The Arts Intellectual of Francis Bacon

The arts intellectual are four in number, divided according to the ends whereunto they are referred—for man’s labour is to invent that which is sought or propounded; or to judge that which is invented; or to retain that which is judged; or to deliver over that which is retained. So as the arts must be four—art of inquiry or invention; art of examination or judgment; art of custody or memory; and art of elocution or tradition.

— Francis Bacon in “The Advancement of Learning”, Second Book Chapter XII

This four-part division is based on the ends and aims of human endeavour. Man finds what he has been looking for, judges what he has found, retains what he has judged and transmits what he has retained.

— From Paoli Rossi, “Logic and the Art of Memory”

Further Reading:

Paoli Rossi / Logic and the Art of Memory: the quest for a universal language

The Four Idols of Francis Bacon

[*9.85, *11.164]



Aristotle’s Four Questions of Inquiry

At the beginning of the second book of his “Posterior Analytics”, Aristotle claims that there are four questions for investigating the nature of things and their properties. The answers to these questions hopefully gives us “demonstrable” knowledge about them, or knowledge of a “scientific” nature.

  • That it is (to hoti) : Is it a fact that a thing has a property? (Is this that?) “the question of fact” knowing-that
  • Why it is (to dioti) : Why does a thing have a property? (Why is this that?) “the question of reason or cause” knowing-why
  • Whether it is (ei esti) : Does a thing or property exist? (Does this or that exist?) “the question of if it is or of existence” knowing-if
  • What it is (ti esti) : What is the nature and meaning of a thing or property? (What is this or that?) “the question of what it is or of being or essence” knowing-what

The original terms were innovative in their ancient Greek, and even today cause some confusion in their translation and explanation (at least for this reader, so pardon the multiplicity of phrasings). It seems these questions are more about kinds or universals and not individuals or particulars, so they aren’t really about agents or locations or times (such as who, where, when).

The questions naturally fall into two sets of pairs: the first pair being between a thing and a property (binary), with the first question leading to the second question (knowing the fact comes before knowing the reason for the fact), and the second pair being just about a thing (unary), again with the first question leading to the second question (knowing the existence comes before knowing the essence).

In order to obtain a demonstration that an answer to one of the two questions to hoti or to dioti is correct, Aristotle reasoned that a “middle thing” is needed, a “link” between question and answer. Four types of cause are given, two of which borrowed from his Four Causes (Efficient and Final), and two others (those of definition and of “an antecedent that necessitates a consequent” (does this mean logical entailment or consequence?)).

Robert Sokolowski in the article cited below calls the ei esti and ti esti questions hermeneutic in comparison with the scientific questions to hoti and to dioti, and argues that each pair of questions reciprocally compliment the other, rather than one pair being dependent on the other. That is because the existence and the essence of things being sought after are indeed the “links” being sought after in the how and the why questions.

Obviously these concepts are too deep to be understood at a simplistic level, which is all I have managed so far.

Further Reading:

Robert Sokolowski / Scientific and Hermeneutic Questions in Aristotle, Philosophy & Rhetoric, Vol. 4, No. 4 (1971), pp. 242-261

Patrick Hugh Byrne / Analysis and Science in Aristotle


[*11.142, *11.144, *11.146, *11.163]




The Twelve Houses of the Zodiac

How does one circumscribe the totality of human experience, both for the individual as well as for culture? One of the oldest ways is the twelvefold division of the Houses of the Zodiac, which may have its origins in Babylon. Other similar systems were used in India, China, Europe, etc. In my diagram above I’m using Latin numerals along with the Latin names of the houses.

For Western Astrology, four groups of three houses are divided by the four classical elements and then into triplicities (from Wikipedia):

  • Fire : Identity (I, V, IX)
  • Earth : Material (II, VI, X)
  • Air : Social and intellectual (III, VII, XI)
  • Water : Soul and Emotional (IV, VIII, XII)

And somewhat similarly for India, the divisions of Vedic Astrology are broken into four Bhavas or “needs” (from Wikipedia):

  • Dharma : (Duty) The need to find our path and purpose
  • Artha : (Resources) The need to acquire the necessary resources and abilities to provide for ourselves to fulfill our path and purpose
  • Kama : (Pleasure) The need for pleasure and enjoyment
  • Moksha : (Liberation) The need to find liberation and enlightenment from the world

There are more recent and scientific divisions of human universals, such as those by George Murdock, Robin Fox, and Donald Brown, as mentioned by Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens in his book “Archetype Revisited”. These are also grouped into four categories (from Wikipedia):

  • Language and cognition
  • Technology
  • Society
  • Beliefs

Further Reading:

Anthony Stevens / Ariadne’s Clue: a guide to the symbols of mankind

Note that John Crowley’s “AEypgt Quartet” uses the Latin names of the Houses as “books”, three to a volume.





The Free Will Theorem

The Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen is an interesting argument that tries to suggest free will goes “all the way down”. If experimenters can make their choices freely on how to measure certain experiments then the elementary particles being measured can make “free choices” as well. But the contrapositive of this result seems more interesting to me: if some elementary particles are not free, then the experimenters aren’t either!

I’ve cheated some here because it is really based on three axioms or assumptions, and not four. All for the sake of science (and philosophy)!

  • Fin : Information transmission has a maximal (finite) speed, and obtains from causality
  • Twin : For two elementary particles, it is possible to quantum “entangle” them, separate them significantly, and measure the square of their spin in parallel directions (but “full entanglement” is not required)
  • Spin : For certain elementary particles of spin one (the vector or gauge bosons: gluons, photons, Z and W), the squared spin component (taken in three orthogonal directions) will be a permutation of (1,1,0)
  • Min : Instead of Fin, the weaker assumption Min states that the spin measurers need only be “space-like” separated and make choices independently of each other
  • Lin : Instead of Fin or Min, Lin is an even weaker assumption that rests on experimentally testable “Lorentz Covariance”

If nothing else, trying to understand this theorem teaches you a bit about elementary particles and quantum physics!

Further Reading:



The Fourth Estate

As the basic institutions and fabric of our democracy come under general attack from within our very own government, I am reminded of this fourfold, long ago enlarged from the original but variable threefold of the estates of the realm. The journalism of the free press still remains a very important part of our society and has long served us well, shining a disinfecting light on the misdeeds of powerful and corrupt elements of the wealthy class, and yes, even some of those in the leadership of religious institutions.

Of course, the very same powerful and corrupt want to attack the scrutiny of the media by childish name-calling and vilification: “enemy of the people”, “lame-stream media”, and other silly phrases that encourage glad-handing and back-slapping, winking and smirking. But these attacks are extremely serious in their intention to weaken and transform a press geared towards informing the ordinary individual, and substitute for it an instrument for propaganda and misinformation serving the puissant.

As newspapers and news magazines lose readers, and traditional television network news shows lose viewers, the internet has provided a multitude of new ways for the “common” individual to be mislead, to be encouraged to give into base and false narratives, and to appeal to tribal mentalities of “us versus them”. I can barely see how this disorder might ultimately benefit the wealthy, but how does this serve the “clergy” of religious organizations that speak of peace and brotherhood yet side with a destructive, hateful agenda?

Oh look, some are calling blogging and social media a “fifth estate”. Piffle!

Further Reading:

At first I wanted to put “Free Press” into the fourfold below, but choose “Free Lunch” instead because I didn’t want it to be too political. Oh, well.

Also, this:




Four Things

I’ve heard that learning English isn’t easy, but I don’t really remember my own experience of doing so. Learning the difference between these four indefinite pronouns is just one of the many things to know, and seems to be a common grade school poster to hang up in the classroom.

  • Anything
  • Something
  • Everything
  • Nothing

Some use these four words together in a clever sentence or epigram, but today I’ve got nothing except this sad little diagram. I hope it is of some use to someone.

I also see this is done with anybody, somebody, everybody, and nobody, and there are some cute little stories out there too! Plus here’s another diagram.

Further Reading:



The Four Lobes of the Cerebral Cortex

The brain, the brain, the center of the chain…

— The Babysitter’s Club

The cerebral cortex is the outside part of the human brain’s cerebrum, with the cerebrum consisting of two hemispheres connected to each other by another structure called the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere’s cerebral cortex is traditionally divided into four main lobes, which loosely manage specific brain functions and specifically all voluntary actions of the body.

Because each side of the cerebral cortex has four lobes, I guess you could say that the cerebral cortex has eight lobes. Interestingly, each hemisphere is a bit functionally different in its operation, so perhaps those eight lobes are indeed distinct: left frontal lobe, right frontal lobe, left parietal lob, etc.

There has been research over the years about the functional differences in the hemispheres. Roger Sperry won a Nobel prize in 1981 for his pioneering work on split-brain research, although some of those findings are now known to be much more nuanced than before. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist has written a interesting sounding book on the differences between the two hemispheres, that is high on my to-read list!

  • Frontal Lobe: attention, planning, deciding, movement
  • Parietal Lobe: language, taste, touch, temperature
  • Temporal Lobe: hearing, emotion, smell, memory
  • Occipital Lobe: sight, vision

Further Reading:



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