Platonic Bias

The inclination to give a phenomena a top-down explanation when the phenomena is in reality the result of a bottom-up process.
Daniel Dennett discusses how the tradition of Plato’s Forms and Aristotle essences indoctrinated with a top-down manner of thinking: “The development of the science of geology and the discovery of fossils of manifestly extinct species gave the taxonomists further curiosities to confound them, but these curiosities were also the very pieces of the puzzle that enabled Darwin, working alongside hundreds of other scientists, to discover the key to its solution: species were not eternal and immutable; they had evolved over time. Unlike carbon atoms, which, for all one knew, had been around forever in exactly the form they now exhibited, species had births in time, could change over time, and could give birth to new species in turn. This idea itself was not new; many versions of it had been seriously discussed, going back to the ancient Greeks. But there was was a powerful Platonic bias against it: essences were unchanging and a thing couldn’t change its essence, and new essences couldn’t be born — except of course by God’s command in episodes of Special Creation….
The essentialist urge is still with us and not always for bad reasons. Science does aspire to carve nature at its joints, and it often does seem like we need essences, or something like essences, to do the job. On those point the two great kingdoms of philosophical thought, the Platonic and the Aristotelian, agree.  But the Darwinian mutation, which at first seemed to be a new way of thinking about kinds of biology, can spread to other phenomena and other disciplines (38-39, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea)
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett

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