• Back Issue: The Nature of Necessity (2005)

    From Jeff Rubard@21:1/5 to All on Fri Nov 19 16:39:22 2021
    From an old blog.

    The Nature of Necessity
    January 24, 2005 in Epistemic Break, Ontology, Philosophy | Leave a comment

    What is it for something to be necessary? There are many different kinds of necessity, but their common characteristic is hard to see. Perhaps it is located where we would not normally look for it: in experience. Experiences seem to be largely contingent:
    if anything could not be the case, it would be a certain set of perceptions associated with an event. However, a more careful examination of the concept of experience shows that necessity impinges upon it at nearly every step. To have an experience, a
    certain content must be perceived, and this content processed by the mind. For both perception and cognition of the experience to take place, the experience must possess unique features such as establish it as an experience of one particular event; and
    the only way for this to occur is through the operation of some kind of necessity.

    For example, in an experience of motion we perceive an object moving after being struck by another object. For the content of the thought to be that of an experience of motion, causal powers are required: and the only way of thinking of these causal
    powers is as necessitating the motion of the second object. If the motion were contingent, we would be unable to process the thought that the first object caused the second to move for the reason that the experience itself contains regularities strict
    enough to be covered by causal necessity, and becomes less than an experience if stripped of the concepts employing that necessity. The very content of experience requires that elements within experience are necessarily related to each other; necessity
    serves as the glue of experience, so to speak.

    It is true that this concept of experience has a wider bearing than that of sense-experience. In the case of logical necessity, what is necessary to an experience has to do with the binding of particulars using general concepts: the experience of truth
    requires that the content of a true inference be logically necessitated. But the common element between sense-experience and other realms is that the content of an experience has to do with objectivity, and necessity determines the character of objects
    being considered. For example, the statement from philosophy of language that Aristotle was necessarily Aristotle serves to delimit a field of objects, making possible an experience of language involving proper names. The expression “experience of”
    could be omitted, provided that it is recognized that we are speaking of object-language properties entering directly into thought via ground-floor conceptualization, the Kantian understanding.

    On such an understanding, talk of necessity is shorthand for the connections which make for the objectivity of objects: the conceptual steps taken by the subject in examining a particular object are determined by what the object makes available in terms
    of properties and relations to other objects, such that we are able to think of them as such-and-such an object only in connection with a form of necessity. The form of an object, however, is not laid down for all time by this. That form is dependent on
    the rational linkages we make between statements about kinds of necessity (as in psychophysical correlations, which relate two different kinds of necessity), which in turn constitute the theories of necessity (theories of objectivity) with which we
    contemplate the conceptually monitored status of said objects. In this sequence, the real element (the understanding) is dependent on the rational (reasoning about objects), and vice versa: we could not think of objects save by thinking *of* them, and in
    so doing we make use of a vocabulary exceeding necessity by which the events contained in a particular system of objects are subject to rational constraint, considered as the discursive openness of any particular body of concepts with which we think
    objectivity as necessity.

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