Entries by admin

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 […]

Share

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 […]

Share

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 […]

Share

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; […]

Share

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 […]

Share

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 […]

Share

Explaining Mental Privacy

The privacy of the mind is generally treated as a platitude, but it is seldom (if ever) asked what explains this platitude. Privacy here is best understood perceptually: states of mind are not perceptible by means of the senses. It is not denied that they may be subjects of legitimate inference, or even of interpretative […]

Share

Are There Subjective Concepts?

I can imagine four types of position on this question: (i) there are only subjective concepts (none are objective); (ii) there are only objective concepts (none are subjective); (iii) there are both subjective concepts and objective concepts; (iv) all concepts are both subjective and objective (in some respects). I am inclined to accept (iv), with […]

Share