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Thursday, March 03, 2011


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On your first point, it depends whether 'contemplate' is a logically transitive verb - see my latest post http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/03/logically-intransitive-verbs.html or not.

I was reading it as logically transitive, like 'perceive' or 'hear' or 'see'.

And I insist that 'Possibly Ex Fx' does not imply 'Ex possibly Fx'.

And I don't see this as 'hostilities' any more than a chess match is 'hostilities'.

Best wishes


Well of course 'contemplate' is transitive.

A curious predicament: our positions make little sense to each other.

There was a reason for the inverted commas around 'hostilities.' Ah yes, chess. That gives me an idea for a post . . . .

>>Well of course 'contemplate' is transitive.

I said 'logically transitive'. A logically transitive verb is one whose grammatical accusative has to denote something if the proposition is verified. Thus 'is holding' in

Tom is holding a beer

is logically transitive, since there must be a beer that he is holding.

By contrast, 'wants' is logically intransitive, even though grammatically transitive. It can be true that

Tom wants a beer

even though no beer is around. Thus 'wants' is grammatically transitive, logically intransitive.

I did explain this in the post linked to. Their is no reason why our positions should not make sense to each other so long as the positions are correctly understood.

Ioi, EO, you gotta remember to close the <i> tag!

I am trying to understand the context of this discussion. If I am not mistaken, the general question of the discussion is this: are there modes of being?

The claim was that existence is completeness, and (presumably) there are no modes of completeness. Bill counters that the God of Leibniz considers possible words which are complete but do not exist.

EO responds that if the God of Leibniz is contemplating anything at all, then there is something he is contemplating. Thus there are some things, namely those possible worlds he is contemplating, which are complete and have being.

But here I say: if the things God is contemplating have being, have existence, they clearly do not have the same kind of being that God has. God doesn't have to consider them to be; they have to be considered to be. So if the possible worlds have being, they have a different mode of being than God and thus, even if everything which has being is complete, there are nonetheless modes of being, because existence does not consist in completeness even if it entails it. Furthermore, if things contemplated have being, then being cannot entail completeness (or at least the mode of being that such contemplated objects have) because we can contemplate indeterminate, incomplete objects (e.g., thin particulars).

If the things God is contemplating do not have deity, then there can be completeness without being, so Bill's point is proved either way.

My point in saying this is that if EO's first sentence is right, if "God is contemplating something" implies "something is such that God is contemplating it," this can only be if Bill's general point is right: there are modes of being.


Interesting comment. I suppose there is a connection between my denial that existence = completeness and the MOB doctrine, though my intention in the above post was merely to deny that existence = completeness.

You correctly understand what Edward is saying, namely, that if God is contemplating a merely possible world W, which is by definition of 'world' complete, then W exists and so one cannot have completeness without existence.

But to me it is obvious that consciousness of x does not require the existence of x. Edward has an 'externalist' understanding of intentionality which -- I humbly submit -- is a total misunderstanding.

Now the MOB doctine comes in as follows. God exists and exists in the mode of 'supereminence' to give it a name. A merely possible world exists too, but it has a merely intentional existence, which is a kind of dependent existence: it exists only as an accusative of the divine contemplation. Now if we use 'exists' to mean 'exists outside the mind,' then completeness does not entail existence. For each merely possible world is complete, but none of them exist extramentally.

Would you accept this as the gist of what you are saying? Thanks for the comment.


I think you've got me right, yeah.

I would agree with, "if...'exists'...mean[s] 'exists outside the mind,' then completeness does not entail existence. For each merely possible world is complete, but none of them exist extramentally."

I would further show that existence is not completeness by pointing out that, if EO is right and contemplation requires an object of contemplation, we can contemplate indeterminate and incomplete objects; thus there are some indeterminate and incomplete objects (regardless of what mode of being they have, if they have any at all).

Maybe we can formalize the argument in the following way, in a dilemma.

Either contemplation of x requires the existence of x or not. If it doesn't, then we can contemplate complete things which do not thereby exist, hence etc. If it does, then we can contemplate incomplete things; hence etc.

Darn, I seem to have given your website a "bold" new look... Sorry Bill!

I put an italic tag without terminating it - sorry.

>>Edward has an 'externalist' understanding of intentionality which -- I humbly submit -- is a total misunderstanding.

No. I usually give up at this point.

If contemplation of x requires the existence of x and God contemplates a complete x, then x exists -- which has the absurd consequence that God cannot contemplate a merely possible x. How will Edward explain divine creation?

God surveys an infinity of possible worlds and selects one for actualization. This surveying is a contemplating. If Edward is right, then God cannot contemplate a world without it existing. This has the absurd consequence that every possible world is actual, when only one can be actual.

OK I looked up 'contemplate' and it indeed has different senses.

(1) To think about intently

(2) to look at thoughtfully

(3) to have in mind as a possibility.

The first sense is clearly logically intransitive - you can intently think about a mermaid without there being a mermaid. The second sense by contrast is (logically) transitive. You cannot look thoughtfully about a mermaid without there being a mermaid you are looking at.

The third sense, back to logically intransitive. So God can contemplate creating a mermaid, even though there are no mermaids. This doesn't entail there are any 'incomplete beings'. How so?

In one of the proofs of the irrationality of the square root of two one contemplates a rational number r=p/q, with p and q having no common factor other than 1 and p*p=2*q*q. This determines r completely. But it rapidly follows that there can be no such r.

>>Part of what that means is that it cannot be explicated in broadly logical terms

This is where we really differ, perhaps. If you want to persuade me that a certain kind of thing exists you have a range of options.

1. Appeal to observations that you have made. Perhaps you are claiming that a certain variety of cactus or flower exists in the Arizona desert? So you describe the flower, give botanical references, whatever.

2. Appeal to mystical experiences or revelations you have had. (This is no good unless I am able to have the same experiences or revalations, however).

3. Appeal to a certain way of looking at the world, so that I can look at it the same way, and 'see' that this kind of thing exists.

4. Give a clear definition of what you are talking about, then give reasons for its existence, based on propositions that I find self-evident, or logical inferences from those.

Of all these methods, I only recognise (4).


Is 'look' a verb of success? If I look at x, does it follow that x exists? 'Look' can be used that way and I suppose it is usually used that way. But I suggest that 'look' is on all fours with 'see' which has at least two uses, the verb-of-success use and the phenomenological use. In the latter, one can see what isn't there. Consider the celebrated hallucinatory pink rat. Tom says, "I just saw a pink rat!" Tom is not musing 'saw' the way he would be misusing 'know' if he daid, "I know stuff that ain't so!"

'Kow' cannot correctly be used as anything other than a verb of success. But 'see' and 'look' can be used phenomenologically.

I have had dreams in which a dead cat of mine appeared in all vividness. I saw her and touched her and examined her intently, looking at her -- but I knew, and I knew in the dream, that she didn't exist.

I don't deny that the same verb can have both senses - indeed Mr Brightly pointed this out some time ago.

Shameless piece of advertising: my draft translation of Walter Burley's question 4 on the Perihermenias. Walter argues that being and essence are the same. http://www.logicmuseum.com/authors/burley/burley-periherm-q4.htm

EO writes, >>If you want to persuade me that a certain kind of thing exists you have a range of options.<<

Can you read at all? I was talking about existence not a certain kind of thing that exists.

>>Can you read at all? I was talking about existence not a certain kind of thing that exists.

You were suggesting that God can bring before his mind "a completely determinate intentional object -- an object whose mode of existence is merely intentional -- without that object being actual".

This seems very like the medieval pseudo-Avicennian view that existence somehow completes something that is otherwise complete in all its essential details.

Perhaps I am wrong, and apologies if I am.

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