Metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

Metaphysics - Wikipedia

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, . Traditionally listed as the core of metaphysics, ontology often deals with . Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between. Metaphysics & Epistemology The “Third Man Argument” (This is a problem posed by Aristotle but also arises—of another thing, F2, to explain that relation between F and f1 and forms per se; It is a problem in the logic of explanation. This is not to say that metaphysical or epistemological issues were of . In this passage, Plato introduces two predication relations, Being and.

The old debate between the nominalists and the realists continues to the present day. Most realists suppose that universals constitute one of the categories of being. This supposition could certainly be disputed without absurdity. Perhaps there is a natural class of things to which all universals belong but which contains other things as well and is not the class of all things. But few if any philosophers would suppose that universals were members of forty-nine sub-categories—much less of a vast number or an infinity of sub-categories.

If dogs form a natural class, this class is—by the terms of our definition—an ontological sub-category. And this class will no doubt be a subclass of many sub-categories: A case can be made for saying that it does, based on the fact that Plato's theory of forms universals, attributes is a recurrent theme in Aristotle's Metaphysics. In Metaphysics, two of Plato's central theses about the forms come in for vigorous criticism: We shall be concerned only with ii.

In the terminology of the Schools, that criticism can be put this way: Plato wrongly believed that universals existed ante res prior to objects ; the correct view is that universals exist in rebus in objects. It is because this aspect of the problem of universals—whether universals exist ante res or in rebus—is discussed at length in Metaphysics, that a strong case can be made for saying that the problem of universals falls under the old conception of metaphysics.

And the question whether universals, given that they exist at all, exist ante res or in rebus is as controversial in the twenty-first century as it was in the thirteenth century and the fourth century B. If we do decide that the problem of universals belongs to metaphysics on the old conception, then, since we have liberalized the old conception by applying to it the contemporary rule that the denial of a metaphysical position is to be regarded as a metaphysical position, we shall have to say that the question whether universals exist at all is a metaphysical question under the old conception—and that nominalism is therefore a metaphysical thesis.

There is, however, also a case to made against classifying the problem of universals as a problem of metaphysics in the liberalized old sense. For there is more to the problem of universals than the question whether universals exist and the question whether, if they do exist, their existence is ante res or in rebus.

For example, the problem of universals also includes questions about the relation between universals if such there be and the things that are not universals, the things usually called particulars. Aristotle did not consider these questions in the Metaphysics.

One might therefore plausibly contend that only one part of the problem of universals the part that pertains to the existence and nature of universals belongs to metaphysics in the old sense.

Therefore, questions about its nature belong to metaphysics, the science of things that do not change. But dogs are things that change. Therefore, questions concerning the relation of dogs to doghood do not belong to metaphysics. But no contemporary philosopher would divide the topics that way—not even if he or she believed that doghood existed and was a thing that did not change. That is, that concern particulars—for even if there are particulars that do not change, most of the particulars that figure in discussions of the problem of universals as examples are things that change.

Consider two white particulars—the Taj Mahal, say, and the Washington Monument. And suppose that both these particulars are white in virtue of i. All white things and only white things fall under whiteness, and falling under whiteness is what it is to be white.

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

We pass over many questions that would have to be addressed if we were discussing the problem of universals for its own sake. For example, both blueness and redness are spectral color-properties, and whiteness is not. What is it about the two objects whiteness and the Taj Mahal that is responsible for the fact that the latter falls under the former?

Or might it be that a particular like the Taj, although it indeed has universals as constituents, is something more than its universal constituents?

Metaphysics and epistemology | Wireless Philosophy | Khan Academy

If we take that position, then we may want to say, with Armstrong Or might the Taj have constituents that are neither universals nor substrates? Is the Taj perhaps a bundle not of universals but of accidents? Or is it composed of a substrate and a bundle of accidents? And we cannot neglect the possibility that Aristotle was right and that universals exist only in rebus.

The series of questions that was set out in the preceding paragraph was introduced by observing that the problem of universals includes both questions about the existence and nature of universals and questions about how universals are related to the particulars that fall under them. We can contrast ontological structure with mereological structure. A philosophical question concerns the mereological structure of an object if it is a question about the relation between that object and those of its constituents that belong to the same ontological category as the object.

For example, the philosopher who asks whether the Taj Mahal has a certain block of marble among its constituents essentially or only accidentally is asking a question about the mereological structure of the Taj, since the block and the building belong to the same ontological category. Many philosophers have supposed that particulars fall under universals by somehow incorporating them into their ontological structure. And other philosophers have supposed that the ontological structure of a particular incorporates individual properties or accidents—and that an accident is an accident of a certain particular just in virtue of being a constituent of that particular.

Advocates of other theories of universals are almost always less liberal in the range of universals whose existence they will allow. And it seems that it is possible to speak of ontological structure only if one supposes that there are objects of different ontological categories. For a recent investigation of the problems that have been discussed in this section, see Lowe They make up the most important of his ontological categories.

Several features define protai ousiai: This last feature could be put this way in contemporary terms: More on this in the next section. It is difficult to suppose that smiles or holes have this sort of determinate identity. The question whether there in fact are substances continues to be one of the central questions of metaphysics. Several closely related questions are: How, precisely, should the concept of substance be understood? Depending on how one understood the word or the concept one might say either that Hume denied that there were any substances or that he held that the only substances or the only substances of which we have any knowledge were impressions and ideas.

Universals and other abstract objects. It should be noted that Aristotle criticized Plato for supposing that the protai ousiai were ante res universals. Events, processes, or changes. Stuffs, such as flesh or iron or butter. We now turn to topics that belong to metaphysics only in the post-Medieval sense.

Compare, for example, the proposition that Paris is the capital of France and the proposition that there is a prime between every number greater than 1 and its double. Both are true, but the former could have been false and the latter could not have been false. Likewise, there is a distinction to be made within the class of false propositions: The types of modality of interest to metaphysicians fall into two camps: If modality were coextensive with modality de dicto, it would be at least a defensible position that the topic of modality belongs to logic rather than to metaphysics.

Indeed, the study of modal logics goes back to Aristotle's Prior Analytics. But many philosophers also think there is a second kind of modality, modality de re—the modality of things. The modality of substances, certainly, and perhaps of things in other ontological categories.

There are two types of modality de re. The first concerns the existence of things—of human beings, for example. And if what she has said is indeed true, then she exists contingently. That is to say, she is a contingent being: A necessary being, in contrast, is a being of which it is false that it might not have existed. Whether any objects are necessary beings is an important question of modal metaphysics.

Some philosophers have gone so far to maintain that all objects are necessary beings, since necessary existence is a truth of logic in what seems to them to be the best quantified modal logic. See Barcan for the first modern connection between necessary existence and quantified modal logic. Barcan did not draw any metaphysical conclusions from her logical results, but later authors, especially Williamson have.

The second kind of modality de re concerns the properties of things. Like the existence of things, the possession of properties by things is subject to modal qualification. Additionally there may be properties which some objects have essentially. A thing has a property essentially if it could not exist without having that property. Examples of essential properties tend to be controversial, largely because the most plausible examples of a certain object's possessing a property essentially are only as plausible as the thesis that that object possesses those properties at all.

For example, if Sally is a physical object, as physicalists suppose, then it is very plausible for them to suppose further that she is essentially a physical object—but it is controversial whether they are right to suppose that she is a physical object. And, of course, the same thing can be said, mutatis mutandis, concerning dualists and the property of being a non-physical object.

It would seem, however, that Sally is either essentially a physical object or essentially a non-physical object. The most able and influential enemy of modality both de dicto and de re was W. Quine, who vigorously defended both the following theses. First, that modality de dicto can be understood only in terms of the concept of analyticity a problematical concept in his view.

Secondly, that modality de re cannot be understood in terms of analyticity and therefore cannot be understood at all. Quine argued for this latter claim by proposing what he took to be decisive counterexamples to theories that take essentiality to be meaningful. If modality de re makes any sense, Quine contended What then, Quine proceeded to ask, of someone who is both a mathematician and a cyclist?

Since this is incoherent, Quine thought that modality de re is incoherent. Kripke and Plantinga's defenses of modality are paradigmatically metaphysical except insofar as they directly address Quine's linguistic argument.

Both make extensive use of the concept of a possible world in defending the intelligibility of modality both de re and de dicto. For Leibniz, a possible world was a possible creation: For Kripke and Plantinga, no being, not even God, could stand outside the whole system of possible worlds. A Kripke-Plantinga KP world is an abstract object of some sort. Let us suppose that a KP world is a possible state of affairs this is Plantinga's idea; Kripke says nothing so definite.

Consider any given state of affairs; let us say, Paris being the capital of France. This state of affairs obtains, since Paris is the capital of France. By contrast, the state of affairs Tours being the capital of France does not obtain. The latter state of affairs does, however, exist, for there is such a state of affairs. Obtaining thus stands to states of affairs as truth stands to propositions: The state of affairs x is said to include the state of affairs y if it is impossible for x to obtain and y not to obtain.

If it is impossible for both x and y to obtain, then each precludes the other. A possible world is simply a possible state of affairs that, for every state of affairs x, either includes or precludes x; the actual world is the one such state of affairs that obtains.

Using the KP theory we can answer Quine's challenge as follows. In every possible world, every cyclist in that world is bipedal in that world. Assuming with Quine that necessarily cyclists are bipedal. Apparently he had not foreseen adaptive bicycles. Nevertheless for any particular cyclist, there is some possible world where he the same person is not bipedal. Once we draw this distinction, we can see that Quine's argument is invalid. More generally, on the KP theory, theses about de re essential properties need not be analytic; they are meaningful because they express claims about an object's properties in various possible worlds.

We can also use the notion of possible worlds to define many other modal concepts. For example, a necessarily true proposition is a proposition that would be true no matter what possible world was actual. Kripke and Plantinga have greatly increased the clarity of modal discourse and particularly of modal discourse de rebut at the expense of introducing a modal ontology, an ontology of possible worlds.

Theirs is not the only modal ontology on offer. What we call the actual world is one of these concrete objects, the spatiotemporally connected universe we inhabit.

There is, Lewis contends, a vast array of non-actual worlds, an array that contains at least those worlds that are generated by an ingenious principle of recombination, a principle that can be stated without the use of modal language In the matter of modality de dicto, Lewis's theory proceeds in a manner that is at least parallel to the KP theory: But the case is otherwise with modality de re. Since every ordinary object is in only one of the concrete worlds, Lewis must either say that each such object has all its properties essentially or else adopt a treatment of modality de re that is not parallel to the KP treatment.

He chooses the latter alternative. If all Socrates' counterparts are human, then we may say that he is essentially human. If one of Hubert Humphrey's counterparts won the counterpart of the presidential election, it is correct to say of Humphrey that he could have won that election.

In addition to the obvious stark ontological contrast between the two theories, they differ in two important ways in their implications for the philosophy of modality. For Kripke and Plantinga, however, modal concepts are sui generis, indefinable or having only definitions that appeal to other modal concepts.

Secondly, Lewis's theory implies a kind of anti-realism concerning modality de re. Socrates, therefore, may well have non-human counterparts under one counterpart relation and no non-human counterparts under another. And the choice of a counterpart relation is a pragmatic or interest-relative choice. But on the KP theory, it is an entirely objective question whether Socrates fails to be human in some world in which he exists: Whatever one may think of these theories when one considers them in their own right as theories of modality, as theories with various perhaps objectionable ontological commitmentsone must concede that they are paradigmatically metaphysical theories.

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

They bear witness to the resurgence of metaphysics in analytical philosophy in the last third of the twentieth century. A glance through any dictionary of quotations suggests that the philosophical pairing of space and time reflects a natural, pre-philosophical tendency: Kant, for example, treated space and time in his Transcendental Aesthetic as things that should be explained by a single, unified theory.

And his theory of space and time, revolutionary though it may have been in other respects, was in this respect typical of philosophical accounts of space and time. As one can ask whether there could be two extended objects that were not spatially related to each other, one can ask whether there could be two events that were not temporally related to each other. One can ask whether space is a a real thing—a substance—a thing that exists independently of its inhabitants, or b a mere system of relations among those inhabitants.

And one can ask the same question about time. But there are also questions about time that have no spatial analogues—or at least no obvious and uncontroversial analogues. There are, for example, questions about the grounds of various asymmetries between the past and the future—why is our knowledge of the past better than our knowledge of the future?

There do not seem to be objective asymmetries like this in space. In one way of thinking about time, there is a privileged temporal direction marking the difference between the past, present, and future. Times change from past to present to future, giving rise to passage.

Presentist A-theorists, like Priordeny that the past or future have any concrete reality. Presentists typically think of the past and future as, at best, akin to abstract possible worlds—they are the way the world was or will be, just as possible worlds are ways the actual world could be.

Other A-theorists, like Sullivanhold that the present is metaphysically privileged but deny that there is any ontological difference between the past, present, and future. More generally, A-theorists often incorporate strategies from modal metaphysics into their theories about the relation of the past and the future to the present.

According to B-theories of time, the only fundamental distinction we should draw is that some events and times are earlier or later relative to others. According to the B-theorists, there is no objective passage of time, or at least not in the sense of time passing from future to present and from present to past. B-theorists typically maintain that all past and future times are real in the same sense in which the present time is real—the present is in no sense metaphysically privileged.

It is also true, and less often remarked on, that space raises philosophical questions that have no temporal analogues—or at least no obvious and uncontroversial analogues. Why, for example, does space have three dimensions and not four or seven? On the face of it, time is essentially one-dimensional and space is not essentially three-dimensional.

It also seems that the metaphysical problems about space that have no temporal analogues depend on the fact that space, unlike time, has more than one dimension. For example, consider the problem of incongruent counterparts: So it seems there is an intuitive orientation to objects in space itself. It is less clear whether the problems about time that have no spatial analogues are connected with the one-dimensionality of time.

Finally, one can raise questions about whether space and time are real at all—and, if they are real, to what extent so to speak they are real. Or was McTaggart's position the right one: If these problems about space and time belong to metaphysics only in the post-Medieval sense, they are nevertheless closely related to questions about first causes and universals.

First causes are generally thought by those who believe in them to be eternal and non-local. God, for example—both the impersonal God of Aristotle and the personal God of Medieval Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophy—is generally said to be eternal, and the personal God is said to be omnipresent.

To say that God is eternal is to say either that he is everlasting or that he is somehow outside time. And this raises the metaphysical question of whether it is possible for there to be a being—not a universal or an abstract object of some other sort, but an active substance—that is everlasting or non-temporal.

An omnipresent being is a being that does not occupy any region of space not even the whole of it, as the luminiferous ether of nineteenth-century physics would if it existedand whose causal influence is nevertheless equally present in every region of space unlike universals, to which the concept of causality does not apply.

The doctrine of divine omnipresence raises the metaphysical question whether it is possible for there to be a being with this feature. But it is doubtful whether this is a position that is possible for a metaphysician who says that a white thing is a bundle composed of whiteness and various other universals. All theories of universals, therefore, raise questions about how things in various ontological categories are related to space.

And all these questions have temporal analogues. Are some or all objects composed of proper parts? Can more that one object be located in exactly the same region? Do objects persist through change by having temporal parts? Much work on persistence and constitution has focused on efforts to address a closely knit family of puzzles—the puzzles of coincidence.

Consider a gold statue. Many metaphysicians contend that there is at least one material object that is spatially co-extensive with the statue, a lump of gold. This is easily shown, they say, by an appeal to Leibniz's Law the principle of the non-identity of discernibles. There is a statue here and there is a lump of gold here, and—if the causal story of the statue's coming to be is of the usual sort—the lump of gold existed before the statue. And even if God has created the statue and perforce the lump ex nihilo and will at some point annihilate the statue and thereby annihilate the lumpthey further argue, the statue and the lump, although they exist at exactly the same times, have different modal properties: Or so these metaphysicians conclude.

But it has seemed to other metaphysicians that this conclusion is absurd, for it is absurd to suppose these others say that there could be spatially coincident physical objects that share all their momentary non-modal properties.

What, if anything, is the flaw in the argument for the non-identity of the statue and the lump? Tibbles is a cat. Suppose Tail is cut off—or, better, annihilated. Tibbles still exists, for a cat can survive the loss of its tail.

But what will be the relation between Tib and Tibbles? Can it be identity? Many different things are white. Many different things are animals. Thus, for Plato, Roundness and Whiteness are Forms. Following the lead of Aristotle, scholars have focused on what it means for Plato, in contrast to Socrates, to have separated his universals, the Forms.

The starting point, then, for the study of Plato's metaphysics, is the Socratic dialogues and Socrates' investigation into universals of the ethical variety, namely Justice, Piety, Courage and others. Elenctic inquiry is fundamentally a form of cross-examination, where Socrates tries to elicit from others their beliefs about matters of justice or piety, etc. Typically the result is that his interlocutors turn out to have an inconsistent set of beliefs about the virtues. The answers offered to these questions fail usually because they are too narrow or too wide.

An answer is too narrow if it fails to include all cases. An answer is too wide if, while it includes all cases of, for instance, piety, it also includes other things, cases of justice or impiety. He is seeking an answer which picks out a Socratic Property, e.

Piety's power to make, e. In the Socratic dialogues Plato does not distinguish the metaphysical way in which Socrates is pious from the way in which Piety is pious—in these dialogues there appears to be just one ontological predication relation. One has knowledge of a Socratic Property when she can give an account logos that says what X is, that is, when she can give the definition of the property under investigation. Treating a definition as a linguistic item, we can say that the definition specifies or picks out the essence ousia of the property, and a definitional statement predicates the essence of the property whose essence it is.

It is unclear from the Socratic dialogues whether any other property is predicated of a Socratic Property: In contrast, the things that are pious, e.

From what we can infer from Plato's remarks in these early dialogues, and from Aristotle's remarks, a Socratic property is in the sensibles—It is an immanent universal. In this respect, the essence of Piety is also found in Socrates and thus the linguistic definition of Piety is also linguistically predicable of Socrates. If Aristotle is right, Plato's problem with sensibles is that they change. It recounts the last hours of Plato's teacher. Towards that end we find a series of arguments whose aim is to prove the immortality of the soul.

At least three of these arguments, the Argument from Recollection and its prelude 65aa and 72ebthe Affinity Argument 78bband the Final Argument aa and its prelude 95aaare crucial for understanding Plato's initial thoughts on metaphysics and epistemology. Here Plato draws a contrast between unchanging Forms and changing material particulars. Unfortunately, neither in the Phaedo nor in any other dialogue do we find Plato giving a detailed description of the nature of Forms, or particulars, or their interaction.

What is referred to as Plato's theory of Forms is thus a rational reconstruction of Plato's doctrine. In such a reconstruction scholars try to determine a set of principles or theses which, taken together, allow us to show why Plato says what he does about Forms, souls, and other metaphysical items.

In the attempt to make more precise what Plato is after, one risks attributing to Plato notions that are either not his or not as well developed in Plato as scholars would hope. Perhaps the notion of a particular is such a case. Intuitively, particulars are things like my dog Ajax, Venus, my computer, and so on, the ordinary material things of the everyday spatio-temporal world.

But we also speak of particular actions, particular events, particular souls, and much else. In a rational reconstruction, we can be more precise by stipulating, for instance, that a particular is that of which properties are predicated and which is never predicated of anything or anything other than itself. In the author's opinion, the metaphysics of the Phaedo and other middle period works is devoted to developing the account of Forms; perhaps because while most of us think that included in what there is are the various, e.

In the late dialogues, especially the Timaeus and Philebus, Plato attempts to give a systematic account of material particulars. The argument of the Phaedo begins from Plato's assertion that the soul seeks freedom from the body so that it may best grasp truth, because the body hinders and distracts it: The senses furnish no truth; those senses about the body are neither accurate nor clear. The soul reckons best when it is itself by itself, i. At this juncture, Socrates changes course: What about these things?

Do we say that justice itself is something? And the fair and the good? Then have you ever seen any of these sorts of things with your eyes? But then have you grasped them with any other sense through the body. I am talking about all of themfor instance about size, health, strength, in a word about the essence ousia of all of them, what each happens to be. Is it through the body then that what is most true of these things is contemplated? Or does it hold thus?

Whoever of us should prepare himself to consider most accurately each thing itself about which he inquires, that one would come closest to knowing each thing. This is the first passage in the dialogues widely agreed to introduce Forms. First, Forms are marked as auto kath auto beings, beings that are what they are in virtue of themselves.

In subsequent arguments we learn other features of these Forms. Then in the Affinity Argument we discover that Forms are simple or incomposite, of one form monoeideticwhereas particulars are complex, divisible and of many forms. In the crucial Final Argument, Plato finally presents the hypothesis of Forms to explain coming into being and destruction, in general, i.

Once Cebes accepts the hypothesis, a novel implication is announced c3—7: Well then, consider what then follows if you also accept my hypothesis. For it seems to me that if anything else is beautiful besides Beauty Itself, it is beautiful on account of nothing else than because it partakes of Beauty Itself. And I speak in the same way about everything else. Do you accept this sort of cause or explanation? At first blush, it seems that there are two kinds of subjects of which properties are predicated, namely Forms and material particulars.

I exempt souls from this list. Similarly, at first blush it seems that there are Forms for every property involved in the changes afflicting material particulars. Helen of Troy, change from being not-beautiful to being beautiful, there is the Form Beauty Itself. Generalizing from what is said here about Beauty Itself, it seems that Forms inherit from the Socratic Properties their self-predicational status: Beauty is beautiful; Justice is just; Equality is equal. Partaking in Beauty makes Helen beautiful because Beauty Itself is beautiful.

Understanding Being, the way in which Beauty is beautiful, that is, determining what it is for a Form to self-predicate, is central to understanding Plato's Theory of Forms and his middle period metaphysics. The Nature of Forms: Self-Predication The debate over self-predication involves both statements and what the statements are about, i.

Thus at times it may be important to distinguish linguistic predication from ontological predication. One question then concerns the copula, or linking verb: There are three basic approaches to consider. In his seminal discussion of self-predication, Vlastos maintained that we should understand the relation between the Form and itself to be the same as that between a particular and the Form Vlastos d.

This is to say that Justice is just in the same was as Socrates is just, or that Beauty is beautiful in the same way as Helen is beautiful, or that the Circle Itself is circular in the same way as my basketball: Then Beauty is a beautiful thing, an item to be included in an inventory of beautiful things right along with Helen.

According to the Approximationist, the Form is the perfect instance of the property it stands for. A particular that participates in the Form is an imperfect or deficient instance in that it has a property that approximates the perfect nature of the Form.

For instance, the Circle Itself is perfectly circular. A drawn circle, or a round ball, is deficient in that it is not perfectly circular, not exactly degrees in circumference. If Beauty Itself is characterized by perfect beauty, then Helen has imperfect beauty and she does not have perfect beauty. Since nothing rules out that there are numerous kinds of imperfect beauty, perhaps as many as there are beautiful participants, it seems either that there is no one kind of beauty that particulars have in common, or that there are one or more commonly shared imperfect kinds of beauty.

In the latter case, there is every reason to posit a Form s of Imperfect Beauty in which the commonly qualified imperfect particulars participate. Neither alternative is a happy one.

While the appeal to the perfection of the mathematical properties is great, even in these cases it is doubtful that Plato adopts an approximationist strategy see Nehamas b; c. An alternative is to allow that while both Beauty Itself and other items are characterized by beauty, Beauty Itself is simply and solely beautiful. This characterizing variant emphasizes the Phaedo's claims that a Form is monoeides and one Phaedo 78b4ff. Beauty is nothing but beautiful and thus is completely beautiful, differing from other beautiful things in that they are much else besides beautiful.

Helen is a woman and unfaithful and beautiful. Indeed, typically backers of this approach exclude the possibility that a Form is characterized by the property it is, thus, e. And while ultimately it allows that a Form and its essence are identical, it does not regard the self-predication statement itself as an identity claim see Code ; Silverman Ch. Rather, a self-predication claim asserts that there is a special primitive kind of ontological relation between a Form subject and its essence predicate.

This approach begins from the two relations of Partaking and Being introduced in the last argument of the Phaedo.


An intuitive first approximation of their respective functions is to treat Partaking as a relation between material particulars and Forms, the result of which is that the particular is characterized by the Form of which it partakes. So, Helen, by partaking of Beauty, is characterized by beauty; Helen, in virtue of partaking, is or, as we might say, becomes beautiful.

All particulars are characterized by the Forms in which each participates, and whatever each is, it is by partaking in the appropriate Form. On this account, then, there can be Forms for each and every property had by particulars Phaedo —, esp. In contrast to the characterizing relation of Partaking, the relation of Being is always non-characterizing. Each Form, F, is its essence ousiawhich is to say that the relation of Being links the essence of beauty to the subject, Beauty Itself.

Put differently, whenever essence is predicated of something, the relation of Being is at work. Nor do I mean to suggest that everything else in the metaphysics can somehow be deduced from it.

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

Rather, I mean to indicate that the relation of Being is not explained by appeal to another more basic relation or principle. Its nature, and the nature of other primitives in the theory, such as Participating, is displayed in the ways in which the theory attempts to save various phenomena.

The Simplicity of Forms Throughout the dialogues, Forms are said to be one, hen, or monoeides. See especially the Affinity Argument in the Phaedo, 78bb. These passages suggest that the self-predicational nature of Forms implies that the only property predicable of a Form is itself: There are epistemological reasons that support this reading: But other passages suggest that Forms cannot be simple in this strict sense.

From the Republic we know that all Forms are related to the Good. While it is difficult to be certain, Plato seems committed to the claim that each Form is good, that is, that each Form is a good thing or is characterized by goodness. Ontologically, all definitions predicate the essence of the Form whose essence it is.

Plato is attempting to discover through scientific investigation, or inclusive or through an analysis of what words mean, or through any other method, what the nature of, say, Justice is—compare the ways in which philosophers and scientists work to discover what, e. According to this line of reasoning, the self-predication statements in the texts are promissory notes, shorthand for what will turn out to be the fully articulated definition.

Plato is thus committed to there being Forms whose nature or essence will ultimately be discovered. The problem is that the fully articulated linguistic definition, when it is ultimately discovered, will turn out to be complex. For instance, Heat, one thing, is mean molecular kinetic energy, a seemingly complex notion.

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

So in Plato we find Republic, d that Justice is Doing One's Own, that a Name is Cratylus, b a tool that is informative and separates nature, or, though Plato never says it, that Human is rational bipedal animal. Since philosophical and scientific progress is supposed to teach not that Justice is just but what Justice is, at some level at least Forms cannot be considered to be utterly and strictly simple.

The problem is that given just two predication relations, it is unclear whether Plato thinks that Forms partake of the properties to which they are related or whether they are those properties. The Separation of Forms The best guide to the separation of Forms is the claim that each Form is what it is in its own right, each is an auto kath auto being. He seeks what F is independent from any of its material instances, and in some sense independent of anything else, whether another Form or the soul.

What each Form is, what each Form is in its own right, it is in virtue of its essence, ousia. The connection between the Form and the essence being predicated of it is exhibited in the Republic's formula that a given on being is completely or perfectly ffas well as the so-called self-predication statements.

According to the predicationalist reading, the relation connecting an essence with that Form of which it is the essence is Being see Codeesp. The special relationship between a Form and its essence is captured in two principles Each essence is the essence of exactly one Form.

Each Form has or is exactly one essence;[ 10 ] II captures the ontological force of the expression that each Form is monoeides: In light of these principles, and in keeping with the account of the ontological relation of Being, it follows that each Form self-predicates, in so far as each Form Is its essence. Self-predication statements are thus required of Forms, since every Form must Be its respective essence.

Self-predication, then, is a constitutional principle of the very theory of Forms. In virtue of Being its essence, each Form Is something regardless of whether any particular does or even may participate in it. Thus each Form is separate from every particular instance of it. Moreover, since its essence is predicated of the Form independently from our knowledge of the Form or from its relation to another Form, a Form is not dependent on anything else. On this definitional interpretation of separation, an item is separate just in case the definition essence is predicable of it and not of what it is alleged to be separate from.

Beginner's Guide to Kant's Metaphysics & Epistemology - Philosophy Tube

Whether or not a Form is existentially separate, i. To the extent that Plato recognizes the notion of existence, since being an essence seems, by Plato's lights, to be the superlative way to be, it is likely that Forms are both definitionally and existentially separate.

The Range of Forms The middle period dialogues contain few arguments whose conclusion is that such and such a Form therefore exists. These include the moral properties familiar from Socrates' ethical inquiries and properties such as Beauty, Equality, Hot and Cold, or Largeness. There is no precise way to specify what counts as an incomplete property.

Roughly, the idea is that an incomplete property is one which, when serving as a predicate, yields a statement that cannot be understood on its own, because they must be added on to, or completed in some sense, typically with a prepositional phrase. For some readers, then, while the Plato of the middle period may believe in a wide range of properties, he is theoretically committed only to a limited number or range of Forms, namely Forms of incomplete properties.

Forms are limited to these incomplete properties because, on this line of reasoning, these properties present special problems when they are instantiated in particulars. This is the phenomenon where, with respect to any incomplete property, F, every sensible particular that is F is, in some sense, also not-F.

So, if Elsie the cow is large, she is also not-large; for Elsie is large in comparison to her calf but not-large in comparison to Elmer the bull.

Thus Elsie is large and not-large. Since, according to this approach, Plato is seeking a large that is the unqualified bearer of largeness, and since every particular is disqualified in light of compresence, Plato postulates a Form, Largeness Itself, to be the unqualified bearer. By way of contrast, properties such as being brown or being a cow do not suffer compresence when instantiated by particulars.

That is, Elsie is a cow and is not not-a-cow; she is brown imagine she is brown all over and is not not-brown. In the modern parlance, being a cow is classified as an essential property of Elsie whereas being brown is an accidental property. Thus the proponent of Forms only for incomplete properties looks to a special subset of the accidental properties, namely those where there is no unqualified possessor. In order to appreciate fully the rationale for this account, one needs to consider Plato's account of particulars, for the compresence of opposites is meant to capture in what sense particulars are deficient with respect to Forms.

Rather, we are told that the key notion is being completely. So, just as Elsie is completely a cow, so Largeness is completely large: Largeness is a complete bearer of an incomplete property. The Deficiency of Particulars Metaphors dominate Plato's remarks about the relation of particulars to Forms. Of special importance are the metaphors of image and original, copy and model, example and paradigm.

The physical world and all of its constituents are, according to Plato, a copy or image of the Forms, and since all copies are dependent on the original, the physical world is dependent on Forms. In so far as Platonic Forms are not dependent on particulars, i. A second important metaphor from the Phaedo also suggests that particulars are dependent on Forms whereas Forms are not dependent on them. Particulars strive to be such as the Forms are and thus in comparison to Forms are imperfect or deficient.

Forms, then, are independent, whereas particulars are dependent on Forms and thus deficient with respect to them. The Phaedo especially the Affinity Argument, 78bb also points up a host of features, usually found in pairs, which differentiate particulars from Forms.

Forms are immaterial, non-spatial and atemporal. Particulars are material and extended in space and in time. Forms do not change and may not even be subject to Cambridge-change, i. Particulars change, may even be subject to change in any respect, and may even be subject to change in every respect at any given moment, i.

Particulars are complex or multi-form polyeidetic composites sunthetonwhereas Forms are pure, simple or uniform monoeidetic, hen. Particulars are the objects of the senses and of belief. Forms are the objects of knowledge, grasped by the intellect through definitions, dialectic, or otherwise.

Particulars appear, and perhaps are, both F and not-F for some property F: The Form of F cannot be conceived to be not-F and perhaps is never not-F. Aristotle's account of Plato's reasons for introducing Forms indicates that change and essence are critical to Plato's thinking about the deficiency of material particulars. Plato, accepting this, thought that this defining comes to be about different things, and not about sensibles. For it is impossible that the common definition be about any of the sensibles, for these are always changing.

The question is where one can find definitions or definables. Aristotle asserts that Plato thought that definitions could not be found in the sensibles because they were always changing. Following Aristotle's lead, a most economical way to account for the cognitive superiority of Forms and the inferiority of sensibles would be to allot essences only to the Forms.

Since we know from the early and the middle dialogues that knowledge is of essence, it is tempting to think that the absence of essence is responsible for the deficiency of the particulars.

Particulars are deficient because they can or do change. They change because their properties are contingent. Their properties are contingent because they lack any essences or any essential properties. But this is too quick. First, Plato's particulars may not change with respect to all of their properties.

There was a problem providing the content you requested

Perhaps some have essential properties along with a host of contingent properties. Then Aristotle might be taken to imply that only with respect to a certain number of contingent properties did Plato posit definable Forms.

Moreover, Aristotle seems to allude only to an epistemological difficulty arising from changing particulars. It is possible that this difficulty arises independently of whether some particulars have essential properties.

For instance, particulars might be epistemologically problematic because they have many properties, only some of which are changing. Suppose that a particular is F. Complexity entails that a particular has at least two properties, F and G. Since the G is not-F, every complex particular can be said to be F and not-F.

Our inability to grasp the property F in the particular is then grounded not in the compresence of an opposite property, but in the compresence of another property. The inquiring mind is unable to isolate the desired property from any other.

This suggests that a fundamental contrast between the particulars and the Form F is that the latter is simple, or monoeidetic, in that it possesses just itself—It is just F. If we emphasize the contingency of all of its properties, a particular cannot have any essential properties. On the other hand, if we emphasize the complexity of the particular, then we are free to ascribe essences to some particulars.

Hence, there could be knowledge of these particulars, i. Conversely, if complexity is the cause of cognitive deficiency, then with respect to Forms, the fact that all their properties are necessary properties would not suffice to render Forms knowable.

Thus Forms, too, might not be knowable. There is reason to doubt that the compresence of opposites or the mere complexity of particulars is responsible for their deficiency but see Fineesp.

metaphysics and epistemology relationship problems

According to Aristotle, change is critical, especially in so far as it precludes definability and thus knowledge. Given that knowledge requires essence, and essence excludes change in the case of the essential propertiesAristotle would have us deny that essence is predicable of particulars for the Plato of the middle period. Particulars will be epistemologically deficient in that there can be no knowledge of them, unless we abandon the thesis that knowledge is of essence.

And particulars will be metaphysically deficient, at least to the extent that possessing an essence is a better state than lacking one.

Metaphysics and epistemology

But more can be said about the peculiar contingent manner in which particulars have their properties and why it is that one cannot look to the particular beauties to obtain knowledge of, e. From the outset of the Phaedo, particulars are branded as material and, as a result, spoken of in the pejorative.

Indeed, matter seems to be at the root of the other features that characterize particulars. What is extended in space and through, or in, time is body. The composite is also linked with the material. Because a material particular is composite, it is also multi-form or complex Phaedo 80b4.

Complex material particulars are subject to change in so far as their composite nature invites dissolution or construction, or more generally coming-to-be or perishing.

And since compresence requires complexity, the material nature of particulars is one of the roots of each material, sensible particular being both F and not-F. The spatio-temporal, material character of particulars also contributes directly to the explanation of their suffering, and seeming to suffer, the compresence of opposites. In the middle period, Plato seems to accept an account of perception that has as a necessary component the interaction of material elements.

The qualifications needed to account for a particular's being F and not-F are temporal, or a function of being comparable to other extended material objects, or standing in different relations to perceivers. In virtue of their material nature, particulars are extended, mutable, and subject to generation and destruction. How then is the materiality of the particular related to the characterization for which participation is responsible? What materiality induces is that a property be manifested in a specific way.

So, when we consider a particular stick to ask what is its length, we expect to be told a specific quantity: The same is true of its weight: If we are concerned to explain why the stick is that long, one answer is that the matter of the particular compels it to have determinate length. In the Meno 74ffPlato develops the notion of determinable and determinate.

There the properties themselves are determinates falling under a determinable, e. Now, the properties under consideration are all generic or determinable, but when present in the particular they take on a specific, determinate character. Consider, for instance, mathematical figures. The Triangle itself will be a three-sided figure whose lines lack breadth and whose angles have no determinate degree. But all particular triangles will have lines with some breadth and angles with certain degrees.

The immaterial Form of Triangle is abstract and can have no particular dimension. The property in the particular, on the other hand, must be specific and determinate—the property in the particular is always a specific, determinate length, or color hueor size, or so on—because the particular is concrete, and because the property in the particular is itself a particular instance of the non-determinate property.

The determinacy of the material particular is set against the non-determinacy of the Form. This determinacy of property is only one aspect of the difference. A second is the contingent way in which the particular has this determinate property. The material aspect is, in the case of particulars, partly responsible for the contingency of its property possession.

Matter is a sufficient condition for contingency but not necessary, since souls are in many respects contingently what they are, e. Matter is also a sufficient condition for complexity, though again not necessary, if souls, or Forms, can be complex.

The criteria and the properties which differentiate Forms and particulars are related to their respective ways of being, but mutability, extendedness, etc. Still, the deficiency of the sensible is aptly viewed in terms of its way of being, i. The deficiency of the sensible is its deficient way of being.

Lacking any essence, it can only fail to Be. This notion of deficiency has a long pedigree. In one sense it is a new way of cashing out the idea that Forms and particulars are different kinds or types of entities. The very same property, Beauty, is related, via Being, to the Form Beauty Itself that is related to the sensible particular via Partaking. The beauty of Helen is not itself deficient, her way of having it is. And since beauty does not characterize Beauty, there is no case to be made that Beauty Itself could be a paradigmatically beautiful object.

It would appear, then, that only Forms are definable, since essence is not predicated of particulars. But it is not so simple. Based on the Phaedo's account of Being and Participating cf. Principles I and II, suprawe can conclude that: Each Form, F, Is its essence, Y. Furthermore, since the Phaedo asserts that particulars are what they are in virtue of the Form's being what it Is, it follows that If P has Y, then P has something which Is Y. The motivation for this claim is our understanding of the thesis at c that Beauty Itself alone Is beautiful and that other things acquire their beauty in virtue of partaking in what Is beautiful.

The traditional and obvious way to parse this claim is to allow that it is the Form Itself which the particular has, for it seems that only the Form whose essence is Y, Is Y. But if this is true, then if, as the Identity view maintains, the Form and its essence are identical, it follows that the essence must also be predicable of the particular. In which case it seems that the particulars do have essences, albeit via Partaking, for they have something which is identical with an essence.

Form-copies, the-large-in-Socrates, the hot-in-fire, and such, provide a way out of this predicament. There is no consensus as to whether they are bona fide members of the ontology of the Phaedo bff. Many have argued that the so-called form-copies are nothing more than the Forms conceived of as inherent in, or immanent in, particulars, the particularization of the Form, or Forms as they function in the participation relation.

They differ from their parent Form in that they are singular or unit-properties, whereas the Form is general and abstract. The relation of the form-copy to the particular is a real problem. The crucial issue is whether form-copies are dependent on particulars, especially whether their claim to be individual or unit-properties is only as good as the company they keep.

Part of the difficulty results from the metaphor Plato's uses throughout the last stage of the Final Argument in the Phaedo. The soul, because it cannot perish, must therefore withdraw. Which of the two possibilities developed in the military metaphor does Plato envisage for form-copies: It is a struggle to understand just what the military metaphors amount to, but if the form-copies perish at the approach of their opposite, this suggests that form-copies are dependent on the particulars to which they belong.

Conversely, if they are able to withdraw, they are in some sense independent from the particulars. In this fashion they are akin to individual souls, since neither souls nor form-copies will be dependent for their existence on the particular to which they temporarily belong. But even if they withdraw and thus exist apart from the particulars, their individuality seems to be determined by the company they keep, e. However, if form-copies are thus dependent on particulars, there is a problem with respect to the nature of particulars lurking in the Phaedo.

For it seems that particulars have all of their properties in virtue of participating in the relevant Forms. Particulars, then, are ultimately to be identified in terms of the properties they have, namely their form-copies.

But if these form-copies, in turn, are themselves individuated by the particulars whose form-copies they are, we are confronted with a circle.

Plato may be able to avoid this circle of individuation by not making form-copies depend on particulars for either their being or their individuation.