"if Hero is to think of unperceived particulars existing simultaneously with, and in relation to, perceived particulars, he must have simultaneous spatial concepts, and not those that turn essentially upon change" (Evans, "Things Without the Mind," Collected Essays, 290).
"...It is not the opposite of Capgras syndrome, but a natural consequence of the same cause: a loss of the sense of a unique whole. Such 'delusional misidentification' applies not only to people, but to objects: another patient of mine began a vendetta against someone who, she believed, had entered her bedroom and changed all her clothes for copies of a slightly inferior quality. It can even apply to places: one individual held that there were eight 'imposter' cities, duplicating his own, and said he had spent the last eight years wandering between them, without finding the real one. There were also eight duplicates of his wife and children, each duplicate living in a separate duplicate city with a double of the patient" (McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary, 54).
_________1. Objects in the World of Sounds
In "Things without the Mind," Evans examines Strawson's famous exploration in Individuals
of the possibility of a world wherein the only sensible qualities are sounds. This is an indirect way of testing whether we need space, as well as time, in order to have a conceptual scheme recognizable as our own--a conceptual scheme in which "it is logically possible that such [auditory] items should exist whether or not they were being observed, and hence should continue to exist through an interval during which they were not being observed" (Strawson, Individuals
, 72) . (Of course, in reality, sounds do require space in order to travel; but if one lost vision and touch, the world one would thereby inhabit might seem purely auditory and spaceless.) Both Evans and Strawson think a thought experiment of this kind shows that space, or something that performs the role of space in allowing for simultaneous instances of the same universal, is in fact necessary for a conceptual scheme like our own, though Evans thinks Strawson makes his argument--to the extent that it is an argument, and not simply an exploration--weaker than it could be through the use of a sound against which to locate all other sounds, the "master-sound." The master-sound, Evans thinks, is too obviously weak, as it does not allow for a distinction between qualitative and numerical identity, in the following way.
Imagine that you are the person Evans calls Hero (the 'hero' of our tale about the sound-world), who inhabits the purely auditory world. How do you tell whether the sound you hear at time t1
is the same sound
you heard at t0
? There is, in the background, a single continuing master-sound, which changes in pitch; other sounds can be 'located at' different pitch levels of the master-sound, with which they correlate. The pitch-level of the master-sound, and your memory of the other sounds and the pitch-levels of the master-sound with which they correlated, is your only 'landmark.' There is, Evans thinks, no way of deciding whether a sound S2 is a new instance of a previous sound, or another sound altogether. Is it "one of those" again, a token of a certain type, or a distinct entity? As sounds occur in serial order, Hero can never directly compare two sounds to say whether or not they are of the same type. Further, he can never say they are completely identical. They aren't; they occur at different times. The patient with right-hemisphere brain damage in my second epigraph seems to suffer from the inability to consider identical two 'instances' of a person, or a place; City at t1
and City at t2
are, for him, different cities. Inhabitants of the normal world do not usually suffer from this problem, however, as we have the ability to think about objects continuing to exist, and to be the same individuals, though some of their observable properties may change. (McGilchrist believes that this dysfunction points to a role for the right hemisphere of the brain in recognizing and reidentifying individuals.)
The largest part of Evans's essay is taken up with an attempt to say what is
necessary for a conceptual scheme that allows for simultaneous instances of the same universal. Someone who lives in a purely serial, purely auditory world, he thinks, will not develop a theory
that allows for primary, non-relational properties of objects. That is, the auditory world can only tell you about what exists insofar as you hear it; you are a Berkeley-an ear--the world is only what you can hear of it. Both Strawson and Evans gesture at ways one might draw conclusions about where sounds might be when one isn't hearing them (one sound drowning another out, for example), but neither think they're very compelling. Sounds don't really seem to demand such a theory. The spatial world--at least insofar as we see
it--does. Evans does not make explicit why he thinks this is so, but I think the implied answer is, distance
distance. If something can get farther away, yet remain itself, surely it can go out of view and remain itself. But while this feature of our visual world seems to prompt the development of a naive physical theory in which unperceived objects can continue to exist, Evans seems not to want to tie concepts of primary properties of objects to any one sensory modality. For this reason the congenitally blind can have such concepts; if primary properties are not limited to connection with a single sensory modality, it shouldn't matter whether one modality is lost: "it is no more possible to have a purely sensory concept of hardness than it is to have a purely kinaesthetic conception of what it is for one's legs to be crossed, or to have a purely muscular conception of the motion of one's body, or to master the concept of electricity solely by learning to recognize electric shocks" (270).
An inhabitant of the auditory world would have no reason to believe sound 'objects' exist when no one is around to hear them, since he has no concepts of 'primary' sound properties--properties not inherently dependent on their being heard
. This, roughly, is Evans's conclusion. 2. Objects in and of the Mind
What conclusions from the sound-world can we draw about the way we identify and reidentify our own mental states? It seems, few, as we are not inhabitants of such a world; we do have access to things we more properly call 'objects.' The problems that plague Hero--not being able to distinguish numerical from qualitative identity, not knowing whether or how to divide a process into distinct events--still arise insofar as we aim to identify particulars to which others have only indirect access, and which we know mainly in serial order. But I don't think we need be so deeply troubled as Hero might be (or as we ought to be on his behalf), for this is not the whole of our world.
For bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts, minus any references they make to the outside world, one will have to decide, based upon one's purposes, whether to consider Sensation1 and Sensation 2 instances of a single type. Since they occur at different times, they will never be thoroughly identical. But it is much less problematic for normal humans not trapped in a purely auditory universe, as we can simply borrow and adapt our ordinary ways of handling instances of universals, to suit our purpose. There is no reason we cannot refer demonstratively to our mental states (this pain
, that sadness
Keeping track of them makes slightly less sense, however. One can make successive reports tracking the continuation, increase or decrease of some sensation (e.g., anxiety), but--absent rigorous Buddhist training--it's hard to see what it could mean to 'keep one's eye on it' in the same way one keeps one's eyes on an object in one's visual field. (However, the 'keeping track of' function is not so literal with indexicals: one doesn't keep one's eye on the day with 'today' in anything like a literal sense.) If I keep my eye on my current mental state and note that the anxiety has lessened, it seems what I'm keeping my eye on is not my anxiety, but my current mental state. I can't follow the anxiety offstage and see where it's gone. (Sensations are not like rabbits.) Thus the 'reidentification' of mental states can never be literal, as it can be with rabbits and other space-occupying entities. I might identify another instance of a state I've experienced before, and I may say--"it's that otherworldly feeling again," but it is not literally, numerically, the same feeling. So talk of reidentification will only be of state-types. The only thing one can continuously monitor is one's current mental state, and that is too vague to admit of reidentification.
Sensations, thoughts, emotions and sounds are not--obviously--the only
particulars in our universe, if indeed we wish to call them particulars at all. They are dependent upon the persons in whom they are located, and we refer to them as particulars, rather than as instances of types, very rarely. In what sense, then, can we refer to them on an Evansian view? In Varieties of Reference
, mental states are treated in the chapter on self-reference, so I believe the idea would be that we refer to mental states as states of persons
. This will say enough to position a mental state referred to non-demonstratively in the objective world. It will also say enough to refer to someone else's mental state demonstratively ('that otherworldly feeling you keep having'); you need to know it's mine, and that I've had it on certain past occasions. For demonstrative reference to one's own mental states, it is less clear whether to use the requirements on the use of the indexical 'I' to refer to oneself, or the requirements on using 'this' and 'that' to refer to objects. In any case, the stricter of the two sets, the requirements for 'I,' would probably be met, so long as one possessed the ability to locate oneself in some way in space; the information- and action-links are clearly fulfilled if in fact the states to which you're demonstratively referring are your own mental states, barring complicated multi-brain cross-wiring cases.
Objectively speaking, mental states will be located at the persons whose states they are
. This requirement seems reasonable enough, as we can't conceive of mental states occurring outside of minds. We will not
be able to say, "If you were to go to position x [Bob's mind], you would experience sadness," however, as they are not events everyone can view in the same way; though perhaps we can say that if you go to Bob, you can discover sadness there."