tiistai 26. kesäkuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 – Mind-body-interaction

No German metaphysician at the middle of 18th century could avoid the question what happens between soul or spirit and body, and Darjes is no exception to this trend. He is quite clear that soul and body are in some measure harmonious, that is, from occurrings in body it is possible to know something about occurrings in soul and vice versa. He is also quite explicit that this harmony is not complete, in other words, that there are actions in body or soul that are not reflected in the actions of the other.

Wolffian school recognised three different solutions to the mind-body problem: firstly, the assumption that soul and body had some real causal influence to one another, secondly, the occasionalism, according to which God bridged the divide between soul and body, and thirdly, the Leibnizian pre-established harmony. Like everyone else in Wolffian school, Darjes does not take occasionalism seriously, because it contradicts the freedom of human actions. Furthermore, like many philosophers of his generation, Darjes does not necessarily respect the traditional Wolffian answer or the pre-established harmony. Indeed, Darjes notes that because harmony of soul and body is to be explained, just assuming the existence of such a harmony is no real answer.

The only respectable option in Darjes' eyes is then the assumption of real interaction between soul and body. Like his wont always, Darjes makes intricate distinctions. He notes that body influences soul in quite a different manner than soul influences body. As a spontaneously active entity, soul cannot be affected by a causal chain originating outside it. Instead, Darjes argues, some movement in the nervous fluid can only remove impediments from the activities of soul and thus give occasion to some sensuous representation. Soul, on the other hand, should have the ability to casually influence nervous fluid and through it whole body.

Darjes concludes his account of rational psychology with few remarks on activities of soul and ways to classify souls and spirits and put them into a hierarchy (it is no wonder that he places soul requiring perceptual content in a lower rung than pure spirit). What we might still point out is his remark that soul cannot be said to be present in a single place in the body, but in the whole body and all its organic parts.

perjantai 8. kesäkuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 – What is a soul?

Just like Wolffian tradition in general, Darjes distinguishes between empirical study of human personality – the recounting of what we can observe in ourselves – and rational study of it – explanation of these observations. The important characteristic in humanity, Darjes says, is that in addition to body, human person must have as its constituting element some spontaneous entity. He considers for the moment the possibility that a person would consist of more than one spontaneous entity, but finally notes that there is no reason to assume it.

Darjes goes on to develop further common characteristics of this spontaneous entity, based on its essence. First of all, it is an entity, and as such, it can be regarded as a possibility – it does not involve any contradiction – but also as actually existing – is perpetuates and is a substrate for properties. Furthermore, as an entity it must necessarily act.

Secondly, the spontaneous entity constituting one part of human is a simple entity. This means that it cannot be divided into any constituents. This implies, according to Darjes, that this element of humanity cannot be destroyed in the same manner as its body can. Thirdly, this entity acts spontaneously. In other words, it controls its natural conatus toward acting and regulates it according to its own perceptions on what is good or bad.

Darjes notes that the spontaneous entity every human being has two different aspects. Firstly, it is an animal soul, which interacts with body and thus represents things with the inferior cognitive faculty. Secondly, it is a spirit, which is a connected to a nexus of truths and thus represents things with the superior cognitive faculty. Human soul is thus a rational animal, combining features of both animal soul and spirit. Souls in general can then be classified into mere animal souls, rational animal souls and pure spirits. Still, Darjes thinks that these three classes are not completely distinct, but what once was a mere soul and not a spirit could develop into a real spirit.

Animal souls are then characterised by the inferior cognitive faculty. In other words, this animal soul – or just soul – cognises things through the medium of external sensations, which must be explicable through previous external sensations. A mere soul requires new external sensations to get new cognitions, and if the flow of sensations stops, soul effectively dies. That is, the entity that is the soul can well go on existing in another form, but it wouldn't anymore be a mere animal soul.

Spirits, on the other hand, are not intrinsically connected to sensations. That is, even if spirit does not sense anything, it might still produce new representations from its old representations through conceptualising intellect and reasoning. Thus, cessation of sensations does not mean death of a spirit. Furthermore, spirits, Darjes says, are not just spontaneous, but their actions are based on reasoned decisions – in other words, Darjes concludes, spirits are free.

Rational soul, such as that of a human being, is then both an animal soul and a spirit. As a soul, rational soul is dependent on sensations, while as a spirit it should not be dependent on sensations or it should be able to have cognitions without sensations. Still, in another sense rational soul, even as a spirit, is not completely independent of sensations, because sensations or in general changes in the body might hinder the use of conceptual faculties of rational soul. An obvious question is why rational soul needs this connection with the body and sensations, when these just seem to drag it down and restrict it. Darjes suggests as an answer that we require sensations as the original source of cognitions. Indeed, he considers it probable that only God would not require sensations for its cognition, while all finite spirits are finite just because of this dependence on external sensations.

As a spirit, human soul might still exist separately from its body and is thus practically immortal, Darjes notes, although it might still be annihilated. A more problematic question, according to Darjes, is what was the state of human soul before its connection with its body. Darjes notes that the final explanation of this connection must go back to God, but recounts three possible options. Firstly, one might think soul is created out of the souls of its parents. Darjes quickly discards this option, because it would make sense only if soul would be a complex entity.

Secondly, soul might be created by God at the very same moment as the body comes into existence, or thirdly, soul might have lived before the birth of the body. Darjes admits that both options are possible, but leans more clearly to the side of pre-existence. His argumentation is based on observation of human semen, which contains, of course, small organic bodies – this, Darjes insists, is sufficient evidence for the pre-existence of human soul. Clearly, soul in this pre-existent state would not have similar cognitions as us, because the corpuscles of the semen could not sustain human life.

maanantai 28. toukokuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 – Souls and bodies

The final chapters in Darjesian empirical psychology concern the interaction of soul with the body. He is not yet trying to explain this interaction – explanations belong more to the next section or rational psychology. Thus, Darjes is now merely out to note the various situations where such interaction occurs.

Darjes begins by saying that we observe a certain complex entity or body as one constituent in my existence. Indeed, he notes, this body is a mechanistic machine or a system of non-spontaneous entities, and just like all machines, it can only work through motions. Now, at some situations we perceive that certain motions within my body – e.g. those occurring in my sense organs – correspond with certain cognitive states. When these movements stop, this specific cognitive state stops, when the movements change, so does the cognitive state, and finally, if some internal state of the body, like a disturbance in blood circulation, confuses the movements, the cognitive state becomes also confused and doesn't become clarified until the confused state of the body stops.

Clearly what Darjes has been describing is sensation, which is one type of the so-called inferior cognitive faculty. Yet, Darjes notes, not all inferior cognitive faculty need not have so close connection to motions of body. This is especially true of imagination, which associatively moves from one representation to another, which it has often been connected with. Thus, while the original representation might have a connection with actual motions in my body, the second representation might have no such connection. Furthermore, the association makes it also possible that superior cognition has some connection with motions of our body. In other words, we can use sensuous symbols to represent e.g. universal conceptions and so make it possible that motions of body awaken certain universal thoughts in us.

In addition to the relation of body with human cognition, Darjes also considers the relation of appetites and aversions with body. He firstly notes that appetites and aversions by themselves do not produce any motions in our bodies – if we just crave for food, this still does not make us do anything. One must also have made a decision on the means by which e.g. our hunger should be dealt with, and this decision of means will then be followed by movement of our body. Although body by itself is a system of non-spontaneous entities, because of this relation to spontaneous choices of human soul we can call certain motions of our bodies spontaneous and free. On the other hand, certain motions in our body have no such relation to spontaneous choices and can then be called forced motions.

tiistai 15. toukokuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 – Desires and fears

Darjes singles out a distinct group of cognitions, namely, those where the objects cognised are something which we either incline to or recline from, in other words, appetites and aversions. The difference between appetites and aversions and other cognitions is quite evident, whenever we have the object of appetite or aversion present to us – we feel pleasure or pain. On the other hand, whenever we do not have the object with us, we desire for or fear it.

Darjes notes that appetites and aversions can be quantified, depending on how strong the respective desire or fear is. This quantification comes to the fore especially when appetites and aversions contradict one another. In other words, whenever an appetite and an aversion clash, the stronger prevails. One might wonder how appetites and aversions could clash. The simple answer lies in two sources of human cognition. If our appetites and aversions are based on the inferior cognitive faculty, they are sensible, and if they are based on the superior cognitive faculty, they are rational or volitions and nolitions belonging to a faculty called will. Thus, our sensible and rational appetites and aversions can clash, and if the sensible have the other hand, we experience some affect, while if the rational side preponderates, we have something analogous to affects.

A further distinction Darjes mentions concerns the relation of appetites and aversions to previous cognitive states – some of these rise from earlier states, others are innate to human mind. He still does not mean that we could simply explain appetites and aversions mechanically through the earlier states or the nature of human mind. Indeed, he is quick to emphasise that appetites and aversions spontaneous and hence contingent. This does not mean that appetites and aversions would be completely inexplicable, just that these explanations would use other means than mechanical causality.

In case of volitions and nolitions in particular, the explanation is based on their goals. It is somewhat unclear whether these goals are chosen by the will or not. In any case, when these goals are given, the will considers all the possible means for this goal and freely chooses the one it considers best. Of course, at least humans can have an erroneous view on what means are best and even what goals are good. Darjes is adamant that this possibility of error is the only explanation for the human ability to freely choose bad things. In fact, a spontaneous entity who couldn't make errors could not choose anything bad, Darjes concludes.

lauantai 5. toukokuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 2 (1744)

The second volume of Darjesian metaphysics begins with empirical psychology – or pneumatics, as Darjes prefers to call it – that is, explication of things we can experience in ourselves. The starting point for Darjes is the observation that we have in us something that resembles things that are not part of myself. In other words, we have representations, through which we are conscious of objects. Having a representation and being conscious of it, Darjes insists, is still not completely identical – we can have obscure, unconcious representations, while consciousness brings clarity to representations.

An important aspect of representation and cognition Darjes emphasises is the spontaneity behind it: my representations continue sometimes as vividly as before, sometimes not, and it is up to my attention whether they do. Furthermore, I can direct my attention successively to different aspects of the object of my cognition, that is, I can reflect this object. While consciousness makes representation clear, refection makes it distinct. This state of distinctness, Darjes insists is something we can only achieve while awake, and indeed, Darjes defines being awake as a possibility to reflect.

Darjes notes that sometimes reflection is hindered by associations awakened by something we find in the reflected object. This association is connected with the capacity of cognition to reproduce earlier representations. Another faculty – memory – is then required for recognising reproduced memories.

We have mentioned so far only representations of individual things, but we can also compare and contrast objects. Thus, it is possible to represent also connections between things – these things are similar or not equal or one might be the cause of the other.

An important subset of representations Darjes touches upon are sensations or representations of things that induce mutations in me, that is, objects of our senses or sensibles. Darjes notes that sensations can be divided according to the different parts of body the sensible object affects – the same object is represented differently, when it affects ear and when it affects eyes. Following Wolffian tradition, Darjes calls the part of cognition dealing with all these different kinds of sensations inferior cognitive faculty. A partial reason for this evaluative nomenclature must be that sensations are distracting – reflecting on an object becomes impossible, because sensation of another object might be stronger and prevent our reflection.

Darjes notes that there is no guarantee that we would sense or represent all things that affect our body, and indeed, he suggests that there must be some further reason explaining why we sense something. Analogically, we might represent things that can induce changes in my body, while they are not actually inducing such changes. This is the faculty of imagination, which Darjes includes also under inferior cognitive faculty. He, furthermore, divides objects of imaginations into, firstly, phantasms, which are complete objects that can be also sensed, and figments, which are combinations of parts that can be sensed.

The inferior cognitive faculty can only represent things that affect us, thus, it cannot be used for representing e.g. essences of things or universals. This task, Darjes says, must be left for superior cognitive faculty, which represents things in an insensible manner, that is, in such a manner that it isn't and even cannot be sensed. Darjes doesn't go into further details as to how this insensible cognition happens, but notes only that it is possible through the faculty of reflection. Through reflection and the use of signs, cognition forms universal and distinct concepts. If the concepts concern things in themselves, without relations to other things, we are speaking of intellect or understanding, while if they concern relations between things, we are speaking of reason. It is good to note that while it it easy to conceptually represent connections between things, Darjes admits that the inferior faculty has something analogous to reason, through which it can also represent connections.

Before moving to the next part, concerned with appetites and aversions, we might very briefly note what Darjes has to say about habit. The basis of habit, he suggest, is repetition of representations and operations involved with them. This repetition makes concepts stronger and thus makes cognising them more easy.

tiistai 24. huhtikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 - Building bodies

Ever since Descartes suggested that matter is defined by extension, philosophers had been proposing theories as to what Cartesian idea of matter had overlooked, since clearly, extension as such is not yet matter. Darjes enters this discussion in the section on somatology, or theory of bodies or composite entities. He notes that to make a set of multiple entities into a unified entity, it isn't enough just to put them together. Instead, these parts must also cohere with one another.

Now, as we saw in the previous post, Darjes thought that in order that entities can cohere, all of those entities must be non-spontaneous, but also some of them must be active. In other words, there are no completely passive bodies in Darjesian metaphysics, only more or less active. The level of activity in bodies can even be perceived, Darjes suggests, since the difference of fluids and solids reduces to it – fluid bodies have more active entities in them than solid bodies, which have only so much active entities as required for the sake of coherence. Since the difference between fluids and solids is ultimately based on the essential difference between active and passive entities, the difference between fluids and solids must also be essential, Darjes concludes. Somewhat surprisingly, this means that fluids cannot really change into solids or vice versa.

A significant part of philosophical treatises of corporeal objects from this period often include an account of simple mechanical interactions, in which two bodies collide with one another. Darjes is no exception to this rule. He considers several cases – what if only one is moving or both, what if colliding bodies are solids or fluids etc. We need not get too far into the details, but just to note the general attempt to determine the result of the collision from the constituents and the structure of the colliding bodies. For instance, in a collision between a solid and a fluid, the fluid gives away, because a fluid body has more active constituents, which will move according to their own drive, as soon as bonds of coherence holding them together loosen a little bit, while the solid can remain unified in an easier manner.

As a final part of the first tome of his metaphysics Darjes introduces a discipline called mechanology, a study of machines. Machines, for Darjes, are systems of non-spontaneous entities, in which systems, again, mean collections of entities that can affect one another. Systems and therefore also machines are to be clearly differentiated from cohering bodies – in a system, the constituting bodies do not form a single entity, but remain independent of one another. Darjesian understanding of machines is quite extensive – the constituting parts of machines can be solid or fluid bodies or theoretically even elements. Indeed, the whole mechanology remains on a quite general level, where Darjes finds out such revelatory truths as that the state of a machine depends on its previous state.

The second tome of Darjes metaphysics moves then to the investigation of soul, which shall also be the topic of my next post.

torstai 8. maaliskuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 - Monads without spontaneity equals elements

After ontology, Darjes turns his attention to monadology, which in his philosphy means two things: firstly, a discipline for the study of simple entities in general, and secondly, particularly study of those simple entities, which constitute complex entities, or elements. It is just natural to start with the general part.

Now, the essence of any simple entity, Darjes begins, consists of two things. Firstly, as simple it is indivisible or does not consist of further entities. Secondly, an an entity it is impenetrable or it cannot be a determination of any other entity. Just like in all previous Wolffian philosophy, because of its simplicity, a simple entity cannot have been generated from previously existing entities that would retain their existence even after the generation of new entity. Instead, a generated simple entity would have to have appeared instantaneously out of nothing. Similarly, when a simple entity is destroyed, it will be completely annihilated.

Another commonplace with earlier Wolffians is the importance of force as a basic characteristic of simple entities. For instance, because a simple entity does not consist of many entities, the only way quantities can be applied to it is through the strength or intensity of its basic force. What is more original is Darjes' attempt to use the notion of force as a way to divide simple entities into further genera. Some forces do not act by themselves, but require still some efficient cause to activate them – simple entities with such forces Darjes calls passive. Some forces require only a removal of obstacles for their activation – simple entities with such forces Darjes calls active. And it wouldn't be a Darjesian division, if he wouldn't note the possibility of a third genera, with simple entities with both active and passive characteristics, although in practice he doesn't mention them often.

The essence of passive simple entities in Darjesian philosophy is simple. By themselves, they do nothing. They can be activated by impenetrability of other simple entities, which move to the place where the passive entity is and thus force it to move away from its original location. After this, the passive entity acts, that is, it moves, and cannot stop from moving, unless something external stops it. In effect, a passive simple entity isn't spontaneous, that is, it cannot determine itself to act.

Active entities, on the other hand, might be spontaneous. Yet, it is also possible, Darjes says, that an active entity is not spontaneous, in other words, it might require only removal of obstacles for its own activity, but perhaps cannot itself remove those obstacles. In case of spontaneous simple entities, on the other hand, these obstacles come mainly from the entity itself – in a sense they forbid themselves of doing things. Spontaneous entities can remove such a self-imposed obstacle and thus, in a sense, choose to do something. In other words, they act first on themselves and through this self-action act toward other things. Darjes suggests that this self-action happens always through representations or perceptions – the simple entity perceives some goal as good, that is, as conforming to its essence, and proceeds to actualise that goal.

After defining the three species of simple entities – passive, non-spontaneously active and spontaneous simple entities – Darjes goes on to discuss their possible interactions with one another. In case of mere passive entities, these interactions – mostly collisions – happen according to the laws of motion, which had been a hot philosophical topic since the time of Descartes. The introduction of active entities complicates interactions, even when the active entities are not spontaneous, since a collision might not just force an active entity to move, but also to remove impediments for natural movement of the entity. In case of a spontaneous simple entity, finally, other entities cannot really make it do anything, but merely provide an occasion for the spontaneous entity to do something.

An important relation between simple entities in Darjesian scheme is coherence, that is, a relation of proximity in which the simple entities have become so unified that one cannot be moved without moving the other. For such a coherence it is not enough that the simple entities just lie passively side by side, Darjes notes, because then one of them could be simply moved without any change in the other. Instead, the diverse entities must act on one another and this act cannot be mere movement – in other words, they must somehow attract one another. Thus, at least some of the cohering entities must be naturally active. Then again, Darjes notes, a spontaneous simple entity cannot really cohere with other simple entities, because other entities can at most provide an occasion for it to act. These results are important especially for the special part of Darjesian monadology, because Darjes thinks that unified bodies are essentially constituted from simple entities by coherence. Hence, elements – simple entities constituting bodies – cannot be spontaneous. Furthermore, because infinite entity must be most perfect in every sense, and like many philosophers before him, Darjes regards activity and especially spontaneity as more perfect than passivity, all elements are revealed to be finite.