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John Cowan wrote:

> Ed Heil wrote:
>
> > The concept of "not X" in its absolutely pure form, bereft of knowing
> > any particular Y which implies "not X", seems to me (at least right,
> > now, as I think about these things) to be something that exists only in
> > the realm of language (or more properly, it is something that exists in
> > our conceptual apparatus only as a result of a particular kind of
> > linguistic manipulation).
>
> How about negations of perception statements?  "I do not now see a
> unicorn" can't be expressed as "Someone sees a unicorn somewhere
> else" or "I saw/will see a unicorn at some other time"
> (and these statements are fishy anyway, since "else" and "other"
> mean "not this one" and "not now").  Yet it is a truth whose
> expression may be important; expressing it by enumerating all the
> other things in the visible field doesn't cut it.

That's very good.  You could say, "I see only...." and enumerate all
the other things in the visual field.  But it would be a mind-numbing
periphrasis.

It seems to me that looking for an object, having it in mind, but not
perceiving it in the environment, is probably as close as we come to
having a viscereal, direct experience of a negation.

Note too that here we could understand this in terms of two mental
spaces -- one to hold the item sought, another to hold the current
perceived environment.

Were one given to evolutionary-style theorizing, one might suggest
that such situations were indeed the origin of the negative.

Ed Heil ------------------------------- [log in to unmask]
"Facts are meaningless! You can use facts to prove anything
   that's even _remotely_ true!"           -- Homer Simpson