philosopher's club, anyone? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 92 Old 12-07-2007 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TrueBlue View Post
How many posts before this thread turns into a battle over differing political and religious beliefs? Should be in Off Topic Hoff . . . you think (therefore you are)?
Because if it's a philosophical thread, it shouldn't degenerate into that; the point to philosophy is enquiry, not scoring points. and there are moderators out there earning big bucks for the privilege of keeping the kids from throwing sand in each other's faces.

and as for the assertion it has no place in this site, the problem is every assertion is philosophical in nature, including the points raised here; what i'm suggestion is some thought about what lies behind our assumptions that we constantly make when we say something at sailnet.

there's already a lot of cheese and sandbox antics, as long as it's on topic, what could it hurt? and it would be important to stay on topic; there's a wealth of stuff in regards to sailing that could b be dug into. but if there really isn't the interest i won't be babbling to myself

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post #12 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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I don't quite get it (what's being proposed for this "club", that is). But then again, I typically stay away from the off-topic section and political/social/moral discussion threads. I'll show myself to the door.

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post #13 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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Originally Posted by HoffaLives View Post
Because if it's a philosophical thread, it shouldn't degenerate into that; the point to philosophy is enquiry, not scoring points.
I get it, and it shouldn't, but it will . . . guaranteed. Everyone knows that the most quoted philosophers were ( /are) politicians and religious leaders, not sailors

Who's going to police the thread and make the decisions over what stays - and what doesn't belong, in a "sailing philosophy" discussion? Whatever the hell that is.

Edit - I think it's a good idea for a thread - but only in Off topic.

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post #14 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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I get the feeling that if this goes ahead I'll become ensnarled in an argument with myself.

The hoff's original premise was that the philosopher's club should focus on philosophical discussions about sailing-related issues. This, by definition makes it "sailing-related".

Taking the position that the thread belongs in off-topic as opposed to sailing-related is tough to defend...

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post #15 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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I suppose than, the inevitable digression to discussions of non-sailing related beliefs will be tolerated by the mods, regardless of the thread's existence in a sailing related forum.

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post #16 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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On the other hand - this seems to be the general trend with ALL threads anyway. Moot point TB.

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post #17 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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Book I


ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the
delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness
they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of
sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not
going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything
else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know
and brings to light many differences between things.
By nature animals are born with the faculty of sensation, and from
sensation memory is produced in some of them, though not in others.
And therefore the former are more intelligent and apt at learning than
those which cannot remember; those which are incapable of hearing
sounds are intelligent though they cannot be taught, e.g. the bee, and
any other race of animals that may be like it; and those which besides
memory have this sense of hearing can be taught.
The animals other than man live by appearances and memories, and
have but little of connected experience; but the human race lives also
by art and reasonings. Now from memory experience is produced in
men; for the several memories of the same thing produce finally the
capacity for a single experience. And experience seems pretty much
like science and art, but really science and art come to men through
experience; for 'experience made art', as Polus says, 'but
inexperience luck.' Now art arises when from many notions gained by
experience one universal judgement about a class of objects is
produced. For to have a judgement that when Callias was ill of this
disease this did him good, and similarly in the case of Socrates and
in many individual cases, is a matter of experience; but to judge that
it has done good to all persons of a certain constitution, marked
off in one class, when they were ill of this disease, e.g. to
phlegmatic or bilious people when burning with fevers-this is a matter
of art.
With a view to action experience seems in no respect inferior to
art, and men of experience succeed even better than those who have
theory without experience. (The reason is that experience is knowledge
of individuals, art of universals, and actions and productions are all
concerned with the individual; for the physician does not cure man,
except in an incidental way, but Callias or Socrates or some other
called by some such individual name, who happens to be a man. If,
then, a man has the theory without the experience, and recognizes
the universal but does not know the individual included in this, he
will often fail to cure; for it is the individual that is to be
cured.) But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to
art rather than to experience, and we suppose artists to be wiser than
men of experience (which implies that Wisdom depends in all cases
rather on knowledge); and this because the former know the cause,
but the latter do not. For men of experience know that the thing is
so, but do not know why, while the others know the 'why' and the
cause. Hence we think also that the masterworkers in each craft are
more honourable and know in a truer sense and are wiser than the
manual workers, because they know the causes of the things that are
done (we think the manual workers are like certain lifeless things
which act indeed, but act without knowing what they do, as fire
burns,-but while the lifeless things perform each of their functions
by a natural tendency, the labourers perform them through habit); thus
we view them as being wiser not in virtue of being able to act, but of
having the theory for themselves and knowing the causes. And in
general it is a sign of the man who knows and of the man who does
not know, that the former can teach, and therefore we think art more
truly knowledge than experience is; for artists can teach, and men
of mere experience cannot.
Again, we do not regard any of the senses as Wisdom; yet surely
these give the most authoritative knowledge of particulars. But they
do not tell us the 'why' of anything-e.g. why fire is hot; they only
say that it is hot.
At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the
common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men, not only
because there was something useful in the inventions, but because he
was thought wise and superior to the rest. But as more arts were
invented, and some were directed to the necessities of life, others to
recreation, the inventors of the latter were naturally always regarded
as wiser than the inventors of the former, because their branches of
knowledge did not aim at utility. Hence when all such inventions
were already established, the sciences which do not aim at giving
pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered, and first in
the places where men first began to have leisure. This is why the
mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly
caste was allowed to be at leisure.
We have said in the Ethics what the difference is between art
and science and the other kindred faculties; but the point of our
present discussion is this, that all men suppose what is called Wisdom
to deal with the first causes and the principles of things; so that,
as has been said before, the man of experience is thought to be
wiser than the possessors of any sense-perception whatever, the artist
wiser than the men of experience, the masterworker than the
mechanic, and the theoretical kinds of knowledge to be more of the
nature of Wisdom than the productive. Clearly then Wisdom is knowledge
about certain principles and causes.
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post #18 of 92 Old 12-07-2007
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Originally Posted by TrueBlue View Post
Moot point TB.
See, I'm already arguing with myself.

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Since we are seeking this knowledge, we must inquire of what
kind are the causes and the principles, the knowledge of which is
Wisdom. If one were to take the notions we have about the wise man,
this might perhaps make the answer more evident. We suppose first,
then, that the wise man knows all things, as far as possible, although
he has not knowledge of each of them in detail; secondly, that he
who can learn things that are difficult, and not easy for man to know,
is wise (sense-perception is common to all, and therefore easy and
no mark of Wisdom); again, that he who is more exact and more
capable of teaching the causes is wiser, in every branch of knowledge;
and that of the sciences, also, that which is desirable on its own
account and for the sake of knowing it is more of the nature of Wisdom
than that which is desirable on account of its results, and the
superior science is more of the nature of Wisdom than the ancillary;
for the wise man must not be ordered but must order, and he must not
obey another, but the less wise must obey him.
Such and so many are the notions, then, which we have about Wisdom
and the wise. Now of these characteristics that of knowing all
things must belong to him who has in the highest degree universal
knowledge; for he knows in a sense all the instances that fall under
the universal. And these things, the most universal, are on the
whole the hardest for men to know; for they are farthest from the
senses. And the most exact of the sciences are those which deal most
with first principles; for those which involve fewer principles are
more exact than those which involve additional principles, e.g.
arithmetic than geometry. But the science which investigates causes is
also instructive, in a higher degree, for the people who instruct us
are those who tell the causes of each thing. And understanding and
knowledge pursued for their own sake are found most in the knowledge
of that which is most knowable (for he who chooses to know for the
sake of knowing will choose most readily that which is most truly
knowledge, and such is the knowledge of that which is most
knowable); and the first principles and the causes are most
knowable; for by reason of these, and from these, all other things
come to be known, and not these by means of the things subordinate
to them. And the science which knows to what end each thing must be
done is the most authoritative of the sciences, and more authoritative
than any ancillary science; and this end is the good of that thing,
and in general the supreme good in the whole of nature. Judged by
all the tests we have mentioned, then, the name in question falls to
the same science; this must be a science that investigates the first
principles and causes; for the good, i.e. the end, is one of the
That it is not a science of production is clear even from the
history of the earliest philosophers. For it is owing to their
wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize;
they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced
little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters,
e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the
stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled
and wonders thinks himself ignorant (whence even the lover of myth
is in a sense a lover of Wisdom, for the myth is composed of wonders);
therefore since they philosophized order to escape from ignorance,
evidently they were pursuing science in order to know, and not for any
utilitarian end. And this is confirmed by the facts; for it was when
almost all the necessities of life and the things that make for
comfort and recreation had been secured, that such knowledge began
to be sought. Evidently then we do not seek it for the sake of any
other advantage; but as the man is free, we say, who exists for his
own sake and not for another's, so we pursue this as the only free
science, for it alone exists for its own sake.
Hence also the possession of it might be justly regarded as beyond
human power; for in many ways human nature is in bondage, so that
according to Simonides 'God alone can have this privilege', and it
is unfitting that man should not be content to seek the knowledge that
is suited to him. If, then, there is something in what the poets
say, and jealousy is natural to the divine power, it would probably
occur in this case above all, and all who excelled in this knowledge
would be unfortunate. But the divine power cannot be jealous (nay,
according to the proverb, 'bards tell a lie'), nor should any other
science be thought more honourable than one of this sort. For the most
divine science is also most honourable; and this science alone must
be, in two ways, most divine. For the science which it would be most
meet for God to have is a divine science, and so is any science that
deals with divine objects; and this science alone has both these
qualities; for (1) God is thought to be among the causes of all things
and to be a first principle, and (2) such a science either God alone
can have, or God above all others. All the sciences, indeed, are
more necessary than this, but none is better.
Yet the acquisition of it must in a sense end in something which
is the opposite of our original inquiries. For all men begin, as we
said, by wondering that things are as they are, as they do about
self-moving marionettes, or about the solstices or the
incommensurability of the diagonal of a square with the side; for it
seems wonderful to all who have not yet seen the reason, that there is
a thing which cannot be measured even by the smallest unit. But we
must end in the contrary and, according to the proverb, the better
state, as is the case in these instances too when men learn the cause;
for there is nothing which would surprise a geometer so much as if the
diagonal turned out to be commensurable.
We have stated, then, what is the nature of the science we are
searching for, and what is the mark which our search and our whole
investigation must reach.
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Evidently we have to acquire knowledge of the original causes (for
we say we know each thing only when we think we recognize its first
cause), and causes are spoken of in four senses. In one of these we
mean the substance, i.e. the essence (for the 'why' is reducible
finally to the definition, and the ultimate 'why' is a cause and
principle); in another the matter or substratum, in a third the source
of the change, and in a fourth the cause opposed to this, the
purpose and the good (for this is the end of all generation and
change). We have studied these causes sufficiently in our work on
nature, but yet let us call to our aid those who have attacked the
investigation of being and philosophized about reality before us.
For obviously they too speak of certain principles and causes; to go
over their views, then, will be of profit to the present inquiry,
for we shall either find another kind of cause, or be more convinced
of the correctness of those which we now maintain.
Of the first philosophers, then, most thought the principles which
were of the nature of matter were the only principles of all things.
That of which all things that are consist, the first from which they
come to be, the last into which they are resolved (the substance
remaining, but changing in its modifications), this they say is the
element and this the principle of things, and therefore they think
nothing is either generated or destroyed, since this sort of entity is
always conserved, as we say Socrates neither comes to be absolutely
when he comes to be beautiful or musical, nor ceases to be when
loses these characteristics, because the substratum, Socrates
himself remains. just so they say nothing else comes to be or ceases
to be; for there must be some entity-either one or more than
one-from which all other things come to be, it being conserved.
Yet they do not all agree as to the number and the nature of these
principles. Thales, the founder of this type of philosophy, says the
principle is water (for which reason he declared that the earth
rests on water), getting the notion perhaps from seeing that the
nutriment of all things is moist, and that heat itself is generated
from the moist and kept alive by it (and that from which they come
to be is a principle of all things). He got his notion from this fact,
and from the fact that the seeds of all things have a moist nature,
and that water is the origin of the nature of moist things.
Some think that even the ancients who lived long before the
present generation, and first framed accounts of the gods, had a
similar view of nature; for they made Ocean and Tethys the parents
of creation, and described the oath of the gods as being by water,
to which they give the name of Styx; for what is oldest is most
honourable, and the most honourable thing is that by which one swears.
It may perhaps be uncertain whether this opinion about nature is
primitive and ancient, but Thales at any rate is said to have declared
himself thus about the first cause. Hippo no one would think fit to
include among these thinkers, because of the paltriness of his
Anaximenes and Diogenes make air prior to water, and the most
primary of the simple bodies, while Hippasus of Metapontium and
Heraclitus of Ephesus say this of fire, and Empedocles says it of
the four elements (adding a fourth-earth-to those which have been
named); for these, he says, always remain and do not come to be,
except that they come to be more or fewer, being aggregated into one
and segregated out of one.
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, who, though older than Empedocles, was
later in his philosophical activity, says the principles are
infinite in number; for he says almost all the things that are made of
parts like themselves, in the manner of water or fire, are generated
and destroyed in this way, only by aggregation and segregation, and
are not in any other sense generated or destroyed, but remain
From these facts one might think that the only cause is the
so-called material cause; but as men thus advanced, the very facts
opened the way for them and joined in forcing them to investigate
the subject. However true it may be that all generation and
destruction proceed from some one or (for that matter) from more
elements, why does this happen and what is the cause? For at least the
substratum itself does not make itself change; e.g. neither the wood
nor the bronze causes the change of either of them, nor does the
wood manufacture a bed and the bronze a statue, but something else
is the cause of the change. And to seek this is to seek the second
cause, as we should say,-that from which comes the beginning of the
movement. Now those who at the very beginning set themselves to this
kind of inquiry, and said the substratum was one, were not at all
dissatisfied with themselves; but some at least of those who
maintain it to be one-as though defeated by this search for the second
cause-say the one and nature as a whole is unchangeable not only in
respect of generation and destruction (for this is a primitive belief,
and all agreed in it), but also of all other change; and this view
is peculiar to them. Of those who said the universe was one, then none
succeeded in discovering a cause of this sort, except perhaps
Parmenides, and he only inasmuch as he supposes that there is not only
one but also in some sense two causes. But for those who make more
elements it is more possible to state the second cause, e.g. for those
who make hot and cold, or fire and earth, the elements; for they treat
fire as having a nature which fits it to move things, and water and
earth and such things they treat in the contrary way.
When these men and the principles of this kind had had their
day, as the latter were found inadequate to generate the nature of
things men were again forced by the truth itself, as we said, to
inquire into the next kind of cause. For it is not likely either
that fire or earth or any such element should be the reason why things
manifest goodness and, beauty both in their being and in their
coming to be, or that those thinkers should have supposed it was;
nor again could it be right to entrust so great a matter to
spontaneity and chance. When one man said, then, that reason was
present-as in animals, so throughout nature-as the cause of order
and of all arrangement, he seemed like a sober man in contrast with
the random talk of his predecessors. We know that Anaxagoras certainly
adopted these views, but Hermotimus of Clazomenae is credited with
expressing them earlier. Those who thought thus stated that there is a
principle of things which is at the same time the cause of beauty, and
that sort of cause from which things acquire movement.
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