Combining Texts

All the ideas for 'Difference and Repetition', 'Meaning and Reference' and 'Quaestiones de Potentia Dei'

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13 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.
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.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'One' can mean undivided and not a multitude, or it can add measurement, giving number [Aquinas]
     Full Idea: There are two sorts of one. There is the one which is convertible with being, which adds nothing to being except being undivided; and this deprives of multitude. Then there is the principle of number, which to the notion of being adds measurement.
     From: Thomas Aquinas (Quaestiones de Potentia Dei [1269], q3 a16 ad 3-um)
     A reaction: [From a lecture handout] I'm not sure I understand this. We might say, I suppose, that insofar as water is water, it is all one, but you can't count it. Perhaps being 'unified' and being a 'unity' are different?
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
A statement can be metaphysically necessary and epistemologically contingent [Putnam]
     Full Idea: A statement can be (metaphysically) necessary and epistemologically contingent. Human intuition has no privileged access to metaphysical necessity.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.160)
     A reaction: The terminology here is dangerously confusing. 'Contingent' is a term which (as Kripke insists) refers to reality, not to our epistemological abilities. The locution of adding the phrase "for all I know" seems to handle the problem better.
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
Conceivability is no proof of possibility [Putnam]
     Full Idea: Conceivability is no proof of possibility.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.159)
     A reaction: This strikes me as a really basic truth which all novice philosophers should digest. It led many philosophers, especially rationalists, into all sorts of ill-founded claims about what is possible or necessary. Zombies, for instance…
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
I can't distinguish elm trees, but I mean by 'elm' the same set of trees as everybody else [Putnam]
     Full Idea: My concept of an elm tree is exactly the same as my concept of a beech tree (I blush to confess). ..We still say that the extension of 'elm' in my idiolect is the same as the extension of 'elm' in anyone else's, viz. the set of all elm trees.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.154)
     A reaction: This example is clearer and less open to hair-splitting than his water/XYZ example. You could, with Putnam, say that his meaning of 'elm' is outside his head, but you could also say that he doesn't understand the word very well.
'Water' has an unnoticed indexical component, referring to stuff around here [Putnam]
     Full Idea: Our theory can be summarized as saying that words like 'water' have an unnoticed indexical component: "water" is stuff that bears a certain similarity relation to the water around here.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.160)
     A reaction: This is the causal theory of reference, which leads to externalism about concepts, which leads to an externalist view of thought, which undermines internal accounts of the mind like functionalism, and leaves little room for scepticism… Etc.
19. Language / B. Reference / 3. Direct Reference / c. Social reference
We need to recognise the contribution of society and of the world in determining reference [Putnam]
     Full Idea: Traditional semantic theory leaves out two contributions to the determination of reference - the contribution of society and the contribution of the real world; a better semantic theory must encompass both.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.161)
     A reaction: I strongly agree that there is a social aspect to reference-fixing, but I am much more dubious about the world 'determining' anything. The whole of his Twin Earth point could be mopped up by a social account, with 'experts' as the key idea.
19. Language / F. Communication / 4. Private Language
Language is more like a cooperative steamship than an individual hammer [Putnam]
     Full Idea: There are tools like a hammer used by one person, and there are tools like a steamship which require cooperative activity; words have been thought of too much on the model of the first sort of tool.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.156)
     A reaction: This clear thought strikes me as the most fruitful and sensible consequence of Wittgenstein's later ideas (as opposed to the relativistic 'language game' ideas). I am unconvinced that a private language is logically impossible, but it would be feeble.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / b. Scientific necessity
If water is H2O in the actual world, there is no possible world where it isn't H2O [Putnam]
     Full Idea: Once we have discovered that water (in the actual world) is H2O, nothing counts as a possible world in which water isn't H2O.
     From: Hilary Putnam (Meaning and Reference [1973], p.159)
     A reaction: Presumably there could be a possible world in which water is a bit cloudy, so the fact that it is H2O is being judged as essential. Presumably the scientists in the possible world might discover that we are wrong about the chemistry of water?