Saturday, April 02, 2011

(im)possible colors.

Suppose that the primary theory of colors is merely contingently true (i.e., that it just so happens that every color we've experienced so far is either red, blue, and yellow or some combination thereof). Could God make a color that cannot be derived by the three primary colors? If your answer is "yes", then it seems to me that you're committed to the thesis that it's actually possible that God make the actually inconceivable.

Or, to put it more poignantly: the inconceivable is possible.

In Swingroverian terms: the actually inconceivable is actually possible.


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Blogger loudogg said...

(1) It's actually possible that God make the actually inconceivable.

So on my definition of "actual", 1 is definitionally false, as there are no actual alternate possibilities. There is only one actual possibility and that is that which is actual. Talking about things that are actually possible but not actual is a contradiction in terms.

I only bring up my own definitions because you linked to them.

I would classify this as some broader mode of possibility that would be

1. Broader than actual, as that which is actual is that which is actual.

2. Broader than what I call "real", as real alternate possibilities for any actual time T share a history with actualities that stem from T and are not sufficiently, casually determine by the antecedents leading up to T.

3. Narrower than logical, as you want to claim God could have done this in a relevant sense, not just that this doesn't invoke a contradiction.

4. Narrower than metaphysical, for the same reasons as 3.

Am I interpretting you correctly? You want to describe a scenarion in which God could have done something that to us is inconceivable?

Now for a few more central concerns of mine. I think you are using "inconceivable" in a strictly epistemic sense. That is, you are making a statement about yourself and a guess about most others as to what we are able to conceive when it comes to color, rather than making a statement about the color itself and its theoretical ability to be conceived in the manner described.

Now, if such a scenario were at least metaphysically possible, then it must be able to be concieved. If not by us, then by someone with the capacity to conceive it (eg. God). Now, if it is able to be concieved, then it does not entail any logical or metaphysical contradiction. And if it does not entail any such contradiction then it is not "inconceivable" in the same sense as an object's being opaquely red all over and blue all over in the same way and at the same time is inconceivable. For such entails a metaphysical contradiction. Rather, your color scenario is simply "inconceivable" in the sense that we can't visualize it.

But neither can I visualize every particle in the universe at the same time in my Cartesian theater. And yet I take it that the existence of those particles is entirely conceivable.

8:32 AM  

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