Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Recognition of Truth When the Hands Were Used

Plato's theory of recollection explained why we simply recognize truths for what they are: the soul had seen them directly in an abstracter state, among the eternal Ideas, before we were born. Aristotle hedged these bets: some first principles were common to all the sciences, some were justified by the consequences they begot. All came from generalizing what we saw in the physical world. The Stoic philosophers a century later spoke of a "recognizable impression" which gave us our basic certainties. Our apprehensions first encounter a image as a open hand would a object: then begins to close around it in assent; next grasps it tightly-the fit of the hand to object was "recognition"- and finally (here the Stoic Zeno, teaching his students, would cap his clenched right fist with his left hand) holds it as knowledge.

Page 31 The Art of the Infinite, by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, Oxford University Press

You see, I was attracted to the ideas imparted by the gestures of the hands, that I had seen these actions impart knowledge, from another time and place.

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