maandag 14 maart 2016

The chair-cabinet

Consider a room that contains a chair, an empty table and an empty cabinet. Suppose that this list of things offers a complete description of what there is to be seen in the room. Imagine that you enter it. You look around and you see nothing more but those three things. Would it be possible for you to create a new material object in this room merely by looking around and using language? Such a verbal creatio ex nihilo obviously seems metaphysically impossible. Nevertheless, look intensively at the chair and the cabinet at the same time. Focus your attention on them as being together. While doing so introduce the word 'chair-cabinet' and fix it's reference by declaring that it refers to the chair and cabinet together. After this act of naming the context has changed. For it seems not unreasonable anymore to hold that the room now also contains a chair-cabinet that has the chair and the cabinet as its material parts. Here we have an example of an act that perhaps resembles to at least some extent an act of verbally creating something out of nothing.

7 opmerkingen:

Bert Morrien zei

Emanuel, what do you mean by 'nothing' here?

Emanuel Rutten zei

Hi Bert,

Good question. In the proposed scenario I take it that one creates from nothing in the sense that one is not manipulating or adapting matter. Yet, I have to concede that in the scenario there is in fact matter involved. I hesitate to call this matter the material cause though. For one is not directly operating on it.

Regards,
Emanuel

Bert Morrien zei

Emanuel,

I understand what you mean, but then giving observed things names would not imply operating on these things and that violates Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
You cannot observe things without throwing something to it, such as photons. I do not think that doing this indirecly matters in any way.

Bert Morrien zei

Emanuel,

I must correct myself. For observing objects it is not sufficient, nor always required to throw things to it. It is required that the object throws things to the observer, such as photons, so it is directly operating on the observer. Reason enough to abandon the notion that nothing is involved.

Anoniem zei

Emanuel,

You said: "Here we have an example of an act that perhaps resembles to at least some extent an act of verbally creating something out of nothing"

The "something" that has been created seems to me only a new word, referring to "chair" as well as to "cabinet".
But what is it that refers to the new word "chair-cabinet"? Is there a thing as such? I don't think so. What do you mean?

Regards,
Herman

Emanuel Rutten zei

Herman,

After the act of naming the context has changed. It seems not unreasonable anymore to hold that the room now also contains a chair-cabinet, the fusion or union of the chair and the cabinet.

Regards,
Emanuel

Anoniem zei

Emanuel,

"It seems not unreasonable anymore to hold that the room now also contains a chair-cabinet".

I wonder. Can I see it?
I looked everywhere but I didn't see anything but a table, a chair and an empty cabinet, but no chair-cabinet. Perhaps attached to the ceiling? No.
Ah, wait I didn't look under the table...
No, still nothing. Perhaps the chair-cabinet is only in your head but I can't look in there.

Regards,
Herman