Saturday, December 11, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing: Chapter 11: Part 5: The Fall of Heraclitus

The philosophy of Heraclitus was neither monist nor monadic, but rather both; what happens is it splits in half. The monists become monists, the monadists become pluralists, the first of which Empedocles, was part scientist, part prophet. Empedocles believed that the four elements, earth, air, water, and fire pervaded all things in different proportions, and their nature could be discerned by determining the proportion. For instance, fire was 100% fire, and 0% everything else. The particular forms were all derived from the elements, and the principle verbal ontological commitment was to growth and mixture. This will form the foundation for Aristotle's philosophy which is itself based upon empiricism and observation. But the quality of the observation is dependent on the insights of the observer.

Empedocles postulated a crude form of Darwinistic evolution that speculated at an also crude form of natural selection. He was working from Anaximander's writing as well as the prevalence of fish fossils available in creeks and rivers.

Part of the lure of monist theory was that it stipulated that being could not arise from non-being, and this makes a certain sort of sense, appealing to an intuition that is at once sensible and rational. The correllary to this was that like beget like. But now you have a problem that mandates a pluralism. Namely, that we eat an olive it turns into bone and blood and muscle.

Anaxagoras' solution to this issue was a notion that dominated the qualitative pluralists: that the olive has bits of bone and blood and muscle.

The issue that concerns us here is the "fall" from Heraclitus into what we are arguing are two half-theories at war with each other. The monist paradigm does not explain, or deems as trivial all the stuff that we can see that is prone to changing. The pluralist paradigm fails to accurately describe the system of transmutation that pervades the natural world. The rise of monism thus predicts its own supplementation by pluralism; and honestly all this had been previously solved and now is resolved inadequately. So what happened?

This is where we theorize a little about the environment that constitutes most academic circles. You get one guy who is truly a genius, and he comes up with a theory that should settle most arguments. But then you get more guys who are less smart who want to feel like genius who mimic the genius in their own reductive way and they take control of the argument. Since they are not as smart as the genius (Heraclitus) their theory is of course his theory except that its only half understood. Suddenly there are more pseudo-geniuses and they come along and realize the inadequacy of the other pseudo-geniuses theory, argue with it, and you end up with two half theories which explain only the inadequacy of the other.

Such is the nature of theory. Not quite an evolution, is it?

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