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karl popper on Aristotle

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vive la insurrection Posted: Thu, Apr 4 2013 5:49 PM

Aristotelianism and related philosophies have told us for such a long time how important it is to get a precise knowledge of the meaning of our terms that we are inclined to believe it. And we continue to cling to this creed in spite of the unquestionable fact that philosophy, which for twenty centuries has worried about the meaning of its terms, is not only full of verbalism but also appallingly vague and ambiguous, while a science like physics which worries hardly at all about its terms and their meaning, but about facts instead, has achieved great precision. This, surely, should be taken as indicating that, under Aristotelian influence, the importance of the meaning of terms has been grossly exaggerated.

 

With all things Popper - I probably have a lot of objections to this.  However, also with all things Popper, it is still worth thinking about and better than most/all things we are capable of thinking of.

Most importantly, I think this is a dig at Witt - the interesting thing is, if my guess is correct, he has bracketed Witt with Ari.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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From the last sentence of the quote, I can't tell if it is a dig at Aristotle or a dig at philosophers who claim Aristole as an influence.

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Aristotelianism and related philosophies have told us for such a long time how important it is to get a precise knowledge of the meaning of our terms that we are inclined to believe it. And we continue to cling to this creed in spite of the unquestionable fact that philosophy, which for twenty centuries has worried about the meaning of its terms, is not only full of verbalism but also appallingly vague and ambiguous, while a science like physics which worries hardly at all about its terms and their meaning, but about facts instead, has achieved great precision. This, surely, should be taken as indicating that, under Aristotelian influence, the importance of the meaning of terms has been grossly exaggerated.

 

But I suspect, as a layman, that physics is so precise because it is so mathematical and mathematical terms are simply easier to define, because of the very imaginary nature of math;  a unit has no position and it is not divisble even though no one has ever seen a point in nature which answers to that definition.

But even in things like biology, which is less equivocal than philosophy (again writing as a layman of both subjects but especially of the former), I've noticed contradictions and bad definitions. For instance, either of the words deuterosome and protosome, apply to more than the official definition specifies.

 

 

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