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Friday, July 15, 2011


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So (just to check that I have got you right), there is no way that Isaiah could explicitly have been referring to Jesus in 9:6? He was simply stating that some person having the appropriate characteristics of the Messiah (male, son, counsellor, prince of peace and so on). Any such person would do. Is that correct?

Doesn't this contradict orthodox theology? A sceptic would wonder whether Isaiah wasn't just making a general statement. A fundamentalist would have to contradict this: Isaiah was referring specifically to Jesus. Indeed, that is precisely the controversy with the Judaic tradition. The Jews believe there will be a Messiah, but don't believe it was Jesus.

Thus if it is not possible to make a future identifying reference (by whatever means - I don't accept that we need haecceities), orthodox Christian theology is in question.

Yes, that is what I am saying.

Of course, the waters are muddied here by the fact that, on orthodox Christian theology, Jesus is identical to the Second Person of the Trinity, and so there is a sense in which Jesus did not come into existence.

Setting aside orthodox Christology, if Jesus is a man, then my point is that no prophet, not even God himself, could refer to Jesus before Jesus came to be. (To unmuddy the waters, we should perhaps use John the Baptist as our example, not Jesus. Wasn't he prophesied by some OT dude?)

You can't refer to what does not exist, and there are no Plantingian haecceities of what does not exist to serve as surrogate referents.

A controversy with the Judaic tradition? Not necessarily. The Jews expect a Messiah, but they don't consider Jesus to fill the bill. But the issue I am raising cuts perpendicular to that controversy. Suppose Isaiah, per impossibile, gives a complete list of the Messiah properties in his prophecy and it turns out that Jesus is the sole instance of them. Has Isaiah predicted Jesus or has he predicted the instantiation of a complete set of properties? I say the latter, not the former.

The modus socraticus fits you well.

>>Only present and past actual individuals are genuine individuals. Future 'individuals,' not having yet come into existence, are not genuine individuals.

Are you sure this answer's Franklin's precise argument? Isn't his argument that we don't need the man to speak of the man, and so whatever reason we had to deny the existence of haecceities that predate the things to which they attach collapses?

Well, I thought I answered Franklin's argument by showing the he is committed to a questionable inference.

If the man is no more, we don't need him to speak of him. This is because it is true now that he was. But if a man of a certain description is to come (i.e., come into existence in the future), then we can't speak of HIM. It is not true now that King Blog -- who I prophesy will lead us all from confusion and the gnashing of our blogospheric teeth -- will come. (Take 'King Blog' as a name not as a description.)

Franklin is assuming that past and furture are on an ontological par. But that is very questionable. The sanest view about time is probably this: past and present are real, the future is not yet real.

(1) Haecceities are necessary to individuate non-existent individuals.
(2) There are no such things as haecceities
(3) We cannot individuate non-existent individuals.

Franklin's objection, as I understand it, is that we can individuate a non-existent individual (because e.g. we can use names like 'Socrates' or 'Caesar' to signify which past, and therefore non-existent individual we are talking about).

On your point that past and future are different, point taken. But is the difference ontological? Or is it a matter of information? Can we have information about what existed in the past, but exists no longer? Can we have information about what does not exist, but will exist?

If you accepted the possibility of precognition, would this change your view, I wonder? If we could genuinely see into the future (in the way that Isaiah was supposed to have been prophesying), could we make individuating reference?

Franklin is presupposing the symmetry of past and future in respect of existence and individuation. But what justifies this presupposition? His argument is a model of clarity and simplicity. But it is obviously uncompelling. We can refer to Socrates because he existed. We cannot refer to some future 'individual' because 'it' has never existed. Unless he can refute my assumption of asymmetry, his argument will remain uncompelling.

The difference betweeen past and future is ontological. We can have general information about what will exist. We know that tomorrow some rabbits will be born. But none of these rabbits has an identity or a thisness until it comes into existence.

I have had precognitive experiences. At the time I had them I was a B-theorist. So I took the experiences as evidence that we can precognize future events. But to have an experience and to have a veridical experience are two different things. But I will grant you that if precognitions of singulars is possible, then F's symmetry assumption is sustained.

>>But none of these rabbits has an identity or a thisness until it comes into existence

So the temporal asymmetry arises how? Does Caesar have a thisness? Or is it that he had a thisness, but no longer has it? If the latter, i.e. if Caesar no longer has thisness, what principle precisely justifies the asymmetry?

On the precognition of future events, I posted today about that.

I think you would agree that if Daniel's vision was genuine, i.e. if he was genuinely seeing the future, and identifying Antichrist, then the name 'Antichrist' makes identifying reference. If not, then not. Is the asymmetry justified? Is it that we have 'post-cognition' of the past, but (usually) no 'pre cognition' of the future?

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