[hist-analytic] Frrom AUNE: Analytic and A Priori

Bruce Aune aune at philos.umass.edu
Fri Mar 20 12:53:43 EDT 2009

If am afraid that I misunderstood your thinking before.  But I would  
still deny that if you know you are thinking because you are aware of  
your thinking, your knowledge that you think is a priori in a sense  
that I would accept. BY the way, are you are aware of my criticism of  
Kripke's argument for the necessity of origins and composition?  See  
my ETK pp. 63f.

On Mar 20, 2009, at 10:50 AM, Danny Frederick wrote:

> Hi Bruce,
> You ask me: if you are asserting only that it is possible (in the  
> sense you
> call 'logical') that 'I' refers to something temporal but non-spatial,
> shouldn't you conclude that it is just possible (and perhaps not  
> true) that
> 'I think' (uttered by you) is a synthetic a priori truth?
> I am not quite sure what lies behind your question. It seems to be a  
> concern
> with logical (or metaphysical) possibility as opposed to epistemic
> possibility. So let me re-state my position by making explicit use  
> of that
> distinction.
> Is it logically possible that I am non-spatial? We don't know. It  
> SEEMS so,
> in that philosophers (such as Leibniz and Berkeley) have envisaged  
> possible
> worlds in which I am non-spatial. But we know from Kripke that if I  
> am in
> fact a thing that has developed from a particular egg and sperm,  
> then I am
> necessarily such a thing. And the 'necessarily' here is metaphysical  
> or
> logical.
> For the sake of argument, let us suppose (what we do normally  
> suppose) that
> I am a human being (rather than a disembodied spirit that appears to  
> be a
> human being). Then I am necessarily embodied. Even so, it still SEEMS
> POSSIBLE to me that I am not embodied. Thus I am logically-necessarily
> embodied but epistemically-possibly not embodied. (Compare: Hesperus  
> is
> necessarily Phosphorus, but for years people thought they were  
> different, so
> it was epistemically possible that Hesperus was not identical to
> Phosphorus.) So, whether I realise it or not, 'I' (when I use it)  
> refers to
> a spatio-temporal particular.
> Even granting all that, I can know that I think merely by thinking and
> attending to my thinking. Thus I can know a priori that I think,  
> that is, I
> can know it independently of the truth or falsity of any inter- 
> subjectively
> testable basic statement. When I add to this that my existence, and  
> thus my
> thinking, is contingent, it follows that I can know a priori a  
> contingent
> truth. All this follows even though we accept that I am necessarily a
> particular physical thing.
> If we accept that the proposition I express when I utter 'I think' is
> contingent, then it is contingent a priori. This is because its  
> truth can be
> known by me independently of my knowledge of the truth or falsity of  
> any
> statement which I know to be about a spatio-temporal particular. For  
> I may
> doubt that 'I think' is about a spatio-temporal particular if I have  
> been
> reading Berkeley or Leibniz or others.
> Is that clearer?
> Danny

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