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Showing posts from July, 2013

The Millnong project and descriptions with no author

Kripke's take on fictional characters is in line with the idea that those characters are description-dependent. They don't have in themselves the modal open horizon of life. They have no world other than the one fixed by their defining descriptions (if they live in a world at all). They are like monads: worldly beings. On this account, there is a clear difference between fictional and non-fictional characters. To be sure, there are many ways to be in-between - one of them is when we don't know whether the character is fictional, in which case there is a sheer (maybe incorrigible) ignorance about the character. Another intermediary case would be characters around whom there are many legends. I guess then one can say: what is true of the legendary character could be untrue of the real one. If we insist in the principle of indiscernibility of the identicals, they would be two different entities. Proceeding like this, one could maybe always determine the crucial question concer

The necessary a posteriori and the synthetic a priori

In the last meeting of my course on (introduction to) metaphysics, I found myself lecturing on two different ways to unbind factual necessity from what it has been usually connected: the analytic and the a priori. These two ways to unbind the necessary correspond to two ways to reinvent metaphysics - the Kantian and the Kripkean. In other words, given a Humean critique of the availability of necessary connections known a priori about the world (there are no accessible necessary a priori judgements about the world), we can either give up that they must be about the world or give up that they must be accessible on a purely a priori basis. Kant reinvents necessity as something to do with our obligations as subjects of experience while Kripke insists that it can be found in whatever truth is found about an otherwise fixed denoting term. In both cases, necessity stops being attached to analyticity - either because it is more closely linked to the a priori or because it is more closely linke

Some remarks on Aristotle's Metaphysics, book M

1. Aristotle introduces his intensional account of universals in Z, 10 (to be extended to dunamis in book H, and to mathematical entities in M, 3). In book M he compares his take to the Pythagorean one - that numbers (or other mathematical entities) are parts of sensible things and therefore themselves to be counted among sensible things - and the Platonic one - that numbers (as ideas and mathematical entities) are separate from sensible things. Aristotle proposes that mathematical entities are, like universals, aspects of things - in fact aspects of substances and, as such, enjoy a mode of being ( tropon ) which depend on what is substantial. Aristotle held that ousia protai to onton (substance has priority over other modes of being). Aspects are associated to his intensional turn in ontology, so to speak. He's explicit about that in M, 3: mathematical entities are aspects of sensible things just as, for geometry, it is an accident that a circle is white but not that it is circula

Laws of nature as immovable animators

Discussing Book Lambda in my course on Aristotle's metaphysics. A central element of the book is the idea of an immovable substance and the associated notion of pure act ( en-ergeia gar ). In chapter 6 he says that without something which is capable of doing things but that it is not actually doing anything, then movement would not happen as nothing in act would putting things to work, making things active, in activity ( am Werk ). The immovable mover introduces movement into things that would be otherwise inanimate. Movement ( kinesis ) and also change in general ( metabole ) - movement is one of the three types of change according to Book Kappa, 11 - has to start somewhere, if it doesn't the universe would be no more than potentiality resting asleep (something akin to merely finkish dispositions). There should be a starting point (to avoid the infinite regresses that Aristotle dreads) and this cannot be something potential but has to be an act, a pure act, with no dunamis a

A hinge of the ontological turn

Finishing up my lectures on Naming and Necessity (that we read together with my novel Southern Pacific - A general theory of reference). It became clearer to me how Kripke is a crucial hinge or a crucial fold in the ontological turn of the last 40 years or so. Maybe he started it all, as some people say. We can think roughly in terms of three poles: a term, its denotation and a description. To be sure, fixing a reference is often done by means of a description (Hesperus is the evening star, Cats are animals, Gold is a yellow metal etc). This far Kripke is surely in a descriptivist territory. The Russell-Frege theorists would add that when we fix a reference by means of a description, the denotation is necessary tied to it. There is a necessary connection between the description that fixes the reference and the denotation. This cannot be anything other than a conventional connection, one that establishes a relation of synonymity or definition. It is not a necessity in the world but rath

Le ressassement eternel

Thinking about what I believe was once Armstrong way to describe pan-dispositionalism: always packing, never travelling. The motto, and the corresponding postponing of complete actualization (in the back of my mind I'm thinking of David Ross' translation of entelecheia , in Aristotle's Metaphysics, Kappa, 9, as "complete reality" when Aristotle is trying to make sense of movement and change in terms of dunamis and energeia), provokes an anxiety related to the openness of preparation. Things are always being prepared. The pan-dispositionalist universe is deprived of any telos, of any realization, of any giving birth - it is constantly pregnant. It ia universe that, in a sense, never started, with a postponed future, a postponed beginning. A deferred environment: actualities in deferrance - always unready. It reminds me of Souriau's inachèvement of all things. Things are never product, they are always being produced - they never arrive anywhere, they never achi