Monday, May 01, 2006

Eric - I agree with you that the trashcan is not merely what it is made up and its "being a trashcan" must fit into certain criteria that go above and beyond just the molecules that make it up. I think your argument at the end of your post also supports the original river example. The river, is, as we said, more than just the water that makes it up. It is also the basin of land that flows through and so on. So, if we sat and watched the river being diverted to make a dam, we would know that it WAS a river, however if the next day we were walking down the street and one of those little cartoon clouds came and drenched only us with water that had evaporated from the river that morning, we would have never known it was the river water. Since you moved the water from the original location, it lacks the properties of being a river. therefore, a river is more than just the water that makes it up, it is also the physical location and properties the water holds.


Blogger linford86 said...

I've said this before, but it depends entirely upon how you define the river. This whole debate seems to be centered more on the sematics of what constitutes a river than what the relationship is between an object and the matter that makes it up. The only possible solution to the problem occurs when everyone is willing to agree a definition of "river" - something that apparently not everyone is willing to do. My thought is that most of these different arguments aren't really mutually exclusive - they appear to contradict each other only because they use the same word in reference to a different thing.

To explain what I mean, imagine that we have two rocks, one green and one blue, and two people - Bob and Cindy. Bob calls the green rock A, while Cindy calls it B. Meanwhile, Bob refers to the blue rock as B, while Cindy refers to it as A. If Bob and Cindy have a conversation, it might go like this:

Bob: A is green.
Cindy: What? Are you high? A is blue and B is green!
Bob: No, B is blue, and A is green! You're color blind!
Cindy: No!
Bob: Yes!

Of course, they could go on like that for hours, debating about the color of the two rocks. But who's right? They both are - they're just refering to two different things which have a different set of properties. But whatever they say, there is still a blue rock and a green rock - that's one thing that they have to agree on.

Likewise, I think that just about everyone would agree that there is some way in which time exists, and that objects exist in time. So, we would all agree that there is some set of times which describe the history and the future of any given collection of things. What we disagree on is whether we should refer to that collection as the object - that is, whether or not things have "temporal" parts. But that doesn't really matter, since we all agree that those parts exist anyway - we just don't necessarily refer to them as being the parts of an object.

We also all agree that the parts of an object can survive scattering - that is, there is some set of parts that exist within any given object, and even if you scatter that object all over the universe, those parts still exist. We all agree that that set still exists - we just don't agree that the object does after scattering. But what does that matter? However it is that you wish to refer to that set, we all agree that it exists.

Likewise, we all agree, I think, that there are types of objects. That the set of things which constitute any given body can form into particular configurations.

I could go on like, but I think you get the point. I believe that the only reason that these paradoxes exist is because none of us can agree on what we're talking about. Since every argument presented in class refers to different definitions, I do not think that it is the case that they necessarily contradict each other. Granted, there are some views which are so strongly polar to anything that I've said here that they actually are mutually exclusive - for instance, the scattering view is definitely not compatible with the Parmenidean view that there is only one thing (if it is the case that there is only one thing, then there would be impossible to scatter anything. Scattering seems to imply that there are a multitude of things - that is, plurality. However, since we seemed to all agree in class that plurality exists, I don't really see a problem here.)

4:45 PM  

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