Running Notes On A Series Of Philosophy Lectures Given By Peter Millican Published By University Of Oxford: 1.3 From Aristotle to Galileo

Just for fun I'm watching a series of lectures given by Peter Millican in 2009. The lectures are published on YouTube by University of Oxford. 

aristotle quote 3(Sidebar: What a fascinating time we live in. The Internet, still in the infantile stages of its role in the technological extension of the human mind, serves up crunchy bits of knowledge to patrons like plates of calamari from the local crab shack. Had such a resource existed during my high school years, my grades may have been slightly less dismal. Ah, yes. The qualifying helping verb "may"-- the lament and soft security blanket of classic underachievers, dreamily upstaged only by the as oft employed hypothetically trance inducing "if only".)

I'm excited to hear the lectures.

I'll warn you ahead of time, my worldview specifies humans are, at their cores, consumed by self-interests at the expenses of other entities and, by nature, slouch toward less than virtuous existences. And only two forces are capable of taming the raging beast of self-interest: the spooky, malleable idea called love or the equally spooky and malleable idea called fear. This worldview is ingrained in me and I expect bits of it to splatter my commentary and note taking.

1.3 From Aristotle to Galileo 


  • traditional world crumbling, terrible tensions, wars, question arose: How can we know what's right?
  • science (scientific method of answering questions I assume) beginning to take hold of world
  • Elements:
    • earth-natural motion downward
    • fire-natural motion upward
    • air
    • water
    • ether - to describe the heavenly bodies (planets, stars, moons) because circle around the earth, do not follow the motions of other elements
    • *all elements strive to reach a some end (because it wants to) - this doesn't tell you why something happens, just that something does

my note: scientific explanations of the time were not always correct. much like today, almost all (all?) knowledge is correctly prefaced with "As far as we know ... "

  • The explanation "objects do what they do because they do" led to "but why?" e.g. why does a sled pushed on ice keep going after the force behind it has stopped?
  • Fundamental shift in thought: Galileo - sled keeps going because naturally motion of things is to keep going in the direction at the same speed. What needs explanation is, why it stops.
  • 1608 - telescope invented, Galileo enhanced and used it to look up into the sky, able to measure, study heavenly bodies 


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