Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Round squares 2

I’ve been reading a lot of papers by Josh Parsons lately. He’s fun. I go through phases like this where I’ll find a philosopher I find easy and enjoyable to read and plough through anything of theirs I can get my hands on. Outside of philosophy I’ve had the same experience with the Best Page in the Universe, a couple of webcomics and David Mitchell’s Soapbox, but with philosophers it has the bonus that it’s work but doesn’t feel like work. That’s a big improvement on staring at a blank screen all afternoon, which is the opposite. It’s also good for people like me who fuel their research more on enthusiasm than on discipline.

Anyway, after reading what he had to say about location I think I’ve changed my mind about round squares. It’s not that they wouldn’t be possible if the kind of multiple location the example uses was coherent, but I’m not sure it is. The way Parsons sees it, and simplifying, something can be at a location by having different parts in the different parts of the location, or by being wholly at each of the parts of the location, or mixture of the two, but that’s it. The alleged round square in the other post used a mixture of these methods to occupy a disconnected location made of a square and a circle. That doesn’t make it a round square. Now Hud Hudson apparently thinks there are two other ways of being located, but Parsons argues that they don’t make a lot of sense and I think I agree with him. The way you need for the round square is one of those other ways, so maybe round squares aren’t possible after all. Common sense triumphs again.

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