Aristotle was wrong to believe that everything has a purpose". Discuss. Watch

Empyreal Rhapsody
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#21
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Purpose is a logical impossibility.
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Calvin
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Single line posts are worthless impositions
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Melancholy
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Haha, good 'ole irony. ...oh dear
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wave_o_mutilation
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(Original post by Calvin)

And science would seem to be showing us more and more that much of conscious thought is really just chemical interactions in the brain, yet we still take an intensional stance and describe these chemical reactions in terms of language like "belief", "desire".
Words like "desire" aren't usually intended to describe the actual mechanics of thought, rather they reveal subjective states of consiousness. Our experience of our own conciousness is very real, and the terms which describe it are perfectly valid.

Whether Aristotle was wrong or right depends on whether he was refering to objects themselves or our perceptions of them. Like you say: it seems odd to say that objects in the world have an inherent purpose, but more cogent to say that from a human perspective everything has a purpose.
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Calvin
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(Original post by wave_o_mutilation)
Words like "desire" aren't usually intended to describe the actual mechanics of thought, rather they reveal subjective states of consiousness. Our experience of our own conciousness is very real, and the terms which describe it are perfectly valid.
Contentious debate, but I'd suggest that it's rather uncontroversial for many that, at a basic level beliefs and desires are constituted by various molecular, chemical and biological processes. But equally I guess you might say that beliefs and desires are constituted by you feeling a certain way, or acting in a certain way. It seems to me that ultimately the same physical event, the same part of the world, can be described in multiple different ways. Glass half empty Vs Glass half full. That's the advantage of language, we can take our pick of lots of ways of describing the world, and through which way we choose to do it we are able to add additional layers of communication. For example, I can tell you not only the state of the glass "the liquid comes up to the midline of the glass", but also how I feel about that "It's half empty!".

So whether you accept my badly chosen example of Physicalist Vs Intentional descriptions of brain states, I guess my essential point can be made much more succinctly: It's not always a simple question as to how best to describe the world. It doesn't just depend on how the world is, it also depends on what you want to communicate about it.
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mashw
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#26
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(Original post by Calvin)
Contentious debate, but I'd suggest that it's rather uncontroversial for many that, at a basic level beliefs and desires are constituted by various molecular, chemical and biological processes. But equally I guess you might say that beliefs and desires are constituted by you feeling a certain way, or acting in a certain way. It seems to me that ultimately the same physical event, the same part of the world, can be described in multiple different ways. Glass half empty Vs Glass half full. That's the advantage of language, we can take our pick of lots of ways of describing the world, and through which way we choose to do it we are able to add additional layers of communication. For example, I can tell you not only the state of the glass "the liquid comes up to the midline of the glass", but also how I feel about that "It's half empty!".

So whether you accept my badly chosen example of Physicalist Vs Intentional descriptions of brain states, I guess my essential point can be made much more succinctly: It's not always a simple question as to how best to describe the world. It doesn't just depend on how the world is, it also depends on what you want to communicate about it.

I've recently become a lot more open to ideas that propose we can't solely be 'explained' materially, chemically or biologically but I'd still say it's a good thing that our initial, starting point of explanation is a materialistic/mechanical one. If things such as consciousness really are something that cannot be fully explained by the scientific method then it begs certain questions about what consciousness (using it as an example here) really is and what is the best method of enquiry. Perhaps that's a good purpose for philosophy, to put science in context. The feelings and attitudes we apply to objects can still be explained in naturalistic terms, we enjoy looking at beautiful paintings or feel moved by certain music because it, on some level, invokes and reminds us of certain things, perhaps even to our very core as creatures. For instance certain colours may have an evolutionary importance to us and we therefore feel calmed by the colour blue because of it's connotations and associations.

I have to admit I'm still quite convinced everything we perceive as existential or transcending about our being is really just biology that we either don't understand yet or are incapable of understanding fully. I think a skeptical approach to anything that is not evident and obvious is the only way to go about things, and to apply the same principle to the mind; biology and mechanical/chemical processes being the simplest and most obvious answer. Perhaps we are so caught up in our consciousness we forget things do happen within us without our knowing.
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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#27
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there is no answer to this question (even though that is an answer), we can create purpose out of anything, who said "if the world is meaningless, then im free to play with is nonsense" is a way of creating purpose out of nothing.

The only thing i could object to, is Aristotle's supposed understanding of the metanarrative in the statement. Surely everything has a purpose purely because it exists, but what that is, id hate to ever be the one to say what it is.

Truth is, we're not even sure if we have a purpose, nevermind if everything has a purpose. I guess we just have to rely on our own personal interpretations of the world.
nice thinking batman, i like where your coming from. but surely, all our personal interpretations are all flawed, so is that any basis to make a judgement?
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Melancholy
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#28
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nice thinking batman, i like where your coming from. but surely, all our personal interpretations are all flawed, so is that any basis to make a judgement?
It's all we got, unfortunately. There may be an objective truth out there, however we are unable to find it. In the mean time, I say we enjoy our own subjective interpretations.
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RawJoh1
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#29
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Why can't a particular personal interpretation coincide with the truth?
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Melancholy
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It can.
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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it might do, but its hard to believe there is such a defineable concept as "truth"

there can be multiple interpretations of the same thing, as Mr Heidegger says, so each one could be equally valid. As TML said, its all we got. So by default we know a "truth" in some form or another.

The only problem is that people tend to force their truth onto other people, and that "knowledge" appears to be something that is economically exploitable, and changes through time. so i find it renders knowing truth to be a meaningless insecurity that we all have.

Personal opinion ultimatly can coincide with the truth, but i dont think we would be fully aware of it.
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mashw
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(Original post by Pesky_Postmodernist)
it might do, but its hard to believe there is such a defineable concept as "truth"

there can be multiple interpretations of the same thing, as Mr Heidegger says, so each one could be equally valid. As TML said, its all we got. So by default we know a "truth" in some form or another.

The only problem is that people tend to force their truth onto other people, and that "knowledge" appears to be something that is economically exploitable, and changes through time. so i find it renders knowing truth to be a meaningless insecurity that we all have.

Personal opinion ultimatly can coincide with the truth, but i dont think we would be fully aware of it.

Dogmatic, unbending, solipsistic 'truth' is surely just belief in the guise of surety, but there simply are things we can go out and learn about the universe. 'Truth' in it's most base form should not be subject to consensus. I guess what I'm getting at is there are not personal 'truths' but personal beliefs and opinions. So whilst I agree with your first comment on the vagueness of a "definable concept [like] 'truth" I would say there most certainly is truth, but people interpret it in vastly different ways, or choose to ignore it completely (creationist's, sorry).
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RawJoh1
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#33
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(Original post by Pesky_Postmodernist)
it might do, but its hard to believe there is such a defineable concept as "truth"

there can be multiple interpretations of the same thing, as Mr Heidegger says, so each one could be equally valid. As TML said, its all we got. So by default we know a "truth" in some form or another.

The only problem is that people tend to force their truth onto other people, and that "knowledge" appears to be something that is economically exploitable, and changes through time. so i find it renders knowing truth to be a meaningless insecurity that we all have.

Personal opinion ultimatly can coincide with the truth, but i dont think we would be fully aware of it.
Hmmm ... this sounds odd to me.

Can I have an example with a common sense truth please?
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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#34
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of course mashw, there is truth. There has to be, but again each one to their own. The creationist has as much right to their truth, as an evolutionist to his. (I do not believe in either so lets put that to rest now, but both describe a process of development which I find interesting considering how polar both camps like to think themselves)

okey lets have a stab with an example of what i was saying, in a terminology im eloquent with.

generally speaking, within art. Each mark has a purpose (even if it doesnt, it's purpose is to show there is no purpose...), and according to Picasso art is a process of eliminating the uneccissary. (which has been the basis of Modernism and Postmodernism)

so we have concentrated pieces filled with purpose, YET, with most of contemporary art, at first we have no idea WHAT we are looking by using our perception (and we never will do). All we can do is experience it, and try to find a common experience.


here is a painting, dont worry what the name is, or who it is by (its mine if you really care).

Now, all im asking you, is to describe what you associate with the marks on the page (you dont have to im just using this as an example). There is no way to actually KNOW the truth of the painting, no scientific method or mathmatical process, but one can understand it without KNOWING and THAT is the truth, and thus personal opinion can coincide with truth, no matter if it is deemed different through a scientific/mathmatical or even artistic process.
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mashw
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#35
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The attributing of personal opinions and feelings to certain facts of the world such as the brush strokes are subjective and are not truth's.

Romanticism's idea that the scientific method is somewhat devoid of meaning and purpose and is but mechanical explanations may well be true and is actually in my mind the right method. Discover the facts and workings and let philosophy, culture and art put them in context. We could use a microscope and chemically investigate the painting and understand the 'facts' and hard truths about it's composition and makeup but to know it's meaning is something far different to truth.

I understand the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts and agree that certain things can only be understood after formulating an opinion, to 'know' a person for example; to appreciate a work of art, but I'd this is sloppy use of the term 'truth'.

To experience the painting on one level could be called phenomenon and not factual, it could be said there really is no numenon to it's meaning. It is freedom of expression after-all and to 'experience' it is an entirely subjective undertaking.
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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ah there was a time when calling Art subjective to discredit it would be fair game, for it was considered a series of accomplished marks in persuit of photo representation and a definition of the Aesthetics (shooting fish in a barrel). Now moving on a few hundred years, art is purely a question or a dialogue for the viewer to continue, the physical painting (or object) is only a vessel that holds that question/dialogue (we have statement art, but thats only one slice of the cake)

and artistic investigation is as Subjective as any Scientific one, although it is mostly done half drunk on cheap white wine, covered in paint and with a tar stained rollie clung to the corner of the artist's mouth, but he/she still desires to question the world they live in.

We could use a microscope and chemically investigate the painting and understand the 'facts' and hard truths about it's composition and makeup but to know it's meaning is something far different to truth.
yes about the physical nature of the painting, not what the painting IS.

but I'd this is sloppy use of the term 'truth'.
well that is open to our subjective opinion.
To experience the painting on one level could be called phenomenon and not factual, it could be said there really is no numenon to it's meaning. It is freedom of expression after-all and to 'experience' it is an entirely subjective undertaking.
everything has a meaning, or purpose....but we dont fully know it, so all we have is subjectivity. All we have is our eyes to witness an experiment, our eyes are known fail, halucinate, distort. So wouldnt that apply to a Scientific experiment?

surely EVERYTHING must be subjective?
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wave_o_mutilation
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But artistic 'truth' is of a very different kind to that within science. Surely, Pesky Postmodernist, we are justified in calling scientific beliefs knowledge? It isn't the case that we arbitrarily, randomly decide to take something to be true in science. Rather, the truth of a theory is assessed by how it coheres with the evidence available. Of course, there is always room to doubt - but that doesn't mean that our beliefs do not or cannot have a connection to the truth.
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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But artistic 'truth' is of a very different kind to that within science.
very back handed compliament wouldn't you say dear? Also, doesnt make sense, considering a different truth seems impossible coming from a scientific point of view?

we are justified in calling scientific beliefs knowledge?
why do you distinguish between the two? surely knowledge is knowledge is knowledge, just explained in a different way.

but that doesn't mean that our beliefs do not or cannot have a connection to the truth.
again, distinguishing between these two imaginary camps, why?
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mashw
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#39
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(Original post by Pesky_Postmodernist)
everything has a meaning, or purpose....but we dont fully know it, so all we have is subjectivity. All we have is our eyes to witness an experiment, our eyes are known fail, halucinate, distort. So wouldnt that apply to a Scientific experiment?
Round and round in circles lol, that's not an attack it's just the nature of this subject I guess.

Firstly, I strongly believe purpose and meaning in the natural world is inflected by us and it is not a truth yet to be discovered, we perceive the end/current-products of selection to be somehow purposely placed into the system of nature when in fact it is what is left of quite a wasteful and ruthless process.

Our senses may well mediate and distort our experience of the real world and therefore the likes of Bacon and Newton came up with the falsifiable scientific method free from subjective personal perception and bias.

I.e. we could both look at a painting and conclude a meaning behind it that is quite different to one another's, yet we'd still both be right in that our personal opinions based upon perception are equally as valid (though I was rubbish at art). However, that is not truth, it is subjective. The only 'truth' you can derive from the painting is what can be tested repeatedly and will give the same answers no matter who is 'experiencing' it time after time.

The interpretation of these 'truths' could indeed differ again, and therefore lead to the conclusion that all truths are subjective but it's midnight and I have to be up at seven so I'm going to bed.
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Pesky_Postmodernist
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I.e. we could both look at a painting and conclude a meaning behind it that is quite different to one another's, yet we'd still both be right in that our personal opinions based upon perception are equally as valid
okeydokey lets see.

what do you see?


hypothetical scenarios are all very well, but the tend to get in the way abit
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