Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Galileo, Primary and Secondary Qualities, Feathers and Bodies

Expand Messages
  • ted.wrinch
    There is a criticism that needs to be made concerning Mr Butts and Galileo s understanding of primary and secondary qualities . Mr Butts doesn t actually use
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 21, 2012
    • 0 Attachment
      There is a criticism that needs to be made concerning Mr Butts' and Galileo's understanding of 'primary and secondary qualities'. Mr Butts doesn't actually use these terms - which I think were first used by John Locke - but prefers to call 'secondary qualities' 'sensory qualities' and describe them, with Galileo, as those qualities we perceive that are qualities apparently given to the world by our sense organs. And the 'properties of matter', the primary qualities of Locke, are those of shape and number occupying time and space and are supposedly non-sensory. But this latter supposition is an error: to distinguish moving shapes requires determining their boundaries, and this we do by detecting the edges of patches of colour in our visual field, and maybe hearing doplerian effects in our aural field, and perhaps reaching out to touch these shapes on occasion to reassure ourselves that they exist. This is how all of us first learn to understand the notion of 'matter' of the physicists. The notion of non-sensory moving bodies that can be the subject of a system of laws, like that of Newton's laws of motion, is an abstraction, thought out by us after an initial sensory apperception. This is what I said on WC and Steiner said in Goethe Against Atomism and Der Staudi solidly and consistently, over a long period of time, denied. The concept is elegantly worked out in Lehrs' Man or Matter and Edelglas' et als book, The Marriage of Sense and Thought, both of which I highly recommend.

      T.

      Ted Wrinch

      --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, "ted.wrinch" <ted.wrinch@...> wrote:
      >
      > There's a new Steiner lecture that that's come out on Galileo etc that has this interesting passage:
      >
      > "Galileo took his stand firmly on the ground upon which all the great minds in the course of earthly evolution have taken their stand. He believed that the manifestations of Nature, the things of Nature, are as the letters of an alphabet, which express the mind of the Divine Spiritual beings. Thus the human mind exists that it may read what the Divine Spiritual Beings have written there, written in the form of minerals, in the course of natural phenomena, in the course of the movements of the stars. Human nature exists that it may read the thoughts of the Divine Mind. To Galileo, however, the Divine Mind is only distinguished from the human mind by the fact that everything that can be thought is thought by Divine Mind at once, in a single moment, unfettered by space or time. Let us apply this to any single field; to the field of Mathematics. We see at once how extra ordinary this conception is. If a student desires to learn all that has as yet been learnt by mankind about Mathematics, he will have or to toil at Mathematics for years. Then, as you know, man's conception of Mathematics depends greatly on time. Now, Galileo argued thus: — What humanity succeeds in grasping in the course of many years is conceived by the Divine thought in one second. Divine thought is unfettered by space or time. Above all, the human mind must not suppose that with its reason limited, as it is, by space and time, it can immediately understand the Divine Mind. Man must strive. He must observe each step. He must study each separate phenomenon carefully. He must not think that he can afford to ignore the phenomena, that he can leave out of account what God has planned as the foundation of the phenomena. Galileo affirmed that it was wrong not to wish to know the, true meaning of the wonderful manifestations which Nature unfolds, by means of human reason, that it was wrong not to strive to ascertain the truth by minute investigation. He affirmed that to endeavour to arrive at the truth by speculation, instead of studying carefully the details of the various phenomena, was an entirely false method of thought.
      > But the motive which prompted Galileo was quite other than those which give rise to similar language to-day. Galileo would not limit the human mind to observation because he denied the operation of the Divine Mind in Nature; on the contrary, just because the Divine Mind manifests itself in Nature and reveals itself as so great, so powerful and so wonderful; because (to the Divine Intelligence) all creative thought springs into being in a moment, while the human mind requires an eternity in which lovingly to decipher the letters of the Alphabet and can only arrive gradually at the detailed thoughts which they represent. It is humility at the thought of how far human reason is below the Divine Reason which prompts Galileo to warn his contemporaries. "you can no longer see behind the things of sense. Not because this was never possible to man, but because the time for doing so has gone by."
      > "
      >
      > On this conception of God of Galileo I found this:
      >
      > '…mathematical demonstrations as such proved that "The human mind is a work of God and one of the most excellent". Of course that were infinitely fewer than than the mathematical properties of nature which were "infinite and perhaps but one in their essence and in the Divine mind…and run through the Divine mind like light in an instant"
      >
      > Cambridge companion to Galileo, edited by Peter K. Machamer, p 187 (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1wEFPLoqTeAC&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=galileo+divine+mind&source=bl&ots=kJcK_V5emt&sig=Ghyn3y9QLUeBvBMtHiiZQZIO2xI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IaU7T4WeCcry8QPX_OyDCw&sqi=2&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=galileo%20divine%20mind&f=false)
      > "Holy Scripture and nature, are both emanations from the divine word: the former dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter the observant executrix of God's commands." Reston, James, Galileo: A life, p 137
      >
      > Steiner continues to outline what it was that Gilieo achieved that has caused him to be called the founder of modern science ("According to Stephen Hawking, Galileo probably bears more of the responsibility for the birth of modern science than anybody else,[147] and Albert Einstein called him the father of modern science.[148][149]", Wiki)
      >
      > "It is a popular fallacy that Kant was the first to draw attention to the fact that the world around us is nothing but illusion and that it is not possible to arrive at "the thing in itself," at things as they really are. Expressed rather differently, Galileo had already demonstrated this idea; only, behind the visible, he always saw the all-pervading thoughts of the Divine Spiritual, and it was only from humility and not from principle that he said that only after long aeons of time would mankind be fit to draw nearer to it.
      > But Galileo said: — "When we see a colour, it makes a certain impression on us. Foe example, red. Is the red colour in the things?" Galileo used a very remarkable illustration, which showed at once that the primary conception was incorrect. That, however, is immaterial to our purpose. The point we wish to emphasize is the conception itself as an idea of that time. Galileo said: — "If you take a feather and tickle a man on the soles of his feet or the palms of his hands, the man will experience a sensation of tickling. Now is the tickling in the feather? No. It is entirely subjective. What is in the feather is quite different. As the tickling is subjective, so too is the red colour subjective, which is visible in the world." Thus he compared colours and even sounds with the tickling caused by the application of a feather to the soles of the feet.
      > Once we realize this, we can already trace in Galileo the beginnings of what came down to us as the philosophy of our modern times. For modern philosophy doubts the possibility of Man's ever being able to penetrate behind the veil of the world sense in any way whatsoever."
      >
      > http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GG2361_index.html
      >
      > In investigating this I found a significant comment on these concepts in a research paper by Robert E Butts in New perspectives on Galileo, 1977, p 64 et seq (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q4QgJL5QF9IC&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq=colour+tickling+galileo&source=bl&ots=-xEjaA_E2y&sig=kE9HgNmLg9LNuQ4lL-pbSUsjcO8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Dpw7T4WxHofb8QP5m9WJCw&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=colour%20tickling%20galileo&f=false). He quotes the famous passage from Galileo outlining the primary-secondary quality distinction:
      >
      > "Now I say that whenever I conceive amy material or corporeal substance I immediately feel the need to think of it as bounded, and as having this or that shape; as being large or small in relation to other things, and in some specific place at any given time; as being in motion or at rest; as touching or not touching some other body; and as being one in number, or few, or many. From these conditions I cannot separate such substance by any stretch of my imagination. But that it must be white or red, bitter or sweet, noisy or silent, and of sweet or foul door, my mind does not feel compelled to bring in as necessary accompaniments. Without the senses as our guides, reason or imagination unaided would probably never arrive at qualities like these. Hence I think that tastes, odors, colours, and so on are no more than mere names so far as the object in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in the consciousness. Hence if the living creatures were removed, all these qualities would be wiped away and annihilated. But since we have imposed upon them special names, distinct from those of the other and real qualities mentioned previously, we wish to believe that they really exist as actually and different from those.
      > …
      > To excite in us tastes, doors, and sounds I believe that nothing is required in external bodies except shapes, numbers, and slow or rapid movements. I think that if ears, tongue, and noses were removed, shapes and and numbers and motions would remain, but not doors, tastes or sounds. The latter, I believe, are nothing more than names when separated from living beings, just as ticking and titillation are nothing but names in the absence of such things as noses and armpits [this is similar to Steiner's feather allusion, though there it was the soles of the feet]"
      >
      > Taking this conception of matter, as that of shaped, sense free, quality-less bodies in movement, as the real is one form of materialism, which since these qualities are the primary qualities it is sensible to call primary quality materialism (and indeed the philosopher FH Bradley, mentioned in my previous post, did just that). As the study of these qualities is that of physics, if physicists claim that what they are studying is the real they are conforming to primary quality materialism. This seems clear, but was denied by Der Staudi in my debate with him - why? He has no idea what he is talking about, beyond 'winning' arguments.
      >
      > The author of the monograph says:
      >
      > "The distinction [between primary and secondary qualities] seems to me to involve the following claims:
      > 1) The properties of matter are essentially mathematical, i.e. measurable.
      > 2) Sensory qualities are not in matter, but exist only in consciousness.
      > 3) Sensory qualities are no more than names 'so far as the object in which we place them is concerned'.
      > 4) To exist, sensory qualities require a sense organ and an external material stimulus.
      > 5) For the purpose of doing publicly available science, private and idiosyncratic sensory qualities are irrelevant because they are not mathematizable.
      >
      > 2) and 3) do not commit Galileo to a nominalism with respect to the secondary qualities, but only to a certain semantical program for understanding the meaning of certain phrases in ordinary language. It is obvious that if the sensory qualities exist only in consciousness then sensory words like 'sweet', 'red', 'bitter', and the like are empty of reference('mere names') when applied to physical objects. …
      >
      > Property 4) introduces the notorious 'propensity' theory according to which we are to regard material objects as having the potentiality to create sensation in us [John Locke asserted the same idea]. But again, 4) does not deny the reality of sensory qualities, nor does it necessarily relegate them to a lower ontological status. Galileo's position leaves it quite open that the mind might come upon other ideas (again the obvious comparison is with the thought of Descartes) that are not sensory in origin [interestingly, this is the sense-free thinking the Hole denies exists], and evidently do not need the presence of physical objects "
      >
      > The author's position is incoherent: on the one hand he wishes to agree with Galileo that 'publicly available science' consists of the studying of shaped, sense free, quality-less bodies in movement but on the other hand that our inner life of sensation and thought is not somehow reduced or rendered less real by this: the Human Genome project, that purported to tell us who we are on a CD, was one example of this tendency to reduction in acton; the current notion that our brain physiology creates our thoughts is another; and the notion of the physicists that they are on the trail of a 'theory of everything', when it's only a theory of primary qualities is yet another. To accept that secondary qualities 'exist only in consciousness' as Galileo's program and 'publicly available science' does renders them liable to ineffectiveness and unreality, liable in fact to reduction to the mere operation of what is now conceived as the real, the primary qualities (pace the physicist in my quantum mechanics posting who conceived that his 'mind was created by real electrons', message 48596). This is materialism.
      >
      > The solution to this conundrum is to recognise that this division is a convenient one to do certain kinds of physical science and is not an epistemologically fundamental one. The position of the motion of matter in this conception of the world is equivalent to the paper on which are written the words of a book, where the words are in the language of nature, just as Galileo said: "Holy Scripture and nature, are both emanations from the divine word…".
      >
      > This lack of understanding of the consequences of Galieo's division of the world in this manner is one of the causes of a lack of understanding of 'materialism' in the West.
      >
      > T.
      >
      > Ted Wrinch
      >
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.