Tag Archives: Alfred North Whitehead

Everything is Four

Is everything four? Some try to prove it with a numerological trick. Take a word. Count its letters. Convert the number to words. Count letters. Repeat. Every English word seems to end up on four or 4, with nowhere else to go! Voila!

Since I’ve searched for this topic, a musician has released an album with this title. Cool!

But what do I mean by it? Everything can be divided into four parts, or has four aspects, or four sides, or what? I’m not sure, exactly.

But let’s test it against Alfred Whitehead’s Criteria for Metaphysical Theories!

  • Is it consistent? Yes! That is, nothing in the theory contradicts other parts of the theory, because there are no other parts. And if something is part of a foursome, that something can also be a foursome (even if an arbitrary one).
  • Is it coherent? Yes! That is, the theory is logically whole, such as it is. A bit boring? Perhaps…
  • Is it applicable? Yes! That is, we can apply our method to reduce something to four parts to everything, as long as we don’t care what the parts are. Plus we can combine anything with three other things, ad nauseum!
  • Is it adequate? No, not really. It does little to explain itself or the rest of the world.

So, we must continue our search for our ultimate metaphysical theory. It must be everything is four, plus something else… plus two more somethings…

Further Reading:

http://www.unterzuber.com/4our.html

http://www.marijn.org/everything-is-4/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_Is_4

Whitehead’s Criteria for Metaphysical Theories

The Collatz Conjecture

[*11.140]

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Four Philosophies

sq_four_philosophies3

If one could divide all philosophies into four groups, what would those groups be? There doesn’t seem to be a strong consensus on how to do this although several have tried.

My first inclination is to start with the Archic Philosophers, discussed by Robert McKeon and his students Walter Watson and David Dilworth. These would be the Sophists, Plato, Democritus, and Aristotle. Philosophies aren’t usally divided in this way, but pros of doing this is that all four groups emerge from classical Greek thought. One of the main cons is that many would not agree that all philosophies are decendents of these four philosophers, or even combinations of aspects from each.

Another student of McKeon, Robert S. Brumbaugh, thought the process philosophies starting from those of Heraclitus and Anaxagoras (both pre-Socratic) and ranging through Whitehead should be represented instead of the Sophists. Otherwise he choose the same three as McKeon, giving Anaxagorean, Platonic, Democritean, and Aristotelian philosophies. By doing this he can form the double dual of Materialist-Formalist (direction) and Holoscopic-Meroscopic (method).

  • Anaxagoras: Materialist, Holoscopic
  • Platonic: Formalist, Holoscopic
  • Democritean: Materialist, Meroscopic
  • Aristotelian: Formalist, Meroscopic

Two works older than Brumbaugh’s that divide philosophy into the same four groups are those of Ralph Barton Perry and James Donald Butler. Their division is Naturalism, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Realism. I believe that the Realism in these books means Platonic Realism, instead of the more recent Scientific Realism thought of today. Of course Realism has many shadings as seen below.

It might be advantageous to consider Naturalism as a group instead of Realism, since the very concept of the real has so much disagreement. Naturalism does too, but not the extent that Realism does.

Several web sites divide four philosophies of eduction into Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism. To me, Existentialism is similar to the Relativism of the Sophists. But what about Phenomenalism? Is that more like Relativism or Idealism?

There is also the monumental work “The Sociology of Philosophies” by Randall Collins but I haven’t examined it yet. I suspect they are not condensed or simplified into four groups.

So for now I’ve settled on Relativism, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Naturalism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_philosophies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_%28philosophy%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetic_Realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Barad#Agential_Realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_realism_%28philosophy_of_perception%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrealism_%28philosophy%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na%C3%AFve_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_realism_%28philosophy%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actual_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objective_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_idealism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_naturalism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_naturalism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_philosophy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaxagoras
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism_%28philosophy%29
http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP2.html
http://edu402mariasblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/four-philosophies-of-education.html

Walter Watson / The Architectonics of Meaning: Foundations of the New Pluralism

David Dilworth / Philosophy in World Perspective: A Comparative Hermeneutic of the Major Theories

Robert S. Brumbaugh / Western Philosophic Systems and Their Cyclic Transformations

Ralph Barton Perry /Present Philosophical Tendencies: a critical survey of naturalism, idealism, pragmatism, and realism together with a synopsis of the philosophy of William James

James Donald Butler /Four Philosophies and Their Practice in Education and Religion

Randall Collins / The Sociology of Philosophies: a global theory of intellectual change

[*8.138, *8.151, *8.152]

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Whitehead’s Criteria for Metaphysical Theories

Note that consistency and coherency are considered rational, and that applicability and adequacy are considered empirical. This has importance for Heideggar’s Fourfold since the rational is revealed,  and the empirical is concealed. For Linear Logic, additive conjunction and multiplicative disjunction are reversible, yet additive disjunction and multiplicative conjunction are irreversible.

References:

Alfred North Whitehead / Process and Reality

Frederick Ferre / Being and Value:  toward a constructive postmodern metaphysics

Mark Graves / Mind, Brain, and Elusive Soul: human systems of cognitive science and religion

Paul Reid-Bowen / Goddess as Nature: towards a philosophical theology

[*6.12, *6.70]

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