7 / 12 / 11

The physical sciences are based not just on measurement, but measurement of a rationalized continuum, which means that there is no possible measurement without a definite numerical value.

The measurement makes no distinction between “being at X” and “going through X”, which is only possible if one does not view motion and rest as contraries.

So far as our science is essentially metrical, there is no difference between motion and rest “in themselves” since measurement is a way of treating something in relation to another.

There is a way to determine motion or rest apart from measurement – through the experience of lifting ones limbs, feeling ones heart beat. Objection this is the same as to say that, if we use a straw, we can tell that we pull something up as opposed to creating the conditions under which the atmosphere pushes something up. Isn’t this based on the same experience of living activity? response: that is a difference between one action and another, not action and inaction. Insist: No, it’s saying that there is no difference between my action causing my motion and my action causing motion in another. I’m not the per se cause of motion when I use the straw – the atmosphere is. response We hit on contraries when we divide being in one place and to being in another and another continuously. How can “same” and “other” not be contraries? But I give up trying to come up with a concrete criterion to distinguish motion and rest in a particular case.

The account of motion turns on whether we need some criterion that verifies what is moving or resting in a particular case. Einstein goes further – how in the world do you rule out the ideas of crackpots without having such a criterion? Aristotle responds: we can study the difference between motion and resting without knowing what is moving or resting. In fact, we are forced to look at it this way when asking certain questions: How is motion possible given that motion is a multiplicity? What is required for there to be a real difference between going through and being at? What can become another being? If coming to be and being are contraries, how can being come to be? Isn’t this the same as heat becoming cool? How can something exist temporally if temporal existence involves ceasing to be (which is true whether we see all the moments of time  as equal or not – there isn’t much dispute that even equal moments are not identical ones).

Heidegger and Parmenides are speaking about the world.

“Method X answers everything” = “I’m only interested in the questions X answers”

One-method-for-everything thought is a sign of inappropriately narrow interests. Who could hold it who loved literature, music, poetry, daily social relationships, blind devotion to causes, politics? Who could hold it who did philosophy as though he we an actual human being?

“This method explains everything about the world”. It sounds like a late-night infomercial. It’s marketing, not philosophy.


  1. Paul Boire said,

    July 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I just wanted to express my appreciation for the items you are sending me and the always interesting content.


    Paul Boire

  2. Peter said,

    July 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I was thinking about the beginning of St Augustine’s dialogue De Musica this morning, and it occurred to me that it is a perfect way to illustrate the absurdity of “Method X answers everything”:

    MAGISTER – Modus, qui pes est?
    DISCIPULUS – Pyrrhichius. (Nb: a Poetical measure or ‘foot’ of two short syllables.)
    M. – Quot temporum est?
    D. – Duum.
    M. – Bonus, qui pes est?
    D. – Idem qui et modus.
    M. – Hoc est ergo modus, quod bonus.

%d bloggers like this: