• Janus
    7.9k
    We could say that one is recognizing something that has a particular set of causal connections to a prior existent.Terrapin Station

    OK, insofar as I think I understand what you are saying here, I don't disagree; but I can't see the relevance. The animal presumably has no notion of recognizing anything like that, and humans don't necessarily or even usually have anything of that kind in mind when they recognize someone. It's simpler to think that the animal and the human just recognize repeating patterns. The way you look today would presumably allow anyone with a half-decent eye to recognize you in a photograph from thirty years ago of a group of say twenty people you were part of.

    No need to posit "particular sets of causal connections to a prior existent".
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k


    At any rate, the gist of nominalism is that there's nothing extramental in all of this that's actually identical with numerically distinct or discernible things.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Well if extra-mental is taken to mean that something is independent of our thoughts and opinions, I would say that there is; namely the recurring patterns which are recognized by both people and animals prior to any thoughts or opinions. Of course recognition is a mental activity, but what is recognized is not.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k


    Right, so you'd be saying that some pattern A on occasion 1 isn't just similar to pattern B on occasion 2, but it's literally the same pattern, as in there's just one, and it's somehow instantiated in A and B at both occasions. How would that work ontologically? The pattern isn't just the one particular in that case, but somehow transcends the particular and is then instantiated in it. How would that work? Where would the pattern be located, for one?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Yes, it's the same basic pattern or configuration that changes gradually over time. The total identity of an entity is the total configurational change (both visible and invisible) over time that is unique to that entity. The way you look today to the discerning eye is probably (discounting the possibility that there might have been severe ravages of time inflicted upon you) closer to how you looked when you were five than it would be to how I look today.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k


    If it changes how is it identical?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    I keep having to repeat that I have not said identicality is equivalent to identity. An identity, an entity, can change over time; and this is obvious. Over the whole time of its existence an entity is obviously identical to itself, but the way it is at any one time is not completely, but only more or less, identical to the way it is at another time.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    I keep having to repeat that I have not said identicality is equivalent to identity.Janus

    Nominalism is saying something about identicality. So if you're not, you're not presenting something contra nominalism. That's why I clarified this a few posts ago: "At any rate, the gist of nominalism is that there's nothing extramental in all of this that's actually identical with numerically distinct or discernible things."

    Over the whole time of its existence an entity is obviously identical to itself,Janus

    Here, you're using the word "identical." So the question remains. If there is change, how is it identical at two different points? Or are you saying something about identity there and not identicality, in which case you shouldn't use the word "identical"?

    Nominalists agree that we say things like "that's cat x at time T1 and cat x at time T2," but we say that the identity in question ("cat x") is a mental abstraction, which is itself not identical through time.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    we say that the identity in question ("cat x") is a mental abstraction, which is itself not identical through time.Terrapin Station

    Each reference to a particular entity or identity is a different instance of reference, and so each act of reference is not identical to other acts of reference. But the referent is always the same referent. The referent being the same referent each time it is referred to does not logically depend upon the referent being physically unchanging from one moment to the next. To say that it does would be to commit a category error. You seem to be confusing yourself by getting your categories mixed up.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    The referent being the same referent each time it is referred to does not logically depend upon the referent being physically unchanging from one moment to the next.Janus

    It's not "literally the same" if it's different, is it?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    It's logically the same. It need not be absolutely unchanged in order to be the same entity over time; in fact all entities do change, some more and some less, over time, which means that they are more or less the same.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    It's logically the same. It need not be absolutely unchanged in order to be the same entity over time;Janus

    So the way that I'm using "literally" or "logically the same," which is a conventional way to use both terms, is that there's nothing different in either case. Regardless of the words we use, what nominalists are denying is that something is the same in this sense in two instances. They're not denying something other than that. So it's turning out that you might actually agree with nominalists, but you just have an issue with the terminology.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    No, I don't agree with nominalism. I say that I am, logically speaking, the same entity today as I have been at every moment throughout my life, and that this logical sameness does not depend on my remaining absolutely unchanged over that time.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    No, I don't agree with nominalism. I say that I am, logically speaking, the same entity today as I have been at every moment throughout my life, and that this logical sameness does not depend on my remaining absolutely unchanged over that time.Janus

    Okay, but do you understand that nominalists are only denying something absolutely unchanged on numerically distinct instances?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Well, as I said the only thing that remains absolutely unchanged is identity. Identity cannot change at all otherwise it ceases to be identity; but remember that I don't equate identity with identicality
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    Well, as I said the only thing that remains absolutely unchanged is identity.Janus

    If x at time T1 and x at time T2 have an absolutely unchanged identity in your view, isn't (aren't?) the identity of x at T1 and x at T2 identical? If not why not?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    That's right, as I have said several times, the identity cannot change or else there is no identity. The entity changes, but its being that entity does not change, could not change, or else it would become a different entity. It's a simple matter of the logic of identity.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k


    With respect to the aspect that you'd say is identical, how would you say that time passes, since time is change or motion?
  • Janus
    7.9k
    I haven't said that any aspect is "identical". If it is a unique identity then what could it be identical to? Itself? But that would be an empty tautology. Remember: "identicality is not equivalent to identity"? Who is it for whom time passes?
  • creativesoul
    5.9k
    recognition is a mental activity, but what is recognized is not.Janus

    That holds better of properly quantified.

    Some things recognized are mental activities.

    Not disagreeing, but rather sharpening the terms of agreement.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    That's true, mental activities may be recognized as such, however I was just clarifying that in the context of recognizing something which we might think of as "extramental' (to use Terrapin's terminology) the fact that the act of recognition is classed as a mental activity does not entail that what is recognized is a mental activity.
  • creativesoul
    5.9k


    Agreed.

    Nominalism is untenable. A thing is not equivalent to it's name. A thing changes. It's name does not. If nominalism is held by a coherent advocate thereof, then s/he must admit that we cannot step into the same river once... We cannot step into that river!

    Strict adherence renders language useless, at best...

    It's a philosophical position that amounts to nothing more than willfully ignorant mental masturbation.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Regarding Nominalism, are you happy to say that ‘abstract entities’ such as ‘numbers’ exist but that they are not objects? From my understanding of nominalism many would hold that a ‘chair,’ ‘banana’ or other such ‘concrete entity’ doesn’t exist, but that ‘numbers’ - as ‘abstract entities’ - do exist (just not as ‘objects’).

    The confusion and misapplication of terms seems to me to be the main purpose of the nominalistic approach to discussion.

    If you don’t hold to the above then could you please outline what you mean via the use and definition of terms like ‘object,’ ‘entity,’ ‘real,’ ‘concrete,’ and ‘abstract’.

    Thanks
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    I haven't said that any aspect is "identical"Janus

    We need to go back a step then. I asked you this:

    "If x at time T1 and x at time T2 have an absolutely unchanged identity in your view, isn't (aren't?) the identity of x at T1 and x at T2 identical?"

    You responded with "That's right."

    Again, "identical" refers to being exactly/literally the same, zero differences, or "absolutely unchanged" as you say, in two instances, including at two different times.
  • Isaac
    849
    If nominalism is held by a coherent advocate thereof, then s/he must admit that we cannot step into the same river once... We cannot step into that river!creativesoul

    OK. When did the River Thames (for example) become 'that' river? It will have been a trickle at one point in the past. It would certainly have been in a different location before the southern uplift created the North Downs. So at what point in its history did it become 'that' river?

    And while you're at it, you can explain at exactly what point 'that' river ends. How far out to sea, or how saline must the water be before it is no longer 'that' river? Where does 'that' river begin for that matter? Underground? The moment it breaches the surface? As soon as other tributaries join it?

    I'm regularly dumbfounded by the number of people who seem to do philosophy on the basis of the whatever seems obvious to them must therefore be a fact of the world. It's unbelievably lazy thinking.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    Regarding Nominalism, are you happy to say that ‘abstract entities’ such as ‘numbers’ exist but that they are not objects?I like sushi

    On my view, all abstracts, all abstraction is only a (particular, physical) mental event. It's a way that we think about things, about relations, etc. So this includes numbers.

    From my understanding of nominalism many would hold that a ‘chair,’ ‘banana’ or other such ‘concrete entity’ doesn’t exist, but that ‘numbers’ - as ‘abstract entities’ - do exist (just not as ‘objects’).I like sushi

    It's primarily a position on universals. The idea is that there's not a "chair" universal (or a "round" universal, or a "red" universal, or anything like that), which isn't identical to any particular chair (or roundness or redness), that's then somehow instantiated in various particular chairs (or round or red things). Most nominalists don't buy realism (extramentalism or objectivity) for abstracts in general--whatever you want to call them, abstract objects, abstract entities, etc.

    The confusion and misapplication of terms seems to me to be the main purpose of the nominalistic approach to discussion.I like sushi

    The gist of it isn't that it's an "approach to discussion." It's ontology. It's a stance about what sorts of things there are in the world.

    Re "object" and "entity" I'm not using them in some technical manner. I use them as synonyms for a <whatever you want to call it> that exists, or subsists, or occurs, or is instantiated, or whatever you want to call that, in any manner whatsoever.

    Re "real," it's traditionally used in these discussions to refer to something existing (or subsisting, or again any word you want to use like that) "outside of" mentality. So if you think that x is real, or if you're a realist on x, that implies that you believe that x occurs apart from the mental.

    "Concrete" is used for particulars--single things that are some specific way ("thing" is not being used technically there). "Concrete" usually has the additional connotations of being physical, in spacetime, etc.

    "Abstract" is in contradistinction to "concrete." Abstracts are usually thought to have no physical referent, no referent in spacetime, and/or they are not particular things (again, "thing" there is just a nontechnical "<whatever it is>"); they rather arch over many particulars--for example, as universals. On my view, and on the view of "conceptualist" nominalists in general, abstracts, or the act (or event) of abstraction, is a mental phenomenon (and actually concrete, particular as such) whereby we formulate a concept that arches over many particulars by focusing on some more or less similar feature in a number of particulars (which can include particular relations) while ignoring other details and more fine-grained differences.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Be more careful in defining your use of terms and it would cause much less confusion. The term “real” is used in a variety of ways in philosophy.

    From what I can tell we probably only differ in our use of terminology so our views are likely different only due to semantics.

    I don’t adhere to psychologism. I can sympathise with that perspective though.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    Be more careful in defining your use of terms and it would cause much less confusion. The term “real” is used in a variety of ways in philosophy.I like sushi

    The way I've used "real," and especially in its connection to any discussion of nominalism, should be pretty clear from context to anyone who has studied or who reads a lot of philosophy. What I described is a very common way to use the term, especially historically, and especially in the context of the issue of nominalism. But I don't mind clarifying it when folks ask, as you did.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    In connection to what the others are saying it is clear there is a disjoint.

    As for the use of “real” it is far from apparent exactly what you mean. Not to mention I asked about what kind of “nominalism” previously and you appeared not to understand the question. Maybe if you look here:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nominalism-metaphysics/#VarNom

    Note: there isn’t an instance where “real” is mentioned in that passage. Nominalism is generally in the category of metaphysics whenever I’ve seen it discussed and the term used is generally “object” - referencing the semantic difference between the “abstract” and “concrete”.

    I’m just someone who hasn’t read “a lot” (how much is “a lot”?) of philosophy though, but that’s what I’ve come across.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    As for the use of “real” it is far from apparent exactly what you mean. Not to mention I asked about what kind of “nominalism” previously and you appeared not to understand the question. Maybe if you look here:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nominalism-metaphysics/#VarNom
    I like sushi

    I mentioned conceptualism, trope nominalism, etc. in my answer. You never commented on my response to your query (not that I saw, at least).

    there isn’t an instance where “real” is mentioned in that passage.I like sushi

    "Realist/realism" etc. occur on that page 26 times by my count, including in the subsection about the varieties of nominalism. The traditional debate with respect to nominalism, by the way, is known as the "nominalism vs realism" debate.
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