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Friday, April 12, 2019

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>>To see that, consider that Scollay Square is, as we speak, the intentional object of veridical memories, and the subject of true predications, e.g., 'Scollay Square attracted many a horny young sailor on shore leave.' How then could it be NOTHING? <<

OK so the heavy lifting here is done by consideration of intentional verbs. Thus ‘Bill is thinking, i.e. thinking now, of Scollay Square’. Thus, just as ‘Bill touches the wall of his house’ requires the existence of his house, and its wall, so ‘Bill is thinking of Scollay Square’ requires that the Square be at least something, even if something that no longer exists. If we touch, we touch something, if we think of or remember, so we think of or remember something.

Is that the gist of it?

Since your focus is always and everywhere linguistic, set aside the intentionality of veridical memories, and concentrate on the sentence I cited:

1. Scollay Square attracted many a horny young sailor on shore leave.

That is a past-tensed sentence that is true now. What has to be the case for the predicate to be true of the referent of 'Scollay Square'? Well, there has to be something that the name refers to. Therefore, it cannot be the case that only (temporally) present items exist/are. For SS is wholly past.

I am assuming that if a predicate is now true of x, then either x existed, or x now exists or x will exist. Do you accept this assumption?

>>Well, there has to be something that the name refers to.

This is just another case of an intentional verb, namely 'refers to'.

(1) 'SS' refers to SS
(2) 'SS' refers to something
(3) There has to be something that 'SS' refers to
(4) SS no longer exists/is not temporally present/is wholly past
(5) It cannot be the case that only temporally present items exist/are. For SS is wholly past.

That's the argument, yes?

>>I am assuming that if a predicate is now true of x, then either x existed, or x now exists or x will exist. Do you accept this assumption?

I accept it.

Yes,that's the argument.

Presentism is not the claim that what no longer exists does not exist now; it is the claim that what no longer exists does not exist at all.

Now do you understand the last sentence?

I honestly don’t really understand ‘does not exist at all’. The argument above shows that a present tensed verb phrase (e.g. ‘refers to’, ‘remembers’, ‘is a picture of’ etc) can take as grammatical accusative a word referring to something that no longer exists. So the non-presentist, while agreeing that the something no longer exists, denies that it does not exist ‘at all’.

That’s as much sense I can make of it.

In the original post, you write

‘Scollay Square attracted many a horny young sailor on shore leave.’ How then could it be NOTHING? It seems obviously to be SOMETHING, indeed something wholly determinate and wholly actual despite being wholly past.
Then could we translate ‘does not exist at all’ as ‘is nothing’ or ‘is not anything’?

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