A reflection on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics
With previous reflections I have started a trend towards attempting to describe reality in the terms of a monistic whole. However, this description creates a problem for the inquisitive mind even as it solves the issues of experienced reality and physical reality: If everything is unified what is the point of attempting to understand our experienced plurality? The problem of inquiry is not reserved for monism alone – nihilism and idealism similarly suffer from the issues of despair and impossibility. If this is the case then I should really examine that most corrosive of questions: why should we learn?
The question hinges on both our understanding of physical reality and cognition. In a previous reflection I pushed the concept of reality as an undivided whole. To explain the reality, we perceive I am forced to analogy. I find it useful to think of reality as a sheet – the material and temporal changes we witness and our own existence are like wrinkles in the cloth, which if it was pulled straight would be an undifferentiated flat surface. In my rudimentary understanding, if we extrapolate this understanding out to cognition then similarly our own minds are part of a greater whole. If this is the case we should undergo investigation so as to find that greater unity – metaphorically straightening the sheet and erasing the wrinkles
If we instead follow a materialistic nihilist philosophy I would say that the requirement to learn is still present. If cognition is merely an artifice of our physical bodies, then we should seek to understand the limits and capability of our own minds – and whether we can truly commune with minds of others. Such an understanding pushes us to comprehend the mechanism of reality – to disassemble the whirling gears and find that original cog which sets the whole device in motion.
Regardless of our conception of reality – and where we have planted the flags of our allegiance – I would argue that if there is one thing that can unite all seekers of truth it is the journey of inquiry. Without this common thread, there cannot be constructive conversation.
Matthias Stom, Young man reading by candlelight, 1600-1650 CE