Sunday, August 10, 2008

Intuition of Relativity?

While working through Peter Thomae's first question in his Quaestiones de esse intelligibli, I came across a rather interesting section, in which he gave eight arguments ex experientia, something I have not seen a Latin scholastic do before. I give the first below as it is the most interesting and sets up a scenario vaguely reminiscent of Einstein's bit on the trains that I read back in high school. The others are more familiar, such as a stick that looks broken in water, or staring at the sun and still seeing afterimages when looking at other things. Of course, Augustine is cited so much, he might not even have come up with this one on his own, but gotten it from one of the fathers. The word "potatur" I think needs to be translated as "swimming" though it literally means to drink, but I could not make out the abbreviation (there was an -x- involved as well) in the manuscript so even "potatur" is just a guess.

"Prima est quando aliquis potatur in aliqua aqua, tunc enim quando navis vadit velociter, arbores in ripa existentes videntur moveri. Huiusmodi autem motus qui est obiective in oculo non potest poni quod sit ipsa visio, alioquin visio est obiectum visus et ita visus est potentia reflexiva; nec potest poni quod sit realiter in arbore vel ripa quia tunc realiter moveretur; nec potest poni quod sit in aere, quia aeri non attribuitur sed arbori est, ergo solum intentionaliter non realiter in esse viso et esse iudicato."

First is when someone swimming in some water, then when a ship quickly goes by, the trees on the shore seem to be moved. Motion of this kind which is objectively in the eye cannot be posited to be vision itself, otherwise vision is the object of the sight, and so sight is a reflexive power; nor can it be said that it is really in the tree or shore, because then it[ie, they] would really be moved; nor can it be said to be in the air, because it is not attributed to the air but to the tree, therefore it is in "being seen" or "being judged" only intentionally, not really."


Michael said...

Do you mean that no one gave arguments ex experientia before or that no one gave a whole set of them like this before? If the latter, I agree with you, I haven't seen it, if the former, I've seen plenty of counterexamples.

Lee Faber said...

Let's hope the latter, as I said in the post that he got half the examples from Augustine, that most fertile of thinkers.

Michael said...

Fertile? And how! Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

Also a good writer, as I recall.

Lee Faber said...

If you go for that sort of thing