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Aristotle, Plato, and Electromagnetism

Hans Schantz

Presented at: TOC 1994

Date: Oct 21, 1994

In Aristotle's school of thought, existence comes first: the world we live in is recognized as in-dependent of one's consciousness. Consciousness is understood as the faculty of perceiving and understanding what exists, out there, in reality. Without initiating some specific physical action, consciousness does not create the things we see nor does it control them. Consciousness is thus dependent on existence. 

The opposing school was championed by Aristotle's teacher, Plato. This school holds that consciousness comes first: the world we live in is thought to be created or controlled by consciousness; the things we see – figments of ours, or society's, or God's imagination. In this view, existence is a derivative of consciousness. In Objectivist terms, Aristotle was the champion of primacy of existence, Plato of the primacy of consciousness.

This paper discusses various physicists' work as "Aristotelian" or "Platonic" based on these distinctions – based not on particular results or conclusions, but rather on the methods used to obtain those results and conclusions. 

physicsphilosophy

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