We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Thought and World

The Hidden Necessities

James Ross

Publication Year: 2008

James F. Ross is a creative and independent thinker in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of mind. In this concise metaphysical essay, he argues clearly and analytically that meaning, truth, impossibility, natural necessity, and our intelligent perception of nature fit together into a distinctly realist account of thought and world. Ross articulates a moderate realism about repeatable natural structures and our abstractive ability to discern them that poses a challenge to many of the common assumptions and claims of contemporary analytic philosophy. He develops a broadly Aristotelian metaphysics that recognizes the "hidden necessities" of things, which are disclosed through the sciences, which ground his account of real impossibility as a kind of vacuity, and which require the immateriality of the human ability to understand. Those ideas are supported by a novel account of false judgment. Ross aims to offer an analytically and historically respectable alternative to the prevailing positions of many British-American philosophers.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (35.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (37.7 KB)
pp. ix-xi

This book initiates and invites some new analytic thinking about meaning, truth, impossibility, natural necessity, and our intelligent perception of nature. The outcome is an account of thought and world that is discernibly classical in its antecedents and distinctly realist about the intelligible structures in nature and about our abstractive ability to discern them...

read more

Introduction: Structural Realism

pdf iconDownload PDF (63.8 KB)
pp. 1-9

The seventeenth-century rejection of substantial forms in things1 and the recasting of physics as quantitative terrestrial and celestial dynamics led to profound discoveries and technological applications still unfolding. But there were not good enough explanations of causation in nature, or of the relation of thought and the physical world. ...

read more

1 Necessities: Earned Truth and Made Truth

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.4 KB)
pp. 11-22

Necessities of Nature, Formal Truths, and the Blur in Between. - Necessities, as propositions and statements, divide broadly into what has to be so on account of the way things are independently of what humans ever think about (diamonds are graphite), and what has to be so because of some right way for humans to think (triangles are three sided; rooks travel on straight lines). ...

read more

2 Real Impossibility

pdf iconDownload PDF (110.4 KB)
pp. 23-43

What would explain the impossible? Not inconsistency alone because some impossibilities are consistent (vampires, a phoenix).Not causation alone because caused impossibilities are only conditional on what causes them, for example, sounds someone can't hear, road signs someone can't read. ...

read more

3 What Might Have Been

pdf iconDownload PDF (109.8 KB)
pp. 45-65

Suppositions, even convictions, about what might have been may lack earned truth value. That affects major issues. This selective exploration of counterfactuals makes three points: (i) that there are true judgments with earned truth or falsity about what might have been, earned from what actually exists; (ii) that such earned truth typically depends on the real, active, and ready natures of existing things...

read more

4 Truth

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.9 KB)
pp. 67-83

The trouble about truth comes in part from taking features of sentences to be features of thought, from imagining that something other than thinking causes truth,1 and from expecting to find a single basic, even reductive analysis of "it is true that" and "it is false that." Truth, globally, is right thinking, detectable as right to thought alone, as to what is or is not.2 ...

read more

5 Perception and Abstraction

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.3 KB)
pp. 85-113

What is perceived is what is so, though not formally identical with it, just as the magnified text for a person wearing glasses is really the same as the unmagnified text on its own. They are not strictly identical, for the text can exist without being magnified while the text thus-being-magnified and read can't exist without the unmagnified text. ...

read more

6 Emergent Consciousness and Irreducible Understanding

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.2 KB)
pp. 115-227

Though we can't explain how to assemble molecules to make a living thing, and a fortiori, how to make a conscious thing like a mouse, we are pretty confident that such life and consciousness are either resultant or emergent1 from physical organization.Human understanding seems to be different.2 ...

read more

7 Real Natures: Software Everywhere

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.9 KB)
pp. 129-148

The intelligible repeatable structures of things and processes are real. They are constitutive of particulars. There is such software everywhere in nature.We can discern, formulate, and use the structures; indeed, a good part of science and technology does that. And we can make them. ...

read more

8 Going Wrong with the Master of Falsity

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.2 KB)
pp. 149-172

The false is in the way of judgment what misses at being so. Something is wrong with the thinking. The false is as plastic as truth (cf. chapter 4) and has special problems of its own, particularly about the content of false judgment. The rest, like a false statement or false sentences, is explanatorily derivative. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (172.1 KB)
pp. 173-205

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.8 KB)
pp. 207-215


pdf iconDownload PDF (116.4 KB)
pp. 217-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780268091682
E-ISBN-10: 0268091684
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268040567
Print-ISBN-10: 0268040567

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2008