A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

Notions, Determinations, A Priori and Definitions

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on May 3, 2008

  1. The thought (as a proposition, true or false) is always about something.
  2. It is about something that we are thinking of (as subjective process directed towards that something). [more on thinking/thought distinction here]
  3. When we are thinking about something, we have that certain something “in mind” (not in Cartesian sense, of course).
  4. Be it individual or a notion, it is something that we became aware of through our experience.
  5. By becoming aware of some notion, we have “on our hands” not just simple fact, not just a some causally based reference.
  6. Notions are not collections of facts. (Facts are impossible without notions.)
  7. This ability to be aware of a notion, to “have it in mind” (to think about it), to remember it, and so on, is what makes it possible to figure out new propositions (new determinations) about the notion.
  8. Because the determinations, while not coming with the notion (notion is not collection of facts), are possible or not depending on the notion.
  9. As such, a priori understanding, is not understanding which relates two sides – it is an understanding of the possible determinations within one and the same notion.
  10. As determinations are something which is only possible or not, they can’t straightly be “read of” from the notion itself.
  11. Thinking needs to inquire if certain determination is or isn’t applicable. It is speculative process, and it can be easy, but also very hard. (think of different proofs in math, where two determinations of some notion are related)

Relation to “definitions”:

  1. When we become aware of a notion, we can “have it in mind”, we can think of it.
  2. We can baptize and refer to whatever we “have in mind” (again, this shouldn’t be read literally, it is just a common phrase which is used in normal speech. In any case, to not be misunderstood I put it in quotes).
  3. In becoming aware of a notion, we aren’t becoming aware of some kind of definition.
  4. What is called definitions are pointers – it is using some characteristic determination of the notion, in order to remind someone of the notion. However no characteristic determination is the notion itself.
  5. That’s why definitions can be hard too. They require the same kind of thinking which is present in the figuring out of a priori truths.
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