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Friday, January 10, 2014


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Thank you for your reply, Bill.

I'm caught up in life's stuff for the next few days, but I'll reply as soon and as well as I can.

Hello Bill, and a Happy New Year to you.

You say,

I should add that I consider the existentially neutral sense of 'see' primary for the purposes of epistemology. For if visual perception is a source (along with tactile, auditory, etc. perception) of our knowledge of the existence of material things, then it seems obvious that the perception verbs must be taken in their existentially neutral senses. For existentially loaded uses of these verbs presuppose the mind-independent existence of material things.
I disagree that it seems obvious. To me, the opposite seems obvious. For if it's true that visual perception is a source of our knowledge of the existence of material objects, then surely this fact warrants the inference from I see a cat to There is a cat else it would seem that visual perception is not a source, etc. In the context of thinking about the puzzle of intentionality (I take this post to be an aside to your series on intentionality) do we not have to assume that the senses give us knowledge of objects? The assumption is implicit, for example, in the distinction between 'complete' and 'incomplete' objects. If we can't assume this then it's no use offering us a picture of your car and contrasting the seeing of the complete car with the incomplete seeing of the car. For we are entitled to ask, What car?

Happy New Year to you too, David. And thanks for the comment.

Epistemology is concerned, among other things, with the justification of knowledge claims. How do I justify the claim to know that the tree I see exists, and that at least one material thing exists? If I say that I am justified in that I see the tree, where 'see' is used in the existence-entailing way, then I beg the question. For then I am not justifying the claim, but presupposing that it is true.

Thank you, Bill. I appreciate that in discussing these epistemological issues we must use the non-question-begging, existence-neutral sense of 'see'. My point is that for the distinction between 'complete' and 'incomplete' to make any sense, the epistemological question as to whether seeing is existence-entailing has to have already been settled favourably, though with the caveat that mistakes occur sometimes. In the context of your latest aporetic tetrad,

1. If S sees x, then x exists
2. Seeing is an intentional state
3. Every intentional state is such that its intentional object is incomplete
4. Nothing that exists is incomplete,
this would rule out the escape of denying (1). Indeed, can we not replace 'see' with 'veridically see' in (1) and (2) and obtain a rather more vexing aporia?

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