Aristotle, Wittgenstein, and Acid Me

31 Mar

Off to a Conclusion: How you get there. (Part One)

Why does Aristotelean Logic rely so heavily on words and words alone?

The best way of understanding this is to answer another question.

What do Aristotle and the Bible have in common?

Jews. It is pretty obvious from any study of the subject that Aristotle and the Jews influenced each other both during his lifetime and afterwards.

The Jews weren’t particularly liked in Aristotle’s Greece. They had strict sexual standards and nudity standards and were not as hedonistic in other ways. It no doubt seemed weird to Greeks that the Jews were required to drink wine during certain religious ceremonies but were forbidden to get drunk at the local bar afterwords.

Notwithstanding some of the youths saw fit to drag the foreskin of their circumcised penises forward so as to make them look more like the uncircumcised Greeks. Not as much foreskin was taken off at that time so it could be done. But still the most popular sport, wrestling, was done in the nude and any circumcised Jew who participated stuck out like a…Well… Sore penis. It was then decided to take more skin off in the future so this partial visual denial of Jewishness could no longer be done.

Nonetheless Aristobulus maintained that Jewish revelation and Aristotelian philosophy were the same.

There is even a rumor, maybe two, that Aristotle was a Jew.

There have been suggestions Aristotle must have read the Bible because his two books on Ethics share so much with it. That could not have quite happened, the Bible had not been written yet. At least not in its present form. Some parts of the Bible were written down well over 3,000 years ago.

Some people are really stumped by this.

People in our culture have become so disconnected from our past that many find it difficult to picture Jesus teaching the Lord’s Prayer without a teleprompter in front of him.

The most likely scenario: Aristotle was an intelligent, educated man. He no doubt talked with other intelligent, educated men. A Rabbi is, by definition, an intelligent, educated person. Not in the sense most people today think — There is no college degree for the job. A Rabbi is someone who knows and understands Jewish law well enough to teach it and instruct others in it. He can resolve disputes regarding halakhah. No doubt he talked with them and they talked with him.

Then too there is the blasphemic suggestion that perhaps Aristotle influenced the writing of the Bible. Or at least parts of it. The New Testament, anyway.

You cannot hear, or read, Genesis without being effected by the reiteration: God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God said let there be this and there was this and God said let there be that and there was that.

For six days God was a chatterbox talking up all kinds of things out of the void with his words alone. He created all this amazing stuff and then he made man and gave it all to him. Uhhhhh. Then he made man and woman.

Oooops. Where did they come from?

That is in Genesis Chapter one 26, 27, and 28. It was the sixth day.

I’m told her name was Lilith and she is not to be spoken of.

Who was he?

Where did he go?

I don’t even know of a good myth.

Well, maybe they went off together and founded the land of Nod.

On the seventh day he rested.

On the eighth day in Genesis, Chapter two 5 there was not a man to till the ground. And then in 7 — God made man.

Then He made the Garden of Eden and put man there as caretaker.

Then, confusing to me as a child and as an adult:

Genesis two 18: And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

So I expected him to create Eve right then and there.

Hell no.

Genesis two 19: And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20: And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

( I refuse to comment on THAT one. I’m only glad the first time I read it I did NOT have a mouth full of coffee. It is one of the funniest lines in the Bible.)

It wasn’t until Genesis two 21 He created Eve.

Chapter three is interesting and has its own conundrums but what I’m pointing out is contained in chapters one and two.

You cannot read these two first chapters of Genesis without noticing the importance of WORDS. God spoke and it was. Adam NAMED every living creature.

I think of this as a story relating the development of language and the awe it engendered in humanity.

The development of language was a powerful tool. Almost magic, no doubt.

Although Aristotelean Logic had its uses in its day it carried over this worship of words as real things that had power and authority into the fabric of the “reason” he developed. Everything in Aristotelean Logic hinges on words and the definitions of words.

The interesting thing is the Jews, at least those I have known, aren’t all that hung up on things like that. They are more interested in keeping the commandments of God than whether every word in the Torah or the Bible or any other work should be taken literally or not.

But the Christians?

Wow. They took it further. Way further.

John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

– King James Bible

Caesar crowned himself and declared he was a god.

John crowned the word and told it “You are The God.”

Veneration of the Word by Christians and Logicians became almost manic.

It wasn’t until Wittgenstein this methodology was challenged: If you are not familiar with the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein I suggest going to

2.1 We make to ourselves pictures of facts.

2.11 The picture presents the facts in logical space, the existence and non-existence of atomic facts.

2.12 The picture is a model of reality.

2.13 To the objects correspond in the picture the elements of the picture.

2.131 The elements of the picture stand, in the picture, for the objects.

2.14 The picture consists in the fact that its elements are combined with one another in a definite way.

2.141 The picture is a fact.

2.15 That the elements of the picture are combined with one another in a definite way, represents that the things are so combined with one another.

Wittgenstein showed us the way.

All I am doing is following along behind.

I was recently told I sound like Wittgenstein on acid.

I think I’ll have a T-Shirt made.


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