• SophistiCat
    540
    If you look at my article, "Mind or Randomness in Evolution" (https://www.academia.edu/27797943/Mind_or_Randomness_in_Evolution)Dfpolis

    Thank you. Having looked over your article, I have no further interest in this conversation.
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    (1) The object informing the subject is identically the subject being informed by the object. Because of this identity, there is never a gap to be bridged. I have put this in neurophysiological terms by pointing out that, in any act of perception, the object's modification of my sensory system is identically my sensory representation of the object. In other words, the one modification of my neural state belongs both to the object (as its action) and to me (as my state).Dfpolis

    Well, it seems to me that this is a defense of naive realism. I'm sorry to say that I think the first sentence verges on the nonsensical, as it implies that you are whatever you are looking at - chair, tree, or whatever.

    As I tried to argue several pages back, the act of cognition is a complex, whereby a whole range of different kinds of stimuli and judgements are integrated into a whole. And in that act there is also plenty of scope for error. Things may not be what they seem, and the often don't mean what they take them to mean. And Kant really was onto that.

    A homely example I sometimes give is 'three men surveying a paddock'. One is a farmer, one a geologist, one a real estate developer. The farmer will see the paddock in terms of how much stock it will support, what kind of pasture it has, whether there's water; the geologist will be looking at rock outcrops, the underlying topography; the real estate developer will be looking at how suitable for building, zoning laws, and so on. So they're all looking at the same paddock but seeing different things; and furthermore, their differing perspectives don't really conflict - it's not as if the real estate developer's view is the right view, and the farmer's the wrong one.

    Furthermore, if you go right back into the origins of the 'dialectic of being and becoming' with the Parmenides, then we will see that the Greek philosophers really are questioning our instinctive sense of the reality of sense-perception. Plato, et al, really did distrust the testimony of the senses; in that, he was more like the Vedic sage who sees the world of sensory experience as 'maya', of not being what it seems. I think actually Greek philosophy is, or ought to be, shocking, from the perspective of us modern urbans. We're well-adjusted, we're comfortable, we have a strong sense of what is real and of who we are; I think that philosophy really must call it into question. It's an inconvenient truth (and as a comfortable, well-adjusted member of the bourgeois, that's something that embarrases me. :yikes: )

    So when the questions were raised about 'the nature of what is real', philosophy really did take a forensic knife to the 'act of cognition', to how we know what we think we know. And those questions didn't just concern the token chair or apple; they concerned the nature of Justice, Virtue, Beauty, and Truth. (The page from which I took the graphic has a very good analysis of the ethical orientation of The Republic; Uebersax argues that 'the Republic' is actually a metaphor for the human being.)

    So the general idea is that we don't 'see things as they truly are' - the philosopher has to 'ascend' to that through the refinement of the understanding.

    — Wayfarer

    I also agree here, provided that you admit that the little we do see can be quite real, even though it may not be the ultimate reality.
    Dfpolis

    I think the 'ultimate reality' is the only subject of interest for philosophy - again, that's why it is radical. In Buddhism, there is a term 'yathābhūtaṃ' which refers to the attribute of the Buddha to 'see things as they truly are'. The implication is that we 'puthujjana' ( the Indian equivalent of the hoi polloi) do not see 'things as they are' because of the 'three poisons' of hatred, greed and delusion. These condition our every perception, so we don't 'see things truly'. Of course, in the Secular West, to 'see things truly', it is said, is to see that they're essentially meaningless and purposeless; but this, too, is a mental construct (vikalpa, in Buddhist terminology).

    Clearly, the Greek analysis is very different to the Buddhist, but what they do have in common, is a sense that the normal human state is radically deficient. 'Plato was clearly concerned not only with the state of his soul, but also with his relation to the universe at the deepest level. Plato’s metaphysics was not intended to produce merely a detached understanding of reality. His motivation in philosophy was in part to achieve a kind of understanding that would connect him (and therefore every human being) to the whole of reality – intelligibly and if possible satisfyingly. He even seems to have suffered from a version of the more characteristically Judaeo-Christian conviction that we are all miserable sinners, and to have hoped for some form of redemption from philosophy.' (Thomas Nagel, Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament.)

    So, what we do see is not quite real - that's the point!

    Anyway, that is enough out of me, I sit down here at the computer and can type away for hours, but am enrolled in a creative writing course and really must switch focus for a while.
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    even in the highest levels of noesis, contemplation and thinking only with intelligible objects, elements of eikasia, opinion associated with one's practise, enter into the knowledge. No theory (intelligible object) can escape the influence of practise (the visible world), and no practise (activity in the visible world) is free from the influence of theory (the intelligible realm).Metaphysician Undercover

    Aristotle was still a religious contemplative by today's lights. Maybe he was less mystical than his teacher, but when he talks of 'contemplation of the eternal ideas', he's not talking about anything utilitarian. Another John Uebersax page, Contemplative Life is Divine and Happiest.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    Well, it seems to me that this is a defense of naive realism. I'm sorry to say that I think the first sentence verges on the nonsensical, as it implies that you are whatever you are looking at - chair, tree, or whatever.Wayfarer

    The first sentence is simply an example of the well-known identity of action and passion -- which differ not in their being, but only in how we conceive them. Of course it applies to every instance of sensation. That is what it is intended to do. It does not entail naive realism.

    Putting aside your negative feelings, what logical objection, if any, do you have with this this identity? If you have none, we must conclude that there is no epistic gap between subject and object.

    As I tried to argue several pages back, the act of cognition is a complex, whereby a whole range of different kinds of stimuli and judgements are integrated into a whole. And in that act there is also plenty of scope for error.Wayfarer

    And, I agreed with you. I said that in addition to the bare the act of perception wherein the object informs the subject, there is typically a great deal of constructive gap filling that can lead to erroneous judgements. Then I pointed out that the error was not in the bare informing of the subject, but in our judgement's reliance on the constructive rather than the informative elements. That is why this is not a defense of naive realism.

    So they're all looking at the same paddock but seeing different things; and furthermore, their differing perspectives don't really conflict - it's not as if the real estate developer's view is the right view, and the farmer's the wrong one.Wayfarer

    Exactly. This is what I mean by "projections." Each person has a different projection of the paddock -- not merely because each has a different physical standpoint, but because each projects his or her perception into a different conceptual space. I wrote about this almost thirty years ago in my Metaphilosophy paper, "Paradigms for an Open Philosophy."

    if you go right back into the origins of the 'dialectic of being and becoming' with the Parmenides, then we will see that the Greek philosophers really are questioning our instinctive sense of the reality of sense-perception.Wayfarer

    Yes, and if you read Aristotle, who took all of these concerns quite seriously, you will find them analyzed and resolved. Yet here we are, going over the same old ground because few bother to read Aristotle anymore.

    Plato, et al, really did distrust the testimony of the senses; in that, he was more like the Vedic sage who sees the world of sensory experience as 'maya',Wayfarer

    Yes, and the Aristotelian tradition, including Aquinas, generally under-values the mystical tradition. I was also undervalued it until I read W. T. Stace's work in the late 80s. If you look back at the ways in which I sympathize with Kant, you'll see that I now appreciate it as an important aspect of human experience even though it is inadequately valued in modern philosophy.

    I think the 'ultimate reality' is the only subject of interest for philosophyWayfarer

    I see understanding ultimate reality as a goal devoutly to be desired, but it can hardly be the starting point. For me, philosophy aims to provide a consistent framework for understanding all human experience. So that people can start where they are and progress in understanding.

    hatred, greed and delusion ... condition our every perception, so we don't 'see things truly'.Wayfarer

    I don't see the great mass of people nearly so negatively.

    Thank you for your perspective.
  • Andrew M
    473
    It means you don't see the tree; you see the light. (And you never, ever, did see the tree.)tim wood

    The way the term "see" functions in ordinary usage is that it relates a subject (you) to an intended object (the tree). That usage pragmatically abstracts over the specific details of the underlying physical process (which can be unknown). Whereas you're drawing on knowledge of that process - that it involves light reflection - and supposing that it is the light itself that is being seen. But that would be a different use of "see" and also one that fails to reference what we ordinarily want to talk about (the tree).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.6k
    I don't understand what you are saying here. Would you explain how separation can flow out of identity?Dfpolis

    Are you familiar with the two forms of identity? You'll find them on SEP referred to as qualitative and numerical. Qualitative, what logicians use, implies that a thing is identified by what it is, but this really refers to a logical subject rather than an object. The thing's identity is what we hand to it, what we say it is. In ontology we want to identify a thing itself, and ensure that the identity is proper to that thing and only that very same thing, this is numerical identity. For example, qualitative identity could allow that you and I drive, "the same" car because it is the same year and model, we can call it the same. Numerical identity allows only that my car is the same as my car, and your car is the same as your car.

    Aristotle introduced ontological identity as the law of identity, "a thing is the same as itself", because the logical form of identity was being abused in sophistry. As you can see, two distinct things could be said to be the same thing, by being the same type. However, the difference between the two forms of identity is substantial. Ontological identity is based in a thing's temporal continuity, it's temporal extension, and is supported by the matter of the thing. Having temporal extension is what gives existence to a "thing". But this allows that a thing has an actively changing form, while remaining the same thing. A change to a thing does not make it a different thing. Logical identity identifies by the form, so that the identified thing cannot have a different form. A different form implies a different thing. Recognizing the two forms of identity allows us to avoid the problems of distinguishing accidentals from essentials. Every aspect of the thing itself is essential to it, making it the unique, particular thing that it is.

    Aristotle was still a religious contemplative by today's lights. Maybe he was less mystical than his teacher, but when he talks of 'contemplation of the eternal ideas', he's not talking about anything utilitarian. Another John Uebersax page, Contemplative Life is Divine and Happiest.Wayfarer

    Aristotle does not support "eternal ideas". That is his principal disagreement with Pythagoreans, and such Platonists. He assigns to ideas the nature of "potential", and demonstrates logically that anything eternal must be actual. Therefore eternal ideas are impossible. That is his famous refutation of the "eternal ideas" of Pythagorean idealism.

    However, he does refer to contemplation as a divine activity. Notice though, that even contemplation, and its highest form, the divine activity of a thinking which is thinking about thinking, is an activity. And as an activity, it is direct by intention, final cause, so it must be the means to an end. This is why contemplation and divine thought do not suffice, and he must proceed onward beyond divine thought, to determine a final end, which he designates as happiness.

    So the Pythagorean idealism of "eternal ideas" is dismissed because their principles cannot support "actual" ideas. This is replaced by the activity of thinking, which for Aristotle is what gives actual existence to ideas. But as an intentional activity, even thinking must be directed towards an end, so in the Nichomachean Ethics he sees the need to determine a final end.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    Of course. But the question isn't about seeing, It's about what the knowledge is, and is of.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    Are you familiar with the two forms of identity? You'll find them on SEP referred to as qualitative and numerical.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, I know the difference.

    Qualitative, what logicians use, implies that a thing is identified by what it is, but this really refers to a logical subject rather than an object.Metaphysician Undercover

    The distinction does not depend on who uses "identity," but what they mean in using it. Numerically identity refers to the selfsame object. Qualitative identity means distinct individuals have the same properties.

    The thing's identity is what we hand to it, what we say it is.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is yet a third meaning of identity. It is the thing as understood. For example, when we speak of gender identity, we mean what gender a person understands themself to be. If it is self-assigned, the result of self understanding, it is an intrinsic property. If it is "handed" to something, it is not intrinsic, but relational: the thing as understood by us.

    Having temporal extension is what gives existence to a "thing".Metaphysician Undercover

    Dynamic continuity allows us to know that we are dealing with the selfsame thing, but it is not the source of the thing's existence. We know this because a thing must exist before it can have dynamic continuity.

    Every aspect of the thing itself is essential to it, making it the unique, particular thing that it is.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is not quite right. As you point out, dynamical continuity allows me to say that I am the same individual at different times, yet many of my aspects have changed. I am no longer the same height and weight, nor is what hair I have left the same color, as when I was a child. So, some properties are "accidental" -- changing them does not make me a different individual or a different kind of thing.

    So, we return to my question:

    Aristotle on the other hand provided us with a law of identity which identifies the thing itself. His law of identity states that a thing is the same as itself. What this does is create a separation between the individuation and identity which we hand to reality (we individuate and identify "a chair" for example), and the identity which things have, in themselves.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't understand what you are saying here. Would you explain how separation can flow out of identity?Dfpolis
  • Galuchat
    481
    I prefer to define intention as: reference to an object (physical or mental actuality) by mental representation in order to describe it and/or cause its essential development (synonyms: purpose, goal), because I find it to be consistent with commonly held notions of:
    1) Intentionality: the capacity to form mental representations of objects, and
    2) Propositional Attitude: attitude which describes the relation between a proposition and existence.

    As such, these terms belong to the domain of mind.

    So:
    1) I think referring to the Laws of Nature as a type of intentionality is a category error apart from an association with a Supreme Being having mind, and
    2) Recognising determinate cause in both physical and mental aspects of the universe, I would prefer to define Final Cause as: constraint(s). This would comprehend the Laws of Nature with regard to physical aspects, and intentions with regard to mental aspects.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    As I've pointed out, everything can't be perceptions because a perception is always perception of an object by a subject.Dfpolis
    Again and again and again, in forms that shift with the breeze. It isn't about existence. It's about knowledge. No one questions that perceptions are caused by something. But you jump from the fact of a cause to knowledge of the cause. No one questions that as a practical matter we have lots of knowledge. The question is, again, how it works. Kant's answer is that knowledge is partly constructed by mind*.The obvious question that follows is, if it's mind-constructed, how do you get beyond the mind? Kant's answer: you don't. You say you do, but you give no account of how, except by resorting to practical knowledge in ever more fantastical forms.

    And the foundation is that Aristotle sez so. Well if that's the font of all knowledge, a lot of people are wasting their time trying to gain knowledge in other ways.

    Different approaches haven't worked. Let's then be more direct. You agree the tree I perceive - I see - is a representation. Not an oil-on-canvas, not a Kodak moment, not a digital photo. A neural representation. The point is that the representation is not the tree. It is trivially not the tree. But hidden therein is the assumption that the representation is accurate at least in some degree in some way, with the implication that it can be made more exact, accurate, precise. And indeed it can be, as a representation. Again, existence and practical knowledge are not in question. But insofar as the representation never is the tree, then any refinement of the representation is only a refinement of the representation. The tree never gets in there. Or alternatively, the representation never gets to the tree.

    But inasmuch as this is about knowledge and not the tree, a point yet failed to be grasped, the tree is reckoned as known, via perception. Most trees look nice; wood is functional.

    But the knowledge. Is it grounded in perception? Is how it seems how it is? How is it? I should like you to suppose that Aristotle understands Kant at least as well as you do, and also understands Hume and Berkeley at least as well as you do. Tell us. What does Aristotle say in response to Kant?

    He cannot revert to "practical knowledge," because the question is not about practical knowledge. According to you, what does he say?

    I think the answer is that Aristotle has nothing to say, because none of it was a problem - a question - for him. His task was to make sense of the world. Kant's was to make sense of how we make sense of the world. One to understand, the other to understand what and how we understand. Two different animals.

    Now a direct question or two:
    You see a tree. Is what you're seeing a perception of the tree? Or the tree itself?
    If of the tree itself, how did the tree get into your perception?
    If a perception, how do you ground your claim of knowledge about the tree?
    -------
    *Very roughly: Berkeley said it's all in the mind (so you can't know the world). Hume said it's all the world (so you can't know, e.g., causes, only observed sequences). Berkeley resorted to the ultimate Deux et machina; Hume played billiards. These two were the expressions of both sides of a dilemma. Kant resolved it.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics, provides a simplified and I believe a more realistic version of the principal divisions of knowledge. He divides theory from practise, such that in comparison to Plato's divisions, theory is assigned to the intellectual realm, practise to the visible. (...)Metaphysician Undercover

    This post is golden. There is much food for thought, and for further study, there. Thanks!
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    So, my commitment to determinism in the realm of physics does not commit me to determinism in the realm of intentional operations of knowing subjects.Dfpolis

    I think I may be in broad agreement, although I understand Kim's principle of the causal closure of the physical to be restricted in scope (further than he acknowledges) rather in the same way in which you are restricting the scope of determinism. (Classical) physical systems are deterministic for the very same reason why they are (physically) causally closed. And that's because when they are being considered in abstraction from the formal features of their organization by virtue of which one can ascribe intentionality, teleology and/or active powers (or normative functions) to them, then, in that case, their purely physical behaviors have sufficient physical causes. Such physical systems, however, considered as such, always are generalized abstractions from real empirical phenomena that generally fall under non-physical predicates (that don't reduce to physical predicates). Physical systems therefore are of special interest to physicists but aren't ontologically fundamental.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    I think you get biological teleology wrong. The way you describe it, teleology arises from individual organisms' striving to achieve a goal, much like Lamarck thought that when a giraffe reaches for higher branches its neck grows progressively longer with each generation (he even hypothesized a causal mechanism for this: a "nervous fluid"). We know that this is not how evolution works (for the most part). Fitness does not increase as a direct response to organisms' strivings and desires.SophistiCat

    Yes, indeed. I am not arguing that the fitness increase is a direct response to the organisms's strivings. That would characterize a Lamarckian process and would run afoul of the consequences of the separation of the somatic and germinal lines. I am rather pointing out a frequently overlooked feature of Darwinian evolution through natural selection (among independent germinal variations) that is indirectly dependent on organisms' strivings (both behavioral and physiological). Those strivings are already teleologically structured on the time frame of ontogeny. Their evolutionary consequences cross-over to the time frame of phylogeny because, while the sorting action of natural selection is, in a sense, blind to the organisms' strivings, the raw material that it is selecting amongst doesn't merely consist in variations in genotype but rather in variations in effectiveness of the (teleologically structured) phenotypes for achieving whatever it is that the organisms already are striving for.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    Well, it seems to me that this is a defense of naive realism. I'm sorry to say that I think the first sentence verges on the nonsensical, as it implies that you are whatever you are looking at - chair, tree, or whatever.Wayfarer

    That doesn't sound nonsensical to my ears. It might be nonsensical if the 'object' of perception were conceived as the individual (substance) that is being perceived. But if we rather consider this 'object' as the content of the perceptual experience, and this content is conceived as being propositionally articulated, then it makes sense to say that the content of the experience is identical to what it is that is being experienced, in the case where there is no illusion or misperception. That's broadly the disjunctive conception of perceptual experience (and knowledge) defended by John McDowell, among others.

    The disjunctive conception of experience also dovetails well with @Dfpolis claim (following Aristotle) that, in the act of perception, the 'object' and the 'subject' are ontologically united without any epistemic gap in the sense that the actualization of the subject's power to perceive an object and the object's power to affect the subject's capacity for perceptual knowledge are the joint actualization of one single power, since those two powers can't exist separately, and neither can they be actualized separately. (This is true also in the case where the capacity for knowledge is structured in a 'constructivist' fashion, and is actualized by means of complex and protracted cognitive processes).

    That is not nearly as weird as it sounds. Compare the power of a glassful of water to dissolve a sugar cube and the power of this sugar cube to be dissolved in water (i.e. its solubility). Those two (unactualized) powers can only exist together and they can only be actualized jointly. Furthermore, the actualization of the power of water to dissolve sugar and the actualization of the power of the sugar to be dissolved in water, when they are actualized jointly, are constituted by one single (numerically identical) process. (@Dfpolis's example of the builder building the house and the house being built is even better.)
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    But if we rather consider this 'object' as the content of the perceptual experience, and this content is conceived as being propositionally articulated, then it makes sense to say that the content of the experience is identical to what it is that is being experienced, in the case where there is no illusion or misperception.Pierre-Normand

    That doesn't sound nonsensical, but it is also not what I was commenting on. What I took the passage I was commenting on to say was that the hypothetical tree/chair/apple, the perception of it and the subject of the perception, are all one and the same - which I take to be a naively realist analysis.

    I would be interested in an opinion on a question which DFpolis and I discussed previously in this connection. I have learned from various sources about the idea of hylomorphic (matter-form) dualism, which, as I understand it, developed in scholastic philosophy, based on Aristotelian realism. And this does differentiate matter and form - hence the name! In that regard, I quoted from this blog post, which is an excerpt from Thomistic Psychology: A Philosophical Analysis of the Nature of Man, by Robert E. Brennan, O.P.; Macmillan Co., 1941:

    if the proper knowledge of the senses is of accidents, through forms that are individualized, the proper knowledge of intellect is of essences, through forms that are universalized. Intellectual knowledge is analogous to sense knowledge inasmuch as it demands the reception of the form of the thing which is known. But it differs from sense knowledge so far forth as it consists in the apprehension of things, not in their individuality, but in their universality.

    The separation of form from matter requires two stages if the idea is to be elaborated: first, the sensitive stage, wherein the external and internal senses operate upon the material object, accepting its form without matter, but not without the appendages of matter; second the intellectual stage, wherein agent intellect operates upon the phantasmal datum, divesting the form of every character that marks and identifies it as a particular something.

    Abstraction, which is the proper task of active intellect, is essentially a liberating function in which the essence of the sensible object, potentially understandable as it lies beneath its accidents, is liberated from the elements that individualize it and is thus made actually understandable. The product of abstraction is a species of an intelligible order. Now possible intellect is supplied with an adequate stimulus to which it responds by producing a concept.

    DFpolis took issue with this passage here.

    So here:

    the 'object' and the 'subject' are ontologically united without any epistemic gap in the sense that the actualization of the subject's power to perceive an object and the object's power to affect the subject's capacity for perceptual knowledge are the joint actualization of one single power,Pierre-Normand


    What the Brennan passage seems to say, and what I think is crucial, is that the forms of things are known directly and immediately, because of the innate capacity of 'agent intellect' to know forms (which is 'noesis'). But the sensible object is known only mediately, precisely because it is external, other, or separate from us, physically. So what is known directly is the form/type/essence which is not exactly the same as the material object of perception - hence, 'hylomorphic dualism'.

    Now, there's another matter, which is the fact that objects appear to us as a unified whole, not as form on the one hand, and matter on the other. And that, I take to be the issue which Kant addresses in the 'transcendental unity of perception.'
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    That doesn't sound nonsensical, but it is also not what I was commenting on. What I took the passage I was commenting on to say was that the hypothetical tree/chair/apple, the perception of it and the subject of the perception, are all one and the same - which I take to be a naively realist analysis.Wayfarer

    You may have misread him, then. What he had written was: "The object informing the subject is identically the subject being informed by the object." (my emphasis). The two items that are being identified, it seems to me, are acts of powers "...informing..." and "...being informed..." and not two individual substances. To claim that those two processes -- the act of an active power of perception, and the corresponding act of a passive power (of being perceived) -- are numerically identical may be construed as a claim of direct realism albeit not necessarily as a claim of naive realism. As a claim of direct realism, akin to J. J. Gibson's theory of perception, it amounts to little more than the rejection of representationalism. It is not naively realist since there is no assumption that the perceptual capacity that is essentially involved in the act of perception isn't richly conceptually informed and/or constitutively dependent on the biological nature of the perceiving subject. Those 'subjective' features of the perceiving subject, however, don't stand in between her and the perceived object in the manner representationalist epistemologies (such a Cartesian epistemology) conceive mental representations to stand as merely proximal ('representative') objects of perceptions.
  • Pierre-Normand
    1.4k
    What the Brennan passage seems to say, and what I think is crucial, is that the forms of things are known directly and immediately, because of the innate capacity of 'agent intellect' to know forms (which is 'noesis'). But the sensible object is known only mediately, precisely because it is external, other, or separate from us, physically. So what is known directly is the form/type/essence which is not exactly the same as the material object of perception - hence, 'hylomorphic dualism'.

    Now, there's another matter, which is the fact that objects appear to us as a unified whole, not as form on the one hand, and matter on the other. And that, I take to be the issue which Kant addresses in the 'transcendental unity of perception.'
    Wayfarer

    I agree. While the form is brought to bear by the perceiving subject on the content of her experience of an object, it isn't brought to bear on it in a separate act from the perception of the accidents of this object. It is rather brought to bear to its object in the very same act in which the accidents of this object are being perceived. (Here, I am using 'object' to designate a substance rather than a propositional content).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.6k
    The distinction does not depend on who uses "identity," but what they mean in using it. Numerically identity refers to the selfsame object. Qualitative identity means distinct individuals have the same properties.Dfpolis

    Right, qualitative identity allows us to say that things with the same properties are the same thing. That's the way logicians use "identity". Regardless of whether temporal continuity of the object has been established, if the properties are judged to be the same we say that it is the same object. This issue is what Wittgenstein referred to when he asked how do we know that the chair in the room is the same chair that was there yesterday. The chair here today has the same properties as the one yesterday, but someone might have switched it overnight. Do you see the difference between this and numerical identity, which identifies the self-same object, through temporal continuity? Despite the fact that some properties of that object might have changed, it is still the self-same object. This is the ontological use "identity" established by Aristotle. Being the self-same object does not require having the same properties, as the properties of an object change with time..

    I don't understand what you are saying here. Would you explain how separation can flow out of identity?Dfpolis

    You apprehend that there are two forms of identity. Why do you not see this as a separation? Do you see the difference between a logical subject, being identified by it's properties, and an ontological object, being identified by temporal continuity?

    This post is golden. There is much food for thought, and for further study, there. Thanks!Pierre-Normand

    My pleasure.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.6k
    Sorry Df, I somehow missed this part of your reply.

    This is yet a third meaning of identity. It is the thing as understood. For example, when we speak of gender identity, we mean what gender a person understands themself to be. If it is self-assigned, the result of self understanding, it is an intrinsic property. If it is "handed" to something, it is not intrinsic, but relational: the thing as understood by us.Dfpolis

    I am not talking about a third meaning of identity here, and this is the key point. To identify by properties is "the thing as understood". Properties are what we perceive of the thing. This is the Kantian distinction. the properties are not of the thing itself, they are how we perceive the thing. This is why qualitative identity, to identify by properties (to give a thing its identity), is distinct from numerical identity which is to say that a thing has an identity regardless of its properties, or whether it has been identified(given an identity).

    Dynamic continuity allows us to know that we are dealing with the selfsame thing, but it is not the source of the thing's existence. We know this because a thing must exist before it can have dynamic continuity.Dfpolis

    Right, that's the point, that is the way that we identify the self-same thing, not by its properties.

    This is not quite right. As you point out, dynamical continuity allows me to say that I am the same individual at different times, yet many of my aspects have changed. I am no longer the same height and weight, nor is what hair I have left the same color, as when I was a child. So, some properties are "accidental" -- changing them does not make me a different individual or a different kind of thing.Dfpolis

    As I said, we proceed in this way to avoid the unresolvable quagmire involved with the assumption that there is a real distinction between essential and accidental properties. These are logical divisions, applicable only to qualitative identitythe identity we give to the object. That there is no such thing as "accidentals" in the identity which an object has of itself, is key to understanding Aristotle's law of identity, a thing is the same as itself. Everything which could be identified as a property, of any existing thing, is essential to making that thing, the thing which it is. Each and every aspect is necessary or else it would be something different, and therefore have a different identity.. This is also expressed, in an inverted form in Leibniz' "identity of indiscernibles". .
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.6k
    I don't understand what you are saying here. Would you explain how separation can flow out of identity?Dfpolis

    So here's perhaps a better answer to your question. The logical identity of a thing is based in essential properties, this is qualitative identity. However, we also allow, following Aristotle's law of identity, that there is an ontological identity of a thing, numerical identity, and this is based in the accidentals. Do you see the separation between identity by essence, and identity by accidentals?
  • Dfpolis
    470
    No one questions that perceptions are caused by something. But you jump from the fact of a cause to knowledge of the cause.tim wood

    I only "jump" to the metaphysically certain knowledge that whatever the cause actually does, it is capable of doing. Since it informs me in the way I am informed, it is necessarily capable of informing me in that way. Further, the capacity to inform is called "intelligibility," so when I am so informed I have actualized the correlative intelligibility.

    Let be clear about what intelligibility is not. It is not an actuality existing prior to informing a subject. It is only a potential -- the potential to inform a knowing subject. If it never informs a subject, it will never be actual. So I do not know the object as a non-interacting abstraction, but only as it interacts with me. Hopefully that is a token of the type of interactions it can have with other humans.

    Still, with all due respect to Leibnitz, nothing is an abstract, non-interacting monad. So, in knowing the object as interacting, we know it as it is in the world. Thinking of the object as an isolated ding an sich verges on Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness. As I discussed recently, the being of objects is not contained in some enclosing figure, but extends outward in a radiance of action. This radiance existentially penetrates other beings. Things are where they act. Aristotle recognized this when he called action an accident inhering in the acting substance. The moon's eccentric gravitational effect on the oceans is identically the oceans' lunar tide.

    Kant's answer is that knowledge is partly constructed by mindtim wood

    I have no doubt that the content of knowledge defined as "(causally) justified true belief" is partly constricted by the mind. Still, I disagree with Kant's view of how this construction occurs. I see no reason to thing that the mind imposes the forms of space, time and causality. I think if it did, alternate understandings of space, time and causality would be literally unthinkable. 20th century physics' revision of these concepts shows them not be imposed a priori, but empirically derived. So, what I see is that the brain fills a lot of perceptual gaps with activated neural concepts that are not usually distinguished from sensory data.

    On the other hand, if we define "knowledge" more narrowly as "awareness of present intelligibility," then there is no filler. There is just the object acting on us, and us being aware of the object acting. I am not saying that we typically distinguish the two ways of "knowing," but we can -- and we must if we are to think rigorously and analytically.

    how do you get beyond the mind? Kant's answer: you don't. You say you do, but you give no account of how, except by resorting to practical knowledge in ever more fantastical forms.tim wood

    I think this is unfair to my account. If anything, it is too theoretical -- relying as it does on the identity of action and passion and the indivisibility of the act that actualizes the objects intelligibility from that that actualizes the subject's capacity to be informed. Surely, such considerations make no specific appeal to practical knowledge. Further, the difference between practical and theoretical knowledge is not intrinsic, but in the end two which they are directed. Intrinsically, both practical and theoretical knowledge are actualizations of intelligibility. What else could they be?

    And the foundation is that Aristotle sez so.tim wood

    Again, this is unfair. I give credit where credit is due. It is not that "Aristotle sez so," but that he authored the arguments I'm using. Mine is not an argument from authority. The arguments I'm giving stand or fall on their own merits. It is the genetic fallacy to attack the arguments because of their source. If you want to reject them, show how they fail.

    The point is that the representation is not the treetim wood

    I agree that the representation is not the whole tree. It is not the tree abstractly considered -- as though it were a Leibnitzian monad. It is the tree as acting on me. It is part of the radiance of action of the tree.

    Let me ask, what you think knowledge is? How can humans know without interacting with the objects of knowledge? How can we have knowledge without representation? It seems to me that you want something that that not only does not exist, but cannot exist. What would it mean to "know," as opposed to being, noumenal reality? If you cannot say, then it is effectively meaningless to claim that noumenal reality is "unknowable."

    My answer is that representations derived from perception are not separate from their objects, but part of the objects' radiance of action -- their on-going dynamical effects.

    What does Aristotle say in response to Kant?tim wood

    That Kant has missed the identity of knower and known in the act of knowing: the subject knowing the object is identically the object being known by the subject. This is the point that you continue to ignore -- discussing peripheral issues instead.

    You see a tree. Is what you're seeing a perception of the tree? Or the tree itself?tim wood

    It is the tree as acting on me. So, it is the tree itself, not exhaustively, but partially.

    If of the tree itself, how did the tree get into your perception?tim wood

    In the way I described previously: The tree's modification of my sensory system is identically my sensory representation of the tree. So, this one reality belongs equally to the tree and to me. It is because this reality is shared that I know the tree itself -- just not in its entirety.

    These two were the expressions of both sides of a dilemma. Kant resolved it.tim wood

    No, Kant decoupled mind and reality making knowledge impossible.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    Physical systems therefore are of special interest to physicists but aren't ontologically fundamental.Pierre-Normand

    Yes. They are abstractions with a wide range of application.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    Their evolutionary consequences cross-over to the time frame of phylogeny because, while the sorting action of natural selection is, in a sense, blind to the organisms' strivings, the raw material that it is selecting amongst doesn't merely consist in variations in genotype but rather in variations in effectiveness of the (teleologically structured) phenotypes for achieving whatever it is that the organisms already are striving for.Pierre-Normand

    Good.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    if the properties are judged to be the same we say that it is the same object.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't see this. There is no reason we can't have two different objects with identical properties, say two atoms or two molecules.

    Do you see the difference between this and numerical identity, which identifies the self-same object, through temporal continuity?Metaphysician Undercover

    Of course.

    I don't understand what you are saying here. Would you explain how separation can flow out of identity? — Dfpolis

    You apprehend that there are two forms of identity. Why do you not see this as a separation? Do you see the difference between a logical subject, being identified by it's properties, and an ontological object, being identified by temporal continuity?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, but distinguishing the meanings of identity is not the same as physical separation.

    Sorry Df, I somehow missed this part of your reply.Metaphysician Undercover

    No problem.

    This is the Kantian distinction. the properties are not of the thing itself, they are how we perceive the thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is a result of not understanding that there can be no sensation or cognition without the ding an sich being sensible or intelligible. In sensation and cognition we become one with the object perceived and known because of the joint actualization of sensible or intelligible and of the subject's capacity to sense or to be informed.

    Everything which could be identified as a property, of any existing thing, is essential to making that thing, the thing which it is.Metaphysician Undercover

    Only at one instant in time. As I noted, over time many properties can change without a loss of dynamic identity. That is why some aspects, such as life, are essential, while others, such as hair color, are accidental.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    Do you see the separation between identity by essence, and identity by accidentals?Metaphysician Undercover

    Oh. I see. I use "separation" to mean physical distance and "distinction" to mean logical difference. What you are calling "separation" I would call "distinction."
  • Dfpolis
    470
    That's broadly the disjunctive conception of perceptual experience (and knowledge) defended by John McDowell, among others.Pierre-Normand

    Thanks for the reference.
  • Relativist
    446
    "The object informing the subject is identically the subject being informed by the object."

    From an ontological perspective that seems true, but it overlooks the role of epistemology. We do not "know" an object, rather we "know" (perceive) some of its properties in some epistemic context. We identify the object in terms of its properties, but this can be misleading. Paraphrasing Kripke, he notes that Hesperus is that which we perceive as the evening star, and Phosphorous is the name we attach to that which we perceive as the morning star. The ontological identity between Phosphorous and Hesperus is not identical to the epistemic stance because the epistemic context is different.
  • Dfpolis
    470
    We do not "know" an object, rather we "know" (perceive) some of its properties in some epistemic context.Relativist

    If you mean we do not know the object exhaustively, I agree completely.

    The ontological identity between Phosphorous and Hesperus is not identical to the epistemic stance because the epistemic context is different.Relativist

    Of course.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.6k
    I don't see this. There is no reason we can't have two different objects with identical properties, say two atoms or two molecules.Dfpolis

    The question is, are they "the same". If they are two different objects, then they are not the same, by one account of "the same". If you call two different objects the same on account of them having identical properties, then you are using "the same" in a different way. Since there is a difference between these two uses of "the same", we must be careful not to equivocate, by respecting the separation between them.

    Yes, but distinguishing the meanings of identity is not the same as physical separation.Dfpolis

    Of course, but not all separations are physical separations. I was talking about a categorical separation, not a physical separation. For example, it would be illogical to class the separation between the physical and the non-physical as a physical separation. Yet there must be a separation or else we cannot have the two distinct categories.

    This is a result of not understanding that there can be no sensation or cognition without the ding an sich being sensible or intelligible. In sensation and cognition we become one with the object perceived and known because of the joint actualization of sensible or intelligible and of the subject's capacity to sense or to be informed.Dfpolis

    In Kantian metaphysics though, "the object perceived" is the phenomenon, it is not the noumenon. So, just like in Aristotle's epistemology, the knower becomes one with the abstracted form, but the matter, or thing in itself remains separate This is the same categorical separation as referred to above. We hand identity to the abstracted form, the perception, so the perception, the abstracted form, has an identity. Now, as Aristotle insists, we need to go beyond this, and allow that material things, what Kant calls noumena, also have an identity in themselves. Do you understand the need for this separation, or do you deny the need for it.

    Only at one instant in time. As I noted, over time many properties can change without a loss of dynamic identity. That is why some aspects, such as life, are essential, while others, such as hair color, are accidental.Dfpolis

    No, it's not a case of "only at one instant in time". That's the whole point, a thing, or object, has necessarily, temporal extension. Temporal extension is necessary for real existence. There is no such thing as a thing at an instant in time. And, to be the thing that it is, any thing, or object, must have the exact same properties that it has, at every moment in time, or else it would not be that thing, it would be something else.

    When we allow identity by temporal extension (material identity), we can point to something, then point to it again, a moment later, and claim that it is the same thing, without knowing any of its properties. What properties it has are irrelevant, because its material identity, as "a thing" is based in temporal extension. This is how the same thing can have all sorts of different forms, from one moment to the next. That is how energy can be referred to as a thing, with real existence, despite the fact that it is just a potential, the capacity to do work. It has temporal extension, so we can say that the same energy is transferred from one form to another, through the means of some field mathematics, all the while it maintains its identity as the same energy.
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