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Friday, November 11, 2022

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Actually I am puzzled by what the authors mean by “how can [the world] give me what are then my reasons for thinking things one way or another”.

If I see that the tree is green, it follows from the meaning of the verb ‘see’, which is a verb of success, that the tree is green. Does it also follow in the same way that I think that the tree is green? How can I possibly see that something is the case, without thinking or believing that it is the case? I’m not asking about the facts of the matter here. I am asking whether it follows from the meaning of the verb ‘see’ that seeing implies thinking.

'Know' is clearly a verb of success, and it is always a verb of success when used correctly. If I KNOW that the tree is green, then the tree is green.

'See' has a correct use as a verb of success, but also a correct use in which it is not a verb of success.

If I see a tree, then there exists a tree that I see. On this 'success' use, I cannot see what is not there to be seen. Seeing entails the existence of the seen.

But there is also a phenomenological use of 'see' where the entailment fails.

We also have to distinguish between seeing x and seeing THAT x is F. It is one thing to see a tree, another to see that a tree is green.

>>If I see that the tree is green, it follows from the meaning of the verb ‘see’, which is a verb of success, that the tree is green.<<

If you know that the tree is green, it follows that the tree is green. No problemo! But how do you know that the tree is green? By seeing that it is green? We want to say YES. But how is it possible to see (with the eyes in your head) that the tree is green? To pull that off you would have to be able to see that the green tree exists. But I argued that the existence of a thing cannot be seen.

That's one problem. Here is a second. To see THAT x is F, you have to see a proposition, a thought in Frege's sense. But propositions are invisible and not just accidentally but by their very nature.

Being a nominalist, you will deny that there are propositions/Gedanken. So tell me: what does 'that the tree is green' refer to?

You need first to answer these questions before we can get to your question about thinking.

Bill, You write,

How do I know that the tree is green? I see the tree, and I see green at the tree, but I don't see that the tree is green. Why not? Well, 'That tree is green' is logically equivalent to 'That green tree exists.' So if I can see that the tree is green, then I can see that the green tree exists. But existence is not empirically detectable. I can sense green, but I cannot sense existence. So I cannot see that the green tree exists. Therefore, I cannot see that the tree is green...
Your argument assumes that if p and q are logically equivalent then 'I see that p' and 'I see that q' are also equivalent. I don't think this is so. A sensing of p doesn't deliver a sensing of q for all q equivalent to p, surely? Sensing contexts are opaque. What I think we should say in respect of existence and sensing is that existence is a precondition of sensing almost all the time. In other words, from
I see a green tree,
we may infer
There is a green tree,
in almost all circumstances. And we have a pretty good idea of what those circumstances are that might invalidate the inference. So you can see that the tree is green and it almost certainly is.

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