Is today’s “today” tomorrow’s “yesterday”? On the cognitive significance of thought and discourse about the self, time and space

Matheus Valente, Editor Associado da Manuscrito, Pesquisador em Universitat de Barcelona e Universitat de València, València, Espanha.

Logo do periódico ManuscritoThis special issue of Manuscrito is composed by five critical notices of the recently published book The Indexical Point of View (Routledge, 2021), by Vojislav Božičković (Professor of Philosophy at Belgrade University), followed by the author’s responses to each contribution.

The participants in the debate are the following specialists in the philosophy of language: Eduarda Calado (Some comments regarding Frege’s criterion of correct indirect speech report in The Indexical Point of View), Peter Ludlow (Reflections on The Indexical Point Of View: On Cognitive Significance And Cognitive Dynamics) , Ludovic Soutif & Carlos Márquez (Travis-like cases and adequate ideas: A critical notice of Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point of View), María de Ponte (Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point Of View. Some comments) and Eros Corazza (Some notes on Cognitive Dynamic: Inspired by V. Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point Of View).

This issue of Manuscrito will surely be of interest to all those keen to know more about recent philosophical debates in self-knowledge, indexical belief and the intersubjectivity of thought.

The literature on indexicality in both thought and language is so extensive that readers aiming to delve into this issue for the first time might be unable to avoid a sense of vertigo. It is thus very fortunate that The Indexical Point of View, the outcome of several decades of first-tier research by Vojislav Božičković, single-handedly offers us: a comprehensive introduction to the problematics surrounding indexical thought, the main theories that have been proposed to address them, as well as the author’s own attempt to remedy his predecessors’ limitations by offering his own positive view.

Božičković surveys the views of luminaries such as Frege, Kaplan, Perry, Lewis, Evans and Stalnaker, carefully pinpointing what each of these authors got right and where they went wrong. The cognitive significance of those thoughts we express by means of indexical expressions (“I”, “here”, ”now”, “this” etc.) is particularly elusive. It cannot be equated with the linguistic meaning of these expressions since it is possible to express thoughts with the same cognitive significance by means of distinct indexical expressions.

This possibility is famously illustrated by Frege in The Thought, in a passage that Božičković dubs “the Retention Claim”: “If someone wants to say today what he expressed yesterday using the word ‘today’, he will replace this word with ‘yesterday’.” But if the same thought can be re-expressed by “today” and “yesterday”, expressions with distinct meanings, how can we account for its cognitive significance. More generally, how do we explain the dynamics that are necessary in order to retain indexical beliefs across time as well as to share them with each other?

Image of a sign in the middle of the desert with the words "Future" pointing to the right and "Past" pointing to the left

Imagem: Hadija Saidi.

Božičković’s own positive view, previously defended in a series of papers published in some of the best philosophy journals, and now reformulated in its clearest and most convincing form, is based on the idea that the retention of an indexical belief is based on the internal continuity of a thinkers’ beliefs, and her capacity to unreflectively take for granted that an object represented by a series of beliefs is the same.

This allows Božičković to overcome a series of problems related to the impossibility of both linguistic meaning and referential content to characterize thought’s cognitive significance, to properly account for cases of confused subjects who lose track of their surroundings (such as the notorious story of Rip van Winkle, who sleeps for 20 years thinking only one night has passed) and to explain in which sense thought must be epistemically transparent.

Finally, Božičković’s overall discussion suggests a way to explain in which sense indexical thought forms a unified class in spite of the apparent differences between self-thoughts, temporal thoughts, spatial thoughts and perceptual/demonstrative thoughts. Indexical thoughts are, Božičković convincingly argues, based on the same underlying cognitive mechanism of representing as the same both diachronically and intersubjectively.

To read the articles, access

VALENTE, M. Special Issue on The Indexical Point of View: INTRODUCTORY NOTES. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 1-5 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.MV. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/xK6JLjmn88JXYXsc6qr6VTr/

BARBOSA, E.C. Some comments regarding Frege’s criterion of correct indirect speech report in The Indexical Point of View. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 6-19 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.EC. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/5VRPs6LLLg5XcXGt5FknDSn/

BOŽIČKOVIĆ, V. Reply to Eduarda Calado Barbosa. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 20-22 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.LC. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/jbS3DDwxPHXpjhKPct7NmCx/?lang=en

SOUTIF, L. and SOSA, C.M.M. Travis-like cases and adequate ideas: A critical notice of Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point of View. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 23-52 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.LC. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/66CRTDhpbFNQwjxQccbv5gs/

BOŽIČKOVIĆ, V. Reply to Ludovic Soutif and Carlos Marquez. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 53-59 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.RL. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/DxdxSTRpWdWMDsQs8zvS9BG/

LUDLOW, P. Reflections on The Indexical Point Of View: On Cognitive Significance And Cognitive Dynamics, by Vojislav Bozickovic. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 60-73 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.PL. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/zSkY8gNcfsYB3KwNLnyDvvD/

BOŽIČKOVIĆ, V. Reply to Peter Ludlow. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 74-83 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.RP. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/7MLkXQd3C76vYvkxZydJvTH/

CORAZZA, E. Some notes on Cognitive Dynamic: Inspired by V. Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point Of View. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 84-98 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.EO. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/cxQ64P5wxnGpLNndScxyC6G/

BOŽIČKOVIĆ, V. Reply to Eros Corazza. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 99-104 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.RC. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/BXSCFgnfx58t538p37hwZzP/

PONTE, M. Bozickovic’s The Indexical Point Of View. Some comments. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 105-131 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.MP. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/FWwfrXHX3zw3WrrjxnywWYK/

BOŽIČKOVIĆ, V. Reply to María de Ponte. Manuscrito [online]. 2022, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 132-143 [viewed 23 September 2022]. https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2022.V45N3.RM. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/a/HMxNfBPTQj4L8QxjJfC3Ypp/

External links

Almanack Special issue: vol. 45, no 3: https://www.scielo.br/j/man/i/2022.v45n3/

 

Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

VALENTE, M. Is today’s “today” tomorrow’s “yesterday”? On the cognitive significance of thought and discourse about the self, time and space [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2022 [viewed ]. Available from: https://humanas.blog.scielo.org/en/2022/09/23/is-todays-today-tomorrows-yesterday-on-the-cognitive-significance-of-thought-and-discourse-about-the-self-time-and-space/

 

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