44 Chapter 3
PLATO AND ARISTOTLE
When we start with the Big Sentence, "All men are mortal," and go
'down,' it is easy to see that the littler sentence, "Socrates is mortal" is a
necessary implication of it. On the other hand, when we start with
"Socrates is mortal," it is not necessarily clear what Big Sentence that
is an implication of. This is the nature of induction, of going 'up' from
littler sentences to Bigger ones. There are many ways to get lost,
before we get to 'up.'
Nonetheless, in principle we can go 'up.' Thus Aristotelianism
could not be a more decisive rejection of Platonism, in which we can
never go 'up.' In Aristotelianism, we can go 'up,' but only because the
Big Sentence that implies our littler ones does already exist. We just
have to find it. We just have to find what's already there.
[Deduction. Going 'down,' the course is
"All men are mortal."
"Socrates is mortal."
"Socrates is mortal."
[Induction. But going 'up,' it's not.]
This idea is pretty important, so it's worth a second look. Aristotle
does not say that we can just 'deduce' all of reality from some obvious
Big Sentence. Normally, we have to go 'up' to a Bigger sentence from
a littler one. When we try to go 'up' from a little sentence to a Big one,
we might get lost. We might guess the wrong Big sentence. It might be
hard, or it might be easy, to go 'up' to the Big sentence, and show that
our littler sentence is a logical implication of it.
Nonetheless, in principle, we can go 'up' and do just that. If we try
hard, if we're lucky -- whatever -- we can find the Big sentence that our
littler sentence is the logical implication of. However, the only reason
we can go 'up' at all, is that the Big sentence already exists.
If the Big sentence, the Perfection, did not already exist, and our
job wasn't just to find it, then nothing would be inherently, intrinsically
related -- related just naturally, on its own, before we started looking
for the relation. The existence of the Perfection, of the Big sentence,
takes care of the thing that makes the whole scheme go: the natural,
inherent, necessary, logical relation between everything. That relation
exists, because the Big sentence exists.
gives the logical reason for
If the Big sentence did not exist, then everything, ourselves
included, would be back to being Ones in motion, with no necessary,
logical, inherent relation. Our search for real reasons, for a logical
coherence to the universe that wouldn't be just fragmentary to begin
with, and that wouldn't fall apart in our hands after awhile on top of
that, would be forever fruitless. We would be back in Plato's world.
Within Aristotle's scheme, then, there has to be a Perfection that is
the Perfection of all Perfections, the First Sentence, the Sentence of
Sentences, the Implication that implies everything else. This is called
the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover, the "agent intellect," the
Thought Thinking Itself. Some today might -- no doubt modestly --
call it the Theory of Everything, and claim to have it nearly in view.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.