Welcome to the latest incarnation of Maverick Philosopher. I began this weblog in May of 2004 and have kept it up continuously on different servers, missing only a few days. I'm in this game 'for the duration,' as long as health and eyesight hold out. It has proven to be deeply satisfying, not the least reason for which being that my scribbling has attracted a large number of like-minded individuals, some of whom I have met in the flesh, and have come to value highly as friends.
And for that I am deeply grateful.
What you need to know is that this weblog is just one philosopher's online journal, notebook, workshop, and on occasion sandbox. A lot of what I write is unpolished and tentative. I explore the cartography of ideas along many paths. Here below we are in statu viae, and it is fitting that our thinking should be exploratory, meandering, and undogmatic. Nothing human, and thus nothing philosophical, is foreign to me.
I write about what interests me whether I am expert in it or not. Some find this unseemly; I do not. I oppose hyperprofessionalization and excessive specialization. Every once in a while I post something that is mistaken, someone corrects me, and I learn something. I admit mistakes if mistakes they be. See how modest I am? On the other hand, this rarely happens. My PhilPapers page currently lists 61 entries and will give you some idea of what I am more or less expert in.
I allow comments on only some posts, usually the more technical ones. And to keep the cyberpunks at bay, Comment Moderation is always on. Comments must address what I say in my posts. If you go off on a tangent, I will most likely not allow your comment to appear.
I suppose that in these decadent days of the Decline of the West I should issue a TRIGGER WARNING: this is no place for the politically correct. It is not a 'safe space.' Here you will find free speech, trenchancy of expression, and open inquiry.
A while back I supplied a reader's demand for a list of Obscure, Neglected, and Underrated Philosophers. But I forgot to mention Paul Roubiczek. I have read a couple of his works, and this morning I started in on Thinking Towards Religion which Mr. Amazon was kind enough to deposit upon my doorstep yesterday afternoon. The service this company provides is unbelievably good. This particular volume arrived two days ahead of shedule. Is this the sort of operation that gets off the ground in NoKo or Kooba? Whaddya think, Bernie?
George Mallory fell to his death in 1924 while attempting to scale Everest. His body was found in 1999. It remains a mystery whether he summited.
Now one can admire Mallory's courage, dedication, and perseverance. But one must question the value of the goal he set for himself. Arguably, he threw his life away attempting a merely physical feat. He spent his incarnation pursuing self-glorification for a merely physical accomplishment.
How much more noble the mountain climbers of the spirit like Buddha, Socrates, and Jesus who attempted to surmount, not a hunk of rock, but the human predicament!
Do you know who he is? I found out only recently, which I suppose is fitting given the man's Pynchon- and Salinger-like desire for obscurity. A while back, I caught the last half-hour of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, classic celluloid from 1948 starring Humphrey Bogart and John Huston. The Wikipedia article on The Treasure sent me to an entry on B. Traven who wrote the German novel, Der Schatz der Sierra Madre, on which the movie is based. Now you know the rest of the story.
They don't make movies like this any more. HollyWeird liberals don't know how. They'll snow you with meaningless special effects and gratuitous sex and violence in every possible permutation, but they are well-nigh incapable of delivering decent dialog, or stories of human interest, let alone stories that illustrate philosophical themes or raise philosophical or moral questions. The exceptions prove the rule.
One issue raised by The Treasure of the Sierra Madre concerns the status of moral conscience. Is it merely a social construct whose validity evaporates in the wilderness? Or is it a source of trans-cultural moral insight? In one scene, Dobbs, the Bogie character, tells his young partner, Curtin, that he "sounds foolish out in this wilderness" airing his Sunday-School scruples about cheating the old man (the Huston character) of his supplies and gold. Later, after shooting Curtin and leaving him for dead, Dobbs wrestles with his conscience while trying to fall asleep. "If you believe you have a conscience, then it will pester you to death. If you don't believe you have a conscience, what can it do to you?"
The issue, of course, is not whether one believes one has a conscience, for one can believe that one does without believing that conscience is a source of moral knowledge. One might hold that the conscience one has is merely a product of acculturation and that its 'deliverances' don't deliver any objective truths about the moral order, but merely reflect upbringing. The line should go like this, "If you believe conscience is a source of objective moral insight, then it will pester you to death. If you don't believe that it is such a source, what can it do to you?" Unfortunately, screen writers, even back in the '40s didn't write like this. Too philosophical!
There is a nihilistic streak in far too many liberals and leftists which makes them want to pander to the basest instincts in people. So if a HollyWeird liberal were to re-make this film, Dobb's shooting of Curtin would be probably shown in gory detail so as to incite blood lust. In the actual film, the shooting is not shown; only the upshot is: we see a wounded man in the dirt. For only the latter is needed for the story. This was the way things were done until about the time of Peckinpah in the '60s. But the nihilists of the Left are not interested in a human story, they are interested in degrading people in order to line their own pockets. Of course, they will hide behind their right to 'free expression' as if this justified anything and everything.
Here is the first stanza of "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), a fitting epigraph to our entry into the twilight. But for the philosopher there is consolation: "The owl of Minerva spreads its wings at dusk." (Hegel).
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
The Western elites have lost all conviction and are sitting ducks for the passionate intensity of radical Muslims.
Dennis Monokroussos writes: "It's not very likely that a player will produce a deep combination in a 1-minute game. . ."
That's just one bite out of a very big and tasty enchilada.
One thing I have noticed is that after playing 1-minute and 3-minute games, five minutes seems like an ice age. "Come on, move. What's to think about? I captured your knight, you have to take my bishop . . . "
Chris Hedges well illustrates the leftist obsession with moral equivalentism in his piece, "We are All Islamic State."
I will quote some portions, then comment. The piece begins:
Revenge is the psychological engine of war. Victims are the blood currency. Their corpses are used to sanctify acts of indiscriminate murder. Those defined as the enemy and targeted for slaughter are rendered inhuman. They are not worthy of empathy or justice. Pity and grief are felt exclusively for our own. We vow to eradicate a dehumanized mass that embodies absolute evil. The maimed and dead in Brussels or Paris and the maimed and dead in Raqqa or Sirte perpetuate the same dark lusts. We all are Islamic State.
Hedges opens with a curious mixture of insight and illusion.
Granted, war opens the flood gates to revenge, and much of what takes place in a war is revenge. There was plenty of revenge in the fire bombing of Dresden by the Allies in WWII. The Brits wanted revenge for the Blitz. Perhaps you know where the V-1 and V-2 nomenclature comes from: they were Vergeltungswaffen, weapons of revenge. But there is nothing in the nature of warfare to require that in every case war be revenge. Revenge is not the same as retributive justice and there are or at least can be just wars. If the state can justly punish a wrongdoer for his wrongdoing, then one state can justly punish another for its wrongdoing, even if this happens only rarely and partially. There are rogue states. German philosopher Karl Jaspers referred to the Nazi regime as a Verbrecherstaat, a criminal state. Surely he was right. A bunch of thugs seized power and unleashed hell on earth. Or will Hedges and his comrades say that Churchhill's England and Hitler's Germany were morally equivalent?
Hedges' moral equivalentism is false and offensive. On September 1, 1939, Hitler's Wehrmacht invaded Poland. Does Hedges really think that the defensive operations undertaken by the Poles were motivated by revenge? Or that the Poles engaged in indiscriminate murder? And how exactly is killing in self-defense murder? Can Hedges think in moral categories? Does he think that self-defense is never morally justified?
Speaking of Islamic terrorists, Hedges claims that "Their tactics are cruder, but morally they are the same as us."This is beneath refutation. So beheading and crucifixion are merely "cruder" than waterboarding, but otherwise morally equivalent? It is already quite a stretch to speak as leftists do of waterboarding as torture. Would C. Hitchens and other journalists have delivered themselves up for torture? Would they have submitted to to the insertion of red hot pokers into their anal cavities?
The Christian religion embraces the concept of “holy war” as fanatically as Islam does. Our Crusades are matched by the concept of jihad. Once religion is used to sanctify murder there are no rules. It is a battle between light and dark, good and evil, Satan and God. Rational discourse is banished. And “the sleep of reason,” as Goya said, “brings forth monsters.”
Hedges is certainly warming to this theme, isn't he? The present tense of 'embraces' renders the first sentence manifestly false. Hedges needs to give some examples of holy wars prosecuted by Christian denominations in recent centuries. He won't be able to do this, which is why he brings up the Crusades. Hedges is making at least three mistakes.
First, he refuses to admit that it is obviously unfair to compare present atrocities by Muslim fanatics to long past atrocities -- if atrocities they were -- by Christians. Islam was and remains a violent religion. Christianity has long reformed itself.
Second, Hedges cannot or will not understand that the same sorts of war-like activities that are morally wrong when deployed offensively can be morally acceptable when deployed defensively.
Third, Hedges is unaware or will not admit that the Crusades were defensive wars and ipso facto morally justified. Thomas F. Madden:
For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Back to Hedges' tirade:
How can we rise up in indignation over Islamic State’s destruction of cultural monuments such as Palmyra when we have left so many in ruins? As Frederick Taylor points out in his book “Dresden,” during the World War II bombing of Germany we destroyed countless “churches, palaces, historic buildings, libraries, museums,” including “Goethe’s house in Frankfurt” and “the bones of Charlemagne from Aechen cathedral” along with “the irreplaceable contents of the four-hundred-year-old State Library in Munich.” Does anyone remember that in a single week of bombing during the Vietnam War we obliterated most of that country’s historic My Son temple complex? Have we forgotten that our invasion of Iraq led to the burning of the National Library, the looting of the National Museum and the construction of a military base on the site of the ancient city of Babylon? Thousands of archeological sites have been destroyed because of the wars we spawned in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.
Amazingly, Hedges thinks he can simply ignore the crucial difference between the unintended destruction of cultural artrifacts that comes about as collateral damage and the willfull, intended destruction by Nazi and Islamist savages of cultural goods. Could this idiot actually think that Churchill's England and Hitler's Germany were morally equivalent? To defeat the Third Reich drastic measures were required, and time was running out: the Nazis would soon have have had nuclear weapons had they not been brought to their knees.
It goes without saying that my opposition to the moral equivalentism of the lunatic Left is no endorsement of moral Manicheanism. No man is without sin, and no state either.
Perhaps you have noticed that radicals are rather less interested in speaking truth to power after they get power than before. Their transgressive speech and behavior becomes curiously 'conservative.' Giving umbrage gives way to taking umbrage.
What happened to shrugging at an opinion with which you disagree and leaving it at that? That notion is history, as communications executives seem to have convinced themselves that they are not censoring dissenting opinions but rather protecting the innocent from crude speech.
Twitter took that phony stance, too, when it announced a "Trust and Safety Council" in February. "Twitter stands for freedom of expression, speaking truth to power, and empowering dialogue. That starts with safety," CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted.
This is a good example of the sort of Orwellian mendacity we have come to expect from contemporary 'liberals.' War is peace. Slavery is freedom. A defense of religious liberty is a violation of religious liberty. Those who protest being forced by the government to violate their consciences and religious beliefs are imposing their religious beliefs. Curtailment of speech is free speech. 'Inclusion' is the exclusion of dissent.
The Orwellian template: X, which is not Y, is Y.
The open forum is a 'safe space' in which no one's feelings are hurt.
Freedom of speech is freedom from 'micro-aggressions.'
And notice that at bottom it's about money. Twitter and ESPN toe the party line because it is profitable to do so. A curious development: significant numbers of once anti-capitalist leftists are now driven by the profit motive to spread Pee Cee drivel.
In the context of an exchange between a Catholic and a Protestant, I came across a quote of Gerard Manley Hopkins that reminded me of your posts on mysterianism.
You do not mean by mystery what a Catholic does. You mean an interesting uncertainty: the uncertainty ceasing, interest ceases also. This happens in some things; to you, in religion. But a Catholic by mystery means an incomprehensible certainty; without certainty, without formulation, there is no interest … The clearer the formulation, the greater the interest. At bottom, the source of interest is the same in both cases, in your mind and in ours; it is the unknown, the reserve of truth beyond what the mind reaches and still feels to be behind. But the interest a Catholic feels is, if I may say so, of a far finer kind than yours.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins, letter to Robert Bridges
This made me wonder whether mind-body mysterians like McGinn are really of the second type. If one holds that our inability to understand how a mental state could be a brain state is because of a natural limitation on our cognitive powers, like our inability to smell things that a dog can smell, then we might yet hold that this mystery is of type 1 - an "interesting uncertainty." One way that a materialist like McGinn might hold that consciousness is a type 1 mystery is to argue that, as with other of our physical powers, say vision, we could develop ways to augment our cognitive powers to understand thoughts we cannot (yet) think. The recent movie Lucy tangentially explores this.
Also, there's always the alien hypothesis, which seems to interest some very bright people, like Hawking. Intellectually, we may be bonobos compared to a more advanced race in the universe, whose cognitive powers far surpass our own, and for whom the solution to the mind-body problem is discussed and proven in the first year of their grade school. Of course, this is nothing more than an alien-of-the-gaps conjecture.
In the Hopkins passage, which I find very obscure, two senses of 'mystery' are distinguished. They seem to me to be as follows.
Mystery-1: A proposition which, if true, is knowable, presently unknown, and interesting to know, but the interest of which evaporates upon being known. For example, the proposition Jimmy Hoffa's body was fed through a wood chipper is, if true, knowable, unknown, interesting to know but such that, if it came to be known, then the question of the final disposition of Hoffa's body would be settled and would no longer be interesting. A more timely example: The singer Prince's death came about as a result of his opioid addiction in tandem with a grueling work schedule. The aim of research is to banish mysteries in this first sense of 'mystery.'
Mystery-2: A proposition which, if true, cannot by us in this life be known to be true, and cannot even be known by us in this life to be logically-possibly true, i.e., free of logical contradiction, and is of the highest interest to us, but whose interest would in no way be diminished should we come to know it.
An example is the doctrine of the Trinity as understood by Roman Catholics (but not just by them). The Trinity is an exclusively revealed truth; hence it cannot be known by us by natural means. What's more, it cannot even be known by us to be free of logical contradiction and thus logically possible. Our finite intellects cannot see into its logical possibility let alone into its actual truth. We cannot understand how it is possible. But what is actual is possible whether or not we have the power to understand how it is possible. (Compare: motion is possible because actual, whether or not the Zenonian arguments to the contrary can be adequately answered.)
So from the fact that the Trinity appears to us in our present state as contradictory, and thus as logically impossible, it does not follow that it is not true. For it could be like this: given our unalterable ('hard-wired') cognitive architecture, certain revealed truths must appear to us as contradictory when the propositions which must so appear are not only in themselves not contradictory, but are also actually true!
One sort of mysterian is a person who holds that there are mysteries in the second sense. Is Colin McGinn a mysterian in this sense?
McGinn 'takes it on faith' that all mental activity is brain activity. He no more questions this than a believing Catholic questions the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence, etc. It just seems obvious to him and therefore a thesis that cannot be reasonably questioned. Of course mental activity is brain activity! What the hell else could it be? You think and feel with your brain, not your johnson, and certainly not with some 'spook in the skull' (my coinage) or "ghost in the machine." (Ryle)
But there are powerful arguments which I have rehearsed many times why qualia and object-directed mental states cannot be physical states. Confronted with these arguments, McGinn goes mysterian. He grants their force and then says something like this:
It is incomprehensible to us how consciousness could be a brain process. But it is a brain process. It is just that our unalterable cognitive architecture makes it impossible for us to see into this truth. It is true and therefore possibly true even though we cannot understand how it is true or even how it could be true due to our cognitive limitations.
As I read McGinn, these limitations are in our human case unalterable. And so I read McGinn as a mysterian in much the same sense that a theological mysterian is a mysterian. What is common to the doctor angelicus and the decidedly less than angelic McGinn is a commitment to the thesis that there are true, non-contradictory propositions that we humans by our very nature are not equipped to understand as either true or non-contradictory.
This leaves open the possibility for McGinn that there be extraterrestrials who are equipped to grasp mind-brain identity. And it leaves open for Aquinas the possibility that there be angelic intellects who are equipped to grasp God-Man identity (the Incarnation) and how Jesus Christ could ascend into heaven soul and body!
It would be very interesting to hear what James Anderson and Dale Tuggy have to say about this. They have gone far deeper into the mysteries of mysterianism than I have.
This entry continues the discussion of prime matter begun here. That post is a prerequisite for this one.
Similarities between Bare Particulars and Prime Matter
S1. Bare particulars in themselves are property-less while prime matter in itself is formless. The bare particular in a thing is that which exemplifies the thing's properties. But in itself it is a pure particular and thus 'bare.' The prime matter of a thing is the thing's ultimate matter and while supporting forms is itself formless.
S2. Bare particulars, though property-less in themselves, exemplify properties; prime matter, though formless in itself, is formed.
S3. There is nothing in the nature of a bare particular to dictate which properties it will exemplify. This is because bare particulars do not have natures. Correspondingly, there is nothing in the nature of prime matter to dictate which substantial forms it will take. This is because prime matter, in itself, is without form.
S4. Bare particulars, being bare, are promiscuously combinable with any and all first-level properties. Thus any bare particular can stand in the exemplification nexus with any first-level property. Similarly, prime matter is promiscuously receptive to any and all forms, having no form in itself.
S5. Promiscuous combinability entails the contingency of the exemplification nexus. Promiscuous receptivity entails the contingency of prime matter's being informed thus and so.
S6. Bare particulars are never directly encountered in sense experience. The same holds for prime matter. What we encounter are always propertied particulars and formed matter.
S7. A bare particular combines with properties to make an ordinary, 'thick' particular. Prime matter combines with substantial form to make a primary (sublunary) substance.
S8. The dialectic that leads to bare particulars and prime matter respectively is similar, a form of analysis that is neither logical nor physical but ontological. It is based on the idea that things have ontological constituents or 'principles' which, incapable of existing on their own, yet combine to from independent existents. Hylomorphic analysis leads ultimately to prime matter, and ontological analysis in the style of Bergmann and fellow travellers leads to bare or thin particulars as ultimate substrata.
Differences Between Bare Particulars and Prime Matter
D1. There are many bare particulars each numerically different from every other one. In themselves, bare particulars are many. It is not the case that, in itself, prime matter is many. It is not, in itself, parceled out into numerically distinct bits.
D2. Bare particulars are actual; prime matter is purely potential.
D3. Bare particulars account for numerical difference. But prime matter does not account for numerical difference. (See Feser's manual, p. 199) Prime matter is common and wholly indeterminate. Designated matter (materia signata) is the principle of individuation, i.e., differentiation.
The destructiveness of the Left extends even unto our alma mater, the English language. London Karl, who sent me the YouTube link, comments:
Guardian writer declares that those who like to use correct grammar are likely to be 'whiter' 'older' and 'wealthier' than those they correct. The irony of her being an editor on a major newspaper escapes her!
Tom owns fewer guns than Tim, not less guns. This is not just a matter of acceptable usage; it reflects a logico-semantic distinction between count nouns and mass terms. The typical leftist, however, is a leveller who cannot tolerate clarity of speech and thought. This is why we define the leftist or contemporary liberal as a person who never met a standard he didn't want to erode.
There is no change without a substrate of change which, in respect of its existence and identity, does not change during the interval of the change. In a slogan: no change without unchange. No becoming other (alter-ation, Ver-aenderung) without something remaining the same. In the case of accidental change, the substrate is materia secunda, in one of its two senses, a piece of paper, say, as opposed to paper as a kind of material stuff. It is a piece of paper that becomes yellow with age, not paper as a kind of stuff. In the case of substantial change the substrate is said to be prime matter, materia prima. On the scholastic view, prime matter must exist if we are to explain substantial change. (See Edward Feser, Scholastic Metaphysics, pp. 171 ff.) Thus to the problems with substantial change already mentioned (in an earlier portion of this text not yet 'blogged') we may add the problems that are specific to prime matter. Besides the route to prime matter via substantial change, there is the route via the very procedure of hylomorphic analysis. Traversing these routes will give us a good idea of why the positing of prime matter has seemed compelling to scholastics.
Given that thought sometimes makes contact with reality, one can ask: what must real things be like if thought is to be able to make contact with them? What must these things be like if they are to be intelligible to us? A realist answer is that these mind-independent things must be conformable to our thought, and our thought to them. There must be some sort of isomorphism between thought and thing. Since we cannot grasp anything unstructured, reality must have structure. So there have to be principles of form and organization in things. But reality is not exhausted by forms and structures; there is also that which supports form and structure. In this way matter comes into the picture. Forms are determinations. Matter, in a sense that embraces both primary and secondary matter, is the determinable as such.
Proximate matter can be encountered in experience, at least in typical cases. The proximate matter of a chair consists of its legs, seat, back. But this proximate matter itself has form. A leg, for example, has a shape and thus a form. (Form is not identical to shape, since there are forms that are not shapes; but shapes are forms.) Suppose the leg has the geometrical form of a cylinder. (Of course it will have other forms as well, the forms of smoothness and brownness, say.) The cylindrical form is the form of some matter. The matter of this cylindrical form is wood, say. But a piece of wood is a partite entity the parts of which have form and matter. For example, the complex carbohydrate cellulose is found in wood. It has a form and a proximate matter. But cellulose is made of beta-glucose molecules. Molecules are made of atoms, atoms of subatomic particles like electrons, and these of quarks, and so it goes.
Hylomorphic analysis is thus iterable. The iteration cannot be infinite: the material world cannot be hylomorphic compounds 'all the way down,' or 'all the way up' for that matter. The iteration has a lower limit in prime or primordial or ultimate matter (materia prima), just as it has an upper limit in pure form, and ultimately in the forma formarum, God, the purely actual being. Must hylomorphic analysis proceed all the way to prime matter, or can it coherently stop one step shy of it at the lowest level of materia secunda? I think that if one starts down the hylomorphic road one must drive to its bitter end in prime matter. (Cf. Feser's manual, p. 173 for what I read as an argument to this conclusion.) Ultimate matter, precisely because it is ultimate, has no form of its own. As John Haldane describes it, it is "stuff of no kind." (“A Return to Form in the Philosophy of Mind” in Form and Matter, ed. Oderberg, p. 50) We could say that prime matter is the wholly indeterminate determinable. As wholly indeterminate, it is wholly determinable.
(Question: if prime matter is wholly indeterminate, is it also indeterminate with respect to being either determinate or indeterminate? Presumably not. Is there a problem lurking here?)
The Antinomy of the Existence of Prime Matter
While it is easy to appreciate the logic that leads to the positing of prime matter, it is difficult to see that what is posited is coherently thinkable. Here is one consideration among several. Call it the Antinomy of the Existence of Prime Matter. It may be compressed into the following aporetic dyad:
Prime matter exists.
Prime matter does not exist.
Argument for limb (1). There is real substantial change and it cannot be reduced to accidental change. All change is reduction of potency to act, and all change requires an underlying substrate of change that remains self-same and secures the diachronic identity of that which changes. The substrate of a change is the matter of the change. What changes in a change are forms, whether accidental or substantial. Without the potency-act and matter-form distinctions we cannot accommodate the fact of change and avoid both the Heraclitean doctrine of radical flux and the Eleatic denial of change. Or so say the scholastics. In the case of accidental change, the subject or substrate is secondary matter (materia secunda). But substantial change is change too, and so it also requires a substrate which cannot be secondary matter and so must be prime matter. Given what we must assume to make sense of the plain fact of both accidental and substantial change, “prime matter must exist.” (Feser's manual, p. 172) It must exist in reality as the common basis of every substantial change.
Argument for limb (2). Prime matter is pure potency. It has to be, given the exigencies of accounting for substantial as opposed to accidental change. As pure potency, prime matter is wholly indeterminate and wholly formless. In itself, then, prime matter does not exist. It does not exist actually, as is obvious. But it also does not exist potentially: prime matter does not have potential Being. This is because the principle of the metaphysical priority of act over potency requires that every existing potency (e.g., the never actualized potency of a sugar cube to dissolve in water) be grounded in something actual (e.g., the sugar cube). The pure potency which is prime matter is not, however, grounded in anything actual. (Note that one cannot say that prime matter is a pure potency grounded in each primary substance. Prime matter is the ultimate stuff of each primary substance; it is not potency possessed by these substances.) Therefore, prime matter does not exist. It does not exist actually and it does not exist potentially. This is also evident from the first of the twenty-four Thomistic theses:
Potency and act are a complete division of being. Hence whatever is must be either pure act or a unit composed of potency and act as its primary and intrinsic principles. (Quoted by Feser, Schol. Metaph., p. 31)
If so, prime matter does not exist. For prime matter is neither pure act nor composed of potency and act. It is interesting to observe that while purely actual Being can itself be by being something actual, purely potential Being cannot itself be by being something potential (or actual). God is actual Being (Sein, esse) and an actual being (Seiendes, ens). But prime matter is neither potential nor actual. So prime matter neither is actually nor is potentially.
It thus appears that we have cogent arguments for both limbs of a contradiction. If the contradiction is real and not merely apparent, and the arguments for the dyad's limbs are cogent, then either there is no prime matter, the very concept thereof being self-contradictory, or there is prime matter but it is is unintelligible to us. One could, I suppose, be a mysterian about prime matter: it exists but we, given our cognitive limitations, cannot understand how it could exist. (Analogy with Colin McGinn's mysterianism: consciousness is a brain process, but our cognitive limitations bar us from understanding how it could be.) But I mention mysterianism only to set it aside.
But perhaps we can avoid contradiction in the time-honored way, by drawing a distinction. A likely candidate is the distinction between prime matter in itself versus prime matter together with substantial forms. So I expect the following scholastic response to my antinomy:
Prime matter exists as a real (extramental) factor only in primary substances such as Socrates and Plato. It exists only in hylomorphic compounds of prime matter and substantial form. But it does not exist when considered in abstraction from every primary substance. So considered, it is nothing at all. It is not some formless stuff that awaits formation: it is always already formed. It is always already parcelled out among individual material substances. Once this distinction is made, the distinction between prime matter in itself and prime matter together with substantial forms, one can readily see that the 'contradiction' in the above dyad is merely apparent and rests on an equivocation on 'exist(s).' The word is being used in two different senses. In (1) 'exists' means: exists together with substantial form. In (2), 'exist' means: exist in itself. Thus the aporetic dyad reduces to the logically innocuous dyad:
1*. Prime matter exists together with substantial forms.
2*. Prime matter does not exist in itself in abstraction from substantial forms.
Unfortunately, this initially plausible response gives rise to a problem of its own. If prime matter really exists only in primary substances, then prime matter in reality is not a common stuff but is parcelled out among all the primary substances: it exists only as a manifold of designated matters, the matter of Socrates, of Plato, etc. But this conflicts with the requirement that prime matter be the substratum of substantial change. Let me explain.
If a new substance S2 comes into existence from another already existing substance S1 (parthenogenesis may be an example) then prime matter is what underlies and remains the same through this change. Now this substratum of substantial change that remains the same must be something real, but it cannot be identical to S2 or to S1 or to any other substance. For if the substratum of substantial change is identical to S1, then S1 survives, in which case S2 is not a new substance generated from S1 but a mere alteration of S1. Don't forget that substantial change cannot be reduced to an accidental change in some already existing substance or substances. In substantial change a new substance comes to be from one or more already existing substances. (I will assume that creation or 'exnihilation' does not count as substantial change.)
If, on the other hand, the substratum of change is identical to S2, then S2 exists before it comes to exist. And it seems obvious that the substratum of substantial change underlying S2's coming to be from S1 cannot be some other substance. Nor can the substratum be an accident of S2 or S1. For an accident can exist only in a substance. If the substratum is an accident of S1, then S1 must exist after it has ceased to exist. If the substratum is an accident of S2, then S2 must exist before it comes to exist.
The argumentative punchline is that prime matter cannot exist only in primary substances as a co-principle tied in every case to a substantial form. If prime matter is the substratum of substantial change, then prime matter must be a really existent, purely potential, wholly indeterminate, stuff on its own.
The Problem of the Substrate
The problem just presented, call it the Problem of the Substrate or the Problem of the Continuant, may be pressed into the mold of an aporetic tetrad:
1. Prime matter is the substrate of substantial change.
2. Prime matter does not exist in reality except as divided among individual material substances.
3. The substratum of a substantial change cannot be identified with any of the substances involved in the change, or with any other substance, or with any accident of any substance. (For example, the substratum of the substantial change which is Socrates' coming into existence from gametes G1 and G2 cannot be identified with Socrates, with G1, with G2, with any other substance, or with any accident of any substance.)
4. There is substantial change and it requires a really existent substrate.
The tetrad is inconsistent issuing as it does in the contradiction: Prime matter does and does not exist only in individual material substances.
The obvious solution is to deny (2). But if we deny (2) to solve the Problem of the Substrate, then we reignite the Antinomy of the Existence of Prime Matter. We solved the Antinomy by making a distinction, but that distinction gave rise to the Problem of the Substrate/Continuant. We appear to be in quite a pickle. (For more on the Substrate/Continuant problem, see John D. Kronen, Sandra Menssen and Thomas D. Sullivan, “The Problem of the Continuant: Aquinas and Suárez on Prime Matter and Substantial Generation,” The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Jun., 2000), pp. 863-885.)
The Problem of Individuation
Finally a glance at the related ontological, not epistemological, problem of individuation. This problem is actually two problems. There is the problem of individuation proper, namely, the problem of what makes an individual substance individual as opposed to universal, and there is the connected problem of differentiation, namely, the problem of what makes numerically different individual substances numerically different. It is clear that prime matter cannot be the principle of differentiation. For one thing, prime matter is common to all material substances. For another, prime matter as pure potency is indeterminate, hence not intrinsically divided into parcels. Moreover, pace Feser, prime matter cannot “bring universals down to earth” in his phrase: it cannot be the principle of individuation, narrowly construed. (Schol. Metaph., p. 199) For what makes Socrates an individual substance rather than the substantial form he shares with Plato cannot be common, indeterminate, amorphous, matter.
Prime matter is not up to the job of individuation/differentiation. It is designated matter (materia signata quantitate) that is said to function as the ontological ground or 'principle' of individuation and numerical difference. Unfortunately, appeal to designated matter involves us in an explanatory circle. Designated matter is invoked to explain why Socrates and Plato are individual substances and why they are numerically different individual substances. But designated matter cannot be that which individuates/differentiates them since it presupposes for its individuation and differentiation the logically (not temporally) antecedent existence of individual material substances. Why are Socrates and Plato different? Because their designated matters are different. Why are their designated matters different? Because they are the matters of different substances. The explanation moves in a circle of rather short diameter.
Feser considers something like this objection but dismisses it as resting on a confusion of formal with efficient causality. But there is no such confusion in the objection as I have presented it. Efficient causality does not come into it at all. No one thinks that there is an agent who in a temporal process imposes substantial form on prime matter in the way that a potter in a temporal process imposes accidental form upon a lump of clay. I can grant Feser's point that prime matter and substantial form are related as material cause to formal cause. I can also grant that prime matter and substantial form are mutually implicative co-principles neither of which can exist without the other. Granting all this, my objection remains. Prime matter in itself is undifferentiated. It it differentiated and dimensive only in combination with substantial forms. But this is equivalent to saying that prime matter is differentiated and dimensive only as the designated matter of particular individual substances. But then designated matter cannot non-circularly explain why numerically different substances are numerically different. For the numerical difference of these matters presupposes the numerical difference of the substances.
If religion is the opium of the masses, then OPM is the opium of the redistributionist.
Bernie Sanders, the superannuated socialist, "and his wife, Jane, paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent, or $27,653 in federal taxes on an adjusted gross income of $205,271." This is for 2014. That is less than Mitt Romney paid, percentage-wise, in 2011. But Romney paid more dollars and thus did more good than Bernie, if you assume that Federal taxes do good for 'the people' and not just for state apparatchiki.
For Sanders, a legitimate function of government is wealth redistribution so that the government can do good with other people's money (OPM). So why did Bernie take so many (legal) deductions? Why didn't he pay his 'fair share,' say, 28% of his AGI? Why didn't he fork over 50%? Surely an old man and his wife can live on 100K a year! Why doesn't Bernie practice what he preaches?
Because he smokes the opium of OPM: it is the other guy's money that is to be confiscated, not his. By any reasonable standard, Sanders is a 'fat cat.' But he doesn't see himself as one. And no doubt he thinks he earned his high senatorial salary when he produced nothing, but merely spouted a lot of socialist nonsense while acting the pied piper to foolish and impressionable youth.
THE greatest academic gig is that of the black philosopher. Spout hackneyed and malicious political slogans and you will be treated as a paragon of wisdom.
George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Emory University. In addition to being a rising star in the field of “body politics, ” he specializes in Critical Whiteness Studies. That means: “white subject formation, white racist ambush, white opacity and embeddedness, white complicity, white anti-racist praxis.” In other words, he specializes in anti-philosophical racial grievance and intellectual junk.
Read it all. While I disagree with the Housewife on some things, I don't disagree on her assessment of Yancy.
Aquinas says that any given nature can be considered in three ways: in respect of the esse it has in concrete singulars; in respect of the esse it has in minds; absolutely, in the abstract, without reference to either material singulars or minds, and thus without reference to either mode of esse. The two modes are esse naturale (esse reale) and esse intentionale. We can speak of these in English as real existence (being) and intentional existence (being). Real existence is existence 'outside' the (finite) mind. Intentional existence is existence 'in' or 'before' the mind. The mentioned words are obviously not to be taken spatially. Esse is the Latin infinitive, to be. Every human mind is a finite mind, but don't assume the converse.
According to Schopenhauer, the medievals employed but three examples: Socrates, Plato, and an ass. Who am I to deviate from a tradition at once so hoary and noble? So take Socrates. Socrates is human. The nature humanity exists really in him, and in Plato, but not in the ass. The same nature exists intentionally in a mind that thinks about or knows Socrates. For Aquinas, there are no epistemic deputies standing between mind and thing: thought reaches right up to and grasps the thing itself. There is an isomorphism between knowing mind and thing known. The ground of this isomorphism is the natura absoluta, the nature considered absolutely. Call it the common nature (CN). It is so-called because it is common to both the knower and the known, informing both, albeit in different ways. It is also common to all the singulars of the same nature and all the thoughts directed to the same sort of thing. So caninity is common to all doggy thoughts, to all dogs, besides linking the doggy thoughts to the dogs.
Pause to appreciate how attractive this conception is. It secures the intrinsic intelligibility of the world while avoiding the 'gap problem' that bedevils post-Cartesian thought.
I need to know more, however, about the exact ontological status of the common nature (CN) which is, as it were, amphibious as between knowing mind and thing known.
With the help of Anthony Kenny, I realized that there are four possible views, not three as I stated in earlier forays:
A. The CN really exists as a separate, self-subsistent item.
B. The CN exists only intentionally in the mind of one who abstracts it from concrete extramental singulars and mental acts. (Note: a mental act is a concrete singular because in time, though not in space.)
C. The CN has Meinongian Aussersein status: it has no mode of being whatsoever, and yet is is something, not nothing. It actually has properties, it does not merely possibly have them, but is property-incomplete (and therefore in violation of the Law of Excluded Middle) in that it is neither one nor many, neither universal nor particular, neither intentionally existent nor really existent.
D. The CN exists intentionally in the mind of God, the creator.
(A) is a nonstarter and is rejected by both me and Lukas Novak. (B) appears to be Novak's view. (C) is the interpretation I was tentatively suggesting in earlier entries.. My thesis was that the CN must have Aussersein status, but then it inherits -- to put it anachronistically -- all the problems of Meinongianism. The doctor angelicus ends up in the jungle with a Meinongian monkey on his back.
Let me now try to explain why I reject (B), Novak's view, and incline toward (C), given that (A) cannot possibly be what Aquinas had in mind.
Consider a time t before there were any human animals and any finite minds, and ask yourself: did the nature humanity exist at t? The answer has to be in the negative if there are only two modes of existence, real existence in concrete extramental singulars and intentional existence in finite (creaturely) minds. For at t there were no humans and no finite minds. But surely it is true at t that man is rational, that humanity includes rationality. This implies that humanity at t cannot be just nothing at all. For if it were nothing at all at t, then 'Man is rational'' at t would lack a truth-maker. Furthermore, we surely don't want to say that 'Man is rational' first becomes true when the first human being exists. In some sense, the common nature must be prior to its existential realization in concrete singulars and in minds. The common nature cannot depend on these modes of realization. Kenny quotes Aquinas (Aquinas on Being, Oxford 2002, p. 73):
Socrates is rational, because man is rational, and not vice versa; so that even if Socrates and Plato did not exist, rationality would still be a characteristic of human nature.
Socrates est rationalis, quia homo est rationalis, et non e converso; unde dato quod Socrates et Plato non essent, adhuc humanae naturae rationalitas competeret. (Quodl. VIII, I, c, 108-110)
Aquinas' point could be put like this. (i) At times and in possible worlds in which humans do not exist, it is nevertheless the case that rationality is included in humanity, and (ii) the metaphysical ground of humans' being rational is the circumstance that rationality is included in humanity, and not vice versa.
Now this obviously implies that the common nature humanity has some sort of status independent of real and intentional existence. So we either go the Meinongian route or we say that comon natures exist in the mind of God. Kenny:
Aquinas' solution is to invoke the divine mind. There are really four, not three ways of considering natures: first, as they are in the mind of the creator; second, as they are in the abstract; third, as they are in individuals; and finally, as they are in the human mind. (p. 74)
This may seem to solve the problem I raised. Common natures are not nothing because they are divine accusatives. And they are not nothing in virtue of being ausserseiend. This solution avoids the three options of Platonism, subjectivism (according to which CNs exist only as products of abstraction), and Meinongianism.
The problem with the solution is that it smacks of deus ex machina: God is brought in to solve the problem similarly as Descartes had recourse to the divine veracity to solve the problem of the external world. Solutions to the problems of universals, predication, and intentionality ought to be possible without bringing God into the picture.
Ulysses had himself bound to the mast and the ears of his sailors plugged with wax lest the ravishing strains of the sea nymphs' song reach their ears and cause them to cast themselves into the sea and into their doom. But what song did the Sirens sing, and in what key? And what about the nymphs themselves? Were their tresses of golden hue? And how long were they? Were the nymphs equipped with special nautical brassieres to protect their tender nipples from rude contact with jelly fish and such?
One cannot sing a song without singing some definite song in some definite key commencing at some definite time and ending at some definite later time.
But you understand the story of Ulysses and the Sirens and you are now thinking about the song they sang. And you are thinking about the nymphs and their ravishing endowments. But what sorts of objects are these? Incomplete objects. Are there then in reality incomplete objects?
Exactly what does ‘refer’ mean? And when we talk about ‘direct reference’ and ‘indirect reference’, are we really talking about exactly the same relation, or only the same in name?
The second question got me thinking.
The paradigms of direct reference are the indexicals and the demonstratives. The English letter 'I' is not the English word 'I,' and the word 'I' -- the first-person singular pronoun -- has non-indexical uses. But let's consider a standard indexical use of this pronoun. Tom says to Tina, "I'm hungry." Tom refers to himself directly using 'I.' That means: Tom refers to himself, but not via a description that he uniquely satisfies. The reference is not routed through a reference-mediating sense. If you think it is so routed, tell me what the reference-mediating sense of your indexical uses of the first person singular pronoun is. I wish you the best of luck.
As I understand it, to say of a singular term that it is directly referential is not to say that it lacks sense, but that it lacks a reference-determining sense. If a term has a reference-determining sense, then the reference of that term is 'routed though' or 'focused by' the sense: the term picks out whatever satisfies the sense, if anything satisfies it. The indexical 'now' does have a sense in that whatever it picks out must be a time, indeed, a time that is present. But this very general sense does not make a use of 'now' refer to the precise time to which it refers. So 'now' is directly referential despite its having a sense.
Consider the demonstrative 'this.' Pointing to a poker, I say 'This is hot.' You agree and say 'This is hot!' We point to the same thing and we say the same thing. The same thing we say is the proposition. The proposition is true. Neither the poker nor its degree of heat are true. The reference of 'this' is direct. It seems to follow that the poker itself is a constituent of the proposition that is before both of our minds and that we agree is true. The poker itself is a constituent of the proposition, not an abstract and immaterial surrogate or representative of the material poker. But then propositions are Russellian as opposed to Fregean. The poker itself, not an abstract surrogate such as a Fregean sense, is a constituent of the proposition.
How can this be? I grasp (understand) the proposition. So I grasp its constituents. (Assumption: I cannot understand a proposition unless I understand its logical parts. Compositionality of meaning.) One of the constituents is the poker itself. But how is it possible for my poor little finite mind to grasp the hot poker in all its infinitely-propertied reality? How can I get that massive chunk of external reality with all its properties before my puny little intellectus ectypus? Here is an aporetic triad for your delectation:
The proposition is in or before my mind. The hot poker is a constituent of the proposition. The hot poker is not in or before my mind.
How will you solve this bad boy? The first limb is well-nigh datanic. Since I understand the proposition expressed by 'This is hot' asserted while pointing to a hot poker, the proposition is before my mind. So we must either deny the second or the third limb.
My tendency is to deny the second limb and affirm that all propositions are Fregean. If all propositions are Fregean, then no proposition has as a constituent an infinitely-propertied material object such as a red-hot poker.
But if I say this, then it seems that I cannot say that the reference of 'this' is direct. But if not direct, then mediated by sense. What then is the sense of 'this'? What is the meaning of 'this'?
Or we could say the following: there is direct reference all right, but not to an infinitely-propertied chunk of physical reality, but to an incomplete object, something like what Hector-Neri Castaneda calls an "ontological guise." It is a Meinongian sort of item and involves us in the difficulties of Meinongianism.
London Ed will not like this answer one bit.
To say that a singular term t indirectly refers to object o is to say two things. (i) It is to say that there is a description D(t) that gives the sense of t, a description which is such that anything that satisfies it uniquely satisfies it. (ii) And it is to say that o uniquely satisfies D(t).
Note that for the indirect reference relation to hold there needn't be any real-world connection such as a causal connection between one's use of t and o. It is just a matter of whether or not o uniquely satisfies the description encapsulated by t. Satisfaction is a 'logical' relation. It is like the 'falling-under' relation. Ed falls under the concept Londoner. The relation of falling-under is not 'real': it is not causal or spatial or temporal or a physical part-whole relation. It is a 'logical' relation.
Indirect reference is just unique satisfaction by an item of a description encapsulated in a term. If 'Socrates' refers indirectly, then it refers to whatever satisfies some such definite description as 'the teacher of Plato.' (Or perhaps a Searlean disjunction of definite descriptions.) Direct reference, on the other hand, has nothing to do with satisfaction of a description.
So I think London Ed is on to something. When we talk about ‘direct reference’ and ‘indirect reference’, we are not talking about exactly the same relation. The two phrases have only a word in common, 'reference.' If all reference is indirect, then direct reference is not reference. And if all reference is direct, then indirect reference is not reference. There are not two kinds of reference. Only the word is in common.
The reason, again, is that indirect reference is just unique satisfaction of a description whereas direct reference has nothing to do with satisfaction of a description. This is even more obvious if the direct reference theorist brings causation into the picture.
One of the curiosities of the reign of Barack Obama is that while he has vastly increased the power of the state domestically, when it comes to the world outside, to national security, he has gravely weakened the United States, both physically, in terms of its military strength, and psychologically, in terms of that diffuse but indisputably potent resource, prestige. ISIS rages, Russia buzzes our warships and reconnaissance planes, China militarizes the South China Sea. We do . . . nothing.
The Collected Poems and Epigrams of J. V. Cunningham, Chicago, The Swallow Press, 1971.
Here lies my wife. Eternal peace Be to us both with her decease.
I married in my youth a wife. She was my own, my very first. She gave the best years of her life. I hope nobody gets the worst.
J. V. Cunningham is the model for John Williams' 1965 novel Stoner. An underappreciated and unfortunately titled masterpiece, it is about one William Stoner, an obscure professor of English at the University of Missouri, Columbia. At its publication in '65 it pretty much fell still-born from the press, but the years have been kind to it and it is now valued as the great novel that it is. Unfortunately, Williams, who died in 1994, did not live to see its success.
(4.) John Williams, Stoner (1965). Based on the life of J. V. Cunningham and especially his disastrous marriage to Barbara Gibbs. Easily the best novel ever written about the determined renunciations and quiet joys of the scholarly life. Stoner suffers reversal after reversal—a bad marriage, persecution at the hands of his department chair, the forced breakup of a brief and fulfilling love affair with a younger scholar—but he endures because of two things: his love for his daughter, who wants nothing more than to spend time with her father while he writes his scholarship, and his work on the English Renaissance. His end is tragic, but Stoner does not experience it that way. A genuinely unforgettable reading experience.
"Genuinely unforgettable" sounds like hype, but this is one novel I, for one, will not forget. For more by Myers on Stoner, see here.
My copy of the novel sports a blurb by Myers: "It will remind you of why you started reading novels: to get inside the mystery of other people's lives." Yes.
I prefer the Firefox browser to Google Chrome, but the former crashes on a regular basis, like every other day. Yes, I have done the obvious things like make sure I am running the latest version. I take it that others have this crash problem. Any suggestions?
Hitchens says somewhere that he didn't suffer from cognitive dissonance of the sort that arises when a deeply internalized religious upbringing collides with the contrary values of the world, since he never took religion or theism seriously in the first place. But then I say religion was never a Jamesian live option for him. But if not a live existential option, one that engages the whole man and not just his intellect, then not an option explored with the openness and sympathy and humility requisite for understanding.
So why should we take seriously what Hitchens says about religion? He hasn't sympathetically entered into the subject. He hasn't fulfilled the prerequisites for understanding. One such prerequisite is openness to the pain of cognitive dissonance as suffered when the doctrines, precepts and practices of a religion taken seriously come into conflict with a world that mocks them when not ignoring them. But in Hitchens by his own account there was not even the possibility of cognitive dissonance.
Consider two working class individuals. The first is a sensitive poet with real poetic ability. His family, however, considers poetry effete and epicene and nothing that a real man could or should take seriously. The second is a lout with no appreciation of poetry whatsoever. The first suffers cognitive dissonance as his ideal world of poetic imagination collides with the grubby work-a-day-world of his unlettered parents and relatives. The second fellow obviously suffers from no comparable cognitive dissonance: he never took poetry seriously in the first place.
The second fellow, however, is full of himself and his opinions and does not hesitate to hold forth in the manner of the bar room bullshitter on any and all topics, including poetry. Should we credit his opinions about poetry? Of course not: he has never engaged with it by practice or careful reading or the consultation of works of literary criticism. He knows not whereof he speaks. His nescience reflects his lack of the poetic 'organ.'
Similarly, a fellow like Hitchens, as clever as he is, lacks the religious 'organ.' So religion is closed off from him and what he says about it , though interesting, need not be taken all that seriously, or is to be taken seriously only in a negative way in the manner of the pathologist in his study of pathogens.
J. P. Moreland defines an "impure realist" as one who denies the Axiom of Localization (Universals, McGill-Queen's UP, 2001, p. 18):
No entity whatsoever can exist at different spatial locations at once or at interrupted time intervals.
An example of an impure realist is D. M. Armstrong. An example of a pure realist is R. Grossmann. Moreland writes,
Impure realists like D. M. Armstrong deny the axiom of localization. For them, properties are spatially contained inside the things that have them. Redness is at the very place Socrates is and redness is also at the very place Plato is. Thus, redness violates the axiom of localization. Impure realists are naturalists at heart. Why? Because they accept the fact that properties are universals; that is, as entities that can be exemplified by more than one thing at once. But they do not want to deny naturalism and believe in abstract entities that are outside space and time altogether. Thus, impure realists hold that all entities are, indeed, inside space and time. But they embrace two different kinds of spatial entities: concrete particulars (Socrates) that are in only one place at a time, and universals (properties like redness) that are at different spatial locations at the very same time. For the impure realist, the exemplification relation is a spatial container relation. Socrates exemplifies redness in that redness is spatially contained inside of or at the same place as Socrates. (18-19)
The above doesn't sound right to me either in itself or as an interpretation of Armstrong.
Is Exemplification a Container Relation?
Take a nice simple 'Iowa' example. There are two round, red spots on a piece of white paper. It is a datum, a Moorean fact, that both are of the same shape and both are of the same color. Moving from data to theory: what is the ontological ground of the sameness of shape and the sameness of color? The impure realist responds with alacrity: the spots are of the same color because one and the same universal redness and one and the same universal roundness are present in both spots. The qualitative sameness of the two spots is grounded in sameness of universals. What is the ontological ground of the numerical difference of the two spots? The bare or thin particular in each. Their numerical difference grounds the numerical difference of the two spots. The bare/thin particular does a second job: it is that which instantiates the universals 'in' each spot. For not only do we need an account of numerical difference, we also need an account of why the two spots are particulars and not (conjunctive) universals.
The upshot for both Bergmann and Armstrong is that each spot is a fact or state of affairs. How so? Let 'A' designate one spot and 'B' the other. Each spot is a thick particular, a particular together with all its monadic properties. Let 'a' and 'b' designate the thin particulars in each. A thin particular is a particular taken in abstraction from its monadic properties. Let 'F-ness' designate the conjunctive universal the conjuncts of which are roundness and redness. Then A = a-instantiating F-ness, and B = b-instantiating-F-ness. A and B are concrete facts or states of affairs. A is a's being F and B is b's being F.
From what has been said so far it should be clear that instantiation/exemplification cannot be a spatial container relation. Even if F-ness is spatially inside of the thick particulars A and B, that relation is different from the relation that connects the thin particular a to the universal F-ness and the thin particular b to the universal F-ness. The point is that instantiation cannot be any sort of container, constituency, or part-whole relation on a scheme like Armstrong's or Bergmann's in which ordinary concrete particulars are assayed as states of affairs or facts. A's being red is not A's having the universal redness as a part, spatial or not. A's being red is a's instantiating the universal redness. Instantiation, it should be clear, is not a part-whole relation. If a instantiates F-ness, then neither is a a part of F-ness nor is F-ness a part of a.
Contra Moreland, we may safely say that for Armstrong, and for any scheme like his, exemplification/instantiation is not a container relation, and therefore not a spatial container relation.
Could an Ontological Part be a Spatial Part?
Moreland makes two claims in the quoted passage. One is that exemplification is a spatial container relation. The other is that there are two different kinds of spatial entities. The claims seem logically independent. Suppose you agree with me that exemplification cannot be any sort of container relation. It seems consistent with this to maintain that universals are spatial parts of ordinary concrete particulars. But this notion is difficult to swallow as well.
A constituent ontologist like Bergmann, Armstrong, or the author of A Paradigm Theory of Existence maintains that ordinary concrete particulars have ontological parts structured ontologically. Thus thin particulars and constituent universals are among the ontological parts of ordinary particulars when the latter are assayed as states of affairs or facts. The question is: could these ontological parts be spatial parts?
Consider a thin or bare particular. Is it a spatial part of a round red spot? By my lights, this makes no sense. There is no conceivable process of physical decomposition that could lay bare (please forgive the wholly intended pun) the bare particular at the metaphysical core of a red spot or a ball bearing. Suppose one arrived at genuine physical atoms, literally indivisible bits of matter, in the physical decomposition of a ball bearing. Could one of these atoms be the bare or thin particular of the ball bearing? Of course not. For any such atom you pick will have intrinsic properties. And so any atom you pick will be a thick particular. As such, it will have at its metaphysical core a thin particular which -- it should now be obvious -- cannot be a bit of matter. Bare particulars, if there are any, lie too deep, metaphysically speaking, to be bits of matter.
Obviously, then, bare particulars cannot be material parts of ordinary particulars. Hence they cannot be spatial parts of ordinary particulars.
What about universals? Could my two red spots -- same shade of red, of course -- each have as a spatial part numerically one and the same universal, a universal 'repeated' in each spot, the universal redness? If so, then the same goes for the geometrical property, roundness: it is too is a universal spatially present in both spots. But then it follows that the two universals spatially coincide: they occupy the same space in each spot. So not only can universals be in different places at the same time; two or more of them can be in the same place at the same time.
If nothing else, this conception puts considerable stress on our notion of a spatial part. One can physically separate the spatial parts of a thing. A spherical object can be literally cut into two hemispheres. But if a ball is red all over and sticky all over, the redness and the stickiness cannot be physically separated. If physical separability in principle is a criterion of spatial parthood, then universals cannot be spatial parts of spatial concrete particulars.
Van Inwagen: The only parts of material particulars are ordinary spatial parts. The only structure of a material particular is spatial or mereological structure. The notion of an ontological part that is not a spatial part in the ordinary mereological sense is unintelligible. And the same goes for ontological structure. See here.
Armstrong as Misread by Moreland: There are ontological parts in addition to ordinary spatial parts and they too are spatial.
Vallicella (2002): There are ontological parts but they are not spatial.
I happen to live in Beirut and feel safe enough in the Christian area, which is the eastern quarter of the city along with big chunks of Mt. Lebanon and the coastal area as far north asTripoli, which is a Sunni hotbed.
I've asked a lot of Lebanese Christians if they feel safe. They worry more about Sunnis than Shia, and they are especially worried about the de facto resettlement here of a million Syrian refugees, who are mostly Sunnis. There's no love lost between the Christians and Hizbollah, which is Shia, but there is an unspoken toleration of it as long as Hizbollah helps keep Lebanon a ISIS-free zone. The security at Beirut airport, for example, is almost certainly penetrated by Hizbullah partisans. Most Lebanese see that as a line of defense against ISIS bomb-smugglers.
Safety is a relative concept. I wish my reader the best. Twenty years ago I spent a year in Turkey in Ankara, the capital. We travelled all over. I wouldn't risk living in Turkey nowadays or travelling all over. I would only feel safe now with a quick in and out to Antalya or Bodrum or one of the other seaside resort towns.
The magnificent Graeco-Roman, Christian, and other antiquities in Turkey! I am glad I got to see them at Hierapolis, Ephesus, Cappadocia, and so many places. It is sickening to think of them being destroyed by jihadi savages. Remember what they did to the Buddhist statuary? Recently. the destruction in Palmyra. Have the archeologists spoken out?