"Aestheticae"—Peter Saint-André

Peter's centerpiece is a very rich quote from Alexander Baumgarten. Do certainly read Peter's entry in its entirety, but two thoughts struck me upon reading it. First a reaction to Baumgarten.

The Greek philosophers and the Church fathers have already carefully distinguished between things perceived [ αισθητα ] and things known [ νοητα ]. It is entirely evident that they did not equate things known with things of sense, since they honored with this name things also removed from sense (therefore, images). Therefore, things known are to be known by the superior faculty as the object of logic; things perceived are to be known by the inferior faculty, as the object of the science of perception, or aesthetic [ aestheticae ].

Dangerous for me to be second-guessing such a figure, but this seems rather pat. The Greeks are too often used as faceless symbols of steely rationality, and this doesn't do them any service. Clearly "The Greek philosophers" here is code for Aristotle-and-not-blinking-Plato (oversimplifying for my part), and although I'm probably more of an Aristotelian myself (I'd guess most classicist computer scientists are), I shrink in horror from the characterization of Idea [ Ιδέα ] as medium of an inferior faculty. And of course even within νοητα there is the spill-over of dianoia [ Διάνοια ], which is in effect a marker between the perceived and the known. Yes, yes, in Plato's discourse, the perception was a matter of empirical judgment belief rather than sensory response (i.e. relating to episteme rather than techne), but I think the point remains that noos is not so easy to pin down.

Also, a reaction to Peter.

[It] is arguable how much logic has truly contributed to the clarifcation of human concepts (personally I think we are more indebted to the agonistic pursuits of scientists than to the armchair theorizing of philosophers and logicians)

I don't know whether the "agonistic" there is meant restrictively, but I think a large proportion of scientific pursuits are not agonistic, and isn't theoretical science as important as experimental science? Applying logic, mathematical induction and yes, even philosophy to abstract models from the comfort of the armchair or bicycle, is, I think essential to efficient construction of experimentation.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia