Determining and “Nothing”
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on March 27, 2006
In a previous post I described an issue which appears when talking about determining and given. (if you have stumbled into this post, please instead of reading it directly, read the posts as recomended here)
In my thinking the given can meet abstraction only on one place – nothing. Ok, it suddenly might sound unnecessarily metaphysical, and vague, but let me explain how it falls within the whole explanation of the semantics of abstraction, attention and determining as explained.
We said that abstraction as act, is abstracting from some things and its result is something given. But, it is possible to abstract from everything, and in that case there is nothing left, the result is only impossibility to attend to anything (else), impossibility for further determining. And here we have that place where the result is abstract, we have given which is nothing but this impossibility.
Now, let’s say that we have some given (as result of previous abstraction), and that:
- We can do certain abstraction (let’s call it A1) on it
- By abstracting-from (whatever is given by) that abstraction (A1) we are given nothing
Here we have case where we can say that the given is determined as that certain abstraction.
This might be not clear, so here are some concrete examples:
Let’s see how this would function in case of quale being determined as red.
As result of focus, we are given a quale. If we can determine this quale as red (e.g. if we can focus on its redness), and if by abstracting from it being red, we get nothing (else), we end up abstractly with “red”. So, we say that quale is determined as red.
The opposite example would be quale, where we can determine it as blue(e.g. we can focus on its blueness), but where after abstracting from that blue, there is still something left. By trying to focus on the that which is left, we might determine it as green for example. But the moment our focus goes from blue to green, we are aware that we have not determined it (as by abstracting from it being green, we are not left with nothing). I hope that in talking about this, I suceeded to remind you about your first encounters with what we call cyan, and your fight to determine the quale.
I will try to show in next posts how the account of determining as explored here, has nice explanatory power. Stay tuned.
Note 1: I guess it is this significance of the undeterminable being (which is given) and its equality to nothing (as abstraction from everything), that is the reason Hegel takes those two concepts as a starting point of his Science of Logic. Seems to me that this is only point where given can meet the abstract.
Note 2:The notion of abstract impossibility goes nicely with those parts of the explanation of meaning of determine (from the dictionaries) which mention “to ascertain definately”, or “to determine with certainty”.
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