Wednesday, July 1, 2009
One thought about Rik's paper
I wanted to comment on Rik's great paper. I think I disagree, but I really like his project. I'll put my challenge this way. Consider two cases. The first is the case of the paralyzed person who nonetheless can commemorate in a way that is what we were calling "parasitic" upon the more dominant examples. (Say a paralyzed person prays the Rosary without actually fingering the beads). Here we have a person who commemorates the mysteries simply through the acquiring of certain mental and brain states. Now take the case of a Carthaginian Christian who was not discovered in the Decian persecution. After the fallout, the person claims that she would have succumbed to persecution had she only been found out (though in fact she was not found out). This seems to be a claim of being in the state of conditionally willing the commemoration of the Roman gods (and some of their actions, whatever those might have been taken to be). Are the states of the paralyzed person and the Carthaginian all that different? Clearly there's a kind of conditional state for the paralyzed person, too. ("I would be saying the 'Glory Be' between the first and second decades right now if only I were able to move my fingers"). The most obvious difference between the paralyzed person and the Carthaginian is that the paralyzed person wants to commemorate in the full physical sense, but the Carthaginian does not want to commemorate in the full physical sense. Nonetheless, they both are in a kind of counterfactual state like the following: "If circumstances c were actual, I would will to commmemorate in the full physical sense." So why does the first case count as commemoration (even if it is parasitic on more full-blooded examples) while the second case (of the Carthaginian) does not? Rik may have an answer to this, I'm just interested to hear what it might be.