Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Democritus (attrib) and C.I. Lewis

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47 ideas

2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Reason is a more powerful persuader than gold [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: In power of persuasion, reasoning is far stronger than gold.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B051), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 2.04.12
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 3. Modal Logic Systems / h. System S5
The simplest of the logics based on possible worlds is Lewis's S5 [Lewis,CI, by Girle]
     Full Idea: C.I.Lewis constructed five axiomatic systems of modal logic, and named them S1 to S5. It turns out that the simplest of the logics based on possible worlds is the same as Lewis's S5.
     From: report of C.I. Lewis (works [1935]) by Rod Girle - Modal Logics and Philosophy 2.1
     A reaction: Nathan Salmon ('Reference and Essence' 2nd ed) claims (on p.xvii) that "the correct modal logic is weaker than S5 and weaker even than S4". Which is the greater virtue, simplicity or weakness?
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 1. Overview of Logic
There are several logics, none of which will ever derive falsehoods from truth [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: The fact is that there are several logics, markedly different, each self-consistent in its own terms and such that whoever, using it, avoids false premises, will never reach a false conclusion.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.366)
     A reaction: As the man who invented modal logic in five different versions, he speaks with some authority. Logicians now debate which version is the best, so how could that be decided? You could avoid false conclusions by never reasoning at all.
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 2. Excluded Middle
Excluded middle is just our preference for a simplified dichotomy in experience [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: The law of excluded middle formulates our decision that whatever is not designated by a certain term shall be designated by its negative. It declares our purpose to make a complete dichotomy of experience, ..which is only our penchant for simplicity.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.365)
     A reaction: I find this view quite appealing. 'Look, it's either F or it isn't!' is a dogmatic attitude which irritates a lot of people, and appears to be dispensible. Intuitionists in mathematics dispense with the principle, and vagueness threatens it.
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / a. Names
Names represent a uniformity in experience, or they name nothing [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: A name must represent some uniformity in experience or it names nothing.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.368)
     A reaction: I like this because, in the quintessentially linguistic debate about the exact logical role of names, it reminds us that names arise because of the way reality is; they are not sui generis private games for logicians.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Persistence conditions cannot contradict, so there must be a 'dominant sortal' [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Burke says a single object cannot have incompatible persistence conditions, for this would entail that there are events in which the object would both survive and perish. He says one sortal 'dominates' the other (sweater dominates thread).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: This I take to be the most extreme version of sortal essentialism, and strikes me as incredibly gerrymandered and unacceptable. It is just too anthropocentric to count as genuine metaphysics. I may care more about the thread.
The 'dominant' of two coinciding sortals is the one that entails the widest range of properties [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke claims that the 'dominant' sortal is the one whose satisfaction entails possession of the widest range of properties. For example, the statue (unlike the lump of clay) also possesses aesthetic properties, and hence is dominant.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: [there are three papers by Burke on this; see all the quotations from Burke] Presumably one sortal could entail a single very important property, and the other sortal entail a huge range of trivial properties. What does being a 'thing' entail?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'The rock' either refers to an object, or to a collection of parts, or to some stuff [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: Burke distinguishes three different readings of 'the rock'. It can be a singular description denoting an object, or a plural description denoting all the little pieces of rock, or a mass description the relevant rocky stuff.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: Idea 16068 is an objection to the second reading. Only the first reading seems plausible, so we must just get over all the difficulties philosophers have unearthed about knowing exactly what an 'object' is. I offer you essentialism. Rocks have unity.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Tib goes out of existence when the tail is lost, because Tib was never the 'cat' [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke argues that Tib (the whole cat apart from its tail) goes out of existence when the tail is lost. His essentialist principle is that if something is ever of a particular sort (such as 'cat') then it is always of that sort. Tib is not initially a cat.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: This I take to be a souped up version of Wiggins, and I just don't buy that identity conditions are decided by sortals, when it seems obvious that sortals are parasitic on identities.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
Sculpting a lump of clay destroys one object, and replaces it with another one [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: On Burke's view, the process of sculpting a lump of clay into a statue destroys one object (a mere lump of clay) and replaces it with another (a statue).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: There is something right about this, but how many intermediate objects are created during the transition. It seems to make the notion of an object very conventional.
Burke says when two object coincide, one of them is destroyed in the process [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke argues that a sweater is identical with the thread that consitutes it, that both were created at the moment when they began to coincide, and that the original thread was destroyed in the process.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: [Burke's ideas are spread over three articles] It is the thread which is destroyed, because the sweater is the 'dominant sortal' (which strikes me as a particularlyd desperate concept).
Maybe the clay becomes a different lump when it becomes a statue [Burke,M, by Koslicki]
     Full Idea: Burke has argued in a series of papers that the lump of clay which constitutes the statue is numerically distinct from the lump of clay which exists before or after the statue exists. The first is a statue, while the second is merely a lump of clay.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Kathrin Koslicki - The Structure of Objects
     A reaction: Koslicki objects that this introduces radically different persistence conditions from normal. It would mean that a pile of sugar was a different pile of sugar every time a grain moved (even slightly). You couldn't step into the same sugar twice.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Two entities can coincide as one, but only one of them (the dominant sortal) fixes persistence conditions [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke has given an account that avoids distinguishing coinciding entities. ...The statue/lump satisfies both 'lump' and 'statue', but only the latter determines that object's persistence conditions, and so is that object's 'dominant sortal'.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: Presumably a lump on its own can have its own persistance conditions (as a 'lump'), but those would presumably be lost if you shaped it into a statue. Burke concedes that. Can of worms. Using a book as a doorstop...
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 2. Nature of Necessity
Equating necessity with informal provability is the S4 conception of necessity [Lewis,CI, by Read]
     Full Idea: C.I.Lewis's S4 system develops a sense of necessity as 'provability' in some fairly informal sense.
     From: report of C.I. Lewis (works [1935]) by Stephen Read - Thinking About Logic Ch. 4
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 11. Denial of Necessity
Necessary truths are those we will maintain no matter what [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: Those laws and those laws only have necessary truth which we are prepared to maintain, no matter what.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.367)
     A reaction: This bold and simple claim has famously been torpedoed by a well-known counterexample - that virtually every human being will cling on to the proposition "dogs have at some time existed" no matter what, but it clearly isn't a necessary truth.
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 8. Conditionals / a. Conditionals
Modal logic began with translation difficulties for 'If...then' [Lewis,CI, by Girle]
     Full Idea: C.I.Lewis began his groundbreaking work in modal logic because he was concerned about the unreliability of the material conditional as a translation of 'If ... then' conditionals.
     From: report of C.I. Lewis (Symbolic Logic (with Langford) [1932]) by Rod Girle - Modal Logics and Philosophy 12.3
     A reaction: Compare 'if this is square then it has four corners' with 'if it rains then our afternoon is ruined'. Different modalities seem to be involved. We even find that 'a square has four corners' will be materially implied if it rains!
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 7. A Priori from Convention
We can maintain a priori principles come what may, but we can also change them [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: The a priori contains principles which can be maintained in the face of all experience, representing the initiative of the mind. But they are subject to alteration on pragmatic grounds, if expanding experience shows their intellectual infelicity.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.373)
     A reaction: [compressed] This simply IS Quine's famous 'web of belief' picture, showing how firmly Quine is in the pragmatist tradition. Lewis treats a priori principles as a pragmatic toolkit, which can be refined to be more effective. Not implausible...
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 4. Memory
We rely on memory for empirical beliefs because they mutually support one another [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: When the whole range of empirical beliefs is taken into account, all of them more or less dependent on memorial knowledge, we find that those which are most credible can be assured by their mutual support, or 'congruence'.
     From: C.I. Lewis (An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation [1946], 334), quoted by Erik J. Olsson - Against Coherence 3.1
     A reaction: Lewis may be over-confident about this, and is duly attacked by Olson, but it seems to me roughly correct. How do you assess whether some unusual element in your memory was a dream or a real experience?
If we doubt memories we cannot assess our doubt, or what is being doubted [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: To doubt our sense of past experience as founded in actuality, would be to lose any criterion by which either the doubt itself or what is doubted could be corroborated.
     From: C.I. Lewis (An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation [1946], 358), quoted by Erik J. Olsson - Against Coherence 3.3.1
     A reaction: Obviously scepticism about memory can come in degrees, but total rejection of short-term and clear memories looks like a non-starter. What could you put in its place? Hyper-rationalism? Even maths needs memory.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / a. Foundationalism
If anything is to be probable, then something must be certain [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: If anything is to be probable, then something must be certain.
     From: C.I. Lewis (An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation [1946], 186), quoted by Robert Fogelin - Walking the Tightrope of Reason Intro
     A reaction: Lewis makes this comment when facing infinite regress problems. It is a very nice slogan for foundationalism, which embodies the slippery slope view. Personally I feel the emotional pull of foundations, but acknowledge the very strong doubts about them.
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / b. Pro-coherentism
Congruents assertions increase the probability of each individual assertion in the set [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: A set of statements, or a set of supposed facts asserted, will be said to be congruent if and only if they are so related that the antecedent probability of any one of them will be increased if the remainder of the set can be assumed as given premises.
     From: C.I. Lewis (An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation [1946], 338), quoted by Erik J. Olsson - Against Coherence 2.2
     A reaction: This thesis is vigorously attacked by Erik Olson, who works through the probability calculations. There seems an obvious problem without that. How else do you assess 'congruence', other than by evidence of mutual strengthening?
18. Thought / C. Content / 8. Intension
Extension is the class of things, intension is the correct definition of the thing, and intension determines extension [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: "The denotation or extension of a term is the class of all actual or existent things which the term correctly applies to or names; the connotation or intension of a term is delimited by any correct definition of it." ..And intension determines extension.
     From: C.I. Lewis (An Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation [1946]), quoted by Stephen P. Schwartz - Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds žII
     A reaction: The last part is one of the big ideas in philosophy of language, which was rejected by Putnam and co. If you were to reverse the slogan, though, (to extension determines intension) how would you identify the members of the extension?
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 2. Abstracta by Selection
We have to separate the mathematical from physical phenomena by abstraction [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: Physical processes present us with phenomena in which the purely mathematical has to be separated out by abstraction.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.367)
     A reaction: This is the father of modal logic endorsing traditional abstractionism, it seems. He is also, though, endorsing the view that a priori knowledge is created by us, with pragmatic ends in view.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
Beauty is merely animal without intelligence [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Physical beauty is merely animal unless intelligence be present.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B105)
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / c. Health
Good breeding in men means having a good character [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Good breeding in cattle depends on physical health, but in men on a well-formed character.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B057), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 4.29.18
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / e. Love
Virtuous love consists of decorous desire for the beautiful [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Virtuous love consists of decorous desire for the beautiful.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B073), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.5.23
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / b. Types of pleasure
Good and true are the same for everyone, but pleasures differ [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: For all men, good and true are the same; but pleasant differs for different men.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B069)
We should only choose pleasures which are concerned with the beautiful [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: One should choose not every pleasure, but only that concerned with the beautiful.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B207), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.05.22
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / c. Value of pleasure
Only accept beneficial pleasures [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Accept no pleasure unless it is beneficial.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B074)
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / d. Sources of pleasure
The great pleasures come from the contemplation of noble works [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: The great pleasures come from the contemplation of noble works.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B194), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.03.46
Moderation brings more pleasures, and so increases pleasure [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Moderation multiplies pleasures, and increases pleasure.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B211), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.05.27
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / e. Role of pleasure
Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not an adult [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B070)
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / f. Dangers of pleasure
It is as brave to master pleasure as to overcome the enemy [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: The brave man is not only he who overcomes the enemy, but he who is stronger than pleasures. Some men are masters of cities, but are enslaved by women.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B214), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.07.25
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
Behave well when alone, and feel shame in you own eyes [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Do not say or do what is base, even when you are alone. Learn to feel shame in your own eyes much more than before others.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B244), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.31.7
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Be virtuous from duty, not from fear [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Refrain from crimes not through fear but through duty [deon].
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B041), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.01.95
     A reaction: [not sure about the translation here]
Virtue doesn't just avoid evil, but also doesn't desire it [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Virtue consists, not in avoiding wrong-doing, but in having no wish thereto.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B062), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.17.37
A bad life is just a drawn-out death [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: To live badly is not just to live badly, but to spend a long time dying.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B160), quoted by (who?) - where?
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Repentance of shameful deeds is salvation [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Repentance for shameful deeds is salvation in life.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B043)
Virtue comes more from practice than from nature [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: More men become good through practice than by nature.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B242), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.29.66
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / i. Absolute virtues
One must avoid even speaking of evil deeds [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: One must avoid even speaking of evil deeds.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B190), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.01.91
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
The wrongdoer is more unfortunate than the person wronged [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: The wrongdoer is more unfortunate than the man wronged.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B045)
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
The endless desire for money is a crueller slavery than poverty [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Unless a point of satiety is reached, the desire for money is far more cruel than the utmost poverty, because the greater the desire, the greater the need
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B219), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.10.43
Small appetite makes poverty equal to wealth [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Small appetite makes poverty equivalent to wealth.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B284), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 4.33.24
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / d. Friendship
It is better to have one intelligent friend than many unintelligent [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: The friendship of one intelligent man is better than that of all the unintelligent.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B098)
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
It is a great thing, when one is in adversity, to think of duty [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: It is a great thing, when one is in adversity, to think of duty.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B042), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 4.44.68
     A reaction: Something wrong with the translation here, if there is no Greek word for 'duty'.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
It is better to be poor in a democracy than be rich without freedom [Democritus (attr)]
     Full Idea: Poverty in a democracy is as preferable to what is called prosperity under autocracy as freedom is to slavery.
     From: Democritus (attrib) (reports [c.250 BCE], B251), quoted by John Stobaeus - Anthology 3.40.42
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / a. Scientific essentialism
Science seeks classification which will discover laws, essences, and predictions [Lewis,CI]
     Full Idea: The scientific search is for such classification as will make it possible to correlate appearance and behaviour, to discover law, to penetrate to the "essential nature" of things in order that behaviour may become predictable.
     From: C.I. Lewis (A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori [1923], p.368)
     A reaction: Modern scientific essentialists no longer invoke scare quotes, and I think we should talk of the search for the 'mechanisms' which explain behaviour, but Lewis seems to have been sixty years ahead of his time.