Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Can Aristotle be Rescued?

Stephen Barr, writing in Faith:
In short, Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy has paid a heavy price for the two and a half centuries in which it largely ignored what was going on in the natural sciences. A sustained re-engagement with science would enrich its conceptual and linguistic resources. This re-engagement cannot simply be an attempt to translate statements of modern science into existing Aristotelian terms. That cannot be done in many cases. Rather, many more Aristotelian/ Thomistic metaphysicians than currently do must learn to listen to and understand science in its own native tongue. Modern physics has made discoveries (e.g. quantum mechanics) which undoubtedly have profound metaphysical implications, but what those implications are cannot be explored unless the physics is understood directly and not "in translation".

4 comments:

TheOFloinn said...

William Wallace, The Modeling of Nature is one.

There is also this:
http://www.webcitation.org/5XP2UXXwN

I'm not at all sure what science and metaphysics might have to do with each other. But there is also this:

http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/courses/43151/ross-aristotle%27s-revenge.pdf

John Farrell said...

Wallace's books I remember from your Analog essay. But thanks for sending the other sources. I think Steve's question is interesting, though, ie, do the 4 causes even make any sense in quantum physics?

Peter Youngblood said...

John,

Could you explain why quantum physics would make the four causes nonsense? I don't see why that would be the case as it is, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

John Farrell said...

Hi Peter,
Thanks for reading. Looks like you're starting up a couple of blogs of your own!

I don't think Steve's points mean QM makes the 4 causes "nonsense"; rather because it is no longer obvious which QM process necessarily fits only one of the four classic causes, it renders their usefulness problematic.