Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina), Adam Cross and Hugo Grotius

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13 ideas

1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Understanding begins with the notion of being and essence [Avicenna]
     Full Idea: Understanding begins with the notion of being and essence.
     From: Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina) (Commentary on the Metaphysics [1022], 1/6), quoted by Thomas Aquinas - De Ente et Essentia (Being and Essence) p.91
     A reaction: I think I might put it that wisdom is only really possible for people who aim to grasp being and essence in some way. I see no prospect of understanding 'being', and even essences may be forever just beyond our grasp.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Simples
The simple's whatness is its very self [Avicenna]
     Full Idea: The simple's whatness is its very self.
     From: Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina) (Commentary on the Metaphysics [1022], 5.5), quoted by Thomas Aquinas - De Ente et Essentia (Being and Essence) p.103
     A reaction: Aquinas endorses this Aristotelian view in Idea 11208.
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 3. Matter of an Object
The ultimate material of things has the unity of total formlessness [Avicenna]
     Full Idea: The ultimate material of things has the unity of total formlessness.
     From: Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina) (Commentary on the Metaphysics [1022], 11/12.14), quoted by Thomas Aquinas - De Ente et Essentia (Being and Essence)
     A reaction: This remark is not invalidated by developments in modern particle physics.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 2. Types of Essence
An essence can either be universal (in the mind) or singular (in concrete particulars) [Avicenna, by Panaccio]
     Full Idea: Avicenna's 'indifference of essence' says the essence of certain things can become universal or singular, according to whether it is entertained by the mind (as a universal) or concretely exemplified as a singular thing. One essence can exist in two ways.
     From: report of Avicenna (Abu Ibn Sina) (Commentary on the Metaphysics [1022]) by Claude Panaccio - Medieval Problem of Universals 'Sources'
     A reaction: This would appear to be a form of nominalism, since in the concrete external world we only have particulars, and it is our mode of thinking (by abstraction?) that generates the universal aspect. I think this is probably right.
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 1. External Justification
Surely ALL truths are externally justified, by the facts? [Cross,A]
     Full Idea: Surely ALL truths are externally justified?
     From: Adam Cross (works [2001]), quoted by PG - Db (ideas)
     A reaction: A very nice warning to aspiring externalists. If you actually think the justification is somehow 'out there', then everything is going to be justified, by its own facts. We need to get the justification 'in here'.
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 5. Action Dilemmas / c. Omissions
Nations are not obliged to help one-another, but are obliged not to harm one another [Grotius, by Tuck]
     Full Idea: Grotius explored the implications of the idea that nation-states were under no obligation to help one another, but they were obliged not to harm each other.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Richard Tuck - Hobbes Ch.1
     A reaction: This is quite a striking disanalogy between accepted personal morality and political morality. There are signs in recent years of some recognition that other nations should not just sit and watch suffering.
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 3. Natural Values / c. Natural rights
Everyone has a right of self-preservation, and harming others is usually unjustifiable [Grotius, by Tuck]
     Full Idea: Grotius said that all men would agree that everyone has a fundamental right to preserve themselves, and that wanton or unnecessary injury to another person is unjustifiable.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Richard Tuck - Hobbes Ch.1
     A reaction: Who cares if it is 'justifiable'? Do I have to 'justify' killing a mosquito if it lands on my arm? Grotius is taking a step beyond saying that people should defend themselves, to say that they have a 'right' to - the only truly basic right.
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
Democracy needs respect for individuality, but the 'community of friends' implies strict equality [Grotius]
     Full Idea: There is no democracy without respect for irreducible singularity, but there is no democracy with the 'community of friends' without the calculation of majorities, without identifiable representable subjects, all equal.
     From: Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]), quoted by Simon Glendinning - Derrida: A Very Short Introduction 7
     A reaction: [source not given] Derrida calls this conflict 'tragic'. The obvious reply is that equality is not an absolute. We can be equal in voting rights while being unequal in height or musical talent.
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 7. Freedom to leave
A person is free to renounce their state, as long as it is not a moment of crisis [Grotius, by Rousseau]
     Full Idea: Grotius thinks that each person can renounce his state and leave the country. (n15: provided it is not to evade one's duty the moment the homeland needs us; this would be criminal and punishable; it would not be withdrawal, but desertion)
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau - The Social Contract (tr Cress) III.18
     A reaction: The obvious example is Britons going to America in 1939, or (more controversially) conscripts going to Canada to avoid fighting in Vietnam. I'm unclear whether the idea in the note is that of Grotius or of Rousseau). Is tax exile OK, then?
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 2. The Law / c. Natural law
Grotius and Pufendorf based natural law on real (rather than idealised) humanity [Grotius, by Ford,JD]
     Full Idea: Grotius and Pufendorf transformed the natural law tradition by starting from identifiable traits of human nature rather than ideas about what human beings ought to be.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by J.D. Ford - Pufendorf, Samuel p.863
A natural right of self-preservation is balanced by a natural law to avoid unnecessary harm [Grotius, by Tuck]
     Full Idea: For Grotius, there was a fundamental 'natural right' of self-preservation upon which all known moralities and codes of social behaviour must have been constructed, but it is balanced by a fundament duty or 'natural law' to abstain from harming others.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Richard Tuck - Hobbes Ch.2
     A reaction: This theory has the virtue of economy, but I don't see how you can clearly justify those particular natural rights and laws, without allowing others to creep in, such as a right to a decent share of food, or a law requiring some fairness.
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 2. The Law / d. Legal positivism
Grotius ignored elaborate natural law theories, preferring a basic right of self-preservation [Grotius, by Tuck]
     Full Idea: Grotius said there was a minimum core of morality (based on self-preservation), and disregarded the elaborate accounts of principles of natural law which Aristotelians had always sought to develop.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Richard Tuck - Hobbes Ch.1
     A reaction: Aquinas would be the key Aristotelian here. I tend towards the Aristotelian view. If you go for the minimal view, it is not clear why there is a 'right' to self-preservation, rather than a mere desire for it.
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
Moral principles have some validity without a God commanding obedience [Grotius, by Mautner]
     Full Idea: In the Prolegomena to his work there is a famous statement that moral principles laid down in the work would have some degree of validity even if there was no God commanding obedience.
     From: report of Hugo Grotius (On the Law of War and Peace [1625]) by Thomas Mautner - Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy p.229
     A reaction: I am not clear why Grotius felt obliged to qualify his claim with the phrase 'some degree'. I don't see how God's command can affect the 'validity' of morality, or how there can be a middle ground between dependence on and independence of God.