Tag Archives: object

The Ship of Theseus

2 Mar


Hello everyone! I know I have not done anything here for awhile, and it is for a good reason. My plan here from now on is to only post here a few things I have already written for school or other reasons, or to only post when I have extreme leisure time available.

I am currently in the process of beginning a book I have decided to write. This involves a strikingly different metaphysical theory inferred from an in depth analysis of the consciousness. This will either make me post here even less or, make me post here more. If you want more frequent yet shorter things from this crazy brain of mine you can follow me on tumblr:


below is an analysis of the metaphysics of identity of the puzzle of the ship of Theseus.


When Theseus, hero of Athens, last sailed his ship and left it in the harbor in Athens, the ship was left there long after his death. When the ship’s planks decayed to a point, it was renovated with new planks so Theseus’ ship would be maintained. The history of that ship led to the puzzle that has caused debate among metaphysicians as to the identity of the original ship and where the identity was after the original ship was renovated. The original ship was renovated one at a time with a new plank replacing an old decayed plank. This was done until a new renovated ship remained. For the purpose of the puzzle, the action of placing the old decayed planks of the old ship in a warehouse and then reconstructing a ship exactly the same with those same old planks is discussed also. This leads to there being two ships (one reconstructed and one renovated) and a puzzle as to which one is the ‘original’ ship that Theseus sailed. This puzzle is useful in debate for metaphysics of identity between particulars (identity of a thing to itself and identity of a thing to other things based on principles like Leibniz’s law). There is debate between people that think that the original ship is the renovated ship or the reconstructed ship for a few good reasons. One large question is as to whether an object’s identity survives the replacement of the object’s parts, and another is to whether objects can maintain identity in intermittent existences. These and other things matter a lot in arguing for any position that could possibly solve this puzzle.

Since no one conclusion can be achieved that solves this puzzle without some further objection, both arguments are worth exploring. At present, I will explore both sides of the argument yet argue for the reconstructed ship being the original. I will argue the following argument and refute its objections:

  1. If x has exactly the same parts as y, then x=y
  2. The reconstructed ship has exactly the same parts as the original ship
  3. Therefore, the reconstructed ship = the original ship

This argument obviously favors the reconstructed ship being the original ship, but objections and counter-arguments need to be taken into consideration before proclaiming this argument to be a better solution to the puzzle.

Before going through the argument premise by premise, it is worthy to note that this puzzle as it corresponds to metaphysics and identity is important as the ships’ numerical and qualitative identities. Objects are often understood as composite objects because of how many parts are understood as one composite object together as a whole. Two objects, or an object and itself, are numerically identical if the objects as composites are the same (e.g. a banana is numerically identical to itself when it goes from its green color to yellow). Two objects are qualitatively different when parts or qualities within a composite object are different between two objects or an object and itself at a later time. The banana is not qualitatively identical to itself between its time as a green banana and its time as a ripe yellow one. Keeping these terms in mind going further, it is also worthy to note that this argument for the reconstructed ship is valid as its conclusion follows from the two premises.

The first premise (if x has the same parts as y, then x=y) is generally a common sense principle. Lowe in A Survey of Metaphysics uses examples of ancient artifacts and the restoration of them. When an artifact is restored (taken apart then put back together where x is the artifact before disassembling and y is the artifact after reassembling), the newly reconstructed artifact is considered still the original artifact that was excavated. Numerical identity seems to subsume qualitative identity in that the composite whole of an object gets its numerical identity from the parts that make it up. The parts of an object matter to the whole identity of an object, therefore, this premise is favorable. Objections come from the possibility of a composite object being disassembled (i.e. the ship of Theseus) and then reassembled. X and Y would still have their same parts, but their identity may have been lost between disassembling and reassembling. One might object by asking where the existence of the object went from the time the object was disassembled up to the time it was reassembled. The replacement of an object’s parts brings further objections.

The second premise (the reconstructed ship has the same parts as the original ship) is simply an example of the first premise that states that when an object has the same parts as another object then those two objects equal each other. Since qualitative identity is seemingly subsumed by numerical identity, the reconstructed ship will end up debatably having the same numerical identity as the original ship. One large question that divides the arguments of the puzzle of Theseus’ ship is whether or not an object’s identity can survive the replacement of its parts. One arguing that the reconstructed ship is the original ship is saying that an object’s identity cannot survive the replacement of parts. On this view, once the parts are replaced an intermittent existence is allowed for the object as its original parts are disassembled where the object still exists but is simply on existential hiatus. This violates a common sense principle because an intermittent existence is sometimes thought of as a ‘ceasing to exist’ and a ‘coming back into existence’ allowed for the object that violates many things philosophers have already stated. These two big questions create the dividing line between the two sides of the puzzle.

From the previous two premises, it is easy to see how this conclusion follows: Therefore, the reconstructed ship = original ship. This conclusion to the puzzle is arguable because it is numerically identical as well as qualitatively identical to the original ship. It has all the same parts making the composite object equal to that of the original ship. The renovated ship has both of these kinds of identity but has less qualitative identity because of the set of different parts it was given during renovation. Concluding by saying that the reconstructed ship is the original is saying that the object’s identity cannot survive the replacement of parts because of the changes of qualitative identity. Concluding this is also saying that intermittent existences are allowed and are not equivalent to a contradictory ‘coming into existence’ and ‘ceasing to exist.’ This conclusion is also saying that the original ship cannot be both renovated and reconstructed ships because one identity cannot be in two spatial locations at once. This is also saying that it cannot be neither the renovated nor the reconstructed ship because that conclusion would cause one to stop using general common sense.

Whether one thinks the original ship is the renovated or the reconstructed it comes down to whether that person thinks objects can have intermittent existences and whether object’s identities can survive replacement of parts. Having discussed this argument and its objections it is clear why one would argue either stance. My argument is in agreement with the current argument discussed. When thinking about metaphysical identity at all it is easy to see how and why numerical identity subsumes qualitative identity. Because of this, I do not agree that the object’s identity survives the replacement of its parts. The renovated ship after replacement has differences of qualitative identity from the original ship because of the entirety of different parts even if renovated in the same structure as the original ship. The parts of the ship contribute to its qualitative identity. Furthermore, I agree that objects are allowed intermittent existences and during existences such as these a composite object does not cease to exist or come back into existence when restructured. When the original ship was renovated, each part removed from the ship was taking a little bit of the original ship’s identity little by little.  The identity of the original ship stood with the old decayed planks in the warehouse that were reconstructed. All of this comes down to the argument that the identity of the ship is in the planks that made up its parts and the whole composite object. The renovated ship with new planks is a new composite object with new parts and thus a new identity. Even though there are objections to this stance, one identity cannot be identical to a qualitatively different one.



G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit 90-91

9 Jan

I understand it has been awhile since I have published anything here. I say this all the time when transitioning into new material to discuss, so I just experienced déjà vu. Or is it jamais vu? I think it’s déjà vu. I hope you all have had a great Christmas and New Years and got lots of kickass stuff from your loved ones, as well has you giving kickass stuff to them. I also hope you got at least a little schwasted (slang word, sorry, it is a combination of shitfaced and wasted). I also have more posts beyond this one. When I told u I would deliver another post before Christmas about Epicurean prudence my computer succumbed to viruses, key loggers, spyware, and malware and I had to wipe the hard drive and recover. I have been on a 3 week break from school and have had no internet as a result because I only have internet at school. That post will really, for sure, come now.

Moving on, I have acquired numerous books this break and have acquired G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. I have been reading each one and contemplating upon it. Starting with number 90 in the book, I would like to begin discussing each proposition of the book on this blog.

The test begins with A. Consciousness, 1. Sense Certainty: Beginning with 90, Hegel begins by saying that what we see at first is for sure true knowledge of reality and that we should not try to grasp what we see. Hegel is basically saying that the observed object seen is immediate knowledge of what is. What is phenomenologically observed is what is. This is true, in my opinion, because due to metaphysical modal realism what is seen is what is.  Modal realism being the metaphysical belief that all things observed at any time t is real in one way, world, or another, a dream for instance, is real if it can possibly appear to you. Modal realism (by David Lewis specifically) combats the epistemological objection that something seen is not metaphysically real in existence. Object= Immediate knowledge. Object seen= What is.

Hegel continues in the same proposition by saying that the object seen should be not grasped, altered, or comprehended: “Our approach to the object must be immediate and receptive” (Hegel). We should not add anything to the object as it appears to us. It is understood by Hegel that the object should only be taken in and registered without altering it or adding anything to it, but it can be argued whether or not grasping and comprehending the object actually alters the object or adds to it. I agree with Hegel that all objects should not be comprehended, grasped, altered, or added to. A person coming to the world not having seen anything before with no record of protocol statements will find any object (and note that the object is the word Hegel uses to refer to what we see) odd and in need of understanding of interpretation. This new person will jump to grasping or comprehending the newly seen objects because confusing things immediately call for grasping and comprehension. This grasping and comprehension of odd objects by a recordless subject can lead to distortion of the object seen, therefore I agree with Hegel that in any observation (specifically of phenomenological investigation) should not only  be without additions and alterations but without grasping or comprehension.  People having seen certain objects all their life may or may not look to grasping or comprehension in a later stage of life, but when they first saw these objects they did use grasping and comprehension and their life long perception is distorted and damaged. Therefore, due to all of this, no grasping or comprehension should ever be done to the object because at some point this will result in alterations and additions distorting the said object.

This knowledge of immediate sense certainty is described further in 91. Sense certainty is stated by Hegel as a ‘rich’ knowledge because of its ‘concrete content’. This sense certainty is rich in its expanses. Hegel also describes sense certainty to be knowledge  that is truest because it is pure when it is not grasped or comprehended and nothing is removed from the object as it is immediately presented to us. At the same time sense certainty is a poor, empty, and abstract truth. Hegel claims that it is poor and abstract because all it claims is that it is. It simply has an ontological claim to truth. Furthermore, Hegel describes consciousness, or one having consciousness, as representing one as another ‘I’ or ‘this’. The object is also simply another ‘this’. Sense certainty (or a subject ‘I’ being certain of an object ‘this’) occurs just because of how the object appears to us with immediate knowledge. Sense certainty does not come about, according to Hegel, by the ‘I’ or the ‘this’ having importance over one another. For example, it may be thought that the ‘this’ becomes known by the ‘I’ having control over the object field perceived.  A solipsist would believe that the ‘I’ has importance over the object and the object has a certain level of potentiality to be known or certain about. “ I, this particular I, am certain of this particular thing, not because I, qua consciousness, in knowing it have developed myself or thought about it in various ways; and also not because the thing of which I am certain, in virtue of a host of distinct qualities, would be in its owns elf a rich complex of connections, or related in various ways to other things. Neither of these has anything to do with the truth of sense certainty: here neither I nor the thing has the significance of a complex process of mediation; the ‘I’ does not have the significance  of a manifold imagining or thinking; nor does the ‘thing’ signify  something that has a host of qualities….” (Hegel). He continues to state that sense certainty is true because of how immediate knowledge in the object seen just simply is.  Consciousness of sense certainty just registers and does no work beyond that.

One thing I think can be argued in 91 is whether or not the ‘I’ of the subject and the ‘this’ of the object take importance over one another (is the ‘I’ equal to the ‘this’), and whether or not consciousness in sense certainty does any work beyond just recognizing ontological existence and truth in the object. Thinking that the ‘I’ is more significant than any ‘this’ would cause the belief that the certain ‘I’ grasps and comprehends the object perceived therefore distorting the object. An ‘I’ being superior to other subjects and objects puts reliance on the view of that ‘I’.  If one is attempting to observe things phenomenologically (I shall explain more about phenomenology soon) a polarization or bias cannot be put on the evaluation of observations. Hegel’s work here creates the idea that any observation should understand that all things are level with one another and that it all is equal in truth. It is all difficult to explain in this proposition,  as it is to a degree difficult to understand in the first place. Reading it gives you an idea how to phenomenologically investigate and evaluate observations.

Essentially 91 explains that all observations should be free of all bias, polarization, alterations, additions and all other distortion. It should simply be understood during phenomenological investigation and observation that this immediate knowledge of sense certainty just is. Another way to describe immediate knowledge of sense certainty is that it has no content, just the ontological statement of truth when it immediately appears to the subject.

I could continue discussing these matters of 90 and 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit because of how it is difficult to explain and even understand. I urge you (especially if you are a lover of philosophy and a philosopher yourself) to read this book. To really understand what Hegel is saying about consciousness and sense knowledge when understood phenomenologically.

I will talk more about this epistemological theory of perception called phenomenology including philosophers of the subject like Husserl, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.

Thanks for the support as always. If I misconstrued something Hegel talked about in 90 or 91 in the Phenomenology of Spirit please let me know by Twitter (cosmosZ), by commenting below, or by email at cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com


A.J. Ayer and the Act Object Analysis of Sensation

3 Nov

Here I am referring back to Ayer’s Phenomenalism, yet just another aspect in his entire argument that I have explained before. In case you did not know, I started another website http://herodotean.wordpress.com where I talk about history, politics, and current news.

Ayer begins Phenomenalism with a discussion about Bertrand Russell’s definition of sense data where he describes them as “objects of acquaintance.” He finds confusion and need for further explanation with Russell’s sense data because this implies that he is describing sense data as objects of knowledge. For something to be an object of knowledge, Ayer says,  it is something that we know to be or not be the case. Ayer states that knowing things is something meaningless to say, and therefore there are no objects of knowledge.

This all leads to Ayer’s conclusion that it  “is meaningless to speak of knowing objects.” He continues further: ” Failure to realize this has contributed , I think, to a famous piece of philosophical mythology, the act-object analysis of sensation. For once it is assumed that having a sensation involves knowing an object, then it may seem reasonable to apply to this case the principle that what is known must be independent  of the knowing of it…..”

This at first implies that its meaningless to talk about knowing objects, because knowing objects involves saying that it is or isn’t the case in certain situations, or it means knowing it in other ways, making it entirely meaningless. Ayer talks about knowing being a transitive verb carrying many meanings that are variously used by philosophers and people that do not philosophize creating many confusions. All of this together makes it meaningless to talk about knowing things. This leads further to say that we often assume that knowing an object always involves  having a sensation. Finally, the act object analysis of sensation says that what is known, call it A, can be thought that because of all of the above, is independent of the action of knowing it.  Because of all this A is thought to be independent from the action of knowing it.

Because we cannot really talk about knowing objects, we are lead to this act object analysis of sensation where the act of sensing an object is separate from the actual object.  I like to think of this as if the act of sensing an object was  a part of, or dependent on, the object. If this is the case in any sensation, the object cannot have any postulates made upon it as to whether or not it is a real object that can be known.

If the act and the object are together and dependent on each other, we cannot speak of knowing an object, because most likely the object is not real anyway. Ayer seems to think that this is the best way to go about thinking about things. If this were the other way, where the act and object are separate and independent, this would imply that an object may be out there to be known, and the act would be used for just that purpose.

Ayer states that the act and object cannot be independent or separate because this would lead to objects being able to be known. To Ayer, however, objects cannot be discussed as to how they can be known.

First, I do not know how meaningless it is to discuss knowing objects. Because of how transitive of a verb knowing is, I think it needs much clarification as to what knowing means when talking about sense data and objects. Ayer only says that its meaningless to talk about objects being known because of how physical objects are logical constructions of sense data, and he wants to end discussion about objects in the beginning words of his essay.  I disagree here, because I think objects can be discussed as to if we know certain ones or not. What we mean when we say we know of an object needs to be clarified. I think it should be clarified to say the following: knowing an object is the apprehension of an actualized existence or being.

This view is contrary to Ayer’s and it endorses a modal realism discussed by David Lewis. Lewis states in On the Plurality of Worlds that each thing we see is an actualization of a being in one way or another. When we see anything, we are apprehending objects that are existent. This would lead me to think that the act of seeing an object and the object itself are totally independent…..

This is true in most cases I think. Lewis’s modal realism would still work in the case that the act of seeing the object and the object itself are dependent and together. This scenario I think is existent in the case that one is hallucinating, dreaming, or seeing anything usually not actualized. Any hallucination or dream is still an actualized existence, even if the act of seeing it, and the seen object are dependent and together.

All in all, I disagree with Ayer’s originating proposition that begins discussion of the act object analysis of sensation. When Ayer says that discussion of knowing objects is meaningless, I think he is wrong. Yes ‘knowing’ is a confusing transitive verb that has meanings that can be confused between each other, but this only needs clarification to return to discussion of knowing objects. Anyway, I think we can know objects anyway because we see something all the time that is actualized existences in one way or another. We are always seeing real objects whether the act and object are independent or dependent, together or separate.

This modal realism and its following ontology dismantles Ayer’s thought that discussion about the knowledge of objects is meaningless.

This is only a  tiny part of Ayer’s entire argument in Phenomenalism, but the act-object analysis of sensation making one choose between the two options made me think about it, and how my specific philosophy at the moment totally tears it apart. Hopefully this wasn’t too hard to understand as I am sleepy and incoherent. I shouldn’t be writing in this state of incoherence, but if there are any inconsistencies, misuse of information, or misinformation, please let me know.



Thanks for the support.

David Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds: A Modal Realism

26 Oct

A huge thing that philosophy is occupied by is sense data. Sense data (by Royce, Moore and Russell at first) has its characteristics and are data that come from our perceptive senses. The real question is, concerning sense data: Are the sense data representatives of material objects in reality,  or are sense data just images our minds produce with no relation to reality, therefore sense data having no connection to material reality? When I look at a blue cup,  is there really a blue cup there made of plastic particles fusing together to make a good device to carry a drink of choice, or is the blue cup just something that my mind is telling me is there? Many philosophies advocate one or the other, in different variations, such as solipsists believing that if a blue cup is seen, its existence is not known, extremes are taken, when at the same time, philosophies are less extreme. Considering Descartes, an evil deceiver distorts our visual world deceiving us of certain existences, which is another theory on the matter. Realism theories advocate that what we see pertains to real material existences. David Lewis proposing a thesis for the plurality of worlds advocated a modal realism.

Lewis, a philosopher I have only recently encountered the writing of, begins On the Plurality of Worlds by stating his thesis of plurality. He introduces a modal realism stating that all things perceived and sensed are existent and real in some way. The world I see right now with a computer, a blue cup, an iPod touch, my phone, a bunch of books, the blue sky, and everything else is one specific world. If one were to perceive a world where all life has been demolished except that person, that is yet another world. Some people humorously talk about parallel universes, like if I have blonde hair, blue eyes and am white, my parallel universe world would involve me with black hair, brown eyes, and black, and where everything else is opposite the way things are in the first world.

If one can perceive it, it is a possible world. Lewis puts it very well: “The worlds are many and varied. There are enough of them to afford worlds where (roughly speaking) I finish on schedule [his book], or I write on behalf of impossibilia, or I do not exist, or there are no people at all, or the physical constants do not permit life, or totally different laws govern the doings of alien particles with alien properties. There are so many other worlds, in fact, that absolutely every way that a world could possibly be is a way that some world is” (Lewis). He discusses in the beginning writing his book on time, and refers that to a certain possible world. Also, he states that he writes on the possibilities, not the impossibilities (impossibilia), but in some world he may be writing about the impossibilia. The bold writing says it all.

Lewis also adds that possible worlds perceived do not include worlds we make up. We may make worlds up in sleep, insomniac hallucinations, or narcotic hallucinations, and those are not the possible worlds because those are exaggerations and digressions of ideas of actual material things.

What do these possible worlds mean? To one that believes in this modal realism, it means (in my opinion, and others’) that sense data, or perceptions, denote material objects and/or reality in one way or another. Seeing the regular world one always sees, and then immediately seeing a world where all civilizations are wiped out, are both different worlds, meaning both are reality in one way or another. This is one answer for the argument stated at the very beginning ( are sense data representations of reality, or are sense data just images of the mind not connected to any reality). Modal realism states that all perceptions (not dreamed or hallucinated) are reality and can be of material objects.

So, one might ask, if I am perceiving one world (where monkeys run the world, and humans are the pets), how is the opposite world (where humans are the runners of the world, and monkeys are wild animals or pets) a real world at all? What we are perceiving at one instance is the only world actualized ( the succeeded form of a potential world). Another person besides me might be perceiving the same world, and maybe that person is perceiving a world not actualized to me. Because our perceptions are so different each person’s world is one world actualized while all the other possible worlds are, yet are in a potential state. The actualized potentialized understanding of all the possible worlds was kind of my understanding of all of this. It is also important to note that all possible worlds are not spatio-temporally connected. One world does not appear at one time, and another at a later time. One world does not exist in one space, and another world 6999 light years away. Spatio-temporal connections of the possible worlds are not existent.

To sum up the possible worlds in  modal realism:

  • Worlds are not created by people- As in, one dreaming or hallucinating a round square (how that would be I have not a clue) is not of a possible world because this thing is not at all possible in any world.
  • Worlds are not spatio-temporally connected-  Worlds are not spaced out in time, and are not located individually in space
  • To conclude from the above, worlds appearing to each person (not dreamed or hallucinated) are worlds that happen to be actualized. All  other possible worlds not appearing to a person are potential, and still are.

To discuss more the argument that all perceptions are perceptions of reality, if one saw any blue animal ( a lion for instance)  in one world appearing to him, what that person is seeing would be real. This is because an animal can become blue if it needed to be (not in this case by itself, specifically if this was a weird world where people soaked animals in pools full of blue dye), and this is a possible world. Because of how this is incredibly possible, it is real.  If we try to take something incredibly outrageous and crazy from a dream or hallucination, like seeing a round square, a round square is not real or possible. A round square could not appear in a possible world, and is therefore not real or material in any way (something being real usually denotes it being a material object of some sort). A round square is just an example for outrageous crazy things that we make up sometimes that are not real even in the huge possible worlds of modal realism.

Look around. If you see something that cannot be logically possible then question the reality of your perceptions. But if you look around and cannot find one impossibility to be questioned, then your perceptions are real and material in the best sense of the words.

Thanks for the support, once again.