition-Edward-Peters/dp/0520066308

  118. “Dawkins has written several articles in which he tries to demolish the arguments. He gets these wrong, rebutting instead a straw man of his own devising rather than the actual argument.”

    Well that was my point YOS about much of your argumentation. I’m prepared to bet that he did exactly as you described but not through lack of understanding of the argument put to him; rather an inability, unwillingness, or dismissal of the point for temperamental or other reasons.

    That is what was meant by the square ball. ‘straw man’ is over worked.
    I think you want to argue a certain point and that you have done so many times in the past. There is a well worn thinking grove and I keep being slotted into that machinery. Perhaps it isn’t deliberate. This is why reading carefully is important.

    Dawkins’ arguments themselves are not mine you MUST understand that? I demonstrate the effects of overdoing the swing ball. The opponent stops listening or has grounds to mistrust or even misbehave!

    If I once misrepresent what you say be sure and point it out.

    In trying to resolve this one mustn’t claim disagreements and invent arguments.

    I am not a member of any group where I go along with everything regardless. I am biassed like everybody else but don’t need a lecture on why I might think a thing and who’s fault it might be. Otherwise you will continue to hear all about why Catholics do what they do and did. It is distraction from the point and you could never be asked to excuse what Catholics did in the name of true Truth.

    Importantly YOS, You don’t need to tell me, I already knew, that your thinking is logical and well considered, studied and all of those things, your library is well ordered and your intellect is not being questioned. Nor do you need my approval.

    but!

    Nobody gets to claim they know about the soul’s true nature. NOBODY!
    Not YOS,
    Not Briggs,
    Not Ed Fesewig,
    Not Aristotle,
    Plato,
    Socrates,
    Chief Nockanpotty,
    or my Dad!

    I just want to clarify again before I get to your points, particularly on translation which I will but in England the night is old.

  119. A thing which is semiotic contains meaning.
    Meaning, with respect to language translation I am using to ‘represent’, ‘substitute’, ‘equal’. Rather than the ‘why or purpose sense of the word which is obviously the more important.

    “and there are often no modern terms that adequately captures the meanings of the older words.”
    ( Cue poetry. and art) we are in the realms of the imagination all be it that of Thomas A.

    Let me explain again, The more I think about this the more fault I find.

    1. There may well be no modern word in singular. unless you are speaking of poetry which conveys emotion and not just meaning in the intellectual sense, Then a straight forward work of prose can absolutely be translated to adequately portray meaning and must be if it is to be:

    a. agreed upon
    b. If it is so important as to represent absolute truth about the soul.

    Otherwise we are taking the faith of others, the special learned ones who’s long study and deep thought, being far superior in nature and validity than any old thought, however deep or long contemplated, to rest our own faith upon. That, my dear YOS isn’t good enough even if it might be a comfort to many.
    Here evidence and proof, I believe is being confused and is hidden within your argument.

    I don’t mean to undermine other’s mainstay. Rather this is why remaining in uncertainty is the right way and why I think that Keats’s famous lines on negative capability although applied to techniques of poetry, do absolutely capture the essence of this problem and more terrestrially problems of complexity.

    2. If a thing ‘meant’ a different ‘thing’ in the past, in particular you refer to such complex things as might be considered experiential or attitudinal and might require a very long explanation, this being subjective, this must be done!
    Otherwise meaning cannot be conveyed that will render agreement. (like algebra, because the argument, it seems, is being compared in accuracy to an algebraic equation. All values and definitions must be agreed upon.

    Of course accurate translation from original is vital! Now we’re talking about a text or texts that are not the bible but in support of it. They are interpretations with scripture as just one of the premises. So it comes under the category of supporting evidence. I say they are missing some terms or dimensions and necessarily must be otherwise it’s substance would have to contain the thing it describes. Just like a physical proof.

    Otherwise you are in the realm of saying that meaning ‘means one thing to some and another to another? but I thought ‘we’ were trying to show certainty on an absolute truth! It’s not good saying as you did that anima meant what it did! It also didn’t mean what it didn’t mean. I don’t think anybody objects to the change of word meaning or use. In studying or reading old or middle English, Chaucer and Shakespeare I do realise that translation and interpretation are subtly different. Translation is a clean a=b situation. Interpretation involves some subjective and inductive reasoning and other even fancier words that I don’t yet know.

    “The what-it-is becomes the what-it-is-to-be. Hence, an acorn, which is potentially an oak tree, is “in motion” as it grows to maturity. There is no one word in English that gets this across.”

    I’d like to have a go off the top of my head but it’s not clear which part you mean, whether what happens within the oak tree itself, the process or universal concept that might mirror or be true in another example or another universal concept; or the start point, the acorn as it looks ahead!

    (also remember I said that a single word isn’t always possible but there are always adequate words to translate something. that is absolutely true and certain, or subjective. Otherwise the thing discussed is not fully known.

    The word transformation springs to mind,
    growth,
    evolution,
    germination,
    metamorphosis or metamorphosing.
    realised or realising potential.
    Kernel or nut or seed (if you meant the start of what you described)
    intent.

    However, the learned ones have had long enough to invent one if there isn’t a modern one! If there isn’t a modern one then the old one still holds and must be defined accurately. This doesn’t require only one word. How many dictionaries offer only one word in explanation?

    So we are back to the dictionary definition of the soul. From that point all the rest is conjecture.

    “But you won’t find these meanings even by painstaking examination of the words in Greek, Latin, or English. They lie in the world-view of the people writing them and reading them.”

    Apart from agreeing that you might be wrong, which entails an admission of doubt,
    That quote is the best thing you’ve said so far.

    I’m glad you didn’t say the following because it’s to say nothing except that one word’s prettier than the other and that’s the sort of thing a silly person like me might say.
    .
    Aristotle spoke everywhere of “the what it is” or “the what it is to be”. The Medievals learned Aristotle by these quirky substantive pronoun sentences, but then coined a word “essence” and made it identical to another word that would have been better left distinct: nature. But “essence” is just shorthand for the pronoun.
    — Chastek,

    i.e. ‘isness’ or ‘isimilitude’ would have sufficed?

    Problem solved.

    “Everything since then is just other people screwing around with Aristotle’s terminology, trying to make it mean something different. ”

    I can’t answer for what others do with Aristotle and what he meant. I am arguing about the conclusion and therefore arguing that if you tell me the maths is right then somethings wrong with the starting point. I already said that the translation is the most likely place where much of the superficial disagreement lies. However it doesn’t escape from the fact that people are preaching that the soul contains only intellect and will.

    It isn’t true and cannot be true.

    W Conches: I saw that quote.
    God ‘can’ is the point. It is another possibility other than the poof which was your other suggestion.
    Darwin’s observations seem evidently sound don’t they? I had this discussion before and we drew a blank as you sent me off talking about whether dogs were clever and whether viruses were alive. to both, yes they are.
    as to making a claim that there is another possibility it is to show absolutely that there is uncertainty and to prove doubt, at least that was my intension.

    “OTOH, I have it on some authority from many people with Ph. Ds in physics that it is not a load of waffle. Go figure. “ There was me thinking you’d checked it yourself! So your evidence is also indirect. Given that I already said it was my hunch even before and is the hunch of many lay people, I thought you might just pick on that instead of saying I have more guns than you. I don’t mind if you think big bang is right. It doesn’t impinge. It makes your opinion pragmatic, expedient and more defensible than mine.

    As for your friends loving to overturn it. I really don’t agree. The problem, not it’s effects, as yet, is much worse than global warming. Politics of science and machinations of academics is a can of worms and I’m not diving in. Somebody or bodies will do one day.

    ‘God continually sustains the world in existence, but that is not the same as adjusting the laws of physics to keep the balls in the air.”
    1. Who said he did that?
    2. He made the laws. The laws did not come first. Unless you agree with Steven Hawking.

    “He is the lawmaker of those laws, no? Did he do such a shoddy job as to need patching up? Is the wear and tear of material existence something beyond his ken? How old and worn must a universe be for the laws of electromagnetism to get ragged? Do you really think that miracles are merely physical tricks rather than revelations of God’s glory?”
    It sounds like you’re ranting now.

    “Is the wear and tear of material existence something beyond his ken?” With respect to what?
    Things do wear and tear. That is life. That IS the world.

    “How old and worn must a universe be for the laws of electromagnetism to get ragged?’
    You have presented a straw man there. That whole paragraph was misrepresenting what I said about ‘good’.

    “A good thing then that it does not mean that.”
    Oh dear, here we go again. Those dam sloppy moderns again don’t know good from bad.
    So if we substitute perfectus then it changes nothing about my argument given that we know that things made, decay and things change, whether alive or dead or animate or not. Decay due to the chaos of the elements is part of the universe that was created. Who are you to criticise? You think I’ve made a value or quality judgement? No, you did that when you used the quote about his viewing creation to justify the argument against and further adjustment. I said that everything must be sustained, used the analogy of the duck house (why does that always make people cross) and it was an analogy about the real world. Building or creating in the worldly sense can only ever be a partial description of what occurs during creation of matter itself. Or the laws that govern the universe.

    “The shortcomings of matter do not affect the skill of the divine carpenter. ”
    This is fishy. Not only does it sound like a straw man. It sounds like nonsense.

    “only shortcomings in our knowledge of them.” That part sounsd okay. Or our shortcomings in knowledge of anything.

    “Laws of electromagnetism do not conflict with laws of gravity. Like the work of a good carpenter, all the parts of the world fit together, the clearances are tight, and there is no need of theokinetics to keep the planets moving along.”
    Clearances are tight? What? Keeping the planets moving along? who said that?
    We are talking about the analogy of decay and change. The fact that God ‘needed’ to send his son. To use your attitude in response to the original question about ‘saw that it was good’.
    1 I never said the universe wasn’t ‘good’ It would be a silly thing to say.
    2 I did say that all was not complete and I say that it probably still is not because we are not as I write this at the end of time.
    3 miracles would not be necessary or strange if they did not stand apart from what we understand by the regularity of the laws of nature. How they are achieved is a mystery. The wisest people make only careful explanations about this. CS Lewis and John Lennox say that he feeds another event in. He does not change the laws but nobody actually knows. They, at least, admit that they are guessing.

    The following is an admission, as I said we disagree on the nature of the soul.
    “I only indicated that while those who have not studied the matter may disagree on the nature of the soul, it is a matter of objective fact what the A-team had to say about it. They had developed a psychology (science of the soul) that fit together with tight clearances and logical consistency. Not their fault if the Moderns came along, mucked things up, and created all sorts of uncertainties and “problems.”

    I never argued about what the A-team had to say about it did I? Now you misrepresent again.
    However, as to psychology with clearances. Utter rubbish. They were internally consistent. That ought to be enough for you.

    ” Think of the surprise twist in a mystery book, does that mean that the author made an adjustment as she neared that point of the narrative?”
    That is a better rationale to explain your argument. There is always a debate about whether it is part of a plan which is written once, one perfect rendition or whether there is change. Since you say he is outside time, which is obvious as he must be eternal, he can also do both change and not change. Who are you to say he did one or the other?
    He can and will do precisely as he pleases. That is, if we are made in his image!

  120. Phew! Such a lot of words!

    Anyhow, “poof” is still an illusive, undefined term.

  121. • Maybe! but it’s more likely that the translators were rubbish and dogmatic in their enthusiasm about the perfection and completeness of the work.

    It absolutely is. If you don’t like the word rubbish you can insert an alternative ‘defective’.

    Regarding the translation of Aquinas, you can do it yourself. The Latin can be found here:
    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeAnima.htm
    YOS, I might trust my Latin teacher to help as a start, and my good friend who’s English vocabulary is extensive.
    …but of course I know what you think of it!
    Source texts exist. I am so sure that the conclusion is wrong, I’m satisfied. If you are satisfied that makes two of us. Although satisfied with much of the content in it’s small chunks or strings of language, that is where it was not impenetrable but I don’t agree about the conclusions on the soul.

    “and you can render it into English at your own pleasure. Meanwhile, you can compare the parallel texts
    That you thought I didn’t know this was an option is peculiar. I suppose this is a version of ‘do it yourself then, if you’re so clever.”? NO?

    As regards Aristotle, I cannot translate Greek, but I understand its study was sine qua non in English universities up through the high modern ages. An English translation can be found here:

    This brief note in the journal Philosophy put out by the Royal Institute of Philosophy, points out some of the problems of rendering ancient Greek in to modern English: There are many reasons why nobody speaks ancient Greek or Latin today.
    It’s not just time and linguistic decay by naughty discendents either.
    English is more intricate, technical, delicate, subtle and rich in every conceivable way.

    They were under the influence of Catholic government.
    “Ooh, Catholic cooties! The translator of the first lives in Eugene, OR, USA. ”
    Is he a Catholic? Like you, if he is, he is under the influence of Catholic government. Remember? the inquisitors? The Magisterium? Gaia exists, remember? Galileo was wrong, remember?

    The translator of the Aristotle, J. A. Smith was “the Jowett Lecturer of philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford from 1896 to 1910,
    Was he Catholic?
    and Waynflete Professor of Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, carrying a Fellowship at Magdalen College in the same university, from 1910 to 1936. He was born in Dingwall and died in Oxford.”
    was he Catholic?

    Whatever one may say about an Oxford don of the early 1900s, “under the influence of Catholic government” does not spring sprightly to mind.
    I would say the same about you. There can be no other explanation why your blog would not be titled ‘Christian and loving it”. You are under the influence of Catholic government in your mind. It is sectarian in title, for example.
    It confesses bias and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with being Catholic but when being Catholic becomes more important than being Christian there is a problem. I wouldn’t pretend that medieval times were not violent, brutal, lives were short and frankly cheap.
    This doesn’t change the facts that Catholics behaved in ways that upset the christian church and often, unlike protestants, held back progress. REAL progress. Not the pejorative progress which we hear about ad nauseam on here enough to convert a Conservative.

    On the inquisitors and their rehab. The Catholics and their ‘tradition’, persuasion’ and ‘appetites’ are well represented on the comments on this blog. ‘James’ recommended burning Hillary Clinton at the steak. Another recommended that a certain reader should hang himself, another that Anders B had a point. So it’s okay to speak about in theory what Catholics et al did in the past. That they did terrible things is not in any doubt. I have been to many of the places where these things took place. Going back further in time. Ancient iron works just up the road from me, a crusader buried in a church who’s location I won’t mention. I have stood on the decks of the Victory, at the alter in Canterbury Cathedral, visited tens of English Cathedrals, castles, roman ruins, went to school up the road from St Alban’s studied a small amount of history, and listened to extensive high quality material on the history of this nation; been a member of a medieval society both in this country and in the US (SCA) and was surrounded by ‘experts’! Each one an absolute enthusiast. Have visited relevant sites in Europe and Turkey, We are surrounded by history.
    I don’t require the preparatory text. I’ve made up my mind. If you care to pick some highlights I would be interested, genuinely.

    This book — Inquisition, by Edward Peters — provides not only the history of inquisition, but the myth of the history and the history of the myth.
    I said I would spare you and I won’t be drawn on it.
    I will say that if somebody asks me for a good book which purports to refute the myths surrounding the Catholic sins I will point them directly to this book with the caveat that it comes from a very good source who believes it all to be true and good. A place to go for the BEST evidence against the Catholic inquisitions because YOS says so and It wouldn’t be meant sarcastically.

  122. @YOS, about biological evolution, it is a tautology, in my opinion. I have a chemistry degree and was a couple of courses shy of getting one in biology at the same time. Biological evolution boils down to be fruitful and multiply, lest ye be replaced. Because of the nature of chemistry, biology has to be robust to trauma, of which chemical poisoning of the enzyme chains is one. Useful systems are modified within limits and systems that may not be ‘fittest’ by man’s evaluation doesn’t mean that it isn’t fit enough; and may be conserved for future use [Let no information encoded in biological life go to waste]. Plus, the biological body’s chemicals must be recycled. The essence of biological life was created by He that Is Life, and once He finished with that and the support systems He maintains, He logically needs to do nothing more, particularly after having created an embodied agent to dress and keep the garden, if you will.

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