Thursday, 4 February 2016

Estranged Notions: Modern Atheism: Dragging Plato Along Aristotle’s Coattails

Today's post:

Modern Atheism: Dragging Plato Along Aristotle’s Coattails

Gordon slobbers all over Aristotle while accusing all and sundry of not recognizing Plato's inadequacies; never mind that people reject Aristotle because he is wrong, not out of any regard for Plato. (Though one obvious thing that the two have in common is that neither had access to anything like enough raw facts to have any chance of reaching correct conclusions.)

Part of the problem with Aristotle is expressed in Boyden's review of Feser thus:

In this chapter, Feser discusses Plato and Aristotle. He accepts a fairly standard view on which Plato is the crazy metaphysician, and Aristotle tries to take the good parts of Plato's metaphysics and ground them with a healthy mix of common sense. As I understand it, this is roughly Aristotle's interpretation, and I think it has misleading aspects, but it's at least partly true. It's also why I like Plato better than Aristotle, which is of course the reverse of Feser's judgment. The problem with tempering your philosophy with common sense is that it's actually pretty common for common sense to be wrong, and if you make a mistake as a result of faulty common sense, people may fail to notice the mistake for centuries, or even millennia. On the other hand, if you make a mistake in your wild metaphysical flights of fancy, people are sure to call you on it, as they apparently did with Plato; the progression of the metaphysical theories in the dialogues seems to show that he was presented with a variety of criticisms, and tried to revise his theories in response to them.

When the universe turns out not to look anything like the common-sense version, then a commitment to ancient metaphysics becomes a liability.