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Is evolution a problem for Platonists? Can there be a form for organisms that by

Is evolution a problem for Platonists? Can there be a form for organisms that by there nature change, even if individual examples of species do not? Another way of saying it is that species are organic processes, and I have difficulty imagining an essential, unchanging process.

The problem you describe is obviously a threat to Aristotle's view of nature and of the species of plants and animals (which may be why Aristotle argues against Darwin in Book 2 of the Physics). As you say, "species are organic processes" -- although you ought to recognize that this conception of biological species is our shared conception of species after Darwin. Darwin has indeed made many elements of the ancient theory of nature hard to imagine, even if the ancients found their view of nature extremely easy to imagine.

Plato differs from Aristotle, however. For one thing, Plato expects to find much less order in the natural world than Aristotle does. If you confront Plato with the spectacle of constant change in nature, he might be inclined to agree. In this particular case, a lot depends on whether or not Plato thought there were Forms for species -- a Form of human being, of dog, of oak. In some of the dialogues that speak of Forms, the description of them does not seem to include biological species; however, an open-ended discussion in the Parmenides suggests otherwise, that Forms would have to include species. The textual evidence is inconclusive. And if there are no Forms for dog or willow, the changes in dogs and willows that we see are no threat to Platonic metaphysics.

It's possible to go a bit further than this, though not to the evolution that we know after Darwin. Plato's Timaeus proposes one kind of evolution that ancient author sometimes found acceptable, namely a "devolution" to a worse kind. This is a version of the idea that humans couldn't come from apes, but that thoughtless, brutal human beings could degenerate into apes. (Mind you, the distinction makes no sense in modern biology, because the theory of evolution does not consider us higher than gorillas, or even higher than plankton. I am trying to speak as the ancients would have spoken.) And in the Timaeus, we find something like a cross between degenerative evolution and reincarnation. Male human beings who do not comport themselves virtuously enough are turned into women, and humans are turned into animals. You can't make yourself a better creature on your own, but through vicious thought and action you might be made into a worse species.

For a dozen or so reasons we are likely to find this proposal unacceptable -- morally, scientifically, metaphysically. But it does sound something like evolution. And it is Platonic. So maybe it's the best evidence for the conclusion (in response to your opening question) that evolution as such is not a problem for Platonists.

The problem you describe is obviously a threat to Aristotle's view of nature and of the species of plants and animals (which may be why Aristotle argues against Darwin in Book 2 of the Physics). As you say, "species are organic processes" -- although you ought to recognize that this conception of biological species is our shared conception of species after Darwin. Darwin has indeed made many elements of the ancient theory of nature hard to imagine, even if the ancients found their view of nature extremely easy to imagine. Plato differs from Aristotle, however. For one thing, Plato expects to find much less order in the natural world than Aristotle does. If you confront Plato with the spectacle of constant change in nature, he might be inclined to agree. In this particular case, a lot depends on whether or not Plato thought there were Forms for species -- a Form of human being, of dog, of oak. In some of the dialogues that speak of Forms, the description of them does not seem to include biological...

If an environment, or just a very secluded 'biome' was artificially produced

If an environment, or just a very secluded 'biome' was artificially produced would it still be considered 'beautiful'? Even considering that this particular secluded artificial environment had a perfectly in sync ecosystem, was self-sustaining, and never tired of resources for human use, would it still be beautiful and fantastical even though it was subject to human manipulation of Earth natural way of nature?

This feels like a question informed by Kant’s understanding of beauty. Whether it is or not, it’s certainly a question in tune with Kant; because, for Kant, natural beauty dominates his examples of beautiful objects and sets the tone for his analysis of beauty in general. There seems to be a constant suspicion in Kant that art we find beautiful is somehow a contrivance, something put together in a way that the artist knows will appear beautiful to human beings, or at least pleasant in appearance. And because the artist aims at pleasing the human senses, so-called beautiful art threatens to collapse into a species of the merely pleasant.

A beautiful flower, on the other hand, has not been contrived. Kant seems to understand nature mechanistically – or rather, he thinks it is always open to a mechanistic interpretation. And given that it is, the spontaneous appearance of something in nature like a beautiful flower or a magnificent sunset gives one the sense of having discovered beauty, not just been prodded into finding beauty where it had been put.

Mind you, these views do not necessarily have to follow from the basic Kantian principles of beauty and taste. Many readers have drawn quite different conclusions from the Critique of Judgment about what to say about art. But this is Kant’s own application of his basic principles.

The Critique of Judgment entertains the possibility (in section 42) that someone might fake a natural environment, as your example proposes. He grants what the example assumes, that if you didn’t know it had been artificially manipulated you would enjoy the scene exactly as you would enjoy a natural scene. (As I say, the example assumes this much. It wouldn’t be a duplicate landscape unless it looked exactly the same.) But then Kant asks what would happen once the deception was revealed. The nature-lover’s admiration for what had seemed to be the beauty of natural life would disappear, although it might be replaced (Kant adds) with an admiration that follows from the person’s vanity, e.g. the wish to decorate one’s home with these artificial flowers and bushes. (In this connection also see the “General Remark on the First Section of the Analytic.”)

All this is by-the-book Kant. If you are not a Kantian, however, I would think the problems don’t arise. If art can be beautiful, then why shouldn’t artificial nature also be beautiful?

This feels like a question informed by Kant’s understanding of beauty. Whether it is or not, it’s certainly a question in tune with Kant; because, for Kant, natural beauty dominates his examples of beautiful objects and sets the tone for his analysis of beauty in general. There seems to be a constant suspicion in Kant that art we find beautiful is somehow a contrivance, something put together in a way that the artist knows will appear beautiful to human beings, or at least pleasant in appearance. And because the artist aims at pleasing the human senses, so-called beautiful art threatens to collapse into a species of the merely pleasant. A beautiful flower, on the other hand, has not been contrived. Kant seems to understand nature mechanistically – or rather, he thinks it is always open to a mechanistic interpretation. And given that it is, the spontaneous appearance of something in nature like a beautiful flower or a magnificent sunset gives one the sense of having discovered beauty, not just...