Entries by admin

The Problem of Relations

Are relations real? There are reasons to think not, even though properties are agreed to be real. That would yield a metaphysics in which relations are regarded as mental constructions projected onto the world, while properties (or most of them) are treated as objective constituents of reality. That is, we embrace idealism about relations and […]

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Pan-Physicalism

Consider a possible world in which the fundamental constituents of reality are mental in nature. Suppose a kind of mental atomism holds: there are basic elements that combine to form less basic elements. We thus have simple and complex mental entities. But suppose further that there is a special kind of emergence in this world […]

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Seeming to Know

We have the word “see” but also the phrase “seeming to see”. The former implies veridicality, but the latter does not. You can seem to see what isn’t there. The locution is useful in stating certain philosophical doctrines about perception, to the effect that seeing is a composite of an inner sense impression and an […]

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Understanding the Duck-Rabbit

It was Wittgenstein who sparked philosophical interest in what psychologists call ambiguous figures.[1] The phrase “seeing as” became a staple of philosophical vocabulary and various uses were made of it. I want to revisit the topic in the hope of gaining some clarity on the matter. There are many instances of so-called ambiguous figures: Rubin’s […]

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Life and Language: Strange Singularities

It is difficult to explain the origin of life on earth. Presumably, inorganic molecules at some point made the transition to organic molecules, allowing for self-replication. The state of the earth at some time and place must have been conducive to this event, while it wasn’t before and elsewhere. Even if life on earth was seeded […]

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On Denoting and Describing

According to Russell’s theory of descriptions, the word “the” contains two conceptual elements: existence and uniqueness. It implies that there is a certain something, and that there is only one such thing. The indefinite article “a” contains only the first element; the definite article contributes the second. So the short word “the” is conceptually quite rich; […]

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Analysis of Analysis

The concept of analysis crops up in a variety of disciplines: we have chemical analysis, spectral analysis, psychoanalysis, linguistic analysis, anatomical analysis, analysis of political systems, market analysis, literary analysis, dream analysis, conceptual analysis, and so on. We can ask what all these types of analysis have in common, i.e. what the correct analysis of […]

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Experience Pluralism

We have five senses and five types of sensory experience. This is doubly contingent: we might have had fewer or more senses, and we might not have had a different phenomenological type of experience corresponding to each sense. The second claim is less obvious than the first, but evident on reflection. First, note that the […]

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