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All the ideas for 'Difference and Repetition', 'On Concept and Object' and 'Intro: Theories of Vagueness'

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31 ideas

1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 1. Continental Philosophy
'Difference' refers to that which eludes capture [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: 'Difference' is a term which Deleuze uses to refer to that which eludes capture.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: Presumably its ancestor is Kant's noumenon. This is one of his concepts used to 'palpate' our ossified conceptual scheme.
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 3. Modal Logic Systems / h. System S5
S5 collapses iterated modalities (◊□P→□P, and ◊◊P→◊P) [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: S5 collapses iterated modalities (so ◊□P → □P, and ◊◊P → ◊P).
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 5)
     A reaction: It is obvious why this might be controversial, and there seems to be a general preference for S4. There may be confusions of epistemic and ontic (and even semantic?) possibilities within a single string of modalities.
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
A thought can be split in many ways, so that different parts appear as subject or predicate [Frege]
     Full Idea: A thought can be split up in many ways, so that now one thing, now another, appears as subject or predicate
     From: Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892], p.199)
     A reaction: Thus 'the mouse is in the box', and 'the box contains the mouse'. A simple point, but important when we are trying to distinguish thought from language.
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 5. Definitions of Number / c. Fregean numbers
There is the concept, the object falling under it, and the extension (a set, which is also an object) [Frege, by George/Velleman]
     Full Idea: For Frege, the extension of the concept F is an object, as revealed by the fact that we use a name to refer to it. ..We must distinguish the concept, the object that falls under it, and the extension of the concept, which is the set containing the object.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892]) by A.George / D.J.Velleman - Philosophies of Mathematics Ch.2
     A reaction: This I take to be the key distinction needed if one is to grasp Frege's account of what a number is. When we say that Frege is a platonist about numbers, it is because he is committed to the notion that the extension is an object.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / a. Nature of Being
'Being' is univocal, but its subject matter is actually 'difference' [Deleuze]
     Full Idea: Being is said in a single and same sense of everything of which it is said, but that of which it is said differs: it is said of difference itself.
     From: Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968], p.36), quoted by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: This is an attempt to express the Heraclitean view of reality, as process, movement, multiplicity - something which always eludes our attempts to pin it down.
Ontology can be continual creation, not to know being, but to probe the unknowable [Deleuze]
     Full Idea: Ontology can be an ontology of difference ....where what is there is not the same old things but a process of continual creation, an ontology that does not seek to reduce being to the knowable, but widens thought to palpate the unknowable.
     From: Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]), quoted by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 5.05
     A reaction: I'm inclined to think that the first duty of ontology is to face up to the knowable. I'm not sure that probing the unknowable, with no success or prospect of it, is a good way to spend a life. Probing ('palpating') can sometimes discover things.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / i. Deflating being
Ontology does not tell what there is; it is just a strange adventure [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: In Deleuze's hands ontology is not a matter of telling us what there is, but of taking us on strange adventures.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 3.03
     A reaction: Presumably you only indulge in the strange adventure because you have no idea how to specify what there is. This sounds like the essence of post-modernism, in which life is just a game.
Being is a problem to be engaged, not solved, and needs a new mode of thinking [Deleuze, by May]
     Full Idea: In Deleuze, Being is not a puzzle to be solved but a problem to be engaged. It is to be engaged by a thought that moves as comfortably among problems as it does among solutions, as fluidly among differences as it does among identities.
     From: report of Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition [1968]) by Todd May - Gilles Deleuze 4.01
     A reaction: This sounds like what I've always known as 'negative capability' (thanks to Keats). Is philosophy just a hobby, like playing darts? It seems that the aim of the process is 'liberation', about which I would like to know more.
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 6. Criterion for Existence
Frege mistakenly takes existence to be a property of concepts, instead of being about things [Frege, by Yablo]
     Full Idea: Frege's theory treats existence as a property, not of things we call existent, but of concepts instantiated by those things. 'Biden exists' says our Biden-concept has instances. That is certainly not how it feels! We speak of the thing, not of concepts.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892]) by Stephen Yablo - Aboutness 01.4
     A reaction: Yablo's point is that you must ask what the sentence is 'about', and then the truth will refer to those things. Frege gets into a tangle because he thinks remarks using concepts are about the concepts.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / b. Vagueness of reality
Objects such as a cloud or Mount Everest seem to have fuzzy boundaries in nature [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: A common intuition is that a vague object has indeterminate or fuzzy spatio-temporal boundaries, such as a cloud. Mount Everest can only have arbitrary boundaries placed around it, so in nature it must have fuzzy boundaries.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 5)
     A reaction: We would have to respond by questioning whether Everest counts precisely as an 'object'. At the microscopic or subatomic level it seems that virtually everything has fuzzy boundaries. Maybe boundaries don't really exist.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / c. Vagueness as ignorance
If someone is borderline tall, no further information is likely to resolve the question [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: If Tek is borderline tall, the unclarity does not seem to be epistemic, because no amount of further information about his exact height (or the heights of others) could help us decide whether he is tall.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: One should add also that information about social conventions or conventions about the usage of the word 'tall' will not help either. It seems fairly obvious that God would not know whether Tek is tall, so the epistemic view is certainly counterintuitive.
The simplest approach, that vagueness is just ignorance, retains classical logic and semantics [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: The simplest approach to vagueness is to retain classical logic and semantics. Borderline cases are either true or false, but we don't know which, and, despite appearances, vague predicates have well-defined extensions. Vagueness is ignorance.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: It seems to me that you must have a rather unhealthy attachment to the logicians' view of the world to take this line. It is the passion of the stamp collector, to want everything in sets, with neatly labelled properties, and inference lines marked out.
The epistemic view of vagueness must explain why we don't know the predicate boundary [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: A key question for the epistemic view of vagueness is: why are we ignorant of the facts about where the boundaries of vague predicates lie?
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 2)
     A reaction: Presumably there is a range of answers, from laziness, to inability to afford the instruments, to limitations on human perception. At the limit, with physical objects, how do we tell whether it is us or the object which is afflicted with vagueness?
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / f. Supervaluation for vagueness
Supervaluationism keeps true-or-false where precision can be produced, but not otherwise [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: The supervaluationist view of vagueness is that 'tall' comes out true or false on all the ways in which we can make 'tall' precise. There is a gap for borderline cases, but 'tall or not-tall' is still true wherever you draw a boundary.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: [Kit Fine is the spokesperson for this; it preserves classical logic, but not semantics] This doesn't seem to solve the problem of vagueness, but it does (sort of) save the principle of excluded middle.
Vague statements lack truth value if attempts to make them precise fail [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: The supervaluationist view of vagueness proposes that a sentence is true iff it is true on all precisifications, false iff false on all precisifications, and neither true nor false otherwise.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 3)
     A reaction: This seems to be just a footnote to the Russell/Unger view, that logic works if the proposition is precise, but otherwise it is either just the mess of ordinary life, or the predicate doesn't apply at all.
Some of the principles of classical logic still fail with supervaluationism [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: Supervaluationist logic (now with a 'definite' operator D) fails to preserve certain classical principles about consequence and rules of inference. For example, reduction ad absurdum, contraposition, the deduction theorem and argument by cases.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 3)
     A reaction: The aim of supervaluationism was to try to preserve some classical logic, especially the law of excluded middle, in the face of problems of vagueness. More drastic views, like treating vagueness as irrelevant to logic, or the epistemic view, do better.
The semantics of supervaluation (e.g. disjunction and quantification) is not classical [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: The semantics of supervaluational views is not classical. A disjunction can be true without either of its disjuncts being true, and an existential quantification can be true without any of its substitution instances being true.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 3)
     A reaction: There is a vaguely plausible story here (either red or orange, but not definitely one nor tother; there exists an x, but which x it is is undecidable), but I think I will vote for this all being very very wrong.
Supervaluation misunderstands vagueness, treating it as a failure to make things precise [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: Why should we think vague language is explained away by how things would be if it were made precise? Supervaluationism misrepresents vague expressions, as vague only because we have not bothered to make them precise.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 3)
     A reaction: The theory still leaves a gap where vagueness is ineradicable, so the charge doesn't seem quite fair. Logicians always yearn for precision, but common speech enjoys wallowing in a sea of easy-going vagueness, which works fine.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / g. Degrees of vagueness
A third truth-value at borderlines might be 'indeterminate', or a value somewhere between 0 and 1 [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: One approach to predications in borderline cases is to say that they have a third truth value - 'neutral', 'indeterminate' or 'indefinite', leading to a three-valued logic. Or a degree theory, such as fuzzy logic, with infinite values between 0 and 1.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: This looks more like a strategy for computer programmers than for metaphysicians, as it doesn't seem to solve the difficulty of things to which no one can quite assign any value at all. Sometimes you can't be sure if an entity is vague.
People can't be placed in a precise order according to how 'nice' they are [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: There is no complete ordering of people by niceness, and two people could be both fairly nice, nice to intermediate degrees, while there is no fact of the matter about who is the nicer.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 4)
     A reaction: This is a difficulty if you are trying to decide vague predicates by awarding them degrees of truth. Attempts to place a precise value on 'nice' seem to miss the point, even more than utilitarian attempts to score happiness.
If truth-values for vagueness range from 0 to 1, there must be someone who is 'completely tall' [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: Many-valued theories still seem to have a sharp boundary between sentences taking truth-value 1 and those taking value less than 1. So there is a last man in our sorites series who counts as 'completely tall'.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 4)
     A reaction: Lovely. Completely nice, totally red, perfectly childlike, an utter mountain, one hundred per cent amused. The enterprise seems to have the same implausibility found in Bayesian approaches to assessing evidence.
How do we decide if my coat is red to degree 0.322 or 0.321? [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: What could determine which is the correct function, settling that my coat is red to degree 0.322 rather than 0.321?
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 4)
     A reaction: It is not just the uncertainty of placing the coat on the scale. The two ends of the scale have all the indeterminacy of being red rather than orange (or, indeed, pink). You are struggling to find a spot on the ruler, when the ruler is placed vaguely.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 10. Properties as Predicates
It is unclear whether Frege included qualities among his abstract objects [Frege, by Hale]
     Full Idea: Expositors of Frege's views have disagreed over whether abstract qualities are to be reckoned among his objects.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892]) by Bob Hale - Abstract Objects Ch.2.II
     A reaction: [he cites Dummett 1973:70-80, and Wright 1983:25-8] There seems to be a danger here of a collision between Fregean verbal approaches to ontological commitment and the traditional views about universals. No wonder they can't decide.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 3. Objects in Thought
Frege's 'objects' are both the referents of proper names, and what predicates are true or false of [Frege, by Dummett]
     Full Idea: Frege's notion of an object plays two roles in his semantics. Objects are the referents of proper names, and they are equally what predicates are true and false of.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892]) by Michael Dummett - Frege Philosophy of Language (2nd ed) Ch.4
     A reaction: Frege is the source of a desperate desire to turn everything into an object (see Idea 8858!), and he has the irritating authority of the man who invented quantificational logic. Nothing but trouble, that man.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / e. Vague objects
Vague predicates involve uncertain properties, uncertain objects, and paradoxes of gradual change [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: Three interrelated features of vague predicates such as 'tall', 'red', 'heap', 'child' are that they have borderline cases (application is uncertain), they lack well-defined extensions (objects are uncertain), and they're susceptible to sorites paradoxes.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: The issue will partly depend on what you think an object is: choose from bundles of properties, total denial, essential substance, or featureless substance with properties. The fungal infection of vagueness could creep in at any point, even the words.
Many vague predicates are multi-dimensional; 'big' involves height and volume; heaps include arrangement [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: Many vague predicates are multi-dimensional. 'Big' of people depends on both height and volume; 'nice' does not even have clear dimensions; whether something is a 'heap' depends both the number of grains and their arrangement.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: Anyone who was hoping for a nice tidy theory for this problem should abandon hope at this point. Huge numbers of philosophical problems can be simplified by asking 'what exactly do you mean here?' (e.g. tall or bulky?).
If there is a precise borderline area, that is not a case of vagueness [Keefe/Smith]
     Full Idea: If a predicate G has a sharply-bounded set of cases falling in between the positive and negative, this shows that merely having borderline cases is not sufficient for vagueness.
     From: R Keefe / P Smith (Intro: Theories of Vagueness [1997], 1)
     A reaction: Thus you might have 'pass', 'fail' and 'take the test again'. But there seem to be two cases in the border area: will decide later, and decision seems impossible. And the sharp boundaries may be quite arbitrary.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 3. Ontology of Concepts / c. Fregean concepts
Frege equated the concepts under which an object falls with its properties [Frege, by Dummett]
     Full Idea: Frege equated the concepts under which an object falls with its properties.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892], p.201) by Michael Dummett - Frege philosophy of mathematics Ch.8
     A reaction: I take this to be false, as objects can fall under far more concepts than they have properties. I don't even think 'being a pencil' is a property of pencils, never mind 'being my favourite pencil', or 'not being Alexander the Great'.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 5. Concepts and Language / b. Concepts are linguistic
As I understand it, a concept is the meaning of a grammatical predicate [Frege]
     Full Idea: As I understand it, a concept is the meaning of a grammatical predicate.
     From: Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892], p.193)
     A reaction: All the ills of twentieth century philosophy reside here, because it makes a concept an entirely linguistic thing, so that animals can't have concepts, and language is cut off from reality, leading to relativism, pragmatism, and other nonsense.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 2. Meaning as Mental
Frege felt that meanings must be public, so they are abstractions rather than mental entities [Frege, by Putnam]
     Full Idea: Frege felt that meanings are public property, and identified concepts (and hence 'intensions' or meanings) with abstract entities rather than mental entities.
     From: report of Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892]) by Hilary Putnam - Meaning and Reference p.150
     A reaction: This is the germ of Wittgenstein's private language argument. I am inclined to feel that Frege approached language strictly as a logician, and didn't really care that he got himself into implausible platonist ontological commitments.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 2. Abstract Propositions / a. Propositions as sense
For all the multiplicity of languages, mankind has a common stock of thoughts [Frege]
     Full Idea: For all the multiplicity of languages, mankind has a common stock of thoughts.
     From: Gottlob Frege (On Concept and Object [1892], p.196n)
     A reaction: Given the acknowledgement here that two very different sentences in different languages can express the same thought, he should recognise that at least some aspects of a thought are non-linguistic.