Pursuant to a conversation in the The Philosophy SE Symposium, the conversation made it's way to this statement:

[Mereologically nihilistic] philosophical theory does not say that we cannot feel. For example, I can see this chair, I can touch it, I will feel tactile sensations, I will smell perfume. The essence of my question is that our sensations are still felt and it is impossible to refute this, isn't it?

According to SEP's article on mereology:

...nothing would be part of anything else and parthood would collapse to identity. (This account is sometimes referred to as mereological nihilism, in contrast to the mereological universalism expressed by (P.15i); see van Inwagen 1990: 72ff.[25] Van Inwagen himself endorses a restricted version of nihilism, which leaves room for composite living things. So does Merricks 2000, 2001, whose restricted nihilism leaves room for composite conscious things.)

If Van Inwagen's and Merricks's positions (whatever they may be) leave room for "composite conscious things" it seems generally accepted epistemological modality suggests there are possibilities of mereological theories that exclude them; by the exclusion of conscious entities, qualia would be excluded, and thus a position without sensation occurring at all.

Perhaps then, there are mereological "somethingists" which deny that sensations are felt? Or perhaps there are other nihilistic positions that reject senses, sense-data, or qualia?

In any case, are there philosophical theories that deny the ontological commitment to feeling or sensation or qualia or sense-data broadly or narrowly? Are there lines of attack or defense against it in the literature, what to me, is an intuitively dissonant notion?

  • I can not understand what the title question has to do with mereology. How is existence of proper parts related to illusoriness of feelings? Is it supposed to be "sensory nihilism" or "qualia nihilism"?
    – Conifold
    Nov 21 '20 at 23:20
  • @Conifold The primary question in regards to philosophical positions that sensations are felt is the lodestar in guiding the inquiry, I'll emend the question.
    – J D
    Nov 21 '20 at 23:36
  • Frankly, I think mereology is beside the point and only confuses the issue. Dennett is famous for "consciousness is an illusion" line, and he has well known critics like Nagel or Chalmers. But you know that, so I am not sure what the question is asking for exactly.
    – Conifold
    Nov 22 '20 at 1:52
  • 1
    @Conifold Thanks. Asking on behalf of Android who seems to maintain that despite the argument that consciousness is an illusion, there is a recognition that even in the illusion, the illusory sensation as a function of consciousness itself is not rejected. I suspect many might consider it an analytical proposition and therefore it's begging to argue, but I didn't think on it. I'm trying to excavate something well-formed from his/her question.
    – J D
    Nov 22 '20 at 3:15
  • @Conifold It took me a while to get what the whole thing is about, but what I understand is that as soon as you take mereology as being the only base of "fact", "existence", and "reality" (as Dummett may be seen to do), they really would have to say that we don't "really" feel sensations, which would be a classical category error IMHO. And there is nothing wrong with asking something one knows the answer to, really.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Nov 22 '20 at 14:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.