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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

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If “you (Ed) take a tree root to be to be a snake” is true, then it is equally true, and manifestly true that I (Ed) am taking a tree root to be to be a snake. Of course I wouldn’t utter the words “I am taking a tree root to be to be a snake”. But nonetheless I am taking a tree root to be to be a snake. That deals with that.

But you have answered my question in the affirmative. If I take a mirror image to be a person behind the mirror, when there is nothing behind except bricks and mortar, your say that there is some x such that x is a mirror image and x is taken by me to be a person.

“if you have no interest in epistemology, then you have no interest in the above question”

Not at all! A neo-Oxford-realist such as Austin would deny the existence of things such as mirror images, explaining non-veridical perception by adverbial means. If S believes some person is behind the mirror, then it does not follow, according to them, that there is some x such that S believes of x that x is a person and x is behind the mirror. You cannot ‘quantify out’, they would say.

My interest is ontological. If I take some mirror image to be a person, is there some x, a mirror image, such that I take it to be a person?

“The subsequent mental acts present intentional objects that have some of the properties of a tree root.” So if a mental act presents an intentional object, then we can infer that there is some object x such that x is intentional and x is presented by the mental act. Which we would, because ‘presents’ is a non-intentional verb. I think we discussed the Intentionalist fallacy last year, namely the move from a context which is intentional, to one which is non-intentional. You repeatedly commit this fallacy without being aware of it.

"You are some kind of radical externalist." Again you misunderstand me.

Perhaps if you ever come to London we can sit down at a table and I can carefully take you through your error!

It is churlish and the mark of a philistine to accuse philosophers who have thought both deeply and synoptically about a topic of committing a fallacy or of making a mistake. So I will return your 'compliment' by accusing you of committing the the 'fallacy' fallacy. I believe I have written on this. I have yet to locate the entry. English philosophers are often as insular as the island they live on.

Here is a challenge for you. Try to provide an adequate sense-preserving and truth-preserving paraphrase of "John fears a ghost."

“It is churlish and the mark of a philistine to accuse philosophers who have thought both deeply and synoptically about a topic of committing a fallacy or of making a mistake.”

What is your point here? Are you saying (1) that it is always churlish etc to point out a mistake or (2) that it is OK to do so except when the person has thought both deeply and synoptically about the subject about which s/he is mistaken. Or (3) that you haven’t made a mistake at all? As philosophers, we are committed by our training commits to bite the bullet, i.e. to take all criticism as it comes, never personalise the issue, accept defeat if it comes, and otherwise defend ourselves appropriately against the criticism. If you think you haven’t made a mistake, please justify yourself.

I identified the fallacy in this post. One form of the fallacy is to move from a construction which is intentional to one which is non-intentional. You committed this fallacy. You claimed there was a ‘phenomenological’ use of the verb ‘see’, call it see_p, such that if S sees_p X, it does not follow that X exists. I.e. ‘see_p’ is an intentional verb phrase in my sense. Then you wrote “The subsequent mental acts present intentional objects that have some of the properties of a tree root”. But ‘present’, in its standard use, is non-intentional, i.e. ‘Y presents X’ implies “something is such that Y presents it”.

You then challenged me to provide an adequate sense-preserving and truth-preserving paraphrase of “John fears a ghost”. All I will say here is that any such paraphrase should avoid the Intentionalist fallacy, i.e. should not move from the intentional construction “John fears a ghost” to a construction of the form “for some x, John R x”, where R is a non-intentional verb phrase.

But let’s try to get back to the topic of taking something for something. Do you agree with G.E.Moore on the existence of sense-data? Moore says that these are entities of which we are directly conscious, that we are extremely familiar with them, that “they include the colours, of all sorts of different shades, which I actually see when I look about me; the sounds which I actually hear; the peculiar sort of entity of which I am directly conscious when I feel the pain of a toothache, and which I call “the pain””.

If so, do you think that this, the thing that I take to be in front of me, and which I take to be the visible surface of my desk, is a sense-datum? And if so, (1) do you think that in the case where my perception is non-veridical (e.g. the desk is not there, but I believe that it is), the sense-datum nonetheless exists? If so, (2) do you think that when the perception is veridical the sense-datum is identical with the surface of the desk or (3) the sense-datum is never identical with the surface of any material object, but is rather an object of immediate or direct sense, with the material object being an indirect object of sense?

You thought I was a 'radical externalist'. Is that that the same as Naive Realism? Prichard again (from “The Sense Datum Fallacy”):

If, using the term ‘perceive’ in its ordinary sense, we ask, ‘Of what sort or sorts are the various things which we perceive?’, we all, of course, at first give what has been called the Naive Realist answer, viz. that what we perceive is in all cases a body, that what we see, for instance, is a table, that what we hear is a bell, and so on. If, having given this answer, we then go on to ask a second question, viz. ‘Does what we perceive depend on our perception of it?’, we necessarily answer that it does not. For unless we use the phrase ‘a body’ in a Pickwickian sense, or else adopt the device of putting it into inverted commas to avoid responsibility for meaning anything in particular by it, we mean by ‘a body’ a something of a certain kind, which, as we discover when we reflect, cannot by its very nature depend on our perception of it. Berkeley, however, answered the first question differently. He maintained that what we see is a colour, that what we hear is a sound, that what we feel is a feeling of resistance, that what we taste is a flavour, and that what we smell is an odour; and thinking, when he reflected on these things, that they have a certain common character, that of being sensations, he maintained generally that what we perceive is a sensation. And he then went on to answer the second question by asserting that since a sensation is by its very nature something inseparable from the perception of it, what we perceive necessarily depends on our perception of it, his conclusion when properly stated in his own language being that the esse of what we perceive involves (not is) percipi.
… if ten people, standing in a circle, look at an orange which one of the ten holds up to view, there will then exist eleven oranges—one separate orange in each of the ten separate fields of consciousness, and in addition the invisible orange which one of the ten is holding in his hand. Material bodies, by the mere fact of being external, are, on this view, necessarily invisible. (Norman Kemp Smith, Prolegomena to an Idealist Theory of Knowledge)
This raises again my question about the public versus the private. If there are 10 oranges then they must be numerically distinct, otherwise they would be one in number. But then they must be ‘private’ and in distinct spaces. But Kant says there is one space, so there can at most be two oranges, one the ‘appearance’, the other the thing-in-itself. (Or perhaps, since an orange can only be an appearance, just one thing). Then is the orange colour a sensation? But we agreed (and I think Kant agrees) that a sensation is private, hence the orange-sensations are 10 in number, not one. But as I commented before, how is it possible for things which are private to be located in the same space?

There is one space, that in which the orange exists. But that word 'space' - it already signals you are in the Kantian appearance sphere. As does the notion that there are 10 private sensations of the orange by 10 individuals - depending as it does on a notion of an internal-external division. All of this is only possible on the prior condition of a unified space.

At this level, of a single unified space of 10 individuals and an orange, the fact of individualized private sensations of the orange is obvious, especially when they disagree. 'Moving up' from Kantian intuitions ordered only by space and time to the objectivity of the categories enables the 10 to come to some agreement about their individual perceptions, but that is not relevant here.

But what is relevant is that these individualized private sensations no more produce 10 additional oranges than 10 photographs of the orange would. Photographs of oranges are not oranges and 10 private sensations of an orange are not oranges either.

But if not oranges, then what are private mental sensations? Well, that is the question, isn't it? Whatever they are, they most certainly are something, and it doesn't do to collapse them into mere sensations of an external world - or vice versa.

Tom: I agree that sensations are not oranges. But does sensation #1 private to individual #1 occupy the same location as sensation #2 private to individual #2? Either it does or it doesn't.

If there were 10 different images produced by 10 different cameras, they would of course occupy different positions. Imagine them spread out on a desk.

To me, the sensations occupy 2 different locations, the respective locations of the individuals.

This seems obvious, and not just from a Kantian standpoint. What point are you trying to make?

>To me, the sensations occupy 2 different locations, the respective locations of the individuals.

You mean the sensation is sort of inside the individual? Where?

If I understand Kant, he would say that the sensation, i.e. the orange patch, is located on the surface of the orange.

The sensation is of the orange/orange patch, but it is not the orange/orange patch, by definition. Orangeness is located on the orange, but that is not a sensation, it is a quality of the object. Sensation implies a location in a receiver who is situate differently from the orange.

But, I hesitate; is this a trick question? I imagine you have some specific Kantian quotes which appear to hold sensations and orange-patches synonymous.

>But, I hesitate; is this a trick question? I imagine you have some specific Kantian quotes which appear to hold sensations and orange-patches synonymous.

Spot on. Try [A20] “So if I separate from the representation of a body that which the understanding thinks about it, such as substance, force, divisibility, etc., as well as that which belongs to sensation, such as impenetrability, hardness, color, etc., something from this empirical intuition is still left for me, namely extension and form.”

I wouldn't say I was asking a 'trick question'. What is a 'trick question'? To be sure, I like to ask apparently innocent questions which test the understanding of the other, but why is that trickery?

See also this: [B45] “The aim of this remark is only to prevent one from thinking of illustrating the asserted ideality of space with completely inadequate examples, since things like colors, taste, etc., are correctly considered not as qualities of things but as mere alterations of our subject, which can even be different in different people. For in this case that which is originally itself only appearance, e.g., a rose, counts in an empirical sense as a thing in itself, which yet can appear different to every eye in regard to color.”

Sorry if I am late getting back to this. Life catches up with me sometimes.

I did not mean 'trick' in the sense of malicious or dishonest, but only that your questions seemed intentionally formulated to elicit an obvious answer that will soon be shown to be not so obvious. No offense meant. Socrates was prone to do the same thing, and he was a pretty good person by all accounts.

But your quotes seem to confirm what I said. Sensations are not in the objects but in the person, and in each individual person if there is more than one. " … colors, taste, etc., … as mere alterations of our subject, which can even be different in different people." So, too, " … that which belongs to sensation … color … " Neither of these posit sensations as in any way the same as the exterior object that is the event of "alterations of or our subject," aka sensations.

I would also point out that the "alterations of our subject" implies an alterer, i.e. a source of some kind affecting the subject. And that is the exterior object, the orange, I was referring to. I will admit that my rather loose statement that "Orangeness is located on the orange, … it is a quality of the object" is not quite correct. It is more that the exterior object is the locus of an efficacy that invokes the sensation of color - different in each person, but still within the range of colors - in the subject.

Now, the nature of that "efficacy" of the exterior object to invoke something like a color sensation is, of course, hard to define. Kant places it firmly in the Thing in Itself, and therefore unknowable. That is at least one reason why many have rejected Kant's resolution of the Hume problem.

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