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Sunday, May 13, 2018

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Clearly a ‘singular’ prophecy cannot be correct on a container view of the proposition/truth-bearer. I.e. if the sentence ‘Socrates will exist’ expresses a Russellian proposition which contains Socrates, it contains something that does not yet exist, which is impossible (Meinong aside). But why can’t the name have a referent-determining meaning S, such that ‘Socrates’ has the same meaning S when ‘Socrates will exist’ is uttered, as when ‘Socrates does exist’ is uttered after Socrates has come into existence.

Otherwise I fear your position implies a view that is heretical and therefore false.

Hosea 11:1: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
Clearly ‘my son’, uttered by God to Hosea around the 8th century B.C. refers to Christ, or has a referent-determining sense that determines Christ as the referent. Likewise Isaiah 53:3 ‘He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.’ Who does ‘he’ refer to.

We agree on the obvious point you make in your first two sentences.

And we can agree that the sense S is the same both before Socrates comes into existence and after.

But the issue has to do with existence and individuation. Is the existence of Socrates the instantiation of some humongously complex pure property? No because all that gets us is some individual or other having the Socratic, properties, and not Socrates himself.

'He' refers to whomever comes to have the relevant properties, the Jesus (Jesuitical?) properties.

If I am right, not even God can make an irreducibly singular reference to Jesus before his birth, or rather conception.

There is a passage in Luke that support you heresy charge much better. I'll look for it.

And please note: if God creates ex nihilo, then he precisely does not create ex possibilitate. (Check the Latin!) In other words, he doesn't create out of pre-existing individual essences. Think about it. God bestows existence and individuality (thisness, haecceitas) by the same stroke.

What about a sense that determines just that referent, and can only ever determine it, at any point in time or any possible counterfactual situation? So if the prophet utters a singular term with that sense, he must determine the future referent, which doesn’t exist now but will do?

>>'He' refers to whomever comes to have the relevant properties, the Jesus (Jesuitical?) properties.
So (you claim) Hosea/Isaiah etc are not referring to Jesus, or prophesying his future coming, but rather saying that someone with those attributes will.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Thus the indefinite ‘a child’, with ‘his’, ‘he’ etc referring back to the indefinite antecedent?

>>There is a passage in Luke that support you heresy charge much better. I'll look for it.
Interested, but Luke is speaking after Jesus’ nativity, not before, like a prophet, no?

There are a few passages in Luke that might be it, but I found this:

He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Generally when we hear ‘about’, we are talking of reference or some kind of intentionality.
Intentionality, on the other hand, has to do with the directedness, aboutness, or reference of mental states (SEP)

So the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms are not about Jesus? Doctrina falsa et haeretica et contra fidem catholicam

Luke 2:21 (NIV): On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (emphasis added)

This New Testament passage implies that before a certain human individual came into existence, he was named, and therefore could be named. The implication is that before an individual comes into existence, that very individual can be an object of irreducibly singular reference by a logically proper name. That is by no means obvious . . .

>>What about a sense that determines just that referent, and can only ever determine it, at any point in time or any possible counterfactual situation? So if the prophet utters a singular term with that sense, he must determine the future referent, which doesn’t exist now but will do?<<

Nice work if you can get it. That would be one hell of a sense. I claim that there cannot be any such sense.

A sense that could do the job you wsnt done would have to be a haecceity property such as identity-with-Socrates or being-Socrates. But such properties are ineffable as you granted earlier. But surely no sense could be ineffable. If it were, it wouldn't be a sense.

Individuum qua individuum ineffabile est. Now a haecceity property is the result of a misguided attempt to transform the very individuality of an individual into a property graspable by a mind. Impossible!

By 'the individuality of an individual' I do not mean the categorial feature that all individuals qua indviduals share. That is effable, thinkable, conceivable. By individuality' I mean that which makes a specified (not quite the right word) individual the very individual that it is and is "incommunicable" as a scholastic might say to any other.

A further thought. God speaks only (?) through the prophets, but rarely with a physical voice, i.e. with sound that perturbs the airwaves, and has a physical effect on the prophet’s eardrum, according to Spinoza, who claims there is only one such example. Exodus 25:22 ‘There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites’. Mostly, God communicates with a kind of unspoken or internal voice, using a kind of private or mental language. This raises the following questions:

(1) Can God have a singular conception of any mortal at any point in time? Unsure.
(2) Can God communicate this conception to a prophet, using the private language? Doubtful, see (3) below.
(3) Even if (2) is possible, can the prophet communicate this singular conception to other people by voice or writing? To do this, he would have to use spoken or written language in the ordinary way. If you are correct, this is impossible.

>>Luke 2:21 (NIV): On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (emphasis added)<<

That could be no more than someone saying 'If I ever have a boy, I shall call him 'Humphrey'".

The question is whether the angel gave Jesus that name, which I imagine you dispute, or whether it was something like ‘you will have a son – whoever he is, call him ‘Jesus’”. Of course the former is implied.

>>Of course the former is implied.<<

Yes. If the translation can be trusted, we are being told that an angel had given a future individual a name. It follows that there had to be this future individual before he came into existence. This is because one cannot attach a proper name to an individual that has no Being whatsoever. That would be like baptizing a baby that doesn't exist.

But of course no individual can exist before it exists. So before Jesus the man came into existence there had to be something -- an individual not-yet-existing essence perhaps -- that came in the fullness of time to acquire existence. And that, I have been arguing, is exceedingly hard to swallow.

It has a quasi-Meinongian flavor which ought to disturb the Ostrich. The not-yet-existing individual essence does not possess esse existentiae, but it does possess esse essentiae. It has the Being of essence but not the Being of existence.

So perhaps the underlying ontological question is this: Should we embrace the priority of individuality over existence, or should we hold as I have been holding that there is no such priority and that individuality and existence come to be at the same time?

>>So the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms are not about Jesus? Doctrina falsa et haeretica et contra fidem catholicam<<

They could be taken to be about the second person of the Trinity who is always on hand and who never comes to be and is, presumably, a necessary being and is supposedly identical to Jesus of Nazareth.

Or, as you yourself already appreciate, the various prophecies and saying could about some one person who says and does what Jesus said and did.

You grant the distinction, don't you?, between prophesying the coming of some one man who does such and such marvellous things and prophesying the very man who did these things.

You give evidence of understanding the difference at least 'notionally.'

>>Or, as you yourself already appreciate, the various prophecies and saying could [be] about some one person who says and does what Jesus said and did.<<

Care needed. Perhaps you mean ‘the various prophecies and saying could be saying that some person will say and do what Jesus said and did, without being about Jesus’?

>>You give evidence of understanding the difference at least 'notionally.'

That is bleeding obvious, as the English say!

Bill,

Thanks for the response. Prudence suggests I should settle for a stand-off, but fools rush in...

There are many interconnected issues here, but if I may I'd like to focus on your concession (if it can be called one) that some propositions exist contingently, because that seems to be a decisive question. Your position re singular reference to Socrates does seem to entail that some propositions exist contingently. So if we have reason to doubt the latter, that would give us reason to question your position.

We apparently agree that at least some propositions exist necessarily. You previously argued for that conclusion here:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/09/an-argument-for-necessary-beings.html

So I will take that for granted in what follows.

Here are three considerations against contingently existing propositions:

1. This strikes me as a plausible principle: If some Fs exist necessarily then all Fs exist necessarily, where F ranges over fundamental ontological kinds. Can you point to any (non-question-begging) counterexamples to this principle? If something enjoys necessary existence, plausibly that's because of the essential kind of thing that it is. It is "of the essence" of that thing to exist necessarily. But in that case, one couldn't have things of the same essential kind that exist contingently.

2. The first premise of the kalam cosmological argument also seems plausible: Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence. What then would be the cause of the proposition Socrates exists coming into existence? Not Socrates himself, one presumes. Or does the proposition just pop into existence causelessly when Socrates (causally!) comes into existence? And not just that proposition, but an infinite number of propositions (e.g., that Socrates is not identical to the number 1, that Socrates is not identical to the number 2, etc.).

3. If singular propositions can only have existents as referents, why aren't singular propositions about things that no longer exist as problematic as those about things that don't yet exist? Why doesn't the proposition Socrates exists cease to exist when Socrates himself ceases to exist? (Or if Socrates was right about the immortality of his soul, replace 'Socrates' with 'Troy' or some other former existent.)

I have some guesses about how you would answer point 3, but I'll let you speak for yourself!

James,

Yes, there are many interconnected issues. One concerns the nature of propositions. And here different questions arise. Are they Fregean? Russellian? Something else? What motivates their introduction? These questions are logically prior to what we have been discussing.

>> Your position re singular reference to Socrates does seem to entail that some propositions exist contingently.<<

That's not my view. Before Socrates came to exist,
a) Socrates did not exist;
b) No Plantingian haecceity property existed: no such property as identity-with Socrates or being Socrates or being identical to Socrates;
c) No merely possible individual Socrates existed.

It follows that, before Socrates came to exist, there was no Russellian proposition in existence containing Socrates; there was no Fregean proposition having as constituent an haecceity property; there was no proposition of any sort having as constituent merely possible Socrates.

This is consistent with maintaining that, before Socrates came to exist, there was a Fregean proposition having as subject-constituent a general property, a pure property P in Loux's jargon, a property such that if P comes to be instantiated, it sole instance would be the man we know as Socrates.

It seems to me that you seized uon something incidental while ignoring the carefully articulated argument I presented.

If you have time, tell me what you don't agree with in my main argument.

See here for a definition of Plantingian haecceity property: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher_stri/2018/05/does-classical-theism-logically-require-haecceitism.html

I examine and reject the notion in my book *A Paradigm Theory of Existence*, pp. 99-104

James,

Your view seems to be that there are singular propositions about Socrates that exist at times and in possible worlds at which he doesn't exist. Let P be such a proposition.

Is Socrates himself a constituent of P? Yes or no. If no,

what is the nature of the subject-constituent in P?

Bill,

A quick response to your latest questions:

Yes, that's my view.

No, I don't take Socrates himself to be a constituent of P. But I don't have a useful theory about the nature of the subject-constituent in P, or indeed whether P has (or needs) such a constituent in order for P to refer to Socrates.

As you may recall, I've defended the view that propositions are divine thoughts. How does God have thoughts about non-existent individuals? I haven't the faintest idea. But I do think I have independent grounds for believing God has such thoughts.

Fides quaerens intellectum.

More later, D.V.

James,

It is clear that Socrates, with skin and hair, cannot be a constituent of a proposition that exists before he does. It is also clear that a proposition is a complex, not a simple. So propositions have constituents. Now consider *Plato is wise* and *Socrates is wise.* They are about different individuals. How account for that except in terms of a difference in subject-constituent? How could the first proposition be about Plato if it has no constituent that deputizes for Plato?

So, contrary to what you say, these propositions do need subject-constituent to make them be about what they are about. And you need to say something about the nature of these constituents.

And this is the case even if propositions can be reduced to divine thoughts, or the contents of divine thinkings, a notion I take seriously. Bringing God in doesn't help because the point I have been urging is that not even God can make an irreducibly singular reference to Socrates before he comes to exist.

Why not? Because there are no haecceity properties.

Did you look at the Plantinga article? [‘A Boethian Compromise’ American Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 15, Number 2, April 1978, 129-138].

He is clearly arguing that there are haecceity properties, but I can't make sense of the argument.

I studied it years ago and I looked at it again yesterday.

Possible worlds make you nervous, offending as they do your nominalistic scruples.

Socrates is wise in only some of the possible wolds in which he exists. One of these worlds is our world, give it the name 'alpha.' (Rod Chisholm in a seminar once referred to it as 'Charley.') 'Alpha' is a rigid designator. Socrates is accidentally wise, but he is essentially wise-in-alpha.

You can see how this allows for his Boethian compromise. So what exactly is your beef?

And please explain how wise-in alpha is a haecceity property.

>> please explain how wise-in alpha is a haecceity property.

I can't, my point is that Plantinga clearly argues that such properties exist. He says (p132) that x has identity-with-Quine if and only if x is Quine, and that identity-with-Quine is an individual essence (individual concept, haecceity) of Quine.

I said above 'He is clearly arguing that there are haecceity properties, but I can't make sense of the argument.'

Do you dispute this?

I thought you were suggesting that his world-indexed properties are haecceity properties.

Plantinga writes,

>>Quine is diverse from Quine. But then "Quine" expresses identity-with-Quine as well as self-identity. The former, of course, is distinct from the latter; everything, naturally enough, has self-identity, but Quine alone has identity-with-Quine.<<

If everything is self-identical, then Quine is self-identical. It follows that Quine is Quine-identical. Surely you agree that the predicate '___ is Quine-identical' is satisfied by exactly one thing in the actual world, and by the very same thing in merely possible worlds in which Quine exists. Let us call the predicate in question an 'haecceity-predicate.'

So far, so good.

Now if we assume that for every predicate there is a property that it expresses, then, corresponding to the heacceity predicate lately mentioned, there must the haecceity-property identity-with-Quine.

Surely you can see that that is an argument. I myself reject it because I don't grant the tacit assumption: I don't grant that every predicate expresses a property.

Plus, I have arguments I have repeated many times that these haecceity-properties are creatures of darkness

>>I myself reject it because I don't grant the tacit assumption: I don't grant that every predicate expresses a property.

As I have argued many times also. Are you coming round to the other side then? I will break open the champagne if so.

Well, old man, it sounds like you have broken out the champagne already and have been copiously indulging. Celebrating Prince Harry's marriage to . . . an American? What's the Royal Family coming to?

But back to the topic.

Surely you are enough of a logician to know that

It is not the case that every predicate expresses a property

does not entail

No predicate expresses a property!

Nominalism is hopeless.

No champagne for me!

I said you might be coming round to the other side, not that you had arrived.

In any case, I grant that most predicates do express properties, in some sense. But this is a subtle point, possibly lost on the Americans. I mean, did you hear Curry's speech. Understatement not his strongest point.

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