Myodicy, Issue 26, June 2006

Reformational Movement:
Documentary Series

Number 6:
Runner's Introduction
to Philosophy

Third Instalment

What follows is # 6 in the documentary series on the Reformational Movement and Its History. Click here to view the table of contents and homepage of the series as a whole.

Click here to read the preface to this set of student notes.

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Lecture # 1, February 9, 1965

The way the Greeks approached the problems of philosophy has become traditional for Western philosophy. Their modes of expression and formulations are still in use today.

The choice in philosophy does not lie between rationalism and irrationalism. These two are only the two poles of subjectivism. There are also objectivism, realism and Christianity. Modern philosophy is almost entirely subjectivistic.

Lecture # 2, February 11, 1965


We may distinguish the history of philosophy in two senses:
i) Modal conception -- History as cultural, technical forming power. Thus, Greek philosophy arose. Schools of Greek philosophy acted on one another; philosophy was molded.
ii) Historiography -- Reflection upon and attempting to understand that which has passed, i.e., history in the sense of i). It is history studied out of context, from a detachment of time.

The problem is whether or not the historiographer must try to interpret history or allow the history of philosophy, i.e., the original philosophers, to speak for itself. The Positivists hold up historiography as the ideal for the historiographer. To them things must be interpreted as they actually happened.

Objectivity must not be identified with truth. Each generation must interpret the history of philosophy for itself. Objectivity is impossible and undesirable. Subjectivity cannot be gotten rid of as [we see from the] conflicting accounts of the history of philosophy. The historiographer must have a perspective from which to evaluate dogmatic philosophy or the whole study becomes meaningless.

For the Christian philosopher, the history of philosophy must be judged in the light of the Word of God, i.e., the coming of Jesus Christ into his life.

Divisions in the History of Philosophy:

The history of philosophy has traditionally been divided into ancient, medieval and modern periods. This division was created during the Renaissance by Petrarch, master of the Florentine (Platonic) Academy.

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Every philosopher is confronted by the claims of the Word of God. He can respond in one of two ways:
i) Acknowledge the Word of God and grant it the place it demands in human life.
ii) Refuse to acknowledge the Word and grant it its rightful place.
  a) Paganism, Apostasy.
  b) Synthetic philosophy, acknowledging the word of God but not granting it its rightful place.

The History of Philosophy can be divided into three periods:
I. Paganism: i) Hellenic, ii) Hellenistic
II. Synthesis i) Patristic, ii) Scholastic, iii) Third
III. Post-synthetic

Lecture # 3, February 16, 1965

Divisions in the History of Western Philosophy:

I. Pagan Period -- Ancient Greek philosophy, the period in which Western philosophy [originated], ca. 800 BC to ca. AD 50. This is the period before the Word of God was known to the Gentiles.
  A. Hellenic, 800 to 322 BC
  B. Hellenistic, 322 BC to AD 50
II. Synthetic Period
  A. Patristic
  B. Scholastic
  C. Third type of synthesis
    1. Petrarch
    2. Bradwardine

In the synthesis, Petrarch emphasized philosophy as opposed to Christianity while Bradwardine concerned himself to a greater degree with the Word of God.

Synthesis is not eclecticism. It is not putting details from various sources together. Synthesis deals with entire systems.

III Post-Synthetic Period
  A. Prelude
    1. Humanism
    2. The Renaissance
    3. The Reformation

Humanism and the Renaissance are opposed to synthesis. Their philosophy leaves out the Christian element. It is an up-to-date paganism.

  B. Rationalism
    1. Old (early) rationalism, 1600 to the death of Hegel in 1831
      a. Scientialism, the 17th century, Descartes
      b. Practicalism, the 18th century; philosophy was made to extend to all of life
      c. Old Idealism -- Kant, Fichte, Schelling
    2. Neo-rationalism
      a. Old Positivism -- Comte, Turgot, John S. Mill
      b. Neo-positivism
      c. Neo-idealism

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  C. Irrationalism
    1. Pragmatism
    2. "Lebensphilosophie"
    3. Existentialism

The Post-synthetic period philosophers became gradually more and more antagonistic toward Christianity -- Renaissance -- Enlightenment -- 20th century existentialism.

The Problem of Law in Greek Philosophy:

Functionality has a subject side and an object side. Three solutions to the problem of law are:
i) Subjectivity -- Locate the law in subject functions
ii) Objectivity -- Locate the law in object functions
iii) Plato's Realism

Lecture # 4, February 18, 1965

Universals and Individuals:

The real problem involved here is what the relation between universals and individuals is. No serious thinker denies the existence of either universals or individuals. The difference is a qualitative difference. For example, some deny that universals are as deeply rooted in reality as are individuals. Nominalism claimed that universals exist only in the names we give them -- "Universalia solis in nominibus non in rebus sunt."

The Greeks proposed three answers to the problem of universals and individuals. The first two -- universalism and individualism -- are closely related in that they see the relation as that of something primary to something secondary.

  I. Universalism
  The universal is primary. The individual exists only as a moment in the life of the universal.
  II. Individualism
  Individuals are primary. Universals arise out of individuals in two ways:
    i) Individuals give rise to universal concepts and names.
    ii) Cultural forming, e.g., the social-contract theory -- Society and government grew up after individuals voluntarily banded themselves together. What is wrong with this theory is that societal structures unfold genetically; they do not come into existence upon the wish of the individual.
  III. Partial Universalism
  Universals and individuals exist side-by-side under the Law of God. They exist in parts in everything.

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Aristotle felt that the body is universal and mind is individual. Partial universalism is the Christian view. The two types of partial universalism are:
  1. Macrocosm and Microcosm -- Things that are individual are called microcosms. Macrocosms are universal conceptions. The microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. The world is one large microcosm. In it is everything that is in any microcosm. The three views of the solution are:
    i) Anthropomorphism,
    ii) Zoologicism,
    iii) Phytogenetic view.
  2. Hylomorphism

Lecture # 5, [NO DATE INDICATED] 1965


The totality of the man's philosophical result at a certain period is called his conception. A conception is made up of a number of themes. A theme is a specific question with an answer appropriate to that question.

Analogies in Microcosm and Microcosm:

According to the partial universalists, an individual is composed of the eternal stuff, fire, water, earth, etc. in a unique proportion. Partial universalism is not a natural Greek way of thinking.


Aristotle, also a partial universalist, eliminated the idea of the macrocosm. Everything has as part of its makeup the universal and as part of its make-up the individual.

Form and matter are to be distinguished in every individual thing. Matter is universal because the basic components, fire, air, water, earth, are found in all. Form is particular to each thing and thus gives the thing its individuality.

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The word "hylomorphism" is simply a word to describe a theory. "Hylé" means material; "morphé" means form.

Hylomorphism is a theory exaggerating the roles played by matter and form in the structures of things. All of cultural life is the giving of form to matter. In this [respect], the theory is valid. However, Aristotle did not limit the Form-Matter pattern to cultural activity but read it into all of nature.

Lecture # 6, February 25, 1965

The Life of Aristotle:

Aristotle came to Athens at the age of seventeen. He worked with Plato in the Academy for twenty years (368-348 B.C.) as a student and later fellow scholar. These years are called Aristotle's First Athenian Residence. In 348 Plato died. Speusippus became the head of the Academy. Aristotle and a few other men left the Academy because they disagreed with him. Aristotle and Xenokrates went off to Assos in Asia Minor where there was a daughter Academy. Aristotle began lecturing there immediately. For twelve years Aristotle wandered around Asia Minor and began his marine biological research. About 336 B.C. he established in Athens a rival school to the Academy called the Lyceum. In 323 B.C., Aristotle left Athens again due to the death of Alexander the Great, his protector. Close to a year later, Aristotle died on the island of Euboea, just outside of Greece. The time that Aristotle taught at the Lyceum is known as the Second Athenian Residence.


During the Second Athenian Residence, Aristotle came up with four distinct kinds of Hylomorphism.

A. The part of the individual that is individual must act as the individuating agent. This is called the principle of individuation. There is a formal principle and a material principle. Matter is what it is to be potentially only. A form realizes or actualizes the potential in the matter. By form Aristotle understands the use or function of the object. Matter and its basic components are:
      the warm and the dry -- fire
      the warm and the moist -- air
      the cold and the moist -- water
      the cold and the dry -- earth

The principle of continuity is in Matter. The principle of individuation is in Form. Form is also the principle of actualization.

B. The rational soul is a passive intellect. Both Form and Matter are potential. The principle of individuation in this view of hylomorphism is a Universal Active Intellect. The principle of actualization is also the Universal

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Active Intellect. Body and rational soul are both potential and individual. The passive intellect waits for the breaking in from outside by the universal active intellect. Thus, there is only one kind of thought since all thought has a common origin. Whereas the rational soul is therefore common or universal, the body is individual because of unique mixtures of basic components. It is this type of Hylomorphism that Thomas Aquinas was strongly attracted to.

What Is the Relation of Analysis to Myth?

Three answers have been given to this problem: i) cultic, ii) mythical, iii) mythological thinking.

Nineteenth-century thinkers thought that man was progressing in his explanations of reality. He first explained all in mythical-theological terms, explaining events in terms of the next world. The next stage attempted to explain reality in terms of the world -- analysis. The first age is regarded as childish. The positivists reach a third level in their explanations. They interpret everything in terms of function.

Analysis presupposes the myth. The myth is the larger thing to which analysis must be subject.

Lecture # 7, March 2, 1965

The Relation of Analysis to Myth:

By the eighth century B.C. many Greeks began to regard analysis as pure, that is, they felt that analysis must be unmixed with mythology. They were non-mythologizing thinkers as opposed to the previous thinkers who are called mythologizing thinkers.

Thales is today regarded as the first real Greek philosopher because the positivists, who are now dominant, feel that philosophy begins with non-mythologizing thinkers. They insist on a complete separation of philosophy and religion. Where there is one there cannot be the other. What they fail to see is that philosophy and religion are not of the same order. Even the non-mythologizing Greek thinkers were still intensely religious in their philosophizing as Prof. Warner Jaeger has pointed out in his The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers.

The twentieth century is characterized by a return to the myth. Men today are beginning to realize that they do after all need a framework in which to do their analysis. This need for a general pattern that is not provided by analysis, yet is necessary for analysis, gave rise to ideology. Ideology is really a subjectivistic substitute for rational faith.

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The thinking of the Greek mythological thinkers was genetic in character. It was concerned with origins. Its basic questions were: How have the Gods come into being? And How has the cosmos come into being?

Classifications of Greek Philosophy:

The non-mythologizing thinkers disregarded problems of origin and concerned themselves with present-time purely structural thought -- purely cosmological thought.
Theogony -- the coming into being of the world of Gods.
Cosmogony -- the coming into being of the cosmos.

The mythologizing thinkers are classed as theogonic-cosmogonic.

Between these two views came a third view, genetic-structural thinking -- cosmogono-cosmological thinking.

Greek philosophers can be classified as follows:
  1. Subjectivistic
    a) Universalistic
    b) Partial Universalistic
    c) Individualistic
  2. Objectivistic
    a) Non-mathematical universalism
    b) Mathematical universalism
  3. Platonic Realism

Analysis and Myth:
  1. Mythologizing -- theogonic-cosmogonic
    a) Monistic
    b) Dualistic
  2. Genetic-structural -- cosmogonic-cosmological evolutionism
    a) Monistic
    b) Dualistic
  3. Non-mythologizing -- purely cosmological
    a) Monistic
    b) Dualistic

The Christian may not believe in any one of the solutions proposed to any of these problems by the Greeks.

Lecture # 8, March 4, 1965


Monism is the theory that there is one original ground or essence on which all the phenomena in the world are based. Thales was a cosmological (structural) monist -- "Everything is water." He must be distinguished from those who come after him, like Miletus, because they were cosmogono-cosmological monists -- "Everything is and has come to be out of air."

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We distinguish two types of dualism in Greek philosophy:
i) Cosmogono-cosmological dualism -- There are two external principles forever separate, but now brought together (contiguous). They can never form a unity because they are contrasting principles.
ii) Purely cosmological dualism -- There are two worlds, upper and lower, or material and ethical-spiritual. The two worlds are aware of one another.

The difference between these two views is that cosmogono-cosmological dualism deals with the origin of the two worlds while cosmological dualism deals with them solely in their present condition.

Origin of the Greek View of Body and Soul:

The Greek religious outlook is a fusion of two strata of culture. The religion of the original cultural-racial group in Greece was naturalistic. These naturalistic pagans identified God with the natural modalities (numerical, spatial, energetic, physical, and organic). They saw God as physical movement or the organic power of growth. Because they feel man must bear a likeness to the gods, they explain man in terms of the body (corporeality, body processes).

The second group, which entered Greece sometime later, had a culturalistic view of religion. They interpreted man in terms of the functions above the organic -- the cultural forming functions. Their conception of the gods is much the same. The Olympian deities are all identified with cultural activities.

The bringing together of these two viewpoints is the cause of the dualism of material body and rational soul, with man's essence to be found in the soul. Owing to this religious background, the Greeks always held this split view of man.

Lecture # 9, March 9, 1965

Subjectivism and Objectivism in Greek Philosophy:

Subjectivism and objectivism are views about the subject-object relation, recognizing that both subject and object exist. The subjectivism of the Greeks, on the other hand, was slightly different in that it did not recognize that the object exists. The Greeks saw both subject and object as subject. What we call object issues eidola, images of itself, and in this way also functions as subject in the process of vision, to take an example.

Experiencing depends to some extent upon subjective condition. There is an issue in Greek philosophy concerning Being and non-Being. Parmenides, who was an objectivist, is usually connected with this controversy.

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Being might better have been translated out of the original Greek as being-thing. This term defines it more clearly as something concrete. Being and non-Being might also be translated as "that which is" and "that which not is."

Being is what men want; it is concrete. The subject in man is his analytical object function. The object in man is his psychical object function.

That which is:
    qualities (exist in themselves)
That which not is:

The Greeks identified objects with the law for subjects. Law and object are not identical.

Pythagoras was a mathematical objectivist. It is to be remembered that Greek mathematics was not nearly so far advanced as mathematics is today. The mathematical objectivist interpreted truth through number and through spatial relations.

Pythagoras means that every quality can be assigned quantity in the form of a number. He carries mathematical objectivism out one more degree.

Aristotle's Double Mechanics:

Aristotle's two kinds of mechanics were celestial mechanics and terrestrial mechanics. Circles or circular motion he took to be the essence of the higher (celestial) world. Rectangular-linear he took to be the essence of the lower (terrestrial) world.

Lecture # 10, March 11, 1965

Realism and Monism:

Dualism says that the world is two [twofold] in its origin. The two now contiguous worlds originally had nothing to do with one another. They have been brought into juxtaposition, but this does not presuppose any degree of unity. The higher world is not only higher in space; it is higher in ontic status, it is a superior world. The higher world is the transcendent world; the lower world is the non-transcendent.

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Monism says that the world is originally one. The two worlds as they are presently distinguishable are one in origin. Thus, it is not the case that the higher is transcendent. The higher world is the higher eidos (species) and the lower world is the lower eidos. The two eidé are two species of the original arché (genus).

One's decision on the problem of dualism and monism is of far-reaching significance, as a discussion of the Greek notions of motion will illustrate. The Greeks originally believed that motion comes from the higher world, the soul. They saw the body as essentially inert. Thus, since the body cannot move, the dualists argued, it must be the soul that moves the body. And since the two worlds must be seen as distinct from one another, the body cannot absorb any of the energy. This is called the transportative view of motion. The Greeks did not escape the pre-scientific notion of a split world which they had inherited. Monism is an attempt to bring them together by asserting that they have a common origin. Monism does see the soul as setting the body in motion, but the body is not passive. Monism presupposes a closer relationship between soul and body than does dualism.


Greek students of medicine and mathematics were considerably behind those of our day. They were only beginning to develop the two as separate disciplines.

An irrational number is a number that can never be expressed or thought or spoken. The paradox was that rational numbers generate irrational numbers and irrational numbers generate rational numbers. Two orders of irrational numbers can be distinguished.

Circular motion is characteristic of the heavens; circularity is the essence of the heavens. Linear motion is characteristic of the earth; rectalinearity is the essence of the earth.

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Plato's Realism:

Any interaction of two things (e.g., a man seeing a flower) requires three things: i) something to experience -- subject; ii) something to be experienced -- object; iii) laws. The subjectivists seek the law in the subject, the objectivists in the object. The realists concern themselves with the law. Plato was an objectivist at the beginning of his philosophical career. He was never a subjectivist. Early in his career he came into contact with the Pythagoreans. When he began his Academy, he had adopted mathematical objectivism. All throughout his life he was concerned with numerical qualities of a subject.

Lecture # 11, March 16, 1965


When Plato became a realist he was already committed to the microcosm-microcosm scheme. He recognized a difference between subject and object functions. He was also a mathematical objectivist (every object has mathematical qualities, shape and number, which makes it more eminently knowable because it is abiding). He had a mathematical view of the object.

Objects like circles, horses, etc. are judged by some norms on the basis of which we judge how close to perfection that object is. Yet we have never seen the perfect horse or circle. Plato came to the conclusion that knowledge does not depend upon that which is sensible. These norms, the HORSE ITSELF, the CIRCLE ITSELF, must exist but we do not perceive them in this world. All this led him to believe that the soul before it can dwell in the body dwelt in a [domain of] purely intelligible things. Thus, all knowledge is recollection in our material existence of purely intelligible things experienced in a previous existence.

Life is played out on a foreground (mundus sensibilus) and a background (mundus intelligibilus). The essences, the real ideas, are in the background. Life is played out on the foreground. The real things are in the background. Knowledge pertains to those. Before living in the body, we dwelt as pure rational souls among the ideas in the background.

Where did the mundus sensibilus come from? To begin with, there was only the real world. Matter existed as a potentiality of form. The Demiurge or artisan, craftsman, forms out of matter a world as much resembling this real world as possible but he is impeded by matter. The world created by the Demiurge is the microcosm; the secondary demons fashioned the microcosms. This brings a problem concerning the soul. The soul (rational thought) had a pre-existence and a post-existence. The soul as intellect dwelt in the real world where it could see through things to the deepest ground of their being. The real world is the World of the Truth (rational, logical meaning). The things in the real world are norms and laws. Here he makes an identification of

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things, norms and laws. Plato also accounts for the material world on the basis of the fall of the soul which was forced to descend into matter.

Plato's emphasis on the other world is a reversal of the Greek conception of life. The earlier Greeks stressed life in this world. Plato got his ideas from the Orphics.

Plato has lifted the object from the sensible world and perfected it in the intelligible world. He makes the law the perfected law.

Both subject and object are rooted in the background. The virtues of the citizen are the good itself, the true itself, and the beautiful. These he calls ideas. The mathematical properties of the object he roots in the background -- primal mathematics: i) the numbers themselves, ii) the primordial geometric figures themselves. Thus he sees the law for subject and object as a theory.

Lecture #12, March 18, 1965

No notes

Lecture #13, March 23, 1965

No notes

Lecture #14, April 1, 1965

The Hellenistic Age:

Hellenistic philosophy is poorly understood by present-day scholars. It is usually carelessly called eclectic. That is to say, it has been called a conglomeration of the thinking of many men. Concepts are borrowed without regard to the ordering principle on which they rest and without regard to system. Eclecticism does not accurately describe the philosophy of the Hellenistic Age. Careful analysis reveals that Hellenistic thinkers all stand within a particular tradition (type). Skepsis concerns itself with one type of thought at a time. It is not merely a general characteristic common to all Hellenistic philosophers. Skepsis must vary from type to type because the ground of certainty in the different types of philosophy is different.

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Lecture # 15, April 6, 1965


Thomistic logicians say that concepts arise out of the act of perceiving or simple apprehension. Judgments arise out of the act of judging. Conceiving is the grasping of the logical meaning of the thing. In forming a concept one must first have a percept or mental picture. The logical mind penetrates the mental picture to its logical essence.

Runner believes that a concept is a string of judgments.

Kant raised the question: What are the conditions that make experience possible? His philosophy is really a search for some order in the world. He sought the a priori on which to base experience. Facts can be apprehended by the mind only in so far as a priori experience allows.

Aristotle recognized psychical (sensible) and logical (that which can be conceived) object functions. We can have concepts because objects have logical meaning. When Aristotle formed concepts he was compelled to structure them after the logical structure of the object because the law for the concept is in the object.

Lecture # 16, April 8, 1965

The term "axiom" arose in a second-century Stoic. It means mathematical a priori. The mind imposes numerical and spatial relationships upon empirical knowledge. An a priori thought apparatus orders reality. The order is imposed, not inherent.

Outline of Platonism:
  I. Old Platonism
    A. Early or Old Academy:
      Plato and his followers.
      Intelligible background
      is Guide for life.
    B. Middle or Second Academy:
      First skeptical movement
    C. Late or New or Third Academy:
      Second skeptical movement
      -- Philo(n) of Larissa (in Thessaly)
      founder the so-called Fourth Academy
  II. Mesoplatonism of Middle Platonism.
    A. Fifth Academy:
      Introduction of the
      theory of the a priori.
      -- Rise of neo-Pythagoreanism.
    B. Late Mesoplatonism:
      Primal mathematical
      as well as ideas
      now made a priori.
  III. Neo-Platonism
    A. Ammonios Sakkas and followers.
    B. Plotinus and followers.

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History of the Academy:

The Old Academy was founded by Plato in 390 B.C. Aristotle, Speusippus, and Xenokrates were his pupils. Speusippus was the second scolarch, Xenokrates the third.

Arkesilaos revitalized the Academy with the first skeptical movement (Middle Academy). He had first studied in the Lyceum, where the ideas had long been discarded and only the primal mathematicals were retained. Becoming scolarch 268/5, he opened a new and flourishing period in the Academy. Sometime after his arrival in the Academy, Arkesilaos raised the question as to whether or not we can know the ideas, although he did not call their existence into question. He was a complete realist.

The founder of the Third or Late Academy and introducer of the second skeptical movement was Karneades (214-129/8). His pupil Kleitomachos, who published lecture notes of Karneades and was his sole literary exponent, was himself a thoroughgoing skeptic. About 127 Kleitomachos himself became scolarch. His position is that the criteria for praxis (the Ideas) are not only not knowable, they do not exist. There remained only the primal mathematicals. His position is a semi-realism much the same as that of Aristotle.

Philo(n) of Larissa (160/59-80) succeeded Kleitomachos in 110/09 and began what is known as the Fourth Academy. Philo said that things are not comprehensible in the Stoical sense but that they are knowable in themselves. He led the Academy from the position of Karneades to that of Antiochus of Askalon.

Antiochus (130/20-68) was the founder of the Fifth Academy. He was the one who first introduced into the Academy the theme of the a priori. He had been a pupil of Philo(n) of Larissa and also of Mnesarchos. He abandoned the skepticism of the Middle and New Academy. It has been said that he reverted to the teaching of the Old Academy, but this is to misinterpret what he said. He became head of the Academy 79/8. Cicero attended his lectures here. The Academy then took a significant turn. According to Antiochus the Ideas cannot be missed. However, they are not where Plato took them to be. They do not exist in the background. The Ideas exist in the macrocosmic and microcosmic thinking mind. The ideas are again unknowable but they have been relocated. They are not a priori concepts, not things.

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