Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Communalizing Frege’s Realm of Thoughts −An outline of a theory of thinking as moving in a collective archive

    Gloria Mähringer 

Date: 15 May 2019

Time: 15:00

Place: Seminari de Filosofia UB

Abstract

Frege, in The Thought (1918), defends a theory of thoughts as abstract items that we grasp in the activity of thinking. These items, Frege holds, are neither subjective imaginations nor parts of the external physical world. They are depicted as (1) mind-independent and (2) sharable with potentially every thinker. I will argue that a theory of the ontology of thoughts has two possibilities of accounting for the features (1) and (2). Both of these possibilities, I claim, are compatible with Frege’s central claims. Which possibility we choose has to be decided on other grounds. One possibility is to presuppose what Baier, in her The Commons of Mind (1997), labels a “social view of reason”, the other possibility is to presuppose a radically objectivist view of reason. Frege is commonly taken as defending a version of the latter. However, I will argue that this does not follow from his arguments in The Thought, which, I claim, are plausible and illuminating, but compatible with a social view of reason. I propose a version of a social view of reason according to which thinking is moving in a virtual space, which fits the central descriptions of a Fregean realm of thoughts but is understood as collectively created and, in a specific sense, fictional. It is fitting to call it a collective archive, or an archive of collective fictions. The ontology of thoughts I am defending depicts thoughts as individually mind-independent, but collectively mind-dependent.