Sunday, July 15, 2012

Circularity of the thin conception after a spell in the sun

Back in the rain-drenched UK.  Returning seems like entering a room with a low, darkened ceiling (I was in sun-drenched Greece, not far from Aristotle's birthplace in Stagira, though did not have time to visit).

Meanwhile, I had time to think long and carefully about Maverick's 'circularity objection' to the thin conception of existence, and I now think I missed a trick.  The thin conception rests on a definition.  But how can a definition be circular at all, so long as it truly is a definition?  Suppose we forget the word 'exists'.  Suppose I want to define the verb 'xxxxts'.  Thus

(1) A-B xxxxts =def A is B

I mean that anything of the form 'A-B xxxxts' -- for example 'A white man xxxxts' -- means exactly what 'A man is white' means.  That's all. Nothing more, nothing less.  I am explaining a term whose meaning is not initially known (the verb 'xxxxts') by the use of terms whose meaning is known.  How can that be 'circular'?  So long as the term I am trying to define does not appear in the definiens side, the right-hand side, so that I have to return to the left-hand side and so on in an infinite regress, there is not even a hint of circularity.

Why then does the Maverick even think the definition is circular?  I think I have an answer to that as well, but more tomorrow.

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