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Saturday, July 17, 2021

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On which matter, I see you derive

"BV's thinking has an object" from

"BV is thinking of the Washington Monument"

I.e. you derive a relational sentence using the verb phrase 'has' from a relational sentence using the verb phrase 'is thinking of'.

What exactly licenses that inference? My point will become clearer if you look at the material I sent, and which you are free to post.

Change the example slightly. I suddenly realize that I left the garage door open. You see my change of facial expression, and say what's the matter? I say, "I just thought of the garage door."

The sentence reports an occurrent episode of thinking. At a bare minimum, we need a distinction between the thinking and something else. What might that be? I say it is the object thought of.

You might reply that there is no object; what there is is an adverbial modification of an activity. You might say that thinking is an activity of an agent, just as running is an activity of an agent. (The one activity is mental, the other physical.) Now there are different ways of running: slowly, quickly, short-stridedly, long-stridedly, girlishly, etc. One cannot just run, one has to run in some WAY or other. If Tom is running slowly, his running has no object, but there is a way he is running. So one might propose that to think of Jupiter is to think jovianly; to think of a unicorn is to think unicorn-ly; to think of a garage door is to think garage-doorly.

The adverbial approach has several problems. I'll mention one. My sudden thinking of the garage door is not a mental action, but an a mental act, an occurrent mental event. And even if the subject of the mental act is a mental agent, a doer, the subject in this instance is not doing anything. Since the sudden thinking is not an action of agent, it makes no sense to speak of ways in which the action is performed.

As I said, at a bare minimum there has to be a distinction between the thinking and something else; in this instance the something else must be an object. Or is there a third possibility?

Or suppose I suddenly notice a coyote in the yard. Lo, a coyote! Can we make sense of that sudden noticing without the act-object distinction?

OK, so I asked what licenses the inference from

(A) BV is thinking of the garage door
to
(B) BV’s thinking has an object

and you replied that it is not enough to specify a way in which the thinking is performed, but there must be an object.

I agree that to specify a singular thought, we need a linguistic expression containing an intentional verb (‘is thinking of’), with an accusative singular noun phrase (‘the Washington Monument’, ‘the garage door’). An adverbial expressions is not enough. But what licenses the inference that some object corresponds to that singular noun phrase, that the noun phrase has a referent? Surely the whole point of your example about the WM being annihilated is that there doesn’t have to be a referent?

I.e. what licenses the inference from the statement “BV is thinking of the Washington Monument”, which doesn’t require a referent for the accusative, to a statements like “BV’s thinking has an object”, where the non-intentional verb phrase ‘has’ requires, by its semantics, that the accusative denotes something?

My claim is that some constructions require a reference or denotation for the accusative, some do not. What justifies your apparent assumption that all accusatives have a referent?

>> But what licenses the inference that some object corresponds to that singular noun phrase, that the noun phrase has a referent?<<

The 'licensing' is phenomenological. I know what I am thinking about when I think about something. When I think about Waterloo Station, I know that I am thinking about Waterloo Station. Having passed through said station back in '71, I have memories of it that are jogged whenever I hear the Kink's song, "Waterloo Sunset."

When I was a young man in Boston in the early '70s, I wanted to visit the storied Scollay Square. I asked someone where it was and she told me that it no longer existed. I was thinking about Scollay Square then, when I believed it existed, and I am thinking about it now, when I know that it does not exist. Phenomenologically, there need be no difference between the content of the two acts of thinking, the one in 1971, the other as I write this. The content of the two acts could be exactly the same, say, "famous place in Boston frequented by sailors on shore leave in WWII who went there to dissipate and debauch."

>>Surely the whole point of your example about the WM being annihilated is that there doesn’t have to be a referent?<<

The whole point is that object-directedness does not entail object-dependence as I defined those terms. The object-directedness of at least some conscious states does not depend on the extramental existence of what you are calling a referent.

And therefore: we must distinguish among: the occurrent episode of consciousness-of, the noema, and the transcendent thing. Noesis-noema-external thing.

More fully: ego-cogitatio- cogitatum qua cogitatum - res extramentis.

This schema can be attacked in various ways. The alternative theories, however, are also, perhaps equally, problemtic.

>>I.e. what licenses the inference from the statement “BV is thinking of the Washington Monument”, which doesn’t require a referent for the accusative, to a statement like “BV’s thinking has an object”, where the non-intentional verb phrase ‘has’ requires, by its semantics, that the accusative denotes something?

My claim is that some constructions require a reference or denotation for the accusative, some do not. What justifies your apparent assumption that all accusatives have a referent?<<

The quick answer is to say that I am using 'has' and 'have' differently than you. I'll grant you this: if I own a house, then there exists a house that I own, and given that a house is a physical thing, the thing that I own cannot be spatially inside my head or a content of my consciousness given that contents can be 'lived through,' er-lebt. I live through pain, but I cannot live through a house or a brick.

There are also legitimate uses of 'have' according to which 'I have a house' means that I own a house. But suppose I don't have a house, but I want one, and I have a particular one in mind that I plan to buy. 'Have in mind' is an intentional phrase. If today I have in mind to buy a house that I walked through and inspected yesterday, but that overnight was demolished, my having in mind to buy that house does not entail the existence outside the mind of that particular house.

Is it true that >>the non-intentional verb phrase ‘has’ requires, by its semantics, that the accusative denotes something?<< Everyone has a mother, but it is not the case that everyone's mother exists.

What licenses the inference from 'BV is thinking of the WM' to 'BV's thinking has an object'? What licenses the inference is that the two sentences have the same sense.

> The quick answer is to say that I am using 'has' and 'have' differently than you.

I thought you would make this objection, and I address it in Part II, which you have not seen.

>The whole point is that object-directedness does not entail object-dependence as I defined those terms.

But it does. The object-directedness is towards your Intentional Object, and as I understand your position, it is that all intentional states ‘have’ an Intentional Object. The dependence in question is Object-dependence, Intentional-Object-dependence, if you like.

> The object-directedness of at least some conscious states does not depend on the extramental existence of what you are calling a referent.

But they do depend on ‘having’ some Intentional Object, according to you.

For purposes of clarification only, it would be helpful to know where the following chain of inference breaks down, if at all.

(1) BV is thinking of the Washington Monument

(2) BV’s mental state has an Intentional Object

(3) The Intentional Object = the Washington Monument

(4) The Washington Monument is a physical object, therefore (from 3 above) the Intentional Object is a physical object.

(5) If the Washington Monument ceased to exist, the Intentional Object would cease to be a physical object

Response to 10:03:

You didn't carefully attend to what I wrote in the OP:

"You will have noticed that 'object' has different senses in the above definitions. In (DEP), 'object' refers to a entity that exists in itself, and thus independently of the existence of minds and their acts. In (DIR), 'object' refers to an intentional correlate which cannot exist apart from minds and their acts."

More later.

>You didn't carefully attend to what I wrote in the OP

I paid very careful attention to that, hence my (3) above. If (3) does follow from (2), then the Intentional Object is both "a entity that exists in itself", and an object "which cannot exist apart from minds and their acts".

So your burden is to clarify whether (3) follows or not.

Response to 1:58.

I don't understand why you say this: >>(5) If the Washington Monument ceased to exist, the Intentional Object would cease to be a physical object.<<

If a physical thing ceases to exist, it does not cease to be a physical thing. It ceases to exist.

>If a physical thing ceases to exist, it does not cease to be a physical thing. It ceases to exist.

Depends on your answer to (3) above. When the WM exists, then is it identical to the Intentional Object?

If so, then the Intentional Object is a physical object. Do you agree?

Now suppose that the WM has ceased to exist. It then follows logically that the Intentional Object was a physical object but is no longer a physical object.

If you see a difference between 'was an A but is no longer an A' and 'has ceased to be an A', then let me know.

What happened to the guest post, by the way.

Let me know if you agree with (3) and (4) above.

Or perhaps you mean that the when the the Washington Monument ceases to exist, then it (and by implication Intentional Object) does not cease to be a physical object, but rather becomes a non-existing physical object?

But then all sorts of problems follow from that.

What do you mean?


You have to realize that 'object' and 'intentional object' are ambiguous terms. As I said in the OP:

" 'Object' could mean the infinitely-propertied thing intended in the act of thinking, or it could mean that which is before my mind precisely as such with all and only the properties I think of the thing intended as having. Either could be called the intentional object, which goes to show that 'intentional object' is ambiguous. On the first alternative the intentional object = the real object; on the second, the intentional object is some sort of incomplete item that either plays an intermediary role, or else is a proper part of the thing intended."

Can you distinguish between a Fregean sense and a Fregean referent? If you can, then you should be able to see the necessity of a disambiguation of 'intentional object.' Let the Fregean referent be Venus, a physical thing. This thing can be accessed via different "modes of presentation," Darstellungsweisen. These modes of presentation are not physical things. They are abstract/ideal items for Frege. They are not in any way immanent to consciousness for Frege. Now imagine that there are modes of presentation that are immanent to consciousness. You should be able to see that such a mode of presentation cannot be identical to the massive chunk of physical reality in the external world. 'Intentional object' is ambiguous as between such an immanent item and the transcendent item, Venus in the example.

Why not just answer the question I posed in the second para of the OP?

I will attempt to answer your question on the assumption that the following inference is valid:

(1) BV is thinking of the Washington Monument
(2) BV’s mental state has an Intentional Object

I think it is not valid. But assume it is. Then I think it follows that

(3) The Intentional Object = the Washington Monument

From which it further follows that, if the Washington Monument is an infinitely-propertied thing, the Intentional Object is also an infinitely-propertied thing. Thus ‘Intentional Object’ is not ambiguous, at least on the assumption that (2) follows from (1).

As to what you mean by ‘Intentional Object’, it depends whether you think the inference from (1) to (2) and thence to (3) is valid.

Also note what you said above. “What licenses the inference from 'BV is thinking of the WM' to 'BV's thinking has an object'? What licenses the inference is that the two sentences have the same sense.”

That’s clear. Then you say “Suppose that I begin thinking about some faraway thing such as the Washington Monument (WM) and that I think of it without interruption through some short interval of time.” It follows that your thinking has an object without interruption. You ask “does my thinking have an object and the same object throughout the interval?”.

Yes it does have the same object throughout, by your own assumption that the two sentences have the same sense.

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