On 20 Sep 2009, at 02:49, Brent Meeker wrote:
>
> So does being "pure thought" mean "without a reference", i.e. a
> fiction?  As in "Sherlock Holmes" is a pure thought?


Consider the Many world theory of Everett, or the many histories of  
comp. Does it make sense to say that Sherlock Holmes exists in such  
structure? The problem is that a fiction like Sherlock Holmes is not  
well defined. It is a bit like unicorns. I would not compare such  
essentially fictional construction with a mathematical object, like a  
computation or like a number, which admits forms of realism. 17 is  
prime in all consistent extension of arithmetic, for example. And it  
makes sense to say that 17 is prime independently of my own thought  
process, or of any thought process, but it is not clear such  
independence can be define for fictional object. Any one looking like  
Sherlock Holmes in the UD* will be just like that: it looks like  
Holmes, but Conan Doyle could always object by saying that it is not  
the "real" Holmes. There is a lack of identity criterion. And if you  
decide to give a (non contradictory) identify criteria for Holmes  
(like clever detective living in the UK and having solved such an such  
case ...), then it is no more a "pure thought" and it will exist  
somewhere in some UD*-history, or in some quantum branch.

Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/




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