This present study began as the author's extension and application of ideas from Whitehead's work to the subject of education, using a chapter from Whitehead's book Science and the Modern World and a pamphlet, The Rhythm of Education as the starting point.
But this is only half of the picture. Plato makes sense to the modern American reader because that reader is influenced by a physics and cosmology radically Platonic in historic origin and in content; and because he is influenced by mathematics and formal logic which are producing challenging original speculation, and which are of a Platonic character both in genesis and nature.
Whitehead's brilliant analysis of the problems of the modern world concluded, you will recall, that our century is one in which progress and welfare require—and require to an unprecedented degree—redesign of our basic inherited "common sense" conceptions. We are trapped and hindered in our thought and planning by unrealistic and outmoded notions: of location, of duration, of education, of social progress, of beauty, of religion. I am convinced that he was right; but how many of us have thought about the (...) implications of his criticism of simple location toward, for instance, the designs and types of map that we use in textbooks for our elementary schools? We have not seen the need for sustained attention to this sort of problem. (shrink)
There is no agreement at all, however, among translators, editors, and scholars, as to what is the number of problems that Aristotle proposes, nor what are the relations of importance among them. The list is given sometimes as fourteen or fifteen, sometimes as six, as nine, as twelve, as eight, and various other numbers. To a reader remembering the meticulous detail with which Aristotle told his students just how to construct topical notebooks and outlines, it seems quite unthinkable that he (...) could have poured this maze of problems over his audience like a bath-attendant, and left them to shift for themselves in discovering its intended organization. A priori, therefore, we would expect some indication within Aristotle's text of the coordination and subordination of his set of problems. (shrink)
So far as I know, only two readers have paid much attention to my 1953 proposal. G. K. Plochmann was quick to point out its limitations, since the definition of "System" I was using seemed not to apply to the major work of modern philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries. More recently, Donald Sherburne has suggested that the project is a fine idea, and one that should be carried out. His enthusiasm has persuaded me to resume the discussion.
At the outset, the philosopher being challenged hopes that the whole question rests on a false assumption. Maybe one can in fact fit together all of the doctrines of major philosophers in a single system which will be consistent, and so prove that there is no contradiction? But that plan hits a snag almost at once: for there are types of philosophic system so related that whenever a given proposition is true in one, its contrary is true in the other. (...) Sextus Empiricus was particularly ingenious at arranging these dual positions in parallel column, but even without his help, brief experiment shows that a simple conjunction rule will not answer the skeptic’s question. (shrink)
As a beginning, consider the perennial ethical and legal problem of freedom versus determinism. But now put this in the context of the relation of expert testimony to criminal law. As psychiatry and social science develop greater explanatory power, we seem destined to an extension of the defense of irresistible impulse to any criminal action. A legal psychology which talks about "a corrupt will" will run the risk of being dismissed as an "unscientific anachronism," and jurisprudence will be replaced by (...) sociology. (shrink)
The directions for constructing the figure are to take a line cut into two unequal parts, and cut each part in the same ratio. The proportions of the lengths of segments to one another will then represent the "relative clarity" of each of four kinds of knowledge, and Book vi. closes with a summary of these proportions. If we letter the four segments from top to bottom a, b, c, and d, their relation is a:b :: c:d. From the context, (...) it is quite clear that these four segments are unequal. However, if any line is cut in a ratio m/n, and its segments subdivided in that same ratio, two of the resulting segments will be equal, and their ratio 1:1. However, this is the construction explicitly given in the directions. (shrink)
The first one-volume introduction to Plato's biography with a complete account of his works since A.E. Taylor's. It includes a systematic explanation of Plato's theory of forms and concludes with an application of Plato's ideas to the world today.