Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Joseph Levine and Albert of Saxony

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15 ideas

7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 2. Types of Existence
Everything that exists is either a substance or an accident [Albert of Saxony]
     Full Idea: Everything that exists is either a substance or an accident.
     From: Albert of Saxony (On 'Physics' [1357], I.18), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 13.2
     A reaction: This seems to be the view of those who base their ontology on first-order classical logic. The more austere reading of that makes the accidents into sets of substances, so it's just substances. All the non-substance stuff cries out for recognition.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Persistence conditions cannot contradict, so there must be a 'dominant sortal' [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Burke says a single object cannot have incompatible persistence conditions, for this would entail that there are events in which the object would both survive and perish. He says one sortal 'dominates' the other (sweater dominates thread).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: This I take to be the most extreme version of sortal essentialism, and strikes me as incredibly gerrymandered and unacceptable. It is just too anthropocentric to count as genuine metaphysics. I may care more about the thread.
The 'dominant' of two coinciding sortals is the one that entails the widest range of properties [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke claims that the 'dominant' sortal is the one whose satisfaction entails possession of the widest range of properties. For example, the statue (unlike the lump of clay) also possesses aesthetic properties, and hence is dominant.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: [there are three papers by Burke on this; see all the quotations from Burke] Presumably one sortal could entail a single very important property, and the other sortal entail a huge range of trivial properties. What does being a 'thing' entail?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'The rock' either refers to an object, or to a collection of parts, or to some stuff [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: Burke distinguishes three different readings of 'the rock'. It can be a singular description denoting an object, or a plural description denoting all the little pieces of rock, or a mass description the relevant rocky stuff.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: Idea 16068 is an objection to the second reading. Only the first reading seems plausible, so we must just get over all the difficulties philosophers have unearthed about knowing exactly what an 'object' is. I offer you essentialism. Rocks have unity.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Tib goes out of existence when the tail is lost, because Tib was never the 'cat' [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke argues that Tib (the whole cat apart from its tail) goes out of existence when the tail is lost. His essentialist principle is that if something is ever of a particular sort (such as 'cat') then it is always of that sort. Tib is not initially a cat.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: This I take to be a souped up version of Wiggins, and I just don't buy that identity conditions are decided by sortals, when it seems obvious that sortals are parasitic on identities.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
Sculpting a lump of clay destroys one object, and replaces it with another one [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: On Burke's view, the process of sculpting a lump of clay into a statue destroys one object (a mere lump of clay) and replaces it with another (a statue).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: There is something right about this, but how many intermediate objects are created during the transition. It seems to make the notion of an object very conventional.
Burke says when two object coincide, one of them is destroyed in the process [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke argues that a sweater is identical with the thread that consitutes it, that both were created at the moment when they began to coincide, and that the original thread was destroyed in the process.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: [Burke's ideas are spread over three articles] It is the thread which is destroyed, because the sweater is the 'dominant sortal' (which strikes me as a particularlyd desperate concept).
Maybe the clay becomes a different lump when it becomes a statue [Burke,M, by Koslicki]
     Full Idea: Burke has argued in a series of papers that the lump of clay which constitutes the statue is numerically distinct from the lump of clay which exists before or after the statue exists. The first is a statue, while the second is merely a lump of clay.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Kathrin Koslicki - The Structure of Objects
     A reaction: Koslicki objects that this introduces radically different persistence conditions from normal. It would mean that a pile of sugar was a different pile of sugar every time a grain moved (even slightly). You couldn't step into the same sugar twice.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Two entities can coincide as one, but only one of them (the dominant sortal) fixes persistence conditions [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke has given an account that avoids distinguishing coinciding entities. ...The statue/lump satisfies both 'lump' and 'statue', but only the latter determines that object's persistence conditions, and so is that object's 'dominant sortal'.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: Presumably a lump on its own can have its own persistance conditions (as a 'lump'), but those would presumably be lost if you shaped it into a statue. Burke concedes that. Can of worms. Using a book as a doorstop...
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 6. Successive Things
God could make a successive thing so that previous parts cease to exist [Albert of Saxony]
     Full Idea: Something can be conceived of as successive simpliciter, with respect to both its substance and its state. For example, if Socrates were continually made and made again by the First Cause, as the Seine flow, so nothing of what preexists remains.
     From: Albert of Saxony (On 'Physics' [1357], III.3), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 18.4
     A reaction: This is precisely the problem that modern stage theory faces, of knowing how to connect the stages together.
Successive entities just need parts to succeed one another, without their existence [Albert of Saxony]
     Full Idea: For existence to hold of completely successive entities it is not required that their parts exist, but that one part succeed another, as a future part succeeds a past part.
     From: Albert of Saxony (On 'Physics' [1357], III.3 ad 2), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 18.3
     A reaction: A nice move, but it doesn't quite solve it. How can non-existent things 'succeed one another'? It is worrying for metaphysics that some things have entirely different concepts of persistence from other things.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / d. Explanatory gap
Even if we identify pain with neural events, we can't explain why those neurons cause that feeling [Levine, by Papineau]
     Full Idea: Materialists identify pain with the firing of nociceptive-specific neurons in the parietal cortex. Even so, Levine argues, we will still lack any explanation of why nociceptive-specific neurons yield pain.
     From: report of Joseph Levine (Purple Haze [2001]) by David Papineau - Thinking about Consciousness 5.1
     A reaction: [Proposed by Levine in 1983] I don't think we need to instantly go dualist when faced with this, but we may all eventually have to concede a bit of mysterianism. The explanation may be holistic (and hence hopelessly complex).
Only phenomenal states have an explanatory gap; water is fully explained by H2O [Levine, by Papineau]
     Full Idea: Levine says the explanatory gap is peculiar to phenomenal states. Once water has been identified with H2O, or temperature with mean kinetic energy, we do not continue to ask why H2O yields water, or why mean kinetic energy yields temperature.
     From: report of Joseph Levine (Purple Haze [2001]) by David Papineau - Thinking about Consciousness 5.1
     A reaction: Everything is mysterious if you think about if for long enough. What about a representational gap? Why do those neurons represent that tree (if the neurons aren't tree-shaped)? To understand qualia, we must understand the whole brain, I suspect.
Materialism won't explain phenomenal properties, because the latter aren't seen in causal roles [Papineau on Levine]
     Full Idea: We cannot give materialist explanations of why brain yields phenomenal properties because phenomenal concepts are not associated with descriptions of causal roles in the same way as pre-theoretical terms in other areas of science.
     From: comment on Joseph Levine (Purple Haze [2001]) by David Papineau - Thinking about Consciousness 5.1
     A reaction: I think Papineau has part of the answer, and I certainly like his notion of Conceptual Dualism, but if qualia are physical, there must be a physical account of how they acquire their properties. I think the whole brain needs to be understood first.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / f. Ancient elements
Elements are found last in dismantling bodies, and first in generating them [Albert of Saxony]
     Full Idea: On one possible description, an element is what is found last when bodies are taken apart, and what is found first when bodies are generated.
     From: Albert of Saxony (On 'Generation and Corruption' [1356], II.3), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 2.1