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  1. Standard member Grampy Bobby
    Boston Lad
    26 May '16 15:14 / 1 edit
    Aristotle's Logic (First published Sat Mar 18, 2000; substantive revision Wed Apr 29, 2015)

    "Aristotle’s logic, especially his theory of the syllogism, has had an unparalleled influence on the history of Western thought. It did not always hold this position: in the Hellenistic period, Stoic logic, and in particular the work of Chrysippus, took pride of place. However, in later antiquity, following the work of Aristotelian Commentators, Aristotle’s logic became dominant, and Aristotelian logic was what was transmitted to the Arabic and the Latin medieval traditions, while the works of Chrysippus have not survived.

    This unique historical position has not always contributed to the understanding of Aristotle’s logical works. Kant thought that Aristotle had discovered everything there was to know about logic, and the historian of logic Prantl drew the corollary that any logician after Aristotle who said anything new was confused, stupid, or perverse. During the rise of modern formal logic following Frege and Peirce, adherents of Traditional Logic (seen as the descendant of Aristotelian Logic) and the new mathematical logic tended to see one another as rivals, with incompatible notions of logic. More recent scholarship has often applied the very techniques of mathematical logic to Aristotle’s theories, revealing (in the opinion of many) a number of similarities of approach and interest between Aristotle and modern logicians.

    This article is written from the latter perspective. As such, it is about Aristotle’s logic, which is not always the same thing as what has been called “Aristotelian” logic...."

    Footnote: "Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, whereafter Proxenus of Atarneus became his guardian. Wikipedia Born: 384 BC, Stagira, Aristotelis, Greece. Died: 322 BC, Chalcis, Greece. Influenced: René Descartes, Al-Kindi, John Major, Albert of Saxony, More Influenced by: Plato, Socrates, Democritus, Hippocrates, Epicurus, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Parmenides, Anaximander, Zeno of Elea. Quotes: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." "Happiness depends upon ourselves."
  2. Standard member finnegan
    27 May '16 20:13 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    [b]Aristotle's Logic (First published Sat Mar 18, 2000; substantive revision Wed Apr 29, 2015)

    "Aristotle’s logic, especially his theory of the syllogism, has had an unparalleled influence on the history of Western thought. It did not always hold this position: in the Hellenistic period, Stoic logic, and in particular the work of Chrysippus, took ...[text shortened]... ind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." "Happiness depends upon ourselves."[/b]
    Aristotelian logic was what was transmitted to the Arabic and the Latin medieval traditions

    Firstly, everyone agrees that Aristotelian logic and much of Hellenistic philosophy was lost to Europe as a direct consequence of the Church suppressing it - closing the academies, preventing teaching, attacking practitioners as "pagans", burning or banning books and doctoring written records.

    Secondly, it is agreed that it was rediscovered in two ways: by indirect transmission through Arab philosophers in Muslim Spain and when Byzantine scholars took manuscripts from Constantinople to the West when it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The latter event, of course, is very much later (by several centuries) than the first. So it is again agreed generally that Western Christians (notably Thomas Aquinas) learned about Greek philosophy from the Muslims.

    What is false, however, is the claim that Greek philosophy passed through the Muslim world without alteration or improvement. This fiction was promoted because it would have been considered shameful (and unacceptable) to admit that Christian philosophy, when it was finally and reluctantly tolerated in the work of Aquinas, was in fact largely the product of the Muslim world of Central Asia - notably Baghdad. It was a convenient fiction to pretend a continuity from the Greeks to the Roman Church and disavow other influences. It is refuted thoroughly in a history by (an American) Randall Collins, from which I may take some material and give page numbers.

    That does not mean that all this was the work exclusively of Muslims. Other religons were tolerated throughout Islam, in stark contrast to Christian Europe. During the 800s, at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, many Greek works were translated into Arabic by Nestorian Christians (heretics who had left the Byzantine Empire for Persia in 430 CE), Sabians (star worshippers) and Zoroastrians (more influential than many people seem to appreciate). They were most interested in science, medicine and mathematics, which were considered religiously neutral. "In the Greek medicine of antiquity, the doctor was not merely a dispenser of cures but a public figure; arguing and lecturing was a major part of legitimating medicine at a time when its practice was not very effective. This style carried over into the Islamic context." (p408) The doctor who would eventually construct the most comprehensive treatment of logic would be a Muslim Doctor named Ibn Sina - whom we know in the West by the name Avicenna.

    In the 900s, Muslim philosophers (the Mu'tazaite - Ash'arite network) "took indigenous Muslim philosophy towards issues comparable at many points to positions later argued by the famous philosophers of mediaeval Christendom and early modern Europe. " [p412] Maybe I will come back and list some examples - there are many. The point, however, is that they did so on their own terms and without reliance on the Greeks. What emerged was a huge advance on anything achieved by the Greeks and it was this, more advanced Muslim philosophy that was transmitted to Western Europe.

    The links between the Greeks and later European philosophy are in many respects fabricated in order to deny the debt we owe to the Muslim World. Indeed, this is made more apparent when we are able to appreciate the many ways in which Greek thought was entirely at odds with what we are led to expect. Again, examples could follow if there was interest.
  3. Standard member finnegan
    27 May '16 22:23 / 1 edit
    in later antiquity, following the work of Aristotelian Commentators, Aristotle’s logic became dominant, ..

    Ideas have often had more prestige when they appear to be ancient or can be attributed to a highly respected source - notably Aristotle. For this reason, when innovators want to develop the work of an ancient source, they often do so in the form of commentaries, conveying the impression that, rather than innovating, they are innocently commenting on the earlier work. This can have the added benefit of protecting against charges of heresy by attributing risky ideas to someone ancient and preferably too well respected to attack. Aquinas was on his way to be tried for heresy when he fortuitously died and was made a saint instead. There were similar risks in the Muslim world, especially in periods when dogmatic theocrats were in control. Religion and philosophy have always been poor bedfellows.

    This can be very confusing and it works just as intended. It really does appear that we are reading about an ancient wisdom, when we are actually reading something entirely new and sometimes even at odds with the original. Commentaries are typically original thoughts, dealing in modern themes, which employ the older source as a frame or a foundation to build on. This is a techique favoured in many contexts and not least in religion, when it is deployed to establish the ancient and scriptural basis for some utterly modern preoccupation. I can give examples if asked.
  4. Standard member Grampy Bobby
    Boston Lad
    28 May '16 02:01
    Originally posted by finnegan
    in later antiquity, following the work of Aristotelian Commentators, Aristotle’s logic became dominant, ..

    Ideas have often had more prestige when they appear to be ancient or can be attributed to a highly respected source - notably Aristotle. For this reason, when innovators want to develop the work of an ancient source, they often do so in ...[text shortened]... he ancient and scriptural basis for some utterly modern preoccupation. I can give examples if asked.
    Originally posted by finnegan
    "I can give examples if asked."

    Please do so.
  5. Standard member finnegan
    28 May '16 22:00
    The Sociology of Philosophies
    Randall Collins

    The philosophical schools of India developed against one another and the background for their struggles was set by the sociopolitical dynamics behind the rise and fall of religions.
    An India driven by conflicts goes counter to the image prevalent not only among Westerners but among Indian thinkers themselves. We have been taught to think of India as essentially static, even “timeless” under a perennial otherworldly mysticism. The image had to be created. It came about through a series of events: the destruction of mediaeval Buddhism, which had anchored the first great round of debates; the tactic of archaizing one’s own tradition to elevate its prestige over that of factional rivals; and the predominance, in the centuries since 1500, of popular devotional cults of an anti-intellectual bent at just the time when Hindu scholars were in a syncretizing and scholasticizing mode in defence against alien conquerors. The result has been that the acute and extremely varied intellectual developments of the Indian Middle Ages were obscured, along with the dynamics which produced them. Among western scholars, Indian philosophy is one of the great undiscovered histories of ideas, as technically sophisticated as European philosophies through quite recent centuries. The cultural history of India is the history of struggle on multiple levels, which eventually brought about almost total denial of its pathways.

    The great Hindu epics which crystallized the identity of Hinduism as a popular culture began the reinterpretation of previous Indian traditions. These texts, which arrived at canonical status around 400 or 500 C.E. , are exercises in anachronism (Van Buitenen, 1973: xxi – xxxix). The name Mahabbarata extols the territory of the “great Bharata” (i.e. the Punjab, the ancestral Vedic homeland in the northwest), while its action is set in the period of the original Aryan migration into the lower Ganges. The Ramayana contains a mythical version of the colonization of Sri Lanka, which had been carried out by settlers around 500 – 200 B.C.E. Both epics are a kind of anti-Buddhist propaganda, depicting Hindu conquest of territories – Bihar and Sri Lanka – which at the time of writing were the main Buddhist strongholds. The period in which the bulk of these epics was written, ca 200 B.C.E. - 200 C.E., coincides with the outpouring of Mahayana sutras, as well as with a Buddhist epic by the poet Ashvaghosta, written as if in rivalry with the new fame of the Hindu poems (ca. 80 C.E; Nakamura 1980 : 133-35). Hindu and Buddhist texts now began to make extravagant claims for the antiquity of their cultures, the Buddhists by inventing cosmic incarnations of the Buddha who lived in prior aeons; this feature was imitated by the Jainas, who list a series of 24 Tirthankaras (exalted founders) piro to Mahivara, some going back millions of years. Now sets in the contest of “more ancient than thou”, which displaced the prestige of doctrinal innovations found among the Upanishad sages and in early Buddhism, and which henceforward distorted Indians’ conception of their own history. [p212]
  6. Standard member finnegan
    28 May '16 23:11 / 2 edits
    This process of "archaizing one's own tradition" is nicely illustrated by Dasa, for all his undoubted failings. I have plundered his forum posts for March and April this year for some useful material.

    Very ancient civilisation(s) in India - notably the Indus valley - left a legacy of written materials known collectively as "vedas." Dasa liked to point out that there were "billions" of these, and they dealt with every topic imaginable: As he wrote
    "I have told you many times. The Vedas will teach you how to mend your boot straps if that's what you are looking for." and "In the Vedas there are many things I have no interest in, for example needle-point and ball-games." 

    Despite the mass of vedas in existence, for Hindus generally what was of most interest was their detailed guidance for religious rituels and practices.
    "Indians do not follow the Vedas. Who told you Indian's follow the Vedas, I don't even follow the Vedas., but I do follow the spiritual instructions found in the Vedas because those instructions are the most high. Notice of course that the credibility of these religious vedas is enhanced by their great antiquity.

    The fact is then that such a diverse and random collection of archaic writings could be of great historical interest but in order to find a practical use for them it was necessary to translate them, organise them around categories of subject matter, and attempt an interpretation. This was the project undertaken in the Upanishads. Wiki says: "The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought and its diverse traditions. Of the Vedic corpus, they alone are widely known, and the central ideas of the Upanishads are at the spiritual core of Hindus." But it is crucial to realise that the first of these were written more recently than the vedas, on which they were commentaries, albeit some date quite far back into the first millenium before the Common Era. The Bhagavad Gita for examaple dates to between the fifth and the second century BCE. Yet Hindus claim much greater antiquity for them, based on the accurate (but irrelevant) claim that the vedas on which they comment are as much as two or even three millenia older.

    The commentary industry clearly (and of necessity) is based on texts selected out from a mass of material, translated in a particular way and interpreted to support a particular point of view. There are naturally vast differences to be considered and that is illustrated in Dasa's obsession with knowing who the translator is for any text quoted, and for its correct interpretation by someone with the approved (by him) qualifications.

    "You have to find the pure Vaishnava translation and not the translation from a pseudo wine dinking and fornicating and meat eating and animal killing nut job professor of Hindu studies who speculates and doesn't particularly knows Sanskrit that well." You have to love Dasa's turn of phrase. Another example: "the verse you submitted to the forum is not part of my Veda nor any Veda I would put in my favourite's list.  Actually It is a verse from an unknown source........meaning its translation is of an unknown source.  For Dasa, the use of an unapproved translation invalidates any quote offered.

    Religion was frequently "anti intellectual" and based on religous, magical and superstitious practices in the general population. Organised religion sought to systematize all of this. Hinduism, although built up with ancient source materials, was a far more recent development which was built up in opposition to Buddhism and other, lesser rivals. It was able to accommodate a wide range of different and competing traditions until confronted in the 1500s with fresh competition from "alien conquerors," notably the Muslim Moghul Empire. This drove some leading thinkers to gather together many threads and synthesize a coherent form of Hinduism that would be recognised today; not that it has ever needed let alone achieved the kind of uniformity that is characteristic of the Western faith systems. Not surprisingly, a major theme in Hindu tradition is an implacable hostility to Islam, since modern Hinduism evolved in confrontation with that rival faith system. That also gives added significance to the archaizing process, since it can be used to bundle together popular Hindu religion with an exclusive form of Hindu nationalism by making spurious appeals to an ancient and largely mythical past.

    It is a pity Dasa is not available to rage at my discussion here but the quotes from his posts are both accurate and informative and not intended to offend on a personal level.
  7. Standard member finnegan
    06 Jun '16 20:38
    To continue our discussion together of the role played by "archaism," I was struck today by reading the following references to just the same concept. I will not get too distracted by the arguments in the book, but just cite forms of archaism discussed in Democracy Inc. by Sheldon S. Wolin, where Chapter 7 is titled The Dynamics of the Archaic. This chapter discusses the way corporate America, seemingly so forward looking, science based and dynamic, is so closely allied with Evangelical Christianity. One feature they share in common is the use of archaism to legitimate their respective ideologies.

    "The archaist, whether political or religious, has a fondness for singling out privileged moments in the past when a transcendent truth was revealed, typically through an inspired leader, a Jesus, a Moses or a Founding Father. The odd-couple of Superpower is an alliance that finds reactionary, backward looking archaic forces (economic, religious and political) allied with forward looking forces of radical change (corporate leaders, technological innovators, scientists) whose efforts contribute to steadily distancing contemporary society from its past. … The American zest for change coexists with fervent political and religious convictions that bind the identity of believers to two “fundamentals”, the texts of the constitution and the Bible and their status as unchanging and universal truths…

    "...An archaic belief is one that flourished in the past and carries identifiable marks of that past, but unlike a relic, it is operative, employed rather than simply preserved…

    "...The archaist is convinced that his core beliefs are superior to rival beliefs and are true because unchanging. The archaist is also a proselytizer who promises that if unbelievers will adopt the true faith, they too can be ‘born again’, transformed. Archaic truths are powerful then because they are transforming truths. They save the true believer not only from error but from the consequences of errors that can corrupt existence and ultimately decide the fate of one’s soul.

    "...Another version of archaism is political and equally fundamentalist. In the narrative of the political archaist the United States was blessed with a once-for-all-time, fixed ideal form, an original Constitution of government created by the Founding Fathers in 1787. In that view, the original constitution is the political counterpart fo the Bible, the fundamental text, unchanging, to be applied – not “interpreted” by “activist judges”. As the political fundamentalists see it, except for the Edenic era of Ronald Reagan, the form of government decreed by the Constitution has been under siege by the “liberal media” and liberal administrations abetted by their minions in Congress and judges who “legislate” instead of “following the letter” of constitutional scripture. The nation is perceived as a wayward sinner who frequently wanders from the straight and narrow and needs to be sobered, returned to its sacred text, its Word. The vision of an idealized original constitution rarely, if ever, includes the kind of participatory democracy that Tocqueville celebrated. . Instead, archaism tends to support republicanism rather than democracy, that is, a system in which the responsibility for saving the Many devolves upon a selfless elite, an elect although not necessarily elected…

    "..Surprisingly, archaism surfaces where we might least expect to see it, in the economic theory of the free market. The proponents of that theory have been prominent in Republican administrations ever since the Reagan presidency. They have contributed to the general distrust of governmental “intervention” in the economy and hostility to governmental social programmes. The intellectual genealogy can be traced directly to a particular text, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which appeared in 1776 at the outbreak of the American Revolution – a sign not to be lightly dismissed as a mere coincidence. It was written to oppose “mercantilist theories” that assigned to the state an active role in regulating and promoting economic activity. "