"If Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had had PowerPoint available, there might not have been any western philosophy handed down to us."
"I'm not sure what Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle would have done with PowerPoint. I guess Socrates would have avoided it. Plato would have used it grudgingly, but Aristotle -OH! ARISTOTLE- he would have been (almost) as good as me!"
Well. that remark has cost me dozens of hours during which I have been researching Aristotle's books on Physics and Meteorology and building the PowerPoint charts I think he would have created had they been available in his time, some 2300 years ago. In particular, I tried to explain Aristotle's view of the Five Elements (Aether, Air, Fire, Earth, and Water) as well as his take on the Four Causes (Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final).
MY KNOL ON THE FIVE ELEMENTS
Once I made the PowerPoint charts I decided to go the extra step and use them to construct two new Google Knols. The first, on the Five Elements was published today and another, on the Four Causes, is under construction and will follow soon.
Like me, you may find philosophy hard to understand. As my PhD advisor (Howard Pattee) told me, philosophers make simple things complex, using a language specially created for that purpose!
You have undoubtedly heard about "the five elements" of the ancient philosophers. I couldn't understand how the ancients thought Fire was a basic element, or that the essence of Air was wet or of Water cold. It turns out they were not using these words according to the literal, narrow scientific meanings we employ. They were thinking about what we would now call the qualities of "energy" and "fluidity". They used Air, Fire, Water, and Earth as examples of things that had a lot or a little energy and/or fluidity.
Modern scientists dismiss the concept of Aether out of hand. However, the idea of a non-material substrate is important if we want to understand what the most intelligent and well-informed humans of two millenia ago were thinking. (If modern string theory, which says there are ten or eleven dimensions of which humans may comprehend only four, holds up to scientific examination, it may turn out that the six or seven "tightly curled up" dimensions we humans cannot comprehend might be what the ancients called the Aether!)
The graphic that appears at the head of this posting is the first chart and there are two others described in the Knol:
Have a look at the Five Elements Knol and please comment on it!