Philosophical lecture

Ir IS winmx HELD that the capacity for spatial thought depends upon the ability to refer to physical things. The argument is that the identification of places depends upon the identification of things; places in themselves are all very much alike and can be distinguished only by their spatial relations to things. So one could not so much as think about places unless one could think about things (Strawson, 1959). It has to be acknowledged that our identifications of places are greatly enriched by our ability to refer to physical things. But, as we shall see, it is possible to identify places without identifying objects. 'Ihis raises the question whether there is any fundamental role that physical objects do play in our spatial thinking. I begin with the ways in which reference to physical objects enriches our capacity to identify places. We shall then consider whether reference to places as such demands reference to objects, and if not, what special role there might be for physical things in spatial thinking. A physical object has a certain causal structure. We can bring this out by reflecting on the way in which the properties of a physical thing affect its behaviour. Some of the properties of a thing just are propensities for it to behave in particular ways in particular circumstances. For example, being elastic, or brittle, are dispositional charac- 'teristics, they say that the thing will behave one way rather than another under pressure. But other properties of a thing, such as its size and..
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