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Monday, April 25, 2022


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Evening Bill,

You can see where David is going with this. He is proposing that we analyze 'M is (wholly) past', ' M is in the past,' and 'M has ceased to exist' in terms of 'R has ceased to be veridical.'
That's not where I'm hoping to get! I see no need to explain the phenomenon of the cessation of existence in terms of ideas or memories. I take it as an external given. The question is, How do we speak about it? I'm suggesting that if R exemplifies the property you are calling 'non-veridical' and I'm calling 'non-encounterable' then we express this by saying 'M is in the past', etc. I entirely agree that 'What existed cannot depend for its having existed on the present contents of any finite mind'. So I think your critique from there on misses the mark.

I see now that 'unencounterable' is badly-chosen. Going back to your piece on Yourgrau for inspiration, I imagine an unencounterable representation as akin to a crossed-out picture. The representation is 'stamped' with some symbol that has no meaning in the represented world. Instead, it nullifies the representation itself. Pay no attention to the encodings within!

Good Morning, David.

Your response suggests that you and I are not addressing the same question. To put it crudely, I am concerned with the world, you with talk about the world. My orientation is realist, yours anti-realist, like Buckner's.

Here is my question. Is temporal reality as it is in itself apart from our systems of representation such that every temporally real item is temporally present? Or is it rather the case that there are temporally real items that are temporally non-present?

ELIOT, Burnt Norton

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

I'm sorry, Bill, but for me your question is ambiguous. For concreteness let's suppose that 'temporally real item' means the same as 'former US president'. Joe Biden is excluded. How many items are there? Taking 'are' to be strictly present-tensed the answer is five: JC, BC, GWB, BO, DT, none of which is temporally non-present. Interpreting 'are there' more generously the answer is forty-four, of which thirty-nine could be said to be temporarily non-present. So there is a language issue at the heart of this question, even at the level of discussing its Moorean truths. My hope is that if we can sort out the language to our mutual satisfaction then the metaphysical question evaporates.


I will say only that T. S. Eliot is a great poet, playwright, and cat fancier.


Will respond later. Thanks for your comments.

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