2 - But this still leaves us with a puzzle: how can L, our...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: But this still leaves us with a puzzle: how can L, our lump of gold, have other things (e.g., silver, lead, sugar) in it, when all of its parts are gold? If no part of L is silver, how can there be silver in the gold? Or flesh in the corn? To answer this question, we must distinguish between the (physically discriminable) parts of a substance and the portions of stuff which it contains. The distinction between parts and portions is one that only a non-atomist can coherently make. The idea is simple. Suppose we mix flour, water, chocolate, and eggs together, and bake them into a cake. There is a portion of flour in the cake, and a portion of eggs, etc. But no matter how finely we divide the cake up, we will not recover the flour or the eggs. As Anaxagoras would say, “every part of the cake is cake.” We are not forced to say whether the ultimate particles we arrive at are cake-particles or flour-particles, for there are no ultimate particles making up the cake. So the reason why there can be silver in a lump of gold, L, even though every part of L is gold, is that not every portion is a part. There are portions of silver, etc., in L even though every part of L is gold. (H) tells us that every part of S is itself S. (Every part of the cake is cake.) (UM) tells us that for every pair of kinds of stuff, S and S', there is a portion of S in S'. (There is a portion of every kind of stuff in the cake. And there is a portion of every kind of stuff in every part of the cake. But every part of the cake is cake.) Ø But (UM) still sounds odd. If everything is in everything, why isn’t every kind of stuff the same as every other kind? How can there be different kinds? The answer is in Anaxagoras’s principle of Predominance: (P) Each kind of stuff is called after the ingredient of which it contains most. Cf. 25 (= Aristotle, Phys. 187b2-6): . . . things appear to differ from each other and are called by different names from one another based on what is most predominant in extent in the mixture of the infinitely many [components]. Nothing is purely or as a whole pale or dark or sweet or flesh or bone, but whatever each contains the most of is thought to be the nature of that thing. à Many commentators have found (P) to be an incoherent principle. [Strang, AGP (1963), rebutted by Kerferd (“Anaxagoras and the concept of matter before Aristotle,” on reserve).] The problem, simply put, is that the definition of, e.g., gold as that stuff in which gold predominates, is wildly circular. Gold cannot be defined as that stuff which contains gold as its dominant ingredient. For how do we define the gold which is the ingredient? There are two possible responses on Anaxagoras’s behalf. a. One is Kerferd’s (pp. 501-2), according to which Anaxagoras was not attempting to give definitions, but to describe change: It is true to say that we cannot give an account of substances such as gold by analyzing them into “a predominance of gold” and so on to infinity. In such a case we have failed to give either a satisfactory definition or a satisfactory account of gold because we have included the term gold in our attempts at definition and description. But it is not an objection to any position maintained by Anaxagoras, as he had no reason to attempt a definition or a description of gold in this way. He is concerned with change and not with description or definition. b. Another response appeals once again to the distinction between parts and portions. We cannot define gold as the stuff in which gold predominates. What we can do is to say that the nature of any (naturally occurring) stuff (or of any part of it) is that of its predominant (pure) portion. So what makes this hunk of metal gold is the fact that gold is the element of which it has the largest portion. But the question: “What makes the gold portion of this hunk of gold gold?” is meaningless. B Problems with the theory of Nutrition: One reason Anaxagoras maintained (UM) was to account for our ability to take in nourishment. We eat wheat, and our flesh increases. When we eat too many chocolate chip cookies, our bodies bulk up with flesh, not with chocolate chip cookies. The idea is that we extract the flesh already present in the food we eat. An ancient scholiast describes the theory (Aetius, A46, not reprinted in RAGP): We take in nourishment that is simple and homogeneous, such as bread or water, and by this are nourished hair, veins, arteries, flesh, sinews, bones and all the other parts of the body. Which being so, we must agree that everything that exists is in the nourishment we take in, and that everything derives its growth from things that exist. There must be in that nourishment some parts that are productive of blood, some of sinews, some of bones, and so on - parts which reason alone can apprehend. But notice that the theory of nutrition requires that wheat contain not just portions of flesh, but physically removable parts that are flesh. Unless the flesh that’s in the wheat (as a part, or a portion - i.e., in the wheat in some sense of “in”) can be extracted and join the flesh of the body, then one’s flesh will not, according to the theory, bulk up from eating wheat. But if the wheat contains removable parts that are flesh, principle (H) seems to collapse: not every part of wheat will be wheat. Some parts will be flesh. One might think to save Anaxagoras by appealing to (UM). For any fleshy part of the wheat that is extracted will, by (UM), contain portions of everything, including wheat. So even the fleshy parts of the wheat are still, at least in part, wheat. But this will not do. For (P) tells us that only a mixture in which wheat predominates is wheat. If wheat is only a minority ingredient in some fleshy part, then that part is flesh and not wheat. A minority element in a mixture does not contribute to the determination of the nature of that mixture. (H) and (P) together entail that flesh must predominate in all of the homoiomerous parts of flesh. B CONCLUSION: (H), (UM), and (P) are logically consistent: they do not entail a contradiction. But our way of showing them to be consistent reveals that they are incompatible with the theory of nutrition that has been attributed to him. {(H), (UM), (P), + Anaxagoras’s theory of nutrition} leads to a contradiction. ...
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online