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I have a (true) thought that Sherlock Holmes lives on Baker Street. But what is this thought about? Is it about Sherlock Holmes? If so, is it about something that doesn’t exist? Can we really have thoughts about non-existent objects? What makes those thoughts true or false, if there is no object for the thought’s content to correspond to?
Philosopher Michael Hicks distinguishes fiction-directed thought from world-directed thought. A fiction-directed thought is knowingly about fiction; it is a kind of pretense. It is crucial that thoughts about fictional entities be fiction-directed. If if I think my “thought” about Sherlock Holmes is about a real person – in other words, if it is world-directed – then I don’t have a thought at all, because the ostensive object of my thought does not exist. According to Hicks, world-directed thought is “environment dependent”. It takes the intentional state and the object of the intentional state to make a thought. If the latter is missing, then there is no thought. Thoughts about fictional entities, as well as about hallucinations and other non-existent objects, must be fiction-directed in order to qualify as thoughts. Put another way, thought about fiction only successfully happens when we play a game of pretense set up by the author.
Featured Blog Post
Dialetheism is the view that some contradictions are true. Put another way, dialetheists claim that there are propositions that are both true and false at the same time and in the same respect. I argue that, despite initial appearances, dialetheism is intuitively compelling and even quite obviously true. I conjure the cases of Timmy the Square Circle and Divaltopian Law to show why this must be.
This is part one of a two-part series. Part two considers the possibility of contradictions about physical reality.
Talia (audiodrama album)
"It all started when I decided to write a self-aware character." A narrative and musical journey into the mind of a writer who fears that a fictional character of his own creation may be plotting to permanently hijack his very identity and agency. The humorous, philosophical, tragic, and absurd story is accompanied by a rich and varied original score, incorporating elements of electronica, prog rock, jazz, hip-hop, chamber, choral, avant-garde, and metal. 96 min. album.