Essentials Of Unification Thought - The Head-Wing Thought

I. Historical Review

In this section, a brief outline will be presented of the major methodologies in the history of philosophy. First, we will deal with methodologies in the ancient period; and second, we will deal with methodologies in the modern period, including contemporary methodologies.

A. Methodologies in the Ancient Period

1. Heraclitus' Dialectic -- A Dynamic Method

Heraclitus (ca. 535-475 BC), was considered by Hegel to be the founder of the dialectic. Heraclitus considered the fundamental matter of the universe to be fire and regarded fire as constantly changing. Stating that "everything is in a state of flux," he held that nothing is eternal; rather, everything is in the state of generation and movement. Further stating that "war is the father and the king of all," he considered everything to be generating and changing through the conflict of opposites. Yet, he held there is something unchangeable in generation and change, namely, law, which he called Logos. Also, he held that in all things, harmony arises through conflict. The methodology of Heraclitus deals with the way nature is, and with the development of nature. His dialectic, which seeks to grasp the dynamic aspect of things in this way, could be called a dynamic method.

2. Zeno's Dialectic -- A Static Method

Contrary to Heraclitus, who asserted that everything is in a state of flux, Parmenides (ca. 510 BC) of the Eleatic school held that there is no generation or destruction, there is no motion or change.

Inheriting Parmenide's thought, Zeno of Elea (ca. 490-430 BC) denied movement, and tried to prove that there is only one motionless being.

Zeno alleged four proofs for the view that material bodies, though appearing to be moving, are, in fact, not moving at all. One of his proofs is that Achilles cannot ever overtake a tortoise. Achilles is a hero who distinguished himself during the Trojan War. Though a very fast runner, still he could not overtake a tortoise, Zeno maintained. Suppose the tortoise starts first; After the tortoise has advanced to a certain point, Achilles starts running after it. When Achilles arrives at the place where the tortoise was when he started, the tortoise has already gone ahead a certain distance. When Achilles arrives at that next place, the tortoise has already advanced again by a certain distance. Consequently, the tortoise is always ahead of Achilles.

Another proof offered by Zeno was that a flying arrow is always at rest. Suppose an arrow is flying from point A toward point C. At a certain moment, die arrow passes through point B, which is between A and C. To pass through point B means to stop at that point for a moment. However, since the distance between A and C is a continuum of an innumerable number of points, the arrow is continuously at rest. Therefore, the arrow is always at rest.

Zeno's method is the art of dispute through question and answer, whereby one refutes his opponent by exposing contradictions in him, while examining his assertions. Aristotle called him the founder of the dialectic. Zeno's dialectic, which denied movement and proved that there is only one motionless being, could be called the static method.

3. Socrates' Dialectic -- A Method of Dialogue

In the latter half of the 5th century BC, democratic politics was developed in Athens. During that time, young people made efforts to learn the art of persuasion in order to succeed in politics. Therefore, there appeared professionals who specialize in teaching young people the art of persuasion. They were called sophists.

Early Greek philosophy dealt with nature as its object; but the sophists turned away from the philosophy of nature to discuss human problems. They came to realize, however, that, while nature has objectivity and necessity, human matters are relative; as a result, those who gave up the solution of human problems came to have skepticism and relativism. Some even asserted that no truth exists at all with regard to human being. As a result, the art of persuasion that they taught attached importance only to the method of how to refute one's opponents, and came to use even sophistry for that purpose.

Socrates (470-399 BC) deplored the fact that sophists were confusing the people in that way and asserted that what is important is the virtue with which one should live, rather than the technical knowledge for political success. For him, only true knowledge can show what virtue is. He held that, in order to attain truth, what is necessary, first of all, is to know one's own ignorance, and stated, "Know thyself." Also, he considered that one can reach the truth by engaging in dialogue with another person with a humble heart. Then, starting from the particular, we are led to the universal conclusion.

To reach the truth is to evoke the truth dormant in the mind of the person through asking questions, and to bring forth the truth from the person's mind. Socrates named this process midwifery. Socrates' method of pursuing the truth is called die dialectic, or the method of discussion.

4. Plato's Dialectic -- A Method of Division

Plato (427-347 BC), a disciple of Socrates, tried to explain how true knowledge concerning the virtue referred to by Socrates comes to be obtained. Plato maintained the existence of non-material being that is the essence of thing, and he called it Idea, or Form (eidos). Among scores of Ideas, he regarded the Idea of the Good as supreme, and asserted that only when people intuit the Idea of the Good, can they lead the supreme life.

According to Plato, that which truly exists is the Idea, and the phenomenal world is nothing but the copies of the world of Ideas. Accordingly, knowledge of the Ideas is indeed true knowledge. He called his method of cognition of Ideas the dialectic.

Plato's dialectic sought to determine the relationships between ideas and to explicate the structure of Ideas, which placed the Idea of the Good at the apex. In the cognition of Ideas, there are two directions: The first progresses from the upper to the lower through the division of the generic concepts into specific concepts; the second progresses from the lower to the upper through synthesizing the concepts of individual things, aiming at the supreme concept. Among the two methods, the direction of synthesis corresponds to Socrates' dialectic; the direction of division is most typically Plato's. Thus, when we refer to Plato's dialectic, we usually mean the method of division.

In contrast to Socrates, who considered that knowledge could be obtained through a dialogue between person and person, Plato proposed his dialectic as a method of classifying concepts, or a method of self-questioning and self-answering, namely, a method of question and answer in one's mind.

5. Aristotle's Deductive Method

The study of how correct knowledge can be obtained was systematized by Aristotle (384-322 BC) as the science of knowledge, that is, logic. Logic, which was compiled in the Organon, was regarded as an instrument for reaching truth through proper thinking, as a science preliminary to the various other sciences.

According to Aristotle, true knowledge should be obtained through logical proof. He recognized the inductive method as well, in which one proceeds from the particular to the universal; but Aristotle regarded it as less than perfect. He thought that the deductive method, in which the particulars are deduced from the universal, would provide surer knowledge. The fundamental tool of this method is the syllogism. A representative example of a syllogism is as follows:

i) All men are mortal. (Major Premise)
ii) Socrates is a man. (Minor Premise)
iii) Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (Conclusion)

In the Middle Ages, great importance was attached to Aristotle's logic as an instrument for proving the propositions of theology and philosophy deductively. The Aristotelian syllogism was recognized for about two thousand years, hardly undergoing any change.

B. Methodologies in the Modern Period

1. Bacon's Inductive Method

Throughout the Middle Ages, God was regarded as transcendental, but during the period of the Renaissance, the perception of the transcendental character of God was gradually lost among philosophers. There arose a pantheistic philosophy of nature, which regarded God as inherent in nature. Furthermore, philosophy became a methodology of studying nature. Its representative exponent was Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

According to Bacon, previous studies which were based on metaphysics, were "sterile and like a virgin consecrated to God, produces nothing," mainly because it employed Aristotle's method.

Aristotle's logic was a method for the sake of logical proof. With such logic, one might persuade others. With it, however, one could not obtain truths from nature. Thus, Bacon advocated the inductive method as the logic for finding new truth. He named his own discourse on logic New Organan, as opposed to Aristotle's Organon.

Asserting that traditional studies had been nothing but logical arguments, based on totally useless words, Bacon held that, in order to obtain sure knowledge, we must first eliminate those prejudices to which we are liable, and then explore nature itself directly. Those prejudices are the Four Idols (see "Epistemology"). After eliminating these Idols, we observe nature and make experiment on nature, and from there, we find the universal essences existing within individual phenomena.

Traditional inductive methods had sought to obtain general laws from a small number of observation and experiment; Bacon, however, tried to present a true inductive method in order to obtain sure knowledge by collecting as many cases as possible, and also by attaching importance to negative instances.

2. Descartes's Methodic Doubt

Due to the remarkable achievements made in natural sciences since the Renaissance period, 17th century philosophy regarded the mechanistic view of nature as the absolute truth, and tried not to contradict it. Rationalism tried to provide a foundation for the mechanistic view of nature from a more fundamental standpoint. Its representative exponent was Rene Descartes (1596-1650).

Descartes considered the mathematical method to be the only true method; thus, as in mathematics, he first looked for an intuitive truth that was obvious to everyone, and then based upon it, he sought to develop a new, sure truth deductively.

Thus, there arose a question in how to seek an intuitive truth that could become the starting point of philosophy. Descartes's method was to doubt as much as he could in order to pursue an absolutely reliable truth, which could then become the principle for all knowledge. Even though he doubted everything, however, the fact that he, who doubted, existed could not be doubted, he noticed. He expressed that in the famous proposition, "I think, therefore I am" (cogito ergo sum). Next, he asked why that proposition was certain without any proof, and he answered that it was because that proposition was clear and distinct. From that point he derived a general rule that "things we conceive very clearly and very distinctly are all true."

Cartesian doubt is not for the sake of doubt, but for the sake of discovering truth. It is called methodic doubt. Descartes tried to obtain sure knowledge by following the mathematical method, in which one starts with axioms that can be intuited clearly and distinctly and proves various propositions.

3. Hume's Empiricism

Contrary to rationalism, represented by Descartes, empiricism, developed centering on Britain, took the position of explaining spiritual things on the basis of natural laws discovered empirically.

In order to find a complete system of sciences, David Hume (1711-1776) analyzed the mental processes of the human mind objectively with a new method of finding truth. Through the search for the unchanging, natural laws in human mind, Hume tried to clarify the foundation of all the sciences, where the human mind is involved.

Hume analyzed the ideas, which are the elements of the human mind. According to Hume, when simple ideas are associated with each other, there are three principles of association: resemblance, contiguity in time and space, and cause and effect. Among these three, lie held that the resemblance of ideas and the contiguity of ideas are sure knowledge, while the cause and effect is merely subjective belief.

As a result, Hume's empiricism fell into skepticism, which asserted that objective knowledge cannot be obtained even through inductive inference based on experience and observation. He came to deny all forms of metaphysics and regarded even natural sciences as insecure.

4. Kant's Transcendental Method

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) started from the position of rationalism and natural science. He mentioned that Hume had awakened him from "dogmatic slumber,"' by which lie meant that lie felt obliged by Hume's criticism of causality to deal with the question of how causality could have objective validity. 2 If causality remains a subjective belief, as Hume has stated, the law of cause and effect naturally loses its objective validity, and natural science, which is established on the basis of the law of cause and effect, ceases to be a system of truth with objective validity.

Thus, Kant questioned how experience in general is possible, and how objective truth can be obtained. With his transcendental method lie tried to solve these problems.

Kant reasoned that if, as Hume had said, cognition is wholly dependent on experience. we can never reach objective truth. So Kant, who pursued the question of how objective truth can be obtained, examined human reason critically and discovered that there exist a priori elements, or forms within the subject. That is to say, Kant asserted that there exist a priori forms of cognition, common to every person, prior to experience. Those a priori forms are the intuitive forms of time and space and the pure concepts of understanding (categories). According to Kant, cognition is not made by grasping the object as it is, but the object of cognition is synthesized through the subject's a priori forms.

5. Hegel's Idealistic Dialectic

While Kant's method was aimed at how objective truth becomes possible, the method of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is the logic of thought, called dialectic, which is identified with the logic of reality.

Kant proposed the a priori concepts in order to guarantee the objective truth. Hegel, on the other hand, viewed that, while the concept is a priori, it moves by transcending itself. That is, from the position of affirming itself, the concept comes to know that there exists a determination incompatible with itself, and transcends these two contradictory determinations to develop to a position that synthesizes the two.

Hegel named these three stages "in itself," "for itself," and "in and for itself." These three stages are also called affirmation, negation, and negation of negation; or thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Hegel regarded contradiction to be the driving force of the self development of the concept. He said, "Contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality; it is only in so far as something has a contradiction within it that it moves, has an urge and activity." this way, the logic of self-development through contradiction is the root of Hegel's dialectic.

Hegel states that the concept develops by itself to become the Idea; the concept (Idea) negates itself, is alienated to emerge as Nature; then develops through human being as Spirit. Thus, Hegel's dialectic is the method of the development of the concept, and at the same time the method of the development of the objective world.

6. Marx's Materialist Dialectic

In the modern age, the dialectical method was developed by German idealists, and Hegel stood at its apex. Marx held, however, that Hegel's dialectic was distorted due to its idealism, and reversed Hegel's idealistic dialectic from the materialist position, thereby reestablishing dialectic. According to Friedrich Engels (18201895), Marx's dialectic is "nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought," 4 in which the development of nature and society is regarded as the basis upon which the development of thought is dependent.

Both Hegel's idealistic dialectic and Marx's materialistic dialectic are dialectic of contradiction that can be understood as processes of development in the three stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Contradiction is the state in which, one element rejects (negates) the other element, at the same time they maintain a mutual relationship. In the case of Hegel's dialectic, the emphasis is placed more on synthesis (unity), while in the case of Marx's dialectic, the meaning of struggle, in which one party overthrows and annihilates the other, is added to the meaning of contradiction.

According to Engels, the fundamental laws of the materialist dialectic consist of the following three laws: (i) the law of the transformation of quantity into quality; (ii) the law of the unity and struggle of opposites (or the law of the interpenetration of opposites); and (iii) the law of the negation of negation.

The first law states that qualitative change occurs only through quantitative change, and when quantitative change reaches a certain stage, a sudden qualitative change occurs.

The second law states that all things contain elements that are in an inseparable relationship to each other, yet reject each other, that is, opposites, and that all things develop through the unity and struggle of the opposites.

The third law states that things develop as the old stage passes to a new stage by being negated, and then passes to the third stage by being again negated. This passing over to the third stage is said to be the return to the initial stage, but on a higher dimension. (This is called "development in a spiral form.")

When Engels explained these three laws, he referred to Hegel's Science of Logic and regarded the first law as being discussed in the Doctrine of Being, the second law in the Doctrine of Essence, and the third law in the Doctrine of the Notion.

Among the three laws, the most central is the second one, namely, law of the unity and struggle of opposites. It is said that the unity and struggle of opposites is the essence of contradiction; but in actuality, struggle is more emphasized by Marxists than unity. In fact, Lenin said, 'The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute." 5 He even went as far as to say that "development is the 'struggle' of opposites." 6

7. Husserl's Phenomenological Method

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) advocated phenomenology as the first philosophy, a universal science that provides a basis for all sciences.

Phenomenology deals with consciousness, which makes up theories of the sciences and with which an object is cognized. He started with the absolute certainty of Descartes's "I think," and while excluding the metaphysical dogmas underlying traditional philosophies, he examined consciousness as a strict science. He tried to clarify pure consciousness intuitively, rejecting all preconceptions.

In so doing, he made "To things themselves!" his motto. The word "things" here, does not refer to empirical facts, but rather to pure phenomena that manifest themselves within pure consciousness. He sought to describe these phenomena intuitively, just as they are.

Our everyday attitude that regards the natural world lying before us as self-evident is called "natural attitude." In this natural attitude there are, however, deep-rooted habits and preconceptions at work, and therefore, the world thus cognized cannot be the true world. Thus, the "natural attitude" must change to "phenomenological attitude," Husserl stated. For that purpose, we need to pass through the two stages of "eidetic reduction" and "transcendental reduction."

The term "eidetic reduction," for Husserl, refers to entering from the factual world into the world of essence. What takes place at this point is the intuition of essences through "free variation." In other words, when one changes existing individual beings through free imagination, and when something universal and unchanging, regardless of the variation, is intuited, one has reached the essence. For example, the essence of flower can be obtained by examining a rose, a tulip, a bud, a withering flower, etc., and extracting something unchangeable from all of these observations.

The next step that takes place is that of "transcendental reduction." This is carried out by stopping our judgment whether the world does or does not exist. This does not mean to deny or doubt the existence of the external world, but to "Suspend," or "bracket," our judgment. This process is called phenomenological epoch.

What remains after being bracketed (excluded) is "pure consciousness," or "transcendental consciousness." What appears in this consciousness is "pure phenomena." This kind of attitude to comprehend pure phenomena is the phenomenological attitude (Fig. 11-1).

Fig. 11-1: From "Natural Attitude" to "Phenomenological Attitude"

When we inquire into the general structure of pure consciousness, we find that it consists of Noesis, which is the intentional act, and Noema, which is the objective content the act refers. The relationship between them is as that between "to think" and "to be thought." In this way, phenomenology tries faithfully to describe pure consciousness.

8. Analytical Philosophy -- The Method of Linguistic Analysis

Analytical philosophy forms one of the mainstreams of' philosophy in the contemporary Western world. Analytical philosophy is the position that generally considers that the main task of philosophy lies in the logical analysis of linguistic structures. This position can be divided into two schools, namely, logical positivism in the early period and the ordinary language school in the later period.

Logical positivism was formed centering around the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, namely, Moritz Schlick (1882-1936) and Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970). Logical positivism was influenced by "logical atomism," proposed by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). According to logical atomism, the world is an agglomeration of atomic facts, which are the ultimate logical units. Logical positivism asserts that only the knowledge that is verified through empirical perception is correct knowledge and that all the studies of facts should be done by science. Thus, the task of philosophy is to make a logical analysis of language so as to eliminate the ambiguities of ordinary language expressions. Renouncing conventional languages, they aimed at establishing one ideal, artificial language common to all sciences. This is the mathematical language employed by physics, or the language of physics. They sought to unify the sciences through this ideal language. The mottoes of logical positivism were anti-metaphysics, the analysis of language, and scientism.

Proponents of logical positivism did not realize, however, that even scientific knowledge is based on unverified propositions, and that the assertions of logical positivism themselves were a form of dogma; thus, the limitations of logical positivism became clear. Then, an ordinary language school, centering on George Edward Moore (1873-1958) and Gilbert Ryle (1900- ), came to be established.

The ordinary language school also holds that the task of philosophy is the logical analysis of language, but it abandoned the idea of forming a single, ideal, artificial language, and considered its task to be that of clarifying the meaning of concepts and discovering the logical structure within ordinary languages. Along with this, the anti-metaphysical attitude in analytical philosophy was eased considerably.

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