Tuesday, March 28, 2006

pantes anthrôpoi tou eidenai oregontai phusei

Four items of note

This last item has me wondering. I'd looked at various translations of the first few sentences of Aristotle's Metaphysics (980a-981a, but especially 980a--and now I can't seem to get past the first few words). Already in Metaphysics there are two ways of talking about coming to be, two ways of having been born: phusis and gignomai. Looking for answers I came across the work of Xavier Zubiri. The first work I stumbled into was Socrates and the Greek Idea of Wisdom from Zubiri's Nature, History, God. Then I had a chance to look at his mildly operose The Historical Dimension of the Human Being, and now it seems I will have to make a study of his On Essence, the full translation of which is not yet online, and his Dynamic Structure of Reality. A key question in all of this: When did reality become a substance?

There are many resources at the Zubiri Foundation site, including the active Xavier Zubiri Review. One dead link that really causes problems: the true-type Greek font used in some of the translations. If I can track down that font I'll post a link here. Naturally.

posted by Fido the Yak at 2:20 PM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

P says: Interesting that you come across Zubiri whose work I don't know but who Mario Crocco knew personally. I paste an extract from a mail from Mario (I don't think he would object):

"Maybe you may help me
to remember if he was Tom
Sawyer or either Huckleberry
Finn who got so wonderfully
amazed when the latest
technology - a balloon flight ­
revealed to him that the united
States do not differ in color,
as maps unfaithfully portray
them. This important intuition
(I fuzzingly credit it to Mark
Twain but may be mistaken)
is the essential point to
penetrate Zubiri’s anthropology
as well as his difference with
our tradition - and also the
touchstone to probe Jung’s.
Don Xavier’s thought stemmed
from the same cultural sources
that our neurobiological
tradition but he kept a greater
loyalty to the Peripatetic
view of minds as penetrable.
This on the Twain’s picture
is like to seeing the contiguous
States as not essentially
different in certain feature
that prevents full exchanges,
whether the map color or
cadacualtez for minds. The
issue in fact comes from certain
remark by Aristotle in his
peri psyjees, but let me now
skip over it. Such penetrability
allowed don Xavier to speak at
once of a crab’s and a dog’s
sentience, while in fact the
dog senses and the crab doesn’t...."

Know I know that doesn't help much but if you read Mario Crocco's essay 'Palindrome' (on the net) you will come across the term 'cadacualtez' (each-one-ness). This is what Zubiri doesn't have. 'Blind to Cadacualtez'

March 28, 2006 5:28 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

I suppose there may be two senses in which Zubiri didn't see cadacualtez, the obvious one and the way he positioned his "open essence" of existence against Sartrean freedom and the like. But I'm sure I'll discover that his thinking on the matter is quite involved.

Now I want to read Joe Sachs' translation of "Peri Psuchês" and also see the original.

Personally I don't have a problem with ascribing an essential sentience to dogs and crabs--provisionally. At some point it becomes interesting, something other than an impediment to clear thinking. Without something like cadacualtez, I can see that an essential sentience would be a problem, not just for the practicing existential neurobiologist, but for philosophy. But my hunch is that Zubiri has other ideas doing much of the work of cadacualtez--you see, I really am a reductionist. It's my nature.

March 30, 2006 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P. writes: Mariela Szirko has an appendix to her essay 'Effects of relativistic motion in the brain' that doesn't seem to be on the web version:

"Are minds what the Aristotle-stemmed traditions refer to as “souls”?

No. Minds as existentialities may indeed contribute to the make-up of biological organisms by performing operations counted in the Peripatetic homogeneous series of souls. However, neither minds as existentialities do carry forward previous elements of the Peripatetic soul-series, nor their existential condition arises from – or depend on – their having performed soul-operations that are preceding in the series. So minds involve elements that may be conceived as Aristotelian souls, but also consist of another sort of reality that puts them beyond the grip of the Aristotelian concept of soul. We might note some details:

Time-honored, academically ubiquitous if veiled at times, and assumed by the popular views of “soul,” the Peripatetician-stemmed notion of “souls” yet makes reference to other entities. These are quite unlike minds. Such a tradition refers, descriptively or “statically,” to the “substantial forms” or types of corporeality that sustain life in organic bodies. In plain words, it calls “souls” that which renders these bodies alive rather than dead. This animation or aliveness eludes, in the simplest instances (e. g., virus and genomic fragments, natural or artificially-tailored), all-or-none, ungradable oppositions of the type “living-dead,” but these exceptions do not hamper the traditional schema’s usual application. It not seldom uses modern labels (e. g. “informational stuffing”) for metaphysics-impoverished versions of classic construals, and mentions Aristotle just as its honorable precursor. The tradition thus recognizes three genres of such body-forming souls, in a chain of incremental perfections: vegetative souls, in all living organisms save the following ones; sensitive souls in animals whether rational or not, and intellective souls to constitute the rational beings.

When in these body-molding souls knowledge is to be admitted, it is handled as required by the souls’ chain. Namely, in order to attain the primary goal of describing life’s multifariousness by a single, continuous and homogeneous series of vital operations – which currently may be extended to artificial systems – the Peripatetician tradition introduced knowledge into this series just as a further mode of appropriation. To be exact, as an opposite to metabolic assimilation. Knowledge was thus introduced as the opposite to operations such as eating, in which the object, say food, becomes the soul or assimilating corporeality. By this metabolic operation the taken object becomes such a soul, altering the eaten object’s identity or owner. In a contrast not altogether radical, knowledge is seen – failing to appreciate the mind’s existentiality, that is, not her existence (or entitative enactment making of her an actual being rather than a mere possible one) but the subjective nonalterity making her a reality such as those described, e. g., by existentialisms – as the acquisition of the known object’s features as features of the object: preserving it, but modifying the assimilating soul. Thereby the soul becomes the taken object, a process that alters the very soul but leaves intact the object’s identity or owner.

This integrative understanding of knowledge as just another mode of biological appropriation is a key conceptual tool. It gave an opening mainstay to a natural science which ambitions to describe a nature where minds are encountered, i. e. a natural science whose models are required to refer to both extramentality and existentialities, even if in their general or “essential,” repeatable features. Viewing knowledge as a biological appropriation allows to keep a single body-molding soul in each organism, which so joins the unique series that, although itself single, permits depicting life’s multifariousness.

In the resulting, single-stranded Peripatetic depiction, whenever an upper body-molding soul enacts life-sustaining activities, it also exerts the lower souls’ offices. These at their lowest include granting to the living the supporting physical features of the lifeless, such as permanence in its being, weight, volume, etc. This not infrequently occurs all at once, yet may also be done one type of operation after another, as in embryological sequences. For example, in the rational animals in embryonary state, the intellective soul is said to perform no more than vegetative operations. These are to develop the embryo’s aptitude to be later informed also by the same intellective soul’s performance of sensitive operations – which, in turn, are to develop the animal’s organic aptitude to be later informed also by this very intellective soul’s rational operations. Out of the three genres of body-molding soul (only vegetative; vegetative and sensitive; vegetative, sensitive and intellective) the organic bodies, currently often classed into eight or five kingdoms of terrestrial living beings, obtain four grades of life, i. e. vegetative, sensitive, locomotive and intellective life; in turn, because of these four grades, they deploy five genres of faculties, which are the vegetative, sensitive, locomotive, intellective and appetitive life powers. Christian Peripatetism broke the homogeneity of this imbricated series by introducing (or at least underscoring) the intellective souls’ intrinsic impossibility of not being once created, or immortality, and their ensuing unfitness to be educed, like the other souls, from the body’s narrower organic aptitudes. These nonbiological attributes were not deemed supported by the intellective souls’ non-organic existential condition, shared with other animals, but by the admirable excellence which the organization of their mental contents might reach; yet here the interesting point for natural sciences is another. Namely, that not either the previous segment in the series or chain is homogeneous.

The eclosion of existentialities breaks the homogeneity of the chain of body-molding souls far below in the chain (say, perhaps, in early vertebrates or complex mollusks) though far above its bacteria-like or phage-like arguable beginnings. It even cuts the chain in the middle of one of the links, and moreover breaks into the subseries of souls judged substantially incomplete, i. e. the vegetative and sensitive ones. Instead homogeneity holds, all the way through the Peripatetician series of organic complexity, for the means producing some mental contents.

These means are at work from protista, plants and other biological kingdoms (in which no mind ecloses nor, consequently, are those means used to produce mental contents) up to what they call rational animals. It does no matter whether the Peripatetician souls – “Forms,” the variety of lifes absolutely possible – are construed as Platonic essences inhabiting not the Heavens but the organic bodies, or as these bodies’ informational composition making up, with different parcels of matter, all the individuals ot each species; or even both, as not few contemporary biologists and physicists more or less merge the two basic construals. Refined through the well-known revisions underwent by the “life” concept in the recent history of science, the so-conceived body-forming souls may enter sound biological descriptions that fairly summarize a good deal of the organisms’ functioning organization and, even, encompass – when minds are believed to consist only in their contents – the very mental contents that can be shaped also by non-exclusive, fungible means. But this aptitude of the Peripatetician-stemmed notion of “souls” does not suffice to make the least reference to minds, also called psyches, as existentialities, of whose central feature, namely their cadacualtic idiosyncrasy, such notion cannot provide any science (Aristotle’s Metaphysics 11, 8, 1064 and 6, 2, 1027); nor is it ever wielded for such purpose, except when minds are mistaken as the collections of their mental contents.

On the contrary, minds or psyches as existentialities keep with their circumstancing bodies a relationship – a mind-constituting one – different from both the relation held by the life-sustaining “substantial forms” (or, “complete information”) with their instancing organisms – which, conversely, is a body-constituting relation – and, also, the relation kept by those mental contents with the same bodies. As factually found in nature, each mind as existentiality is the subjectivity that eclosed circumstanced to not only some body’s Form which therefore she accidentally and substitutably integrates, but also to this particular body rather than to any other one of whatever Form; i. e., to an unbarterable particular body that she thus integrates into an irreplaceable unity. This crucial difference joins still others that we need not to comment at this point, e. g. that the existentiality’s immediate causal interactions occur in a certain organ while the body-forming soul is a way of determining the whole body. By itself, the crucial difference prevents to include minds or psyches inasmuch as existentialities as full members in the Peripatetician series of body-forming souls, except when the mentioned reduction to mental contents induces confusion and the Peripatetically construed souls are, instead, referred to operatively, or “dynamically”; namely, as “[it] in which we primarily live and feel and reason.” (Between “feel” and “reason” old-times scholars used to add “and move.”) This dynamic outlook affords some wiggle room for a closer view of knowledge, as not only an assimilative grasp of outer notices but also the experiential capture of the own self causally modified by the own action and the interaction with the surroundings. Yet the dynamic outlook, as it sweepingly applies univocally to the three souls, averts to tell existentialities apart.

Conversely a multiheaded body sustained in itself by its single “substantial form” – or type of corporeality, which in vertebrates is found to include multiheadedness, the most often two-headedness, among the extremes of its characteristic range of teratological variation keeping the normal type of brain functionality – may however provide circumstances to several existentialities.

As an example, one of the corpses conserved in this laboratory is that of two persons, human twins with a single post-cervical body. We call them Flavia, the person circumstanced at the right head of the corpse when it was alive, and Xanthe. They made of course a natural clon, incompletely segregated. Though their body might be understood as informed by a single Aristotelian substantial form, two existentialities eclosed circumstanced therein. The fictionalisms-perspectivisms, assuming that neither facts nor, thus, delusions exist but only interpretations, blinded themselves to heed that Xanthe’s existential finitude found herself not circumstanced at the body’s right side, i. e. at her sister’s brain, nor at any other localization for causal exchanges with extramentality. As in most “sirenian monsters,” their spine is unique; not any xiphodymy as, e. g., in Rudolf Virchow’s “Xiphodymen Gebrüder Tocci,” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 23 (3) 1891, pp. 245-246 and “Xiphodymie,” ib., pp. 366-367. [The corpse image, not reproduced in this WWW publishing on reasons of respectulness, is in Ávila & Crocco 1996, p. 518; original from M. Crocco, Cómo el tejido neurocognitivo genera fenómenos psicológicos (Chair of Anat. & Physiol. of the Nervous System, Fac. of Psychology, Univ. of Buenos Aires, 1984), reprinted in "Una reflexión crítica sobre la identidad personal . . . ” (1986), cf. Ref. 166 in Ávila and Crocco 1996; also republished in "Identidad personal,” Folia Neurobiológica Argentina VII (1989), 417-604.]

These fraternal existentialities in the human species may grow up to adulthood and exercise reasoning. The teratological or abnormal deviation of the twins’ bodily development just fails to duplicate the backbone’s rear (xyphodymy) and its anatomophysiological dependences, not the other body systems. In their multiheaded organism we clearly find a single Aristotelian body-forming soul and two or more existential minds. It so offers an illustration clearer than pregnancies, where each fetus and the mother also add up to several existential minds but whose lifes, in contrast, having different genomes, are sustained by slightly different varieties of possible corporeality or Aristotelian body-molding souls, whose distinction, even in the case of fully split up twins having the same genetic material (developed from the same fertilized ovum), may thus be kept in the air on purely conceptual bases.

The above presumably suffices to mark that between bodily-molded minds and body-molding souls some major difference exists. It may be remembered when the need arises of making plain that existentialities are, indeed, that “in which” (Greek toôi, dative; Latin quo) primarily we live but, in no way, are that whereby unmindful organisms such as protozoans, fungi, plants, and non-empsyched animals adapt, react and move. Minds, or bodily-textured psyches whose ontic consistency is existential and eclose wherever a substrate entertaining the said relationship gets composed, are another sort of reality."

Somewhere on the Argentinian site is a picture of Flavia and Xanthe; I'll link it later.

Their approach requires a certain kind of dielectric organ (a brain or its artificial substrate) for sentience...Good luck with Aristotle.(Smile)

March 31, 2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger nekkid said...

I just got straightened out on the 'oregontai' in the quote. I've been trying to find that verb: it is the middle active indicative of 'oregw' meaning to reach out for, and metaphorically to grasp at or desire.


September 03, 2006 3:23 PM  

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