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Tuesday, December 04, 2012


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Do objections 1 and 2 assume that empirical knowledge gives us the entire epistemic story, and that Occam’s razor ought to be applied to such ontological issues? If so, wouldn’t these assumptions need to be defended?

I would not deny that the properties of the cup, nor those of its aromatic content, are empirically detectable. But do we know that these properties do not exist in another manner – one that is more fully real? How do we know that we are not also grasping the properties visio intellectualis? For example, in his World as Will and Idea, Schopenhauer notes that matter and intellect are correlated in such a way that: “Matter is the idea which intellect forms, and that only in the idea formed by intellect does matter exist.” (see the end of the Book One Supplement)

Do we have good reason to think that something like this is not the case?

Hi Elliot,

Well, I'm not an empiricist if that is what you mean. There are truths that can be known a priori. But that is an entirely separate issue. My point in this post is simply that some properties are empirically detectable.

You may be suggesting that my cup is blue in virtue of its participation in the Platonic Form Blueness. But even if that made sense, there would still be the blueness at the cup.

Schopenhauer's remark belongs in the context of a discussion of idealism, which is not now germane.

Thanks, Bill. I didn’t mean to imply empiricism on your part, and I agree that some properties are empirically detectable. Schopenhauer’s comment does seem relevant, though, especially with regard to causation and the role of mind in apprehending things, properties and characters.

I guess I'm inclined to look for options when thinking about this type of issue. My point was only to suggest that there may be other options. Take any two things: A and B. There are several ways in which A and B can relate.

1. A is part of B.
2. B is part of A.
3. A and B overlap.
4. A and B are separate.
5. A and B are identical.
6. A and B relate within the context of another thing: C. But this option could go on ad infinitum, so I won’t pursue it.

As I interpret your post, C-ontology says that the property is a part of the thing (option 1). R-ontology says that the property and the thing are related, but that there is an ontological gap between them (option 4). There may be other options: perhaps property and thing are related in some overlapping way, without a gap (option 3); perhaps property and thing are in some sense the same (option 5); maybe the thing is in some way subsumed under the property (option 2), although this doesn’t seem to make much sense.

You may be working up a separate post – if so, I’ll be glad to read it.

@ Elliott and Bill: I also wish to add to this discussion, but I wish to wait for the follow up post by Bill reflecting the philosophical puzzle/problem with C-ontology. I will then present my perspective (with the presumption of course that it is not already presented by Bill the follow-up post). I am looking forward to the next post on this incredibly fundamental philosophical problem.

Kind Regards,


Thank you for your interest. It will take me a couple of days to prepare the post in question. There is more to life than blogging. There is hiking.



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