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Saturday, July 03, 2021

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>I have never been able to get him to understand the truth-maker principle. Perhaps there is something about the British Isles . . . .

i might equally say, i have never got you to understand that the principle is vacuous.

i think you are right about the linguistic idealism. how are you getting on with the book?

Your book or mine? I'll assume your book. You make a serious mistake on p. 195: ". . . intentionality, sometimes called object-dependence, a supposed unmediated relationship between thought and reality . . . ."

First of all, no one, with the exception of you, calls intentionality 'object-dependence.' The term most widely used today is 'object-directedness' or simply 'directedness.' There is a huge difference which I will explain if you want.

Second, most philosophers in both the phenomenological and analytic traditions do not think of the directedness of thought to reality as unmediated. Twardowski, Husserl, et al. with various variations on the theme Inhalt versus Gegenstand. An exception is J-P Sartre.

But it is sometimes called 'object dependence', namely by direct reference theorists, and direct reference has been characterised as a form of intentionality.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/#DireRefe

I wouldn't say it is a serious mistake, if it is a mistake.

And (apologies for not asking earlier, but I thought the political stuff had dominated your day to day work), how is your book coming on?

I would say that you do not understanding intentionality as that term is used in both the phenomenological and analytic traditions. Specifically, what you are missing is that directedness to an object is an intrinsic feature of intentional mental states and not a feature they have in virtue of a relation to an existing object. The directedness of the state is not caused by the existing object of the state if it has an existing object. To say that the object-directedness of a mental state is intrinsic is to say that it is not either constituted or caused by a relation to a thing that exists independently of the mental state and which brings about the directedness. This is why Brentano holds that intentionality is not a relation, strictly speaking, though it is relation-like. Object-directedness is not strictly a relation on the plausible assumption that the holding of a relation presupposes the existence of all of its relata; consciousness, however, is often directed to objects that do not exist. Some of these objects are known by the subject in question not to exist; others are believed to exist but do not actually exist; still others turn out not to exist after further investigation; and finally there are those that cease to exist while our mental acts are trained upon them. But in every case we have intentionality or object-directedness.

What you are doing is assimilating the intentional nexus to a purely external object-dependence, where by 'object' you mean a particular thing existing n reality.

Consider the demonstrative 'this' as it functions in a sentence like 'This is a tree.' The meaning of 'this' is exhausted by the thing in the external world to which the term refers. Now glance back at what you say in your book:". . . intentionality, sometimes called object-dependence, a supposed unmediated relationship between thought and reality . . . " and substitute 'demonstrative reference' for 'intentionality.' Then we get something true. The demonstrative 'this' is object-dependent and the relation between a use of the term and reality is unmediated. And it is a relation in the strict sense because both relata exist.

Intentionality is not object-dependent in your sense, and on most theories it is not unmediated.

Thanks for asking. Philosophy dominates my day-to-day work as I try to finish this metaphilosophy book. But the political situation is grave and I can't ignore it. It also raises phil. questions.

Morning Bill,

I agree with you and Heil that when an assertion about the world is true, something about the world makes it true. But I would want to add that part of the truth-making resides in the language of the assertion. The words have to be the 'right' words, in some sense. Truth-making is partly 'out there' and partly 'in here'. It's not obvious to me that the locution 'there is a possibility that p' commits us to possibilities. The assertion can be rendered as 'possibly, p' which seems to lack the ontological implications of typical 'there is...' claims.

The suggestion I make in my comment to the piece you link to is that possibility arises as a natural consequence of the 'coarse-grainedness' of everyday language. In ordinary language we are unable to articulate the precise circumstances in which the bulb breaks and those in which it doesn't. Any description we give of an initial condition for dropping the bulb will 'cover' both circumstances in which it breaks and circumstances in which it fails to break. The description is consistent with both outcomes. There is an analogy with the coarse-grainedness of our muscular control that prevents us from guaranteeing the outcome of a coin toss. But this is not to reduce all possibility to the epistemic. It's not that we don't know the precise circumstances of breaking, it's that they are beyond the power of language to express. Nor does it deny the reality of possibility. It relocates possibility to within the fog surrounding the language/world relation. Australians may have no experience of fog.

BV: “Specifically, what you are missing is that directedness to an object is an intrinsic feature of intentional mental states and not a feature they have in virtue of a relation to an existing object.” I do understand that, and the claim of ‘intrinsic-ness’ is precisely what is wrong with the theory of intentionality (such as it is).

BV: “Object-directedness is not strictly a relation on the plausible assumption that the holding of a relation presupposes the existence of all of its relata; consciousness, however, is often directed to objects that do not exist. Some of these objects are known by the subject in question not to exist”.

I think you need to read and understand the chapter on existence, and on logical intransitivity, before we can take the matter further. The thesis is that ‘Joan loves something’ does not imply ‘something is such that Joan loves it’. Likewise, if your claim that “Some of these objects are known by the subject in question not to exist” is to be interpreted as “Some of these objects are such that they are known by the subject in question not to exist”, then your claim is wrong.

BV: “Consider the demonstrative 'this' as it functions in a sentence like 'This is a tree.' The meaning of 'this' is exhausted by the thing in the external world to which the term refers.” Not if my account of demonstrative reference, see chapter 10 ‘Revelation’ is correct.

Also, I characterise 'intentionality' in a series of paragraphs following the quote by Brentano. Are these characterisations also wrong?

There hasn't been any fog in London since the days of Sherlock Holmes, by the way. And we are fond of desert landscapes.

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