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Friday, February 27, 2009


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How does this work for 'the promise of a horse', 'desirous of a cigarette', 'in want of a wife'? The Nixon test doesn't make sense 'I am desirous, cigarette', 'Mr Bingley was in want, wife'. But according to your rule, if it doesn't make sense, it is objective? Not sure I understand.

The rule I always apply is to check whether the quantification is internal or external. If it makes sense to speak of the (particular) horse promised, the cigarette desired, the wife who was need, then external, and thus objective. Otherwise not.

Why don't you actually read what I write? Then you would understand it. You're a nice guy, and I like you, and I'll buy you dinner the next time I'm in London; but you cannot understand in 60 seconds what it takes me hours to write.

Your comment on the No True Scotsman showed a complete failure to grasp the obvious point that the fallacy is informal, not formal. That failure reduced your comment to irrelevance.

"In each case the conscious state has qualitative CONTENT but this is not to be confused with an intentional OBJECT. That should be perfectly clear in the case of the yellowish-orange after image...."

I do believe that there is something at least like an object present in pain states in both of these examples. The lingering pain or afterimage is the effect of an previous intentional state; perception of a pain or of a color, respectively. The sensation that occurred and which, in some sense, persists DOES refer (maybe not intentionally, but it seems so) to the object (in a broad sense) that elicited that pain or image.
Similarly, I'm not sure how "a feeling of anxiety" does not refer to any broad object beyond itself. People that have anxiety attacks do in fact fear something in a broad sense which prompts their attacks. Maybe that's too limited a case, but it seems with feelings of dread, for instance, we often say "something is hanging over your head," or "doom is impending," etc. In both cases, the object is not terribly particular, but it seems to be present. Heidegger seems to back me up in his analysis of Angst, as he remarks that anxiety is about something as well (and thus manifests "care" which is an intentional state, it seems) in SZ 187.
As I said, maybe I'm just dim, but I can't seem to "get" these particular examples; each seems to present, especially in pain states, an object to consciousness.

>>I do believe that there is something at least like an object present in pain states in both of these examples. The lingering pain or afterimage is the effect of an previous intentional state<<

True in the case of the afterimage, but irrelevant. You are changing the subject. The question is precisely whether the afterimage experience is Intentional, not whether it was preceded by an Intentional experience. If you cannot focus on the exact question at issue, then please no comments!


Those are some pretty subtle distinctions. I think I get them, but I suspect I haven't completely absorbed them. For instance, I don't see why, in your exercise for the reader, that your examples can't be read as to show that anxiety, pleasure and pain ARE intentional mental states. Could you please explain how they fail to do this?

Taking "I am anxious about my daughter's safety", this doesn't seem to be subjective: anxiousness isn't pertaining to my daughter's safety. Nor can it then be dual. Nor does it seem to be apposite: "I am anxious, my daughter's safety" doesn't work.

Of course, you could rewrite it as "I have an anxiety caused by my daughter's absence", but wouldn't that be begging the question in the present context?

I'm trying hard to understand this, but it's pretty dense stuff.


Hello Bill,

Can we say that an 'of' phrase, being a qualifier, specifies some attribute of the thing in question? If the 'attribute' that makes sense is 'belongs-to' then we have a subjective 'of' . If the entity encodes an object then we have an objective 'of'. Otherwise, we have an appositive 'of'.

This scheme can't find room for a dual 'of'. I'd say that in 'Thoughts of Mary filled Mary's mind' the use is ambiguous between subjective and objective.

presidency(incumbent=Bill Clinton)
redness(located-in=her face)
pain(cause=stubbed toe)
anxiety(cause=daughter's (lack of) safety)
pleasure(cause=hearing of son's job)
pain(cause=Sheehan's being forgotten)

redness(belongs-to=her face)
presidency(belongs-to=Bill Clinton)


Answer to homework exercise. In no case does the anxiety, pleasure, or pain *encode* any object. We can imagine the same raw feel arising in different circumstances so it can't encode a particular object.

BTW, I think I now number among the converted.


I could have been clearer in that parentetical remark. My point was that when I claim that there are non-Intentional experiences, I am not claiming that every instance of what we call anxiety or pleasure or pain is non-Intentional. Pretty obviously, if I am anxious about my daughter's safety, then my state of anxiousness is an intentional state, one directed to a state of affairs. And if it pains me that Sheehan has been forgotten, then the mental state I am in is clearly Intentional because directed to the proposition that Sheehan has been forgotten.

So if you point out examples like this to me, then my response is that they don't affect my thesis, which is that there are non-Intentional experiences. In other words, you can't refute my claim that some pains are non-Intentional by pointing to examples in which 'pain' is used to refer to an Intentional state. Similarly for the other examples.


There may be other uses of 'of' besides the uses I mention. My claim above is merely that we have to make at least these many distinctions. You may be right that there is no dual use. It is not all that clear. My example was 'Thoughts of Mary filled Mary's mind.' That says both that Mary's thoughts filled Mary's mind and that these thoughts were directed to Mary as their object. I still think that 'of' in the sample sentence is being used both objectively and subjectively at the same time, which is not the same as to say that 'of' is ambiguous -- or is it?

Is ambiguity a property of word-types or of -tokens? 'Bank' -- a word-type -- is ambiguous as between money bank and river bank. But if on a given occasion you see me leaving the house with a check in my hand and I say 'I'm going to the bank,' then the ambiguity of the word-type is disambiguated by its tokening in these circumstances. In some jokes, however, the ambiguity at the type level is preserved at the token level by a dual use of the token. I'll have to find an example. Here is one, perhaps: "What did Lukasiewicz say to Lesniewski? 'Logically, we are poles apart.'" The spoken word-type 'P/pole' is ambiguous as between Pole (Polish person) and pole. But when Lukasiewicz speaks, he tokens this type, but without disambiguating it, and that is what makes the joke funny. The token of the type 'P/pole' is being used in dual fashion. Or so it seems to me.

I agree with your schema above except that you seem to be making a distinction I do not understand between the presidency of Bill Clinton (appositive) and the presidency of Bill Clinton (subjective), and similarly for redness. Can you explain that?

As for the 'homework exercise' see my response to Matt.

Hi Bill,

I do think subjective genitives can have an appositive interpretation. One can think of presidencies as entities with properties such as a duration in time, a successor and predecessor, a degree of success, scandal, etc. The incumbent can be thought of as another attribute. Similarly, regions of colour in the visual field have size, shape, position, brightness, etc.

Re 'dual uses'. Doesn't this come down to the ambiguity of 'or' between inclusive and exclusive? 'Of' can be used this way or that way or another way. I guess this doesn't rule out its being used in two or more ways simultaneously. But for *classificatory* purposes surely we want to give exclusive, ie, non-overlapping definitions? But the joke is now on me because I want to include subjective 'of' within appositive 'of'. Perhaps we should say that the *merely* appositive uses are the ones left after subjective uses and objective uses have been subtracted.

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