Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reading Philosophy

I don't know why I am doing this, but I've been throwing large number of hours into rereading the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

At first, Plato's dialectical style of writing appears more intriguing. He bounces from topic to topic, and explores multiple sides of every issue. You can read Plato two millennia after the writing and get the impression that he is saying something relevant to today.

The problem is that it is all but impossible to pin down precisely what Plato is saying.

Aristotle's writing is terse. It is often boring direct observations of nature. The premisses that Aristotle derives from his observations are statements that can either be proven or disproven. A very large number of premisses attributed to Aristotle have been disproven.

I find that I prefer the Aristotelian approach. I think there is greater value in statements that you can pin down and answer "yes/no" as to whether or not the statement is true than in statements that make the speaker of the statement sound profound.

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