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Thursday, January 23, 2014


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Bill, I think this gets things backwards:

...the concept complete object [] is a concept we form quite easily by extrapolation from the concept incomplete object.
Consider the phenomenology of this well-known image from the psychology lab. Looking at this, it seems that we go from a state of no knowledge at all to one in which we have incomplete knowledge of a complete object. We might say that our visual system pre-cognitively 'gives' us complete objects and this enables us to grasp the concept 'object'. Could an unfortunate Mary, brought up surrounded by random patches of light and dark like the background in the image, or like so many Jackson Pollocks, understand the concept 'object'? I suspect that we arrive at the idea of complete knowledge of incomplete objects only by philosophical theorising that depends on the already acquired concept '(complete) object'. Moreover, if our visual system handed us complete knowledge of incomplete objects, how would we ever come to think that two distinct incomplete objects were somehow 'aspects' of a single complete object? This would have to be a cognitive process requiring argument from principles, and I'm not aware of this going on in my mind.

On the tetrad front, it would seem that the price of making sense of 'incomplete intentional object' is going through the roof. Can we escape the latest round of inflation by simplifying (1) to There is a cat and S sees it?

" Looking at this, it seems that we go from a state of no knowledge at all to one in which we have incomplete knowledge of a complete object."

Would you explain what you mean by this?

When people see this picture for the first time, initially they report seeing nothing but random patches of black on white. They cannot describe the scene in terms of objects with properties. So I say they have no knowledge of what is before them. Then, usually, there is an AHA! moment when they find themselves seeing a familiar kind of object. So I say they now have knowledge of the scene. The object is an ordinary one and therefore complete in the technical sense of being determinate with respect to all properties. But their knowledge of the object is far from complete in the ordinary sense---there is much that is true of the object that they do not know. I put it this way to contrast with the alternative view, if I have understood you, that they have complete (ordinary sense) knowledge of an incomplete (technical sense) object.

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