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Friday, March 31, 2023


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> He ignores (D3).

I had considered the possibility of the disjunction D3 but rejected it for various reasons. First, the counterfactual definition is consistent with ordinary realism, and does not require the existence of God. If to exist means capable of being perceived, then even if God does not exist, every unperceived thing still exists, for it is capable of being perceived. In De Anima 426a Aristotle considers some “earlier natural philosophers”, who “supposed that without seeing there was neither white nor black, and without tasting no flavour.” He replies that “When they mean the actual sensation and the actual sensible thing, the statement holds good: when they mean potential sensation and potential sensible, this is not the case”.

Thus the counterfactual definition is consistent with bogstandard Aristotelian realism.

Second, the counterfactual reading is inconsistent with §46, where he addresses the apparent absurdity of visible objects being “reduced to nothing” when we close our eyes. He objects that the indirect realists (Descartes, Locke etc) claim that light and colour are mere sensations that exist no longer than they are perceived, so by implication, if indirect realism is not absurd, neither is his immaterialism. See also §45.

Now at §48 he adds another definition of ‘exist’, but that is not a counterfactual definition. An object exists, he says, if some being is (not might be) perceiving it.

Take your pick of these different definitions. I say they are all wrong. Existence has nothing to do with perception.

> Ed's apparent identification of idealism with Berkeleyan idealism.

Lotze, Bradley and Bosanquet unsuccessfully tried to address the problem of the “logical idea” and the possibility of reference, yes.

>I am also puzzled by Ed's talk of phrases like 'my table' needing referents when he himself denies (in his book) that there is extra-linguistic reference and affirms that all reference is intra-linguistic.<

That would be a misreading of my book, which you should read. I claim that “ ‘Frodo Baggins’ refers to Frodo Baggins” is true. But I also claim that “there is such a person as Frodo Baggins” is false. That is consistent with my claim that ‘refers to’ is an intentional verb.

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