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Friday, September 11, 2015

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"To sum up my objection. We are offered a verbal formulation, e.g., "There is one God in three divine persons." This verbal formulation expresses a proposition that is unintelligible to us. (It is unintelligible to us because contradictions can be derived from it using given doctrinal elements and unquestionable notions such as the transitivity of identity.) We are assured, however, that while the manifest proposition is unintelligible to us, the verbal formulation expresses a second proposition that is true and intelligible in itself. But since this proposition is inaccessible, one annot accept it, reject it, or suspend judgment with respect to it."

"I suppose what I am saying is that a true proposition that is a mystery is an item so indeterminate that one cannot take up any attitude to it except that of Withdrawal or epoché as I defined this term."

I don't know, but I'd be interested in what you think about the following. There are lots of mathematical sentences of which I have some understanding, maybe even a great deal, but I'm uncertain whether they express a true proposition. Perhaps there's sufficient ambiguity such that I can derive a contradiction from a certain sentence together with obvious axioms and rules. However, I also know that I'm rational in believing a mathematician who informs me that the mathematical sentence is indeed true, but I just do not know enough math to grasp that true proposition. (In fact there are plenty of mathematical sentences I accept as true even though I have no idea what they mean.)

This situation, I think, is similar to what a number believe about the doctrinal statements about the Trinity. The Trinitarian formulation (e.g.) as concretely expressed in the Nicene Creed is to be accepted as true on the basis of authority--the Church's as God's representative. Even if you can't fully grasp all the propositions expressed by the formulation, you are to accept as true the concrete formulation as expressing true propositions. If one is rational in thinking the Church is reliable when it comes to pronouncing which concrete doctrinal formulations are to be accepted as true, then presumably one could be rational in believing a concrete trinitarian formulation is true.

I hope that makes sense.

I resist the claim that in order to give assent to a proposition you must apprehend its content more than is possible when it plainly appears to you to entail a contradiction.

I resist it on two counts. First, I think you overestimate the obscurity of such propositions. To be sure, if p is genuinely contradictory and I see that it is so, then it it is incomprehensible to me because incomprehensible in itself, and I rightly regard it as incomprehensible to me becaue I see [success verb] its self-contradictory nature. But in the dialectical situation at hand we are investigating propositions that ex hyp are not really contradictory but plainly seem so to me. This plain seeming is strong evidence for its incomprehensibility: strong, but defeasible.

For instance, suppose a physicist tells me light is a wave and a particle, which seems plainly contradictory to me. I'm tempted to seek some way to reinterpret his statement so that it makes sense, in the minimal sense of not seeming contradictory, but he advises me not to do that because any interpretation that makes sense to me, lacking as I do the necessary mathematical training, is further away from the true meaning of his statement than the apparently contradictory interpretation. This explicit statement of his defeats the normal dictates of the principle of charity to reinterpret a plainly apparent contradiction, and my reasonable confidence that as a physicist he knows what he's talking about defeats my otherwise reasonable conclusion that what plainly seems contradictory is incomprehensible. There certainly remains a real, yes, even a severe deficiency in my understanding of the content of the proposition he intends to assert. But this is consistent with the beliefs (1) that what he intends is closer to the apparently contradictory thought I have in mind when I hear his statement than to any not-apparently-contradictory reinterpretation I could come up with, and (2) what he intends is true.

I have deliberately phrased this so as to focus attention on the proposition he intends, as the object of my belief, rather than the thoughts in my mind when I interpret his statements. For this is my second criticism of the claim above: in order to (reasonably) believe a proposition it is not necessary to have any apprehension of its content in mind at all. Suppose you tell me, "The last thing Mr. X said last night was true, indeed proven beyond all possibility of doubt." I know you to be of such intellectual virtue that you wouldn't say such a thing unless it were well-nigh certainly the case. I then rigidly designate the proposition Mr. X expressed with that statement (whatever it was), q. I can then reasonably form the belief that q even without any knowledge whatsoever of what Mr. X said, let alone what he meant by it.

In order to believe a proposition reasonably I require nothing more than an indirect way of making it the object of my mental act, together with some indirect reason to believe it, both of which are supplied when I have reason to believe that God has made statements by which he intends to assert some proposition largely incomprehensible to me. Let's designate as 'r' the proposition that God intends by those particular statements, whatever it may be. It is both possible and reasonble for me to believe r, even if I have no apprehension at all of the content of r.

Of course the importance of us believing the orthodox doctrine of the trinity and our ability to formulate it other than by directly quoting divinely revealed statements is wrapped up in the possibility of our having some significant apprehension of r. But for the purpose of responding to your argument I don't need to show that the degree of apprehension reaches some lower limit, since there is no lower limit below which a proposition too little apprehended (as to its content) cannot be reasonably believed.

Thanks for the comments, Tully.

>>(In fact there are plenty of mathematical sentences I accept as true even though I have no idea what they mean.)<<

Very interesting. So there are some sentences you accept even though you don't know what they mean, which is to say that you accept those sentences even though you do not know which propositions they express. So what are you accepting? You are accepting that a sentence expresses some true proposition or other.

But you are also accepting that there are some experts who have access to that proposition *in propria persona*; that you could be brought to have that access; and that the verbal formulation of the proposition is not unintelligible to the experts.

Applying this to the Trinity, you would be accepting that the sentence 'There is exactly one God in three divine persons' refers to (not expresses) some true proposition or other, a proposition that you cannot state, but only refer to in a general sort of way.

The doctrine of the Trinity would come to this: There is some true proposition unbeknownst to us in this life, a proposition that we cannot formulate, and it is this proposition that is referred to by 'There is exactly one God in three divine persons.'

It looks like the Trinitarian case and the mathematical case are disanalogous. For one thing, in the math case the sentence expresses a proposition, one that is not accessible to you, but is accessible to some experts, while in the Trinitarian case the proposition is not accessible to anyone in this life, and so cannot be said to be expressed by the Trinitarian sentence.

Apart from the disanalogy, it seems unstatisfactory to say that doctrine of the Trinity is that there is some true proposition unbeknownst to us in this life, a proposition that we cannot formulate, and it is this proposition that is referred to by 'There is exactly one God in three divine persons.'

For if we don't know what this proposition is, then we don't know what we are talking about.

"Apart from the disanalogy, it seems unstatisfactory to say that doctrine of the Trinity is that there is some true proposition unbeknownst to us in this life, a proposition that we cannot formulate, and it is this proposition that is referred to by 'There is exactly one God in three divine persons.'

For if we don't know what this proposition is, then we don't know what we are talking about."

Thanks, Bill. First, I agree that if we do not know what this proposition is, then we don't know what we're talking about with much precision. Presumably we do know that we are talking about God, persons, etc. (and not about Satan or Bob Dylan). But we do not refer to the relevant proposition. Second, I think that it can be rational for one to "withdraw" from the statement for the reasons you say in the body of the post. But to show that it is irrational for others to believe on the basis of their beliefs in the reliability of the Church in indicating which important concrete statements to accept, it seems that one would have to show that the church is unreliable in pronouncing on such matters or that one is not rational in believing the Church is reliable on such matters.

So even if not a single person in the church could express the relevant Trinitarian proposition, IF one rationally believes that the church is reliable in indicating which important concrete doctrines are to be accepted, then one might be rational in accepting (e.g.) the concrete doctrine of the Nicene Creed. Then when the mysterian is saying "I believe that [fill in the Nicene Creed]" the mysterian is expressing his belief that the sentences refer to true propositions (about God, the Son, etc.) which no one as yet is known by the mysterian to be able to express, but that he is rational in believing are true.

C. C. Very good comments!

>>But in the dialectical situation at hand we are investigating propositions that ex hyp are not really contradictory but plainly seem so to me. This plain seeming is strong evidence for its incomprehensibility: strong, but defeasible.<<

It seems to me that the dialectical situation is one in which it is up for grabs whether the propositions in question are really contradictory. Although I would say that 'Qualia are brain states' is contradictory, and thus necessarily false, I am not dogmatic about it. And although I am strongly inclined to accept the tri-unity of God, I am troubled by the logical problems.

>>For this is my second criticism of the claim above: in order to (reasonably) believe a proposition it is not necessary to have any apprehension of its content in mind at all. Suppose you tell me, "The last thing Mr. X said last night was true, indeed proven beyond all possibility of doubt." I know you to be of such intellectual virtue that you wouldn't say such a thing unless it were well-nigh certainly the case. I then rigidly designate the proposition Mr. X expressed with that statement (whatever it was), q. I can then reasonably form the belief that q even without any knowledge whatsoever of what Mr. X said, let alone what he meant by it.<<

I think you are right that one can have *de re* beliefs with respect to propositions. I can believe, of a proposition, that it is true, without knowing which proposition this is. So I can believe of the last proposition expressed by Mr X last night that it is true without having any idea as to what this proposition is.

And so I might say that I believe whatever the one, true, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church teaches with respect to the nature of God without knowing what it teaches. And since it teaches the tri-unity of God, I believe, of the proposition that God is triune, that it is true.

If you ask me what it is that the Church teaches about God, I could then say, "I have no idea; but whatever it teaches I believe to be true."

At which point you might become justifiably irritated. "You mean to tell me that you believe what the Church teaches despite having no idea what the Church teaches?"

Tully,

Looks like you can make common cause with C. C.

Let's assume that the Church teaches with authority. And let's set aside the question which church this is. (You are not a R. C. are you?) And so your point is that it is rational to believe what the Church teaches even in those cases in which what it teaches is unintelligible to us. And so it is rational to believe that God is triune even if no one has ever been able to explain how this is logically possible, even if the doctrine appears to us and indeed must appear to us in this life, as logically contradictory.

Have I understood your position?

Well, what about the competing magisteria, Science and the Church?

How do you decide between mysterian naturalism and mysterian supernaturalism?

Suppose I say that I am not a naturalst because nat'lism can't explain why anything at all exists, how life emerged from the abiotic, how consciousness arose from pre-conscous life, and moral sense, and reason, and how intentionality is possible, etc. The naturalist could just go mysterian, right?

Bill:

This is a great discussion, so pardon my attempt to just cut your Gordian knot.

Mysterianism isn't about propositions, but things themselves. Right? The putative mystery is the qualia-physical relation, or mind-body dualism, or God's tri-uniate nature, or the Real Presence despite the appearance of mere bread and wine. Being knowers, we naturally desire to couch what little we do know of such things in propositions. But the propositions themselves shouldn't be the mystery under discussion. Right? For example, when I read Chalmers, I didn't take him as a mysterian about certain propositions, but about the real connection between matter and mind. The propositions will have all the usual properties of being true or false, or closer or farther from reality, etc.


Chris Kirk Speaks

Bill,

"Suppose I say that I am not a naturalst because nat'lism can't explain why anything at all exists, how life emerged from the abiotic, how consciousness arose from pre-conscous life, and moral sense, and reason, and how intentionality is possible, etc. The naturalist could just go mysterian, right?"

Since most naturalists nowadays consider themselves epistemic naturalists first, their mysterianism seems provisional: we cannot explain the putatively non-natural for the time-being.

An ontological naturalist would have to wrestle instead with the problem that, if he knows so little about the non-natural he allows himself to assert, then he cannot honestly claim he *knows* naturalism is true.

Chris Kirk Speaks

Chris Kirk Speaks:

>>Mysterianism isn't about propositions, but things themselves. Right?<<

Well, there could be a mysterian line about propositions as such. For example, propositions are held by many to be abstract objects, hence neither causally active nor passive. Suppose further that one can know only that with which one can causally interact. So it might occur to some philosopher to say: we know some propositions but it is and must remain a mystery how this is possible.

But I take your point: the standard examples are things like the qualia-brain relation. A quale is not a proposition and neither is a brain state. But if I state that qualia are identical to brain states, I am affirming a proposition, a proposition from which a contradiction can be derived. A mysterian will say that the proposition is true, but it is a mystery how the proposition can be true.

As for your second comment, my understanding of McGinn is that our cognitive architecture disallows us insight into the mind-brain relation and that this architecture is unalterable. I take this to be an entailment of mysterianism. In the theological cases, the idea is that in this life we will not be able to understand the Trinity, the Real Presence, and so on.

"You mean to tell me that you believe what the Church teaches despite having no idea what the Church teaches?"

You cannot be said really to have faith in the Christian religion if you literally have no idea what its content is. This is because having faith involves more than affirming in some indirect way the propositions the church affirms; it requires notitia, the first of Martin Luther's three elements of faith: notitia, assensus, fiducia. Someone who has literally no idea of the content of the doctrine of the Trinity, even if he can indirectly affirm it, lacks notitia, and is in that sense not a "believer" in the doctrine.

But that's not the position we are in. There are plenty of comprehensible trinitarian heresies, and we understand that VF, whatever else it means, certainly includes the rejection of these heresies. That's a significant ammount of notitia. Indeed, our difficulty is not lack of notitia but, so to speak, surpluss: it says so much that it seems to be contradicting itself.

Forgive me if I'm reading things into your argument that aren't there, but I think I may be perceiving an implicit assumption: that a proposition that seems incomprehensible-to-me really is incomprehensible-to-me (or at least not presently comprehended by me) because the act of comprehension is phenomenally transparent. Saying "I seem not to be comprehending a proposition here, yet I really am" is a bit like saying "I seem to be having a certain phenomenal experience, but I'm really not." There's something not altogether rationally kosher about that.

But there's an ambiguity. When the reason I seem to lack comprehension is because I lack notitia, it really is the case that I lack comprehension. But when the reason I seem to lack comprehension is because the proposition I am thinking about seems to be contradictory, the appearance of a lack of comprehension is dependent on the appearance of contradiction. In other words, the apparent lack of comprehension is not something I see just by looking at the introspectible character of my thinking; it's something I infer from the appearance of contradiction in the proposition, the object of my thinking. And if I'm mistaken about the contradictory character of that proposition then my feeling that I'm not comprehending anything is groundless.

Bill,
Some of your examples of unintelligible propositions are drawn from the philosophy of mind and you locate the unintelligibility in violations of the law of Indiscernibility of Identicals. We can find parallel examples. Eddington's table is solid but Rutherford tells us it is mostly empty space linked together by electron orbits. However, over the past century we have grown comfortable with this contradiction, partly perhaps because we have an account of the table's solidity in terms of the relative sizes of its atoms and the wavelength of the light by which we see it. Generalising from this, my suggestion is that IndI may not apply when we try to inject a manifest image property like solidity into the scientific image, and vice versa. We should keep manifest and scientific properties well separated (*). We can however explain at least some manifest properties in terms of scientific properties. This restriction on IndI applicability removes the contradiction from the q=b equation that leads so immediately to its unintelligibility, but the mystery returns in our inability to explain manifest qualia with scientific brain-states or whatever, and more generally, in how the two images are to be reconciled. Clearly this strategy does not work for the trinitarian puzzle.

(*) You hint at this, I think, when you say "The vocabularies we use when speaking of brain states and mental states respectively are radically incommensurable."

Bill,

Thanks! And sorry for the delay.

-- You say, "No physical state has content, or could have content."

I just don't see that. What's your usage for 'physical'?


-- "We are offered a verbal formulation, e.g., 'There is one God in three divine persons.' ... We are assured ... that ... the ... formulation expresses a ... proposition that is true ... But since this proposition is inaccessible, one cannot accept it, reject it, or suspend judgment with respect to it."

What about this proposition? There are three divine supposits and just one divine substance.

Seems intelligible to me. So here's a challenge: derive from it an explicit self-contradiction. Below are the involved, salient concepts, explained.

------

Substance = an individual being that has at least one suppositality.

Suppositality (= subsistence) = inherent ontological principle of a being in virtue of which it is not a feature (accident) of anything.

(Comment: No substance is a feature of anything. This is due to some ontological principle inherent to the substance. The principle is not the nature (essence) of the substance, nor even its individual nature. For it is a large step from a nature to its bearer. E.g., it is a large step from Socrateity to Socrates; Socrateity is not Socrates yet. The principle that turns the individual nature of a substance into the substance is called suppositality.)

Individual being = a being that has individual nature.

Individual nature = inherent ontological principle of a being in virtue of which it has what is individual about what it is.

(Comment: Nature (essence) is an inherent ontological principle of a being in virtue of which it is what it is. A distinction is to be made between specific nature and individual nature. Specific nature is an inherent ontological principle of a being in virtue of which it is what it is, but not in virtue of which it has that which is individual in what it is. The inherent ontological principle which turns the specific nature of a being into its individual nature is called individual difference. In some beings, individual nature, specific nature, and individual difference may differ. Other beings may have a simple, non-composite individual nature. (When no individual difference is needed to individuate them.))

Being = e.g., a human, an animal, a plant, a feature (such as white, two-feet long, in the market, double as that, yesterday, sitting, having shoes on, cutting, or being cut).

(Comment: 'Being' (‘ens’ in Latin) is a primitive concept, gathered from examples. Any being, in the suggested sense, is a substance or a feature (accident) of a substance. Any feature of a substance that can loose it is a being distinct from the substance; otherwise the substance could not loose it.)

Supposit (= suppositum = hypostasis) = that which has just one suppositality.

(Comment: It seems that any supposit is individual: none can have more than one instance. Also, any supposit persists (if it is in time) and exists all at once (so none is an event or a process). Examples of supposits: Socrates, a horse, a tree, a divine person in the Trinity. Not all individuals are supposits. For any supposit has unity that individuals like planets or cities do not have.)

Divine supposit = a supposit that has divine nature.

Divine substance = a substance that has divine nature.

Divine nature = a nature in virtue of which something is omnipotent.

------

-- One expected objection against the supposit Trinitarian proposition above:

If there are just three supposits with an individual (divine) nature, then there are just three beings with an individual (divine) nature and with at least one suppositality, and so there are just three (divine) substances with an individual nature. As the more general principle woud state, if there is a set of A’s each of which is a B (where ‘A’ and ‘B’ are sortals), then there are not fewer B’s than A’s. (Thus Cartwright, “On the Logical Problem of the Trinity”, 1987.)

A reply:

Three (divine) supposits may be just one individual (divine) being with at least one suppositality, and so just one (divine) substance. In other words, three times a (divine) supposit sometimes may not be three times a (divine) being. This seems to many impossible – or at least extremely improbable. But it is not self-evidently impossible. Similarly for the general principle: it is not clearly valid. (Thus Geach, “Identity”, 1967, and “Ontological Relativity and Relative Identity”, 1973.)

Also, even if I doubt that no physical state could have content, I don't have any specific and evidently possible idea or model _how_ such a state could have content.

Likewise, even if I doubt that the supposit Trinity doctrine is self-contradictory, I still don't have any specific and evidently possible idea or model _how_ it could be true.

More in that paper of mine.

Hello, Bill. Thanks for the substantive post.

If I might go existential for a moment, there is an important difference between mysterian materialism and mysterian trinitarianism. A position of acceptance or rejection on trinitarianism is said to be soteriologically momentous and unavoidable. As Pascal said, we must take a stand. We are "embarked."

If it is the case that human agents must take an accept/reject position on trinitarianism, then there is such a position to take. If there is such a position to take, then there is an intelligible proposition at hand. Thus, if one must take an a/r position, then some accurate account of trinitarianism is intelligible for human agents.

The contrapositive is that if there is no intelligible account, then it's not the case that one must take an a/r position. This seems to be the point you made in the final sentence of your post.

Christian orthodoxy apparently holds that we must take an a/r position. Is it consistent to hold the conjunction of (a) we must take a position on the doctrine of the trinity, and (b) the doctrine is a genuine mystery? And can one who says the conjunction is consistent go mysterian if asked to explain why the conjunction is consistent?

"Let's assume that the Church teaches with authority. And let's set aside the question which church this is. (You are not a R. C. are you?) And so your point is that it is rational to believe what the Church teaches even in those cases in which what it teaches is unintelligible to us. And so it is rational to believe that God is triune even if no one has ever been able to explain how this is logically possible, even if the doctrine appears to us and indeed must appear to us in this life, as logically contradictory."

"Have I understood your position?"

Not quite. I wasn't trying to argue or assume that the Church (R.C., Orthodox, etc.) is, in point of fact, an authority. My point is just about what it would take to show that the mysterian trinitarian is irrational who believed that concrete propositions were true on the basis of his belief that the authority in question reliably indicates which theological concrete theological statements are to be accepted. (This was prompted by your claim in the post about irrationality and not, say, understanding.) It seems to me that one would have to show that (a) the authority is unreliable (e.g. by showing that numerous statements are false or unintelligible, that the central concrete doctrines really should be peripheral, etc.) or (b) one is irrational in accepting a few statements referring to unknown propositions from an otherwise reliable authority when it comes to dictating which concrete statements are to be accepted.

"Suppose I say that I am not a naturalst because nat'lism can't explain why anything at all exists, how life emerged from the abiotic, how consciousness arose from pre-conscous life, and moral sense, and reason, and how intentionality is possible, etc. The naturalist could just go mysterian, right?"

I'm unsure. Here is a parallel case to the one I'm describing above: The naturalist goes mysterian but believes that the scientific community (or members of the APA?!) is reliable in dictating which concrete statements are to be accepted. How could one show that this naturalist is irrational in accepting the mysterian statements on the basis of this belief in the reliability of the scientific community/experts? In the same way as I describe above. Perhaps it turns out that the mysterian is rational in accepting the mysterian statements along with the rest. But rationality (rational acceptance rather than knowledge, understanding, etc.) has a fairly low epistemic bar to meet.

With that I bow out. Thanks for entertaining my thoughts and replying. Great post, by the way.

Penetrating comment, Elliot. We must never lose sight of the Existential lest philosophy end up a mere academic game of logic-chopping.

An even clearer example is the Incarnation. One's salvation depends on accepting it. If I must either accept it or reject it, then there must be some content intelligible to me (not merely intelligible in itself) that I either accept or reject. If there is no such content, then it is not the case that I must either accept or reject.

You are right to discern that I seem committed by the above post to the latter.

A possible response would be: Trinity and Incarnation, though impossible to understand in this life, are yet not totally meaningless. After all, we understand the God-Man identity theory well enough to distinguish it from the God is three-in-one theory. And Muslims understand both well enough to reject both. You must accept both despite their both being mysteries. Furthermore, it is a mystery why one's salvation should depend on such acceptance!

Maybe, as some of the interlocutors have suggested above, if we must take a position of acceptance or rejection, the acceptance position is something like this:

"I have good reason to trust God and to trust that the doctrine is divine revelation. Thus, if the doctrine is a mystery to us, I trust that it's meaningful in itself, and that it's true."

We might also note that rationally believing that P does not always require showing how P is possible. Suppose a submarine were to take a team of archaeologists to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. The team finds there clear evidence of an ancient city. The archaeologists would be reasonable to believe that persons built the city even if nobody could explain how.

If the team were to surface on the island of Saipan and hold a press conference, they'd be rational to claim that the city was built by personal agents, even if they couldn't explain how it happened.

VV writes,

>>-- You say, "No physical state has content, or could have content."

I just don't see that. What's your usage for 'physical'?<<

What I mean is that no physical item possesses intrinsic intentionality, intrinsic object-directedness. No physical item is intrinsically about anything.

Given this clarification, do you still disagree? And if we can't agree on something as basic as this, what could we agree on?

Can you give me an example of an object-directed physical state? Some of your brain states for example?

Is it your view that it is your brain, or parts of your brain, that is thinking when you are thinking?

You will agree, I hope, that even if some of your mental states are brain states, not all of your brain states are mental states. If you agree with this, then what distinguishes the brain states that are mental states from the brain states that are not?

Bill,

I don't know whether I should agree.

For you still haven't said how you are using the term 'physical'. If you label something that way only if all its features are spatial, or spatial plus temporal, then it really seems that nothing physical could have content. But then the question comes, Why hyperdimensional manifolds or strings could not have content, even though they would not be physical in that limited sense?

No, I can't give you an example of a hyperdimensional entity or state which would have content. But I don't know that there couldn't be any any such entity or state. Do you? If you think you do, aren't you presupposing that everything physical is spatial? (Check McGinn on this, as cited in my paper.)

Even if many brain states could not have contents, perhaps they could be causally connected with hyperdimensional entities or states having content. In fact, even these latter states might be states of the brain itself, if the brain has a hyperdimensional aspect.

Granted, I know next to nothing about hyperdimensions, including their very possibility and the question what they would have to be like to have content. So I am quite open to be convinced by arguments that hyperdimensional entities and states are impossible, or that it is impossible for them to have content.

>>For you still haven't said how you are using the term 'physical'. If you label something that way only if all its features are spatial, or spatial plus temporal, then it really seems that nothing physical could have content.<<

What do you mean by 'features'? Properties? But surely the properties of physical items are not themselves physical. (Or at least this is an open question.) Suppose a particle has a negative charge. The property of having a negative charge does not itself have a negative charge, nor is it located at a space-time position.

Do I think everything physical is in space? Yes. Do you have a counterexample?

V:

If there are irreducible dispositions in nature, then you might exploit the analogy between dispositionality and intentionality to argue that some physical items have something analogous to intentional content.

Bill,

Suppose 'features' means 'tropes'. Why say that tropes of physical items are not themselves physical? In case they really aren't, suppose 'features' means 'aspects' or 'moments'.

Granted, I don't know that non-spatial -- say, hyperdimensional -- physical items exist. But I don't know they don't either. Do you? How? And if you don't, how do you know they could not have content? (Literally, that is; not just analogically like dispositions.)

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