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Aristotle set back science for almost 2000 years, perhaps others are still setting us back?

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posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 02:43 AM
Since the beginning of his life in 4th century BC, the ideas that Aristotle presented seemed to be "set it stone".

Isaac Asimov noted: "No matter who disagreed with them, even other philosophers, Aristotles ideas - whether right or wrong - usually won out."

John Appeldoorn writes "Aristotles teachings were unquestioned. After eighteen centuries, universities accepted them as if they had been written in stone"

Example: He did not believe that plants were divided into different sexes, and so the matter stood until botanists in the 1700's made the obvious discovery.

Again he was wrong about Inertia, it wasn't until Galileo, followed by newton, to speak the truth, that objects in motion, stay in motion, while objects at rest, stay at rest - unless acted upon by outside forces.

He also held the view of the earth-centric universe. Copernicus and Galileo later risked their reputations to prove otherwise.

He also stated that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects and thats what was believed for 1900 years until Galileo dropped objects off the tower of Pisa.

He also wrote "The brain is an organ of minor importance, perhaps necessary to cool the blood"

Democritus theorized that the physical world was made up of tiny pieces of matter which he called 'atoms'. It wasn't until the second half of the 16th century that scientists began to reexamine this theory, for previously, Aristotle did not support this idea, so no one supported it as fact.

So perhaps people when we look at what is possible in our current world, and we are quick to say that something isn't possible because of the 'limits' of physics that we currently believe in. I think we should first understand that our sciences are emergent and still learning themselves. Thus what may appear impossible now, may not always be impossible. Perhaps 100 years from now, we will look back on famous figures such as Einstein and be upset at how they had held up our development by limiting what we felt was possible due to scientific beliefs that we held at the time.

[edit on 4-12-2008 by king9072]

[edit on 4-12-2008 by king9072]

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 03:24 AM
It's not like there aren't people out actively trying to disprove any given modern theory. Modern physics in particular. The stuff is so wierd that it takes years for real new ideas to catch on, what with everyone qualified and interested having a go at looking through the math and supporting data themselves.

Einstein himself wasn't prepared to accept a non-static universe or much of quantum mechanics. That didn't stop anyone else, though. The very successful Niels-Bohr atom model has since been completely replaced by more successful Schrodinger models. And you certainly can't accuse people of not trying to falsify the theory of evolution.

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 03:41 AM

Originally posted by mdiinican
It's not like there aren't people out actively trying to disprove any given modern theory. Modern physics in particular. The stuff is so wierd that it takes years for real new ideas to catch on, what with everyone qualified and interested having a go at looking through the math and supporting data themselves.

Einstein himself wasn't prepared to accept a non-static universe or much of quantum mechanics. That didn't stop anyone else, though. The very successful Niels-Bohr atom model has since been completely replaced by more successful Schrodinger models. And you certainly can't accuse people of not trying to falsify the theory of evolution.

Ya well the biggest thing that pops into my mind is religion and its suppression of practically ANYTHING that contradicts their teachings, perhaps after disclosure we will shed out blanket of religion and be able to freely expand our believes - cause at the current moment, billions of the earths inhabitants beliefs are so limiting to their true potential.

I always try to explain to my friends, that if your mind is not open to something as a possibility, it will never experience it. Living in a bubble effects the way a person perceives everything, and if the religious bubble has forced them to see the world in a way that it is not. It may be hampering technological, spiritual, and mental, advances of billions of people due to their supressed 'possibilities'.

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 04:15 AM
we do currently have a highly interesting thread on this same exact topic -

and i would HIGHLY agree that others are currently setting us back

[edit on 4-12-2008 by Grock]

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 05:00 AM

Originally posted by king9072
Ya well the biggest thing that pops into my mind is religion and its suppression of practically ANYTHING that contradicts their teachings,

I'd have to agree with you on that one-I think if you look at the evolutionary history of any field of science then you will find at some point certain organised religious institutions attempting to intimidate,impede, hinder,subdue or suppress them-just think how far science may have progressed nowadays if it was not for this factor.
The vatican burning Geordino Bruno alive at the stake for daring to voice (and not recant) his heretical Copernican views on the solar system is a good example.
As for the Hellenistic free thinkers-Aristotle may have shunned objectivity,been a bit deluded and worshipped by his folowers as a cult leader but on the whole the ancient Greek virtues of rational free thinking coupled with 'benevolent action without agenda or reward' should be very much respected in these modern times (and emulated).

I think Democritus was one of the greatest minds alive at that time and,although he didn't get as much attention as Aristotle (who by all accounts was a bit of a dick) his ideas and concepts are the most respected and long standing in this modern era -we almost take them for granted as obvious common sense but they met with a lot of criticism at the time.

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 05:08 AM
I thought it was religion that set back science? Catholic church and dark age?

There have been many inventions, including some lost technologies that have been recently recovered that we would never thought exist back then.

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 08:57 AM

Originally posted by mdiinican
And you certainly can't accuse people of not trying to falsify the theory of evolution.

thanks for showing us an example of the aristotle way

a few people yes, becasue there are always people trying to make a name for them selves but a handful of people who science its self discredited thier work isnt even close to the reams of evidence and thousands of people whos work has proven it

its a faith based aristotle wether it be god did it the genesis way or aliens did it, its still the same

if it was aleins who made them? or did they evolve? who made the makers of the aliens? or did they evolve? and so on and so forth

the fact genesis has been disproven, and no evidence of aliens did it to disprove evolution exists means your pulling an aristotle despite the evidence

were talking about evidence disproving an idea accepted without proof, and that is exactly the opposite of your comments on evolution

[edit on 4/12/08 by noobfun]

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 09:45 AM
I had a chance encounter while looking for a place to live 2 days ago.
The person at whoms home I was visiting to see if it could be my new place of residence turned out to be a very vivid person.
In lack of better words I would call her an investigator, by the fact that her job required her to do a lot of research in various fields to do her job.

Some years ago she had talked to a scientist that employed himself in quantum mechanics and they of course talked about that and the origin of life etc.
He said that while studying the smallest parts of the things that are, they came down to a point when they found that matter at the very base of it consists of what he called "pure light". He simply didn't have any other word for it, and didn't know how to measure it.

I thought that was immensely interesting. Especially since it seems that newer scientists are starting to open up for the possibility that the universe maybe isn't as logic as we thought it was.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that they found "God" since I don't believe in the whole entity theory, but in my view it could potentially link a lot of things together that suggest a coherence between things experinced on Earth in the past, now and in the future.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 08:55 AM
reply to post by king9072

I wouldn't necessarily say that Aristotle set back science. Rather, it was the lack of a structured methodology for discovery. Much as there were absurd errors in early paleontology, the Greeks as pioneers of logic and reason held many misconceptions and flawed perceptions. One being the argument from authority, wherein it was almost akin to heresy to question certain famous philosophers or philosophies. It was also fairly common to deify individuals or hold respected individuals up to the same level of veneration as classic heroes like Heracles, Jason, or Achilles.

The process of discovery itself had to be discovered, and then refined. The Greeks loved debate, but didn't always hold the stringent measures of accuracy we currently demand in Science. This is because they often speculated and debated on what they felt were rational truths about the world from which they could extrapolate like a math equation. Regardless of accuracy, a debate could be won with convincing logic and a well presented case. In this fashion, Greek scholars were more analogous to modern lawyers than scientists.

The roots of the scientific method date back to before written record, and while eminent Greek scholars such as Aristotle and Plato helped to advance the progress of logic and reason, but the first true initial framework of the modern Scientific Method wouldn't come until around the turn of the last millenium during the Islamic Golden Age. Islamic scholars combined Greek methodologies which largely focused on reasoned deductive logic and mathematics with their own traditional methodologies focusing heavily on experimentation and evidence.

One of the earliest pioneers of this emerging methodology was Ibn Al-Haytham, the father of modern optics and who can rightfully be considered the first "modern" scientist. He put strong emphasis on integrating many key components of the modern scientific method - such as a reliance on empirical evidence or mathematics to support one's hypothesis, the testing of a hypothesis against reality for accuracy, as well as the peer review process by arguing against the authority of the Ptolemys or any man. His reasoning being that only god is perfect, and this is true then all men are capable of error and mistakes. Therefore, all hypothesis should be questioned and debated - regardless of the reputation of it's proponent.

Ibn Al-Haytham

However, the man who would be called the true father of the Scientific Method and the dethroner of Aristotle's authority would be Galileo. Galileo is considered to be the first to recognize that scientific and mathematical logic were not compatible. Mathematics is deductive reasoning, which starts with certain axioms and "truths". If these basic truths were right, then everything which followed would logically be right. This is a poor method of discovery, however, because small errors in the basic truths would lead to compounding assumptions which have large discrepancies in experimentation. Instead, Galileo "flipped the method on it's head" - advocating inductive reasoning as a means of discovering the reality of the complex axioms which create our reality - which would in turn better explain our observations.

I only list the "big three" as I've come to know them - but the scientific method really was the collective work of thousands of scientists and philosophers over thousands of years. New additions to the method are being added as they're conceived and shown to be workable. Concepts such as the obfuscation of funding sources, double blind testing, and an emphasis on falsification have all been adopted as they have proven to be a valuable means of strengthening the veracity of the scientific method and remove potential sources of bias. One of our biggest boosts, however, was the Industrial and Computer Revolutions bringing with them the commercial interest and funding. Even the common people realized the enormous potential for technology to make their lives easier, and that big money could be made in promoting new technology and scientific understanding. However, it may be a bit of a double-edged blade. While the industrialization of science invoked a "knowledge gold rush" - I wonder if perhaps science isn't becoming a bit too "product oriented", meanwhile neglecting the necessity for fundamental research which will not immediately return a profit - but is necessary for the next generation of technology.

While I would argue that Islamic scholars like Ibn Al-Haytham added more substance to the advancement of science, their implementations were ultimately all for naught without Galileo's simple correction. I find it remarkable how... elegant... the solutions to some of the most complex questions can be. Evolution, for example, was postulated and accepted well before Darwin's time. However, while we knew it was occurring, we couldn't explain the process. The entirety of the theory as Darwin outlined was already existent - but fractured. Greek philosophers knew of descent with modification... the Islamic scholars postulated natural selection... and European scholars suggested common ancestry from microbial life. Yet it took Darwin to put all the pieces together into a workable whole... and it was so simple and elegant, it's amazing nobody thought of it sooner. Yet we can look to modern physics and the quest for the unifying theory of everything to find a similar skizm between Newtonian Mechanics, Einstein's Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics.

I have a feeling that when the unifying theory of everything is found, we will collectively smack our heads for not thinking of it sooner... and it will be a simple concept of supreme elegance. This, however, also holds true of the scientific method. What we now see simple, almost inherent, reasoning were monumental discoveries and profound shifts in procedure that we had to discover incrementally as we went along.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 09:31 AM
reply to post by Lasheic

Also, on a side note, I tend to find that ideas and perceptions are much harder to change in the public arena than they are in the scientific arena. Though new hypothesis which contradict the currently established understanding will always be subject to harsh criticism and resistance - this is merely a means of stress testing new hypothesis against the evidence that reality presents. New theories which better explain the evidence and are more workable than current theories WILL be accepted by science, even if a few bullheaded individuals may never accept it. The world will move on, and the predictive power that accurate understanding provides is it's own intrinsic rewards - greater than even personal preference.

However, the public doesn't typically carry a methodology or even basic filtering system for determining accuracy of statements. Advances in the scientific arena are often ignored by the public, and when you see something cool or amazing that's happening in science on 60 Minutes or other news programs - you're generally looking at pretty old technology which is already being far surpassed in the labs. Partly this is to prevent spurious reporting on initial testing that may lead to the false impression that scientists are making bold factual claims which they cannot support in reality, when in truth, it just hasn't properly been through the peer review/publication/reproduction process - the very means of removing those errors.

An above poster noted the reluctance of many in the public arena to accept Evolution. However, I've noticed that even among those who DO accept evolution - most of them don't properly understand what the theory even states. Misconceptions such as the "ladder to perfection" or shades of Lamakism still prevail in the public. You could try to blame religion - which Creationism certainly is contributing to - but that doesn't explain the abject and complete ignorance of concepts such as emergence within complex systems or evolutionary psychology. Most people I observe seem to carry around this idea of a "blank slate" to the human mind - that we are born devoid of instincts or inherent rough drafts of our core personalities. They carry this perception, yet if you mention the name "John Locke" to them - their eyes glaze over. Most people carry severe misconceptions about electromagnetic fields. Hell, I've seen studies in which only 1 in 10 of the people polled even had a basic grasp of what radiation was. I'm of the disposition to accept such a study after seeing a disheartening abundance of threads both here and elsewhere on the internet railing against doctors who hide behind lead shields while popping you with "harmless" radiation bursts... or those who rail against the irradiation of produce such as spinach because they think it'll give them radiation poisoning.

By contrast to the public at large, it seems to me as though it's scientists who most often display the ability to discard old misconceptions in light of new evidence, not the other way around.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 10:00 AM
It was not Aristotle, but people who made his ideas an only possible truth that set back the progress. I assure you, that if the same is done to any scientific/philosophic theory (be it Newton, Einstein, Nietzsche or Marx. ) - it would set human society back. Not only scientifically but socially and economically since everything is eventually influenced by everything.
But he had a theory. Well based for his time. If someone would claim that Earth was not center of universe and it rotates around the Sun because this is what he saw in his dream or because tiny fairy told it to him - well, it is logical for people to side with Aristotle. Without being able to prove that your theory is correct - this theory is worthless,even if it is true (and usualy such theories are much further from the truth).
Oooops. I am a bit late for an arguement.

[edit on 25-5-2009 by ZeroKnowledge]

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