How much of what I studied existed?

Not every difference added to some genus makes something with a determinate nature. Red and green for example, makes a real difference in color, but not a real difference in, say, cars or numerals. Said another way, red and green are kinds of color; but not kinds of numeral or car. It is obvious that this or that numeral might be red; and that car might be green, but this does not make “green numeral” a kind of thing, as though mathematics is remiss or lacking something because it does not treat of all the wonderful numerals “2” that happen to be written in green ink.

The reason why, say, red makes a real difference in color but not in car is because red determines something in the definition of color, but not of car. The modern account of colors shows this particularly well: “color” as such is that portion of the EM spectrum between X and Y, and red is the part that starts at X. The nature “red’ is a clear determination of color, but it doesn’t determine anything in the definition of a car or a numeral or a bird, even though all can be red. To speak of a red car, despite any feelings to the contrary, is to speak about two natures and not one.

But what is not one, cannot be said to exist in the proper sense of the term. To believe that such a multitude exists as one is in fact the very first principle of sophistry. But we would not be deceived by such a sophistry, would we? We would all realize the silliness of someone teaching about “green numerals”, right?

We certainly wouldn’t be the dupes of a sophistry like “red philosophy”. But how much different is it to speak of modern philosophy, or ancient philosophy, or eastern philosophy? Do any of these terms determine something in the definition of philosophy? For that matter, does anyone bother to define philosophy, or is this viewed as mere narrow dogmatism? If it is narrow, very well- but our alternative is literally to talk about nothing.

How much of what I studied even existed? Who knows? The shadow of non-being was probably over much of it. Socrates- who was never so blithe as to think that something existed simply because someone talked about it- knew this all too well, and he was continually saying he didn’t even know if the things the professional teachers spoke of even existed. This is because Socrates always focused on the first things.

%d bloggers like this: