[ExI] The Reality of Categories

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Jul 16 06:43:01 UTC 2007

On 16/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> > Only because, by convention, we agree that a few atoms missing and a
> > very large displacement in space and time are still consistent with
> > the term "same rock".
> Are you saying that a rock sitting next to a tree have only conventional
> differences?  Yes indeed:  quantum fields are all that there is, and we
> do not anymore have the Newtonian vacuum of space in which objects
> exist. But these *lumps* the the quantum fields are real lumps, and
> very distinct.  When you write "by convention, we agree"  you surely
> admit that any intelligent evolutionarily derived organism will detect
> these same real categories that we do.  Are you a nominalist?

I'm a nominalist, in that I don't believe that categories have a
separate ontological status. However, this is incidental to the
question of whether evolved intelligent beings would recognise the
same categories as we do. It's easy enough to imagine a very
intelligent, very precise and pedantic being which does not regard
anything as being the same thing unless it is *exactly* the same
thing, which no physical object can be from moment to moment. What
would you actually say to an alien who thought you were crazy to
assert that the rock was the same rock as yesterday? It is difficult
to give a formal reason why a certain amount of vagueness should be
allowed and another not, although there are practical reasons.

Stathis Papaioannou

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