Category Archives: Visual Field

Epistemically Accessible Possible Worlds, Compatibility, Failure Of Bivalence, And Inconsistent Situations

Caravaggio’s painting the CARDSHARPS nicely encapsulates the structure of a situation, and illustrates the three-place relation Rstu. Situations and their structure I will be discussing extensively in this essay in order to arrive at a satisfactory statement of the truth conditions for negation. This statement will be needed to resolve the paradoxes of Classical Logic’s Material Implication, paradoxes which Strict Implication does not completely resolve. Rstu I will be discussing in a different essay

I start by attempting to define situations (as opposed to possible worlds) in terms of parts of possible worlds that are epistemically accessible to me from my situation in the actual world. This will let me show how A v ~A can be false for a situation. In other words, both A and ~ A are false for that situation, though not for a possible world. The situation therefore counts as non-bivalent. I will show this by way of a set of truth conditions for negation that rely on a concept of a compatibility relation between situations that relies on possible worlds that are epistemically accessible from the actual world for a sentient being S.

I will then add ‘ostensible objects’ to my account of situations. This will let me show how ‘A and not A‘ can be true for a situation, a situation that would therefore count as inconsistent. I will show this employing a concept of an incompatibility relation between situations that relies on (impossible?) worlds that are epistemically inaccessible from the actual world for a sentient being S.

Both non-bivalent and inconsistent situations are needed for Relevant Logic, a paraconsistent logic, in order to eliminate countless irrelevant implication propositions that would otherwise be true.

I am willing to ‘go there’, so to speak, because I will do practically anything (even becoming one of those squeegee car-window washers waiting to pounce on cars at intersections in the hopes of gaining a quarter) to avoid making the following true:

If Cliff lives in Houston, then the earth has at least one moon

If Paris, Texas is the capital of France, then Calypso music originated in Wisconsin

If I vote for Hillary Clinton, we will end up with a criminal president who is under investigation from day one

All of the above statements are true in Classical Logic but false in Relevant Logic.

Let me start, then.

Nota Bene: in what follows, I will be enclosing the names of words and phrases in double quotes, and the names of concepts, relations, and propositions within single quotes. I will use | to mean “alternatively”. The first occurrence of an important technical term will be in bolded italic.

Although the contents of this paragraph will probably seem a bit opaque to a reader who is not already familiar with these issues, I will list out anyway the points I will be making here. We can analyze ‘compatibility’/’incompatibility’ in terms of (parts of) epistemic possible worlds. We do not need to leave these concepts as primitives. Since, as it will turn out, situations have everything to do with knowledge/information, it should not surprise us that the concept ‘epistemic possible world’, as well as related epistemic concepts, should be useful for analyzing them. The method I employ in the following will itself also rely heavily on the concept of epistemic possible worlds. All of the above will be used to analyze a truth condition for negation that will allow for the existence of situations that fail to bivalent and that fail to be consistent. And ultimately, of course (though I will not be discussing this in detail here), the aim of doing that is to show how the above implications can be regarded as false.

Here is the crumb-trail for this disquisition. First I will be discussing possible worlds in general, then possible worlds that are epistemically accessible for an agent S from another possible world (especially the actual world). I will then discuss situations, which discussion will branch off into two streams. In one stream, I will discuss what in a situation (as opposed to a possible world) is truth-making for a sentence. In the other stream, I will discuss the binary compatible/incompatible relation among situations. These two streams will converge in a statement of the truth condition for negation, which is (spoiler alert) as follows:

A situation makes ~A true if and only if every situation compatible with it fails to make A true

RL p. 75

This truth condition for negation will then let me show how situations can fail to be bivalent and fail to be consistent. The discussion of inconsistent situations will include a discussion of ostensible objects.

But to get to this truth condition, I will need to discuss what it means to “make” a sentence true, and what it means to say one situation is compatible with another. And in turn, to get to those discussions, I will need to discuss possible worlds, and those parts of possible worlds called “situations”.

Here are the topics I will be discussing, in order: Possible Worlds Spawned-From-The-Known Possible Worlds Spawned-From-The-Unknown Possible Worlds Possible Worlds That Are Epistemically Accessible To Me From The Actual World Situations Epistemic Possibility Epistemic Truth Compatibility/Incompatibility Situations Drawn From Spawned-From-The-Unknown Possible Worlds Situations Drawn From Spawned-From-The-Known Possible Worlds Bivalent and Inconsistent Situations Making A True

Possible Worlds

At least for now — until I am forced to change — I will take a possible world to be defined by a set of natural-language descriptions, each one of which corresponds | fails to correspond to a state of affairs which, because it obtains | fails to obtain at a time t, is (to follow Chisholm) identical with a proposition. There is therefore a one-to-one relationship between a state of affairs and a proposition that obtains | fails to obtain at t. There is, of course, a many-to-one relationship between natural-language descriptions and a proposition aka state of affairs at t. “Umuulan” uttered in Manila as one holds an umbrella and “It is raining” also uttered in Manila while holding an umbrella are natural-language descriptions in Tagalog and English respectively which both express the proposition named by ‘it is raining’.

A sufficient condition for a state of affairs’ obtaining is its having a set of objects located in space-time and bearing the relevant relations to one another. For example, the state of affairs expressed by the sentence “Our Unix SA is standing to Genghis Khan’s right; and my brother Dan is standing to Leon Trotsky’s left who in turn is standing to Genghis Khan’s left” obtains if our Unix SA, Genghis Khan, Dan, and Leon Trotsky have a location in space-time at t and are spatially related to one another in the way just described.

The description that expresses the proposition are sentences in a natural language that are used to perform a speech act of describing. If my cat Tiger is now sitting on the mat in my apartment, that state of affairs obtains, and the description performed by uttering the English sentence “My cat Tiger is now sitting on the mat” expresses a proposition that is true because it corresponds to this state of affairs. In a derivative way, the description/sentence also corresponds to this state of affairs and is also true. If Tiger is not now sitting on this mat, the aforementioned state of affairs does not now obtain, and the aforementioned proposition does not correspond to anything in my apartment that would make it true. The proposition is false, as is the sentence expressing that proposition whose utterance performs the speech act of making a false description.

I will leave ‘state of affairs’ as an unanalyzed primitive, explicating it only by providing examples. ‘Corresponds’ I will also not say much about, except to say that it is a relation between a proposition and a state of affairs, and the relation might be, as Chisholm thinks, identity at a time t.

As one possible world among others (if something is actual, it is also possible), the actual world comprises that set of descriptions, each one of which expresses a proposition that corresponds to a state of affairs that obtains. In the actual world, the color of the walls in my apartment is a nice, subtle portobello mushroom. The description “my apartment has portobello-mushroom colored walls” corresponds to this particular state of affairs, this particular piece of the actual world. It is a member of the set of descriptions that defines the actual world. I will say that the description maps to the state of affairs. I conceive of states of affairs that obtain as akin to bricks building up the actual world.

In the actual world the color of the walls in my apartment is not a wild fuchsia. The description “fuchsia-colored walls” does not correspond to this particular piece of the actual world. That this state of affairs fails to obtain (i.e., my apartment walls being wild fuchsia) means that it is not part of the actual world. The actual world contains just the one portobello mushroom brick, so to speak, and not a fuchsia brick.

Spawned-from-the-known possible worlds. Through a kind of wave of the hand, I can specify a possible world distinct from the actual world by saying “everything is the same as in the actual world, except the color of the walls of my apartment is a wild fuchsia.” In doing this, I have just spawned, so to speak, or “accessed” a possible world (which, henceforth, I will call the “fuchsia-wall possible world”) by taking a description of a state of affairs I know to obtain in the actual world (“the walls of my apartment are a nice subtle portobello mushroom”), a state of affairs that is exposed to me, so to speak, and substituting for it a different description (“the walls of my apartment are a wild fuchsia”), a description which fails to map to any obtaining state of affairs in the actual world. I will call possible worlds accessed this way “spawned-from-the-known possible worlds.”

These possible worlds are defined by sets of descriptions some of which map to the states of affairs that “build up” so to speak the actual world and others which do not map to or correspond to any states of affairs obtaining in the actual world. When a description does correspond to a state of affairs obtaining at t in the actual world, I will say that the description is satisfied by the state of affairs.

A state of affairs is actual when the objects it comprises have a location in space time. For all I know, there may be more than one space-times. Here, however, I will assume there is just one, and that there is, therefore, just one actual world comprising all actual states of affairs. will assume that there is only one actual world. The actual world is one possible world among others, but it is the only one in which every description in the set of descriptions that defines it maps to the corresponding state of affairs which obtains.

If I may be allowed to indulge in wild metaphor for the moment, I will say that the fuchsia-wall possible world is composed of the same bricks as the actual world, with the exception that the portobello mushroom brick has been taken out and replaced with a written note saying “this is a fuchsia brick”.

I will call phrases such as “fuchsia walls” “key descriptions”, since these are the descriptions that, with the aid of the “everything else is the same” hand wave, are key to defining the fuchsia-wall possible world and opening up so to speak that world to me. It will be seen shortly that key descriptions are not limited to generating or “accessing” spawned-from-the-known possible worlds. When a key description is not satisfied by a state of affairs in the actual world, I will say that the content of that description is merely “posited“.

A positing may be actually realized by a person performing it, or it could be something potentially realized. An hour ago, for example, I had not posited a butterfly with black and white wings fluttering about in the Amazon at GPS location xyz, but I am now. An hour ago this particular possible world was just a potential one, contemplated perhaps by an infinite mind but by no one else. Compare this notion with that of a line in geometry that, potentially, is infinitely divisible, but each of whose segments is known by an infinite mind.

While I am still here, let me “access” (henceforth I will not be placing scare quotes around the word “access”) a couple more spawned-from-the-known possible worlds. I can say “everything is the same (even the color of my apartment walls) as in the actual world mutatis mutandis, except that water flows uphill.” Again, I have “generated” or accessed a possible world from a known fact in the actual world, namely, that water flows downhill. Or: “everything is the same as in the actual world, except that donkeys talk”. I have accessed a possible world by using a known fact in the actual world namely, that donkeys don’t talk. Naturally, the “mutatis mutandis” (would very much else really be the same if donkeys talked or water ran uphill?) makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I won’t try to deal here with the issues it may raise.

Spawned-from-the-unknown possible worlds. I can access a possible world, though not one necessarily distinct from the actual world, by using as my raw material a piece of the actual world about which I do not have knowledge. Suppose, for example, that, in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, near Western Avenue, Elizarraraz (from whom I was renting living quarters and studio space for a while … “Elizarraraz” is Ladino, the Iberian Sephardic counterpart to the Ashkenazim Yiddish, for “poor king”; many people of Jewish descent managed to make their way to Mexico, from which country Elizarraraz’ paternal ancestors hail, in order to place as much distance as possible between themselves and the Spanish Inquisition … but I digress) . . . as I was saying, suppose that Elizarraraz has set up a shell game comprising three shells under one of which lies a peanut. I do not know, of course, under which shell the peanut lies hidden.

Might this be the infamous rogue peanut?

I can generate three possible worlds from these three unknowns by filling in the “holes”, so to speak, with key descriptions taking the form “the peanut lies under shell #x”. In one possible world, the peanut lies under shell #1 and everything else is the same as in the actual world; in the other it lies under shell #2 and everything else is the same as in the actual world; in the third it lies under shell #3 and everything else is the same as in the actual world.

Possible Worlds That Are Epistemically Accessible To Me From The Actual World: I do not know anything that would rule out the identity of any of these possible worlds with the actual world. Following the literature, I will say that these are possible worlds that are epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world.

We can talk about the relation of espistemic [sic] accessibility. A world w0 is epistemically accessible from w for an agent S (in w) iff S knows nothing that would rule out the hypothesis that w0 = w. Then, p is epistemically necessary (for S) iff p is true at all possible worlds that are epistemically accessible from w (for S).

http://fitelson.org/125/accessibility.pdf

I modify the above to the following:

A world w0 is epistemically accessible from w for an agent S (in w) iff nothing in the body of knowledge possessed by S would rule out the hypothesis that w0 = w.

I want to talk about ‘a body of knowledge’ to segue more easily into a discussion of probability which I will be doing shortly. According to Henry Kyburg’s account of probability, which I find useful, a probability is always asserted relative to a body of knowledge or evidence:

My own conception of probability is, like Keynes’s and Carnap’s, a logical one. Probability statements are logically true, if they are true at all. A probability is asserted always relative to a body of evidence; relative to different bodies of evidence different probability statements will be true. … I do not want to regard this body of knowledge as fixed in any absolute sense; over a period of time, however brief it changes. But in order to clarify the process of inference we introduce the logician’s standard idealization and regard the inference as taking place at a timeless moment. In this moment there are statements are open to question and statements that are not open to question — though in another moment, or from another point of view, they could of course be questioned.

Henry E. Kyburg Jr., EPISTEMOLOGY AND INFERENCE (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1983), p. 137

Adding to this account the claim that one does not necessarily know or even believe they know something that the they actually do know will save me a fair amount of agony and grief. A skeptic, for example might persuade me that I do not know that I am awake and not dreaming when in fact I do know that I am awake and not dreaming. Someone may be told by someone who completely convinces them for a moment “Who are you going to believe: me or your lying eyes?” [[It is possible to hold conflicting beliefs at the same time.]]

The actual world is, of course, a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me and to everyone existing in it because I, along with everyone else, know nothing that would rule out the identity of the actual world with the actual world. Since the actual world is my primary concern here, I will assume that the possible world w that S is located in and from which they access other possible worlds, is the actual world. I will sometimes replace ‘S knows nothing that would rule out the hypothesis that’ with ‘so far as S knows’ or ‘to the extent of S‘s knowledge’.

Not every spawned-from-the-unknown possible world is a possible world epistemically accessible to me from my location in the actual world. I could, for example, also generate a possible world from the three unknowns just mentioned by positing a peanut that is always, of its own accord, switching between shells and sometimes even finding itself on the nose of the Mona Lisa, mimicking thereby the possible behavior of a rogue electron as described by a chemistry TA I once had as an undergraduate. But we know things (I think … I hope) that rule out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which peanuts behave this way: namely, that peanuts do not behave this way in the actual world. Although electrons may behave this way (if I can trust my memory of what my undergraduate chemistry TA told me), peanuts do not jump from shell to shell and they never find themselves of their own accord on the nose of the Mona Lisa. This possible world is not epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world.

No peanut here — so far

Possible worlds spawned from unknown pieces of the actual world, then, fall into two categories: those that are epistemically accessible for a knower S from S‘s location in the actual world (every now and then I will be referring to these just as “epistemically accessible possible worlds”), and those that are not.

The possible world w0 in which Bigfoot is roaming the forests of western Washington state is epistemically accessible for me because I know nothing that would absolutely rule out the identity of this possible world with the actual world. Likewise, the possible world w1 in which Bigfoot is not roaming the forests of western Washington state is also epistemically accessible for me because I know nothing that would rule out the identity with the actual world of this possible world. I think the chances are greater than 50% that Bigfoot is not roaming these forests, but that is not the same as my knowing this.

These two possible worlds are incompatible; they cannot be the same possible world. The one world precludes the other. One makes ‘Bigfoot is roaming…’ (A) true; the other makes ‘Bigfoot is not roaming…’ (~A) true. A possible world answers every question: for any given possible world, either Bigfoot is roaming in the possible world or she is not. One must be true but not the other. Both cannot be true. So in all possible worlds A ^ ~A is false. A possible world cannot be inconsistent.

(At least for now, I won’t try to deal with possible counter-examples to this assertion. One such possible counterexample is Graham Priest’s contention that a person walking out of a room is, for one moment, both inside the room and outside the room when the center of their gravity aligns with the center of the door space. I am tempted to think that ‘inside the room’ and ‘outside the room’ are two different situations which have a common boundary, with the result that the description “outside the room” is not always the negation of “inside the room”. But I won’t try to expand on this now. At the moment I will simply assume that in all possible worlds A ^ ~A is false.)

Which possible world we are talking about hinges on how it answers the Bigfoot question (A or not A?). The identities of w0 and w1 depend upon this answer. The identity of possible world w0 depends upon that world’s not being possible world w1. If I exist in a possible world in which A is true at a time t then all of a sudden per impossibile I am existing in a possible world in which A is not true at this same time t, then I have been transported to a different possible world. (Maybe Scottie beamed me into it.)

And one of them (at any given time), A or not A, must hold in w0 and w1. In neither world can neither ‘Bigfoot is roaming the forests of Western Washington State’ nor ‘Bigfoot is not roaming the forests of Western Washington State’ be true. The worlds must be bivalent. One or the other — at least one and at most one — A or not A, must be true for these possible worlds to be the possible worlds — mutually exclusive worlds — they are. To remove A from w0 would be to strip that world of its identity; likewise, to remove not A from w1 would be to strip that world of its identity. Neither w0 nor w1 can be a non-bivalent world. In all possible worlds, ‘A v not A‘ is true. ‘A v not A‘ is necessarily true, which means that ‘If A then A‘ is also necessarily true.

So the falsity of ‘A ^ ~A‘ and the truth of ‘A v ~A‘ stems from the criteria for the identity of possible worlds. Possible worlds have to be complete, answering every question (Is there, or is there not, a butterfly with violet wings fluttering about in the Amazon at GPS point xyz?). They have to be consistent. They must be bivalent. They would undergo serious ‘criteria of identity’ crises were these conditions not fulfilled.

To sum up this discussion of possible worlds: possible worlds fall into two categories: those possible worlds that are spawned from the known and those that are spawned from the unknown. In turn, spawned-from-the unknown possible worlds fall into two categories: possible worlds that are epistemically accessible to a sentient being S and those that are not so accessible. Unlike situations, to which I am about to turn, possible worlds must be complete (must answer every question, including what is happening at GPS point xyz in the Amazon), must be consistent, and must be bivalent.

I now turn to a discussion of situations and their compatibility/incompatibility. I will be discussing almost exclusively what I will call informational or epistemic situations, which, naturally, will be analyzed in terms of information and as parts of epistemic possible worlds. Unlike possible worlds, situations can be incomplete, inconsistent, and non-bivalent.

Situations

I now relate the concept of epistemically accessible possible worlds to the concept of a situation. A situation is a part of a possible world and comprises one or more states of affairs. A situation is not necessarily a proper part of a possible world; for I count each possible world, including especially the actual world, as a situation. Nonetheless, when I talk about situations, I will have mainly in mind situations that are proper parts of possible worlds.

Among those situations that are proper parts of a possible world are those whose states of affairs they comprise correspond to the key descriptions defining possible worlds. As we have seen, the key description “the walls of my apartment are fuchsia” defines, along with the hand-wave “and every other state of affairs is the same as in the actual world” the possible world in which the walls of my apartment are fuchsia instead of portobello mushroom. This state of affairs, had it obtained, would have had the aforementioned key description corresponding to it. I will call the situation which comprises this state of affairs a “key-description situation”.

A situation that comprises just a single state of affairs I will call a “singleton situation”. There is a many-to-one relationship between single states of affairs and the set of objects existing (actually or possibly) in whatever relationships among one another and having whatever properties. The state of affairs named by 788UIOYOIYTYTIURRRBBBB4yt76876%^%$##DYCbHGFUIYTDTFJvDIYOBOvo ‘Tiger is now sitting on the keyboard of my laptop’ FI^T%$^%DXGDIGVHLOUFC:”}{PVTDXERhjkakb sdkdvsdwlebwhcjhsasssdff is a single state affairs obtaining at t; the state of affairs named by ‘Tiger’s color is silver’ also obtains at t and is a distinct single state of affairs. There are therefore at least two singleton states of affairs here mapping to the set comprising my cat Tiger at t.

Situations that are proper parts of possible worlds are limited in some way. They are finite in one way or another. A major cause of finitude of course, is being born. One’s (merely possible or actual — but from now on I will assume ‘actual’ unless otherwise noted) entry into a (merely possible or actual — but see the previous parenthesis) world results in their getting plunged into a world which has them as one center (among countless others, not totally unlike Nicholas of Cusa’s description of space as infinite and having infinite centers) and a horizon that extends only so far. One exists in the thick of a mileau with which they must constantly cope. A certain portion of the actual world gets exposed, or unconcealed (I try to define “exposure” below) to one, starting at birth and continuing through one’s lifetime. That is to say, one acquires and has available to them information. I will be leaving the term “information” undefined, except to accept Dretske’s claim that information can be either conceptual (information grasped intellectually or in terms of categories) or non-conceptual (information not grasped intellectually, for example information felt, as Nelson Goodman put it in his LANGUAGES OF ART, in the bones and in the muscles). I use the term “exposure” partly to avoid the implication that what I am talking about is necessarily conceptual in character. It is thoroughly obvious that any being that is not omniscient will have only a limited portion of the actual world exposed to them. Like being born, not being omniscient is a major cause of finitude.

Caravaggio’s painting THE CARDSHARPS very nicely illustrates, I think, four typical features of situations. First the boundaries of the information that is available to one form the boundaries of a situation. Second, to be in a situation is to be placed in the thick of things: one is grappling with the exigencies of a situation. Third, the information might be information grasped not by the mind but felt by the bones and muscles, emotionally. Fourth, there can be a conduit of information from one situation to another.

Caravaggio,, THE CARDSHARPS
 

Caravaggio’s painting depicts three situations. One situation comprises the situation of the callow young man, apparently of some wealth and status and vulnerable to being considered as a mark, who is pondering his cards. Exposed to him are one side of the cards, the table, and the front of the worldly-wise teenage cardsharp. Although he is directly looking at just the cards at the moment, I think it is safe to assume that in the very recent past he has acquired information about and has available to him information about the teenager and about the middle-age-ish man behind him. The young man, the mark, is a center of a situation within which a certain amount is exposed and from which much is hidden. The cards nicely serve as a visual symbol of the fact that his situation has boundaries shaped by a perspective and a point of view.

The teenage cardsharp of course has his own perspective, his own point of view, on the scene. What he is exposed to includes the back of the mark’s cards, the table, the cards he feels with his hands as he draws them from his back, the knife’s-edge tension he feels arising from the fact he has to accomplish his move perfectly, the feeling of danger arising from the fact the scene could very easily explode into violence — fists or swords — if he is not smooth enough. His own vulnerability, the fragility of his enterprise and its danger he cognizes in the bones and the muscles. Included in his situation is a kind of very broad present perfect. He has been shaped by a larger world which — if I remember my European economic history correctly — that has been suffering from harder times for a while now; and this card game is where he is now. All of this is his situation.

Oh, and yes — I almost forgot — part of the cardsharp’s situation includes a view of his confederate signalling to him the content of the mark’s cards. The confederate is in the thick of his own situation and of course he feels the knifes’s edge tension and danger, the fragility of their endeavor and the not at all improbable chance it could go wrong. These aspects of his situation are exposed to him, just as they are to his younger confederate. This situation serves as a conduit of information linking the mark’s situation with the teenager’s.

If I may be permitted to foreshadow what belongs to another post, we have here the 3-place accessibility relation between situations Rstu, where s is the signaler’s situation, t the teenager’s situation — a situation that includes a view of the signalling — and u is the mark’s situation. But more of that later, in a different post.

Any key or potential description that opens up a possible world maps to a situation. The key description ‘the walls of my apartment are fuchsia’ opens up, along with the phrase ‘and everything else is the same as in the actual world’ for me that possible world. The key description maps to the key situation that is part of this possible world, namely, the situation in which the walls of my apartment are fuchsia. I will say that situations hold in a possible world, including the actual world. That the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom is a situation that holds in that possible world which happens to be identical with the actual world.

A situation comprises one or more state of affairs that obtains or could obtain. I use “comprise” for its suggestion that a situation surrounds, encloses, includes the states of affairs. The situation of my apartment in the actual world, for example, comprises the states of affairs ‘my cat Tiger is sleeping at my feet’ and ‘the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom’, both of which obtain. Each of these states of affairs can be splintered off to comprise a distinct situation by itself.

“Known” aka “exposed to” aka “unconcealed” counts as a key description. That part of the actual world which I actually know, i.e., actually have information about, am cognitively exposed to, comprises my comprehensive actual situation. Everything that Smith has information about, everything that Morgenstern has information about, everything that Elizarraraz has information about, everything that an omniscient being has information about, comprises the comprehensive actual situation of Smith, Morgenstern, Elizarraraz and the omniscient being respectively. I will dub situations carved out this way from a possible world (including and primarily the actual world, of course) “informational” or “epistemic situations”; henceforth I will be using “situation” to refer to epistemic situations only, unless otherwise noted. A sentient being exists in an informational situation; this being is in the thick of things which press upon them and with which they must cope. That situation is defined by the information that is available to this being.

My own informational situation, the situation I am in, includes everything I am familiar in my apartment, as well as the view of the courtyard outside. It includes my knowledge that Houston is in Texas, Seattle is in Washington state, and St. George and Salt Lake City are in Utah. It includes all my old haunts in downtown Chicago and in that city’s Rogers Park, Near West, and Pilsen neighborhoods. Taken together, all this knowledge, all this information — both knowledge that and in-the-bones-and-muscles knowledge, comprises, along with the objects the information is about, what I will call my comprehensive actual situation.

My comprehensive actual situation includes numerous sub-situations — my cat Tiger’s sitting on a mat, the doorbell’s ringing inside my apartment. I will say that one is in a comprehensive actual situation or sub-situation; sometimes I will say that a situation — especially a sub-situation — holds for one. Sometimes, to emphasize the fact that the things within one’s situation are, typically, things with which they must cope, I will say one is grappling with and in the thick of a situation.

A bit later, when I discuss ostensible objects, I will be dropping the word “actual” and talk only about my “comprehensive situation.”

Now anything which blocks information from me … distance, shells, the practical difficulties (including getting the needed funding) of searching for probably-mythical creatures … will create a space for a possible world epistemically accessible for me from the actual world in which I exist. All that is required for the generation of a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world is that what I posit to “fill in” these spaces (a peanut in either shell #1 or shell #2 or shell #3; a Bigfoot | alternatively an absence of a Bigfoot roaming the forests of western Washington state; the sea-glass green or Venetian red or goldenrod yellow or periwinkle blue color of my neighbor’s walls) not be ruled out by what I know about the actual world.

The range of information available to me is obviously limited. It does not include enough information to absolutely rule out the identity of w0 (Bigfoot is roaming the forests of western Washington state) with the actual world, nor the identity of w1 (no Bigfoot is roaming the forests of western Washington state) with the actual world. It will not include enough information to rule out the identity of any other possible world that is epistemically accessible for me from the actual world — for example, the possible world in which the peanut lies under shell #1, the possible world in which it lies under shell #2, or the possible world in which it lies under shell #3. Nor does my comprehensive actual situation tell us whether, for any given GPS point in the Amazon, a butterfly is flapping its wings there, and if one is, whether its wings are purple or chartreuse. Nor does it tell us whether the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are colored sea-glass (viridian) green or Venetian red, a brick wall blocking this information from me, and my not having any other source of information that would tell me what the color is.

So unlike a possible world (including the actual world) which is “dense” in the sense that it answers every question, a situation has “holes” in it in the sense that it does not answer every question. It is littered with pockets of missing information. The situation comprises the actual world minus all the holes in which epistemically accessible possible worlds can be generated by any positing whose content does not rule out, given what I know about the actual world, its being a component of the that world. If a possible world is dense like a slab of most cheeses, a situation possesses many “holes” — pockets of missing information that can be filled in by positings consistent with what I know about the actual world — and is in that regard like a slab of Swiss cheese.

Or, to switch metaphors, my comprehensive actual situation is like a mesa (comprising all the knowledge/information I have) in southern Utah surrounded by a fog-covered plain. Lurking within within this fog are countless possible worlds that are epistemically accessible for me from my location on this mesa in the actual world.

Caspar David Friedrich, WANDERER. Okay — this isn’t Utah … but it’s close enough for government work

Since my comprehensive actual situation could be (in a sense of “could” that I will be clarifying shortly) identical with the Bigfoot possible world, or with the non-Bigfoot possible world, or with the ‘my neighbor’s walls are wine red’ possible world, and so on, my comprehensive actual situation could exist in more than one possible world. One is constantly finding out which possible world their comprehensive actual situation belongs to (and therefore which possible world the actual world belongs to). Is this the possible world the one in which the peanut is lying under shell #1 or the one in which shell #1 hides nothing except a piece of table top? Is this the world in which Bigfoot is roaming the forests of western Washington state, or the one in which no such creature is roaming those forests? Is this the world in which my neighbor’s walls are wine red, or the world in which they are some other color?

The key descriptions of these (epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world) possible worlds define circumscribed situations within those worlds. These descriptions might or might not be satisfied by the actual world. On the table in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago (that somber city) on which Elizarraraz has set up a shell game, the peanut may or may not be under shell #1. In the forests of western Washington state, Bigfoot might or might not be roaming. I will call these situations “derived from epistemically accessible possible worlds situations”, or “epistemic situations”. These are situations which the various epistemically accessible possible worlds that lurk in the holes in the swiss cheese, or in the fog surrounding the mesa, comprise.

Truth And Possibility

Epistemic Possibility. If I know nothing that rules out the identity with the actual world of the possible world which has as its key description ‘the peanut is under shell #1’, there is one possible world epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world in which the peanut is under shell #1. It is therefore possible — epistemically possible — that the peanut is under shell #1. That the peanut is under shell #1 is a possibility. As part of the possible world that has this as its key description, the peanut’s being under shell #1 could be a situation that is part of the actual world and therefore could become part of my comprehensive exposed actual situation. It’s being so, if I may be permitted to risk wearing out the word, is a definite possibility. Possibility defined in terms of what I do not know — my ignorance. This is the sense of “could” that is operative when, before the shell is turned over, I can truthfully and non-misleadingly say that the peanut could be under the shell, but then can no longer truthfully say this once the shell is turned over and turns out to be hiding nothing but empty air and a patch of table surface. This is a sense of “possible” that requires ignorance, not knowing. [See P.Z. Myers.] I will call possibility understood this way “epistemic possibility”.

Given my knowledge that the peanut lurks underneath one of the shells and that Elizarraraz would not do anything funny to manipulate the odds, there is a probability of 1 in 3 that the shell I select hides the peanut. Say I select shell #1. The credence I can assign to there being a peanut there is 1 in 3. This is the measure of the credence I can give to ‘this shell’ (say shell #1) ‘hides the peanut’. Once I overturn the shell to expose the peanut | a small expanse of tabletop the credence that there is a peanut there | nothing there becomes 1. Before that, when I observed just a shell, the credence to assign to there being a shell there is 1. Likewise, when I first observed the color of my apartment walls, the credence to assign to that color’s being portobello mushroom is also 1. This credence, or “probability”, is assigned relative to a body of knowledge that includes such propositions as those expressed by “I am not dreaming at the moment” and “I am not hallucinating at the moment”. I might be wrong about what propositions are to be included in this reference body of knowledge — for example, notoriously, I might believe that I am awake when in fact I am dreaming — but we should not automatically assume that having a false belief about what is included in my body of knowledge means that I do not know that thing. Also, I might not necessarily be able to express in a natural language (or in a formal language, for that matter) a proposition that is in fact part of my body of knowledge. [[[Present pluperfect]]]

Let me say, then, that a state of affairs is exposed, or unconcealed (I will use the two terms interchangeably; I will be using “unconcealed” when I am in a more Heideggerian mood), in a situation when, given the body of knowledge possessed by the sentient being whose situation it is, the credence to be assigned to that state of affairs is 1. When that credence is less than 1, that state of affairs counts as hidden or concealed.

Since my comprehensive actual situation is that part of the actual world that is exposed for me, every state of affairs in it is an exposed state of affairs. If a state of affairs is hidden, it is not part of my comprehensive actual situation.

Epistemic Truth: Correspondence is the truth-making factor, whether the state of affairs lies within a possible world or within a situation. But a sentence can correspond to a state of affairs with in a situation only if that state of affairs has been exposed within that situation: a situation comprises exposed states of affairs only. So when I utter a sentence that is true because it corresponds to a state of affairs within my situation, for example:

The walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom

it corresponds to an exposed state of affairs. All sentences that are true because they correspond to a state of affairs in my situation will be corresponding to an exposed, an unconcealed state of affairs.

Let me say that a sentence is true in a situation when it corresponds to a state of affairs within that situation. (For the best defense of the correspondence theory of truth that I have seen so far, see Joshua Rasmussen, Defending The Correspondence Theory Of Truth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014). Let me also say that a situation makes the sentence true when a state of affairs within that situation corresponds to that sentence. Since a state of affairs is not comprised by a situation unless it is exposed within that situation, exposure, unconcealment, is a necessary condition for a situation’s making the sentence true. A situation cannot make true a sentence that corresponds to a hidden state of affairs, since that state of affairs cannot count as within or being a part of, that situation.

So if any of the following sentences is true, my comprehensive actual situation does not make them so. The states of affairs that would make them true are states of affairs in different situations.

1) The butterfly fluttering about in the Amazon at GPS point xyz has chartreuse wings

2) Shell #1 is hiding the peanut

3) The walls of my neighbor’s apartment are wine red

4) Bigfoot is roaming the forests of western Washington state

The first sentence, 1), might be generated by my laptop which I have programmed to spit out sentences of that form. Relative to my situation, it is an epistemic possibility: the situation that comprises that state of affairs could be drawn from a possible world whose identify with the actual world cannot be ruled out by anything in my body of knowledge. The number of variants of this situation is humongous, so the credence/probability to be assigned to 1) is extremely low. The probability to be assigned to 2) is 1/2. The credence to be assigned to 3 is 1 divided by the number of paint colors out there. My own Bayesian priors for 4) is about 1 in 100. (I know, I know — I have just lost any credibility any reasonable person might have been willing to grant me.)

Sentences 1 through 4 may or may not be made true by states of affairs exposed in other situations. For example, they may be made true by the comprehensive actual situation of an omniscient being to whom every state of affairs in the actual world is exposed, and for whom there are no brick walls, no funding difficulties blocking off the flow of information — a situation to which I will apply the label ‘worldly situation’. But none of them is made true by my comprehensive actual situation. Nor, as we will see, does my situation make true the sentences formed by prefixing “It is not the case that” to each one. The worldly situation does make at least one of A or ~A true in each case, so one would be justified in exclaiming “but surely A v ~A is true for each of these!” Yes — but it isn’t my comprehensive actual situation that makes them true.

Were however a conduit of some sort to link the situations relevant to 1 through 4 to my situation, either each sentence or its negation would be made true by my situation and in my situation. If my neighbor is reliable and he tells me that the walls of his apartment are wine red, he would have provided a conduit linking his comprehensive actual situation to mine and exposing in my situation the wine-red color of his walls. This state of affairs would then become part of my situation, having a probability of 1. [[[Need to discuss how something can fail to be a logical truth and still have a probability of 1.]]] Likewise, I might employ something like Google Earth to zoom in on that particular spot in the Amazon and discover there is indeed a butterfly with chartreuse wings fluttering about there. A sonar peanut detector might reveal to me that shell #1 is hiding the peanut, a conduit that perhaps is not quite totally kosher, like the one depicted in Caravaggio’s CARDSHARPS.

And a cryptozoologist with impeccable credentials might inform me that she was able to ascertain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bigfoot-like creature gallivanting around the various campsites in western Washington state impishly waving hello to campers and clearly enjoying their reaction, really is Bigfoot and not, as I had at first assumed it would have to be, my DFH friend Shaggy.

In each of these cases, an epistemic possibility — the ‘could’ generated by my ignorance — gets converted to an exposed actuality. Something that has an location in space-time gets unconcealed. Something gets made true in my situation by the exposure of a previously hidden state of affairs in a different situation. A probability of less-than-one gets turned into a probability of 1. To get exposed or to have been exposed is to have a probability of 1, where that probability is relative to one’s body of knowledge.

Knowledge has as one necessary component truth. I do not know that p unless p is true. Epistemic truth would reverse this relationship; p is not true in a situation (made true in that situation) unless p is known, exposed unconcealed — unless information, conceptual or non-conceptual, is available about it.

Here then, is the main take-away from this section: a situation cannot make true a sentence that corresponds to a hidden state of affairs. As a complete possible world, the actual world has sufficient resources, so to speak, to make true any sentence that corresponds to any state of affairs, hidden or exposed, within that world. But a situation does not have these resources. It is unable to expose every truth, and no sentence is true in a situation unless it has been exposed. Just as one does not go to Judge Judy to expose the truth in the murder trial of the century, I do not use my (current) comprehensive actual situation to expose the truth regarding whether there is a butterfly fluttering about at GPS location xyz in the Amazon, and, if so, what color its wings are.

Judge Judy trying to expose the truth of the Amazonian Chartreuse Butterfly Sentence

So much for truth. Let me turn now to compatibility/incompatibility. I will then combine these two separate discussion streams into a discussion of the truth condition for negation that will leave room for relevant implication.

Compatibility/Incompatibility

Compatibility and Incompatibility are binary relations holding between situations. I discuss these relations as they hold between situations drawn from spawned-from-the-unknown possible worlds and spawned from the known possible worlds respectively. I give a nod to the concept of defeasibility.

Situations Drawn From Spawned-From-The-Unknown Possible Worlds: The possible world in which the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are Venetian red is epistemically accessible to me because nothing in my body of knowledge rules out the identity with the actual world of this possible world. This possible world has “my neighbor’s walls are Venetian red” as its key description. The hand-wave “and everything else is the same as in the actual world” accomplishes the rest of this definition of the possible world. This world could (epistemic “could”) be identical with the actual world, and, upon the exposure to me of my neighbor’s walls as in fact being Venetian red, that particular situation (a singleton comprising just one state of affairs) drawn from this possible world would become part of my comprehensive actual situation.

Epistemic Compatibility: When a key-description situation s1 is drawn this way from a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world (remember, I will sometimes refer to these simply as “epistemically possible worlds” to save breath) and would therefore become part of my comprehensive actual situation s0 upon exposure, I will say that s1 is epistemically compatible with s0. Every situation s1 defined this way will be epistemically compatible with s0; this manner of definition provides a sufficient condition for epistemic compatibility.

So the key descriptions of all the epistemically accessible possible worlds lurking within the fog surrounding the mesa, all those ghost-worlds haunting all those holes in the lump of swiss cheese … all of these key descriptions define situations that are epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation. No epistemically possible world will have a situation-defining key description that is incompatible with my comprehensive actual situation.

If I may be allowed to go out on a limb for a moment, compatibility is to be analyzed in terms of possibility, which in turn is to be analyzed in terms of possible worlds. As I will show shortly, different accessibility relations will allow some pairs of compatible situations and disallow others.

[[[A little reflection will show that every situation mapping to a key description of a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world will be epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation. For any given key description, were there anything in my body of information and knowledge that ruled out its being part of the actual world, it would not be a key description for a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me. It therefore would not map to — really, be — a situation within an epistemically accessible world. It is not the case that it could be a part of the actual world; a fortiori, it is not the case that it is could be part of the actual world known to me or about which I have information. That is to say, it is not the case that it could be part of my comprehensive actual situation. Therefore all epistemic situations [define these above] are epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation.]]]

Two situations can be epistemically compatible but incompatible in other ways. It is not completely inconceivable that, were I completely omniscient, or at least close to it, I might discover that the following two situations are nomically incompatible: the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom, and the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are primrose pink. For suppose the universe is deterministic, at least on the post-quantum level. An incredibly complicated chain of events starting from the big bang, knowable only by an omniscient being, has resulted in the color of my apartment being portobello mushroom. This situation holds in all possible worlds that are a) nomically accessible from this world — i.e., the same laws of physics hold as in this actual world; and b) have the same initial conditions. Conceivably, there is just one such world, the actual world.

Another incredibly complicated chain of events starting from the big bang with the same initial conditions, also knowable only by an omniscient being, has resulted in my neighbor’s walls being chicory-flower blue (a beautifully paled even somewhat chalky ultramarine with a hint perhaps of violet). This situation also holds in all possible worlds nomically accessible from this world which have the same initial conditions. There might be just one such world, but it would still be true that in all possible worlds accessible from the actual world in the way described my walls are portobello mushroom and my neighbor’s walls are chicory-flower blue.

Necessarily, then, (nomically-plus-initial conditions necessary), my neighbors’ walls cannot be primrose pink at the same time my walls are portobello mushroom. The two situations preclude one another. They are incompatible.

To talk about two situations existing in the binary relation ‘incompatible’ is to talk about their necessarily not holding at the same time in the same possible world. In one sense or another of “cannot”, they cannot hold at the same time in the same possible world. Here the sense of the modal “cannot” is nomic-and-initial-conditions necessity. There is no possible world accessed this way from the actual world in which my walls are portobello mushroom and my neighbor’s walls are primrose pink.

Which sense of “cannot” is in play, which situations get included in the incompatibility relation will depend upon which accessibility relation one chooses. ‘Portobello mushroom in my apartment’ precludes and is incompatible with ‘primrose pink next door’ if the accessibility relation is ‘nomic and same initial conditions’, but not if the accessibility relation is ‘nothing in my body of knowledge rules out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which my walls are portobello mushroom and my neighbor’s walls are primrose pink’. Because I am definitely not omniscient, my knowledge being limited and my ignorance vast, the two situations remain epistemically compatible. The latter epistemic accessibility relation renders the two situations compatible — epistemically compatible.

The situation described above whose corresponding description forms the key description for the rogue peanut world is not epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation or with any of its sub-situations. For that situation would have to be part of the actual world; yet in the actual world peanuts do not jump around from shell to shell and never end up on the nose of the Mona Lisa. This is true of any world for which this is the key description: for example, the world in which Elizarraraz has painted the exterior of the building he owns goldenrod yellow instead of its very bright viridian green but the peanuts in his shell games went rogue; or the possible world in which the peanuts have also gone rogue but the sunflower in front is ever so slightly to the left … and so on ad infinitum. If I may be permitted a slight leap, then, I will assert that in all possible worlds in which peanuts have gone rogue, the key situation is epistemically incompatible with my comprehensive actual situation or any of its sub-situations. My situation (and each of its sub-situations) precludes any of the key situations, which means that never in any world shall the twain hold together at the same time.

Looking at situations drawn from spawned-from-the-known possible worlds will illuminate two dimensions of the epistemic incompatibility relation: the idea of difference, and the defeasibility of the aforementioned “cannot”.

Situations Drawn From Spawned-From-The-Known Possible Worlds: All the sub-situations within my comprehensive actual situation are, of course compatible with one another. That they are all holding at the same time is proof of their compatibility. Clearly, they do not preclude one another.

It will be worth keeping in mind (if only for the sake of clarity) that among these compatible situations are singleton situations mapping to a set comprising the same objects. For example, the situation that maps to the state of affairs named by ‘Tiger is sitting on my keyboard’ is clearly compatible with the numerically distinct situation named by ‘Tiger’s color is silver and the color of the Chromebook keyboard he is sitting on is Payne’s grey with a slight greenish undertone’. Clearly, ‘Tiger is sitting on my keyboard’ is compatible with ‘Tiger’s color is silver and the color of the Chromebook keyboard he is sitting on is Payne’s grey with a slight greenish undertone’

One would normally expect key situations defining spawned-from-the known possible worlds to be incompatible with the situation serving as its “raw material” so to speak if those two situations are taken to hold within the same possible world. If I access a possible world by taking the description “portobello mushroom walls” (the description for what I will call the “raw material situation”) and substituting for it the description “fuchsia walls”, the portobello mushroom wall situation and the fuchsia wall situations surely must be in different possible worlds. (Warning — this “must” is about to be caveated to death.) I am not, after all, trying to land in the same possible world I started with! I am trying to imagine what the effect would be if the color of the walls were different from what they are now.

And my walls — at least not in the same expanses — cannot be fuchsia and portobello mushroom at the same time in the same possible world. This I am willing to bet my paint brushes on. Unable to hold at the same time in the actual world — or in any other possible world — the two situations are incompatible. The one precludes the other from holding. If one holds in a possible world, the other cannot hold in that same world.

In positing a different possible world, one needs a feature, after all, that is, well, different from the raw material feature one is using. Without a difference in the key descriptions, one does not access a possible world different from the actual world. This leaves open the possibility that while one thinks there is a difference in key descriptions, there is in fact no difference.

What does count as a difference in the key descriptions? If we take color as our guide, we can, I think, confidently say that the fact my apartment walls are portobello mushroom means that the same expanse of wall cannot be fuchsia, periwinkle yellow, cornflower blue, or any other color at the same time it is portobello mushroom. The sub-situation within my comprehensive actual situation that is defined by ‘my walls are portobello mushroom’ cannot be identical with any situation defined by ‘my walls are x‘, where for x one can substitute any color name except “portobello mushroom”. Again, I am willing to bet my paint brushes on this. I mean, I certainly have never seen any wall that is both (in the same expanse) portobello mushroom and some other color. Nor can I imagine this. I will go so far as to say I cannot conceive this — not in this actual world nor in any other possible world. Necessarily, a wall cannot be portobello mushroom and some other color at the same time and in the same expanse.

But why should one think this? Knowing that two situations hold at the same time in the actual world if dispositive for their being compatible. But what is dispositive for the incompatibility of two situations within the same possible world? Look as hard as I may in the actual world for a wall that is both fuchsia and portobello mushroom in the same expanses at the same time, I will surely never find one. But isn’t a search like this a bit like searching for an elephant-sized swan? I may never find one — but that is not an absolute guarantee I never will! As Tom Kyte, the database guru likes to remark, you can’t prove a negative such as “no swans the size of an elephant exist”.

Certainly I am unable to imagine a wall that is both of the aforementioned colors at the same time. It would seem, then that I cannot conceive of these two situations holding at the same time in the actual world, right?. (Spoiler alert: no.) And isn’t the inability even to conceive this co-holding evidence that the concept of their compatibility is incoherent?

It is also true, however, that I cannot imagine a mass being at the same time a wave. Yet on my layman’s Wikipedia-level understanding of physics, every mass is also a wave. The situation to which corresponds the description “lumbering mass furiously scribbling away on a Chromebook” exists at the same time as the situation corresponds to the description “tiny petite wave furiously scribbling away (more precisely, keyboarding away) on a Chromebook”. So the two situations must be compatible. How can that be?

The apparent incompatibility can be resolved, I think, if we heed Leibniz when he tells us that imagining is not necessarily conceiving. I cannot really imagine a icosahedron with its 20 equal faces. But I can conceive of one. I suggest, then, that while one may not be able to imagine the situations “lumbering mass” and “tiny petite wave” holding for the same entity at the same time, one may be able to conceive this.

Certainly I cannot conceive this — my conceptual resources are too limited. But I am willing to bet that the physicist, as they delve into the properties of this mass in an ever-more sophisticated way, will end up ascribing properties to this mass that are also properties of a wave. For all I know, I have wave-properties such that, were the wave (per impossibile) long enough, I would be able to pass through two separated doors at the same time, just as, if I am not mistaken, an electron is able to pass through two separated slits at the same time. Let us suppose that there is a long series of mathematical equations that describe this; and let’s call this description a “conception of a lumbering mass that is identical with a tiny petite wave”. This description would correspond to a single situation — a mass that is identical with a wave. Given enough knowledge, the description ‘mass’ merges into the description ‘wave’; and the situation named by ‘is a mass’ is identical with the situation named by ‘is a wave’. The identity of the “two” situations is, of course, a sufficient condition for their compatibility.

Let me pause for a moment and elucidate a couple of matters, just for the sake of clarity. First, identity is a two place relation, with one singleton situation bearing one name related to the same singleton situation bearing a different name. The “two” situations are numerically one, comprising the same proposition aka state of affairs at t. Other propositions/states of affairs might comprise the same objects, but be comprised by different situations. The same lumbering mass/petite tiny wave may be part of the state of affairs named by ‘lives in Houston’ and also part of a different state affairs named by ‘studied philosophy in Chicago at Loyola University’, with the result that it is involved in three numerically distinct situations each comprising a different state of affairs.

I continue. I have never encountered a wall that is both fuchsia and portobello mushroom in the same expanse and at the same time — just as I have never encountered a large mass that in any obvious way is also a wave. I am unable to picture imaginatively a wall that is both colors at hte same time — just as I am unable (at present) to picture imaginatively a large mass that is also a wave. I am lacking a non-pictorial conception of a wall that is both colors (henceforth “at the same time and in the same expanse” will be understood) — and until I have such a conception, I will continue to regard the two wall-color situations as incompatible. In no possible world in which walls (or anything for that matter) have colors are the walls of my apartment both fuchsia and portobello mushroom. As parts of states-of-affairs-comprised-by-situations-that-are-parts-of-possible-worlds these two situations must be parts of possible worlds. To put the matter a bit more simply, the walls cannot be these colors without being in different possible worlds. I am in the same position with regard to the wall colors as one would have been with regard to mass/wave situations before our knowledge of physics expanded enough to give us a conception of the fact that a lumbering mass is also a wave.

For all I know, we may eventually broaden our knowledge enough to allow us to conceive an identity in the same possible world of the fuchsia wall situation and the portobello mushroom situation. Or maybe an infinite or at least extremely large intelligence already has such a conception. I am not willing to bet my paint brushes, however, on anyone arriving at such a conception in my lifetime, or ever. Nor am I able to ground the assertion that this conception will never arrive, no more than I can ground the assertion that we will never discover an elephant-sized swan. Someone in 1801 might have made the same assertion regarding large masses and tiny waves. All I can say is “so far as I know, the same expanse of wall cannot be, in the same world, at the same time, and in the same expanse both fuchsia and portobello mushroom.

In other words, there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the hypothesis that, among all the possible worlds in which a wall can be some color and in which what it is to be a color (however that may be articulated) is the same as it is in the actual world, there is no world in which the same expanse of wall is both fuchsia and portobello mushroom at the same time. So far as I know there is no possible world in which ‘fuchsia-wall’ and ‘portobello-mushroom wall’ are two names for the identical situation. The necessity, and therefore the incompatibility, are epistemic, grounded in my lack of knowledge, my ignorance. The necessity and the incompatibility are defeasible.

Side note for the sake of clarity: I have moved, then, from discussing individual worlds that are epistemically accessible for a sentient being S (the possible world in which Bigfoot does indeed roam the forests of western Washington state; the possible world in which the walls of my neighbor on the other side of the brick wall I am facing as I write this are wine-red) to sets of possible worlds that ground epistemic necessity (there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the hypothesis that, in the set of possible worlds that are accessible in such and such a way from the actual world, none comprise situation s).

Strictly speaking, epistemic necessity is compatible with, does not preclude epistemic contingency (there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the hypothesis that, in the set of possible worlds that are accessible in such and such a way from the actual world, there is at least one that comprises situation s). This is perhaps a bit like saying “all unicorns (all zero of them) are yellow ocher” and “all unicorns (all zero of them) are rainbow-colored”, where the particular set of rainbow colors in question excludes yellow ocher. Unlike the usual uses of “necessary” and “possible” “epistemic necessity” cannot be defined as “not epistemically possible” and vice versa.

Nonetheless I do think there is a certain asymmetry between epistemic necessity and epistemic contingency. Reviewing possible worlds to try to find one in which the walls in it are (at the same time and in the same expanses) both fuchsia and portobello mushroom is rather pointless given that one does not know what it means for a wall to be both these colors at once. And one does not know what this means because one does not have access to the truth conditions for “this wall is fuchsia and portobello mushroom at the same time”. (Henceforth I will call this the the “fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall sentence”.) Currently, one lacks the means for getting these truth conditions. Imagination would have been one means. My imagining Tiger sitting on my Navajo mat suffices to give me the truth conditions for the English sentence “Tiger is sitting on my Navajo mat”. I know the meaning of that English sentence because, via the imagination, I know what would be the case if the sentence were true. But imagination certainly does not give me a way to get at the (quite possibly non-existent) truth conditions for the fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall sentence. My imagination can fail me in giving me the truth conditions for the English sentence “this humongous lumbering mass is also a tiny petite wave”, but someone (I am confident) has a conception stated in the mathematical language of physics of precisely this. (Maybe, in honor of Hilary Putnam’s division of semantic labor which relegates to certain experts the distinction between a beech and an elm, I will ask a physics undergraduate to write this down for me.) But no such mathematically-expressed conception seems to exist to give us the truth conditions for the fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall sentence. That is to say, so far as I know no such conception exists.

At the time of this writing, I can state confidently that I do not have a conception for the fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall situation that would give me access to the truth conditions for the fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall sentence. I also lack a conception for the humongous lumbering mass/petite tiny wave sentence (I will need to make sure above that I have named this sentence). But I am fairly confident that I can appeal to someone in my linguistic community (some physics undergraduate, for example) who does have a conception ghat gives them access to the relevant truth conditions, just as Hilary Putnam in his MEANING OF MEANING can appeal to a tree expert for the truth conditions of ‘is an elm’ versus ‘is a beech’ even though he lacks access to those truth conditions by himself. The access is distributed across members of a linguistic community unlike epistemic accessibility, which — at least given how the concept has been defined so far — is restricted to individual sentient beings. Let me define, then, what I will call semantic accessibility in the following way:

A world w0 is semantically accessible from w for an speaker S (in w) in linguistic community L to which S belongs iff S is able to consult with speakers in the linguistic community L to which S belongs who have a conception giving them access to the truth conditions of the key description of w0.

Then, p is semantically necessary (for S in L in w) iff p is true in all possible worlds that are semantically accessible from w (for S in L in w). And p is semantically possible (for S in L in w) iff p is true in at least one possible world that is semantically accessible from w (for S in L in w).

I am call this accessibility relation “semantic” of course because it is concerned with truth conditions. A “conception” that gives one access to a particular set of truth conditions is whatever resources one possesses that lets one know what it would be for the sentence “snow is white” to be true (namely, that snow is white). Since semantics is concerned with language — the meanings of words — and language is a communal enterprise, it is natural that the definition of semantic accessibility should include a reference to a linguistic community.

I started my discussion of possible worlds by asserting them to be identical with sets of descriptions, some of which are satisfied by states of affairs in the actual world (a “brick”, to speak metaphorically), and others which are left unsatisfied (a “written description” is in place where the brick should be). Without access to the truth conditions of a description, one has no access to what the description means. One therefore has no access to the possible world the key description is meant to open up. If, say, an omniscient mind knows the truth conditions, that mind has access to that possible world. For us more limited creatures, however, we may not necessarily know if there is a possible world out there we can ever hope to gain access to in the first place. As time goes on and — as in the case of humongous lumbering masses/tiny petite waves worlds — we may gain a conception which gives us access to the world and opens it up to us. I can no more definitively say this won’t happen for the fuchsia/portobello mushroom wall world any more than I can say that I will never encounter an elephant-sized swan. I am willing to bet that the communal body of knowledge — the resources available to members of the linguistic community to form the needed conception — will never expand so as enable anyone to access the truth conditions for the fuchsia/portobello world, but….

So we can divide worlds — the sets of descriptions, satisfied or unsatisfied, real or merely purported [[expand on this — difference between nonsense such as “trd4r3e3bbubijvbhjihyiurhtrg” and words that are intended to be used to describe but fail in that function because the truth conditions are lacking) into those worlds regarding which there is nothing in the communal body of knowledge that would rule out (preclude) their belonging to the set of possible worlds, i.e., the set of worlds, that is to say, the set of descriptions whose truth conditions one has access to. If a world is not a possible world, it is an impossible world, a status that it may (epistemic “may”) or may not have permanently.

[[[Let me note parenthetically that the entities I have defined with reference to a personal or communal body of knowledge — epistemically accessible possible worlds, epistemic probability, semantically accessible possible worlds rather paradoxically depend for their definition precisely on what is not in the body of knowledge. For probability part of the relevant body of knowledge consists in knowing what one doesn’t know — I don’t know under which shell the peanut lies, though I know that there is one peanut and that it lies under one of the shells.]]]

[[[Explain this a bit more. Compare with probability as a number relative to a body of knowledge.]]]

To continue: I propose, then that every key situation to which corresponds a key description generating a spawned-from-the-known possible world be regarded at first as (epistemically) incompatible with the situation in the actual world that formed the raw material of this key description. As far as one knows — that is to say, unless and until one’s body of knowledge has expanded sufficiently — the possible situation has to be seen as belonging to a possible world different from the actual world and as numerically distinct from the situation that forms its raw material.

Epistemic incompatibility, then, is the converse of epistemic accessibility. A possible world is epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world if there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out its identity with the actual world; and a situation within that possible world could (epistemic “could”) be part of the actual world. For example, there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which my neighbor’s walls are wine red; and the situation named by ‘my neighbor’s walls are wine red’ could be a situation within the actual world. Correlatively, there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would give me the conceptual resources to conceive of my neighbor’s walls being both wine red and sea glass green in the same possible world; or of my own walls as being both fuchsia and portobello mushroom in the same actual world; or any wall in any possible world in which there are things called “walls” that have colors having two distinct colors at the same time and in the same expanses. There is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the non-identity with the actual world of the possible world in which my apartment walls are of a different color. More generally:

A world w0 is epistemically distinct from w for an agent S (in w) iff there is nothing in S‘s body of knowledge that would rule out the hypothesis that w0 != w.

And:

A key description d0 is epistemically incompatible with a key description d for an agent S in world w for whose definition d is key iff every world w0 accessible for S by way of a key description d0 is epistemically distinct from w.

[[[[Two descriptions d0 and d1 are epistemically incompatible for an agent S (in w) iff, given the body of knowledge possessed by S, d0 and d1 together fail to provide a key description giving S access to a possible world.]]]]]

And:

Two situations s and s0 are epistemically incompatible iff the key descriptions to which they correspond are epistemically incompatible.

That two situations are incompatible is defeasible. [[Need a similar definition of compatibility.]]

To sum up this discussion of epistemic compatibility/incompatibility: Key description situations drawn from spawned-from-the-unknown possible worlds are epistemically compatible with the corresponding situation in the actual world when they are epistemically accessible from the actual world. Otherwise they are incompatible. Key description situations drawn from spawned-from-the-known possible worlds may at first be assumed to be epistemically incompatible with their “raw material” situations in the exposed part of the actual world, but then may become epistemically compatible as our knowledge grows. I dare say, however, that it is rarely — if ever — the case that one should bet the ranch — much less one’s paint brushes — on the incompatibility between two situations ever morphing into compatibility.

[[[[Lumberoom: Imagination, then is not an absolutely reliable guide to incompatibility. The mere inability to imagine two situations as being the same situation is not exactly an absolutely reliable guide to their being incompatible and therefore forever doomed to non-identity. My mere inability to imagine that the walls of my apartment, in the same expanses, are at once fuchsia and portobello mushroom does not suffice to guarantee that they cannot be. At the same time, I do not know what it would be for the walls (in the same expanses — henceforth this will be understood) of my apartment to be both portobello mushroom and fuchsia at the same time. I do not know — I haven’t the faintest idea — what would be the case if the sentence “the walls of my apartment are both fuchsia and portobello mushroom at the same time” were true. The truth conditions for that sentence are lacking for me — I don’t have access to these truth conditions. I am therefore unable to posit a possible world which has this sentence as its key description.]]]]

[[[[But I do have access to the truth condition for the possible world in which the walls of my apartment are fuchsia, not portobello mushroom. I know what would be the case if the sentence “the walls of my apartment are fuchsia” were true. I have the knowledge expressed by the sentence “this is fuchsia” and the knowledge of what it is to paint walls a certain color and whatever other knowledge is required to give me the conceptual resources to know this truth condition. I am therefore able to posit the fuchsia apartment wall possible world.

At one time, no one would have had the conceptual resources to know the truth conditions for the possible worlds (one of which which happens to be the actual world) in which “lumbering mass at work on its laptop scribbling away” is describes the same situation as does “petite tiny wave at work on its laptop scribbling away”. I am not sure I have the conceptual resources to know these truth conditions. I am confident, however, that a competent physicist would. Perhaps even they would not be able to imagine these truth conditions pictorially; but perhaps the ability to produce a series of equations describing the situation would count as knowing the truth conditions. At one point in time (t0) no sentient being S had the conceptual resources afforded by the needed body of knowledge; then at another point in time (t1) some agents do. At t0 the prudent thing to say would have been “so far as I know, ‘is a wave’ and ‘is a particle with mass’ are incompatible descriptions of the identical situation (namely, this person scribbling away)”; at t1 one can now say they are indeed compatible descriptions of the same situation.

Now, I submit, at the time of this writing, the prudent thing to say is that so far as I know, ‘the walls of my apartment are fuchsia” and “the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom” are incompatible descriptions of the identical situation (namely, the walls of my apartment being such and such a color). But obviously I have no guarantee that my current body of knowledge and the resulting conceptual resources available to me will always be the same. Perhaps these can change just as they did in the case of the mass that is also a wave. The only entity that could provide such a guarantee would be an omniscient being. My being finite — i.e., my being situated — means that the ability to provide such a guarantee is likely to be forever beyond my reach. So I have to rest content with the “so far as I know”.

Let’s say, then, that incompatibility is relative to a body of knowledge, just as epistemic accessibility and probability (at least according to Kyburg) are. The incompatibility of descriptions d0 and d1 is relative to the body of knowledge possessed by a (possibly fictional) omniscient being who knows (if they do know this) that the two can never describe the same situation at the same time. The epistemic incompatibility of d0 and d1 is relative to a body of knowledge that fails to provide the resources — a failure that quite possibly will never be remediated — to give one access to the truth conditions for a single situation’s holding for which both d0 and d1 serve as key descriptions at the same time. [[[To have access to the truth conditions is to have access to a possible world.]]] This incompatibility means that d0 and d1 can never, together, provide a key description giving one access to a possible world. ]]]]]

[[[[[[

To gain access to a possible world is to have the ability, provided by one’s body of knowledge plus whatever other abilities, to conceive or represent the truth conditions of that world’s key description. If, given one’s body of knowledge and one’s cognitive abilities, one cannot cognize the truth conditions of the combination of d0 and d1, that combined description cannot open up or give one access to a possible world. The one description precludes the other. And there is no situation that they, in combination, correspond to. This absence of truth conditions is what provides the meaning of epistemic incompatibility.

Generally, one would expect that coming up with an ostensibly different key description (my walls are fuchsia, not portobello mushroom; Tiger is from planet XZDOIN#K deep in the Orion galaxy, not planet Earth) would result in pairs of incompatible descriptions and therefore incompatible situations which cannot hold at the same time in the same possible world (especially in the actual world). “Different” means “not identical”. Different description, different situation.

The one exception to different descriptions generating different situations would be when the descriptions are parts of a longer description whose individual sentences (perhaps in the forms of mathematical statements) cohere — maybe surprisingly –into a single description. The physicist starts with a mathematical description of a lumbering mass…and when they finish, end up with something that also describes a very small wave. They may still be unable to picture something’s being both a lumbering mass and a tiny petite wave at the same time — nonetheless, their long mathematical description constitutes a setting forth of the truth conditions. ]]]]]

[[[Need now to show how room is left for a situation not to be compatible with itself]]]

I now join these two streams: the discussion of truth, and the discussion of compatibility/incompatibility.

Non-Bivalent And Inconsistent Situations

Non-Bivalent Situations: The binary relation ‘compatibility’ holding between two situations gives us a truth condition for negation that will let us see how situations can be both bivalent and inconsistent. The case for bivalent situations is perhaps a bit less … venturesome … than the case for inconsistency. We will see where I end up. Let’s take a look at this truth condition for negation, but modified so as to be talking about epistemic compatibility, not compatibility per se.

A situation makes ~A true if and only if every situation [epistemically] compatible with it fails to make A true.

RL, p. 75

Making A True: Above, we have seen that a situation makes A true when that situation contains a state of affairs to which A corresponds. But the situations we are concerned with, epistemic situations, contain only states of affairs that are exposed, that is to say, unconcealed. So a situation makes A true only when A corresponds to an exposed state of affairs within the situation.

Epistemic Compatibility: As we have seen, every sub-situation within my comprehensive actual situation is epistemically compatible with every other such sub-situation and with my comprehensive situation itself. The fact that all these sub-situations hold at the same time in the actual world ices their all being compatible. [[[Be sure to reconcile this with the impossible cube. The impossible cube can never be actual.]]] Drawn from the actual world, these sub-situations are also epistemically compatible with any other situation drawn form the actual world by virtue of the fact that the actual world is epistemically accessible from the actual world. For any key description that is used to define the actual world, there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out, i.e., preclude its being a part of the actual world.

All these actual situations are compatible with one another by virtue of the fact that that all situations drawn from possible worlds (one of which is the actual world) that are epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world are epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation. And as we have seen, all possible situations — not just those possible situations that happen also to be actual — that are drawn from epistemically accessible possible worlds are epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation. [[[Make sure I am not committing some part/whole fallacy.]]]

Negation: Negation works unproblematically for the dense parts of the lump of swiss cheese, for the mesa surrounded by the fog, for that part of the actual world which is exposed to S. Let’s take, for example, ~A to be the sentence “It is not the case that the walls of my apartment are fuchsia.” My comprehensive actual situation makes that sentence true.

Now we have seen that a sub-situation is compatible with the situation of which it is a part. So every sub-situation within my comprehensive actual situation s0 is epistemically compatible with s0. For no sub-situation within my comprehensive actual situation makes A (“It is the case that the walls of my apartment are fuchsia”) true. One of these sub-situations is, of course, the singleton situation comprising the state of affairs at t identical with the proposition expressed by “the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom”, namely A. That situation especially fails to make A true. Tiger trying to get onto the keyboard as I write this; the doorbell ringing, the chalky Venetian red color of the cliffs in Southern Utah — list them all — each is epistemically compatible with s0 and each fails to make A true.

And surely every situation outside my comprehensive actual situation will also fail to make A true. [[[Discuss situations outside s0.]]] For example, whatever the color of my neighbor’s apartment walls may be, that is not a singleton situation what will make it true that the color of my apartment walls are fuchsia. I think it is fairly safe to go out on a limb, then, and say that every situation epistemically compatible with s0 fails to make “it is the case that the walls of my apartment are fuchsia” true. s0 therefore makes the sentence “it is not the case that the walls of my apartment are fuchsia” true.

Note that if nomic-and-initial conditions compatibility were in play, my neighbor’s walls being periwinkle yellow, say would make it true that my walls are fuchsia if the initial conditions at the big bang deterministically led up to these two causal lines. But I think it would violate our sense of what ‘not’ means if my neighbor’s walls being wine red made “it is not the case that my walls are fuchsia” true. This is why I think “compatible” should be taken to mean “epistemically compatible” in the truth condition for negation.

Negation works unproblematically for the dense parts of the lump of swiss cheese, for the mesa surrounded by the fog, for that part of the actual world which is exposed to S. But matters are different inside the holes in the lump of swiss cheese, or down in the depths of the fog surrounding the mesa. Consider the sentence “the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are wine red”.

Consider the situation in the possible world, epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world, that has as its key description “the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are wine red”. Within this possible world, the key situation (a singleton) would, if the state of affairs it comprises obtained in the actual world, make the sentence “It is the case that the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are wine red” true. Let this sentence be A at the moment.

As part of a possible world that is epistemically accessible for me, this key situation counts as an epistemic situation. As a situation that is hidden from me, as being attached to a probability less than 1 (but presumably greater than 0), it is not part of my comprehensive actual situation, which comprises only exposed states of affairs with a credence of 1. But being an epistemic situation, it is epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation.

A mere probability does not make a sentence true. The probability that the peanut is under shell #1 is 1/2, as is the probability that the peanut is not under shell #1. But this probability does not make either “The peanut is under shell #1” or “The peanut is absent from shell #1” true. The probability is not the truth-making factor. The assertion “the probability is 1/2” does not answer the question “what makes it true that the peanut is under | is absent from shell #1?” What answers that question is rather the peanut’s presence under | absence from shell #1.

Likewise, the probability that my neighbor’s walls are wine red is something like 1/the number of wall paint colors that are out there. Let’s say the probability is 1/10000. The assertion “The probability is 1/10000” is not the answer to the question “Are my neighbor’s walls wine red?” (Henceforth the “wine red question”.) The proper answer to that question would be “That my neighbor’s walls are wine red”. That the probability is 1/10000 gives one the possibility that my neighbor’s walls are wine red. But wine-red walls are what make the sentence true — if it is true — not the mere possibility of wine-red walls. The sentence “My neighbor’s walls are wine red” corresponds | fails to correspond to whatever state of affairs obtains as to the color of my neighbor’s walls, not to whatever state of affairs might obtain.

[[[To say that a sentence is “merely probable” is not yet to say that it is true, though of course it might also turn out to be true in the end. The mere probability that the peanut is under shell #1 is not a truth-maker.]]]

Every brick that composes this particular epistemically accessible possible world is present and is the same brick that composes the actual world, with the exception of one missing brick. In place of this brick is a piece of paper on which is written “The walls are wine red”. In order to be true, the wine-red sentence has to correspond, so to speak, to the brick, not to the inscription.

Nothing within my comprehensive actual situation makes the wine-red sentence true: not the portobello mushroom color of my walls, not Tiger’s sitting on the mat, not my doorbell’s ringing — no sub-situation in this situation comprising whatever states of affairs does. And as we have just seen, neither does the singleton situation that, outside my comprehensive actual situation, is part of the for-me epistemically accessible my-neighbor’s-walls-are-wine-red possible world. So according to the above truth condition for negation, it is false. A, that is to say, “It is the case that my neighbor’s walls are wine red” is false.

But if bivalence held for my comprehensive actual situation, [[[remember to distinguish between holding in and holding for a situatioun]]], then ~A would have to be true: “It is not the case that the walls of my neighbor’s apartment are wine red”. Then the following sentence would have to be true: “My neighbor’s walls are sea-glass green; or my neighbor’s walls are Navajo white; or my neighbor’s walls are goldenrod yellow; or my neighbor’s walls are Tiepolo pink; or my neighbor’s walls are cornflower blue; or my neighbor’s walls are ultramarine blue; or my neighbor’s walls are Venetian red….” and so on for every wall color except for wine-red.

But using the same reasoning as for wine red, each of these or’d sentences is false for my comprehensive actual situation. That is to say, no situation epistemically compatible with my comprehensive actual situation s0 — no sub-situation in or within s0, and no situation drawn from a possible world epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world — makes any of these or’d sentences true. So the entire sentence that comprises them is false. So for my comprehensive actual situation s0 and for all situations epistemically compatible with it, both “It is the case that my neighbor’s walls are wine red” and “It is not the case that my neighbor’s walls are wine red” are false.

Bivalence holds within an epistemic situation (i.e., states of affairs are exposed to a sentient being), in that way my comprehensive actual situation is like a possible world. But bivalence fails for my comprehensive actual situation i.e., when I reach outside that situation to consider situations that are hidden from one and sentences whose truth is merely probable. When considering the truth of A requires a reach into the fog surrounding the mesa, or into one of the holes in the lump of swiss cheese, both A and ~A are false. One’s comprehensive actual situation turns out to be not enough to render at least one of these sentences true. This in turn means that there exist situations for which, for certain sentences A (obviously not all), “If A then A” is false. In this way, Relevant Logic can avoid the Classical Logic paradox: “A –> (B v ~B)”, alternatively, “A –> (B –> B).

Complete, a possible world answers the wine-red question as well as the peanut question as well as the Bigfoot question as well as the Amazonian chartreuse butterfly question. Finite and fragmentary, a situation cannot. A situation is partial. Like Judge Judy’s courtroom being the wrong tribunal for answering the question who is the culprit in the murder of the century, a situation is the wrong tribunal for answering the wine-red and the peanut (is the peanut under shell #1 or under one of the other two shells?) questions.

Partial situations allowing for this can exist because situations are not complete. They do not answer every question. (Does a Bigfoot creature roam the woods of western Washington state or does it not? Is there a butterfly fluttering about in the Amazon at GPS location xyz or not; and if there is, are its wings chartreuse? Is the peanut under shell #1 or does that shell hide only a small expanse of table-top? Are the walls of my neighbor’s apartment wine red or some other color?) My comprehensive actual situation remains the same whichever happens to be the correct answer. The identity of this situation does not depend upon the answer. This sameness leaves room for non-bivalent situations. [[[[Expand on this]]]]

But as we saw above, the identity of a possible world does depend upon the answer. The Bigfoot possible world is not identical with the non-Bigfoot possible world. So possible worlds do not allow for the failure of bivalence. In any possible world, including the actual world, either a Bigfoot creature roams the woods of western Washington state or does it not. Unlike situations, which can be partial, a possible world must be complete. It must answer every question.

All of the above is my attempt to nail down, by putting in my own terms, Mares’ discussion of non-bivalent situations in his RELEVANT LOGIC: A Philosophical Interpretation. This is an exercise in writing to learn. In particular, this is my attempt to nail down the following passage from Mares:

Partiality is straightforward [ahem! Cough cough], so we will start with that. Consider the situation that consists of the information that is currently available to me. The includes what is going on in my study as I write this section of my book, and what I can see through my window. Nothing happening here makes it true that it is currently raining in Toronto (which is on the other side of the globe). But situations in which it is raining in Toronto are compatible with my current situation. So neither ‘It is raining in Toronto’ nor ‘It is not raining in Toronto’ is true in my current situation. Thus bivalence fails for this situation and the situation is partial.

RL, p. 75

Let me turn now to inconsistent situations.

Inconsistent Situations: Dealing with inconsistent situations is a bit more of a stretch. But let me venture (as I try to strengthen my shaking knees) the following attempt to use the concept of ostensible objects to allow for inconsistent situations. There are singleton situations, I claim, that are incompatible with themselves because they comprise impossible objects. ‘Compatible’ is not always a reflexive relation for a situation.

First, some words on the concept ‘incompatible’.

Compatibility Again: Situation s1 is compatible with situation s2 when s1 and s2 can hold at the same time. For example, the situation that corresponds to the description “Tiger is sitting on the mat” (where I have deposited him to keep him off my keyboard) holds at time t. The situation that corresponds to the description “The doorbell is also ringing in my apartment at t” also holds at t. [[[Need to say something about “corresponds” vs. “defines”]]] That the two situations hold at the same time clearly means they are compatible. Their co-holding is dispositive. And as two sub-situations within my comprehensive actual situation s0 (I will be reserving “s0” to name my comprehensive actual situation unless otherwise noted), one would of course expect them to be compatible, as are all sub-situations within s0.

In the actual world, my cat Tiger was born on earth and did not travel here from the planet XZDOIN#K deep within the Orion galaxy. But surely the situation whose description forms the key description of the possible world in which Tiger is from XZDOIN#K (with cats, those creatures of mystery, one always has one’s suspicions) is also compatible with the doorbell’s ringing and with many of the sub-situations within my comprehensive actual situation. Since this is a situation drawn from a spawned-from-the-known possible world, it is perhaps fairly safe — though as we have seen, not absolutely safe — to say that this situation is not compatible with the situation that formed its “raw material”, Tiger’s origins being the planet earth. Surely the situation defined by the situation “Tiger is from planet earth” cannot co-hold with the situation defined by “Tiger is from planet XZDOIN#K deep within the Orion galaxy”. The two situations are different. They cannot be identical situations. The two situations are not compatible. The one precludes the other.

However, the mere fact that two descriptions seem like they cannot be descriptions of one and the same situation does not mean that these two descriptions cannot correspond to the identical situation. What is more, one of the differing descriptions may be a key description of a spawned-from-the-known possible world and the other may be the “raw material” of this description. One may think they have accessed a possible world numerically distinct from the actual world, but end up landing in the same old actual world anyhow.

Above, I have said that two situations s and s0 are epistemically incompatible iff the key descriptions to which they correspond are epistemically incompatible. In turn, a key description d0 is epistemically incompatible with a key description d for an agent S in world w for whose definition d is key iff every world w0 accessible for S by way of a key description d0 is epistemically distinct from w. [[[[Two descriptions d0 and d1 are epistemically incompatible for an agent S (in w) iff, given the body of knowledge possessed by S, d0 and d1 together fail to provide a key description giving S epistemic access to a possible world.]]]]]

Ostensible Objects:

[[[This particular expanse of wall cannot be portobello mushroom or sea-glass green at once. The one situation precludes the other. The two situations are not compatible. And their inability to exist at the same time is dispositive for their being incompatible.

Likewise, the holding of two situations at the same time is dispositive for their being compatible, their not precluding one another. My cat Tiger’s being on the mat (where I have just deposited him to keep him from sitting on my keyboard) at the same time that the doorbell is ringing definitively shows that these two situations are compatible. ]]]

Now I will try to show that ‘compatible’ is not always a reflexive relation. A situation can be incompatible with itself. If a situation is incompatible with itself, it excludes itself. This is a funny position for a situation to be in, a bit like Mark Twain or Groucho Marx or whoever said he refuses to belong to any club whose standards are so low as to have him as a member. But there we are.

Take a look at a depiction of an impossible cube, inspired by the Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibfZnfNYyc

If you see the cube as if a bit from above, take a look at the vertical bar closest to you, and the bar that gets experienced as running horizontally behind that bar to connect to two lower vertices behind it. Were this an actual object existing in the physical world and you were requested to touch the horizontal bar behind, you would reach past the vertical bar just mentioned and move your fingers along the horizontal bar behind from one vertex to the other. I hypothesize that this potential touching informs your visual experience of the bar behind so that your visual experience is that of a ‘bar behind’. The horizontal bar looks ‘behind’ just as a paper shopping bag looks heavy when one knows it contains groceries and looks light when one knows it is empty. This, I take to be one example of Merleau-Ponty’s contention that the different senses fuse together (see his Phenomenology of Perception), a view not totally dissimilar to George Berkeley’s contention that sight and touch are “entangled” (see his A New Theory of Vision). Those willing to sign a waiver releasing the author from any liability for any resulting brain damage might also want to consult a certain Cliff Engle Wirt’s journal article The Concept of the Ecstasis.

But the (more or less) horizontal bar is also experienced as cutting in front of the vertical bar. If the experience ‘behind’ is salient enough, the eye just accepts this, even though there is no visual experience of the horizontal bar coming from behind to wrap itself in front of the vertical bar then back again on its journey to the other vertex. In the physical world, these two states of the horizontal bar exclude one another. The horizontal bar cannot, at the same time, be behind and in front of the vertical bar. The two situations are not compatible.

But the visual experience of ‘horizontal bar in front’ is compatible with the visual experience of ‘horizontal bar behind’. For the situation comprising the one experience can and does hold at the same time as the situation comprising the other experience. That the two situations should be compatible may seem strange at first, but really should not. For just as, as John Searle constantly points out, the visual experience of a blue object need not be itself blue, and the visual experience of a square object need not itself be square, the visual experience of ‘bar simultaneously in front and behind’ need not itself have the (impossible) property ‘simultaneously in front and behind’.

Now visual experiences are of ostensible objects which usually actually exist but sometimes do not. My visual experience of my cat tiger (with a mouse) at my left as I write this has as its ostensible object a cat that actually exist. Tiger, although he is, yes, an ostensible object of my vision, is not merely an ostensible object of my vision.

My visual experience of the periwinkle-pink rhinoceros grazing peacefully at my feet while I write this … er…. I mean, were I to have such a visual experience … is (or rather, would be) of an ostensible object that does not exist. There is in fact no purple rhinoceros grazing, peacefully or otherwise, at my feet. The purple rhinoceros is merely an ostensible object of my vision. Nonetheless, I can still talk about him and even give him a name (say, “Alfred”). I can even get upset if he seems miffed and refuses to show up for a few days.

Likewise, my visual experience of the impossible cube I “see” on my laptop screen is of an ostensible object that in fact does not exist. It is merely an ostensible object. It no more exists in the physical world than does my periwinkle-pink rhinoceros. Even so, it does seem to make sense to talk about impossible cubes. We talk about ‘this impossible cube’ among different, varying impossible cubes (say, some with differently colored bars). An ostensible object is an object, existing or not existing, actual or possible or impossible, that can be talked about

Now I propose that we regard one’s comprehensive actual situation and sub-situations as comprising at least those objects that one is involved with. From this it follows that my comprehensive actual situation and all sub-situations comprise ostensible objects, both merely ostensible objects and more-than-merely-ostensible objects. My involvement with my cat Tiger consists in my bond with him. My involvement with the impossible cube consists in my preoccupation with this object as a possible avenue to show how inconsistent situations can exist.

Now if we allow the situation ‘Cliff in his apartment typing away at the keyboard of his laptop to produce disreputable screeds’ to comprise the superset ‘ostensible objects of perception’, not just the proper subset comprising ‘physical objects existing in time and space’, that situation will contain, as a sub-situation, the impossible cube I visually experience on my screen. The situation comprising this impossible object is not compatible with itself. It is constantly excluding itself. In a way that sounds very Hegelian, it is incoherent, existing in contradiction.

One would expect such an object to be unstable, and this one in fact is. The horizontal bar behind is constantly threatening to become the horizontal bar in front of the vertical bar, with the result that the cube suddenly switches from being vied from above to being viewed from below.

Now let’s take s to be the singleton situation that comprises the impossible cube depicted on my laptop screen. Let A be the proposition expressed by the English sentence “The horizontal bar is behind the vertical bar”. (That this proposition is about the impossible cube is given.) I venture the claim that no situation compatible with s makes A true. For surely the only situation that could possibly (I will leave ‘could possibly’ undefined) make A true is s itself. But as we have just seen, s is not compatible with itself. And surely no situation that is compatible with s will make A true. For example, that Tiger is to my left is compatible with s (this situation holds at the same time as s), but clearly does not make A true. Nor can I think of any other situation apart from s that would make A true.

Therefore, ~A counts as true according to the truth condition for negation stated above. But it is also the case that no situation compatible with s makes ~A true. Only s could make ~A true. For example, that Tiger is lying to the left of me, always about to press his paw onto the keyboard, clearly does not make true ~A, ie., “The horizontal bar is not behind the vertical bar”. But s is not compatible with itself. So ~(~A) is true, which means of course that A is true. So the truth condition for negation gives us the result that a situation exists for which A ^ ~A is true. Inconsistent situations do exist.

This way we can avoid the Classical Logic paradox (A ^ ~A ) –> B. That is to say, from a contradiction every proposition follows — the Principle of Explosion. This principle would, of course, allow for multitudinous irrelevant implications and therefore cannot hold in Relevant Logic. We can avoid the principle of explosion if we maintain that situations comprise ostensible objects, which include not just actual objects, and not just possible objects, but also impossible objects.

Naturally, a possible world cannot contain impossible objects. (Duh.) Unlike situations, possible worlds must be consistent. So, as Mares notes, a possible world must be both complete and consistent:

First, whereas worlds are complete, situations can be incomplete. To use the terminology of Barwise and Perry … worlds decide every issue. That is, they tell us, for any proposition, whether that proposition is true or false. Situations, on the other hand, do not decide every issue. In some situations, the information whether a given proposition [e.g., “Bigfoot roams the forests of western Washington state”] is lacking. This property of situations is sometimes expressed by saying that at some situations ‘the principle of bivalence fails’. Second, situations need not be consistent. That is, there are some situations that make contradictions true. Possible worlds, on the other hand, are completely consistent.

Mares, RL, pl 27

I have tried to use the concept of possible worlds that are epistemically accessible to a knower S as a way of making sense of the concept ‘partial situation’, that is to say ‘non-bivalent situation’. Partial aka non-bivalent situations are ones in which A v ~A and A –> A may not be true. Trimming out all the possible worlds (that is, all the ones not identical with the actual world) that are epistemically accessible to me leaves me with that portion of the actual world about which I have information — Cliff’s comprehensive actual situation. Defining this situation this way already makes it relative to a knower, i.e., a person in a situation. A situation has a center — this person.

Likewise, I have tried to use the concept ‘ostensible object’ to make sense of the concept of an inconsistent situation. As the center of my comprehensive actual situation, my perceptual apparatus gives me the ability to experience ostensible objects that do not exist as well as ostensible objects that do exist. Some of the merely ostensible objects are possible objects (e.g., the purple rhinoceros gazing peacefully at my feet); others are impossible objects (e.g., the impossible cube inspired by Escher). A ^ ~A is true for at least some situations containing impossible objects.

So now Cliff’s comprehensive situation includes more than just the actual world. As a possible world, the actual world cannot contain impossible objects. Containing a surplus, so to speak, over and above the actual world, my comprehensive situation can no longer be described as just a restriction of the actual world. We need now to speak of just ‘Cliff’s comprehensive situation’, leaving out the ‘actual’.

The falsity of A ^ ~A and the truth of A –> A (aka A v ~ A) still hold for possible worlds. So aficionados of the law of the excluded middle and of the principle of non-contradiction need not freak out. These fail to hold only for situations. On the other hand, situations are better suited than possible worlds to account for natural language:

…the ubiquity of expressions that clearly depend on restricted parts of the world gives us reason to believe that natural language is built primarily to talk about restricted parts of the world and not talk about complete possible worlds.

Mares, RL, pl 40

The End: And here I will end this installment of my writing-to-learn project for Mares’ Relevant Logic A Philosophical Interpretation. My tiny fragile bark is already way out as it is in the open sea, trying, far from the safety of any shore, to cope with some huge and frightening waves. I do not need to go any further at the moment. I leave you, gentle reader, with Emil Nolde’s depiction of a person, in their finitude, in the midst of, in the thick of a situation they must grapple with.

Emil Nolde, The Sea I

Lumber Room:

Compatibility/Incompatibility:

What follows is a series of points that I will be trying to shoehorn into this essay as I revise it now that I have hammered it into at least an initial shape.

[[[Let me say that a situation such as the shell #1 situation is epistemically compatible with another situation — say, my comprehensive actual situation — if it is epistemically possible for it and that situation to combine so as to comprise a larger situation. The situation whose defining description forms the key description of the shell #1 possible world is a possible part of my comprehensive actual situation. It is therefore compatible with that situation, and that situation is compatible with it. ]]]

[[[Conversely, every situation that maps to a key description of a spawned-from-the unknown possible world that is not epistemically accessible for me is epistemically incompatible with my comprehensive actual situation. Above, I gave an example of a spawned-from-the unknown possible world in which there is always the possibility of a rogue peanut in one of Elizarraraz’ shell games, taking its cure from the behavior of electrons as described by my undergraduate chemistry TA, ending up on the nose of the Mona Lisa. Given our knowledge that peanuts (nor any other objects on the post-quantum level) do not behave this way in the actual world, we know something that rules out the identity of this possible world with the actual world. The rogue peanut world is not epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world, which means that the rogue peanut situation is not compatible with my comprehensive actual situation. To rule out is to exclude; to exclude is to render incompatible. Conversely, to fail to rule out is to fail to exclude; to fail to exclude is to render compatible.]]]

[End with drive towards inconsistent situations?]

. [[[This knowledge may or may not be knowledge that I can access immediately, or even knowledge that I know I have. ]]]

[[[[[[[That the peanut be under shell #1, for example, fits in with, does not conflict with, is not ruled out by the knowledge I have about the actual world. I make this claim rather confidently — in fact, I am willing to bet my paint brushes on its truth. Nonetheless, unless I can be said to both to know and to have at my fingertips everything I know, perhaps I cannot be absolutely certain that in the body of knowledge I possess, there is an item of information that would rule out the the peanut’s being under shell #1 within the currently unknown-to-me part of the actual world. I might, while sleepwalking, for example, have one-twentienth consciously seen Elizarraraz filling shell #1 with cement, rendering the presence of the peanut there physically impossible. (In no possible world nomically accessible from the actual world can a shell filled with cement hide a peanut. I assume.) ]]]]]

[[[[[This visual information might be stored in my brain, ready to pop out at any time, or perhaps accessible only through deep hypnosis, but at any rate information unknowingly possessed by me. In that case, I would possess information that would rule out the situation’s being part of the actual world. This is so even if at the same time I also have the opposite belief. I can be in two cognitive states at the same time whose contents directly contradict one another. This point will become important later when I consider inconsistent situations. ]]]]]]

[[[[[Nonetheless, I rather doubt that anyone would want to gainsay my ‘I know nothing that would ….’ claim should I make it. And certainly there is a fact of the matter regarding whether this claim is true — whether there is nothing in my body of knowledge that would rule out the presence of the peanut under shell #1 in the actual world. ]]]]]]

I[[[The descriptions “the shell is empty” and “the shell hides the peanut” clearly preclude one another; they are metaphysically incompatible. ]]]]] Likewise, I might discover later that what I took to be the hollow of the shell was in fact filled with concrete, rendering its hiding the peanut physically impossible. The descriptions “the shell is filled with concrete” and “the shell hides the peanut” clearly preclude one another; they are physically incompatible.

But until I know things like this, the possible situation in which the peanut lies under shell #1 could be — in some sense of “could be” — a part of the actual world. The ‘could be’ is epistemic, stemming from the epistemic concept of relative ignorance, or lack of knowledge. So far, I do not know anything that would rule out the situation’s being part of the actual world, so this being a part of is still a possibility. Nothing that “automatically precludes from the get-go its being a part of the actual world and therefore something that could eventually be discovered to form part of my comprehensive actual situation.]]]]]

[Logically/metaphysically accessible possible worlds and nomically accessible possible worlds do not need to refer to an agent S. Possible worlds that are epistemically accessible for S do need to refer to an agent S. These are possible worlds that smuggle in the concept of a center. They invite the notion of a situation.]

Two situations are compatible within a possible world at time t if and only if they can (epistemic “can”) hold at the same time within that possible world. Let me produce some examples. [Non-normal situations can be incompatible with themselves. Satisfied descriptions. ]

[[[If my cat Tiger is sitting on a mat (where I have deposited him to keep him off my keyboard) at the same time that the doorbell rings, the situation ‘Tiger is sitting on the mat in my apartment’ is clearly compatible with ‘the doorbell is ringing in my apartment’. That these two situations hold at the same time t in the actual world is proof positive that they are compatible in the actual world at t. Now I know nothing that would rule out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which this situation in my apartment holds. Which is good, because the actual world is identical with this possible world. The fact that the two situations do hold at the same time in this one possible world, namely, the actual world, shows that they can hold at the same time in this world; and this possibility is (at least) an epistemic possibility. ]]]]

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[Identity a sufficient condition for compatibility for normal situations. Two descriptions — stable. Not flashing this way then the opposite. Not like “This sentence is false”.Bring up the over/under business much much earlier.]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

Now let me circumscribe the rogue peanut world to just one situation s1 within that world, namely, the shell game the Elizarraraz has set up in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, that somber city, within an easy walking distance of Western Avenue.

To rule out is to exclude; to exclude is to render incompatible. submit, then, the following. Our knowledge (at least I hope that is what that is) that rogue peanuts do not exist in the actual world rules out s1‘s being a situation in the actual world. Therefore, s1 excludes my comprehensive actual situation, s0. s1 and s0 are incompatible situations; and s1 is incompatible as well with any situation within s0. To rule out is to exclude; to exclude is to render incompatible. Therefore, no situation drawn from a spawned-from-the-unknown possible world is compatible with my comprehensive actual situation or with any of its sub-situations.

If it were so ruled out. I submit that, conversely, every situation drawn from a possible world that is If it were so ruled out. epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world is compatible with my comprehensive actual situation s0 and with every sub-situation of s0. For every such situation is possibly — in the epistemic sense of ‘possible’ noted above (think: ‘the peanut is possibly under shell #1) — a part of the actual world. The description mapping to every such situation fails to get ruled out by my knowledge (if it were so ruled out, it obviously would not be part of a possible world epistemically accessible for me from my location in the actual world). Failing to get ruled out is failing to get excluded is failing to be incompatible. Failing to be incompatible is to be compatible.

[[[[[An example of failing to believe that an item of knowledge is part of my body of knowledge.]]]]]]] Likewise, I may falsely believe that a situation is compatible with my comprehensive actual situation when it fact it is not. Suppose, for example, that I really have taken the eight graduate courses in quantum mechanics (with a grade no lower than a B+ in any of them and I got that B+ in just one of the courses) came in just one course. Suppose, further, that I acquire the knowledge that peanuts cannot, while obeying the laws of nature, behave like electrons in the way described by my undergraduate chemistry TA. But all my friends are still New Age crystal devotees who think that peanuts can behave like electrons and display the same effects as they. In the midst of a party in which I imbibe too much in their company and watch too many You Tube videos with them about quantum physics and stare at too many crystals, the wages of tribal identity set in for a moment and I come to believe during the party that peanuts, which only the moment before had been contently abiding under one of Elizarraraz’ shells, can suddenly find themselves the next moment on the nose of the Mona Lisa. The morning after, I come to my senses, no longer under the intoxicating tribal influence of my peers, and no longer believe this. But during the party I held a belief that conflicted with my knowledge. Beliefs can conflict with other believes and with knowledge.

Even during the party, however, my belief did not determine my comprehensive actual situation. My knowledge, which although not occurrent at the moment, was nonetheless not wiped away by the party, continued to define my comprehensive actual situation. The rogue peanut situation continued to be incompatible with, ruled out by, my comprehensive actual situation.

Satisfaction of a description is important also in analyzing compatibility/incompatibility. The impossible cube is not satisfied by any object in the actual world. Since situations are descriptions (descriptions which are (were/will be) satisfied by the actual world when they are actual situations and not satisfied by the possible world when they are merely possible situations), two situations are compatible | incompatible in a possible world if their defining descriptions can be | cannot be satisfied in that world.

[Why use epistemic could and not, say nomic could? Because we are talking in finite situations. So at least theoretically two situations could be epistemically compatible but nomically incompatible. I submit, however, that we should stick to the epistemic notion of compatibility in analyzing human language and human coping with the world. That my neighbors’ walls could be cornflower blue is quite live and real for me. And, as I will show in a moment, one can use that ‘could’ to provide the truth conditions for “not” in the sentence “The walls of my apartment are not fuchsia” that can be comprehended by a finite human being. The corresponding nomic ‘could’ cannot be used that way. ]

[Finite situations appropriate for human language. This is a concept of compatibility that is in harmony with the notion of situations, which emphasizes their local and fragmentary character. My situation is a bunch of so far as I knows. My situation does not comprise the entire actual world because I am not omniscient. ]

[Henceforth, unless otherwise noted, I will be using “compatible” to mean “epistemically compatible”.]

Cannot be satisfied at the same time. My apartment walls cannot be portobello mushroom and fuchsia at the same time. The two descriptions are not compatible. They cannot be fulfilled by any situation in the actual world at the same time. The portobello mushroom situation and the fuchsia situation cannot obtain in the same possible world.

Identity in satisfied situations and simultaneity, then, are two sufficient conditions for compatibility. But there is a third sufficient condition that I want to consider, namely ignorance, my not knowing everything. Nomic and initial conditions example.

There is nothing so far in what I know that would render the description ruled out by what I know.

Truth:

[[[Situations whose boundaries are determined by the limits of one’s knowledge would divide the actual world into what is exposed to one — the finite situation itself — the dense part of the lump of cheese, the mesa surrounded by the fog — and everything that is hidden from one — the holes in the lump of swiss cheese; the fog surrounding the mesa.]]]

[[[Is the truth of the sentence a matter of change from the perspective of one’s own situation? If yes, then one’s own situation is not making the sentence true. Truth is never a gamble]]]

[[[There is no doubt that there are three shells before my eyes. This is so even if ‘there are three shells before my eyes’ is defeasible. If 1 through 4 have credences of less than 1, every exposed state of affairs within my comprehensive actual situation has a credence of 1. There is no doubt that there are three shells before my eyes. This is so even if defeasible. A credence is a number that is assigned; and I shall assign a credence of 1 to all those states of affairs in my comprehensive actual situation for which any doubt seems merely theoretical, not to be taken seriously in the course of one’s affairs. David Hume, for example would or at least should, assign a credence of 1 to the billiard table and the balls when he gets up from his skeptical studies to play a game of billiards. Certainly he would know nothing that would rule out the identity with the actual world the possible world in which the pool table actually does exist in space/time. But to discuss this further would take me too far afield.]]]

[[[Now if there is anything that could serve as a conduit of information between the hidden situation and my comprehensive actual situation such that states of affairs in the former could become exposed to me in my position in the latter, the probability-as-credence of this state affairs would increase to 1. If my neighbor is completely reliable, for example, the color of his walls would become exposed to me were he to tell me they are wine red. The probability/credence that they are wine red would increase from 1 divided by the number of paint colors to 1. That the walls are this color then becomes part of my comprehensive actual situation.]]]

[[[For a sentence to “reach out” so to speak to a hidden situation and to be ‘made true’ is for the probability/credence to increase to 1 from a lesser number. For a sentence that is about a state of affairs within a finite situation to be made true, it needs to have already been exposed and the garden-variety credence given to it to be 1 already. For a situation to make a sentence true is for the sentence to correspond to an exposed state of affairs.]]]

Within my comprehensive actual situation, the resources are lacking to make 1 through 4 true. As I will show when I get to the truth condition for negation, the resources are also lacking within that situation to make the negations of 1 through 4 true. Let A be any of the sentences 1 through 4. A is not true. If we adhere to a 2-valued logic, this means that A is false within the situation. But, as I will show, the situation also fails to make ~A true. So ~A is also false within the situation. A v ~A would be false because both A and ~A would be false. Bivalence would fail for my comprehensive actual situation.

And once it is turned over, it will be the case, I am rather inclined to think, that nothing in my body of knowledge rules out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which the peanut always was (from the time Elizarraraz placed it under one of the three shells) present | not present under shell #1 the whole time. But there is something in my body of knowledge that rules out the identity with the actual world of the possible world in which the peanut was present | not present under the shell the entire time — namely, that peanuts do not behave like electrons. Or at least I hope that I know this. I might add parenthetically, by the way, that whether this really is an item in my body of knowledge is independent of whether I believe it to be.

[[[Need to discussion situation types vs. individual situations]]]

So while nothing in my comprehensive actual situation makes it true that either A (“the peanut is under shell #1”) or makes it true that ~A (“it is not the case that the peanut is under shell #1”), one is likely to be proceeding on the strong assumption that this is so. But if we confine ourselves to just the situation, the situation does not have the resources to make either A or ~A true.

[[[Within the worldly situation of such a being, every sentence would either be made true within the situation or fail to be made true. The probability of 1 through 4 each would be 1.]]]

[[[The epistemic version of truth, i.e., the correspondence to something actual, would then be the correspondence to something known to be actual.]]]

[[[So we have local truth on the one hand and global truth on the other. Local truth is not relative truth.]]]

Bivalence

[[Exposure makes the epistemically accessible situation a part of s0. I asserted above that a situation such as the shell #1 situation is epistemically compatible with another situation — say, my comprehensive actual situation — if it is epistemically possible for it and that situation to combine so as to comprise a larger situation. It could be (epistemic could) the case that the peanut is under shell #1, in which case the presence of the peanut there would become, upon exposure (say by turning over the shell or through a sonar device that is designed to detect the presence of peanuts under shells) a part of s0. Or it could be (again, epistemic could) the case that the peanut is not under shell #1, in which base the absence of the peanut there would be what becomes part of my comprehensive actual situation. ]]

[[That the walls of my apartment are portobello mushroom has already gotten exposed in the situation comprising my apartment in particular and in my comprehensive actual situation in general. Even if somehow I haven’t really noticed the color of my apartment walls (say, when I entered the apartment for the very first time), nothing blocks me from focusing my attention on it for a moment and saying “Aha, portobello mushroom”. The color of my apartment walls lies exposed in my situation. ]]

[[[Situations drawn from possible worlds epistemically accessible to S from their position in the actual world are the graveyard for the truth of A v ~A.]]] [[[Important that on my account the compatibility relation could hold between situations in different possible worlds, as long as the situations could be part of the actual world. I don’t know what trouble this will pose for me. Important to discuss the Tiger from a different planet possible world.]]]

[[[But every other sentient being is situated, that is to say, is plunged into a concrete situation that has them as its center and from whom much is hidden, and to whom some is exposed.]]]


Lumber Room: Heap Of Scraps Comprising Varying Phenomenological And Philosophical Odds and Ends

In this post I will be collecting thoughts as they occur to me, regardless of whether I am able to fit them into any argument for a larger, more comprehensive and therefore more serious view.  These will be like odds-and-endsy scraps of lumber of varying dimensions that the furniture-maker does not want to throw away now because they think there is always the chance a use for them might be found later.  But for now none fits into any furniture project they have going on now.

Most of these (maybe all of them!) will be drivel, of course, and I will be continually updating this post as it becomes blindingly obvious to me that a given thought is completely unsustainable, at least in its current form.

Lumber Scrap #1:  Maurice Merleau-Ponty and John Searle on pains:

Stephen Priest on Merleau-Ponty:

Although the body-subject is the ‘percevant-percu’ (VI, 202) ‘perceiving-perceived’ (VIT, 248) it is paradigmatically the sensed (‘le senti’ VI, 302) which is the synthesis of the subjective and the material.  We can appreciate this already if we consider that the sensed seems to have both experiential and physical properties.  For example a pain both hurts and is spatially located in a part of the body.  Merleau-Ponty speaks of the sensed as ‘at the same time the culmination of subjectivity and the culmination of materiality.’ (VIT, 248).

Stephen Priest, MERLEAU-PONTY, THE ARGUMENTS OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, Routledge, 1998, p. 74

John Searle on two different senses of the phrase aware of:

I now want to expose the fallacy in the argument [against naive or direct realism].   One could object to various steps, but the crucial step is number three, which says that in both the hallucination and the veridical case we are “aware of” or “conscious of” something.  But this claim is ambiguous because it contains two senses of “aware of,” which I will call respectively the “aware of” of intentionality and the “aware of” of constitution.  You can see the difference if you contrast two  common-sense claims.  First, when I push my hand hard against this table, I am aware of the table.  And second, when I push my hand hard against this table, I am aware of a painful sensation in my hand.

a)  I am aware of the table.

b)  I am aware of a painful sensation in my hand.

Both of these are true and though they look similar, they are radically different.  (a) describes an intentional relation between me and the table.  I had a sensation where the table was its intentional object.  The presence and features of the table are the conditions of satisfaction of the sensation.  In (a) the “aware of” is the “aware of” of intentionality.  But in (b) the only thing I am aware of is the painful sensation itself.  Here the “aware of” is the “aware of” of identity or the constitution of the experience.  The object I am aware of and the sensation are identical.  I had only one sensation:  a painful sensation of the table.  I was aware of (in the sense of identity or constitution) the sensation, but I was also aware of (in the sense of intentionality) the table.

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 14-15

Contra Searle, however, it is clear that when one has a pain in their hand, a certain part of their body gets presented to them under (among other things) the aspect ‘having such and such spatial location and extent.’  One ‘condition of satisfaction’ for this presentation is ‘this part of my body exists at this location’; another is, perhaps, ‘something is wrong with that body part’.  Were one suffering from a phantom limb, the first of these conditions of satisfaction would not be satisfied, but perhaps the second would be (“Hell yes something is wrong with that body part!  It doesn’t exist any more!!!”)  At any rate, having conditions of satisfaction that can be satisfied/fail to be satisfied, one’s sensation of pain is just as intentional as their seeing or feeling the table.

As of this writing, I do not know whether this point poses any threat at all to Searle’s Theory of Perception. Incidentally, I also don’t know what threat, if any, the phantom limb poses to the various Disjunctive Theories of perception Searle expends so much energy sneering

Lumber Scrap #2:  John Searle on the subjective visual field:

This book is about perception….I want to begin by identifying the territory.  Close your eyes and put your hand over your forehead, covering your eyes:  you will stop seeing anything, but your visual consciousness does not stop.  Though you do not see anything, nonetheless you have visual experiences which are something like seeing darkness with yellow patches.  Of course you do not see darkness and yellow patches, because you do not see anything; but you still have visual consciousness.  The area of visual consciousness is quite constrained:  In my case, it extends, roughly speaking, from the top of my forehead down as low as my chin.  I am here speaking about the phenomenology and not about the physiological forehead and chin.  I am talking about how it seems to me consciously.  But the area of my visual consciousness is limited in that, for example, I have no visual consciousness behind my head or under my feet.  But I definitely have visual consciousness in front of my face even with my eyes closed.  That conscious area I just identified I will call the “subjective visual field.”

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 3-4.  I will sometimes reference this work as SEEING THINGS. 

Searle seems to want to identify not one, but two distinct kinds of visual fields:  a subjective visual field and an objective visual field.  And he seems to think we can identify both kinds within our ordinary, waking experience.  Let me start with the subjective visual field.

The subjective visual field is that kind of visual field in which, while one has visual experiences, one does not actually see anything.  The visual experiences have no objects.  Just as one sees nothing when they hallucinate a pink rhinoceros at their side (but they do have a visual consciousness that is like the visual consciousness they would have were they actually to be seeing a pink rhinoceros), one does not see anything in the subjective visual field.

Much of this book is about the relationship between the subjective visual field and the objective visual field.  The most important point I can make right now is:  in the objective visual field everything is seen or can be seen, whereas in the subjective field nothing is seen nor can be seen.

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 4

Distinct from the subjective visual field is another kind of visual field, the objective visual field.  Searle defines one’s objective visual field as the set of identifiable-by-a-third-person objects and states of affairs that are visible from their point of view given the current lighting conditions in their environment and given their present physiological and psychological state (SEEING THINGS, p. 106).  Apparently, then, the objective visual field is just that section of space and the objects within it that are visible from one’s point of view (and given….and so on).  These are objects and space existing (normally) outside of one’s cranium.  Needless to say, one can identify the objective visual field in one’s experience because one does have experience of things and space outside of one’s cranium.

By contrast, the subjective visual field exists solely within the confines of one’s cranium:

My subjective visual field, on the other hand … exists entirely in my brain.

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 106-107

The subjective visual field is two-dimensional, but in a sense Searle feels the need to qualify:

Crudely, the subjective visual field is, so to speak, two-dimensional.  … [Of course t]he subjective visual field is not a visible object having two dimensions…. [But] … any impression of depth can be created by two-dimensional surfaces, as is shown by, for example, trompe-l’oeil paintings.

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 138-139

And, as we have seen in the first passage quoted above, Searle feels confident he has identified, and has given instructions for identifying, the subjective visual field by providing an example of one in his experience.  To repeat:

But I definitely have visual consciousness in front of my face even with my eyes closed.  That conscious area I just identified I will call the “subjective visual field.”

John R. Searle, SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 3-4.  

 

But, as I am about to show, Searle has identified no such thing.

For contra Searle’s claim that one does not see objects in the subjective visual field, one does in fact see objects when they follow Searle’s instructions to identify a subjective visual field and closes their eyes (the instruction he gives at the end of the first passage quoted above), or closes their eyes and places their hand over their eyes (the instruction he gives towards the beginning of that passage).  One sees objects in a clearly degenerate, drastically attenuated, highly defective way when they follow either one of these instructions, but they do see objects nonetheless.

For at the very least, one is seeing the shadow-side of their eyelids when they follow either of Searle’s instructions.

Let me explain.  And after explaining, let me politely suggest towards the end of this lumber scrap that in fact there are not two kinds of visual field, one objective and the other subjective, but just one single kind of visual field normally comprising both objective and subjective elements.  In certain unusual circumstances, this visual field might conceivably degenerate into one comprising subjective elements only;  nonetheless, there is just one kind of visual field.  In claiming there are two, Searle is seeing double.0

Through A Glass Darkly:  My Explanation:  When I slowly, gradually close my eyes, I visually experience a single horizontal band of somewhat warm darkness moving down at the same rate as my moving my eyelids down.  Along with and “entangled with” (as George Berkeley would say) my visual experience is a tactile experience of this band’s location.  For the band feels like it is on roughly the same vertical plane as my eyelids.  I get additional confirmation of this ‘feeling of location’ when I move my finger down with my eyelids, my finger touching the lids.   The same sense of tactile location and the same method of confirmation give me the sense that the width of the band is the same as (on the left) the outer edge of the eyelid of my left eye and (on the right) the outer edge of the eyelid of my right eye.  But there is no determinate visual terminus defining the band’s left and right sides.  (Promissory note:  this indeterminacy is extremely important, and will need further detailed discussion sometime.)   By contrast, there is a much more determinate, though still rather blurred edge at the bottom of the band.   This bottom edge gets more determinate, a bit less blurred as it moves down, and becomes more like the somewhat rounded edge of a body part such as an eyelid.  In certain lights, I see in a blurred way some striations when the dark band has come close to completing its downward movement.  These striations I confidently identify with my eyelashes.

Clearly the dark band is identical with the shadow-side of my eyelids.  Since this is a single band, not double, two views of my the shadow-side of my eyelids are getting merged into a single visual presentation.1  I am seeing the shadow-side of my eyelids when I see the downward-moving dark band.

That I am in fact seeing a physical object (actually, two physical objects the views of which have been merged into a single view or presentation) is strongly confirmed by the fact that when I move so that I am facing a direct light source, I sense light filtering through and visually experience a lighter, warmer, orangier color.  I am experiencing the visual effect of translucency — of light going through a not-100%-opaque flesh-colored object.  Skin, after all, is just a little bit transparent, as shown by the bluish veins one can see in one’s hand through a thin layer of skin.  Surely the most plausible explanation of this effect is that I am indeed seeing some translucent objects — my eyelids — presented in a single view.

That I am experiencing translucency in this situation is further confirmed  when I move my eyebrows up and down, I experience a darker band at the top of my visual field going up and down, along with (when the movement is down) a darkening, bluing, and cooling of the formerly lighter, warmer, fleshier and orangier color I had been experiencing.  Clearly, my retinas are picking up the shadow cast by my eyebrows where less light strikes them relative to what filters through my eyelids.

Again, when I touch my index finger to my eyelid.  I then see a cooler, darker shadow on my eyelid.  (Naturally, I sense the size of this shadow as equal to the felt size of my fingertip.)  This could not happen if my eyelid were not translucent and therefore visible to me even when it is covering my eyeball.

And again, when, both eyes shut, I partially follow Searle’s instructions above and cover my right eye with my right hand, the color of the dark field on the left remains warm and orangish, but the color on the right side of the field turns cooler and one notch darker.  Clearly my right hand is hindering light from entering through my right eyelid and casting a shadow.

The experience is very similar to pressing the shower curtain as close to my (open) eyes as I can get it.  The individual patterns on the curtain become very, very vague.  I lose most or all sense of the curtain’s texture, so that the curtain becomes (in this particular case) a whitish field of color occupying the entirety of my visual field, with its indeterminate boundary.  Objects beyond the curtain, such as my cat Munti, cast moving shadows across it.

In other words, attenuated as this visual experience is, I am still seeing a (somewhat) translucent objects even when it is extremely close to my eyes. For one, the shower curtain is causing my visual experience of it by transmitting light through it, light that hits my retina.  For another, my experience changes as this causal action changes — my cat moves this way and that, partially blocking this light.  For yet another, I am experiencing (in a defective way) a property of the curtain — its whitish color.  For still yet another, my visual experience occurs in the context of my being situated in a wakeful manner in an actual setting I am in contact with — the bathtub in my bathroom.  It is not like my “hearing” in a dream a lion roaring in a savanna, which sound turns out to be, upon my wakening, the roar of a car engine.  I am seeing a field, a ground, not a figure with demarcated limits on a ground.  But fields aka grounds are also things that I see — for example, the dark green blackboard around and running underneath the chalk figure visible on top of this ground.  Clearly, I am seeing the shower curtain, attenuated and defective as that vision is.

Likewise, I am seeing my eyelids when, in the circumstances described above, I close my eyes.  My eyelids are causing my visual experience by transmitting light through them, light that hits my retina.  My visual experience changes as this causal action changes — my eyebrows moving this way or that, my finger touching an eyelid.  I experience in a defective way the fleshy (though very much darkened and enshadowed) color of my eyelids, a color that, just like my flesh tones as seen normally, varies from orangish to bluish depending upon how the light hits/goes through them.  My visual experience occurs in the context of my continuing to be situated, even with my eyes closed, in the wakeful world of real, solid, tangible objects.  I don’t have any visual sense of the texture of my eyelids, a circumstance that probably lessens the chances that I will recognize that it is, indeed, my eyelids that I am seeing.  Indeed, I have probably spent most of my life not recognizing this.  But this absence of seen texture only means that my visual experience of my eyelids is highly attenuated so that my eyelids, like the shower curtain, get presented as a (single) field or ground, not as objects on a ground.  I am seeing my eyelids just as I would be seeing the shower curtain were snippets of that curtain were to replace the flesh of my eyelids.  (Imagine the transplanted snippets gradually getting more flesh-colored and thicker, so that the experience when I close my eyes becomes identical to that which occurred when my normal eyelids made of flesh were in place.)

Likewise, I am seeing the shadows cast by my eyebrows onto the translucent surface of my eyelids, and the shadow of my fingertip in the situations described above, just as I see the shadow of my cat on the shower curtain.

As Searle’s case clearly demonstrates, one can be seeing one’s eyelids and the shadows cast upon them without seeing that or recognizing that it is one’s eyelids and their shadow-play that they are experiencing.  This fact, though, does not mean that one is not seeing the shadow side of their eyelids when they close their eyes.  For of course one can see x without knowing that it is x.  Seeing is referentially opaque.  When at night, for example, I see a dark shape, just barely distinguishable from the enveloping darkness, I am in fact seeing my friend Chris even though I do not know who or what I am seeing, or even that it is a tangible being and not, for example, a ghost.  And since one’s cognitive concerns in the world almost always go past one’s eyelids and out into the world, it is perhaps not surprising that one’s perception of their eyelids is (perhaps normally and usually) cognitively as well as straight-up visually poor.

My eyelids are translucent.  I am seeing the shadow side of a translucent object, namely, my eyelids, when my eyes are shut and I am facing a direct light.  And even when I am not facing a direct light, it seems to me that I am always seeing the faint shadow, the slightly darker area, at the top of my visual field where my eyebrows — at least at the very upper edge of the eye-socket — are casting a shadow.  I submit, then, that there are no ordinary circumstances in waking experience when one sees nothing when they close their eyes.  I will go out on a limb and assert that, in ordinary circumstances, some light always gets through one’s eyelids.  (This is, of course, an empirically falsifiable statement.)  One can doubtlessly construct a situation in which no light gets through.  But this would be an unusual situation, and therefore useless for an appeal to identify in our ordinary waking experience something that Searle thinks he can identify, name, an object-less visual experience.

One sees the shadow side of their eyelids.  Case closed.  — Almost.

Of course, there is at least one problem here.  Initially, as I have said, the dark band as confirmed by my fingers is about the length from one outer edge of one eye to the outer edge of the other eye.  But when my eyes are completely closed, the length (as determined by my fingers as I press them on one part of the darkness I am presented with and then on another), the darkness I am visually presented with seems more extensive both horizontally and vertically than my eyelids (whose extent I also confirm with my fingers).  How could this be if I am seeing the shadow side of my eyelids?

An autobiographical note is in order here.  Yesterday, on November 26, 2015, I, Clifford Engel Wirt (Sometimes Cliff Engel Wirt, sometimes Clifford Engle Wirt, sometimes Cliff Engle Wirt, much of the time I pronounce the last name as the English ‘Wirt’, but sometimes, when I am tired, I pronounce it as ‘Veert’ … but I digress….) was completely convinced that the extent of this dark area was identical with the extent of what I see of my face when both my eyes are open.  In my case, that is the left edge of my left eye socket and the right edge of my right eye socket,  the lower part of my eyebrows, and part of the area where my cheek bones start jutting out.  (All of these I see in a rather blurry, undefined way, of course.)  This extent was, I assert confidently, was given through a tactile feeling, a feeling that was entangled (Bishop Berkeley again), or, as I prefer, integrated with my visual experience.

But today, on November 27, 2015, I am absolutely convinced that the upper area of the darkness I experience when my eyes are shut is co-extensive with my forehead.  I try to tap the upper part of this dark area, and I end up tapping the middle of my forehead.  Go figure.  I must have been influenced by the description Searle gives in the first passage quoted above.  — Please, Lord, don’t ever cause me to experience this dark area as in front of my face, as Searle would have it, as opposed to the way I currently experience it as coextensive with part of my face! —  Clearly the entanglement in/integration of my visual experience into the tactile sense of the location of the various parts of my face is a highly variable phenomenon, much open to suggestion.

It should not surprise one that this should be so.  For the visual experience I have when I close my eyes is highly degenerate.  It is much like my visual experience of the shower curtain when I press it very, very close to my eyes. I lose all sense of the curtain’s texture and most of its patterning.  It becomes just a white field.  It lacks clear boundaries because those boundaries are the thoroughly indeterminate limits of the visual field.  (See promissory note above.)  The shadows cast through it, say, by someone’s finger pressing against the curtain on the other side, are extremely vague, just as are those I see when I press my finger against my closed eyelid.  My visual experience of the shower curtain is very, very far away from the maximal perceptual grasp so famously discussed by Merleau-Ponty.  As a visual experience it is highly defective.

Even more so, then, will my visual experience of my eyelids be defective.  My eyelids, after all, are even closer to me than the shower curtain pressed to my eyes.  I have even less of a Merleau-Pontyian maximal grasp on this rather amorphous dark field, rather prone to intrusions by afterimages, than I do on the shower curtain.  The light coming in from the outside world and causing me to see my eyelids is, a bit like the light finally reaching that quasi-planet Pluto from the sun, a bit weak.  The visual experience is therefore weak and more vulnerable both to disruption (the intrusive after-images) and to odd influences (passages from Searle’s book, for example).  It should not surprise us, then, that the integration of this visual experience into my sense of bodily location and extent should also be highly variable and unstable.  Degenerate to the utmost degree, we cannot demand of it that it give us an accurate sense of how large the area of darkness is.  This would be contrary to its nature, as if we demanded of a horse that it lie down in a suitably genteel manner on a couch.  I therefore dismiss the notion that one cannot possibly be seeing their eyelids when their eyes are closed because the extent of the dark area visually experienced may not agree with the felt extension of one’s eyelids.

If I see my eyelids when facing a direct light with my eyes shut, I see them even when I am not facing a direct light when my eyes are shut.  The visual experience, after all, is not much different in the two cases.  Would anyone really care to contest this?

I assert, therefore, that I normally see my eyelids when my eyes are shut.

That Searle does not merely suggest, towards the beginning of the first passage quoted above, that one close their eyes, but also has one cover their eyes with their hand, suggests that he may be at least vaguely aware of everything I have said so far.  Searle seems to be aiming at a situation in which no light at all filtrates through the eyelids to strike the retina.  As for myself, I never succeed in getting to this state just by using my hand.  Some light always comes through no matter how hard I try, for example, through the intervals between the fingers which I cannot close completely, or from towards the bottom of the hand, which I cannot get to adhere to my face with suction-cup effectiveness.  So the attempt to follow Searle’s instructions has miserably failed, at least in my particular case, to generate the identification of a purely subjective visual field in which visual experiences have no objects.

Maybe one could take fairly drastic measures to ensure that absolutely no light filters through the eyelids.  I am sure that, with enough dedication and commitment,2 one could achieve this state. Maybe one would then have a purely subjective visual field in which there are visual experiences, but no visual experiences that have objects.  But until I get into this state, and until Searle gets into this state, neither of us has identified a subjective visual field in the course of our experience.  As I said above, Searle has identified no such thing, and he has not given instructions that would enable one to identify such a thing within their experience.

And even if one did have enough dedication and commitment to achieve this singularly unenlightened state, it is not obvious that one has enabled the identification within their experience of a subjective visual field considered as distinct in kind from an objective visual field.  All one has done, I submit, is create an extremely abnormal situation that causes one single visual field to degenerate so much that it no longer contains any objective elements.  All one would have created would be a bunch of flotsam and jetsam left over from the disintegration of a far richer, more integrated (integrating, for example, visual experiences with tactile experiences) visual field.

For it is certainly prima facie the case that in normal situations only a single visual field opens up for one.  This visual field contains both objective elements (the coffee cup when my eyes are open, the shadow side of my eyelids when closed) and subjective elements (the various afterimages I may sense in both the eyes-open and the eyes-closed cases; the “snow” I always “see” that arises from a visual abnormality I suffer from, causing me to wonder sometimes if I am seeing a very light rain outside the office window or if I am just sensing “snow” as usual, showing that the “snow” at least seems to be in the space outside the window; the “fields of force” manifesting themselves in the pulling together of three angles drawn on paper to form a triangle in the illustration from Gestalt Psychology…”fields” that I do not see but which are definitely an element of my visual field…; the silly cat sitting in the bookshelf I am hallucinating with my eyes open (no, not really…what do you take me for?);  the pink rhinoceros standing beside me as I write this (this is my study rhinoceros))….

Searle, then, has certainly not given sufficient warrant for the claim that there are two different kinds of visual fields, one subjective and the other objective.  [Why this matters.  Searle has not identified the territory — we are still lost without a map. ]

Although I am at the moment uncertain how to use the inability to distinguish two kinds of visual fields (one subjective, the other objective) to attack Searle’s theory of perception, the fact that Searle tries to distinguish and identify the two suggests the distinction is critical to his theory and that some sort of attack on these grounds should be possible.

Some strange compulsion forces me to add as a last note that ages ago, in a graduate seminar on St. Thomas of Aquinas, no one seemed to have the slightest idea of what I was talking about when I tried to describe what one sees when they close their eyes.  I think the moral of this is that Thomism will skew one’s perception of absolutely everything.  Or maybe that I am just nuts.  I report; you decide.

Update:  September 16, 2017:  Why should this matter?  It undermines a bit Searle’s attempted distinction between the content (subjective) of an experience and its object (objective).   (The purely subjective visual field versus the purely objective.)  Searle cannot point to an example of this distinction that occurs within normal everyday experience.  He would need to go to extra-ordinary breakdowns of normal experience — total sensory deprivation, for example, or hallucinations.  (The pink rhino grazing peacefully at my feet while I write this.)  Within normal, ordinary visual experience it is not easy to locate something purely subjective that is not a presentation of an object existing in the world.  The tie to the world is not so easily cut.

Lumber Scrap #3:  The coolness of a color and the warmth of a texture. 

My Color Personality is Sea Glass (starting from various shades of Viridian Green and going bluer), says the online quiz sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens on FaceBook.

Seaglass_0

 While I do have some doubts about the scientific validity of this personality test, I do find the below an interesting example of synaesthesia at work in everyday experience.  The shades of the color sea glass have cool undertones.  Textures such as weathered wood and rattan are warm.  So pair the two!

Give beachy a sophisticated shake with a sea glass palette. These mellow shades of green have cool undertones (meaning they have hints of blue rather than yellow) and pair well with gray blues and light neutrals. Incorporate natural textures such as weathered wood and rattan to add warmth.

http://www.bhg.com/bhg/xfile.jsp?item=/quiz/colorperson_new/colorquiznew&ordersrc=PRFBBP49210CO

WarmWeatheredWood

Warm-Weathered-Wood-Slatwall-Panel

That a color can be paired with a texture suggests a commonality.  Here the commonality is something belonging to the domain of tactile feeling:  coolness/warmth.

Color and texture form the most common instances of synaesthesia.  I see the roughness of the bark, the smoothness of polished marble.  Perhaps little tendrils of nerve fibers are sprouting from the visual center of the brain and connecting to whatever tactile center, but however it is done, the tactile is integrated into the visual as a single visual experience of bark or marble.  There are not little unitary bricks of Berkeleyian Minimal Visibiles existing “side by side” as it were with little unitary bricks of Berkeleyian Minimal Tactiles.  There is no ‘and of sensations’ when one sees the bark or marble.  Not matter how hard one tries to introspect (or, for that matter, look at the bark or marble), they will never be able to untangle a purely visual experience of color from the purely tactile experience of texture.

Berkeley actually comes close to this Merleau-Pontyian phenomenon when he tells us that the Visual is so much entangled (his word) with the Tactile in experiences such as seeing rough bark that it is next to impossible to disassociate the two and see them as separate.  But he is incapable of actually arriving at that point.  The two must be separate and distinct, he thinks.  Supposing otherwise would be like accepting A and NOT A as true.  So in his own introspection of his Ideas, he must have told the two (e.g., Visual Idea of a brownish color and Tactile Idea of the Imagination of roughness) apart.  But whatever Berkeley told himself, he surely never did succeed in telling the two apart.

ViridianGreenPigment

Lumber Scrap #4:  Interesting that Searle’s graphic illustrations in SEEING THINGS AS THEY ARE:  A THEORY OF PERCEPTION always show the relation in breadth, from the view point of a third-person observer.  None is presented in depth, from the view-point of the first-person observer/entangler-entanglee-in-the-world.

Lumber Scrap #5:  A book on n-dimensional geometry I read in High School defined the different spatial dimensions in terms of the ability to move around obstacles.  A point has 0 dimensions.  Considered by itself, it has no freedom of movement at all.  Now place the point inside a line.  Since a line is a one-dimensional object, we have just introduced a higher dimension, going from 0 to 1.  The point now has the freedom to move inside that line.  Now imagine our point as encountering an obstacle in the line — another point — that obstructs its movement.  Our point regains its freedom of movement when we introduce yet another higher dimension — a two-dimensional plane.  The plane gives our point the freedom to move around the obstacle in the line.  Now imagine our point as encountering yet another obstacle — a line in the plane.  Introduce the third dimension.  Voila!  The point has regained its freedom of movement through its ability to bypass the line by moving around it.

Let’s apply this High-School geometry lesson to a phenomenological description of depth.  I am about to argue that this description has to be done, not in terms of a static existing side-by-side of points, but in terms of motion.  Motion of a point?  Motion of my body?

I am sitting inside my car in the parking lot of the HEB on San Felipe and Fountainview in Houston, Texas.  It is dusk.  My head and eyes are positioned in a way such that I see the soft scrim of a tree’s foliage, and, beyond that, the glow (darker red against luminescent yellow) of some gas-station signage spelling out the word ‘SHELL’.  The sign is some distance from me, across San Felipe.  No objects are visible between the foliage and the SHELL signage.

I imagine a glass pane extending across my field of vision on the same plane as the foliage of the tree.  Naturally, I have a (somewhat indeterminate — why this is important and why it makes life somewhat more difficult for me is to be explained later) sense of depth extending beyond this plane and towards the glowing signage.  Taking my cue from my High School geometry — geometry is the science of space, right? — I try to construe the depth I sense as a line segment.  Because I think this will be the purest example of depth, I choose that line segment which is situated in the exact middle of my visual field, extending from the plane in which the haze of foliage is situated, and ending up at the glowing signage across San Felipe Street.  If one extends the line segment in the other direction, it would end up at my eye.  To make things simple, lets pretend that I am looking with only a single eye open.

Of course, this geometrical line segment, lacking thickness, is an abstraction.  It is not something I can sense.  What, then, might my sense of depth consist in?

Well, I can visually imagine line segments of whatever color (wine red, sea-glass green, burnt sienna, white…) to represent the mathematical objects.  Maybe my sense of depth consists in visual imaginings like these!  So let me try to visually imagine a line that I can use to represent the line of depth that exists between my eyes and the gas station signage.

This line has to be imaged as thin as possible in order to make the image as adequate a representation of the geometrical object as possible.  I am imagining a very, very thin line now.  Of course, I can’t use it to represent the line of depth in question because it is, well, a line, extending to my left and to me right…in other words, situated before me.  To make it represent the (geometrical) line of depth in question, I have first to place it in the middle of my visual field, and turn it away from me, a motion much like that articulated here in my thought experiment with the gold foil.  When I have finished turning the line, I end up … with a single point!  (More precisely, with an imagined spot of whatever color and made as tiny as possible to represent a geometrical point.)  Voila!  I have arrived at what I think is the kernel of truth lying in the second paragraph of Berkeley’s A NEW THEORY OF VISION:

II.  It is, I think, agreed by all, that Distance [of an object in depth], of it self and immediately, cannot be seen.  For Distance being a Line directed end-wise to the Eye, it projects only one Point in the Fund of the Eye, which Point remains invariably the same, whether the Distance be longer or shorter.

George Berkeley, AN ESSAY TOWARDS A NEW THEORY OF VISION, paragraph II, in The GEORGE BERKELEY COLLECTION: 5 CLASSIC WORKS, Amazon Print-On-Demand Edition, no pagination.  Henceforth A NEW THEORY OF VISION. 

As I’ve said before, I think George Pitcher has pretty thoroughly demolished the actual argument written down in black and white by the actual historical George Berkeley, but I do think that what I have presented above gets at the intuition animating this passage.  And I am reasonably confident (yes, I can be just reasonably confident about this) that it lays out the intuition, the Aha Erlebnis, I experienced when I first encountered this passage some decades ago.

Since I can imagine just a single point (tiny spot image) of the line segment extending from the plane of the foliage to the gas station signage, clearly my sense of that depth cannot consist in the visual imagination of a static array of points, one behind the other.  So I will take a cue from my High School geometry and postulate that what generates the (sensation) of the depth in question is the (imagined) motion of the point from the plane of the foliage towards the gas station signage.

The imagined point is ‘there before me’, in front of my body whose solidness and heaviness occupies a ‘position here’.  The point facing me (in my imagination) is in a position not occupied by my body.

Jumping through a hoop.

More to come in this lumber scrap.

Lumber Scrap #6:  John McDowell makes what many will regard as a striking claim that certain perceptual states are indefeasible.  “But of course perception is always defeasible!” will be the typical response.  “What I am seeing could be an illusion (for example, the weird ‘shape’ of the teapot handle seen through a wine glass), or even a hallucination (for example, the pink rhino I am seeing now grazing contentedly at my feet while I write this)!

Lumber Scrap #7:  My hand is placed on the cool metal bar of the seat in front of me as the Metro train reduces its speed.  As a physical mass with inertia, my my body continues to move forward at the train’s previous, faster speed, causing my hand to press into the metal bar with my body’s weight behind it.  I daresay that I have the kinaesthetic sense of my body moving forward towards the bar; but even more salient than this is the sense of the inertial mass of the bar, in an equal and opposite reaction to my body’s moving forward, pressing into my hand.

When I am intentionally touching something — some smooth silk, for example, or the rough bark of this particular tree — I apply one degree or another, as is appropriate in each case, of pressure to the object or material felt.

In both these cases — the bar impinging upon my hand, my intentionally impinging myself upon the silk or bark — pressure occurs.  The existence of this occurrent pressure highlights one facet of the sense of touch, namely, there is zero distance between the object felt and the sensing surface.

As an aside, I would like to note that in addition to the occurrent tactile pressure noted above, there seems to be also a virtual tactile pressure which, plausibly, constitutes the experience described by some blind people of remote objects.  Through whatever sensory means (echos, differences in air drafts, or whatever else, means not necessarily known to them) these people become aware of an object — a wall, for example — as exerting a kind of virtual pressure on them:

What the blind person experiences in the presence of an object is pressure.  When he stands before a wall he has never touched and does not now touch, he feels a physical presence.  The wall bears down on him. … Perception, then, would mean entering into an equilibrium of pressure….

Jacques Lusseyran, THE BLIND, p. 31, as referenced by Miriam Helen Hill in BOUND TO THE ENVIRONMENT: TOWARDS A PHENOMENOLOGY OF SIGHTLESSNESS, an essay in DWELLING, PLACE AND ENVIRONMENT (ed. David Seamon and Robert Mugerauer, Columbia University Press, 1985)

Pressure is something sensed tactilely.  So the pressure sensed virtually by some blind people of objects at a distance corresponds to the texture objects sensed virtually and at a distance by people gifted with sight when they see the smoothness of marble and silk, or the roughness of bark or of a stucco wall.

This virtual touch will turn out to be highly important.

End of aside.

So far, then, we have a 2-place relation comprising a thing occurrently felt, and a body with a sensory surface at which the thing is felt.  The two terms of the relation are distinct in spite of the fact that zero distance exists between them.

, I feel my hand pressing against the seat.  At the same time, I feel the seat pressing into my hand as it accomplishes its opposite and equal reaction that is to accompany every action on it.

There is just one tactile experience here, one tactile presentation, but encompassing two different things:  the seat in its inertial mass engaging me in my physicality at and through a single “point”, my hand.   The seat, and me, with my hand as a focus.  This tactile presentation, in one stroke, reveals the hardness and mass of the seat and the mass and physicality of my hand.

Pretty much the same dynamic occurs every time I actively feel something with my hand.  As I pass my hand along the small-pebble-ish-rough wall, for example, I unavoidably press my fingers ever so lightly into the wall.  So part of the tactile experience consists in the wall ‘pressing’ into my hand in reaction.  But now, instead of a presentation of a single spot of the seat pressing against a hand occupying throughout this time a single location, my hand covers a spatial range forming a line, or perhaps a linear square, triangle, circle or some irregular zig-zag.  It is as if my felt hand/fingers-felt-press-of-the-wall were the head of a comet leaving a trail behind it to form a line, except that, while comet head and comet tail both exist in the present, the trail left by my fingers has already slipped into the very recent past.  But it does so in such a way that it continues to inform the present, giving the current position of my hand the sense ‘at the head of this advancing line’.

In perhaps much the same way a previously sounded but no-longer occurrent note lingers in the air so as to give the note sounding now a position in a melody.  What gets presented is ‘note sounding now in relation to the notes that have just slipped into the very recent past and sounding therefore in the context of a melody’.  Just so, what gets presented as I move my fingers along the slightly roughish wall (or the coolly smooth marble) is ‘fingers-pressing-upon-getting-pressed-upon-occurrently-in-the-context-of-a-trajectory-formed-by-their-just-past-motion-and their just-past pressing-in-upon-the-wall-and-the-wall’s-just-past-pressing-into-my-fingers’.  This, I assert, is how the presentation of ‘slightly-roughish wall’ (or ‘coolly smooth marble’) is structured.  This is a single presentation encompassing not just finger-spot and hard-surface-spot but also finger/hand trajectory and linear area of hard surface.  Felt fingers/hand felt surface in a single presentation.

So what, exactly, am I arguing against?  I am arguing against the idea that there would be two presentations occurring at the same time.

Lumber Scrap #8:  Cryptic remarks, to be expanded when I am not spending all of my time working.  Empty space plus ‘extending’ (vs. positing) oneself:  one term of the relation drops out. leaving a one-place relation.  A kind of tactile ‘buzz’ outlining a position here at which I am.  When occurrent there is always another object (the ground underneath my feet, the bed underneath my body) distinct from me  but no distance from me (two-place relation).

Spell out what Berkeley does not spell out, and see where we end up.

The emptiness of space makes itself a bit more salient to even my spectatorial awareness when I, for example, imaginatively move my hand underneath my table/desk at work and ‘feel’ its underside.

The “empty”, “massless” space before me (and around me) in which I can freely move is the counterpart of the the weight and mass of my body located at this unique position here, which weight and mass becomes manifest in my constant actual movements (no matter how small) and which ties me down, weighs me down at the aforementioned position here.  The possible versus the actual.  The emptiness of this space arises from its not being actual and present, its being potential and futural.  It is a potential/futural position here and therefore an anti-mass, an anti-weight.

And its indeterminacy makes it a bit problematic to talk about a potential position here — the level of determinacy needed to talk about a position here belongs to the spectatorial imagination.  A possible position here is this possible position here, one determined by the mind’s eye, not totally disassociated from the body’s kinaesthesia.

“A” possible position here automatically brings in the notion of the body’s possible movement.

Lumber Scrap #9:

The sense of ‘going out’ is especially keen — in fact, perhaps gets revealed — when there is a hole in, for example, the scrim formed by a tree or a bush, through which you see an object behind — a building, say, or the Shell Station sign.  (Yes, I need to lead up to this very carefully.)  The line of vision to the sign (to run with that example) is straight-to.  There are no intervening objects in view.  These conditions highlight one important feature of this vector, this ‘going-out’, this ‘ekstasis’ — it is indeterminate.  I become a bit surprised when, after this exercise, I walk past the tree and gain a concrete, determinate sense of the distance from my truck to the sign. Then other tangible objects enter my visual field — for example, the asphalt pavement with the painted traffic lines — , with the result that the distance becomes much more available to an estimation of a determinate length — say, 6 body lengths (36 feet or so).  The line of vision to the sign is no longer straight-on — other tangible objects appear at a slant.  And I become slightly surprised by how much the real distance, the distance in the tangible world, really is. Before, tangible presence had  not shown up in the ‘straight-on’ part of my visual field — there was only a futural possibility — the futural quasi-imaginative (I say quasi because this is not a positing imagination — not the spectatorial imagination) launching of my body through this hoop.

This brings me to Berkeley’s insistence in the NEW THEORY OF VISION that real measure is tangible measure.  You have to slap a physical ruler onto the thing that can have something slapped onto it. Without the tangible measure bringing you into the present, you have only the futural intra-(quasi)-imaginative projection which is surely subjective in some sense, though not in what I take to be Berkeley’s sense in which to be subjective is to be locked up “inside” a mind (considered as a kind of container) in such a way that no part of the object thus locked up is accessible to any other mind.  That there is nothing hidden in Berkeley’s Ideas entails there is nothing accessible in it to anyone else.

Without the intervening tangible things (‘entanglement’ of the tactile into the visual) in the visual field, there is only an in-a-way “subjective” visual field which, (more) divorced from the present and tangible [yes, I know, I need to explain this ‘more or less’ divorced — I do have the sense that the sign I see through the hole in the tree-scrim is further away than than the object I see through the hole in the bush-scrim… but I begin to get a ‘maximal grip’ on the distance only when tangible objects intervene] is indeterminate.  It is therefore indeterminate in the same way that the “longer” line in the Mueller-Lyer illusion is in fact of no determinate, measurable length longer than the “shorter” line.  The two vectors (the Mueller-Lyer illusion and the ‘going out’ in the visual field) are very much alike in this regard.  The ekstasis is a kind of Mueller-Lyer illusion ‘going out’.

The fully-exposed, fully-existing-in-the-present units in a length.  A plenum of brick-units. Depth introduces at the same time futurity, potentiality, and emptiness.   The straight-on line of vision gets stopped by the opaque, tangible object. Futurity is the solvent creating emptiness and distance-away.  [Yes, this is obscure right now, but I am hopefully not delusional in thinking I can unpack it.]

Lumber Scrap #10:

When the polyester-green bungee cord is stretched out lengthwise before me, I enjoy a presentation (much more rarely, should I be hallucinating, a mis-presentation) of (as of) an actual physical object existing in space in the present.  Adopting the spectatorial attitude, I can imaginatively try to resolve this presentation into a series of points, as small as I can imagine them, lying side by side with no space between them.  When the bungee cord is withdrawn, I can still posit these points lying side by side in ’empty’ space in a quasi-presentation.

The temporal dimension of presentation is, naturally enough, the present.  What the presentation is of pertains to the actual, not to the merely potential.  The presentation pertains to the full, to a plenum, not to an emptiness.

But as I think I have shown here, the more the bungee cord (or, to use the example used in the post referred to, the one-atom thick gold tape) is moved away from me, the less there is of a presentation of the cord (or tape).  The more what we are talking about is potentiality, not actuality, the futural, not the present:  the depth into which the gold tape has finally disappeared is something that I can (potentially) move my body (in particular, my arm and hand) through; restricting myself to the spectatorial attitude, and using the amazing powers of the mind’s eye, it is a field through which I can (potentially) move a posited, imagined point through.  The potential is the futural — the future is its temporal dimension.  The futural comprises all of the following:  non-presentation, non-fullness and non-plenum(emptiness), the non-actual (the merely potential).  The space in front of us (presentation mainly though not exclusively through vision) is spatial-temporal, that is to say, spatial-futural.

Lumber Scrap #11:

Space as the ‘through which’, the ‘across which’ — and, introducing a subjectivity of some kind — that which I (sometimes vertiginously) span:

Locality has such a pervasive importance because it is the essence of what space is. By “space” I don’t just mean “outer space,” the realm of astronauts and asteroids, but the space between us and all around us, the space that our bodies and everything else occupy, the space through which we swing a baseball bat or stretch a measuring tape.  Whether you point your telescope at the planets or at the next-door neighbors, you are peering across space.  For me, the beauty of a landscape comes from the giddy sense of spanning space, a sort of horizontal vertigo when you realize the little dots on the other side of a valley really are there and that you could touch them if only your arm were long enough.

George Musser, SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE, New York, Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015, p. 7.  Emphasis mine. 

My project now (my Berkeley and Merleau-Ponty project) is to describe as best and as precisely as I can what this ‘spanning space’ is.

The question of whether space and time are absolute or relative has re-emerged in a new form in modern philosophy and physics as the question of whether space-time is absolute or relative. It remains to be seen whether a holistic unified science which allows the presence of the conscious subject in the universe will ascribe subjective properties to space-time.

Stephen Priest, THE EMPIRICISTS, Second Edition, New York, Routledge, 2007, p. 138.

Want to pin down, when I have time, a pertinent passage from Renaud Barbaras’ THE BEING OF THE PHENOMENON.

Lumber Scrap #12:

There is zero distance between me (my body) and the wooden board (say, the smooth, unobtrusively varnished, beautiful board of my ‘computer station’ desk) that I am pressing into/is pressing against me.  Nonetheless, the board remains obdurantly outside me.  It has not come so close to me that it now occupies the space that I occupy. Describing just what is tactically presented, there are two sides:  the side of the board outside me — the ‘other side’ — and ‘this side’:  my side.  The ‘this side’, with all its weight and heft, is what is in my case the position here.  It is that position (to bring sight into the picture now) from which I engage with, view, and sometimes confront visible things/objects.

Lumber Scrap #13: Outline:  

The red and yellow apples example interpreted in the light of elementary probability theory.  Intuitions.  Then apply to the perhaps more solid examples of irrelevance.

Knowledge bzw ignorance needed for any probability less than one.

Lumber Scrap #14:  Bishop Berkeley’s Visibile Ideas in the NTV:  

In his NEW THEORY OF VISION, Berkeley starts off by presenting Visibile Ideas as rather robust creatures — the Visibile Moon, for example.  But as he proceeds, Visibile ideas become more and more paltry, especially as they get stripped of their “entanglement” with Ideas of Touch.  We end up not even being entitled to say of them that they have planar shapes!  In their poverty, it seems to me, they match the visual presentation of darkness one experiences when they close their eyes, a presentation that can have an off-and-on relationship with potential tactile experiences that affect the perceived size of the dark area (identical, I argue above, with the shadow-side of one’s eyelids).

Lumber Scrap #15:  Placeholder For What Is Required For A Concept

Somewhere in the PHENOMENOLOGY OF PERCEPTION Merleau-Ponty states that even conceptualization is made possible by the body.  A person with a certain kind of brain damage will be unable to perceive red objects as forming a group.  Seeing red objects as forming a group — say, this pop-up of a red maple tree on my desk, and the red coffee can also there in my visual field — forms the basis of applying the concept red to these objects.  (Not placing a sense datum under a category; instead, the concept emerges from what is seen.)  But just this I strongly suspect is not enough in order to have placed the objects under the concept ‘red’.  It is the basis for identifying an object as red.  But one also needs to re-identify the object.  Turn around, turn back again, see the red grouping — basis for re-identifying.  But still more is needed.  I propose this:  if I can locate a currently unseen red object — say, I am told ‘fetch for me the red plastic pencil sharpener behind the counter….

Lumber Scrap #16:  Placeholder For Emotions As Presentations Of The Body Here

The barely detectable — when I turn my attention to my stomach area — gnawing sensation present there during an episode of mild anxiety (or whatever the emotion was).  In other words, a presentation of my body that would ordinarily escape an awareness that.

Lumber Scrap #17:

I awake from a deep slumber and find myself staring at this object ‘there.’  A second later, as the blood rushes back into my hand, I realize that — see that — become aware that this object is my hand, mine, an integral part of me.  It is now part of a ‘this body getting presented here.’  In each case a presentation-here occurs, which signals an availability.  I can move my hand at any time; my hand is now ‘just here’ in much the same way that the taken-for-granted hammer lying on the table is ‘just there’ for the carpenter.  The carpenter ‘automatically’ reaches for the hammer when they need it; I ‘automatically reach out for something when I need to, and I grasp that thing in my hand.  The intuition is that the taken-for-granted character of my hands availability for an action, a project, is so deep that it cannot be characterized as an ‘awareness that.’  There is no category ‘me’ that the hand is placed into.

Lumber Scrap #18:

A number of colored objects are present before me there in my visual field.  I turn my attention to one and identify its color — yellow ocher #124.  (I even have a color sample in my hand to make the identification as accurate and precise as possible.)  In making this identification, I exclude all the other millions of possible colors that the object’s color could have been identified as, many of which I may be able to call to mind readily.  The object is this color, yellow ocher #124, not yellow ocher #123, not any of the burnt siennas, not any of the other oranges, not a red, not a purple, not a violet, not a green, not a blue….  Moreover, apart from the colors I can readily bring to mind, the color of the object is likely to be different from at least some, and possibly all, of the colors of the other objects getting presented within my visual field.  Getting identified as yellow ocher 124 excludes getting identified with any other color.

A color gets brought under a concept when it is identified (this color as opposed to all the others), capable of being re-identified (the same as the ‘this color’ a moment ago), and subsumed under a category (this instance of the color is the same as all these other instances of the color.)  Difference from, then the same, and again the same).  All three happen only at a certain level of generality.

The presencing here of what is in each case a center (a center with weight, heft, momentum, swing, and the constant felt potentiality for movement) occurs, obviously, without any identification of any other center here.  In each case, this is the only one.  When, after some labor and struggle, I develop the conceptual resources to identify ‘this position here’ (assuming I have succeeded in doing this), only this one is presencing.  There is no possibility of distinguishing this one that is presencing here from that one or this other one — there is just one body, one center presencing here.  I can of course imaginatively posit other centers, but none of these are showing up in the quasi-location named by the indexical ‘here’.

Scotus’ unity that is less than one.

The presencing here (in each case) of the hand is so deeply taken for granted that it is not distinguished from other such presencings here.  In fact, the language at this point becomes sort of difficult.  I do encounter other ‘me’s’, but never in any normal case do I need to distinguish ‘me as opposed to all the others’ who might be capable of moving their hand.  Never:  ‘It is I who am moving my hand, not Eric, Jeff, or John.’

Compare with Jerry Fodor’s glumly saying ‘I know’ when, after giving a talk that did not go well, someone saw him sitting alone at a table and said, after being hit by a lightning bolt of recognition, “You’re Jerry Fodor!” Jerry Fodor deeply took it for granted that he was Jerry Fodor — so deeply taken for granted that there was no need to distinguish himself from Smith, Jones, or Silverstein.

This one is not quite gelling.  I compare it to a stream gradually peetering into the desert — perhaps going underneath the sand.

Lumber Scrap #19:

Vision is always perspectival — even, I strongly suspect, in the case of the drastically diminished vision of my eyelids when my eyes are closed. There is a ‘from’ (one’s body, one’s head) and a ‘to’ (‘his gaze went out to the mountain’).   Vision gives us a presentation of an object located at a quasi-position ‘there‘, where this position is determined, not only by the object’s GPS coordinates and by its location in the four dimensions of physical space-time, but also by its being exposed to a viewer, with an exposed front and a hidden back, and a presence in a visual field. A visual presentation is a two-place relation.

But a tactile presentation of the proprioceptive variety, by contrast, is a one-place relation.  There is no ‘from/to’; there is only the appearing of the body — and I won’t say ‘appearing to’ unless I find this absolutely necessary!  This one-place relation is not an equality relation or a coinciding relation, both of which are two-place relations.  It may be useful, however, to use equality and coinciding as ladders to get to my one-place relation.  Just a presentation of an object located here.  An appearing here.  Feeling pain here, in the toe I have just stubbed, for example.

Lumber Scrap #20:

My (vastly diminished) seeing the shadow-side of my eyelids when I shut my eyes.  All that I visually experience is a field of darkness, sometimes fleshy darkness.  The sense of a concrete object there is not present.  Along with this diminishment is a severely diminished sense of depth between me, the seer, and this object — the normal depth has become — at least as I try to describe the experience — a transparency, an invisibility, an invisible field in front but at no determinate, definite distance away from the darker field.  But given how plastic this visual experience of the dark field is, I would not at all be surprised to find that other people experience it this way — perhaps I am the only one.

The shifts in the experienced size of the dark fleshy field noted here [Link] suggest that this impoverished field has no definite, determinate size.  (It is in this way a paradigmatic instance of a Berkeleyan Visibile.)

This diminishment lets us explore a bit the relation between the purely visual and the tactile.  The change in the s

Lumber Scrap #21:

The ekstasis:  a futurally-graduated and forward-thrusting displacement of the position here from its existing-in-the-present (now) center.  I/my body throw(s) myself/itself towards the doorknob as, heading out the door, I am prepared to grasp it, resulting in a displaced here; a displaced now.  This is an enacted and lived displacement, not a posited one.  A lived, not posited, “prediction” that results in the various nerve fibers and muscle fibers doing their part to move towards the doorknob prepared to grasp it.

Lumber Scrap #22:

RE the contradiction posed by “The top of the bowl is a circle; the top of the bowl is an ellipse:  it can’t be both!  Or can it?

Let’s distinguish some aspects.  1)  What is presented in the visual field conceptually isolated as visually presented.  The ellipse of the top of the bowl (or its occasional circularity.  2)  What can be visually imagined (the bowl, now seen from the side, turned so that I am now peering straight into its opening).  This is always live as an ever-present potentiality.  3)  The penetration of my (potentially) touching hand (really, all of me as touching body) into the interior of the bowl.  The potential feeling of the bowl-top’s circularity.  This is always live as an ever-present potentiality within the visual field.  1) and 3) especially are, I claim, would-be-different views on the bowl that have been combined, just as the would-be different views of/from each of my two eyes merge together in binocular vision.  Binocular vision, in fact, facilitates the merging of the would-be-“purely-visual” from the would-be-“purely-tactile”.  Binocular vision affords me (apparently more for some people than others) a greater penetration of my hands/(really all of my body) around the object; thus the greater sense of depth, of the object’s physicality.  The merging of would-be-different views.  These views are always already merged, are always already a single whole; later, we can conceptually distinguish, try with one degree of success or another to isolate them.  The visually presented ellipse of the bowl top which I struggle to detach from the live-potentiality of my fingers tracing the top of the bowl:  ellipse struggling against circle.  Projection of depth struggling against flatness of the (would-be) picture plane.  The more I succeed in getting the visually presented detached from the visually/tactically projected, the flatter the object becomes, so that I would end up with Berkeley’s Idea.  The circle as seen aslant just is the visually presented merged with the visually/tactically projected.  Ditto the presented “V-shape-in-depth of the absolutely straight road in New Mexico.    Continuously, the visually-presented becomes more conspicuously, more easily detached from the projected width of the road.  (Nearest to me it is right there for me to pace out.)  A funny ‘V’ — not a purely visual one, which means flattened ala Berkeley.  But the visual, the perspectival, is indeed present even though ‘made a bit weird’ through the projected, as can be seen from the Greeks’ increasing the size of their temple columns as they go up in order do prevent the tapered v effect.  The increase in size towards the top is necessary in order to counteract the weakened effect of the visually/tactically projected.

So yes, the top of the bowl is at once circular and elliptical — but not in the same respect.  Elliptical (usually) presentationally (but circular from one point of view); always circular visually/tactically; the two “views” always comprise a single whole, but ‘presented’ vs. ‘projected’ can be teased out conceptually with varying degrees of ease/difficulty as one aspect becomes more/less conspicuous.

Lumber Scrap #23:  

The disagreement between Sartre and Husserl over the existence of the transcendental ego presupposes a common basis which they partly acknowledge.  In Husserlian terminology, it is the transcendental field or field of transcendental subjectivity after the epoché.  In the existential phenomenological terminology of the Sartre of 1943 it is the nothingness of being-for-itself.  In The Transcendence of the Ego Sartre calls it ‘an inside without an outside’ or ‘absolute interiority’.  We could call it ‘subjective space’ or ‘inner space’.  It is the space of one’s own psychological interiority, the zone of awareness where my experiences happen.  In the non-psychologistic vocabulary of Heidegger’s 1927 fundamental ontology which eschews ‘subjective’ and ‘inner’ it is the Lichtung or clearing in the forest where being is disclosed to being.

Subjective space has phenomenological properties.  It is phenomenologically indistinguishable from physical space as perceptually presented to oneself at its centre; unbounded in the sense that travel seems in principle possible for ever away from its centre.

Subjective space is Parmenidean:  it is like the inside of a sphere with one’s own  being as its interior.  Thoughts and experiences, including experiences of physical objects, arise and subside within it.  It is the zone where being and phenomenological content coincide.

This space is primordial with regard to the dispute between Sartre and Husserl.  …

… It is not physical.  I am or am directly acquainted with its interiority. … I conjecture that subjective space is the soul.

Stephen Priest, THE SUBJECT IN QUESTION  Sartre’s Critique of Husserl in The Transcendence of the Ego, Routledge, Oxford, pp. 152-153.  Henceforth SUBJECT IN QUESTION. 

 

 

Lumber Scrap #24:  January 2, 2019

Breadth lends itself to getting conceptualized as an array of points.  Opacity is not a problem, so the occurrent is not a problem.  The points are simultaneously ‘there’.  Depth gets conceptualized most easily not as an array of points spread out before one and existing simultaneously, but as  a stretch from ‘here’ to ‘there’.  One can imaginatively posit points in depth one behind the other, but there is always a space between those two points.  The occurrent, the actual, is a problem.  So depth is the realm of possibility, of potentiality.  One can move bodily through.  One can imaginatively ‘push’ a point further out.  I almost said “mentally” — but here, I think, the contrast is not  between ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ but ‘occurrent/actual’ and ‘potential/possible’ — the arena of the imagination.

Experienced space is pregnant with potential movement — ‘pregnant’ meaning full of possibility without any given possibility (moving this way or that) getting specified.  The pregnant-with-possibility space is always already there (corresponds to the ‘past’); one finds themselves always already situated in it.  Presumably it is dependent upon whatever neural connections that get formed at a certain stage of development (which formation becomes difficult or even practically impossible after that stage) in the brain.  Then in a flash one possibility becomes occurrent, becomes actual, not merely potential, settles out like the drop of ink ala David Bohm — the soccer player’s vector. 

Lumber Scrap #25:  November 29, 2019

In the TRANSCENDENCE OF THE EGO, Sartre compares consciousness of the ego, the I, with an object appearing underneath a pool of clear water.  When the positional object of consciousness is the I, the I is what shows through the water.  In this state, one is like the waiter existing in bad faith, so intent on being a waiter that the other objects he needs to be positionally conscious of are excluded from consciousness.  

But the metaphor of a clear pool seems flawed to me, because one keeps thinking of an I which sees the object through the water.  This is precisely the ego-pole that Sartre wants to deny.  I think a better approach to the phenomenon Sartre is trying to describe is to literalize the metaphor:  what is metaphorically described as a transparent pool of water is the “background” that exists “in front” of the objects that appear against the background, a notion that I think Lawrence Hass introduces in his book Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy.  As a first approximation, consciousness is this fore-background.  It is (as a first approximation) a spatial-temporal field “mixing” or “entangling” vision and touch (and surely other things) which approximates nothingness (non-presence — what is the zero-point of the present is the position here).  So the misinterpretation of Sartre as thinking of consciousness as ‘the nothing’ is not totally wrong.   

The problem now, which I think is resolvable in terms of the notion of relational properties, is to keep this fore-background from eating everything, so speak — turning everything into Mind. 

fffggghhh

*****

Today, for my Homage To Plato’s SYMPOSIUM3 I offer an image of someone who clearly participates in Plato’s Form Of Ginger Gorgeousness:

RedGingerHot-thomas-knights-red-hot_2

Clearly the Form Of Ginger itself participates in the Form of Absolute Beauty.  How can anyone get anything done with Beauty like this walking the earth?

0 Hahahahaha. Seeing double. Get it? Get it? … Okay, okay, I’ll shut up….

1 This merging of two views is not a totally unheard-of phenomenon, given the stereoptical nature of normal vision

2 The phrase ‘dedication and commitment’ is, of course, a reference to a famous snippet of conversation overheard by a certain undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley. A certain phenomenologist told Searle: “Derrida is not a total fraud. He is good on Husserl.” Searle’s reply was: “No, Derrida is not a total fraud. It takes dedication and commitment to be a total fraud.”

3 Though perhaps professor Searle, who, unfortunately, at times performed homophobic speech acts in some of his classes in the late 1970s, would not approve.

November 26, 2015 and November 27, 2015:  Drastically rewrote lumber scrap #2.  It would be safest to assume the worst:   namely, that I did so in a probably failed attempt to hide my lack of control over the subject matter and the confused nature of my thinking.