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Consequences of Diversity

ATP

Well-known member
Yes and no. Aristotle's metaphysical views were an evolution of Plato's theory of "form", and held that reality did exist, but that every physical thing (ousia) was made up of a combination of physical matter and immaterial form, with the immaterial form being the more important of the two. To properly understand reality, Aristotle held, one should make systematic observation of the matter objects in the world in order to discern the underlying form; but once you understood the proper form of things, this understanding overrode the observed facts, since the physical matter was only an imperfect reflection of the perfect form.

Thus, Aristotle's views didn't stand alone (they very much were derivative of Plato's), and while they did make for the first glimmers of science, they were also still firmly anti-scientific, given that the bottom line was, "My beautiful theory overrides your petty reality!"
Still,thanks to him we knew that reality and TRuth exist and could be recognized.Cornestones of our Cyvilization.
And kind of sign which let us recognize our enemies - those who deny Reality,Truth,or both.
 

Scottty

Well-known member
Founder
If you're going to quote Aristotle, it's worth pointing out that Aristotle also held that the city took precedence over the family, the family over the individual, and that the fundamental purpose of the city was to enable its highest and most valuable citizens the possibility of living a good and virtuous life. In particular, he proposed a "mathematical" system of voting in which every voter cast a vote, but that those votes were systematically weighted so that the votes of the meritorious nobility had much greater value than those of the less worthy common citizens.

Also worth pointing out that pretty much everything Aristotle ever said about the biology, medicine, and in general the physical sciences is categorically wrong. Which may, perhaps, incline one to consider that his more theoretical opinions should be taken with several grains of salt.

I don't think anyone here is taking the line "This must be true, because Aristotle said it". This isn't the Middle Ages.
Rather, this is "Aristotle made this observation, and I think he had a point".
 

Lord Sovereign

Well-known member
I don't think anyone here is taking the line "This must be true, because Aristotle said it". This isn't the Middle Ages.
Rather, this is "Aristotle made this observation, and I think he had a point".
Absolutely. To my mind It’s somewhat like MLK and Nelson Mandela. Good grief I don’t agree with even half of their beliefs but, you know, I think they had a point about “maybe treating someone as a second class citizen on account of their skin colour is a bit pants.”

Wisdom should not be disregarded because of its source. Confucianism is painfully rigid, but Confucius had interesting things to say.
 

Skallagrim

Well-known member
To ensure that those who are otherwise uninformed about the pertinent facts aren't mis-informed by blatant lies, I feel obligated to point out that the, ah... "criticism" of Aristotle in this thread is rather amateurish and dishonest. Most of the claims/accusations are either very deceptive (purposely or due to lack of knowledge) or outright falsehoods. A critique raised by people who have (at best) a very rudimentary knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy, and whose assertions seem to be based on skimming CliffsNotes, should not be considered authorative-- or even valid.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that Aristotle was a product of Hellenic culture, and thus by definition also a product of its limitations and preconceived notions. This does not suggest that Aristotle was therefore wrong in his reasoning. And the fact is: we owe our understanding of this distinction to Aristotle!

There is a difference between flawed premises and flawed reasoning. Aristotle's premises were flawed-- we can say that with the benefit of additional millennia of knowledge, and instant access to a vast wealth of knowledge, which Aristotle did not and could not possess. However, Aristotle's reasoning based on the premises he had is actually very thorough. Which is no surprise, because as I said: we owe this understanding of premises and the logical process to Aristotle. He's the one who defined that.

The high school-level "gotcha!" that Aristotle was wrong about various scientific facts is, of course, barely worth refuting. It's too imbecilic for that. Nobody who's intellectually honest compares the knowledge of a historical figure to the knowledge we have millennia later; the only proper comparison is to the man's own contemporaries. And what do we then conclude? We conclude that Aristotle made vast, crucial contributions to practically every field of science. One may even argue that Aristotle formulated the first rudimentary form of what we call the scientific method. (A good read on that, which requires no specialist knowledge, is Leroi's excellent book The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science.)

As for the context of Aristotle's thinking here: he observed that isonomia (a reasonable "equality before the law") existed only in city-states and other local polities, which were by definition traditionally very homogeneous. This enabled a direct discourse within the corpus of the populace. Such "involvement" of the citizenry in decision-making was unheard-of in larger polities (insofar as Aristotle knew, or could possibly know). So his inference that large, multi-ethnic states are invaribly subject to despotism and frequent disorder was based on the best evidence he had.

Indeed, his observations have been in large part vindicated. Even now, it is an undeniable reality that as homogeneous polities become more heterogeneous (that is: when substantial numbers of foreigners immigrate), the social fabric breaks down, social trust diminishes, political stability is reduced, and all sorts of undesirable effects (such as increased crime and decreased economic prosperity) tend to follow. Naturally, this effect tends to be temporary if the migrants are much like the natives (because it eases their assimilation), but in the case of very foreign immigrants (such as, for instance, Muslims into a Christian country), all evidence thus far indicates that the issue cannot be resolved even after four generations...

A counter-point to Aristotle's point about larger states always being despotic can be found in the modern world, namely in the form of suitably decentralised (con)federal states. But these did not exist in Aristotle's world. All the "leagues" of smaller polities that he knew of were based on a common ethnos, and there were no examples of multi-ethnic states that respected the freedom of the citizenry in any way. And indeed, regardless of the relative success of certain modern 'unions', the very existence of something like BLM would have Aristotle saying something like: "See? I told you so. Multi-cultural states can't maintain freedom. Either they cease being free, or they cease being multi-cultural..."

(Rome, an example mentioned as a successful multi-ethnic polity, indeed ceased being multi-cultural to a significant degree, due to its ability to instill Romanitas in all its citizens. Once that sense of common Romanitas began to crumble, the Empire could not survive.)
 
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Lord Sovereign

Well-known member
But these did not exist in Aristotle's world. All the "leagues" of smaller polities that he knew of were based on a common ethnos, and there were no examples of multi-ethnic states that respected the freedom of the citizenry in any way.
You know, Persia wasn't quite as bad as we've often been led to believe, but it absolutely would have been tyrannical by the standards of the Greeks. A distant King lording it over the known world is completely alien to the poleis focused Hellenes. The Romans only got away with it because they were culturally compatible, and left the Greeks to their own devices for the most part.

Speaking of which, as I understand it, Persia was multi-cultural to an extent, but nothing at all like the modern notion of diversity. Granted, that hasn't stopped modern progressives trying to claim that empire as their own. Indeed, I remember watching this absurdly biased documentary about how the Persians were more "civilised" and multi-cultural than the brutish, militaristic Romans.

Edit: Granted, even that is a bit of a knock to the progressives because it affirms that the only form of polity which can keep a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society together is empire.
 

Skallagrim

Well-known member
You know, Persia wasn't quite as bad as we've often been led to believe, but it absolutely would have been tyrannical by the standards of the Greeks. A distant King lording it over the known world is completely alien to the poleis focused Hellenes. The Romans only got away with it because they were culturally compatible, and left the Greeks to their own devices for the most part.

Speaking of which, as I understand it, Persia was multi-cultural to an extent, but nothing at all like the modern notion of diversity. Granted, that hasn't stopped modern progressives trying to claim that empire as their own. Indeed, I remember watching this absurdly biased documentary about how the Persians were more "civilised" and multi-cultural than the brutish, militaristic Romans.

The issue was that in Aristotle's time, the Akhaimenid Empire had become increasingly despotic and increasingly chaotic. These two trends fed each other. A bloody succession strife led to the ruling dynasty imposing ever higher taxes and levies on their subject peoples, to the point that the term 'satrap' (previously neutral) gained decidedly negative connotation.

It is in this context that Aristotle saw the Persian empire, and from this he drew his conclusions. (Which led him to his famous advice to Alexander. Of course, Alxander intended to ignore it, and to -- basically -- create his own equivalent to "Romanitas" for his empire, while also restoring local sovereignty, lowering taxes, and removing corrupt satraps. Had he succeeded, it would have led to an interesting evolution of the "Aristotelian" observations. But Alexander died young, before he could consolidate his realm.)
 

bintananth

behind a desk
Absolutely. To my mind It’s somewhat like MLK and Nelson Mandela. Good grief I don’t agree with even half of their beliefs but, you know, I think they had a point about “maybe treating someone as a second class citizen on account of their skin colour is a bit pants.”
That point of MLK and Mendela can be extended from skin color to other physical traits.

Heck, this morning I got to overhear a pair of "Karens" complain about how handicapped parking is unfair for them. I kept my mouth shut because I knew that they would just make scene if I said anything about just how wrong and stupid they are.
 

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