Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for R.G. Collingwood, Joseph Almog and Anand Vaidya

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24 ideas

1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 4. Conceptual Analysis
If 2-D conceivability can a priori show possibilities, this is a defence of conceptual analysis [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: Chalmers' two-dimensional conceivability account of possibility offers a defence of a priori conceptual analysis, and foundations on which a priori philosophy can be furthered.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], Intro)
     A reaction: I think I prefer Williamson's more scientific account of possibility through counterfactual conceivability, rather than Chalmers' optimistic a priori account. Deep topic, though, and the jury is still out.
5. Theory of Logic / K. Features of Logics / 6. Compactness
If a concept is not compact, it will not be presentable to finite minds [Almog]
     Full Idea: If the notion of 'logically following' in your language is not compact, it will not be locally presentable to finite minds.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 02)
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Nature of Numbers / d. Natural numbers
The number series is primitive, not the result of some set theoretic axioms [Almog]
     Full Idea: On Skolem's account, to 'get' the natural numbers - that primal structure - do not 'look for it' as the satisfier of some abstract (set-theoretic) axiomatic essence; start with that primitive structure.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 12)
     A reaction: [Skolem 1922 and 1923] Almog says the numbers are just 0,1,2,3,4..., and not some underlying axioms. That makes it sound as if they have nothing in common, and that the successor relation is a coincidence.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 4. Essence as Definition
Definitionalists rely on snapshot-concepts, instead of on the real processes [Almog]
     Full Idea: The definitionalist errs by abstracting away from differences cosmic processes, freezing real, dynamic processes in snapshot-concepts.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 08)
     A reaction: You could hardly do science at all if you didn't 'abstract away from the differences in cosmic processes'. We can't write about sea-waves, because they all differ slightly? 'Electron' is a snapshot concept.
Fregean meanings are analogous to conceptual essence, defining a kind [Almog]
     Full Idea: Ever since Frege, semantic definitionalists have posited a meaning ('sinn') for a name; the meaning/sinn is their semantic analog to the conceptual essence, as ontologically defining of the kind.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 07)
Essential definition aims at existence conditions and structural truths [Almog]
     Full Idea: The essentialist encapsulating formula is meant to be existence-exhaustive (an attribute the satisfaction of which is logically necessary and sufficient to be the thing) and truth-exhaustive (promising all the structural truths).
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 01)
     A reaction: [compressed] If he thinks essentialism means that one short phrase can achieve all this, then it is not surprising that Almog renounces his former essentialism in this essay. He may, however, have misunderstood. He should reread Aristotle.
Surface accounts aren't exhaustive as they always allow unintended twin cases [Almog]
     Full Idea: A surface-functional characterisation is not exhaustive. It allows unintended twins, alien intruders with different structures - water lookalikes that are not H2O and lookalike infinite structures that are not the natural numbers.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 03)
     A reaction: He rests this on the claim in mathematical logic that fully expressive systems are always non-categorical (having unintended twins). Set theory is not fully categorical, but Peano Arithmetic is. Almog's main anti-essentialist argument.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / c. Essentials are necessary
Essential properties are necessary, but necessary properties may not be essential [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: When P is an essence of O it follows that P is a necessary property of O. However, P can be a necessary property of O without being an essence of O.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Knowledge')
     A reaction: This summarises the Kit Fine view with which I sympathise. However, I dislike presenting essence as a mere list of properties, which is only done for the convenience of logicians. But was Jessie Owens a great athlete after he lost his speed?
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 10. Essence as Species
Alien 'tigers' can't be tigers if they are not related to our tigers [Almog]
     Full Idea: Animals roaming jungles on some planet at the other end of the galaxy with the tiger-look and the tiger genetic make-up but with a disjoint evolutionary history are not the same species as the earthly tigers.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 10)
     A reaction: I disagree. If two independent cultures build boats, they are both boats. If we manufacture a tiger which can breed with other tigers, we've made a tiger. His 'tigers' would scream for explanation, precisely because they are tigers. If not, no puzzle.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 13. Nominal Essence
Kripke and Putnam offer an intermediary between real and nominal essences [Almog]
     Full Idea: Kripke and Putnam offer us enhanced essences, still formulable in one short sentence and locally graspable. They offer between Locke's mind-boggling definitive real essence and his mind-friendly but not definitive nominal essence.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 04)
     A reaction: The solution is to add a 'deep structure' which serves both ends.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Individual essences are just cobbled together classificatory predicates [Almog]
     Full Idea: The key for the essentialist is classificatory predication. It is only a subsequent extension of this prime idea that leads us to cobble together enough such essential predications to make an individuative essential property.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 11)
     A reaction: So the essence is just a cross-reference of all the ways we can think of to classify it? I don't think so. Which are the essential classifications?
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
Define conceivable; how reliable is it; does inconceivability help; and what type of possibility results? [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: Conceivability as evidence for possibility needs four interpretations. How is 'conceivable' defined or explained? How strongly is the idea endorsed? How does inconceivability fit in? And what kind of possibility (logical, physical etc) is implied?
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Application')
     A reaction: [some compression] Williamson's counterfactual account helps with the first one. The strength largely depends on whether your conceptions are well informed. Inconceivability may be your own failure. All types of possibility can be implied.
How do you know you have conceived a thing deeply enough to assess its possibility? [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: The main issue with learning possibility from conceivability concerns how we can be confident that we have conceived things to the relevant level of depth required for the scenario to actually be a presentation or manifestation of a genuine possibility.
     From: Anand Vaidya (The Epistemology of Modality [2015], 1.2.2)
     A reaction: [He cites Van Inwagen 1998 for this idea] The point is that ignorant imagination can conceive of all sorts of absurd things which are seen to be impossible when enough information is available. We can hardly demand a criterion for this.
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / c. Possible but inconceivable
Inconceivability (implying impossibility) may be failure to conceive, or incoherence [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: If we aim to derive impossibility from inconceivability, we may either face a failure to conceive something, or arrive at a state of incoherence in conceiving.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Application')
     A reaction: [summary] Thus I can't manage to conceive a multi-dimensional hypercube, but I don't even try to conceive a circular square. In both cases, we must consider whether the inconceivability results from our own inadequacy, rather than from the facts.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
Can you possess objective understanding without realising it? [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: Is it possible for an individual to possess objectual understanding without knowing they possess the objectual understanding?
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Objections')
     A reaction: Hm. A nice new question to loose sleep over. We can't demand a regress of meta-understandings, so at some point you just understand. Birds understand nests. Equivalent: can you understand P, but can't explain P? Skilled, but inarticulate.
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 2. Justification Challenges / b. Gettier problem
Gettier deductive justifications split the justification from the truthmaker [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: In the Gettier case of deductive justification, what we have is a separation between the source of the justification and the truthmaker for the belief.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Distinction')
     A reaction: A very illuminating insight into the Gettier problem. As a fan of truthmakers, I'm wondering if this might quickly solve it.
In a disjunctive case, the justification comes from one side, and the truth from the other [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: The disjunctive belief that 'either Jones owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona', which Smith believes, derives its justification from the left disjunct, and its truth from the right disjunct.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Application')
     A reaction: The example is from Gettier's original article. Have we finally got a decent account of the original Gettier problem, after fifty years of debate? Philosophical moves with delightful slowness.
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
Aboutness is always intended, and cannot be accidental [Vaidya]
     Full Idea: A representation cannot accidentally be about an object. Aboutness is in general an intentional relation.
     From: Anand Vaidya (Understanding and Essence [2010], 'Objections')
     A reaction: 'Intentional' with a 't', not with an 's'. This strikes me as important. Critics dislike the idea of 'representation' because if you passively place a representation and its subject together, what makes the image do the representing job? Answer: I do!
18. Thought / C. Content / 5. Twin Earth
Water must be related to water, just as tigers must be related to tigers [Almog]
     Full Idea: It is a blindspot to say that to be a tiger one must come from tigers, but to be water one needn't come from water. ...The error lies in not appreciating that to be water one still must come from somewhere in the cosmos, indeed, from hydrogen and oxygen.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], 09)
     A reaction: A unified picture is indeed desirable, but a better solution is to say that the essence of a tiger is in its structure, not in its origins. There are many ways to produce an artefact. There could be many ways to produce a tiger.
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 4. Art as Expression
The emotion expressed is non-conscious, but feels oppressive until expression relieves it [Collingwood]
     Full Idea: The emotion expressed is one of whose nature the person feeling it is no longer conscious. As unexpressed, he feels it in a helpless and oppressed way; as expressed, the oppression has vanished. His mind is somehow lightened and eased.
     From: R.G. Collingwood (The Principles of Art [1938], p.110), quoted by Gary Kemp - Croce and Collingwood 1
     A reaction: It sounds like the regular smoking of cigarettes. This is Collingwood answer the doubts I felt about Idea 20419. I would have thought the desire of Picasso was to create another painting, but not to express yet another new oppressive feeling.
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 7. Ontology of Art
Art exists ideally, purely as experiences in the mind of the perceiver [Collingwood, by Kemp]
     Full Idea: For Collingwood (and Croce) the work of art is an ideal object; …they are things that exist only in the mind, that is, only when one perceives. …The physical work exists to make this experience available.
     From: report of R.G. Collingwood (The Principles of Art [1938]) by Gary Kemp - Croce and Collingwood 2
     A reaction: This means that the paintings in a gallery cease to be works of art when the gallery is shut, which sounds odd. I suppose 'work of art' is ambiguous, between the experience (right) and the facilitator of the experience (wrong).
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 6. Value of Art
Art clarifies the artist's mind and feelings, thus leading to self-knowledge [Collingwood, by Davies,S]
     Full Idea: Collingwood suggests art should be thought of not as product or artifact but as an act or process of expression through which the artist clarifies her initially vague emotions and states of mind. As such, it is a source of self-knowledge.
     From: report of R.G. Collingwood (The Principles of Art [1938], Ch.6) by Stephen Davies - The Philosophy of Art (2nd ed) 8.4
     A reaction: I might believe this of writing novels, but not much else.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism
Defining an essence comes no where near giving a thing's nature [Almog]
     Full Idea: The natures of things are neither exhausted nor even partially given by 'defining essences'.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], Intro)
     A reaction: A better criticism of essentialism. 'Natures' is a much vaguer word than 'essences', however, because the latter refers to what is stable and important, whereas natures could include any aspect. Being ticklish is in my nature, but not in my essence.
Essences promise to reveal reality, but actually drive us away from it [Almog]
     Full Idea: The essentialist line (one I trace to Aristotle, Descartes and Kripke) is driving us away from, not closer to, the real nature of things. It promised a sort of Hubble telescope - essences - able to reveal the deep structure of reality.
     From: Joseph Almog (Nature Without Essence [2010], Intro)
     A reaction: I suspect this is tilting at a straw man. No one thinks we should hunt for essences instead of doing normal science. 'Essence' just labels what you've got when you succeed.