False Judgment: Privation and the Master of Falsity
1. Re: Analogy between statements and judgments. 302
2. Truth and falsity are not semantic relations. 307
3. False judgments are of a variety according to the thinkin 308
4. What amounts to nonsense varies with the discourse. 314
5. The master of falsity. 317
6. The notion of form adapts to context. 322
7. What we think is really so, so long as that notion is squeezed into the shape of each area of discourse when we use it. 328
False Judgment: Privation and the Master of Falsity
Falsity is derivative from truth, but not its shadow. It is the privation of the sameness of reality and what one thinks that is truth, and thus, is as plastic as truth and reality, but differently, too. So, falsity is privation of the identity required for truth of a particular sort of judgment, e.g., mathematical, perceptual, memorial, constructive, eschatological,pragmatic, and so forth. The notions of "identity" and "sameness" here, adapt analogously as well. Neither can be rendered as "everything true of the one is true of the other," because that is conceptually circular.
1. Re: Analogy between statements and judgments.
Peter Geach  warned against our forcing the analogy, based on the common vocabulary, between statements and judgments, because it breaks down. For instance, there can be falsity in the sense of falsehood in statements but not in judgments (except for the oddity of lying to oneself, which is not the same as self-deception), and, as will be explained, judgments, though temporal, are not in time in the way statements are, and all expressed judgments require a background of unexpressed judgments, and all judgments in focussed awareness require an unfocused awareness of commitment. We make far more false judgments than are ever expressed in statements, even in inner discourse. Most of our background conviction is never put into words, and perhaps cannot be because of its complexity and inaccessibility to awareness, though its presence is frequently revealed by our surprise when a foreground judgment goes wrong, or an expectation is defeated, or by the qualifications and distinctions we produce when a statement is challenged, or when we think we need to revise our thought and, of course, by our recognizing that what we've said is inadequate to what we think, "I didn't mean that." Another reason judgments vastly exceed statements is indicated by music reading [see below], and by ordinary reading as well as by our ordinary speaking, our choice of words.
A lot of what we perceive and believe is so vague, incomplete and mixed with other convictions that item by item truth of falsity has to be an idealization. Consider the whole awareness when we look out a window; the commitment is too complex to be made into a list; its details, unless we have a focus of special interest, will remain merged, especially our subjective states, say, of anxiety, comfort, or expectation. Of course a paradigm single judgment is the driver's disgusted decision that his tire is flat. And a paradigm single false judgment is saying to oneself "Oops, I forgot my keys" (when they are in the next pocket). But that's not the way judgments typically occur: they happen in clumps, often with variant backbones, some rigid and well defined, others flaccid and flowing. And as mentioned before, clumped judgments typically get dislodged by a loss of confidence or interest, whereas statements more typically get picked off by information.
The psychology of judgment, as well as the timing, the fact that parallel processing is the norm, that judgments can be instantaneous and overlapping, occurrent and dispositional at once, complete before being stated and lasting long after the statement, abandoned during statement, make clear that even statements, even more broadly, sayings-to-oneself, are not the same as judgments. The stream of judgments even for you to read these words is entirely distinct from any chain of statements or sayings to yourself. I was thinking of explaining to some students the failure of the projects of analytic philosophy since 1920. The whole panorama appeared to thought. But as I planned to explain the failure of the verification project, I saw it would require many statements, and so would every other item (foundationalism, the ornamentation of formal logic, the supposed scientification of philosophy, the linguistic turn, the abandonment of Humean premises, etc). Still, they were all present in the initial judgment, for after all, that was what I was thinking.
Only judgments are intrinsically true or false. The paradoxes are an example. We simply cannot make the judgment "This judgment is false." Even the Cretan cannot think "Cretans always lie" unless he's thinking about what Cretans say, not what they think. Besides it takes nearly a minute to make a 100-word statement aloud. The judgment is "on" throughout, unless abandoned, and usually does not end with the utterance. Other times, the judgment is complete and gone from awareness before the utterance is complete. Sometimes the judgments need the words, not just trivially as in "not all judgments are expressed in words," but because of the nature of the conceptions involved, e.g., certain technical abstractions, like "diatonic intervals are not all equal." Nevertheless, I definitely do not endorse the false view that understanding is inseparable from language; some of it is, but as I will illustrate with the example of one's reading music, most of our judgments have no linguistic form at all. There is not time for most of our convictions to be expressed, even subvocally. In the very activity of expression, conviction envelopes expression and runs ahead. We do not pick our words, usually, with expressed judgments, even when we pick them deliberately; yet picking one's words, like hearing what another says, requires a stream of judgments.
Thinking can be right about being, about the condition of things, about features of made-up objects, and about anything we can think about at any level of abstraction. Still, not every judgment of every kind has a shadow-judgment that is false, as "I exist" shows. That's a mistake I cannot make. Similarly, I am convinced that W.V.O. Quine is still living. But I cannot become convinced that W.V.O. Quine never existed (assuming no catastrophe to my memory or reference). Something like that can happen when one's conviction is piggybacked referentially upon someone else's expressed belief, as is the case with my belief that Paracelsus was an alchemist [Ross, 1969, Chapter 2]. So there wouldn't be any paradox if no such person ever existed. For when we say "such a person" we are restraining reference within the limits of my description. Analogously, a child's references to Santa Claus are piggybacked on the purported references of parents and retailers none of whom think there really is such a person.
If my judgment is true when what I think is what is so, adapted analogously to context, then my judgment is false when what I think is not something that is so, or when I think not to be so, something that is so, similarly adapted. As illustrated below, what is so is a variety, not just of formal and empirical realities, but of states like "He's jealous," "The Dean is unsympathetic to our proposal," "He does not understand me," "She dislikes me," "She's exciting," "The play's badly directed" -- and more.
What we have to explain is not what Descartes attempted in the Fourth Meditation, namely, how we make false judgments, e.g., as he thought, by not restraining our commitments within the bounds of clear and distinct ideas, but how the privation of identity of judgment and reality, that false judgment consists in, comes about. That comes to thought's running ahead of or falling behind the relevant reality. How that is, is varied, though basically it is engineered by imagination aided by memory, instinct and sense.
Aquinas treated the question of how false judgments come about in Summa Theologica [Ia., q.15] "On Falsity" but, in my opinion, without much progress over Aristotle's saying, which Aquinas quotes in Metaphysics [IV, 27]: "for a thing is false ... in as much as something is said or seems to be what it is not, or not to be what it really is." Aristotle, with the clause "or seems to be what it is not" covered false gold, false colors and false charm -- cases I think should be brushed aside for now. And Aristotle otherwise restricts his consideration to what is said, as distinct from what is thought. But what is said is derivative in both truth and falsity from what is thought.
Although Aquinas holds a "conformity to reality" (adequatio mentis et rei) view of true judgment and a privation of conformity view of false judgment, and although his view is based upon the abstraction of forms, so that it is the same form that is actualizing the understanding and actualizing real things when we judge truly that, say, Socrates is snubnosed, and although both Aquinas and Aristotle say the knower becomes the thing known, it still seems as if the product of the intellect's putting things together (composing) and distinguishing things (dividing), is a proposition which is not the same, even though abstract, as the concrete situation affirmed, but some kind of representation of it.
Now, maybe that is not the better way to read them. So, in so far as Aquinas, and Aristotle, might be better interpreted as holding that in true judgment the conformity of understanding to reality consists in real sameness (though the reality in the intellect is abstract while apart from understanding it is usually particular), they would be the relevant originators of the standpoint I am trying to expand and support.
Nevertheless, neither Aquinas nor Aristotle explains how non-existents can be components of judgments or how empty situations can be the content judged: "Zeus is father of the gods and dwells on Mt. Olympus." Certainly the absence of such divinities cannot make the judgment that there are such beings false in any sense of "make" that goes beyond, perhaps, conditional logical sufficiency. Privation of sameness can, of course, be caused only by thinking that lacks identification with reality. In the watery sense in which absence of the relevant reality is logically sufficient to make a judgment false, the sufficiency is not explanatory but consequential. Judgment makes the content of what is false, just as it does of the impossible. How that happens is so varied that only illustrations will suffice to display the common theme.
Aquinas opined [S.T., Ia, q.17, a.3, ad 2], "the intellect is always right as to first principles," giving as a reason that "self-known principles are such as are known as soon as the terms are understood." There are plenty of those, things so obvious that if we are able to make any judgment of the sort at all, we cannot go wrong: "things change," "things move," "things cease to be," "some things might not have happened" and so forth. Nevertheless, his reason, "that the predicate is contained in the definition of the subject," is mistaken and misleading. That is not why we see such things to be true once we understand what is claimed. These cases are not like "there are eight kilometers in five miles" or "U.S. tons are 2000 pounds." Instead, understanding what is claimed is enough for us to see that what is claimed is what is so. To think it, is to see that it is so -- even in some cases, to see why it is so.
Aquinas postulated conceptual inclusions as an explanation of our knowledge in cases where there is no such inclusion and where it would not explain our knowing at all. That sort of appeal to conceptual inclusions was often repeated, and later, converted to linguistic inclusions. It took many forms; for instance, from Leibniz's idea that all truths are analytic for God, to Hume's idea that there are truths by relations of ideas, to Carnap's idea that some sentences are L-true on syntactic and semantic grounds, relatively to the language. One form, derived from Hume on relations of ideas, is that some sentences are true because the meaning of the predicate is included in or includes the meaning of the subject: triangles have three sides; spinsters are unmarried females. Furthermore, it gradually emerged that such relations are the only necessities there are [Ayer, 1952, p. 31]. The outcome has been little advance in explaining truth or necessity and negligence about explaining falsity and impossibility.
2. Truth and falsity are not semantic relations.
There can be well-formed false statements, and of course sentences, where there cannot be actual judgments; so the two diverge, as mentioned. Reflection will disclose that there is no semantic relation of sentences that is "true" or "false." There simply cannot be a pairing up of parts of sentences with parts of the world or paring up of whole sentences with parts of the world that will constitute the sentence's being true or false. That is, in principle, because there is no sentence that cannot express different judgments in different contexts. So the same whole sentential organization, right down to the "deep structure" (if there is any such thing more than trivially), can be the same when one occurrence is true (in the sense of expressing a true judgment) and another is false [R. Cartwright, 1987, p. 33ff, p. 55ff]. Notice that although truth has been said to be a semantic relation and that relation has been said to be expressed in the Tarski formula, no such relation has ever been shown to exist. Had there been an ideal language with no equivocation, no contextual adaptation of meaning or of reference, entirely nominalistic in denotation, where every n-tuple of same sentences has exactly the same meaning, then maybe one could define an expression-to-world relation and say "that is what being true is for an expression in this language." For natural languages those conditions cannot be met. Besides, that would still not explain what being true is; and "'p' is false just in case not-p" conflates "there-is-no-fact-of-the-matter" with "the-reality-is-otherwise." You cannot avoid that situation by constructing an ideal language that would have no sentences for when there is no fact of the matter. For that would simply leave the reality-gaps outside the expressive power of the language: what would that attain? There is no truth relation between sentences and reality, and, thus no falsity relation either. Truth, and falsity, is a relation of thought (judgment) to reality, not, except by extrinsic attribution, of thought-vehicles to reality.
The idea that truth and falsity are features of pieces of language was, as I say, an invention of early positivists like Carnap, dreaming of an ideal scientific language without any ambiguity of internal relations or of referential relations at all, and later thoughtlessly extended to natural languages by people who ignored or did not notice that no sentence in English or French, etc., by itself has a completely determinate meaning, that metaphor is a mode of meaning not just of use (contrary to Davidson), and that there would be no connection of sentences to anything else without their being expressions of thought. The result was a horrendous confusion that has bedeviled philosophy for decades, leaving its converts utterly unable to hear the deep dissonances of their collapsing foundations. There are neither truths nor falsities, regardless of form, just lying on a piece of paper, anymore than prayerbooks can pray or contract forms, filled in with names, can contract.
3. False judgments are of a variety according to the thinking.
False judgments are of a variety according to the thinking, which is often governed by the activity in which the discourse is engaged. The failure of sameness between what is thought and what is so varies with the sort of thinking, e.g., perceptual, formal, memorial, inventive, legal, and so on. For always keep in mind that with some kinds of thinking what is so is the product of doing the thinking right, whether we are inventing games or set theory or making idealizations for ease of prediction or construction; even a blueprint is an idealization. In what follows I consider some typical variations of the theme that what we think can fail to be what is so, to display a variety greater than philosophers have recognized, and definitely not explicable as a negative semantic relation between sentence tokens, or even statements, and something else, for instance: "'p' is false just in case -p."
Whether truth or falsity even belongs to some judgments can be in doubt. We make judgments that seem clear and right to us and later seem murky and even false, or too vague to be anything. Vast tracts of philosophy have the squishy feel that has no content. "Thisness is essential for being"; what does that mean? The idea has no backbone. It doesn't make any difference whether we call that judgment -- which, of course, I have only imagined, not made, true or false. There isn't enough content for there to be an identification with reality or for there to be a privation of an identification. Is it even really a judgment? I think so, but inadvertently mainly an arrangement of words by someone who imagines there is more, but does not imagine what more.
Suppose someone says, "everything has an essence." As I start to deny it, I realize that "has an essence" will be diluted to make the statement come out true even though the speaker has no idea how thin the crust will have to be and, thus, in addition to uttering a triviality, the speaker fails to understand its triviality and perhaps fails even to understand his own judgment.
Now there is a perplexity: "he does not understand his own judgment," a perplexity not involved when we say "he does not understand what he is saying." In the latter case we typically mean the speaker does not control the objective meaning of his expressions well enough, as when an amateur imitates an expert and says "That's a case of logical entailment." In the former we are acknowledging that there is a judgment, a thought that somehow escapes the thinker. Since a judgment is a mode of understanding the world, whether or not it is true, then how can the thinker not understand his judgment? Perhaps an example will help. Many followers of Thomas Aquinas say, "For God, essence and existence are identical; what God is, is the very subsisting being (ipsum esse subsistens)." Now I say they do not understand that. God cannot be the same as subsisting being because creatures subsist. God cannot be the same as existence because creatures exist. So exactly what is meant? I think such persons do not have an understanding that goes beyond what I just sketched. Thus what they think becomes fatally indefinite. What shall we say about such common thinking? When thought gets that indefinite, it ceases to be true or false, I think, without defeating its being a false judgment as to what Aquinas means, for as I indicated in the note, Aquinas means something else. In extreme cases, there is no judging, only talking. Just as repeated semantic contagion can drain expressions of any linguistic meaning [Ross, 1981, Chapter 7], so affirmations or denials can lack content and thus fail of a prerequisite for truth or falsity. To be true or false a judgment has to be definite enough in content to be the same, of fail to be the same, as some reality, relatively to the sort of thinking.
Students often have little control over the objective meanings of words like "fussing," "valid," "possible," and "necessary." They often regard "possible" as about the same as "maybe," without distinction of epistemic and reality senses, and they are given to wild pitches with "valid." When a student writes, "He has a valid point," it is usually unclear whether he/she means "justified," or "relevant," or "true," or "something he is entitled to believe," or a variety of other things. They do not know what their own judgment is. I conclude that in such cases thought misfires and no definite judgment is made and thus none is true or false. Judgment is twisted away from truth or falsity by the words. Philosophers often call that kind of utterance "talking nonsense." Although it is a different sort of nonsense than pretentious philosophy like "Thisness evokes essential being," both involve talking or writing that is unmanaged by thought. Thus thought can fall short of the words we use and in some cases, because of lack of verbal agility, thought can also be more definite than a person knows how to express. Noting all that, one is reminded that it is thought that is true or false primarily and everything else on account of thought, and that for judgments to be true or false, no notion of truth of falsity is required anymore than a notion of reality was required before notions like representation were devised in contrast [Hacking, 1983].
This is trivial but it has to be said. There are no false judgments no one makes. Thus, to say of some form of assertion, "q and not q," that it is always false, is to use a derivative notion of truth and falsity. For there is no particular assertion in view, but only a form of assertion without content. Of course a judgment or a statement of such form will be false, except perhaps for an invention, say a game, that is designed to have a conflict that terminates the game. Similarly, when no one is stating anything, to call this expression or that sentence false is derivative. We have to mean "would express a false judgment if believed and stated in those words," or the like. For the sentence, or even the statement, "Homer never existed," would have nothing to do with what is or is not the case unless supposed to express a judgment, say, by some schoolboy says "Homer never existed; the poems were written by someone else with the same name." Does he know what he means?
A false judgment is like a train wreck, in contrast to a junk yard. It has structure -- something lacking in nonsense. How we do that, how we fail at truth and how variously, may reveal something about how far and how we succeed. One thing is sure, we cannot be wrong about everything about which we can be right, neither as a whole nor in each case. Nor is there anything we have to be wrong about, except from limited vantages. Can we be right about everything about which we can be wrong? I think not, at least not for a given human, because our limited vantages and conceptions can force us into false judgment, as when it was believed that lightening was a form of fire and that the constellations are the real relative positions of the stars. So we can't be wrong about everything we can be right about, and we can't be right about everything we can be wrong about. Right and wrong in the sense of true and false do not mirror one another, in fact they diverge in areas where not every true statement has a contrary false statement and not every true judgment has a corresponding potential false judgment. Maybe, even, for us there are some false judgments for which no true replacements lie within our ability. I suspect that as long as I live it will remain true that some of my beliefs are false. And yours too.
The false usually falls below philosophical notice. So the subject is scrubby terrain without well-worn paths as there are in some other areas of philosophy. Philosophers have just not been meticulous about their notions of the false, particularly not articulating how varied the failure of sameness with what is so can be, depending on the kind of thinking one is doing. Usually the matter is ignored or treated badly. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy [Audi, 1995] contains no entry for "falsity" or "the false" or "false" and the main article "truth" by Paul Horwich does not even mention any general theory of falsity. Similarly, A Dictionary of Philosophy [Flew, 1979], under "false" says "see Truth and Falsity," and under the latter offers no reference to anyone's treatment of how false judgments, sentences, or whatever, get to be false; it is as if everyone knows that being false is a kind of failing at being true (perhaps as being cold is a kind of failure at being hot?), and that no further explanation is needed, despite the fact that true and false as predicates can diverge from mere negations of one another. No one discusses whether there can be synthetic a priori false judgments, as would have to be the case if the Euclidean parallel postulate had the status Kant accorded it. Blackwell's Dictionary of Philosophy has an entry "false" [Mautner, 1996, p. 147], saying "anything which is capable of assertion or denial can be said to be true or false." That tells us what can be said to be true or false (or part of it), but, reminds us that we can say of what has to be true that it is false, but we cannot always so judge. Moreover, lots of things can be said to be true or false, indeed asserted or denied, that may not, either for absence of a "fact of the matter" or for absence of cognitive access, be true or false. For instance, things can fail in other ways, too: "If I'd been a 13th Century Dominican, I would have been Albertus Magnus." Of course, one option is to use inheritance principles to say, "that's false because I couldn't have been anyone else"; another is to say "it is true because it has an impossible antecedent and an impossible consequent"; another, "it is true because if I'd been Albertus, I would not have been a different person, since I'd never have been this 20th century person"; a further option is to say "the statement is true because I could have been thought to be two different persons by different groups at different times, when I was one person in two incarnations"; another is "the whole statement is false just because of the absurdity of the reasons just given." All in all, I think anyone who actually thought that if he'd been a 13th century Dominican, he'd have been Albert the Great is just wrong. He's like the person who looks at the children of a woman he likes and thinks, "If only I'd married her, those children would have been mine."
We need to make a lot of distinctions not to get lost in the weeds. Not everything that can be said to be true or false is either true or false. Sometimes what is central is whether we could in principle find out and sometimes it is central whether there is a reality about the matter, for instance, the end of the world. Sometimes we require an "independent fact of the matter" for truth or falsity, though I hope to have indicated how little the latter notion contributes by my examples like "rotational laterality" and the "duty" of an engine. Obviously for lots of judgments the reality does not have to be independent of our thinking. How firmly do we think there were "destination districts," "streetscapes," "vistas," "scenes" or "traffic jams" before humans conceptualized them. There's nothing strange about our arranging realities into units we make up and then making judgments about the realities so arranged. And, as I said earlier, money is invented yet a causal component in reality, even though it would all disappear with the death of the last humans.
Let's return to the subject of thin, incoherent and missing content. Sometimes a person does not understand enough of what he is talking about to be making the judgment that appears to be expressed, e.g., "My friend suffered a myocardial infarction," said by a person who would not even notice if we substituted "infraction." At best he is repeating a judgment he has heard or seen, repeating the statement and affirming it, but not making the judgment expressed -- affirming it, but not transparently believing it. Would the same thing hold for the statement that humans will be resurrected, because most people don't know what would make it true? Something else must be involved. To understand one's own judgments one does not have to have an adequate idea of what would "make them true" or even an adequate idea of what would warrant one's believing them; sometimes, not even an adequate idea of what would make them wrong.
There seems to be an indefinite shading between a person's making statements he doesn't understand, and a person's making vague judgments, and his failing to make any judgment at all, though those division points are distinct, even if inaccessible to an observer. Obviously very vague judgments can be false. Making statements one does not understand may not involve a direct false judgment, though it usually will involve an implicit second-level false judgment that the first level judgment is true. None of this presents a problem about what falsity of judgment is, but only an access problem about when it happens.
4. What amounts to nonsense varies with the discourse.
When the "statement" is nonsense, that is no guarantee that no true or false judgment has been made, though it is usually a sign that the judgment, if any, is inaccessible through the words. Suppose a believer in bodily resurrection can't say whether that involves gender or not, whether that involves being a certain age, having one's life-long infirmities, like blindness, whether that involves eating and drinking, nourishment and excretion, sight and hearing and emotions like sexual attraction, sadness at those who are missing paradise -- will all that make his belief so indistinct as to lack truth-value? No. With some beliefs enough content is derived from what is rejected: the believer says humans do not exist disembodied forever; he says they do not cease to be when they die; he says humans are essentially animals, that the human person is not only a spirit. He says humans are not reincarnated with new material, that something continues materially enough to make "in this flesh I shall see God" at least metaphorically true. That's the difference between the believer and the uninformed friend, above. The believer knows to a considerable extent closely related claims he will reject. So he has relevant expectations. The friend only knows irrelevant opposites, even though many more of them: crushed by a car, paralyzed by a stroke, head smashed by a thief, etc. The believer in resurrection has more content than the believer in the heart attack. So we can't settle apart from the discourse practices of groups, how much vagueness or shapelessness defeats judgment and leaves only words, and how much not. It depends upon how much content is needed for pragmatic traction, that is, for the effect of such commitments on the action such thinking modifies.
None of this gainsays another obvious fact, analogous to what Catherine Elgin points out [1983, p. 101] that we can formulate statements that would require discriminations beyond our ability to settle whether some object is a case thereof or not: for instance, with off-white paints, we can have a single one of a group called "linen"; we can formulate predicates like "light linen," "light, light linen," "light, dark linen," etc., as far as we like. Now if we do not make samples, some will lack content or at least definite content. So unless we make samples that we stipulate to bear the predicate, there will be no truth or falsity to some statements of the form "That's -- linen."
Although a person who has never seen a cougar can judge that all cows are not cougars, the dictionary's "large feline quadruped" won't help him in the wild -- around tigers, lions, etc. A person who knows Kentucky blue grass, or any other, may be able to make the negative judgments of the form "That's not bermuda grass," but unless he's seen a sample or a picture, or knows how to extrapolate from a description he's seen, he won't be able to recognize it. Think of all the elements we cannot recognize or describe -- berkelium, or metals like beryllium. It is not just the dolt who lacks content for many kinds of judgments whose sentences he can formulate. We all do. We do not have the conceptions, and that, usually, because we do not have the experiences in which the conceptions are abstracted. Or we may not have construed experiences in the appropriate way. We simply cannot think things that are daily contents of others' thoughts; their judgments are beyond us, as a good part of the Merk Manual or a book on electronics will illustrate.
Whether there can be such judgments varies. For instance, even if we have not made the samples for "light, dark, light linen," if we have a sample of linen, we can judge that a red apple is not linen in color, and we can judge, rightly or not, that an off-white wall paint is or is not some shade of linen, even though we may be unable even to form a judgment as to which shade it is. For unless we make and mark samples, there comes a point where there is no fact of the matter as to which shade it is, since "being such and such a shade of linen" is a comparative condition requiring fixed paradigms. As Elgin put it [1983, p. *102], "There will inevitably be cases in which we have no basis for saying with which of a number of mutually exclusive predicates a given object complies."
But that also has the consequence that we can form sentences which will fail in particular cases to express any judgment that we can make. For if we have not perceived a paradigm there is nothing to determine for us the features required by a given predicate and no overflow signification, and thus, nothing to settle whether the linguistic predicate applies or does not to an apparently close case. So there is no definite judgment for me to make and thus nothing to be true or false.
Even if we discard the thoughts whose content is too indefinite to count as something that is so or is not so, or which we will count as false on that ground (depending on the discourse sector), there is still a diverse family, ranging from perceptions suffused emotionally to constructive formal judgments, to simple factual judgments as to whether a telephone number is the right one, to valuative judgments that a certain car is a better buy than another, to judgments as to whether the day is clear or not, to judgments classifying things in patterns made by imagination, like "destination districts," and onward in variety so great that I can only offer some samples. Trailing all those sorts of judgments is the black smoke of all the ways of getting it wrong. Sample false judgments need to be considered because privation of the sameness of thought and reality is as various as the sorts of thinking we do.
One class of perceptual and motor judgments, usually ignored because philosophers connect truth with language, is the activity of reading musical notation and playing the music. There is a seamless continuity of judgments as to which notes, often several hundreds per minute, are indicated, whether the hands have sounded them, how fast, how loud, and how else (for every discriminable feature of the sound that can be controlled by the performer) in which words have no part and for which words would only be a hindrance. The judgments have to happen so fast, so accurately, and so automatically convert understanding into controlled movement that imagining such judgments on the model of subject/predicate statements is misleading. That is the very thing teaching and practice is to eliminate. Instead, recognition becomes action without any intermediate verbalization. As a performer friend put it, "What I see is what I do; it is almost impossible to make a mistake." Moreover, this is what most of our judgments in action are like, whether walking, reaching for a book, writing a word, shaking hands, dancing, singing, speaking, reading, and above all, discoursing and doing any kind of work with words. To take judgments slowed down and separated out for encoding in speech or writing as the paradigms of intelligent thought is to take one fabric for the whole line and thus misunderstand the entire matter. If you think, instead, of intelligent commitments guiding and modifying action, we can see that many sorts of judgment can go on in parallel and interact (e.g., talking and feeling ill), one's typing, checking the spelling, knowing the meaning and being aware of the time, of feeling tired or being hungry, having a pain in some fingers, feeling the keys, being aware of the light in the room, of the illuminated display of the text, of the sound of the keyboard or the background sound of the traffic, the silence of the house, and so on for an indeterminate number of simultaneous and constant commitments that would only be disclosed if something went wrong, some anomaly or interruption or accident. For instance, I do not reach far enough to strike a piano key or I misunderstand five leger lines. Remember some people can read an entire page of an orchestral score, 24-inches from top to bottom and 20-inches across, at a glance and in imagination hear the sounds that will be produced, sounds and combinations that have never been produced before! That is not really different in kind from your being able to read the word "platonistically" all at once, even though it takes at least five sounds to say it and, for a dyslexic, each of those may present a formidable task of recognition and production, involving many judgments.
5. The master of falsity.
One thing that is analogically common to all false judgments is that they have content which fails to be the same as some relevant reality. And the problem is to explain how there can be such content without falling into a representational theory of knowing or postulating abstracta like propositions. Basically the answer is to be found in the master of falsity, the imagination.
Sometimes falsity originates in sensory illusion or perceptual error, though mere illusions are not that common, and are quickly recognized as such, whereas small perceptual errors are very common, like miscounting the leger lines, thinking a word is spelled a certain way, not noticing missing letters or extra ones. People bump into one another, or scrunch their tires against the curb when parking, miscount the number of lights from distraction. I may think I recall someone you mention, but conjure an image that is of someone else; sometimes confusion of names, say for colors or sounds will cause false judgments. But most of the time, falsity originates in the constant cooperation of imagination and abstraction. And of course, from the further cooperation of desire with imagination and abstraction: we see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, don't see or don't remember what we don't want, etc., where "want" covers a wide range of biases including attraction by advertising or display.
I take imagination to include the emotional atmosphere of experience, some dictated by instinct (fear of falling) and some by learning (racial fears, awe, admiration, desire, loathing), and all our other colorations which often register the real features of things, like danger. Feelings are the stage lighting and background music of experience, always there to some extent and always to some extent abstracted, though their features very often have no names. Imagination delivers up elements for a situation, e.g., the paint's being dry on a door recently painted; abstraction conceptualizes and, habit or wishful thinking, say, commits us: so, I reach out to push it closed and smear my hand.
There is not going to be a simple story, except schematically, of how the imagination, feelings, abstraction, habit, willing commitment, desire, wishful thinking, and biased beliefs interact to produce false judgments. The combinations are too varied to catalogue. Still, notice how often people use phrases like "It wasn't the way I imagined it to be," "That's not how I imagined it," "When I looked at the color outside, it wasn't what I'd imagined at all." "He lets his imagination run away with him." "I never imagined he'd do that." "Well I imagine that my sore throat must be from a virus because it is not from bacteria." Some philosophers are even saying whatever is imaginable is logically, even really, possible.
It is a mistake to explain true belief on the model of false belief. As if getting judgment right were patched up false judgment. That's analogous to analyzing successful perception as patched up defective perception, a mistake David Braine  pointed out. There is thought content in false belief that is not the same as some relevant reality. So, if you then imagine true belief as "patched up false belief" you will conjure a matchup, work-out, or whatever, between what is in thought in a false belief and what is in reality in a true belief. But it is the other way around. In false belief something is present in thought and committed to be real, that is not the same as what is so. It is made by the thinker and not a transformed reality. In false belief something is missing that is present in and committed to in true belief: what is really so. Something has been substituted for reality, conceptions based in imagination, and committed to as real.
Where does that something that is present and not so in a false belief originate? As I said, sometimes from sensory illusion, sometimes from perceptual error, sometimes from memory fault, sometimes from instinctual or prejudicial projection, but mostly from imagination which can combine them all. Now keep in mind that sensation, perception, memory and imagination for humans are coincidentally abstract and judgmental. There is not any experience for an awake human that is not coincidentally particular and abstract, sensory, emotional and judgmental. As you gaze out a window in gray winter light, noticing the gleam of moisture on barren twigs, you may not name your feeling but your experience includes feeling, say, an unnameable blend of loneliness, anxiety, excitement left over from work just interrupted, slight burning in the eyes from reading, tension in shoulders and back from sitting, and, of course, sub-attentive awareness of your position, whether your feet touch the floor, your back the chair, etc.
Abstraction and judgment cooperate with every mode of human awareness. In fact, they are the manner in which each mode operates. With commitment in the absence of truth, something is present in thought that is not present in reality. Whether it be an imagined presence of the roman gods in the city, or an imagined absence of the emperor who is in fact watching you, something is abstracted into the elements for judgment and decided, that is not present in reality. That can and does go on even within the theater of thought alone, not only when we misremember what we think or saw, but when we misjudge what we think, sometimes suddenly realizing "but I don't really believe that!"
Time and space have no relationship to judgment that parallels their relationships to statements and sentences. The content of my knowledge can be a reality deep in the past, e.g., that ancient Egyptians believed in bodily resurrection, or far in the future, e.g., that the sun will burn into a red dwarf. It can be something inside me like: "I am awake," "I'm getting very tired writing this," or something very far away, "my sons are in England now," or far away and spread out temporally, "The sun circles the center of the Milky Way every six hundred years." Moreover, as I mentioned, music, typing, writing, reading, speaking, moving, looking and sitting, require a continuous flow of judgment that drowns the words, if any are used, and occurs complete and instantaneous and replaces itself just the way the mirror image changes continuously as I twist the mirror around in my hand.
Aquinas asked in Summa Theologica [Ia, q.85, a.6c], "whether the intellect can be false" and replying affirmatively, spent most of the article on ways sensation, perception and abstraction cannot err and less than a paragraph explaining the falsity when we form a conception ("definition" is his word) like "a rational winged animal," whose elements are incompatible and use it "to describe anything." He also gives the example of one's judging from the appearance that the sun is only a foot in diameter. That's all right as far as it goes. But what about mistaken judgments about non-existent subjects? When a Roman believed there are dozens of gods? Or when someone believes in reincarnation? Aquinas does not go on to explain how imagination memory, desire, peer pressure, and the like interact to cause and reinforce the judgments. Philosophers have been equally as etchy ever since.
There are technical questions about explaining the coincidence of affirmations and denials between believers and non-believers without postulating a realm of propositions, when a person says "there are witches" and the other says "No, there are not." How can they be respectively affirming and denying the same thing? Yet postulating propositions won't help, either, because we'd have to explain how they can exist when not the content of belief and how, unchanged they can become and then cease to be the content of belief and how they relate to reality and how the false ones still exist necessarily. All that seems like a Rube Goldberg machine.
Suppose there is no divine being. Is the error of the believer that he judges that there is something of which sort, there is none? That can't be. There cannot be an empty sort or kind, divine beings, about which to talk, for if there is no divine being there is no divinity. And what of the denial, "No, a divine being does not exist"? That too cannot be analyzed as "No, there is nothing of that sort," as if we were referring to a kind, for the same reason. So we have to say the believer thinks he is referring to something that satisfies an implicit description and the atheist has to be saying nothing does fit that description. For if there were no divine being, how could we say so when the phrase "a divine being" would have no referent? Is the believer talking about God, while the atheist is talking about words? For if there is nothing of that sort, there is no such sort.
Isn't the atheist denying the existence of the very thing the theist affirms? Yet that seems impossible unless the atheist's denial is false because he is referring to the very same thing the theist is. To avoid the absurdities that arise from suppositions about reference to what does not exist, "Jove never really existed," and the labyrinth of propositions, the paraphrase in terms of fitting a description, above, or satisfying a conception (which can arise entirely from imagination), seems the more efficient. My only hesitation is fear of analysis by reformation; for it seems to revise the claims at least somewhat from what the speakers probably think they are saying, e.g., the theist's natural meaning is that God really exists, just as Mickey Mouse does not. Analysis by reformation is in general, a fatal mistake. But when I reflect on my denial of the reality of the Roman gods, I see I really do mean "there aren't any such things," where "such things" is not intended to refer to a real kind, but to a description (culled out of fables) that is not satisfied by anything. And the atheist's denial is more naturally understood as a piggybacked reference via a conception: that what the theist thinks he is talking about does not really exist, just as what a pious Roman thought he was talking about, "Jove," never really existed. I prefer the latter analysis as being closer to what the parties mean to say.
But what about simple mistakes, for instance, taking a shadow to be a person or taking someone to be well informed who is not? The problem is not the same because there are existent subjects and even cases of the predicates that happen not to coincide in the supposed cases. Perception may supply one element of the judgment and memory or imagination the other, when things are not as thought. Singular false judgments focus their objects under a conception that is not one of its forms, not even one of its man-made forms and that usually happens because imagination supplies an image, or a feeling, that abstracted yields the predicate, and habit or desire prompts conviction.
6. The notion of form adapts to context.
If a city planner says an area is a destination district and s/he is wrong, then the area fails as a place to go to do something, like a theater district, a business district, a restaurant area, a nightlife district, and so forth. I suppose a residential area could also be called a destination district, though planners reserve that term for places a fair number of people leave home to go to for a while, to do some common range of things. Obviously the local pub or the town saloon could fit the description; but that is not what is meant, though the steps of the town hall in a small western town might fit the idea well. This is another example of a conception where it is not determinate for every candidate that it does or does not bear the predicate. So the judgment of an estate agent that strip mall is a destination district may be neither true nor false, or either, according to speaker's choice, though the planners would regard it as fanciful or puffing.
Similarly the planner's notion of a streetscape, analogous to a landscape, is another abstraction from the look and feel and tempo of a built up area. One could speak of the townscape of a typical New England, as opposed to a typical Arkansas town, or contrast the townscape of Concord, Massachusetts with those of Carmel, Santa Barbara and Monterrey, California. Such conceptions are not imposed upon a resisting and non-conforming reality. Rather they organize or reorganize the real multitude into an intelligible order -- in this case for comparison -- for some human purpose. Truths and falsities about such things are fully grounded in the realities and can remain so even when further valuative and interpretative predicates, based in human interests and feelings are added in judgment: some streetscapes are chaotic, unsettling, alarming; others, calming, relaxing, exciting, delightful, and so forth.
Now the same things are presented for perception by one who walks through a neighborhood, whether one thinks of it as a townscape, streetscape, destination district, residential district, or not. But the same things are not perceived in the absence of the conceptions. Such notions unify and organize perception into subjects of judgments as functioning wholes rather than mere arrays of items like buildings, trees, curbstones, traffic lights, traffic volume and noise, etc. Truths, and mistakes, that are otherwise beyond our power, become available as we develop our conceptions. And the conceptions are not just made-up, for they are grounded in the reality of things, as explained above, and judgments made with such conceptions can be converted into coercive public actions, e.g., new zoning regulations, parking rules, tax and licensing schemes, etc.
Now, some philosophers say all conception involves discrimination and all discrimination projects some power/political coercion to the detriment of someone; thus they count classification of human races as pejorative, gender distinctions as dominance and even postal zones as economically coercive -- which to an extent they are. These philosophers do not show enough wonderment that humans can exert coercion through so many of their inventions, from underwear and shoes, to hats, bathrooms, habitats, neighborhoods, class differences, accents, educational tracks, and, running through many of them, money. Such potentialities certainly arise from our powers of discernment and construal of the forms in things, even accidental forms, that are of interest or utility to us. So length of nose can become as important for social preferment as length of stride in a racehorse. But all that shows is that our experience is conceptualized, judgmental and evaluative. It definitely does not show or even indicate that all such judgments are false. The idea that all classification is so infected with prejudice, hegemony, disempowerment and patriarchy that we should dispense with it all, is at bottom a proposal that we disregard what we cannot do without, our natural ability to discern structures, unities and patterns in things and events, and our natural ability to arrange or construct things as we find useful, arousing, entertaining or repellant. Moreover to dispense with such abilities is as political and coercive a proposal as what it wants to disempower.
So analogously to inherent and constitutive forms in things, my judgment that a university is not a destination district will be false when that area is one non-residents regularly go to for periods of hours in order to perform related activities as with a shopping area. So focussing something under a conception which is not, even by convention, one of its forms, leads to false judgment. The explanation of how we do that is to be found primarily in the imagination.
Could a being incapable of imagination but capable of judgment have a false belief? Well, perhaps it could miscalculate. But how? It certainly could not see that 512+12=549 because there is no such thing to see. It might take itself to be seeing that because it seems that way. But that's the same as imagining that, for there is no such understanding. Maybe in unembodied intellects falsity can occur otherwise. But the best explanation in humans is that something actual is focussed within an image remembered or concocted from imagination, as when I imagine a flat tire inflating on its own at my wish, and impelled by desire [see my papers about cognitive voluntarism and cognitive finality], abstracting the appropriate conceptions, I take things to be as I want them to be. And so, the flatterer becomes the trusted friend, the pliant becomes the pillar of loyalty. That's how we do it. Whether it is a perceptual error, a projection of conception by desire, or an evaluation based on interests not recognized, the imagination conjures up the appearance that abstracted comes to a false identification or a false distinction. We are obedient to our desires and our conjuries, not always, but enough to be in trouble most of the time. The imagination is the master of falsity, as I explained earlier. [See Davies' illustrative novel, 1977.]
Singular false judgments, not of existence or non-existence, that characterize or classify things, do focus an extant thing (whether person, group, forest, storm, wave, sea or other subject of thought) a way it is not, prompted by the imagination from which the misapplied conception is made. So, we can make sense of false characterizing judgments of perceived things, whether positive or negative. But what about false positive existential judgments? And then, false negative existential judgments? "There is an imponderable medium of gravity and light"; "there are trolls under country bridges"; "Santa Claus brings Christmas presents." The subject term gets its content first from imagination that can rearrange the sensible in any way that remains sensible (not reasonable, just sensible) and thus from our abstraction of what we imagine. That's why Aristotle and Aquinas thought abstraction operates on the phantasm (the common sense unification of individual senses supplemented by the internal senses, including "rationes" from instinct, and continuity and color missing in the dark from imagination, etc.) because there isn't always a real object to operate on. I think they tried to build the ordinary case of abstractive judgment out of the what happens when we err, rather than building the account of error out of what happens when we are right. Thus, when all is going successfully, abstraction is the condition of our direct perception and so can be said to operate on things and aspects of things to which we attend. But when we misapprehend or misjudge something to exist, the subject of our conviction is manufactured through the cooperation of imagination, memory (of prior sensible appearances), supplemented by vis cogitativa to supply the rationes (the instinctive and the learned emotional and interpretive responses "loving," "dangerous," etc.) to make a subject of judgment and a conception to characterize it. So a child responds to a creak in the dark with the terrified judgment "There's a wolf under my bed." For falsity of judgment (as distinct from falsity of statement) there must be a genuine commitment involving conception.
Roughly there are predicative falsities and existential falsities. The latter consists in judgment that there is something whether a book, a debt or a cause of action, when there is not. They can be mixed with temporal and locational indexicals: "there's a thief downstairs, right now."
Predicative falsities can involve two kinds of naming that tend to merge. Calling a certain street light an argon lamp when it is a mercury lamp is to be distinguished from calling the gas in it "argon" when it is mercury. The first characterizes a thing, the second characterizes a stuff, the gas which is part of the thing. Either kind of false belief can come from a more general conviction, e.g., one's having been told all the street lamps in the area are argon lights. It can also come from misremembering what one was told or from erroneous conjecture based on imagination. Notice one does not have to have distinct and accurate notions of the difference between argon and mercury or any idea how a gas can be illuminated without burning. Thus an engineer and a neophyte can say the same words but express vastly different judgments. No matter how thin the person's conception of argon may be, there are conditions of applicability for that predicate that however vastly they exceed what the person knows, must be satisfied by the gas referred to, or what the person believes is false. So, a judgment can be false on account of conditions not being satisfied that are not even remotely thought of by the person who makes the mistake.
Now that sounds enough like judgments whose content is constituted by truth conditions that overflow a person's knowledge, for me to distinguish judgments of other sorts: chiefly, judgments whose overflow conditions are conditions of ascertainability and judgments whose overflow conditions have to do with revelatory utility, interpretative fecundity, and other things not connected with what have been called truth-conditions. So there is falsity of those sorts as well.
Judgments can be a lot more loosely tied to situations than the examples I've been discussing. Suppose an evangelist concludes, our society is a "culture of death" for having allowed over 30 million abortions in 25 years, approving assisted suicides, allowing one-forth of black males to die before age 30, and tolerating drug abuse and homelessness. What makes that right or wrong? Is the speaker entitled implicitly to legislate the conditions of applicability? Can he be refuted by our pointing out that we don't have human sacrifice, like the Aztecs, that we don't bury our dead under the household floor like the Mayans or keep them in houses and on verandas like some Indonesian tribes, or even provision the dead for travel as did the Egyptians? Can he reinforce his case by saying there are so many killings, so many confrontations with lethal force, so much fear of assault, so much abuse of police power, so many violent crimes, so much domestic violence and child abuse? What does it take for him to be right? Can he just take the high ground and say, "that's what I mean by a culture of death," so the only thing to be disputed are the alleged facts? Now it seems that diagnoses and prognoses can be mistaken, even if the facts recited to support them are as claimed. When you put English words together into phrases, the meanings take on a life of their own. Thus a culture of death requires a certain approval, appreciation, preoccupation with, even enjoyment and comfort, that is in fact not shared by the vast majority of our people. So a condition of applicability is dictated by the language and not cancelled by rhetorical flourish. The admonitions may be useful but the reality is not what he thinks.
Diagnoses and prognoses can fail by not working out. The same holds for evaluations: "Waiting for Godot is a revolution in 20th century drama" says a reviewer. If you are given no background for comparison, how can truth or falsity be anything but the eventual fulfillment or disappointment of someone's expectations? For instance, the expectation that later literary critics will say, "Yes, that play was revolutionary" and will vindicate that appraisal by pointing to distinctive admirable features reflected in later plays. At the time of the first judgment there were no independent facts of the matter: truth depends on how things would work out, how such expectation is to be fulfilled or disappointed. The present reality has to be completed by reality to come. It is amazing, on reflection, how much of what seem to be certainties propounded because of insight into social, historical, political and artistic realities, are far removed from anything definite that could verify, confirm, vindicate or otherwise assure them, and can only await reality, indefinite reality, to come.
It is a lot easier to explain the truth of the judgment that I am writing, when the constituents are real and I am actually writing, than to explain the truth of the judgment that too much exposed solder causes copper joints to corrode and eventually fail. For the latter case involves the disposition of metals, is probably known only by report or by one's explanation of a few cases, but is meant to include an indefinite range even of merely potential cases, and all the cases that are inaccessible to inspection. But basically the two judgments are the same because the judgment, if true, is the same as the reality. Real likelihoods are as real as actual facts and cannot be analyzed either as a priori lattices of outcomes or as limits of relative frequency in an infinite sequence of cases or even as subjective probability of a belief. Whether a load slipping from one's grasp is likely to fall has nothing to do with an array of outcomes or a limit of relative frequency or even some relative mathematical value to be assigned to my belief that it will fall. Likelihoods are as real as actualities. They cannot be reductively analyzed into actualities or even possibilities. Likelihoods are not only active tendencies, either. After a narrow escape, a person may tremble at how close death came. Things could, for the most part, have been otherwise than by the narrow margin things missed. So real likelihoods are typically a reality grasped in thought, and can be misjudged as well. They are the realities missed when we err about what might happen.
One Tuesday I kept thinking it was Wednesday, checked the newspaper date, corrected the belief, and later again still thought it was Wednesday. On a holiday someone thinks it's Sunday: the feelings of schedule and expectations of one day of the week are replicated on another. Whatever makes such a belief false is not a completely mind-independent reality, even though the false belief is generated from emotion and imagination. The reality is a speaker-independent one, but of course the product of a public convention.
7. What we think is really so, so long as that notion is squeezed into the shape of each area of discourse when we use it.
To get the wrong sum adding is to think to be so what is not so, but not in the same sense as to misjudge someone to be honest who is deceptive, or someone to be brilliant who is merely clever, or a performance to be finished when there is only a dramatic pause. What is so in those cases is analogous to what is so when we say there are open blossoms on my magnolia tree and there are infinite numbers. Judgments about real likelihoods are closely similar, while pragmatic, interpretive, and evaluative judgments fail differently.
As I mentioned, the truth or falsity of a judgment can be defeated by its rubbery content, though sometimes we will simply discard such a judgment as false. When some popular psychologist says, "A marriage partner starts off as a parent substitute," we are inclined to say that's just imaginary, just false. But when he says, "Young adults do to children the horrible things that were done to them because they really understand what it feels like to have such a thing done to one," that has more grip on experience; that might be a motivation for some. Similarly, a fair number of addictive gamblers are hooked on the thrill of loosing. What reality is captured in thought or missed in thought depends on what sorts of things we are thinking.
Should we still say there are judgments "true by fiat," like "a line is an infinite extension of dimensionless points," where we ignore the impossibility of getting any extension from dimensionless points no matter how many there are? Euclid called a line "breadthless length," so of course there aren't any in nature. Although "there are 8 kilometers in five miles" is something we can show by measuring right on the ground, the judgment is not true because of what we can measure but because of what has been decided about relative lengths of meters and feet. Notice how little the old categories of the analytic, the a priori, the empirical, the experimental, are of use. Judgments are too varied to fit the few pigeon holes of the old classifications.
When we respect the plasticity of "false" and separate talk of judgments from talk of statements and from semantic notions like truth of sentences, things neaten up. For one thing the way a judgment relates to the world is a function of the sort of thinking. As Aristotle observed, when talking about being as truth of propositions, "there is" has many senses including even privations and negations: we say even that non-being is non-being. I will give several examples where the kind of thinking determines the kind of reality required for truth. Suppose someone thinks "the more pieces required to assemble an object the less rigid it becomes over time" where the person has cars, bridges, trucks in mind. Then what he thinks is not made false by the fact that C-60, a geodesic molecular ball (Bucky ball), is more stable than C-3, graphite. We make lots of general judgments without consciously adverting to the realms that don't count and without having any rule to exclude them; they are just not included in our thought. Such holes in reality or conflicts in reality have no privative role; they are beyond the thinker's contemplation. Other judgments are prognostic, others are interpretative, others arrange features into new realities that become subjects of true and false judgment (like streetscapes, destination-districts, etc., above). One recent conceptual invention that has economic and physical reality is called "the box boom in retailing": stores, four acres in area, called Big Boxes, are "category killers" because they kill stores in the area that sell similar items, with such boxes collected into "power centers" say a half dozen such boxes, mega-stores, with smaller cousins called superstores (60,000 to 100,000 square feet) and sometimes their satellites, specialty stores or services, set around vast fields of parking [see The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 12, 1997, p. 1]. Now once these things are built, there are realities that are the consequences of the original conceptions -- not just the buildings but the traffic, the crowds, the debts, the profits, and all their effects. The consequences are both physical and economic, and are the basis for uncountable further judgments both true and false, for instance that the Great Sphinx, Monticello, Independence Hall, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Vernon and the Parthenon totalling 5.8 million cubic feet, would fit inside the Home Depot, a Big Box, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, 6.3 million cubic feet, with half a million cubic feet left over. Another fact is that shoppers are not expected to walk from one Big Box to another but to drive across the parking fields. In these families of cases the compliant reality is a complex product of human thinking, politics, law, engineering, business, marketing, advertising, banking, etc. If all humans disappeared, these things would not be anything at all except their physical components: stone, steel, asphalt, space, heat, etc.
Some judgments are constructions, like Freud's division of ego, superego and id, making frameworks for reflection, justified or not by their fertility in aiding the inquiry and the therapy, with no further reality required, however fervently he believed in it. Not everyone would agree with that characterization, and, thus, two speakers could make what appears verbally to be the same statement, "The mind is divided into the ego, superego and id," but in fact with vastly different commitments.
Thus there are many kinds of judgments whose truth is not intended to be independent of the descriptive/explanatory, diagnostic and revelatory power of the judgment. Many judgments of coaches and music teachers are admonitory, predictive, revelatory and in consequence modifiers of action.
Such judgments are not much like the basic perceptual judgments that have dematerialized particular things as their components. These are conceptually "way up the ladder," up in the skies of conceptions made out of conceptions, and of things we think, being things to think something about. Similarly, falsity shifts from judgment in conflict with reality to judgment without basis in reality or without utility for ordering judgment based in reality.
This is a medieval saying bonum ab integra causa, malum ab aliquo defectu. Similarly, we can say, on the whole, "true when everything goes right, false when anything goes wrong." With false judgment something has to fail: reference, conception, perception, imagery, attention, and other things too. But what fails and how it does varies with the variety of judgments that I have illustrated above. The general formula that falsity is a privation of sameness of a judgment and reality gets energy and vitality from a meticulous consideration of the variety of judgments capable of truth and the variety of privations.
We could eliminate "is false" from our talk about statements and judgments, provided we ignore indirect discourse, semantic ascent, shorthand reference, and the like. But we'd still want to know what goes wrong when a judgment is false, what being in that condition is. And the fact the someone shows us that between a statement that is true and the reality that obtains there is no additional relation that would be lost if we just stopped using the predicate "true," especially if we are consistent about it, will not show that truth of judgment is not sameness of what we think and what is so, and that falsity of judgment is privation of the relevant sameness. And no other account has any plausibility whatever.
The analysis of judgments employed in this chapter relies first upon the account of basic true judgments as consisting in abstractive transformation of perceptually present situations of real things and the conditions of real things, with subsequent abstraction and judgment by reflection on the first sort. The content of falsity is, thus, primarily made of items from memory delivered up by the imagination and abstracted as components and/or predicates of judgments, whether we mistakenly take a shadow to be a person, take 14 to be the sum of eleven and five, take tectonic plate theory to be false, take there to be no free will or take reality to be the product of art and discourse [Goodman 1968]. In all, the imagination is the master of falsity.