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Re: [ontolog-forum] Cause and chemical reactions

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Gary Berg-Cross" <gary.berg-cross@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 12:22:11 -0400
Message-id: <330E3C69AFABAE45BD91B28F80BE32C9BF3C80@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On the idea of intercultural idea of Eastern influences, E. F. Beall has a page 
on Aristotle interpretation of Milesian school (Thales, Anaximander, and 
Anaximenes) as possible historical precursors from the Orient.    (01)

http://philosophy.efbeall.net/philosophyindex.htm    (02)

As he says, mid-20th scholars began to notice that ancient texts from places 
like India contained statements, somewhat philosophical in nature  that 
resembled those of early Greek thought (insofar as it is attested by Aristotle, 
who is the only source for some this attesting).       (03)

 Martin West took this approach in a 1971 book.    (04)

Beall has an article on Charles Kahn's 1979 book The Art and thought of 
Heraclitus, discussing the idea that Heraclitus used syntactical ambiguity as a 
means to enhance the import of his sayings.  His paper argues that there is a 
comparable example in an ancient Sanskrit text that was composed in the general 
era of the early Presocratics.    (05)

The following is a snipptet from    (06)

The Mediterranean and Asia:  A History of their Intercultural Encounters and     (07)

Related Issues in Comparative Philosophy, by Lenart Skof     (08)

...it gives some of the flavor of the Indian writings    (09)

....Some comparisons between Ancient Indian and Greek philosophies: Rigveda and 
Hesiod     (010)

The 129th hymn of the 10th book of the Rigveda (Riksamhita), which can be dated 
to the Middle Vedic period (1200-850 BC, the period followed by the first 
Upanishads), provides probably the first philosophical evidence for the general 
question of the origin of the existent. It also provides evidence for the 
question of the First and concomitantly, in the flow of the existent and 
non-existent, the continually preserving principle of all the living and 
non-living world. Together with other 'philosophical' Rigvedic hymns (10, 
81-82; 10, 121, etc.), the hymn is an expression of the wish of ancient Vedic 
Indians to approach that which stands at the beginning of the world, enabling 
gods and people to come into being in this world and the world to preserve 
itself from day to day. Analogous to the development of Greek philosophy 
(Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle), within the framework of Indian philosophy, the 
'first' philosophers can be recognised in the most important Upanishadic (and 
generally the first philosophical) thinkers: Raikva, Shandilya, Uddalaka Aruni, 
Yajñavalkya and others (Uddalaka Aruni and Yajñavalkya, the central thinkers of 
the Upanishads, probably lived in the 8th /7th century. Ruben10 categorises 
them as the third generation of Upanishadic philosophers who lived in late 7th 
century, at least a century before Thales). Nevertheless, the pre-Upanishadic 
period with its Rigvedic hymns bears crucial importance in relation to the 
question about and the definition of the beginnings of philosophical 
questioning.     (011)

Apart from Rigvedic hymn 10, 121, one that describes the birth of the world 
from a golden embryo/egg (hiranyagarbha) and cosmic waters, the Rigvedic (RV) 
hymn 'Nasadasiya' (RV 10, 129) is the most important and most frequently 
translated hymn of the Riksamhita. The hymn can be divided into two parts: the 
first talks about the beginning of the world (10, 129, 1-4ab), while the second 
(4cd-7) describes the created world, a world populated by gods and poets who 
explain the new reality. The key stanzas remain the first and second, in which 
a Vedic poet wonders about what was there before the 'beginning' of this world. 
It questioned: what/how was it then when nothing yet existed? (v.1a: "Then was 
not non-existent nor existent"11 ). "No sign was there, the day's and night's 
divider" (v. 2b) - in manifold ways the answer is hidden in the mysterious 
language used, which nevertheless anticipates the philosophical nature of the 
question about the beginning. In the introductory lines, the poet removes 
himself from the mythological content, as gods came into being only later: "The 
Gods are later than this world's production" (v. 6c). Hence, the beginning is 
described as a state in which only the indivisible One is present ('tad ekam'; 
cf. Gr. 'to hén'). In the absence of any sign of life (there is no death, no 
human element, no immortality, no divine), the One breathes by itself: "That 
One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature" (v. 2c). The One is neither 
existent nor non-existent. If the non-existent had existed at the beginning, it 
would have already predetermined the existent, the time and space. The only 
thing that 'is', can, beyond this dichotomy, be understood as the enigmatic and 
mysterious primal void, embracing all possibilities before the creation of the 
world: "All that existed then was void and formless" (v. 3c). In light of the 
third and fourth stanzas, the first two describe the creation process of the 
world and life: what is necessary is desire (kama), the ground principle of the 
creation of the world in this cosmogony: "Thereafter rose Desire in the 
beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit" (4ab). Before desire, 
there is the spirit. Thus, the 'spiritual' - according to the majority of 
interpreters (including the most important Indian commentator, Sayana) - 
becomes the first recognisable sign of the life of the One. V. 4b contains a 
genitive structure that allows the possibility of the opposite interpretation - 
that the thought was born from love or desire. 'Kama' (desire or love) can be 
compared to Hesiod's 'éros' and is the principle that provides the origin from 
which life is born. Deussen contrasted 'kama' (and the later desire to exist - 
'trishna') with the Greek expressions 'éros' and 'epithymía' (cf. Aristotle, 
Met. 984b23).12 An even more significant comparison is offered by Hesiod (lines 
116-125) in the Theogony: his Chaos can be juxtaposed with the Vedic conception 
of the beginning, devoid of the existent and the non-existent. Already West 
points out a selection of Rigveda hymns (in particular 10, 72. 90. 129. 190) 
that can be - together with the other theogonic literature of the ancient world 
- compared to Hesiod's Theogony.13 In a comparative sense and within the 
framework of the philosophy of the beginning, Hesiod has, to a significant 
extent, shifted from ancient mythology to an entirely new question of the 
cosmological or cosmogonical 'void' and pre-creation state. He is, more than 
the Indian poet, formally and comparatively compelled to expressive forms of 
the mythological language. Nevertheless, his Chaos can be understood as a 
singular philosophical epoché, a shift to the state before the creation of the 
celestial and terrestrial worlds: "Verily first of all did Chaos come into 
being, and then broad-bosomed Gaia [earth], a firm seat of all things for ever 
(...) and Eros, who is fairest among immortal gods."14 Chaos belongs neither to 
the order of being nor to the order of non-being. It is a "qualitative void"15 
of the philosophy of the beginning. As such, it is comparable to the 
fundamental question of the Vedic thinker. The Vedic hymn also describes the 
initial 'qualitative void', that is neither existence nor non-existence. Just 
like the Vedic poet, Hesiod does not answer the question of whether something 
had been there before Chaos: Chaos is simply referred to as 'came to be' 
(génet').     (012)

Gary Berg-Cross
Potomac, MD    (013)

________________________________    (014)

From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of John F. Sowa
Sent: Fri 6/22/2007 11:50 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Cause and chemical reactions    (015)

Paola,    (016)

There is something to that, because the silk route from China
to Europe carried sages and soldiers as well as merchants:    (017)

 > Aristotle's intuition and knowledge are indeed based on older stuff,
 > possibly knowledge coming from the ancient vedic civilizations.    (018)

Both Plato and Aristotle discuss Heraclitus, who was almost two
centuries older and who lived in the Greek colonies in Anatolia,
on the trading routes from the east (and on the routes over which
the Persians and Greeks marched their soldiers).    (019)

It's interesting that Heraclitus was a near contemporary with
Gautama Buddha in India and Lao Tzu (the founder of Taoism)
in China.  Various commentators have observed some remarkable
similarities in their writings.  It's not clear who influenced
whom or what the older sources might have been.    (020)

Pythagoras was slightly older than Heraclitus, and he was another
strong influence on both Plato and Aristotle.  In his youth, he
went to Egypt, where he was trained and inducted into the Egyptian
priesthood.  Pythagoras is also said to have visited Babylon to
learn their mathematics before going to the Greek colony of Croton
(on the Mediterranean, as opposed to my home in Croton on Hudson).    (021)

So there was definitely a flow of ideas from older civilizations
to the Greeks.    (022)

 > Indeed Greek language has roots in Sanskrit...    (023)

More precisely, Greek and Sanskrit both evolved from the older
Proto-IndoEuropean.  And actually, Sanskrit is slightly closer
to the Balto-Slavic languages than it is to Greek.    (024)

 > the word aitia comes from adya, Sanskrit for primordial,
 > original, beginning    (025)

I just checked the Liddell and Scott Greek dictionary, and the
adjective form, aitios -on, -a, meant 'culpable' or 'responsible'.    (026)

The noun 'ho aitios' meant 'the accused' or 'the culprit'.    (027)

The noun 'to aition', plural 'aitia', acquired the meaning 'cause'.    (028)

By the way, the adoption of legal terms in Greek philosophy was
common.  The word 'kategoria' originally meant an accusation in
a court of law.  Aristotle adopted it in the more general sense
of what is said or predicated of anything.    (029)

The major reason why Greek legal terms moved into philosophy is
that the ancient Greeks has as many law suits as modern Americans.
But unlike Americans, the Greeks required the plaintiff and the
accused to plead their own case in court.  So the sophists earned
their money by training people how to plead their case.    (030)

That's why Plato condemned the sophists for "making the weaker
case seem to be the stronger".  But that's exactly what lawyers
try to do today.    (031)

John    (032)

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