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Saturday, November 07, 2020


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You are on a roll, Bill, and the left side of my brain is happy.

It may surprise you that a significant part of my PhD thesis was on the subject of the visual field problem and related issues.

You may also want to revisit Being and Nothingess part Three chapter 2 “The Body”. “My body as it is for me does not appear to me in the midst of the world”. “I apprehend [my eye] as a sense organ constituted in the world in a particular way, but I can not ‘see the seeing’”. “..my hand reveals to me the resistance of objects, their hardness or softness, but not itself.” Etc etc.

You know about B & N?? You must be a traitor to your race -- or your species.

Seriously, I will have to engage with your Intentionality chapter in your recent book. A quick eyeballing suggests that, if you are right, you have put paid to the entire phenomenological movement. Intentionality is the central theme.

But you didn't tell whether you agree with my entry above. Is the concept of a limit concept now clear to you? And the distinction between positive and negative limit concepts? And that your original objection to Deinhammer has been successfully rebutted?

Alles klar?

>>You know about B & N?? You must be a traitor to your race -- or your species.

I wrote about it in the thesis (the final version of which is now lost, thanks to the University Library). I studied it in great detail, and the work of the other phenomenologists. Heidegger I did not find so congenial.

>>Is the concept of a limit concept now clear to you?

Not entirely.

>>A quick eyeballing suggests that, if you are right, you have put paid to the entire phenomenological movement.

Right. But the earlier parts of the book are a propaedeutic.

Bill, are you familiar with Whitehead's writings on space? He defines a point as the limit of a sequence of ever smaller regions of space (the sequence has to meet certain conditions to have a point as a limit). He remarks that although the point is a limit of a sequence of spaces, the point is not itself a space; it is a different type of thing from a space.

I was thinking of this when reading your first examples, and it seemed to fit, so I assumed you had something like this in mind; now I'm not so sure. I could imagine, for example, a sequence of ever more refined concepts of God getting ever closer to the real concept of God but never actually reaching it. I could think of similar sequences for prime matter, bare particulars, and particularity.

However, I can't imagine what such a sequence would look like in the case of the self. Was I misinterpreting you, or do you have a sequence in mind?


You raise the interesting question of the relation of what I have been saying about limit concepts to limits of sequences in mathematics.

The limit of a (convergent) sequence is the value the sequence approaches as the number of terms goes to infinity. The limit in this case is a real number. In Whitehead, the limit is a point.

But what I have been talking about are the limits to conceptual understanding, or the limits of conceptualization. I am assuming that a concept is distinct from what it is of or about. I am also assuming that concepts are subjective in that they reside in our minds either dispositionally or occurrently. Thus the concept *triangle* is not a triangle. The latter is triangular, the former is not. But in a case like this my concept adequately captures the essence of a triangle. Or at least it can if I have some basic geometrical knowledge.

Now in the case of God, we have three (epistemic) possibilities. (1 )We can have an adequate concept of God, one that exhausts the essence of God, so that God is as transparent to our minds as Euclidean triangles. (2)We cannot have an adequate concept of God because God does not exist. The concept exists but not its referent. At best the concept marks a limit to our understanding. The God concept is then a limit concept in the negative sense. (3) We cannot have an adequate concept of God, not because God does not exist, but because he is wholly or partially unconceptualizable by us. In this case, the God concept is a limit concept in the positive sense.

A point as defined by Whitehead is a concept that is a limit of a sequence. The importance of the sequence is that it uniquely identifies or "points at" the concept under discussion--namely the point that is being identified.

It seems that you need some sort of "pointing at" to identify one of your limit concepts as well, otherwise what confidence do I have that you and I have the same limit concept in mind? To use Whitehead's spaces as an analogy, suppose you try to define a point based on a collection of spaces that does not meet Whitehead's criteria of a sequence converging to a point. This collection is unlikely to pick out a single point that we can all agree on.

In the same way, I wonder if the set of concepts that you are using in order to pick out a limit concept are precise enough to do its job without some structure to pick out a unique limit concept.

Does it even matter that we all have the same limit concept in mind?

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