[hist-analytic] A Scientist's Landscape

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sat Jul 18 07:27:04 EDT 2009


I happened to have a couple of minutes and this is the 
first post that popped up. I was delayed in approviing 
messages because I forgot to pay the bill. 

Anyway, in Aristotle we have about four or five definitions 
of 'substance'. The one people generally attack is the one 
identifying substances as essences. Others, including the 
one that says that substance is that which can be predicated 
of but not predicated is a more or less logical conception. 
Then there is the one that says something like that a 
substance is the referent of 'this' or 'that'; then there is the 
idea of substance as a continuant, etc. But notice how these 
might be related. Sellars and Strawson, I believe, exchanged 
ideas in a couple papers "Logical Subjects and Physical 
Objects." It's been a very long time since I read them but they 
were preparatory as I recall, for Strawson, who later wrote 
his book _Individuals_. I would make a general point. 

A lot of anti-substance rhetoric has fallen on what Kant was 
attempting to do in the Transcendental Deduction. Strawson, 
a terrific philosopher in my opinion, played around with 
"Sortals" to some extent to this end. Which "sortal" categories; 
which 'phenomenal qualities' to accept or reject has been a 
large part of the ontology/epistemology "interface." Eventually 
it gets caught up in linguistic "tricks" such as the "under 
a description" gambit. But there is someting to the problem. 
When philosphers speak of a problem as a "pseudo-problem" 
I'm inclined to run as fast from him as I do from people who say 
God speaks to them! This is not to reject the "linguistic turn" but 
I can't see that the dividends have been impressive; the debate 
over counterfactuals is one of the best of the linguistic type 
issues, but even here it begins to faulter (preemption etc), then 
the tendency is to return to ontology, dispostional properties etc. 

One other "stream of consciousness" remark: the predication issue 
really goes back to Plato's _Sophist_. Kneale and Kneale, actually, 
locate the origins of the syllogism by going back to this. 
_The Development of Logic_. 

Steve 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Bishop Jones" <rbj at rbjones.com> 
To: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
Cc: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 12:43:48 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific 
Subject: Re: A Scientist's Landscape 

On Thursday 16 July 2009 15:35:39 Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote: 
>In a message dated 7/16/2009 8:44:07 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
>danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes: 

>>But it seems to imply that a 
>>concept is categorial only if it has instances 
> 
>Oops. R. B. Jones should help us here since he is the expert of vacuity! 

I'm touched that you think me expert in nothing. 

As far as Aristotle is concerned I'm still a novice, and the 
notion of a categorial concept has not yet come up. 
We have these two kinds of predication (essential and accidental) 
which involve "terms", which, if Aristotle's syllogistic logic 
is to be sound cannot be empty. 
However syllogistic reasoning is not sound (it seems) for 
accidental (or inter categorial) predication anyway so its not 
clear how much weight one can place on Aristotle's logic 
when considering his metaphysics. 

>>(and perhaps is also 
>>fundamental in some way). 
> 
>Yes, 'fundament' is a good one. Even for continentals. Wasn't it Husserl 
>who dreamed of a philosophy without presuppositions? grundlos, I think his 
>word was? 
> 
>>And behind this lies a picture: ontological 
>>categories (which exist out there in the real world) 

There is only one category of substance. 
Do the others exist out there (rather than merely being 
instantiated out there)? 

>well, as R. B. Jones would say, 
> 
>only an obble IZZES. 
> 
>We wouldn't say that the 'whiteness' (QUALITY) of the object exists, or 
>that the 'in-between' in which it finds itself with another obble (RELATION) 
>exists, or that if there is another obble the the TWO exist (QUANTITY) and 
>that if it's picturesque, its picturesqueness exist (MANNER). 
> 
>It's the "tode ti" of Aristotle-Code-Grice that exists. The particular 
>individual spatio-temporal continuant. 
> 
>"Individuals exist", as Strawson would say -- hence his choice of title for 
> the book, I hope. 

But the individuals include individual attributes (e.g. whiteness). 
If you don't want whiteness to be "out there" then you have to 
stick to particulars (individual substances). 

RBJ 
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