The synthesis of ancient and modern physics and politics.

1.) Once you see Ancient and Medieval thought for the wisdom tradition it is, you want to advance it.

2.) The challenge of advancing the tradition happens on two main fronts: physics and politics. Morals and logic only need to be defended, explained, and put apposite to the other approaches to morals and logic. Physics and politics demand a new synthesis with contemporary approaches to the same subjects.

3.) We deny the synthesis by dismissing anything in need of change or assimilation in either the ancient or modern approach. The contempt for the ancient tradition is familiar to anyone, e.g. we can give a progressive account of knowledge that sees all earlier stages as corrected and dismissed by later ones, or else we can trade in caricatures of ancient thought. Those who fall in love with the ancient tradition are prone to making the analogous mistake of treating later developments in politics and philosophy as spreading by contagion: as if Nominalism or Empiricism or Subjectivism were all diseases we caught and not rational (even if ultimately misguided) responses to problems in the older theories.

4.) The main difficulties with synthesizing the older physics with the new are (a.) contemporary physics does not recognize a hierarchy of causes. The division between primary and secondary, equivocal and univocal, etc. play no role in the structure or order of the universe though they are the raison d’être of the Medieval. (b)  Causes that form the bases of explanation for contemporary physics never advance beyond operational definitions. No attempt is made to explain what category of being they might occupy, nor is it seen as a scientific endeavor to try to find one. (c) it’s not clear that any major claim in contemporary science is the sort of thing that a person could understand in a global or deductive way. Lines of explanation frequently branch into experiments one has not done and which contain many unarticulated assumptions and references to bafflingly difficult machinery. We can get from first axioms to the existence of God in 2,500 words of text; no one knows how to get to the God-particle in the same amount of space or even if it is possible.

5.) The main difficulty in adapting ancient politics to modern is that ancient politics bases all politics on the common good of a shared life, but no one has a vision for how there can be a shared life among the number of persons in a modern state. Ancient politics was proportioned to life in the Ancien Régime, where various causes pushed sovereignty downward to very small regions, where there was widespread religious homogeneity, and where the private space-public space divide was far less sharp than it is now. One can’t just scale up, secularize, and get by without overcome the collective fellow feeling that was part of life in the AR. Arguably, the sheer bloodiness and awfulness of the religious wars of the 17th century was motivated by the sense that their would would become unintelligible and impossible without its religious basis, and we can’t be so blithe toward the pluralist/ secularist state that they so violently rejected.

 

 

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