Aristotle and Evolution


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From the Wiki Aritlce:

Aristotle (384–322 BC), the most influential of the Greek philosophers in Europe in the Middle Ages, was a student of Plato and is also the earliest natural historian whose work has been preserved in any real detail. His writings on biology resulted from his research into natural history on and around the isle of Lesbos, and have survived in the form of four books, usually known by their Latin names, De anima (on the essence of life), Historia animalium (inquiries about animals), De generatione animalium (reproduction), and De partibus animalium (anatomy). Aristotle's works contain some remarkably astute observations and interpretations—along with sundry myths and mistakes—reflecting the uneven state of knowledge during his time.[8] However, for Charles Singer, "Nothing is more remarkable than [Aristotle's] efforts to [exhibit] the relationships of living things as a scala naturæ."[8] This scala naturæ, described in Historia animalium, classified organisms in relation to a hierarchical "Ladder of Life" or "Chain of Being", placing them according to their complexity of structure and function, with organisms that showed greater vitality and ability to move described as "higher organisms".[6] Aristotle believed that features of living organisms showed clearly that they must have had what he called a final cause, that is to say that they had been designed for a purpose.[9] He explicitly rejected the view of Empedocles that living creatures might have originated by chance.[10]

Other Greek philosophers, such as Zeno of Citium (334–262 BC) the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, agreed with Aristotle and other earlier philosophers that nature showed clear evidence of being designed for a purpose; this view is known as teleology.[11]The Roman stoic philosopher Cicero wrote that Zeno was known to have held the view, central to Stoic physics, that nature is primarily "directed and concentrated… to secure for the world… the structure best fitted for survival."[12]

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The Stoics were sniffing in the right direction, but too early relative to technology to make a difference. As usual, Aristotle was off the mark. Aristotle was just wrong in many way in biology which was better than his theories on motion and matter which were not even wrong.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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From the Wiki Aritlce:

Aristotle (384–322 BC), the most influential of the Greek philosophers in Europe in the Middle Ages, was a student of Plato and is also the earliest natural historian whose work has been preserved in any real detail. His writings on biology resulted from his research into natural history on and around the isle of Lesbos, and have survived in the form of four books, usually known by their Latin names, De anima (on the essence of life), Historia animalium (inquiries about animals), De generatione animalium (reproduction), and De partibus animalium (anatomy). Aristotle's works contain some remarkably astute observations and interpretations—along with sundry myths and mistakes—reflecting the uneven state of knowledge during his time.[8] However, for Charles Singer, "Nothing is more remarkable than [Aristotle's] efforts to [exhibit] the relationships of living things as a scala naturæ."[8] This scala naturæ, described in Historia animalium, classified organisms in relation to a hierarchical "Ladder of Life" or "Chain of Being", placing them according to their complexity of structure and function, with organisms that showed greater vitality and ability to move described as "higher organisms".[6] Aristotle believed that features of living organisms showed clearly that they must have had what he called a final cause, that is to say that they had been designed for a purpose.[9] He explicitly rejected the view of Empedocles that living creatures might have originated by chance.[10]

Other Greek philosophers, such as Zeno of Citium (334–262 BC) the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, agreed with Aristotle and other earlier philosophers that nature showed clear evidence of being designed for a purpose; this view is known as teleology.[11]The Roman stoic philosopher Cicero wrote that Zeno was known to have held the view, central to Stoic physics, that nature is primarily "directed and concentrated… to secure for the world… the structure best fitted for survival."[12]

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The Stoics were sniffing in the right direction, but too early relative to technology to make a difference. As usual, Aristotle was off the mark. Aristotle was just wrong in many way in biology which was better than his theories on motion and matter which were not even wrong.

PS: To MSK. How is that for "snooty"?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I wonder what Aristotle thought about evolution, electricity, space travel or QM for that matter.

Oh, those ideas were not around when he was?

Hmmmm...

Yet you blame him for "delaying" those ideas? And you imply (like Popper) that people who don't see this are stupid?

Yup.

Pretty snooty in my book.

Michael

Stupid? No. Ignorant and/or denying reality? Clearly.

Snooty? No. Simply correct.

There is nothing snooty about concluding that so many fundamental errors in physics, strongly clung to by an almost unimaginable authority of his 'word' alone delayed progress for millenia. This is just a simple fact.

Bob

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Heh.

Ain't it a shame Aristotle didn't consult with Popper, or even Bob Mac?

I find a reality problem right there, but, hey, that's just me.

I always did have a problem understanding time travel.

Time travel is for snooty people, and I'm just the lowly son of hillbillies. So I guess I miss out...

(Goooolliee, it must feel stomp down good to be a smarter genius than Aristotle.)

Michael

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Michael wrote:

“I wonder what Aristotle thought about evolution, electricity, space travel or QM for that matter.”

end quote

Yesterday on OL I wondered what “our” world would be like if Nathanial Branden had access to the internet back in 1966 to publicize his side of the story and to take questions?

I was watching a show about evolution a day ago on the Science Channel or PBS and wondered what if Darwin knew of genetics? What if Einstein had access to a high speed computer? Each of this inventions does not negate the contextual truth of past thoughts but they sure could of advanced the world of science if they had been around then.

Peter

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Peter,

I hold a different view than blaming mankind's geniuses for what they didn't do. We can imagine what the world would have been like without Aristotle. But the Aristotle-bashers think in terms of modern science. So they make really dumb claims about how Aristotle held back humanity.

The reality is that there was a butt-load of religious thinking back during Aristotle's time that we now call mythology. That would have probably prevailed, not science. And if you think about holding human progress back, think about killing a goat for Zeus when it rains too hard so you won't get flooded out.

I hold that it is more realistic to consider that possibility than claim that Aristotle's work throttled mankind's scientific geniuses.

Besides, there is one aspect of science I have not seen discussed too often--the dependence of science on external memory (meaning outside the human skull). Without a form of coding knowledge in writing, it would have been impossible for people to transmit to each other the higher concepts needed for science to advance. The people who controlled access to written documents, meaning the religious and political folks during centuries, controlled the advance and delay of science--not the geniuses who did the writing.

The human brain in focus is good at abstracting, but it is limited to the amount of details it can grok at one time, despite tricks you can learn to increase memory.

Apropos, there is a very good book on ancient memory systems called The Art of Memory by Frances Yates that I studied a bit back when I had to memorize symphonic scores for conducting.

Apparently, (if I remember correctly), many of the ancient temples of gods and goddesses were used for public records. There were few or no written records back then, so the public records officials (or the equivalent) would memorize enormous quantities of information about genealogy, property, etc., by visual association in their minds. After memorizing thoroughly a temple, the details of family so-and-so would be placed behind the little toe on the left foot of the god. Another family behind the heel. Another on his right eye. Another in front of the third column to the left facing the god. And so on. They would then drill younger apprentices in all this and pass it on to the next generation.

I intend to get that book once more and finish it someday. It's pretty useless information nowadays for my current interests, but I found it fascinating. Remembering just now, I still think it's cool.

Michael

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Michael wrote:

“I wonder what Aristotle thought about evolution, electricity, space travel or QM for that matter.”

end quote

Yesterday on OL I wondered what “our” world would be like if Nathanial Branden had access to the internet back in 1966 to publicize his side of the story and to take questions?

I was watching a show about evolution a day ago on the Science Channel or PBS and wondered what if Darwin knew of genetics? What if Einstein had access to a high speed computer? Each of this inventions does not negate the contextual truth of past thoughts but they sure could of advanced the world of science if they had been around then.

Peter

A.E. might have become a Computer Nerd. Fortunately he lived in a simpler and purer time. The fastest vehicle he knew of was the planet earth, followed by railway trains.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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