# Thought-Objects

1. Philosophy Forum
2. » Gottlob Frege
3. » Thought-Objects

Wed 21 May, 2008 01:47 pm
I am starting this topic as a spin-off from the topic: "Brain in a vat" because the question of what thought-objects are was raised and I think that easily deserves a seperate topic. I am creating this topic because I think Gottlob Frege has played an importanr role in conceptualising what takes places when forming thought-objects, although by no means the last.

Frege is a multiversed man who has studied mathematics and philosophy. Perhaps it is not much of a surprise that he created a formal language,in which languages and mathematics found a common factor, known as logic. Frege's logic, as noted in his work Begriffsschrift was later improved by men such as Bertrand Russel, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Willard van Orman Quine (among others).

In Frege's logic (and any other) it is clear that what is important are not the variables, but the connectives involved in any logical function. In reasoning appear precious few different connectives and these connectives are used to furmulate any logical judgement. An example of a logical judgement could be: "Whenever it rains I get wet", or any other thought what so ever. Frege names such thoughts "judgements".

Some "judgements" are named, one calls such judgements "predications". Some of these predications may in reality be contractions of several predications and the relations between them. An example might be that something is "all and one" at the same time, one would now use the word (predicate) "alone". Frege seperates predications in his work . Frege seperates concepts from functions, where concepts are merely names where the predicate would be true or not depending if the object falls under the predication and functions are "truth values". Such "truth values" are based on the variables in the function. So the example "alone" would only be true if the thing one is "predicating" is "all and one". If one of the variable "predicates" would be untrue the function would be untrue and the predicate alone would not fit the bill. The example shows one of the (very small) youthfull problems of Frege's invention called "logic". The example is one which can be both function and concept, depending on how one looks at things.

In his work "
An illustration of "grasping". The magnified object is, in a way, "grasped" by the telescope (or the person wielding it).

What is also clear in Frege's work is that one "grasps" certain things from what one percieves. An important question might be what does this "grasping". I Frege's work the "grasping" takes the same place as that which is a priori in Kant's work. Predications, or thought-objects, are, in this sense, the equivalent of Kant's Judgements.

de budding

Thu 22 May, 2008 07:35 am
@Arjen,
Thanks Arjen,
I took a little detour off to the article about Kants judgments and categories; I wonder if Kant saw his Categories as Plato saw his 'forms'- a priori, embedded in us from birth. The concept certainly seems like a sort of institution that the mind uses to deal with all the information of every day experience, but I would not be so quick proclaim that they are fixed categories, predictable of Everything. It's a wonderful idea which I think accurately reflects how our minds process the multiplicity of information we absorb everyday.

For me Gottlob is describing language- and very well I might add. The 'sense' is how we relate the characteristics of something to everything and the 'reference' is that something, it is true of false. (e.g. that is a chair) if the chair is there it is true. Again I get a Platonic sense of forms here, we have words which seem to universally refer to the same thing for everybody and these could easily (perhaps mistakenly) be assumed a priori. But then there is the 'sense' which describes our relationship with an object and can account for how one word can carry more than one connotation... (e.g. that is a doormat) the example is a reference to an actual doormat but we can take the characteristics of doormat and relate them to say a human- he is a doormat. This use of language inevitably leads to Categories because we use burrowed characteristics, metaphors, comparisons (senses) to highlight how unrelated objects are similar. I think we could do away with this 'sense' in meaning, why not just give everything a reality-reference to describe it, like a picure of video.

Todays digital technology makes it possible to create a 100% ostensive super-encyclopedia which would use sound, pictures, video, textures etc. to describe the whole world.
Effectively doing away with words would do away with 'sense', and I think we could then see a far less categorical language.

While pondering the thread I have also noticed a pre-Socratic trait in this 'lingual philosophy'- trying and describe what reality is made of, but with acceptance of the fact that reality is something different for use than it really is. How much does language shape reality for humanity?

But other than those few thoughts I have read through the post noting the separation between reality and human-reality, it seems to relate back to my BIV post which mentioned interpreted-reality. Your ending note, once clarified, says a lot more than expected about the absorption of reality- 'predication-concept is used to form a thought-object by reference and a predication-function is used to form a thought-object by sense. We separate and form two worlds, one using only thought-objects developed by reference and one with thought-objects only developed by sense, only with a mixture of both does it become possible to developer a realistic language which I think reflects the sentiment by its two main categories of words- Nouns (reference) and Adjectives (Senses).

Dan.

de Silentio

Thu 22 May, 2008 09:35 am
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
Thanks Arjen,
I wonder if Kant saw his Categories as Plato saw his 'forms'- a priori, embedded in us from birth.

If I may jump in on one point. When talking about a priori it is important that one does not confuse Innate Ideas with a priori ideas. Innate means they are with us from birth, a priori just means that we gained the knowledge apart from experience.

Plato philosophy seems to sound more like Innate ideas, and Descartes definitely talks about Innate ideas (he may have coined the term?). They both hold that we have the ideas embedded within us from birth. Plato says that we 'remember' the ideas (like justice, courage, wisdom, etc.). I can't speak on Descartes Innate Ideas, because it has been a long time since first heard about them. But I do remember something about properties like color not being a property of an object, but that it is a property that we impose on the object?

Kant, on the other hand, used a priori to describe Ideas (or judgments as he calls them) that we gain a part from experience. It's not that we are born with these ideas, for he does say 'All knowledge begins with experience'. It's more to the tune that we can know certain things about objects before we experience those objects. Those certain things happen to be necessary information about an object. For example, that an object must exist within space-time for us to validly cognize the said object.

Now, are Plato and Descartes Innate Ideas a priori? Yes, since we have the ideas a part from experience. But Kant's a priori Ideas are not Innate.

de budding

Thu 22 May, 2008 10:10 am
@de Silentio,
Nail on the head... embarrassingly, but thanks I won't make the mistake again.

But I would challenge Kant to explain how categories can exist before experience when 'All knowledge begins with experience'. I can imagine 'apart from experience by using our development of complex ideas from simple ideas as an analogy...

We have the idea of gold from experience and the idea of a mountain from experience but only in our mind can the complex idea of a golden mountain be composed.

I can only imagine a priori knowledge has mistakenly been labelled 'apart' from experience because it is fundamentally composed from and rooted in experience. Without the experience the a priori Categories wouldn't exist.

'if King X resigned he must have reigned'- I saw this as a trick of words, we must know from experience how the word 'resigned' is applied to a king's career to be able to presume that kingly resignation is preceded by kingship.

Dan.

de budding

Thu 22 May, 2008 10:22 am
@de Silentio,
Accidental Double Post

Arjen

Thu 22 May, 2008 10:51 am
@de budding,
Hold on guys, there are some facts being crossed here. I know it is a difficult topic, but please do check your facts before posting. It might teach you a thing or two. I know wikipedia isn;t perfect, but it has a lot of these little facts. I am going to link to the wikipedia so you can check what I am saying. In these few posts a lot of facts got crossed unfortunately.

De budding,

1) Kant saw his categories as Plato saw his logoi in some ways. Kant also uses some of Aristotle's ideahow someone percieves something. I may overvaluate a form and thus describe that part of what I saw. That does not mean that it is all there was. Apart from that it is the key component in the entire theory. It proves that one judges by frame of reference and therefore that the first judgements must have had a "category" to be related to.

4) Thought-objects are formed in the mind and words refer to thought objects. Thought-objects refer to objects in reality (present, different or absent). One cannot do away with the "sense" because that would make any thought-object loose its value and thereby it's existence. For not judging something makes for the absence of predicating; which is the absence of thought-objects.

5) Reality is indeed linked with our vocobulary. We judge on the basis of our frame of reference (rulebase). In this lies the difference of hermeneutics.

6) Sense and reference go hand in hand. No thought-object is created by reference. It is the sense which forms it. The reference exists only as the basis on which we form our judgements. What I mean is this:
We need a thought or a perception to judge and a sense in which we judge it. That forms our judgement.

De silentio,

1) Kant saw his categories as Plato saw his logoi in some ways. Kant also uses some of Aristotle's idea in his judgements. I am noting this primarily because idea means "forms"; those are Aristotle's. You are right about the a priori part of Plato's logoi btw. Kant takes part of his inspiration from that. Judgements are a synthesis of a priori intuitions and perceptions. That reminds us of Aristotle's tradition.

2) Plato thinks that we remember certain things from before our birth. He literally says so in the republic where he explain his logoi quite thorouhly.

3) Descartes never said certain things, but he also never published certain things and rewrote certain books out of fear of the inquisition. One of the things that was punishable by death in the dark ages was saying that there are a priori part to mankind. In his meditations he writes since he doubts anything at least he can be sure he doubtes and therefore thinks. He must also conclude that there is something acting on that part which he is sure of. He writes that this must surely be "God". The funny thing about this is that it must be concluded that "God" is always action upon anything or else nothing would happen and everything would be just in the mind and therefore a priori. There are certain passages which makes one doubt that in a quite serious manner. Descartes refers to Spinoza quite often, who was accused of by the inquisition posthumously (he published his Ethica after death).

4) Hobbes held, as Galileo did, that only the extension, mass, and motion - what later came to be called the primary qualities - of bodies are in the objects percieved. Color, sound, taste and smell - what later came to be called the secondary qualities - are really in the eye of the beholder. In some passages Hobbes argues that these secondary qualities are motions in the brain of the beholder, but he often neglects to do so in favor of the difference between the tings in themselves and their appearances.

5) Categories are a priori according to Kant, judgements are a posteriori (although acquired by the use of categories).

6) To the question if Plato's and Descartes' ideas are innate, we must ask if you mean logoi or idea with ideas. I think you mean idea. Those are not even innate; theay are a posteriori.

de budding

Thu 22 May, 2008 11:26 am
@Arjen,
de Silentio,

My problems with the use of a priori are highlighted here, and one paragraph in particular hammers the point home for me...

'An abstraction is made from particulars. Once the abstraction is made, the process from which it was derived is then ignored. The base on which it was built is denied. The abstract knowledge is then said to exist without reference to reality, since the reference is ignored.'

The confusion between a priori and innate only exists because I was thinking the only way for something to be a priori was to be with us from birth, which I would say is wrong and that a priori is really a posterior just raised up above and the roots forgotten.

Arjen,

This is confusing my comprehension of Kant's ideas, does he assume any a priori knowledge that is from a higher power, or with us from birth in the same way Plato imagined his world of forms?

Dan.

Arjen

Thu 22 May, 2008 11:30 am
@de budding,
De budding,

Plato has no world of forms. He has a world of logoi. Forms are Aristotle.

A priori is transcendental. Divine is transcendent. Kant does not believe in a Christian God. He does, however, believe. Everybody who is right in the head necessarily concludes something must have kick started everything. If one calls it big bang, God or a priori is of no consequence. Kant however was a teacher and as such was supposed to lead his class into church. Kant led his pupils in and let them out again. He himself waited at the door but never entered.

de budding

Thu 22 May, 2008 11:46 am
@Arjen,
I mean this- Theory of forms - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

VideCorSpoon

Thu 22 May, 2008 11:53 am
@de budding,
Arjen,

Are you sure Plato has no world of forms????

Arjen

Thu 22 May, 2008 12:22 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
The world of forms is based on Aristotle's words on Plato's work. Logoi are something else. Idea are forms. In this particular case the wikipedia is wrong. Check out the translations of logoi. The evaluation of Logoi as "idea" is neo-platonic and also occurs in the renaissance. In neo-platonism certain efforts are made to make platonism compatible with other theories (moslty christianity) so as to create a bearing for certain reasonings. Aristotelianism was combined with platonism and with christianity, just like platonism with aristotelism and christianity. In the renaissance the same thing happened again. That is how certain definitions came muddled. They still are today.

--edit--
It is only atural for one philosophy to judge one philosophy by use of another, but these are so old and by scholasticism so mingled that they have become inseperable without reading the original works.

Apart from that in modern day english it is hard to seperate Aristotle's idea from ideas....especially when speaking of thought-objects...

VideCorSpoon

Thu 22 May, 2008 01:47 pm
@Arjen,
As I recall, Plato addressed the notion of forms in Meno (predating Aristotle's notions). Aristotle only recounts of it later in texts such as the metaphysics to refute the notion of a higher form and mimicking sub-forms in contexts such as generation and substantial ontology. In other words, Aristotle does not propagate it, he refutes the Platonic position. Plato makes a very clear conveyance of the subject.

That's my only beef with your comment. Besides that, I thought your comment very illuminating and interesting. It is a good perspective though I don't agree with all of it.

Arjen

Thu 22 May, 2008 09:29 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon, Plato nowhere uses the Greek word idea (which has a different meaning than the English word idea). Aristotle is the one speaking of forms (idea) in his metaphysics which is distintcly different from Plato's logoi. The world of Logoi is Plato's though. SO we see that the word "forms" is associated with Plato's Logoi due to Aristotle's view on Plato and the use of the word idea, which in English means a thought (as logoi), but is used by Aristotle as "forms". These two have been mixed up by nore people then anyone can possibly imagine. To get to the bottom of this one should read a lot of Plato and Aristotle (and read correct translations or the Greek versions).

--edit--
I invite everybody to discuss the differences between Plato's logoi and Aristotle's idea in a, still to creat, new topic. That way this topic can keep going on the topic of thought object.

de budding

Fri 23 May, 2008 05:03 am
@Arjen,
Some notes I made on the subject:

thought object- is it formed from the senses or 'knowapparatus'?
It refers to reality, it seems to operate like an ideal 'form', our words refer to it (as oppose to the reality objects).

What is being suggested by this theory of thought objects about the objectivty of knowledge?
Thought-objects, if formed from the senses, would be subjective and unrelatable to Kant's Categories.

I would be interested to know how a thought object is formed via sense and then promoted to an a priori state.

Also I was browsing some books looking for related material (found nothing substantial btw) and stumbled across this line in a book 'Introducing Philosophy' describing how Descartes started modern philosophy- 'He investigated the internal workings of the mind in relation to the external world' which strikes a chorde in me, I just don't know what key it's in.

Also of interest was this website simply called 'thought objects' - Entrance# -A very 'trippy' web page but it seems relevent.

and finally I found this bit about Sinn and Bedeutung here:

Quote:
The distinction between Sinn and Bedeutung (usually translated "Sense and Reference", but also as "Sense and Meaning" or "Sense and Denotation") was an innovation of Frege in his 1892 paper ("On Sense and Reference"). According to Frege, sense and reference are two different aspects of the significance of an expression. Frege applied "Bedeutung" in the first instance to proper names, where it means the bearer of the name, the object in question, but then also to other expressions, including complete sentences, which bedeuten the two "truth values", the true and the false; by contrast, the sense or Sinn associated with a complete sentence is the thought it expresses. The sense of an expression is said to be the "mode of presentation" of the item referred to. The distinction can be illustrated thus: In their ordinary uses, the name "Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor," which for logical purposes is an unanalyzable whole, and the functional expression "the Prince of Wales," which contains the significant parts "the prince of ξ" and "Wales", have the same reference, namely the person best known as Prince Charles. But the sense of the word "Wales" is a part of the sense of the latter expression, but no part of the sense of the "full name" of Prince Charles. These distinctions were disputed by Bertrand Russell, especially in his paper "On Denoting"; the controversy has continued into the present, fueled especially by the famous lectures on "Naming and Necessity" of Saul Kripke.

Well I'm of to go of exploring for more avenues and tangents.

Dan

Arjen

Sat 24 May, 2008 01:44 am
@de budding,
Hi de budding,

I am going to take things one at a time:
de_budding wrote:

thought object- is it formed from the senses or 'knowapparatus'?
It refers to reality, it seems to operate like an ideal 'form', our words refer to it (as oppose to the reality objects).
[/I]
Thought objects are not ideal "forms". There are what one makes of the perceptions. It is formed from the image which is cast on certain parts of the brain by the senses. Something then "grasps" (fasst) the image to form it into a thought object which refers to that image in a certain way. That which "grasps" the image is a priori (according to this particular philosophy). There is nothing "ideal" about it (unfortunately).

[quote]

What is being suggested by this theory of thought objects about the objectivty of knowledge?
Thought-objects, if formed from the senses, would be subjective and unrelatable to Kant's Categories.
[/quote]
I think you are trying to say that the categories are not judgements and therefore not subjective, which is indeed correct. The subjective part is introduced by the senses and made subjective by the "senses". I think this is a hard to understand part. The body has a "subjective" viewpoint and this is further subjectified by the grapsing process. Although the object formed is not subjective to the observer, but has a certain "truth value" it is not objectively true. It highlights the physical and mental viewpoints of the observer. In that sense we can argue that no thought-object is subjective because it is "grasped" from certain viewpoints which highlight certin things, but we can also argue that any thought-object is subjective because the physical and mental viewpoints are specific to one subject (the observer).

Quote:

I would be interested to know how a thought object is formed via sense and then promoted to an a priori state.

It never is. The a priori state does not exist in actuality. It is the condition for actuality (and therefore thought-objects).

Quote:

Also I was browsing some books looking for related material (found nothing substantial btw) and stumbled across this line in a book 'Introducing Philosophy' describing how Descartes started modern philosophy- 'He investigated the internal workings of the mind in relation to the external world' which strikes a chorde in me, I just don't know what key it's in.

Descartes is a funny man. He describes in his meditations an a priori state, but he calls it reason (metaphysics). Along with that he decides that the pineal gland is something the the soul would "push against" (as a game controller of sorts) to control the body. I must say that he lost a lot of credibility to me by that. He does have a lot of really interesting ideas though. His doubt creates a system much like Spinoza's; dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum.

Quote:

Also of interest was this website simply called 'thought objects' - Entrance# -A very 'trippy' web page but it seems relevent.

Seems "trippy" indeed. I'd skip this one..

Quote:

and finally I found this bit about Sinn and Bedeutung here:

Try this one:
Sense and reference - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hope this all helps a little. I think we should in the future discuss things one at a time, perhaps creating new topics for certain terms. That way we can discuss the full scope of things.

Arjen

de budding

Sat 24 May, 2008 03:27 am
@Arjen,
Thanks Arjen,
Yeh one at a time, bit by bit would be more practical, 'perhaps creating new topics for certain terms. That way we can discuss the full scope of things.' It'd be good to sort out some refrence material as well, to keep us all 'on the same page' ha ha ha ha.
Dan.

Arjen

Sat 24 May, 2008 06:03 am
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
Thanks Arjen,
Yeh one at a time, bit by bit would be more practical, 'perhaps creating new topics for certain terms. That way we can discuss the full scope of things.' It'd be good to sort out some refrence material as well, to keep us all 'on the same page' ha ha ha ha.
Dan.

The reason these things spiral out of control is because to wish to understand one thing is a wish to understand the whole. Only that way can we see the details. It is also true that we can only understand the whole by understanding the details. That creates a bit of a problem. When opening a topic such as thought objects one should realise that there are many who have said important things on the subject. The reason I created a topic on Frege was to keep te discussion limited to Frege. As you can see that failed as well.

All we can do is muddle on I suppose.

de budding

Sat 24 May, 2008 10:08 am
@Arjen,
Understanding the details is always nescesery to understanding the whole, it just takes a bit of time sometimes and one has to be disciplined.

But let us muddle on; 'His doubt creates a system much like Spinoza's'
I read a little bit about Spinoza and his early monism, interesting character.

So what are the implications of thought objects? I am understanding the concept but don't see why the philosopy has come about and what impact it might have on other beliefs.

Also if you know of any english writing on the subject I would be interested to know.

Dan.

Arjen

Sat 24 May, 2008 12:18 pm
@de budding,
De budding,

de_budding wrote:

But let us muddle on; 'His doubt creates a system much like Spinoza's'
I read a little bit about Spinoza and his early monism, interesting character.

I much enjoy him. His amor Dei intellectualis really changed the world. (I can find no wiki page on that. Perhaps this is one of the terms we could use to create a seperate topic on?)

Quote:

So what are the implications of thought objects? I am understanding the concept but don't see why the philosopy has come about and what impact it might have on other beliefs.

One implication is that even though we are speaking of the same thing we can contradict eachother because our words refer to thought objects (which in turn refer to objects in reality). My thought object could differ from yours even though we think we are speaking of the same thing. Frege has devised a very elegant example of this:
Hesperus is Phosphorus.

In the pholosphy of language it is a very famous remark. In times long past a bright spot in the evening sky was named "Hesperus" (eveningstar) . In the morning sky a simular bright spot was find, which was named "Phosphorus" (morningstar) . After the invention of lenses the sky was more and more studied. At one point someone discovered that that Venus was this eveningstar as well as this morningstar. So it followed that Hesperus was Phospherus. For centuries the thought objects Hesperus and Phosperus were two different thought objects, while all the time being the same object in reality. This proves that thought objects are something different than the objects in reality, as well as the fact that someone can have two seperate thought objects of the same object. For centuries those interested in such things had thought Hesperus something else than Phospherus.

Recap:

Objects:
Hepherus is Venus is Phospherus.

Thought objects:
Hesperus is the evening star
Phosperus is the evening star
Hesperus is not Phospherus (<== this thought can change after learning)

Quote:

Also if you know of any english writing on the subject I would be interested to know.

I think that will be hard in English. After the dark ages a seperation occured in Philosophy. The British developed empirism and the continentals developed rationalism. The British thought that what they percieved was what existed, while the continentals were of the opinion that what they saw had to do with their mind as well. Although nowaday many American and British scholars are not empiristic anymore and some have written important works on the matter no original works have been written in times gone. Today our scientific models are based on rationalism, which is quite surprising when hearing scientists speak of "facts". A lot of scientists today have a very empiristic mindset. This is understandable because the object of science is to study, it boggles my mind sometimes though. At the end of the dark ages it was considered heresy to utter (or think!) such philosophies as rationalists did. Heresy was punishable by death. Science at that day and age was unstoppable though and it firmly positioned it in our society. Nowadays the roles seem switched. The church claims transcendental parts in humanity while science denies is. It almost looks as if the public opinion is one of denial in this matter. Nowadays only a death in the publics eye is needed though. Often rationalism is publicly ridiculed to denounce (or debunk) such philosophies on unfounded grounds. I remember Plato in such cases though:

For everything that exists there are three instruments by which the knowledge of it is necessarily imparted; fourth, there is the knowledge itself, and, as fifth, we must count the thing itself which is known and truly exists. The first is the name, the, second the definition, the third. the image, and the fourth the knowledge. If you wish to learn what I mean, take these in the case of one instance, and so understand them in the case of all.

[...]

But in subjects where we try to compel a man to give a clear answer about the fifth, any one of those who are capable of overthrowing an antagonist gets the better of us, and makes the man, who gives an exposition in speech or writing or in replies to questions, appear to most of his hearers to know nothing of the things on which he is attempting to write or speak; for they are sometimes not aware that it is not the mind of the writer or speaker which is proved to be at fault, but the defective nature of each of the four instruments. The process however of dealing with all of these, as the mind moves up and down to each in turn, does after much effort give birth in a well-constituted mind to knowledge of that which is well constituted. But if a man is ill-constituted by nature (as the state of the soul is naturally in the majority both in its capacity for learning and in what is called moral character)-or it may have become so by deterioration-not even Lynceus could endow such men with the power of sight.

~Plato, The Seventh Letter

Well, we are not here to debate such opinions, only to speak of what thought-objects are. I think the above example proves the existance of it. I would like to conclude with a quote of Frege:

Facts, facts, facts the scientist cries!
~Gottlob Frege.

de budding

Sat 24 May, 2008 12:55 pm
@Arjen,
Quote:

'[When] we are speaking of the same thing we can contradict each other because our words refer to thought objects (which in turn refer to objects in reality). '

Amen to that, I have had many an argument which was a misunderstanding of words rather than a confrontation of ideas or opinions. And it is interesting to think with regards to- Hesperus is Phosphorus, that every thing is subject to possible change within ourselfs.

So would Frege say that there is direct correlation between nouns and thought objects?

If so, do thought objects suffer from the same ambiguity and vagueness as words can? For example- when is a table not a table?

When it is made of metal, when we paint it, when we cut its legs off? How about when we attach a pair of benches to it- is it a picnic bench or a table?

Also mixed connotations blur the boundaries of words, a snake is a legless reptile but it is also something or someone that's slimy or someone who is devious- 'you snake in the grass' etc.

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