Friday, November 20, 2020

God Knows the Thing-in-itself

Epistemic status: provisional.

I can see phenomena -- qualia, concepts, etc. Are these things real? I have reason to think that when I see something in my environment, for instance, a trash can, it is certainly real. It could be that a trash can is simply the conjunction of qualia and concepts -- the thing just is its appearance.

It's not so easy to say that another personal being just is the experiencing of it. I could say "I only see a distinct personal being, but in reality what is there is just a bundle of qualia and concepts." But what I really experience is a person, who presumably has thoughts and feelings unrelated to me, who goes off somewhere else and forgets about me, and whom I can misrepresent to myself from lack of information about them, or due to various biases. Arguably, the trash can mentioned above is simply part of my experience body, but people themselves are or have experience bodies distinct from my own.

It's a real practical concern to know the person-in-themself. Can we relate to a real person, or are we always cursed to relate to the phenomena of people? While knowledge of other people is always imperfect, and subject to being broken by human formulalessness, can we at least somehow relate to the real person behind the phenomena, and if so, how?

The MSLN view is that God is the one from whose opinion all things derive, is the one through whom all things are metaphysically connected, and is the one who causes concepts to refer to what they refer to, by serving phenomena that correspond with simantic words. Therefore every thing-in-itself is connected to God, and he knows it, and through him the phenomena come that give us our acquaintance with it. So through him, we can really relate to things, even if in some strange sense, we have no idea what they are in themselves, apart from the phenomena we have seen. And so it is possible to relate to people as people, rather than as experiences.

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