Apples to Apples

Allan HavinlingCommunication, Leaving Truth2 Comments

I am taking care of my granddaughter this week while my daughter is taking some time off. The little one is just starting to associate sounds with objects. The more pleasing an object is to her, the more likely it is to have a name other than “bah”. “Apple” is one of those objects with its own name, being called “bahpo”. But it seems that “bahpo” only refers to the red ball that is “apple”. When I slice it up and give her a slice, the slice is not “bahpo”. I tried my best to convince her that both the slice and what was left of the red ball were both “bahpo”. It wasn’t easy and in end she started pointing at all sorts of things and saying “bahpo”; not exactly what I had in mind.

The funny, interesting, and philosophical part of all this is that it never occurred to me that a slice of apple would not be “apple”. Indeed, you may not think it is either. But taking into account the features that matter to me, it makes sense to call them both “apple”. This is perhaps going a step beyond the anthropocentrism of knowledge that Keith talks about and making it even more personal.

So which of us knows the thing in itself, reality’s own divisions, the Truth? Does reality even offer up “apple” in the first place, or do we just divide up reality in that way because the consequences of doing so are advantageous? As I understand it, a central thesis of “Leaving Truth” is that our divisions of reality can never be presumed to be realities own divisions, so everything I might tell you about my apple is and cannot be other than my experience of things important to me.

And a slice of apple is still apple.

2 Comments on “Apples to Apples”

  1. Gary Scheidegger

    Just a follow-up: This morning my granddaughter slapped the apple slice saying “bahpo”, then turned it over and slapped it some more. She gets it. That which proceeds from apple can also be apple (a little Trinitarian in the making).

  2. Keith Sewell

    Still dark here, but I’m now in the guest house; on 29th floor, with a huge picture window, and view out over slowly awakening Mumbai. Just need somebody to awake in the kitchen and make coffee.

    I liked ‘Apples to Apples’ a lot, and it certainly goes right to the core (no pun intended) of LT. We name – and thereby divide – reality according to our preferences and needs. That’s why, to return to one of your old analogies, we can be sure that a mouse divides it very differently from ourselves. Its also why Plato’s foundation level turn-around between the horse and cart; in saying that reality not only contains ‘universals’ (in our case, the true and eternal apple, of which all merely observable apples are temporary/inferior copies) but that the universals are in some sense more real than their observable manifestations, was such a vast mistake.

    It’s also interesting that your granddaughter and Hume, and Isaac Newton all choose the apple for making their point. Must be something particularly appealing about apples.

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