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Sunday, August 14, 2016

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>>But I don't understand why you say that there is no epistemological point at issue. After all, your point, I think, is that the phenomenology of visual content does not reveal diachronic numerical identity. Identity is not empirically detectable.<<

In that sense, there is an epistemological point at issue, so I agree with you.

(1) seems false. Isn't "visual content" (strictly speaking) limited to color? In a looser sense we can say that we "see" a man, but this seems to imply some sort of intellectually pattered act of consciousness (i.e. one that recognizes this batch of colors as man). Or am I missing something here?

Josh,

Rejecting (1) seems the best way to solve the problem.

But (1) has a certain plausibility. Do you really want to maintain that we literally see only colors as opposed to colored -- and shaped -- things? I am now looking at a black cat; indeed, I am looking at a black cat sitting on a chair. Am I not seeing something proposition-like?

The problems here are very difficult.

A further question. We can describe the content of narrative art, such as Gill’s stations of the cross either by a noun phrase, e.g. ‘soldier holding a spear with man holding a cross’, or by a statement ‘a [Roman?] soldier stands to the left of a man holding a cross etc’. Which?

Note also the captions by Gill: ‘Jesus meets his mother’. Are these captions adding something to the visual content of the picture, i.e. by identifying Jesus and his mother, or does iconography do this already? I.e. does art have a semantics which does signify sameness? You say in your other post ‘Tell me how to empirically detect the property or relation of numerical sameness. Tell me what I have to look for’. Well, you could tell it was Jesus because the artist is telling you that by putting a halo on him, and places him by the cross. It is those signs that you look for. This is only true for art, however.

Either. Isn't 'a soldier holding a spear with man holding a cross' just short for 'A soldier holding a spear is with a man holding a cross'?

If you are talking about transtemporal numerical identity from panel to panel, I should think that the iconography secures the identity without the need for captions such as 'Jesus receives his cross,' Jesus falls for the first time,' etc. The resemblance of the haloed figures from panel to panel -- even without the halos -- suffices to indicate that the same person is being depicted. If you were to doubt that, then you could also doubt that the occurrences of 'Jesus' in the captions refer to the same man.

But the metaphysical problem concerns reality, not artistic or other representations. It is obvious that one and the same cross is being depicted over time, but what make a cross in reality one and the same over time?

Is the cross just a bundle of temporal parts, or is it an enduring substance wholly present at each time it exists?

>>but what make a cross in reality one and the same over time?
I agreed with you up until here. But I don’t understand the formulation. What makes the cross today numerically the same as the cross yesterday? But if the cross yesterday is not identical with the cross today, there is nothing that could make them the same. And if identical, there is nothing that could make it not identical with itself.

But here we are up against a somewhat different problem. I think we are agreed that the identity is not perceived.

At the Moorean level, things like crosses and nails persist over time. But how is that to be understood metaphysically? In terms of perdurance or endurance? Those are technical terms from the literature.

And how does the epistemology gear into the metaphysics? What I see is consistent with the thing's being a diachronic bundle of temporal parts. But if you insist that there is an underlying substance, then there is a 'disconnect' between the metaphysics and the epistemology.

>>But (1) has a certain plausibility. Do you really want to maintain that we literally see only colors as opposed to colored -- and shaped -- things? I am now looking at a black cat; indeed, I am looking at a black cat sitting on a chair. Am I not seeing something proposition-like?<<

I don't feel the force of the difficulty. The intuitive appeal of saying that I see "the black cat on a chair" seems to trade upon a commonsense use of "see"--one that includes what is graspable by the power of intellect, i.e. whatever it is that grasps concepts such as:

(1) numerical oneness (in the definite description)
(2) universals such as "cat" and "chair"
(3) existence of the cat, chair, etc.

Once we transition from common sense to theory, I think we need to make a distinction between what is "seen" (i.e. by the power of sight) and what is "grasped intellectually."

If it is of interest, this sort of position is laid out in detail by Bernard Lonergan, Verbum, (UToronto, 1997).

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