Monday, August 27, 2012

Why we need Aristotle and Aquinas pt 4

Having looked at current symptoms of the mechanistic thought process, it is finally time to look at why a rediscovery of Aristotelian and Thomistic (AT) metaphysics is desperately needed.

One of the key factors of AT metaphysics is that it proceeds from reality as it presents itself to us.  It takes for granted that the things that reality presents to us are in fact real.  This is distinct from mechanistic thought, which has the tendency to impose a view on reality to conform to a system.

The coffee cup on my desk is actually a coffee cup on my desk.  I can actually see the coffee cup on my desk.  What my eyes tell me is actually real.  While these may seem trivial observations, they actually state quite profound insights.

What I perceive is reality first.  The existence of objects and my perceptions of those objects are both real.  They communicate the way things are, and as such I perceive truth.  This means that sensory data is not only trustworthy in the general sense, but that they communicate reality as it is.

From this point AT develops metaphysical principles stemming from this primary source of reality.  Form and matter, potential and actual, efficient and final causes.  All stem from this connection with reality as presented.

Notice the distinction between this and what we see in modern thought.  All of the principles of AT philosophy are derived from the concrete reality that such is supposed to describe.  This is distinct from contemporary approaches to thinking, which more often than not impose a view on reality and then seek to have reality conform to the view.

The upshot of this is that unlike modern models of reality, AT metaphysics retains its grounding in the reality from which it derives.  It does not impose a reality.  It derives from the reality.

This emphasis on deriving a worldview from reality rather than imposing one on it via laboratory experiments is the fundamental distinction between medieval and modern thought.  We would do well to rediscover this important connection between reality and how we describe it.  And AT metaphysics would go a long way to reconnecting that bridge between reality and the human mind.

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