I. Background, Islamic Philosophy : Avicenna and Algazali and Averroes
LATER MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
A. Our period...the rediscovery of Aristotle by the Muslims, Avicenna in the 9th century, great Islamic and Jewish philosophers of 9th-12th centuries, Aristotle's arrival in Paris at the end of the 12th century, Thomas Aquinas, 14th century philosophers, foundations of the Reformation.
B. Why do the history of philosophy?
1. See where we came from:
Ironic...enormous impact of Islamic philosophy on European thinking
2. Liberating, critical
3. These guys may just be right:
Philosophy of religion (a lot about God!)
The nature of causation
A. Background, 101,301, 302? If not read Weinberg. (Material is not easy. Not a good class to take just because it fit your schedule.)
B. Combination lecture and discussion. Do the reading. Bring your books. To encourage reading, quizzes on assigned reading for every day reading is assigned. 1/6 of grade
1. Four tests. 5 out of 6 essays. Obvious questions. Notes and study guides on line. (Each test will cover what we've done since the last test.) Each test is worth 1/6 of grade.
2. Four 2-3 page papers. The average of the grade on the papers will be worth 1/6 of your grade. Topics and guidelines will be announced several days before papers are due. You will have the option to revise your paper upon receiving comments.
3.Quizzes. Average of all will constitute 1/6 of grade.
4. I can also count participation and improvement, so "1/6" above, means "roughly 1/6".
THE SPIRIT OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY: FAITH AND REASON
I. Reason can prove many important truths of faith. In here we're pretty much doing only philosophy.
II. Standard Christian view inherited from St. Augustine -- Completely reasonable to believe some things on faith...i.e. things you cannot prove philosophically and that you have not witnessed yourself.
III. But lots of debate on how to sort out deliverance of faith and reason.
A Perfect Being. Unlimited. That than which a greater cannot
a. Proper object of worship
b. If we can comprehend Him then he can't be all that great.
c. As source of all He must transcend limiting categories of created being.
Absolute source of all -- What there is is God and what He causes to exist. (If there were something outside of and existing independently of God, then He's be limited.)
One -- Two unlimited beings are impossible. Call the A and B. Either they have power over one another or they don't. If they do, then each is limited because another being has power over it. If they don't each is limited because there is a being over which it doesn't have power.
Unified/Simple -- To be "cut-up-able", even conceptually (in intellectu), is to be destructible.
a. Can't get better -- He's already perfect.
b. Can't get worse -- A thing that can get worse is, by definition, corruptible, hence imperfect.
c. No room for lateral change? (Some disagreement here. Maybe we could say His nature remains unchanged, although He engages in different thoughts and actions.)
1. As perfect He already is all He can be.
2. A simple being can't gain or lose anything.
But how can an AGENT be immutable?
Three positions: 1.Deny immutability 2. Deny agency 3. Reconcile immutability and agency
God and Time
Two views of time: Three understandings of Eternity
A. Presentism: Only the present has ontological
status. Two positions on God and (present) time.
1. God is everlasting and changes.
2. God is everlasting and absolutely immutable. (Outside of time in the sense that he does not suffer any change.)
B. Isotemporalism (Four dimensionalism,
eternalism): All of time, past,
present and future, exists equally. "Now" only seems privileged to
us because of our perspective.
God is outside of time in
the sense that it's all just "now" for him.
God and Space: No debate. He's not spatial. He's omnipresent/ubiquitous (in some sense)
A. "Can't" do the logically impossible. Not that he's limited by laws outside himself.
1. Not that He invented or created the laws of logic.
2.Laws of logic are a reflection
of his nature.
Have to say this if you're going to say anything
B.. "Can't" do anything inconsistent with being a
perfect being...stub his toe, forget his phone number, behave wickedly...
A. Past, present, and future?
B. But does he know EVERYTHING or does he just know everything worth knowing?
Perfectly good -- Not that He conforms to the moral laws . But does He create/invent them?
Ex nihilo - nothing exists independently of God. If it did He'd be limited
Immediately or through intermediaries?
Traditional scriptural attributes:
Plato, Aristotle, Fluffy, and universals (crash course in platonic and aristotelian epistemology and metaphysics)
Why are we going back to the 4th c. B.C.? Medieval Philosophy is a synthesis of Greek Philosophy and revealed religion.
1. We know things that we could not have learned through our senses, 2+2=4
a. Fluffy is a cat. ( Our main concern in here will be natural kinds.) Fluffy is like other cats in being a cat, but to the senses each cat is very different. What we are grasping is the catness of Fluffy, Catness, as a unified ‘things' really exists...in the World of the Forms.
b. Forms: Ideal nature exists as blueprint, original of the mirror image, copies ‘share in' the original, ‘participation'.
c. Two views of God. Source of things: (Republic)
Form of all Forms, the Good.
(Timeaus) Demiurge (Architect) looks to World of Forms and impresses forms on the "receptacle", a mishmash of the four elements.
2. Recollection -- In order to know "catness" you had to have immediate cognitive access to catness in the World of the Forms. And you did! As a disembodied soul before you were ever born. (Preexistence of soul and reincarnation.)
3. Platonic dualism. You are an immaterial soul in a material body. And the real you is the soul, imprisoned in this nasty matter.
4. Christian platonism (St. Augustine) : The forms are in the mind of God. Sometimes called 'divine ideas' or ‘divine exemplars'.
a. some truths...necessary and eternal truths like mathematics, come through divine illumination. Some, like grasping the catness of the cat, from the cats themselves.
b. doesn't buy into platonic idea that body is prison. Dualism,
but not platonic.
1. Agrees with Plato that we do know more than what raw sense data could give us. We need to know the Form. Form is a key concept.
2. Disagrees with Plato on the nature of the forms. There is no World of Forms. Forms exist only in the in individual things. Substances are composed of matter and form. "Hylomorphism". Form gives nature. Matter is what individuates.
3. Abstraction -- Empiricist in that knowledge starts with sense data. Upon receiving the sense data from the material object the mind is able to grasp the form.
4. Human being, unity of form and matter. Matter is body, form is soul. Separable? You'd think not, but....
Aristotle's four causes
A. The list
1.Matter -- what x is made of
2. Form -- the nature of x
3. Agent (efficient) -- what had to take action to bring x into being
4. Final -- the goal or purpose of x (to actualize its nature)
B. Note importance of form.
C. Whole universe is pemeated with teleology, purposiveness.
------But why does anything move or change at all?-------
(Let's do universals first, while we've got Plato and Aristotle on forms fresh in our minds.)
I. Universals: The Problem: When confronted with an object, the first and most important question is, what is it? We answer by using a universal term. "Fluffy is a cat."
A. We, including and especially when we're doing science, use terms which refer to a number of different individuals by the same name. So that generates a series of questions.
B. Does that name really name some thing real in the world? (If not, could it be that we human beings are imposing our own categories on the world? Science is inventing rather than discovering the world?)
C. If it names something real, is it some unified thing existing in the various individuals as one thing? (If not, how are the individuals the same so that a single term is appropriately used of them all?)
D. If it names some real thing, where does that real thing exist?
E. And, since we are confronted only by individuals, how do we come to grasp the universal?
V. Universals: Different positions (The briefest sketch to be filled in and modified as we go on.)
A. Extreme Realism -- The universal refers to something real (i.e. it exists outside of the human mind) which exists as a unity...somewhere. Plato with Forms; Augustine with Divine Ideas, others...
B. Moderate Realism -- The universal refers to something real which does not exist as a unity. Aristotle.
C. Conceptualism -- The universal refers to a unified concept which exists only in the mind of the human knower.
-- The universal is a name which does not refer to any unified thing at all.
THE UNIVERSE ACCORDING TO ARISTOTLE
a. Lovely round earth at the center. (That sure is how it looks!)
b. Sublunary (beneath the sphere of the moon) world is the least perfect part of the universe. Death and corruption happen down here.
c. Concentric heavenly spheres are the bodies of "divine" intellects.
d. It has always existed, so we do not need to ask for a cause of its existence. (All of our medieval guys...with the possible exception of Ockham...disagree with this entailment.)
II. But what causes the motion?
A. The proof (or attempted proof or argument) for Aristotle's God.
(What is a proof? A proof is an argument with premises (claims or statements) which, when you fit them together the right way give you a conclusion. "Valid" means that you've fit the premises together the right way, so that IF the premises are true, THEN then the conclusion is true. "Sound" means the argument is valid and the premises are in fact true, so the conclusion is true.)
1-4 below are the premises and 5 is the conclusion:
1. Things are in motion...changing...going from potential to actual. (Look and see!)
2. Nothing can cause its own motion. (Nothing in a state of potential can just up and change. It's a conceptual impossibility. Principle of sufficient reason. Every event has a cause.)
3. Something moved (going from potential to actual) must be moved by something already actual. (Except for the first mover, this will mean something which is already in motion.) (Something perfectly inert cannot be a cause.)
4. There cannot be an infinite series of moved movers. (The mirror analogy.)
5. Therefore there must be a first (not in time), unmoved mover.
The Unmoved Mover
B. The Unmoved Mover
1. Pure actuality...perfectly engaged in best activity
2. Pure thought...
3. ...thinking itself.
4. Final cause (remember everything has a final cause in itself, ultimate final cause is Unmoved Mover...Perfect standard of value.)
5. Immutable and everlasting
C. Immutable cause must produce an immutable effect...our universe...
1. ...has always existed, there is no coming into being and passing out of being, and...
2. ...has always been going on pretty much as it's going on now.
3. Another way to prove this is from looking at efficient causes in nature. Where did the tree come from? So how many ancestors did the tree have?
D.Similarities and differences to God of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
1. Perfect, Immutable, Source of all (in a way)
2. But not, omnipotent, omniscient, providential, creator, acting
in the world.
I. The One (or the Good) (Sounds a bit like the Good from Plato's Republic)
A. Absolute source of all, beyond any sort of limitation, no multiplicity, no ‘nature'
B. What can we say about it? Nothing really. ‘One', ‘Good', just the least inadequate terms. Better to say what it's not. Not-Mind, Not-Power, Not-Being.
C. How can our world of multiplicity come from such perfect unity? Emanation.
A. Emanates from the One. One must emanate the next most perfect being.
B. Looks back to the One (emanation and return).
C. Thought thinking the One and thinking itself (most minimal
and World of Forms in single, unified thought. (In that it is thought
thinking itself it sounds like Aristotle's Unmoved Mover. In that it is
a unified World of Forms it sounds like Plato's Good, again.)
III. World Soul
A. Emanates from Nous
B. Looks back to the Nous, unified World of Forms
C. Thinks Forms as discreet and imposes them on matter to make our corporeal world. (Contains Plato's World of Forms, and, like the Architect from the Timaeus, it acts to inform matter to produce our world.)
IV. Corporeal World
A. World Soul pours forms down into matter
B. Matter ambivalent...evil or the least good.
V. Human being
A. Soul ‘trapped' in body, but always in contact with (living in) the World Soul
B. Epistemology? Plato was right that we need immediate contact with the World of the Forms, but we do not recollect, since we are in contact right now.
C. Goal is to turn inward, true self is soul, rise through knowledge
to Nous, and beyond to mystical union with the One.
MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY: Avicenna, Algazali, and Averroes.
Background: Why is it important?
I. The big news in philosophy at the beginning of the 13th century in
Europe is the arrival of Aristotle. How did this happen?
II. Through Islam.
A. Mohammed is born in Arabia, 570 - 632 . Says that God has told him to conquer the earth for Islam. Holy War. (Biography: Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq) Within a century the Islamic empire stretches from near east across North Africa, up into Sicily and Italy, and across to Spain.
B. Greek texts had been preserved and studied in Christian monasteries in the near east. When Muslims discover them they're terribly impressed. Set about translating into arabic in the 9th century.
C. The great Islamic philosophers of 10th, 11th and 12th centuries use Aristotle in expounding their ideas and they comment upon him. So do Jewish philosophers.
D. In the 12th century scholars in Italy and Spain begin to translate
A. from Arabic into Latin, along with commentaries.
III. By 13th century A. gets to Paris.
A. Earlier Islamic and Jewish thinkers will have enormous impact on European philosophy. Avicenna's work catalyst for enormous amount of work, but impact of others very important as well. ("Western" tradition does not equal "European" since European thought has been so heavily influenced by near eastern and North African thought.)
B. Questions and problems for 13th century Europeans will be shaped by interests of Islamic and Jewish predecessors, eg. relationship of reason to revelation, philosophy to faith, Aristotle to the Scripture..
C. A rather confused version of Aristotle in that some books of Plotinus had been mistakenly attributed to him, The Theology of Aristotle. So get synthesis of Aristotle and Neoplatonism. It will take a while to sort things out. Aquinas is one of those who sets the record straight.
Background: Born in modern day southern Russia. Lives in the near
east. Becomes a physician by the age of 16. Involved in various
court intrigues. At one point he is imprisoned and has to escape.
Writes volumes on all sorts of topics...lots of science. We only
have time to skim over a few topics: Being, Cosmology, Proof for God, Epistemology.
A. The flying man: You're "born" full-grown with all your intellectual abilites in a sensory deprivation tank. What would you know? (W p.112)
1. That you exist.
2. Therefore Being is the primary, most basic concept. It's the foundation. Can't define or describe Being.
3. You'd also know something else about yourself. You're essentially a thinking thing... "essentially" in the strong sense, i.e. to be a thinking thing is what your essence consists in. (Note foreshadowing of Descartes.)
B. Divisions of Being
1. Existence v. essence. Essence is the nature, the what something is. Existence is its actually being. For almost everything (1 exception) essence and existence are separate. Existence is something which is "added to" essence.
2. Necessary v. possible being.
a. An intrinsically possible being-- (Possible, considered in itself. A possible being which exists can also be called a "contingent" being.)
1. thinkable (inconceivable = impossible)
2. might or might not exist (its nonexistence is conceivable)
3. essence and existence separate (it needs something to give it existence)
4. if it exists it does so because it is caused (sufficient reason)
b. An intrinsically necessary being. (Necessary per se, through itself)
2. must exist (its nonexistence is inconceivable)
3. its essence = its existence. Its very nature is to be.
4. it must be uncaused.....and this all men call God. (But why suppose such a being exists. Just wait!)
II. Cosmology -- What the cosmos (our ordered system) is like. (synthesis of Aristotle and Neoplatonism, W p.116-117)
GOD (Thinker, thinking itself. Thought and thinking are One.
Overflowing with Being.)
FIRST INTELLIGENCE (Thinks three
things: a. God (Neoplatonic return), b. Itself
as necessary because it is eternally caused by a necessary being.
c. Itself as possible because it depends on something else. Intrinsically or per se it is a possible being.)
SECOND INTELLIGENCE (by thinking a.)
Form (soul)of the outermost celestial sphere (by thinking b.)
Body of outermost celestial sphere (by thinking c.)
Second Intelligence thinks three things: a. First Intelligence,
b. Itself as necessary, and c. Itself as possible.
THIRD INTELLIGENCE (by thinking a.)
Form (soul) of the sphere of the fixed stars (by thinking b.)
Body of the sphere of the fixed stars (by thinking c.)
emanates (five planets, sun,...)
TENTH INTELLIGENCE (and soul and sphere of moon): a.k.a. Agent
Intellect. (Too weak to produce another intelligence, produces
instead the world around us. Emanates forms into the
four elements to produce corporeal objects and universal form
into the human intellect to produce understanding.)
Note: This whole process is necessary and everlasting. It must be because an immutable cause produces an immutable effect. God is not an actor in the world at all.
contradicts apparent meaning of Scripture, and 2. immutable cause produces immutable effect says that things have
always been going on pretty much the way they are now. Gives the
whole thing an ahistorical cast. This is a problem for religions
of the book.
III. Proving a necessary being (W p.115)
A. The Proof
(Note that "necessary" means "necessary per se" and "possible" means "possible per se".)
1. Something exists (deny it if you dare!)
2. Either it's a necessary being or a possible being.
3. If it's necessary, QED (quod erat demonstrandum...which was to be demonstrated)
4. If it's a possible being, it's existence must be caused by some other being. (definition of "possible being")
5. This being must be either necessary or possible.
6. There cannot be an infinite causal series of possible beings.
7. Therefore, there must be a necessary being.
B. To justify #6 need to understand the kind of causation Avicenna is talking about.
1. He is not talking about a temporal succession of causes where A precedes B temporally...e.g. parent to child/parent to child...
a. You could have an infinite series of this sort of causes. In fact you do! Aristotle has shown that if the cause exists eternally (i.e. everlastingly) then what's caused must be equally eternal. There is no beginning to the world.
b. Moreover, with a temporal series, the cause can cease to exist while the effect continues, so you couldn't argue from the existence of the effect to the present existence of the cause.
c. The temporally preceding cause, like the parent, does not really explain the existence of the thing. Parents put together already existent things.
2. He is talking about a hierarchical series where the cause must exist now for the effect to exist now.
a. A present cause for the present form of the thing.
b. As merely possible the form must be caused. It would just blink out if something weren't keeping it in being. Where do forms come from? The Tenth Intelligence located in the sphere of the moon.
3. Why can't there be an infinite series? The mirror analogy again.
A possible being can pass being along (as the various intelligences do)
but there must be something that can generate being.
C. Alternate proof (H 246)
1. Take the whole set of possible beings.
2. It requires a cause. (The adding together of possible beings could not give you a necessary being.)
3. Either the cause is a possible being or a necessary being.
4. But the cause cannot be a possible being, since it is a member of the set, and nothing possible can cause itself.
5. Q.E.D. There is a necessary being.
IV. The Soul
[Note to Spring 2013 class...we are just quickly reviewing conclusions, not going through the arguments. Time doesn't permit, alas!]
A. The substratum (explain) of rational concepts is immaterial (H p.256-258)
1. If it were material it would have to be either indivisible or divisible.
2. A material thing can't be indivisible. (This is just what it means for something to be material...it's extended, some here, some there. All that business about the point is to show that it's really not a material thing.)
3. A divisible thing can't be the substratum of a rational concept. (The concept certainly cannot be divided the way a corporeal thing can. Some concepts are perfectly unified, e.g. the number 1.)
Therefore the soul must be immaterial.
B. How does the soul come into being? (H p.258) (With Aristotle) The soul is the form of the human being. Like all other forms it becomes multiple through matter. The individual soul comes into being when there is a body ready for it.
1. If human souls existed before their bodies they'd either be one or many.
2. Can't be many (form, "quiddity", absolutely identical so can't be many)
3. Can't be one because then either a.) one soul turns into two (impossible since it's indivisible) or b.) a soul which is numerically one is in two bodies. (He doesn't give an argument, but seems pretty easy. If we all had same soul, wouldn't we all think the same thing?)
Therefore souls do not preexist
C. Soul is incorruptible. (H p.259-261)
1. For a thing to be corruptible means it must possess two attributes; the actuality of persistence, and the potentiality of corruption.
2. But something which is absolutely simple and unified like the soul can't have these two simultaneously.
3. We know it's got the actuality of persistence.
4. Therefore it can't have the potentiality of corruption. It
D. A problem: It is body which individuates soul. How then can the individual soul survive the death of the body?
Response: Once it's
come into being it has unique experiences which distinguish it from other
members of the same species, other souls.
(Avicenna's idea of who goes to heaven -- Those who have "joined" themselves most fully to the 10th intelligence by amassing knowledge.)
V. Knowledge (Abstraction)
A. To know is to know the forms of things. But knowledge begins with the senses, and all that the senses have access to is individual things.
B. In things the form exists, but as individuated through matter. In the particulars the form is not universal and because matter is unintelligible, the form in matter cannot be grasped intellectually.
----Here's what happens----
C. Through our senses we receive the images of individual things.
D. Possessing these images prepares the soul to receive knowledge of the form.
E. Which knowledge must come from the same place the form came from...the Tenth Intelligence, the sphere of the moon!
F. Individual soul is the passive intellect in that it does the receiving
...of sense images and of universal forms. The Tenth Intelligence
is the active or agent intellect in that it has to act on my mind for me
to understand. (Active and passive intellect is Aristotelian language. Lots of debate on how it works for Aristotle.)
VI. Universals (standard to call him a moderate realist in that Fluffy's catness is in Fluffy, individuated by Fluffy's matter.)
A. Form exists as universal in the Tenth Intelligence
B. Form exists as individual in the individual object.
C. Form exists as universal in the mind.
D. So is it one or many? Yes. "Horseness is just horseness."
It is possible to consider the essence in abstraction from the different ways in which it is instantiated.
I. Islamic fideist (You have to take things on faith.
Philosophy can't prove much of anything.) and proto-Hume (British
---Another chapter in ongoing internal debate among religious people. We don't need philosophy. Philosophy is corrupting. Opens up a new anti-Aristotelian thread which will impact protestant reformers and continues to present day.---
II. Faith vs. Philosophy (The Incoherence of the Philosophers)
A. Philosophical critique of philosophy (i.e. Avicenna and Aristotle) (periodic phenomenon...good to keep us honest...of course we're still doing philosophy, so you can see it didn't take...except maybe in Islam?)
B. Special problem: Everything happens by necessity in Avicenna's world. God necessarily does what he does, etc.
C. Necessary causal connections between things in the world. (Typical scientific assumption.)
D. No miracles!
III. Second (less radical) solution (H p.281). Things have given natures. There are natural and necessary processes -- secondary causes -- which God sustains in being from moment to moment as the primary cause , but God can...
1. add something to the situation...like talc...281
2. speed up a process...281
3. draw out some effect of which we happened to be ignorant.
IV. Radical solution! There are no necessary causal connections!
A. No logical connection. (H p.278) We can think of the "cause" and the "effect" as occurring without one another, so there is no conceptual necessity in associating the two.
B. No observational proof! (H p.278)
What we observe, and all we observe, is A happening and then B happening. We do not observe B happening because of A.
V. Everything is caused immediately by the will of God.
A. God is not limited or determined by anything but the laws of logic. (Even God "cannot" do the logically impossible. H p.283)
B. Atomist-- world is made of atoms, and occasionalist -- on the "occasion" of God's causing A, God subsequently causes B..
VI. Why do we believe in necessary causes? Habit (H p.280).
-----The philosopher tries to respond-----
VII. Impossible conclusions...conclusions we just can't live with! (H
VIII. Algazali responds: Such things are possible, but...
A. God can and does create within us knowledge that they won't happen.
B. And He can create within the prophet knowledge that the "miraculous" will occur.
C. So, barring a divine revelation of the miraculous, I can trust my
IX. Problems remain.
A. Averroes (Incoherence of the Incoherence): Algazali did not dispute the fact that things exist...horses, books, lemons etc. What he denies is that they are involved in necessary causal relationships. But to be is to be something, i.e. to be some kind of thing. And all or most of what it is to be a certain kind of thing is to engage in certain sorts of behaviour, act and be acted upon. E.g. to be a lemon is (among many other things) to taste sour, roll, and come from a lemon tree. These all describe causal relationships. No causal relationships, no lemon. A scepticism so radical that it renders all thought incoherent.
B. Rogers: It is logically possible that God might deceive me ...on
Algazali's understanding I know He has since I have been deceived and God
is the causal source of all...so even if God implants an indubitable conviction
in my mind, it may be false. Anything might happen, and we have no
trustworthy knowledge at all.
AVERROES (1126-1198) Spain
I. Thinks Aristotle is just the best...almost divine. Writes a
series of commentaries on the work of Aristotle which accompany him to
Paris. He's known to the Latin west as "the Commentator."
He's so keen on Aristotle that he gets into hot water with religious authorities. Aristotle at odds with apparent meaning of Koran. A group of his Christian followers, the Latin Averroists, get in trouble as well. So much so that there is debate in the thirteenth century over whether or not we should even allow Aristotle to be taught. (Ironic given Aquinas). To my knowledge he is the last great "Muslim" philosopher, and a piece in the puzzle for why philosophy did not thrive in the Islamic world after the 12th century.
II. Denies emanation. God creates all things (or at least all
of the Intelligences) immediately.
---The three theses that will get him into the most trouble, 1. The
world is eternal (He does say that) 2. No personal immortality (Apparently
he did say that, although Weinberg says he didn't). 3. The double truth
(Didn't hold it.)
III. The double truth. Averroes and his followers accused of saying that something could be "true in philosophy, but false in theology" and vice versa. E.g. Aristotle has proven that the world always existed. Religion shows that the world came into being in time. There was a first day. Both are true. This is nuts and Averroes didn't hold it. What he does say is,... (Not a philosophical point per se, but question of the relationship of faith and reason is so crucial and influential that we need to look at it.)
A. There certainly do seem to be conflicts.
B. There can't be any genuine conflict. Truth is truth. If philosophy yields truth and so does Scripture, they can't really disagree. What of the apparent conflict? (292)
C. The apparent meaning of Scripture is just that, only apparent. When the Scriptural text is seen as allegorical it will be seen to agree with the philosophical understanding. (292)
-- Everybody who takes their scripture seriously agrees that we need to interpret.--- (293)
D. Why did God set it up this way? Wouldn't it have been better for God just to say what He means?
E. No. Scripture is written for everybody, but there are different intellectual classes of people. The vast majority of people can't understand the philosophical truths. Scripture gives them as much as they could grasp and yet leads the more intellectually gifted, i.e. the philosophers who've studied Aristotle, to look beyond the apparent meaning to the hidden meaning. (293)
F. Difficult questions: 1. Which texts should we take at face value
and which require allegorical interpretations? 2. If we're supposed
to interpret a text allegorically, which interpretation is correct?
1. In Islam you don't have a single church with a structured hierarchy
to deal with these questions as you do in the Christian west.
2. What you're supposed to do is go with the unanimous agreement among the learned, (293) but this is very problematic, as Averrroes points out.
a. Can you be sure you got all the learned?
b. Can you be sure theat their opinions have been faithfully handed down?
c. Can you be sure that you have their full opinion? Maybe they put out one view for the general public and another "inner doctrine" which they thought ought to be hidden from those unfit to receive it.
3. His conclusion is that fundamentalists should leave the learned alone.
IV. The eternity of the world. "Eternity" here means "everlastingness."
A. Philosophers and theologions agree on the basic descriptions of created
objects and of God...it's the world as a whole that causes the trouble.
(H pp.295) The only point of disagreement is really just how many days
there were in the past, a finite or an infinite number. Hardly worth
disagreeing about. (295) (It is important, as Maimonides will show.)
--- We all agree ---
1. Corporeal objects are "originated" -- brought into being
a. by an efficient cause
b. through some matter.
c. in time...its existence is preceded by time.
a. not brought into being by anything
b. not preceded by time.
3. The universe taken as a whole
a. not made from preexisting things.
b. not preceded by time.
c. but brought into being.
4. The future is infinite.
B. So the only disagreement, really, is how many days there were in the past. Not worth calling names. (296)
V. Personal immortality. To see why it looks like Averroes denied it we have to look at his epistemology.
A. The issue, as usual, is the fact that to know is to know the universal. Knowledge of an individual won't do the job.
B. Avicenna...image from the individual prepares the mind to receive the universal from the 10th intelligence. Active intelligence is the same for all.
C. Averroes...Right, the active intelligence is the same for all...and so is the passive intelligence! Why would he say this?
1. Terminology: He calls the passive intellect the "material" intellect.
a. It is not corporeal, not body. It is "unmixed" (304)
b. Howeever it is analogous to prime matter which is what receives the form to make an object. The material intellect receives a form to make a concept.
2. If what received the form in the intellect were individual then the form would be
received as differentiated and particular...the way prime matter receives
individuated forms to form particular objects in the world...not as universal.
3. And if this were the case then one person's concept would differ
from another's...we couldn't understand the same thing...in fact we couldn't
really understand at all because to understand is to know the universal
and a particular version or instance of the form is not the universal.
D. If this were the end of the story there would be at least four problems.
[1. Sounds like everybody's got the same soul...no personal immortality. He's going to allow that.]
2. Shouldn't we all just know the same thing? (308 -- A)
3. The intelligibles (form or species as understood and existing in the intellect) ought to be eternal, but we see that they come into and pass out of being for us as individuals. (308 -- B)
4. Multiplicity of bodies just useless and superfluous. (313)
E. Well...there's the theoretical intellect (H p.314) produced when the active intellect produces form in the material intellect.
1. Human intellect both one and many...one in that there's one receiving and one producing...many produced.
2. Human intellect both eternal and finite...the active and the passive intellects are both eternal because the human race has always existed. The produced/theoretical intellect comes in to being when the two intersect at a given body.
F. How can each of us have our own theoretical intellect?
1. Knowledge starts with the senses.
a. Get an image.
b. So the connection of the active and passive occurs at this particular body when it's come into contact with particular corporeal things.
c. Senses of the individual body start the process and so it is not the case that body is useless and superfluous.
2. So the collection of concepts I'll have in my theoretical intellect will be different from the collection in yours. It depends on what we've come into contact with physically.
3. But the intelligibles themselves will always exist and will always exist in the material intellect (321).
V. So, how do we solve the problem of personal immortality? Things
still look bad. Worse than for Avicenna. Once the body is gone why
not suppose that the theoretical intellect just resolves itself into its
two eternal constituents. Apparently for a long time it was thought
that a work which proposes the doctrine of a resurrection of the body...a
celestial body... was written by Averroes. Weinberg holds this.
Subsequent scholarship says that this work was not really written by Averroes,
and so the charge of denying personal immortality sticks.
PHIL 312:STUDY GUIDE: TEST #1--BACKGROUND, AVICENNA, ALGAZALI, AVERROES
Nature of God: Why must a perfect God be immutable? Omnipotence--What can and can't God do? What is God's relationship to the Laws of Logic? Goodness--does God conform to some external standard of value? What are the two other options? Two theories of time and Three understandings of divine Eternity. Creation: ex nihilo, always going on -- there's agreement -- but is it immediate or through intermediaries?
Plato: We know more than raw sense data would give us. Explain. (Aristotle and Augustine would agree so far.) Forms. Recollection. Platonic Dualism. Creation story in the Timeaus. How is the Demiurge like and unlike the Judeo-Christian God?
Augustine (Christian Platonist): Forms (divine exemplars). Illumination. Dualism, but not Platonic.
Aristotle: Forms. Abstraction. Nature of Human Being. Four Causes. Proof for the Unmoved Mover--premises and conclusion. What's the Unmoved Mover like? How is it like and unlike the Judeo-Christian God?
Universals: Extreme Realism, Exemplarism, Moderate Realism, Conceptualism, Nominalism.
Plotinus: One, Nous, World Soul, Emanation and return. Ambivalence regarding
matter. Place and goal of human being.
The Flying Man: What two things does it prove?
The Divisions of Being: Existence and Essence, Necessary and Possible (be able to thoroughly describe.)
Cosmology--God, Intelligences, emanation and return.
Proof for an absolutely necessary being--six premises and conclusion. What kind of cause is he talking about when he says there can't be an infinite series?
Soul: Proof of immateriality of soul. Why say that individual soul cannot exist before it is born into body? Proof of incorruptibility of soul. How is a disembodied personal immortality possible?
Epistemology: How do we know the dogness of the dog?
Universals: Is "horseness" one or many?
Miracles: Why does Avicenna's view seem to rule them out? How does Algazali analyze miraculous events on the assumption that there are genuine, necessary causal connections?
How does Algazali show that we are not justified in believing in Causal Connections? No conceptual evidence for.... No observational evidence for....What is happening when it looks like the fire burned the cotton? Occasionalism. Why do we believe in necessary connections?
Problem of Skepticism: Why does the view that there are no causal connections between created objects lead to skepticism? How does Algazali try to solve the problem? Why, according to Rogers, does Algazali's response not do the job?
Explain Averroes argument that Algazali's theory does away with the objects of our experience altogether.
Can demonstrated truth and Scripture (the Koran) conflict? What should we do when there is an apparent contradiction? Why didn't God just send the works of Aristotle to Mohammed? Why, according to Averroes, can the "fundamentalists" not prove that his (Averroes') claims are inconsistent with the established teaching of Islam?
Regarding the nature of objects, of God, and of the physical universe as a whole, what do the Aristotelian and the more "fundamentalist" Muslims all agree on, according to Averroes? What's the one little area of disagreement?
Why does Averroes hold that Avicenna's epistemic picture fails, i.e.
why can it not be the case that each individual has his own passive intellect?
What is the situation, according to Averroes, regarding the number and
nature of intellects required for human knowing? Where does this leave
PHIL 312 Late Medieval Philosophy PAPER #1
Instructions and topics for 2-3page paper. Paper is due to me in class on March 7, or on paper or electronically before then. Failure to comply will result in a 0 grade for this paper, unless you have spoken to me and received an extension.
Paper must be no more than three pages of double-spaced text, with 12-pt font, and one inch margins. If you choose to consult outside sources – the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, for example – you may do so. If you do this, be sure to include end notes for these sources on a separate page. I don’t care what form the end notes take, but they must include enough information that I can QUICKLY AND EASILY look up the source. So, for example, if you cite a book, you must include page numbers. I am just as happy if you do NOT consult outside sources, but it’s up to you.
Three pages is very short, so you will need to write in a clear and well-organized fashion. Give your paper an informative title, and state at the beginning what it is you are going to claim or argue. All of the topics involve attacking or defending some claim, so you will need to state your reason(s) for your conclusion(s) succinctly.Some hints. You might want to start by not worrying about how concise you have to be. Write what feels comfortable and then go back and edit to get it down to size. If you are new to philosophy, read your paper out loud slowly and ask if what you’re saying makes sense. You are being asked to agree or disagree with a claim, and in philosophy it is okay to write in the first person (“I think…”). You must give reasons for your views. There are all kinds of “reasons” in philosophy. These include but are not limited to empirical data including the findings of science and ordinary experience, common intuitions, conceptual analysis (e.g. when Alghazali asks what our concepts of "cause" and "effect" entail), whether or not claims internal to a view are consistent with one another, whether or not a claim entails an absurdity, whether or not a claim can be developed coherently. Concrete examples are often useful. And in philosophy it is perfectly okay to say, “I assume that X…” and then go from there. If you have questions about how to proceed, feel free to ask!
Topics (Choose only one)
1. Aristotle adopts a teleological view of the universe. Is this the correct (or a plausible) way to look at things?
2. Avicenna proposes the experiment of the "flying man" to show that being is the most fundamental concept. Is the experiment coherent?
3. Avicenna gives arguments for the immateriality, the temporal beginning, and the incorruptibility of the soul on pages 256-261. Pick one of his arguments for one of these topics and try to make sense of it. Is he correct in his conclusions.
4. Is it possible for a practicing Jew, Christian, or Muslim to accept Avicenna's God and yet continue in roughly the same religious practice as if they believed in a more standard version of the Jewish, Christian, or Islamic God?
5. Is Alghazali's a plausible or wholesome way of looking at the world?