Archive for September 2007

Lecture 43

30 September, 2007

Modal abstraction was the real feature of science, but when we abstract the biotic from the others, its embodiment in the whole, and look at it apart, it is not functioning apart from its whole.

I was talking about subject and object functions, I read you from a couple of books. I want to look at that second point (b).

1.It presents us with an irreversible order of time
2.It displays an indissoluble coherence of meaning aspects in
(a) the question of subject and object functions
(b) anticipations and retrocipations
3.It points beyond itself to a deeper underlying unity of functions

What we experience in everyday life is whole structures, whole things, whole persons, whole institutions, whole relationships etc a scientific attitude toward these wholes will bring out one of the modalities. A psychologist will bring out the psychic and so on.

These aspects are the constituent elements that make up the whole and God’s creation everywhere shows this complex structure. If what we are saying is correct, rememebe r this is a human statement and is subject to correction, revison and enlargement. This is what we find in our scientific analysis of all the wholes.

Looked at water. A modern thinker would simply call water a physical thing. They make a split, this cluster of functions make up the body – they see it as an underlying substance of body; by the 19th century and Comtean positivism they see it as certain types of functions.

Often things are reduced to the logical, logical thought about language, society and so on. This cluster of functions are called mind. They are thinking principally of the logical function.

This simplistic and reduced ontology would say that water is a physical thing. That’s why I used to ask students to write a paper: ‘What is a thing?’ Water exists in connection with plants, man and animals and so on it is only with these creational relationships can we understand water. Important to understand the subject object functions. Water has four subject functions; we have a certain internal structure what Dooyeweerd calls typical structures of individuality. Anything that is a physical thing will display this structure: four subjects functions and the rest object functions. The highest subject function has a very important organising role. For example human technical intervention in the life of plants and animals and so on – a weeping beech tree, done through technical intervention, when you do that the technician who interferes by tree surgery has to think about the organic structure of the tree, this is the highest function for the tree. Only man has a subject function in all the modalities.

If we have animal surgery, the sensitive is the highest subject function, the animal in its technical object function is operable, but in terms of the sensitive subject function as it is sensitive to pain.

In the case of the tree the technical object function of the tree is related to the organic subject function; for the animal the technical object function it is related to the psychic function. The highest subject function has a governing role.

For example, the social function of a plant – put around to make the room nice – it has to relate tot he physical. If we have a pet, the social object function has to relate to the sensitive.
There is a typical structure of individuality. There is a real structure: mineral, plant, animal kingdoms.

I want to talk about 2(b) anticipations and retrocipations. I’m going to take the logical – there is no such thing as a modality by itself. There is nothing that is purely analytical, there is nothing that is purely biotic, and so on. Sphere irreducibility or sphere sovereignty is compensated for by sphere universality. There is no such thing as something that purely logical, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something distinctly logical, it does mean that what is distinctly logical shows its participatory in all the other modal senses of the cosmos exists only in indissoluble coherence with all the other modal apsects and yet an irreducibly logical fashion it retains its irreducible logical sense while drawing on all the other aspectual meanings of the cosmos.

‘The logical’ has been listed out by so many philosophers as something that exists apart from the physical world.

The circle represents the logical modality – a spot = nucleus, 6 lower in the modal scale – 6 semi circles beneath it, the logical and then 8 modalities higher than the logical by 8 semicircles above the core.

The core, or nucleus, the spot symbolically suggests something that makes it irreducibly logical. Each of the modalities is this circle.

The numerical: why is the numerical within the logical circle? Anything that has logical meaning displays quantity a number of concepts, judgements. There has to be number in any logical life, an expression of logical life. Spatiality, the Germans have a word ‘thought space’, we have to step back, get concepts straightened out in mind, need conceptual space.

We call these 15 modalities aspects. When we talk about the internal structure of an aspect can’t use aspect again call it moment, nuclear or core moments. Retrocipatory moments areones that are lower than the core. Ones higher than the core moment we call anticipatory moments. This modal scale is an irreversible order of time, by the time we get to the logical all the lower ones. Numerical though the psychical are earlier, they are the indispensable foundation for the stucture of the logical. Retrocipatory are moments that grasp backwards upon earlier aspects of meaning.

What about the kinematic? I talked about syllogisms major and minor premise; if the mind accepts the major premise then it is compelled to go on to the accept the minor, then the mind is compelled to go on to the conclusion we call that logical motion or movement, we also speak of logical necessity, it is necessary for the mind to accept it, necessity is a kinematical concept. It is kinematic in a logical sense.

Biotic: the organic there is an organic structure of thought.

Psychical, sensitive: a logic class will be split into two groups, there is hardly ever a middle – certain people have a feel for logical theory others don’t.
Dooyeweerd in his Transcendental Problems of Philosphical Thought (Eerdmans, 1948) provides an outline of this whole logical modality:

Nuclear moment: rational distinction

Analogical moments
logical apperception
logical thought-life
logical movement of thought (subjected to the principle of logical causality, viz., the principium rationis sufficientis).
logical thought-space (Denkraum)
logical unity and multiplicity (of logical characteristics)

Moments of anticipation

logical domination [ruling by systematic (theoretical) concepts or logical forms]
logical symbolics
logical commerce
logical economy of thought
logical harmony
logical right
logical (theoretic) “eros” (platonic love)
logical certitude
Logical domination: a man who thinks clearly, sharply and comprehensively can control that situation – he has historical control.

Economic: Occam’s razor (14th century), is a principle well-known to scientists: entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity; the simplest explanation is to be preferred: economy of thought. Economy of thought is thought, thinking! The logical meaning reflects upon the economic.

Harmony, balancing of thought; logical right, logical eros, certain love relations; logical certitude.

Help you to get general idea.
A second modality ‘aesthetic’ lifting it out. It has:

a core moment;
three anicipatory moments: jural, ethical pistic; and the rest
retrocipatory: numerical etc.

There is no purely aesthetic. It exists only in indissoluble coherence with all the modal aspects; this is empirically discernible.

Number: there have to be a number of elements in a piece of music or poem
Spatial: take the matter of metre, iambic pentameter, a line of five iambs. Spatial extension.
Movement: has to be movement in a historical novel, has to be movement in a building or music.
Biotic: an organic structure to a painting or concerto
There is a difference between anticipatory and retrocipatory moments
A very general principle the modal scale represents an irreversible order of time
Every modality that is lower in the modal scale is also earlier and is the necessary foundation
The higher ones are later in the order of time.

Let’s take the aesthetic and the jural. When we talk about the jural – The Romans: to render to each its own – to each its proper view, they had some notion of order
At the end of the middle ages a famous school called the Flemish school – people sitting by windows and see that the distant is painted with the same precison as the foreground – and the Italians the background is less sharp. generally regarded as an improvement in technique. they rendered the background as background. Why is it an improvement in painting? The artists of the Italian school have realised to a greater degree the jural moment of meaning within the aesthetic functionality.

I am going to give one more example. The jural modaility. The ethical is anticipated within the life of the jural.
There was a harshness of ancient law: an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth; retribution. Gilbert and Sullivan: to make the punishment fit the crime. A mark of jurisprudence. Law books in which a certain crime was pared off with a punishment. In the course of the later 19th C we have to take the total; person into consideration, what was his background, what other experiences came into this life. Maybe two people did the same crime, but under such different circumstances, but maybe two different penalties involved. 20th century law, a greater realisation that there is an ethical moment to jurally qualified activities; it is only an improvement if the ethical meaning is realised to a greater or lesser degree.

Difference between retrocipatory and anticipatory
Retrocipatory moments are earlier they are indispensable foundation of the aspect you are talking about
Anticpatory moments are higher and since they are higher in the order of time every aspect will participate in those higer ones , just because they are later in the order of time there is the possibility of there being realised to a greater or lesser degree. There is an opening up process that goes upwards through the modal scale so the lower modalites can be enriched by being opened up more and more to the higher modalities. In this sense civilisation, culture, can be enhanced

There is a problem before the philosophers of history – how do we account for progress? Dooyeweerd the discovery of more object functions eg copper wire can be used to send messages; copper wire does not have a social subject function but it has a socil object functionality. As we discover more object functions, so society, culture is enhanced And in the greater degree of realisation of anticipatory moments as seen above.

A third point this is cosmic diversity- the creation is one. The indissoluble coherence – that there is somehow a whole. Where do we find this whole? No where in this diversity, although everywhere you see a reflection of a whole. Every one of these modalities in its own distinct and irreducible way, reflects the whole modal scale. Dooyeweerd suggests that the only way that wholeness can be experienced is to transcend the area of cosmic diversity, go beyond it, to a religious point of concentration, or point of view.

He uses the word idea in a very different way from concept. Concept: the distinctness of the various spheres; Idea: the idea of history , language etc, then talking about that in the light of this coherence as pointing beyond itself to a unity which is no where found within this scale of diversity. The modal scale points beyond itself to a underlying unity no where present in the modal scale but everywhere suggested by it.

Lecture 42

10 September, 2007

The question of subject and object functions – we are looking at this at the moment.

We might hear something like this: Hegel is a very subjectivistic thinker; what does it means to call someone a subjective thinker. In someone’s mind, he is theoretically exaggerating the subjective. We now have to decide what the subjective is, it goes back to subject; what does that mean?

As we saw last time, for the most part, subject has meant the realm of mind. We have: the experiencing subject; the experienced world or object. This is the way subject and object are used.

In the middle ages, philosophers distinguished properties and qualities of things. I said we had to look at the Latin words in these two terms: Properties propos – my own proper self; properties are characteristics that are its own. Characteristics that it has in and of itself without reference to something else.

Qualities – quala – it means of what sort it is for the other person or thing; qualities have to do with characteristics it has in reference to another.

This distinction was no longer observed on the seventeenth century and everything became qualities – primary and secondary

Wiley chapter 5:

Since the advent of the Copernican theory …. things are not what they seem, neither are what they have been said to be by the authorities.

Rapid rise of mathematical physics we get men who have this peculiar angle of vision as a special science who come by the materials by abstraction, but not aware it is an abstraction, and so comes to think of this matter as the world. It becomes a concrete world of real things. So we get matter and mind.

For Galileo, properties of figure, motion were the primary qualities of matter, qualities said to be in things and could be measurable and expressible in mathematical formulae. Secondary qualities such as taste, colour, sound. Secondary because they are irrelevant to mechanics AND they are mental phenomenon, they are only in relation to the senses, not objective entities.

Two divisions: man and the world; subjective and objective. It’s what every one thinks, it must be right, right? No!

Sound is nothing more than physical waves – sound is not waves, sound is what I’m hearing. In all physics classes people are taught that sound is waves in motion!

Psychical object functions require the lower subject functions.

There is no creation except man at the centre. Everything created is in reference to him. We don’t have things without this subject-object correlation. Object functions are not actualised until creatures having certain level of subject functions are present.

Anything in God’s creation all these functions either subjectively or objectively. Let’s take water.

Physical this is the highest law sphere in which water has a subject function. Water has relations to plants and animals.

Biotic Water is indispensable for all organic plants; organic functioning requires water. He created creatures so that water is indispensable for their being. Water doesn’t have an organic subject function. It has an organic object function.
Psychical Humans enjoy the feel of water – bathing, fishing etc. When it’s warm enough whole populations migrate because of the feel of water – it doesn’t mean water goes around feeling. It has no psychical subject function. water functions in the psychical world objectively.

Social Put water in a glass and add ice cubes, it enhances the social meeting. The social functioning is not adequately described without introducing water as an element in it.
Economic Water has a high monetary value. If you don’t believe me go to the desert!

Plants has biotic as highest subject function and animals sensitive as highest subject function. In training animals they are reacting instinctively, condition and response – not something they initiate on their own. It belongs to the instinct, the senses, not the social.

Wiley: For Galileo and Descartes, colour or sound (secondary qualities) is merely a sign in consciousness of the existence of this reality outside. The sense do not give knowledge of the thing itself – this is behind Locke’s empiricism by the way – only the abstracting intellect can approach such knowledge of the thing in itself. It does so by filtering sense impressions as clear as possible of subjective ingredients. That’s what the scientific mind does; only science opens up reality to us.

True knowledge would be knowledge to which the mind itself contributed nothing.
Thus the analysis of the properties of matter into primary and secondary in the seventeenth century effort to separte the true from the false, primary being true and secondary false or fictitious. Descartes used those words: what the sense present us with is false or fictitious.

To get to what is really real we must get away from the mind!

What the seventeenth century called secondary qualities and which the medieveal metaphysicists called qualities as distinct from properties we call psychical object functions, but that’s not all the object functions that there are.

There are a whole range of object functions. Even Greeks, Socrates made a big point of technical object functions. Socratessays: ‘No man knowingly errs’; he has reduced the mind to the technical dimension, he is technicistic. No man would make shoes of marble, a man must know his piece, he doesn’t err. Man and the craftsman as the object function.

The Greeks recognised different object functions. Economic object functions: ‘economic goods’ – we refer to things, physical or plants or even man as a slave, as economic objects. They are economically manageable. With -ing on the end it is an object function; with -able it denotes a subject function.

What is a point? Only when we get geometrically, spatially, extended figures, we get points. Only in this connection, with spatial subject functions, we get points, a point points back to the discontinuity of the number series; they belong to a higher modality but point back to a lower modality. Likewise, the path of Mars or Venus, we know it so exactly, we can send out objects to be there at the appointed time, a mathematical circuit we can determine. But the paths is not Mars, Mars is a physical body, its path is a place in space, but you don’t have it until we get to the kinematic. The path of Mars refers back to the earlier modality of spatial extendedness and yet it can only occur in a kinematical subject function. That is what we call a kinematic object function. And so we find it all the way up.

Lecture 41

1 September, 2007

Economic is the conservation of scare goods

Aesthetic, is beautiful harmony

Jural, Dooyeweerd uses the word retribution, he means a harmonising of a multiplicty of interests. The Roman jurists summarised it as ‘To render to each his own’.

Ethical: The ethical aspect means the loving faithfulness of man to man.
Vollenhoven, said that good and evil belongs to the pre-modal heart and has to do with the heart relation to the word of God; ie good is the obedient submission to the word of God, evil is a rebellion against the word of God in one’s life. Most modern philosophers presume that ethics has to do with good and evil. Three basic distinctions: good and evil, the root religious direction of life; ‘This and that’, the distinction between one and another, individuality; the ‘Thus so’ difference , modal differentiation.

The ethical is not a matter of good and evil, but fidelity to one’s fellow man. It is not the same as jural.

Pistic: why do we have to have a pistic function, faith is a noun? Heart is the point in which all function activity is religiously concentrated, so why a pistical modality? Acts ch 16: 11 ff: ‘The Lord opened her heart to respond’ and then a response on her part.
I am made to hear the word of God – God changes the heart and then I behave in a different way.
Everything changes because of faith.

Going to read from a couple of books.C S Lewis The Abolition of Man.

I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text books. That is why I have chosen as the starting-point for these lectures a little book on English intended for ‘boys and girls in the upper forms of schools’. I do not think the authors of this book (there were two of them) intended any harm, and I owe them, or their publisher, good language for sending me a complimentary copy. At the same time I shall have nothing good to say of them. Here is a pretty predicament. I do not want to pillory two modest practising schoolmasters who were doing the best they knew:
but I cannot be silent about what I think the actual tendency of their work. I therefore propose to conceal their names. I shall refer to these gentlemen as Gaius and Titius and to their book as The Green Book. But I promise you there is such a book and I have it on my shelves.In their second chapter Gaius and Titius quote the well-known story of Coleridge at the waterfall. You remember that there were two tourists present: that one called it ‘sublime’ and the other ‘pretty’; and that Coleridge mentally endorsed the first judgement and rejected the second with disgust. Gaius and Titius comment as follows: ‘When the man said This is sublime, he appeared to be making a remark about the waterfall… Actually … he was not making a remark about the waterfall, but a remark about his own feelings. What he was saying was really I have feelings associated in my mind with the word “Sublime”, or shortly, I have sublime feelings’ Here are a good many deep questions settled in a pretty summary fashion. But the authors are not yet finished. They add: ‘This confusion is continually present in language as we use it. We appear to be saying something very important about something: and actually we are only saying something about our own feelings.

Before considering the issues really raised by this momentous little paragraph (designed, you will remember, for ‘the upper forms of schools’) we must eliminate one mere confusion into which Gaius and Titius have fallen. Even on their own views on any conceivable view, the man who says This is sublime cannot mean I have sublime feelings. Even if it were granted that such qualities as sublimity were simply and solely projected into things from our own emotions, yet the emotions which prompt the projection are the correlatives, and therefore almost the opposites, of the qualities projected. The feelings which make a man call an object sublime are not sublime feelings but feelings of veneration. If This is sublime is to be reduced at all to a statement about the speaker’s feelings, the proper translation would be I have humble feelings. If the view held by Gaius and Titius were consistently applied it would lead to obvious absurdities. It would force them to maintain that You are contemptible means I have contemptible feelings’, in fact that Your feelings are contemptible means My feelings are contemptible. But we need not delay over this which is the very pons asinorum of our subject. It would be unjust to Gaius and Titius themselves to emphasize what was doubtless a mere inadvertence.

The schoolboy who reads this passage in The Green Book will believe two propositions: firstly, that all sentences containing a predicate of value are statements about the emotional state of the speaker, and secondly, that all such statements are unimportant. It is true that Gaius and Titius have said neither of these things in so many words. They have treated only one particular predicate of value (sublime) as a word descriptive of the speaker’s emotions. The pupils are left to do for themselves the work of extending the same treatment to all predicates of value: and no slightest obstacle to such extension is placed in their way. The authors may or may not desire the extension: they may never have given the question five minutes’ serious thought in their lives. I am not concerned with what they desired but with the effect their book will certainly have on the schoolboy’s mind. In the same way, they have not said that judgements of value are unimportant. Their words are that we ‘appear to be saying something very important’ when in reality we are ‘only saying something about our own feelings’. No schoolboy will be able to resist the suggestion brought to bear upon him by that word only. I do not mean, of course, that he will make any conscious inference from what he reads to a general philosophical theory that all values are subjective and trivial. The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him.

Until quite modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it—believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit, our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt. The reason why Coleridge agreed with the tourist who called the cataract sublime and disagreed with the one who called it pretty was of course that he believed inanimate nature to be such that certain responses could be more ‘just’ or ‘ordinate’ or ‘appropriate’ to it than others. And he believed (correctly) that the tourists thought the same. The man who called the cataract sublime was not intending simply to describe his own emotions about it: he was also claiming that the object was one which merited those emotions. But for this claim there would be nothing to agree or disagree about. To disagree with This is pretty if those words simply described the lady’s feelings, would be absurd: if she had said I feel sick Coleridge would hardly have replied No; I feel quite well.

Another book:Basil Willey The Seventeenth Century Background Ch 5 ‘The philosophical quest for Truth: Descates’

We are beginning to see that the 17th century discovered two main kinds of certainty one objective or external one subjective or internal … . These two orders of certainty, objective and subjective, correspond to Descartes division of reality into extension [matter] and thought [mind]. It is now relevant to consider some prolems that arise … . The philosophic quest for truth in the 17th century was concerned with epistemological problems: can I know anything of reality? and if so how and what? … Sense data, as well as authoritative teaching, were found to be misleading.

Galileo was the heir of the atomists of the ancient world.

Our senses however have other qualities such as temperature and sound these are the secondary qualities [why secondary? ]

A man is as a scientist interested in a particular field, say mechanics, what he is interested in he describes as primary categories; the things such as taste colour are called secondary qualities. Idea taken over, we distinguish primary and secondary qualities. The scientist structures creation from the standpoint of special sciences, taken over by the philosophers and that becomes the way of viewing God’s creation.

In medieval times, they distinguished properties and qualities.

If something is heavy we feel it. It doesn’t go around feeling – it doesn’t have a psychical subject function.
What traditional philosophy has called qualities we would call psychical object functions.

Locke is a modern subjectivist, qualities have gone. Aristotle was an objectivist, they assumed that the mind was in contact with real things.