29 June 2013: Kant! Strawson! Captain Flip and His Sky Dog Beano!

Workout: 20 mn first thing at dawn: 50 stairwell steps, two flights stairwell climb and a walk. Don’t have the low-rise step from physio in my room so need to adjust to a higher step in the stairwell.

Get so tired have to rest during these workouts. However, performed an Acceptance of the new reality this morning. In an Acceptance, you say, sod it, this is Now that was Then.

Dream

The Story of My Dream

I was with a bunch of gay and care-free airmen and one airwoman (Captain Flip, Beano the Sky Dog, and Friends) who were embarking on a daredevil long-distance flight. The others thought me too serious, not gay or care-free enough.

Inspired By My Dream

A New Captain Flip Adventure, Starring Beano the Sky Dog, and, Joyce is Not Here!

Night: Hong Kong: Soho District: Captain Flip and Beano are walking up Peel Street. A crash and splash of glass as some unfortunate drunk is ejected from another bar by way of the window, where the other bar not to be confused with Joyce is Not Here.

Captain Flip: Well, Beano, this looks like the place!

Beano the Sky Dog: Woof!

Captain Flip: It says “Joyce is not here”. I certainly “rejoice” to have found the place!

Beano the Sky Dog: (Whines, puts his paws over his ears)

From within Joyce is Not Here we hear a gay crowd of airmen and airwomen drinking their faces off, chatting, BSing, with the occasional jungly scream and cackle of a female being assaulted by an airman who’s not yet gay enough, I guess.

Moral of My Dream

Let go of the pain, of the years of sport, of Peter (jungly Peter), and join the Gay Airmen. One need not be “gay” to do so, any more than Marvin Gaye was “gay”. But there’s nothing wrong with being “gay”, either…oh well…

Kant: a Note on an Objection in Strawson

In Strawson’s very interesting commentary (Strawson 1966), he asks, as a counter-example to Kant’s theses of the connectedness of (1) space and (2) time, can we not conceive of being in unconnected spaces?

Jejune, for I can always take the union of the two spaces and have a metric for locating points in the one and the other. For Kant, two things are necessary concerning space.

One is that it has three dimensions.

The other is that for any two points in our space there is a pair of coordinates and meaning there’s a path from the first to the second points. Even if two (let us say) spherical spaces exist we can always get from the one to the other. If they are joined at a “singularity” or single point we can pop through that point by becoming a line for the duration.

If they are more solidly joined at a circular region, the traversal is even simpler, just go through this region.

It gets more interesting when the two spheres that constitute “all of space” are not connected. Then the region outside and between them isn’t space (unless it is, and again the problem collapses into triviality). It’s “nothing” and as a layperson my understanding is that stranger things are seen in modern physics.

Nonetheless, a mere arithmetical operation is needed to assign common coordinates to the two spherical spaces, such as starting the t of the s of one of the spheres to the largest x of the s of the other, plus one.

Kant didn’t exactly say that we should be able to travel anywhere in space, any more than he claims we can travel backward in time, or forward at a faster rate than we already apparently travel as we live our lives. He requires that there be an arithmetical relationship between any two three dimensional coordinates in space, or one dimensional coordinates of time.

And it seems to me that Strawson goes down in flames, for even in the rather Lovecraftian possibilities he raises of spaces beyond spaces, that should never connect without our space, wherein obscene and gross beings with legs that look like inner tubes chant “Yog Sothoth”, it’s still possible to mosey from one to the other, although until just before his death, the actual HP Lovecraft was himself scared by this (just before his death Lovecraft seems to have made peace with his demons and realized that the Beyond could be Benign).

Even if The City of Madness is located in a dimension other than ours, there remains arithmetical methods for assigning it a coordinate in a common system with ours. If space has a Lovecraftian five dimensions, then coordinates have five numbers rather than three…trivially. Therefore I simply fail to see any force to Strawson’s highly schematic counter-examples.

All that’s refuted by way of imaginary, and here Lovecraftian, counter-example is Kant’s belief in the synthetic a priori necessity of a single, connected, three dimensional, and Euclidean bigod SPACE. It was after Kant that modern geometry showed that space is, or can be conceived as, a geometrical object itself, and other than a cube or sphere. The existence of coordinates and not the image controls: if our “space” turns out to be the surfaces and interiors of two soap bubbles connected at a singularity we ignore the stuff outside the surface and interior of the soap bubbles simply by treating coordinates outside the bubbles as referring to no location in “space”.

I fear Strawson pioneered the overly facile counter-example which has become for a long time now all the rage in philosophy by instilling a doubt without followup because my analysis shows that all Strawson disproves is the Euclidean nature of space, which needs no refutation in the light of modern geometry.

Of course, I do not know if it’s still the fashion in graduate philosophy departments to crack the counterexamples as seen in Goldstein 1993 and her image of a predominantly male department concerned only with destroying theories with clever counter-examples. I think Strawson’s claims concerning Kantian space are “too clever by half” in the real sense that the doubts he expresses are no more true than non-dubious truth claims.

There is good stuff in Strawson; but his chapter (section) “Why Only One Objective World” is not good stuff, for as I’ve shown, we can always force two or more objective worlds to be the same objective world by a trivial “union” operation and some jiggery-pokery with coordinates. There’s only one objective world in Kant because the union of two universes is just … drum roll … the REAL universe. “When the half gods depart”, writes Emerson, “the gods arrive”.

References

Goldstein 1993: Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem. Penguin, 1993.

Strawson 1966: Peter Strawson, The Bounds of Sense: A Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

Change Record

9 July 2013: minor typo (“one if” should be “one is”)

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