No, this isn’t a religion thread. It’s a response to some posts in the intentionality thread.
Quoting from Genesis:
1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
I’m going to take that as a metaphor. I’ll take “let there be light” to stand for the evolution of light sensitive cells in some biological organisms. Once they had light sensitive cells, they had the possibility of distinguishing between light and dark.
1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
I was taught that the most basic step in geometry is to draw a line, and divide the world into the part on one side of the line and that on the other side of the line.
So, what we see here can be considered geometry. It is also an example of what philosophers describe as “carving the world at the seams”, except that there are no seams. We divide the external world on the basis of an internal criterion (the state of the light sensitive cells).
This dividing can also be called “categorization”. That’s one of the possible meanings of “categorization”, and I see it as the important one.
As a result, we now have two statements:
- Daytime is when it is light;
- Nighttime is when it is dark.
I called these statements, rather than propositions. But lets discuss them as if they were propositions. Here are some things that we can say about them as propositions:
(1) They are analytic propositions. That is to say, they are true by virtue of the meanings of their terms. In fact they are definitions or conventions that establish the meanings of the terms.
(2) They are intentional propositions. That is to say, they are about something in the world. They define what they are about. They do not presuppose intentionality. They do not presuppose that we can already divide the world into meaningful parts. Rather, they tell us how to divide the external world based on internal criteria. So they define the parts of the world that they are about, and they then give names to those parts of the world. To me, this seems like original intentionality.
(3) They are not tautologies (in my opinion). That is to say, they are not true in all possible worlds. They are true only in the world in which they act as definitions.
(4) They are empirically significant. They allow us to make statements such as “I heard that noise at daytime” or “I heard that noise during nighttime”. That is to say, they give us the wherewithal to make finer empirical distinctions.
I see these kinds of geometric acts as central to cognition, as central to intentionality. And yet philosophers seem to dismiss them out of hand.
Quine has written two articles, “Truth by convention” and “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” which dismiss analytic propositions and conventions as unimportant. These two articles are generally considered influential and highly respected. To me, that’s like a herd of lemmings going over the cliff.