Friday, November 09, 2007

A Note on Epistemology

"Matter confers individuality, form universality." - Aristotle

Ross' paper on on Meaning and Universals prompted this consideration.

"An individual object AS an individual object is PARTICULAR, not universal", while the blueness of the object IS universal....speaking for instance of my PC monitor. There are many blue things so blue is a quality of many objects, a universal. But, in so far as the monitor participates in the universe as a whole, is, indeed, a foci of the universe...every object is a focus of all reality, prima facie, I think, then perhaps the assumption that the monitor is not a universal like its quality of being blue is just that, an assumption. After all, it is true that, like blueness, there are many instances of "monitorness" as well.

Yes, BUT man made monitors. He didn't make blue. Can't. And, more importantly, blue is not material while monitors are. Monitors have always been POTENTIALLY in existence, but blueness has always been ACTUALLY in existence, at least since the creation of the universe, I
think. Actual objects not yet "invented" or realized, in their potentiality, are part of the end within, the entelechy. Abstractions/universals that will pertain to these coming objects are all with us now and are not the end within. Universals are actual within themselves even if there is nothing to which they might pertain. The quality of being blue, then, is metaphysical, an eternal paradigm waiting always for suitable conditions to pertain for it to come into existence. An object, an individual, i.e., a sentient life form with perception in the appropriate bandwidth, and so on, these are such conditions. This is the Platonic "form" of blue.

Here is the formula from Ross:

"The "form" of the object will be the complex of all its abstract features and properties. If the object looks red or looks round or looks ugly, then those features, as abstractions, belong to the "form." The individuality of the object cannot be due to any of those abstractions, which are universals, and so must be due to something else. To Aristotle that was the "matter" of the object. "Matter" confers individuality, "form" universality."

Based on these considerations, reason is to knowledge as understanding is to wisdom, I think. Reason, a kind of measurement, is ALWAYS anthropomorphic, rooted in our "body". You can measure your way to knowledge but not wisdom. People confuse understanding with measurement. Understanding draws from the "Tacit Dimension", from form and constituent universals, not from matter, individuals. While measurement is always "of" matter, understanding is "of" form. Form takes us beyond the individual because constituent qualities of form pertain beyond any one material aggregate. They are abstractions of the "thing" and as such are the coin of understanding in the same way mathematics, for instance, is the coin of measurement in the service of reason. Therefore, understanding pertains to the field beyond the individual. Its culmination is wisdom. Further, in answer to the question "how do I understand this?" I answer, "because I am this."

There is no proof of wisdom, no logic, no mediation through reason, knowledge, or measurement.

Wisdom like blueness is a universal and might come to pertain to certain individual sentient beings equipped with the proper bandwidth, so to speak.

Wisdom is the entelechy of understanding as much as knowledge is the entelechy of reason or a rose is the end within the rose bud, or the oak within the acorn.