Chapter 3: Outline

What Might Have Been and Was Has to Be

Part I: What Might Have Been 84

1. Introduction. 84

What might have been entirely instead? 86

2. Limits of reference. 91

3. Limits of expression. 96

4. De re necessities are neither conventional, conceptual nor linguistic. Why meaning-inclusions cannot account for real necessity. 97

5. Analyticity is a result of meaning arrangements to simplify empirical knowledge (belief). 100

6. There is no direct connection between analyticity and truth 105

7. Linguistic reluctance. 107

8. On incorporating overflow necessities. 109

Part II: What Has to Be 111

1. Whence the real natures, the universals? 111

(a) In brief. 111

(b) God or god. 112

(c) The theistic option. 115

Chapter 3

What Might Have Been and Was Has to Be

I. What Might Have Been

1. Introduction.

What might have been is not all of a piece, any more than truth or necessity is. Sometimes what might have been is fully anchored by actual things and determined by the real natures of things (e.g., what would have happened broadly if radiation had not been contained at Three Mile Island). Sometimes it is within the potentiality of the actual, for instance, my not having traveled abroad this year. Those are benchmarks at one extreme: both are earned counterfactual truths. Then there are the referentially anchored "might have beens," that fall outside the potentialities of things: silicon-based rational life, computers that calculate faster than light or meson calculators made of massless parts. Whether there may have been such things or what they might have done depends not only on logic, but whether they are real possibilities: thus, "If I had used a meson calculator I'd have had the answer before anyone else." Is that true because the antecedent is impossible? Or might it be false because someone else might have been faster at using the meson calculator or not needing one at all? Because such notions run contrary to the necessities of nature and do not contain determinate overflow necessities, such things are, as argued in Chapter 2, really impossible and at most imaginary. Is the counterfactual false then because the antecedent refers only to an imaginary thing? We could have an anomaly: the statement is true because the antecedent is impossible and the statement is false because the antecedent refers only to an imaginary thing. My conclusion is that what truth-value it has depends on how the statement is embedded in a system for transferring truth-values, an inheritance system, like traditional strict implication or relevance logic; thus the truth-value, if any, is by inheritance and can vary.

At the other extreme there are situations beyond reference and beyond conception, for instance that there might have been things of entirely other sorts instead of anything that ever exists. There won't ever be any of "the other sorts." What is actually so has to do. But do what? That everything in the cosmos is contingent does not assure that anything else would have been possible. What does?

In between are counterfactuals with a variety of earned and inherited truth values, depending on things I will explain. That variety precludes a single account of what makes contrary-to-fact conditionals true or false, and requires a multi-faceted story about what really determines what might have been. That story has two key themes: (1) that there are true statements, with earned truth about what might have been, earned from what is actually so, and (2) that such earned truth depends on the real (actually dispositive) natures of actual things. So simple nominalism will not have a place in the central explanations of contrary-to-fact conditionals, but only in some of the fringe neighborhoods with special cases.

Among other kinds of counterfactual statements there are some like, "If I'd been a female, I'd have been Asian," that are best regarded as being false because nothing actual, as far as we can tell, determines truth, and the impossibility of the antecedent, as well as of the consequent, invites a commonplace claim of falsity rather than a paradoxical thin, logical basis for truth. One thing is certain: There cannot be a "one size fits all" analysis of contrary-to-fact truth in terms of a single logical connective (material implication, strict implication, etc.) or in terms of a single pattern of "possible worlds" paraphrases for counterfactual claims. So the classical patterns of single analyses, from the 1930's through the debates around Goodman's Fact, Fiction and Forecast [1955] and D. Lewis' Counterfactuals [1973] have all worn out.

We need to discard oversimplified treatments, especially possible-worlds treatments of counterfactuals as all of a piece, and to acknowledge that there are contexts in which cognitive accessibility of what verifies or otherwise manifests a truth-value is necessary for there being any "truth of the matter" at all. In some cases, it is the absence of any "fact of the matter" that explains absence of cognitive access and absence of truth-value.

There are three new factors to consider: The range of counterfactuals whose truth (or falsity) is determined by the natures of actual things; the counterfactuals that are "not true" because their truth conditions are cognitively inaccessible; and the counterfactuals that are "not true" because there is no "fact of the matter" at all. In some contexts, when there is no way to ascertain whether what one thinks is so, the thinking drifts loose from reality, typically because reference became confused or indeterminate. In others, reference fails for lack of a definite referent. But, when there is nothing to settle whether what I think fails to be what is so, then there is no truth of the matter at all. More on this point, below.

What might have been entirely instead?

What might have been entirely instead of the actual is beyond the reach of reference, and thus statements about it are without truth or falsity, if the statements fail to involve real things or real kinds or their abilities or features. The truth or falsity of contrary to fact suppositions is earned from the real natures of things, when it is not transferred by an inheritance from something else. The reason every human who might ever have lived is mortal is that to be human is to be mortal. It is a condition of the real nature of actual cases. All others would have to be of the same real nature. The natures of things are embedded in the dispositions of things, and reflected in regularities and, less reliably, in statistical generalities, and even rules of thumb, like "where there is smoke, there is a fire." The nature of a thing is the real constitution of the thing as explanation of what it does and what it would have done "if." Arsenic poisons over time. It would have done so, if you'd taken it long enough.

A real nature can be known pre-scientifically and, yet, very well, as goldsmiths know how to use gold, farmers know how to use cows, fishermen, how to lure fish. One objective of science is to come up with a scientific description of natural (and synthetic) things that from the micro-structure and general laws can explain and predict their behavior, e.g., superconductors. So one of the objects of scientific inquiry remains the same as Aristotle proposed; to understand the natures (essences as principles of the observable behavior) of material things.

But consider, "If Johnny had been an abused child he probably would have become a child abuser." Because the reality for the latter sort of claim is a psycho-social regularity that "abused children tend to become child abusers," and because the certainty of such generalities is vastly diminished when applied predictively to a single case, it seems that there is too little reality to make the statement either true or false. It is an idle speculation with no more content than the generality it applies to a single case; whereas, "If I'd bet on 10, I would have won" seems falsified by the fact, say, that 20 won and that my betting had no causal connection to the outcome. But there drops a warning flag: "Nothing accessible to us." For who knows what would have happened had I done what I did not do? Sometimes we do know, from the causal relationship of things, e.g., if I'd stepped off the curb a moment earlier, I'd have been hit by that car (assuming everything else to have been the same). But sometimes we have no access to what would have happened and are assigning truth values by conventions of discourse (another kind of inheritance system). In many of these cases there is "no fact of the matter" or none accessible to us.

Some assertions about what might have been are conditioned by a cognitive accessibility element, an element not prominent in the other cases mentioned so far. So we have to accommodate the facts that (1) sometimes we treat statements as true because that's the way we talk about certain matters even though there is no cognitive access, independently of our talk, to the situation and, in fact, may be no definite situation at all; and (2) sometimes we treat statements as true or false by association with others (inheritance) without any regard to whether this is a determinate situation as apparently stated: "Johnny, you are likely to fall."

Divergent truth values can appear earned when we relax the restriction that it is the real natures of things that make counterfactual statements true or false: "If I'd had different parents, I'd have had significantly different characteristics." Read superficially, that looks like an obvious truth. But since I couldn't have had different parents, we can either say the statement is true because the antecedent is impossible (thus treating the whole as a truth inherited from the falsity of the antecedent by way of a rule of logic), or we can treat the statement as false because I could not have had significantly different characteristics, whatever the circumstances. The statement can have divergent values depending upon the inheritance scheme (here, the logic), and other assumptions in which it is embedded. When we attend to judgment, as distinct from its verbal expression, what a person would believe, who would utter the statement above, is probably just a substitution instance of the generality "if people have different parents, they have ...." And so, what is thought would indeed be what is so.

We seem to use a deviant logic: a conditional whose antecedent and consequent are both impossible is false because "reality cannot be that way," rather than the usual trivial truth accepted by philosophers as a paradox of logic because "what is always false implies what is always false." I think we are entitled to choose the interpretation of what we say to fit the conventions of the discourse we use, unless, as is often so in law, there is a definite "public" convention that settles how the statement is to be understood. Overriding everything else as governing the meaning of what we say is what we believe, in so far as it is determinate and accessible to us.

"If I'd been of military age in 1066, I'd have been part of the Norman invasion." Nothing known to us about the Norman invasion makes it false. We do know I could not have been of military age in 1066. We could say that is true because the antecedent is impossible, or that it is false for the same reason, or false because the consequent is not implied by the antecedent, etc. (not a necessary condition of its truth). Different rules give different results. To invent possible worlds so that at least one contains such a situation or even so that none contains such a situation is simply to force a truth value by our modeling. It does not solve any problems.

Not knowing now how reality would have been is not sufficient for certainty that it would not have complied. In some circumstances unascertainability may be sufficient for a statement's not being true without being sufficient for its being false. Thus, bivalence is not a feature of such discourse.

Overall, we have to acknowledge discourses that do not accord with classical logic. The reason, so far, is rather trivial but persuasive. If we acknowledge two factors in some discourses, a compliant reality and cognitive accessibility, as being involved in the necessary conditions for "is true that," then we need to countenance that "is not true that" will not imply "is false that" in the sense of "has no compliant reality," but "is cognitively indeterminate that," disjunctively as well.

Now some people, like Dummett, would have you think we have to countenance the same principles of validity for all sectors of discourse. But I think not: You do choose principles of validity appropriate for the activity the discourse serves. Their main purpose is to minimize reasoning from the true to the false. But the chances of doing so vary with the subject matter. And sometimes the discourse is affected by cognitive accessibility in principle. Sometimes we reject bifurcation, (p)(pv-p). Sometimes we even have to reject "excluded middle" in the form where it is thought that for any assertion "p" with content and a truth-value there is another assertion "not-p" with the same content, and an opposite truth-value. For natural necessities and singular existentials do not have opposites with content, including successful reference, because there are no opposite situations at all.

If we discard inheritance schemes like material implication and strict implication ("If I'd been invisible, then ..."), and disenfranchise suppositions that are contrary to the potentialities of things, and dismiss ones that suppose the non-existence of the actual ("If I'd never been born"), or disregard the known limitations of things ("If I'd had the musical talent of Bach...," or "If I'd had the winning ticket"), we will soon be down to what things could do as a function of what they can do: to what might have been as determined by the natures of things. Then we have earned truth, if we get it right, and earned falsity if we get it wrong. For instance, "If I'd attached those wires that way, the pump would have short circuited." Either it would or it wouldn't (given the electric power). Such conditionals are the paradigms from which other contrary-to-fact conditionals are constructed by relaxation of the mentioned restrictions until we can even construct some statements that suppose situations "beyond reference" or situations "beyond conception": "If the absolute power of God had been differently disposed, there might have been no creatures at all." If that statement is false it is because something is actually different from what is implicitly supposed about the existence and nature of God. And if it is true, it is because of what is actually so. Thus counterfactual statements with earned truth values earn them from what is actually in being. But just as many have only inherited truth-values and as many, again, have none at all, and as many again are not true because a compliant reality would be unascertainable. These phenomena can be better accommodated by an ontology that relies upon the real natures of things, and that explains how there can be earned truth and falsity, as well as inherited truth and falsity, without any counterfactual reality as the "possible worlds" ontologies suppose, and explains how lots of contrary-to-fact conditionals have no truth-values at all.

2. Limits of reference.

Because we have to use words, networked in meaning and attached by calling to things and kinds (how else would words have either linguistic or overflow significations?), we cannot express a situation entirely unrelated to what there is. Yet, there might have been things of entirely other sorts. Such contents are inexpressible and unthinkable except schematically, like Leonardo's "Winged Man."

Attempts to state what might have been entirely otherwise fail to convey anything with definite de re necessities, or are inconsistent. To say, there might have been babies with wings, amphibious dolphins, or talking reptiles is to populate a bestiary with what is really impossible, not to describe what might have been. Those real natures incorporated by reference as overflow conditions for the kinds we are conjoining, would not so combine. For natures carry their causal oppositions as well as capacities with them into any combination. Otherwise the notion of real universals (real common natures) is too indefinite to be of use. But what about recombinant DNA? "If nature had assembled human DNA in certain other ways, there would have been babies with wings." At one level that is a triviality, made true by the conceptual alignment of what would count as "certain ways." But if such arrangements are naturally impossible, then we would not let that conditional license the statement, "There might have been babies with wings."

About other cases, say particles of diameter less that 10-23 cm., we have no way of knowing that real features would so combine (and very good reason to think they would not). And to say, "Well, it is not inconsistent" is to get the cart before the horse: semantic inconsistency is (sometimes) a reflection of natural impossibility, not its explanation. Semantic inconsistency can also be a hangover from false beliefs or incomplete knowledge and not mark impossibility at all, e.g., of three dimensional pictures of things (holograms). In the middle ages talking pictures would have been thought inconsistent, impossible or miraculous. And further, something can be impossible when it is not inconsistent, e.g., a meson computer.

Descartes tried to illustrate with mathematical examples what would have been so, had God exercised his absolute power differently but the result, except for geometry, seemed inconsistent. Our ability to conceive of what might have been is constrained by concepts derived from what is. Our concepts are attached by reference to overflow necessities that limit what we can coherently say about what might have been. Even a metaphysical voluntarist does not think humans might have been incorporeal (except Descartes), colors invisible, mass without inertia, or that 2+2 might equal 5. Nothing real could have been of any other kind. No mouse could have been a cat, though a typewriter dropped to a cargo cult might have been a prayer machine. And no formal object could have had other attributes, though there might have been other formal objects instead and there might have been no such formal objects as the natural numbers, imaginary or complex numbers, Euclidean triangles or infinite sets. No one disputes that we might not have thought of them; the dispute is whether our not having thought of them would be sufficient for their not being at all. There is no point to saying that God thinks of them; God has no need to think mathematically or geometrically, both of which are ratiotinative and require ignorance.

Had something else existed, not of any kind that is actual, something instead of what there is, it would not have been "different from what there is," except from the merely putative standpoint of what there is, which would not have been actual at all. What is actual would not logically "remain" as a content for some definite difference. The referential vantage would be negated. Nothing would be missing. That's the way with uprooted common names and predicates. Tear out all reference and truth-values die, leaving only a verbal shell that might look like a statement but fails referentially.

What wholly other kinds of things there might have been are inaccessible. Universals or common natures are real only in coincident things [see Chapter 7, below]. Wholly other kinds are not real possibilities. There is no content. "They" are not really possible because "they" cannot be the objects of reference and certainly not of quantification. The statements, "they are inaccessible," "they are not real," "they have no content," have no extension, no domain of quantification, no realm of reference. We merely cantilever intentionality from the way we talk about what exists. There are no abstract surrogates for empty kinds, only the second order, consequent, (plastic) universal, "being a kind," coincident with every kind but not exhausted by what there is. One can say, using a sense of "possible" originating in Aristotle ("within the ability of an agent") that other kinds are really possible in that there is an agent able to make things of other kinds (a Creator), but we cannot say what other kinds are possible.

A universal is the reality a parte rei that satisfies the signification for a word (either common noun or common adjective) -- the real conditions of application. Thus "to be an animal" in the broad sense of a thing capable of nutrition, growth, reproduction, locomotion and sensation, may have cases where the physical conditions making a thing capable of sensation are not only different but opposed. Thus, warm-blooded animals capable of vision may differ from cold-blooded aquatic creatures with magnetic senses; the subjectivity of each may have little in common with the other except for the amazing thing that it is subjectivity. Similarly for sensation and perceptive action. A universal does not have to be a real nature or a basic reality. It can be entirely consequential as is "being a bird," as long as it is entirely real, like the rotational laterality of a skyscraper. Universals, as we shall see, can be consequential, resultant or emergent or basic physical realities (the sources, rather than the outcomes of causation).

How do we know there could have been other kinds, especially if we do not know about any other kinds? We do know, about our kinds, that nothing about them (as far as we can tell so far) requires that they be the only kinds. If we really do know that, that settles the matter. Secondly, "being a kind" which is a second-order consequent universal, not a constitutive nature, is coincident with every case that is of a real kind. That coincident universal is not logically exhausted by what there is. So there could at least logically (conceivably) be other kinds, for what little that is worth, in light of arguments already displayed. Whether that amounts to real possibility depends on whether something exists that is able to produce things of other kinds.

The natures of real things are eternal and immutable, but every finite thing might have been of different natures, not by change of nature but by substituted things. We cannot say what such natures might have been. We can say quite a lot about what might have been, provided we are talking about contingent conditions or natural necessities of actual things and kinds. So, I might have been a physician. There might have been more philosophers in this decade. If a planet the size of Jupiter had collided with the Earth, the Earth would have tipped out of orbit. These are all rooted in actual things. As thought-contents, they have real constituents, not representations or symbols. Not all the things we can say have the same status. Some are definite alternatives; some are true by inheritance; some indefinite; some without truth value; and some, arbitrary (e.g., "If I'd been an Asian, I'd have been a woman.").

Some real thing might have differed by an added necessity from what there was, previously. That is, offspring might have added an essential element, not present in ancestors, as flying cockroaches developed from non-flying species. How it happened, without intermediates, is astonishing and unexplained. But no single thing changes its non-indexed necessities. And no species (1st level kind) changes its component universals. No coincident and constitutive universal changes either. Rather, there are cases of a new kind. No essence changes. "Essence" here is nearly equivalent to "quiddity," and "real nature" (a coincident nature sufficient to determine a substance, a kind of reality that exists as a subject in being, rather than because of the being of something it modifies).

One cannot be sure about what universals there might be, if any, if there were none of the actual ones. We are not even aware, yet, of the basic material universals, the ones from which all others are consequent, resultant or emergent. (Later on, we will consider whether there may be none.) Someone might say, "There could be universals satisfying any consistent description." Yet that is exactly what we know not to be so: (i) we do not know whether the actual universals are the only universals for a material world, and so, we do not know that any other material universals are really possible; (ii) we do not know, even supposing other universals to be possible, that there can be other universals to supply the overflow necessities for just any consistent description; in fact we know in many cases there cannot be; (iii) we do not know, about a postulated totally foreign universal, what it is and that it is possible. So we can't say "there might have been regions of space that are persons," pretending that "regions of space" and "persons" do not involve any actual universal by reference; for then there is no definite sense, no definite content, to what we appear to say. Nothing determinate enough to state a possibility has been said. That may be the same with saying, "The values of some of the universal constants might have been different." We seem to state a possibility but perhaps nothing definite enough for a possibility has been said.

3. Limits of expression.

Natural languages have potentially infinite expressive power quantitatively but are actually finite. Vocabulary is limited (even though semantic contagion offers infinite polysemy). For any crisp thought to be expressed, there has to be background thought that is not expressed. In any case, you can't say everything that can be said (in some natural language) in every natural language. Either "this is in French," said in French, is the same as "this is in French," referencing to itself, said in English or there is something you can say in French and not in English. But if they are the same, why is "celui-ci est en Francais" always true while "this sentence is in French," referring to itself, is always false? But if they are different, you can say something in French you cannot say in English, and vice versa. Further, what is so, infinitely overflows what can be said, as was explained in Chapter 1.

There are other limits to expression as well, some we cannot explain very well, for example that what can be expressed musically or in poetry or drawing cannot usually be stated; and we conjecture that our ability to judge how things are falls short of the forms of a reality that exceeds it.

4. De re necessities are neither conventional, conceptual nor linguistic. Why meaning- inclusions cannot account for real necessity.

Necessities overflow meanings, first. Secondly, necessities existentially precede ideas, words, meanings, and concepts. Thirdly, necessities are not all known. Fourthly, they cannot all be expressed. Fifthly, meanings adjust to our beliefs, which in turn, adjust to necessity.

As I made clear in Chapter 1, it is not the meaning of a common name that settles which are the necessities of nature; they overflow and are discovered by experience and science. Many are unknown as the atomic constitution of gold and water were unknown for most of human history. Meanings adjust to include our beliefs about things, sometimes our false beliefs as well, as when dolphins were thought to be fish or "a constellation is a pattern of stars" (some have galaxies as stars). We turn that commonplace falsehood into a commonplace truth by letting "star" float in meaning as "whatever people called 'stars'."

"Conceptual inclusion" will not account for natural necessity, whether the conceptions are pre-programmed (Kantian a priori) or acquired (positivist conventionalism), for the same reasons verbal inclusions do not. To say natural necessity is co-extensive with conceptual (or meaning) inclusions is empirically false, and false in principle as well. For one thing, necessity overflows meaning in every area: manufacturing, engineering, technology, war, finance, and environmental destruction. Three ounces of dioxin, 2,3,7,8, TCDD in a city's water supply would kill a million people. (And there are six hundred pounds produced annually in one United States factory, as by-product from making trichlorophenol for the herbicide 2,4,5,-T and the disinfectant hexachlorophene.) Could such lethal power be the result of our meanings and concepts? Is someone going to tell us that death is a convention or a mere conception? That's catching at straws. Real necessity is neither co-extensive with nor encompassed in meaning.

Positivist conventionalism and Quinean "revisability of all belief" failed to accommodate natural necessity. Yet the fashion, from the mid-nineteen-fifties to the mid-seventies, was to deny there are real natural necessities, and to claim that the notion is incoherent, until Kripke [1972] was persuasive that there are necessities discoverable through experience, particularly identities involving common and proper names. Displaying that we do discover necessities a posteriori did not of itself settle that such necessities are real necessities, that is, mind-independent, or discourse-independent. But it did leave something conceptualists and conventionalists seemed unable to explain; namely, how we happen on the previously unknown natural identities. We do find out such necessities through experience, even though no then extant account of knowing could explain how. Indeed, one of the reasons for reintroducing "abstraction" as I do, is to explain that. I note that Kripke's later writing about Wittgenstein [1981] seems to espouse a brand of meaning-skepticism in conflict with the certainty he earlier displayed. Kripke's earlier reasoning needs to be buttressed with the argument from Chapters 1 and 2 that the de re necessities for real natures (say, hydrogen) overflow our meanings and conceptions, no matter how we augment them, and so, cannot be accounted for or explained by meanings and conceptions.

Our cognitive processes have been underestimated by naturalized epistemologies, from Hume onward, that hold we have no experience of real necessities. That was always a non- sequitur anyway: that because sensation cannot disclose them, we can have no experience of them and, therefore, there are none. For one thing, the limits of sensation are not the limits of experience; for another, to suppose the limits of sense perception are the limits of reality is gratuitous. The critical-idealist, conceptualist and conventionalist positions were originally developed to account for the "necessities" at the base of physical science. But they had the effect of denying that necessities can be known from experience and of denying that in science we discover how things "have" to be. Kripke re-persuaded a number of people that some necessities are discovered, without providing the replacement pieces for a theory of knowledge to explain how we do it.

For instance, induction (by cases) and deduction are not the only or typical ways we figure things out or come to generalizations. Our perceptual processes are not typically representational, as if we got around in our world like a person moving around in a room by watching a 3-D display on video-goggles. Detailing how knowledge differs, observably, from what philosophers say about it, does not fit here yet, though it will. But keep in mind that the empiricist trio, "evidentialism," "representationalism," and "inferentionalism," caricatures our knowing and blocks any account that actually explains our knowledge of real necessities and impossibilities through experience.

Necessity might, for all I've said, be a kind of cognitive illusion, not the result of linguistic conventions or conceptual schemes alone, but also the result of cognitive economy by which we simply ignore the "grue" phenomena and privilege certain principles provisionally but very highly. That seems to be the post-positivist stance, not only up to Goodman's Ways of World Making, but beyond into the new pragmatisms of Putnam and Rorty (which are quite different). As will be seen later, that's not in the cards. The experiential evidence, the success of science and its technological applications, make it undeniable that there are real, active natures of things (some call them universals), the foundations of natural necessity and impossibility: you cannot make milk by churning gasoline; you cannot make a cabbage think by connecting it to a battery. We need an account of knowledge that explains how we know what we undeniably do know.

5. Analyticity is a result of meaning arrangements to simplify empirical knowledge (belief).

That the analyticity of certain sentences, or statements accounts for natural necessity is false, as silly as saying the reason I cannot digest stones is that the statement "people digest stones" is contradictory. Analyticity has functions that result from (presumed) cognition. Conceptual and linguistic inclusions (and oppositions) are bundles of (purported) cognition, giving immediate access from one part of experience to another. Necessity, once known, can be condensed into a meaning inclusion, e.g., "rust is ferrous oxide," especially through the stipulations of crafts; for example, "thermoplastics are materials that change from solid to liquid under repeated applications of heat." That analytic statement was fashioned after the discovery of materials that turn to liquid under heat and cool to solid, as often as one wants at normal temperatures. (Yet chocolate, butter, and water apparently don't count as kitchen-variety thermoplastics.) As Quine [1991] pointed out, it is an empirical matter that meaning relations are as they are. As a result there is no guarantee that inclusions and non-synonymy track the truth.

Analytic statements are not all the same, as philosophers think. "A saw is a tool you cut wood with" (as is a knife, an ax, a plane, a chisel, an adz, a spokeshave, and so on), is not strictly true, because there are ice saws, metal saws, stone saws, etc., but is a "truth by a paradigm case," because it defines a name for a paradigm case. That is different from the logically quiddative: "closed-end mutual funds do not buy back their own shares" or "broker-dealers make a market in securities, buying and selling for their own accounts." They tell you "what a thing is," legally, from definitions used in performative utterances to create institutions and roles, not merely relations of ideas. That differs from "spinsters are unmarried females of a certain age" which is an indication of the range of persons usually called spinsters, and from "castleing is a certain move with the King and Rook in chess," or "a straight is a hand in sequence in poker" that tell the general sort but not exactly what the things are and are consequences of another kind of rule-making. "Marsupials carry their young in a pouch"; "a pouch is a bag in which marsupials carry their young." Notice the belief elements of meaning: that certain animals have a bag in which they carry their young. It is simply false that definitions have no factual presupposition. Just to say "There are warm-blooded animals and birds" presupposes that some animals and birds regulate their own body temperatures.

Errors about nature also become parts of meanings: "An atom is the smallest unit of matter" [Webster's Dictionary for Everyday Use, 1988], as against "an atom is the smallest particle of an element." That there are elements is presupposed, a belief element of meaning; further, it is presupposed that parts of atoms do not behave as elementary particles. In the early twentieth century, we were taught, "an atom is the smallest material unit, with a sun-like center, the nucleus, and planet-like satellites, the electrons." That ("Dalton atom") turned out to be false in the sense of "too coarse," "too gross." In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries "being material" came to mean, for many, "being mechanical," that is, obeying mechanistic laws, and, perhaps, "with mechanical insides," like a clock, along with solidity, etc., that turned out to be false. Micro-matter, protons, neutrons, and leptons, do not have primary qualities literally as they were understood in the seventeenth century, and do not interact mechanically. Only mid-matter is thought to be somewhat like that now, but not entirely because of electronics and superconductivity, etc. Micro-matter is not solid, shaped, in a definite place, etc.

Because there are belief-elements of meaning, analytic statements can be false, as I have illustrated. A belief-element of the meaning need only be false. Thus, if God does not exist or does not redeem humans, the analytic statement "Sanctifying grace is the grace sufficient for salvation" will be false because of its existential supposition, just as "caloric is the fluid consumed to make heat and light" is false, and just as is "being necessary is being true in all possible worlds" is false. The idea that meaning inclusions are never based on false presuppositions is simply mistaken. Further mistaken is the Humean-Kantian idea that conceptual inclusions are independent of experience and can tell us nothing about the world.

Analyticity simplifies our (presumed) knowledge, especially of natural necessity. (But, as I said, that's not the only kind of analyticity.) Meaning inclusion bridges elements of knowledge or mere conviction to one another by inclusion, e.g., "Coal is a hard black mineral consisting of carbonized vegetable matter mined from the earth." So, could there be no coal on another planet? In harmonic theory, the relationships of thirds, fourths, fifths, sevenths, diminished sevenths, etc., are all interdefined. Analyticity (to echo Goodman on realism in art [1968]), makes for ease of access among convictions. If I take it as part of what I mean by light that it has a constant velocity of 186,000 mps, I can more easily figure out other things, e.g., how far apart two events have to be to require an hour to interact. If I take it that "light is those frequencies of electromagnetic radiation which directly stimulate the organ of vision" as Penguin English Dictionary [1982, p. 442] puts it, I may take it that invisible light is contradictory and, so, impossible? But that meaning-inclusion expressed a false belief.

If I take it as a matter of meaning that a billion is a thousand million, and a trillion a thousand billion, as against the British and Canadian usage, I can easily imagine the U. S. 1989 budget as one thousand, thousand millions and the early 90's annual deficit of 40% as four hundred thousand millions, about four hundred thousand dollars for every citizen of Rhode Island (or every resident of the island of Manhattan).

Analytic items of all the kinds I mentioned function as minor premises in our reasoning. They connect things up in thought and discourse. Analyticity has a "footstamping" role as well. A few trivialities establish a base, to square off, to frame a position for understanding what else is to be said: "Ours is a nation where liberty is protected by law, but where basic liberty precedes and is only recognized, rather than created by law". We use "self-evident" reports of experience the same way, to set the framework for expressing further thought. A judge might begin a decision with "all men are created equal, and that includes all women too" and then proceed to resolve some disputed matter. To make a point clearer, I might say, "People get smaller in the distance, but not in stature." It is interesting to listen to the framing analyticities philosophers and lawyers, politicians and doctors offer, especially when they are false: "A sickness is not something one is responsible for" (except in the case of cancer caused by smoking, ulcers or liver failure caused by alcohol, morbidity caused by overeating, etc., etc.); "we physicians do everything we can for the welfare of our patients and of the public and nothing else" (except practice defensive medicine, undersupply pain relief and listen distractedly to stories we think we've heard over and over). "The earth is round" as opposed to "flat" but not as opposed to pear-shaped. So it is analytic that the earth is round but, strictly, false that it is a sphere.

Linguistic inclusions might have been different; not only might the same sound-spellings have had different uses entirely, but the same words (that is, same sound/spelling patterns) might have included other items of meaning. "Potato" might have meant "edible tuber, dry-freezable in the manner of the Aztecs," the way "tsetsin" is "a food-staple made from rancid butter and common among Tibetans." It wouldn't make any difference if it was later discovered that only 10% of Tibetans used tsetsin, or that the Aztecs only accidentally let potatoes dry freeze. For intriguing examples of belief-elements included in meanings, and of the borderlines between inclusions, associations and references, look at a some New York Times or London Times crossword puzzles.

Traits that we leave out of our word connections are not considered relevant to modifying behavior in the contexts where we use the words. "Edible tuber" is not part of the meaning of "potato" for most people because it has no behavior modifying function, not already done by "underground vegetable, long lasting, generally like carrots, parsnips, and turnips, but tasting different." "Tasting different"? To whom? Pigs? Is a potato really a vegetable? What is a vegetable? Most people have no opinion at all as to whether "tubers are vegetables" is true or not. On the other hand, much is included in meaning that is accidental to the things because that information has a behavior-modifying function in discourse. "Motorcars use gasoline" is not necessary; it is not even strictly true because of alcohol and gasohol, bottled gas and electric engines. But it is analytic. It is purported knowledge and a useful belief capsule.

Some cases fail to satisfy the conditions expressed in the meaning. That is because of idealization in the conception. "Water is an odorless, tasteless, colorless, potable liquid." That is analytic, and it is true of distilled water. But "is water" applies to what comes out of my city faucet, that smells bad and tastes of chlorine. It could be distilled; so could the ocean, in a different sense of "could." Thus there are four patterns whose cases do not have the features that are analytically contained: (i) Idealizations ("water"), ("calorie"); (ii) paradigm description ("saw"), ("cars go on gas"); (iii) meaning-incorporated false belief ("atoms are the smallest particles of matter"), ("gold is A79"), ("heat is average kinetic motion of molecules"); and (iv) analogous definitions ("life is self movement").

6. There is no direct connection between analyticity and truth.

I already illustrated that; but it needs reflection. For instance "Hesperus is Phosphorus" is thought to be analytic because the Morning Star, Venus, is the Evening Star, Venus. But that belief-element will over time become false; over time, which is the first star (planet) seen at night changes. Analyticity is not sufficient for the truth of what is expressed, as examples of four kinds just above showed. In general, because false presuppositions can be elements of inclusions, analyticity cannot assure truth. A fortiori, it does not assure necessity. The mere fact that one notion includes another does not assure that reality complies. Nor are the real natures of things specially revealed in our concepts. Conceptual analysis has little or no prospect as a method of science or of metaphysics. "Salamanders are animals that can endure fire" was thought to be true because that's what salamanders "are." But that's not so. "A hectare is an area containing 100 acres or 10,000 square meters (2.471 acres)." That must define an equivocal term or there are none. "Laws are general principles to which all applicable cases must conform" [Webster, 1979, p. 1028]. How then can the laws of physics lie [Cartwright, 1983]? The last example better illustrates "bad definition" than "meaning-included false belief" because it does not express what we mean by "law" except in some very restricted areas of discourse. Although the general laws of physics may be true, they do not predict the actual values of particular cases, because of other forces and factors present. Nevertheless, the way we make ordinary measuring instruments, say an electrical multi-tester, the "readings" are rough enough that they do fit formulas like "amps times volts equals watts," and the same is true for spirit levels, plumblines, measuring tapes, etc. We simply build the tolerances into the grossness of the scaling.

There are necessities about ourselves, undiscoverable by analysis of the meanings of words (or concepts), for instance, our DNA structures, our tissue rejection properties, our immune system condition, etc. Furthermore, necessities of nature may be represented in meaning inclusions ("water is a liquid"), even though conditional; or may be left out ("glass is a liquid"), especially when not relevant to modifying behavior with the ordinary words, as noted above. "Solid glass" cannot mean what most people take it to mean. Chemical bonding features are left out of what we mean by "water," "helium," or "iron."

As mentioned, falsehoods achieve inclusion, too. Among socialist thinkers, "citizen" excludes the idea of "having rights against the state" and "having a personal fulfillment not a function of the social good" -- elements included by others. So, "citizens have no rights against the state" is analytic (a conceptual inclusion), and is also a legal reality, and has important stand-taking uses. But it is not true (except legally in totalitarian states). And what Americans might regard as analytic, "all persons, citizens or not, have basic rights against the state," the (former) Soviets and some of our own political conservatives regard as legally analytic for us but substantively false. The truth of the matter is not determined by what we mean. A most persuasive demonstration of the last point can be found by one's looking through a large dictionary, keeping in mind that "belief elements" are parts of meanings, as in "potatoes are edible tubers," and noticing the false belief elements in the meanings of words as sketched there.

Notice as well the limbo of statements that may express meaning equivalences to some, and empirical co-extension to others, like "Beryl is inorganic" and "moonstone is feldspar." For experienced rock collectors these may express transparent truths and not just a conventional equivalence of names. One man's analyticity may be another's obvious generality and still another's merely verbal convention as to what things are called.

Once we add the separation of meaning-inclusions from truth, and thus from necessity, to Kripke's separation of the necessary (identities) from the a priori (what is known independently of sensory perception), we can explain something that was paradoxical: why thought and meaning cannot explain natural necessity but can explain formal necessity. Further, the option that formal necessities are "free creations of the human mind," in Dummett's phrase, becomes persuasive, whereas the Humean option that real impossibilities are similarly explained becomes absurd.

7. Linguistic reluctance.

Why don't all the necessities we discover become elements of meaning? Because we don't need them, as I have already said. They have no function in the discourse in which we use the words to modulate behavior. Traits that are known to be natural necessities are not added to the meaning-network for a word unless we need them. Just look at the list of known necessities about iron in Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia [p. 903]; probably no more than a handful even know them to be true or have any use for all of them. Cognitive economy explains non-inclusion and inclusion too, a kind of natural selection. We leave out of the meaning what is irrelevant to the behavior we use the word to modulate. The reason "water is H2O" hovers between being analytic and not, is that for important purposes, including public water supply testing, the chemical composition is important, whereas for most people that information has no function except as a levity. Besides, with things that are really the same, at least in constitution, you can know what one is and not what the other is: "Water is H2O"; "sapphires are transparent blue corundum."

Because common words occur in a great variety of contexts, to modify many kinds of behavior, they have many senses (different meaning elements), particularly, many craft-bound meanings. The different meanings (sometimes related, sometimes not) are like distinct packages of inclusions and oppositions of belief (usually called "knowledge"). The packages are fashioned for the activity they serve, and facilitate transition from one idea to others and from commitment to commitment. So, a "line" on a boat is a rope (or substitute); a "line" in music is one thing; in a poem, another; on a road, a kind of marking; in a store, a queue or a sort of merchandise; and each meaning belongs to a cluster of background beliefs.

We do not package elements that are behaviorally non-functional, anymore than we put rain-suits into desert-packs. We include the elements, whether strictly true or not, that are functional. So water is a liquid, even when frozen or a gas; and for practical purposes, glass is a solid, not a liquid. How about ice? Is ice a liquid (glacial flow) or a solid? Is either analytic? Certainly whichever is true must be a natural necessity. Asimov [1972, p. 278] speaks of ice as a solid and describes a kind of ice, ice-III, "that is a solid at temperatures higher than the boiling point of water." Yet, the meaning of "water" just will not include laws of chemical bonding, or the laws of liquidity. That information has no function outside special crafts. In contrast, "philosopher" means "lover of wisdom" even though most philosophers are not. How about "diamonds are just pressurized graphite" [cf. Asimov, 1972, p. 278]?

The meanings of words include what is pragmatically relevant, often as "of-the -nature-of-things" (even about hands of cards, that may be all made up). Meaning-inclusion, like conceptual inclusions, is a thought-to-thought and thought-to-action connection. Where falsities work well, they often remain, as in rules-of-thumb ("wood shingles are spaced 1/8 inch"), proverbs ("a miss is as good as a mile"), Murphy's law ("what can go wrong, will") and conventions ("a rising tide floats all boats").

The counter-considerations, that there are no real natures or that they are cognitively inaccessible to us -- so that the incorporation of general beliefs as meaning elements is a progressive cosmic misunderstanding -- is directly refuted later on, as are similar attacks from convention [D. Lewis, 1969], from borderline cases, indeterminacy [Quine, 1960, p. 28, and 1987(b), the riddle of induction [Goodman, 1955], the Kripkean W-skepticism (the view Kripke attributed [1982] to Wittgenstein), and anti-realism based on problems of reference [Putnam, 1987], and from intuitionist denials of excluded middle and bifurcation of predicates [Dummett, 1991]. None effectively undercuts the realism about dynamically effective natures required to account both for successful science and for common sense experience.

8. On incorporating overflow necessities.

In "Philosophy of Language and the Rest of Philosophy," H. Putnam resolves his twin Earth problem about whether "water" means the same thing to those whose tasteless, odorless, potable liquid is made of xyz instead of H2O, by saying "water" does not mean the same thing as it does to earthlings. That is equivalent to saying that at least some of the de re overflow necessities, namely, the chemical constitution, picked out by the reference to paradigms, examples, or just ordinary cases, are incorporated into the meanings of the kind word. It is not inconceivable that people on Twin Earth might incorporate their knowledge of the chemical constitution of water into the meaning of the word "water" just as some knowledgeable Earthlings mean H2O, in part, by water. What is simply impossible is that in nature the same macro-properties exhibited by stuff constituted of H2O molecules should be exhibited by a quite different constitution that is naturally impossible. Putnam's example is just day-dreaming. But his point, adjusted to allow the overflow necessities to belong to the signification, not the meaning, is right: what the Twin Earthlings' would call "water" would not be the same stuff we call "water," and so, relatively to us, there would be homonymy.

We find out all kinds of real necessities for water, iron, electricity, and stars that are not incorporated into the linguistic meanings of the words, but are, instead, among the conditions of applicability for the kind-words. It is just not true that the meaning of any natural language general term contains all the conditions that an object has to satisfy for the word to apply to it, or even all the ones we know of or believe in. The micro-composition of water could not have been part of its meaning when it was unknown. Besides, we don't know all the conditions, even now. And linguistic conservatism determines what gets into the meaning, and what, not; as already explained.

If per impossibile, there were a mid-range same liquid, of different micro-composition, but called by the same name, "water," what the two groups would be talking about would, in composition, not be the same (so their references would be different), but what they would be talking about (as to mid-range liquid) would be the same and what "water" means, contrary to Putnam, would be the same, though the conditions of applicability (the signification) would be different. But so what? (I say all this is within a discourse framework accepted from Putnam's supposition, which, of course, I regard as baseless and really impossible.)

There is no choice but to distinguish: (a) linguistic meaning, what one knows when one knows how to use the word and, perhaps, what one can articulate, more or less, with the help of a dictionary; (b) reference, the attachment of a word in use to a particular object (correctly or incorrectly); (c) the extension, the objects forming the range of things to which the word applies (in the same sense); and (d) the conditions of applicability, the conditions the objects in the domain have to satisfy for the word to apply to it -- what C. I. Lewis called the signification. Now I say by using a term to apply to a real case, all the de re necessities (whatever are known and all the rest) are incorporated by reference into the signification -- into the conditions the object has to satisfy to bear the name. But only those conditions of applicability that practice employs to modify the activities for which we use the words, are included in the linguistic meaning. Thus, conditions of applicability, in principle, overflow elements of meaning. And linguistic meaning is modulated by semantic contagion and by pragmatic traction [Ross, 1992]. So, Putnam is wrong; the overflow necessities of constitution are not part of the meanings of kind words. They are scooped up into conditions of applicability, whether we know them or not, by our reference to cases. Therefore, Putnam got the wrong answer in the Twin Earth case. There might very well not be a difference of meaning but would certainly be a difference of signification instead. For people to be competent and even skilled in their language, they do not have to have full grasp of the linguistic practices that are the linguistic meanings of their words, and they, for the most part, do not have to know anything about the natural necessities and other conditions of applicability that overflow the linguistic meanings of our discourse. A person can know zinc is a bluish-white metal, an element, and in trace amounts needed for health without knowing its atomic number, atomic weight, density or hardness. But, of course, nothing he is talking about will ever be zinc without satisfying those conditions.

II. What Has to Be

1. Whence the real natures, the universals?

(a) In brief.

If you grant, at least provisionally, that there are real natures inherent in things, that is, "solid with things," that begin with them and are destroyed with them, without any eternal basis in reality like platonic ideas, but are the intrinsic source of characteristic physical behavior, and that individuals, stuffs and kinds come and go in the cosmos; and if you allow that the being of the cosmos, and of the things of various natures, needs an explanation, we can proceed to the bottom lines of the inquiry.

If one cannot accept the notion that somehow all possibilities are actual and that being and possibility are equivalent (basically a Parmenidean-Spinozistic hypothesis, perhaps as I amended David Lewis' version, earlier), then one is nudged toward the hypothesis that some substance is primary and, not in its explanatory aspect, material.

Whence the necessities of nature? Not from inert ideas. Not from infinite, necessary, inert abstracta. Not from chance. Somehow from being. If the cosmically actual is not all that is possible, and if, beyond the potentialities of the actual, there is "the rest," "the other" that is indeterminate and inaccessible, from whence is it possible?

What humans, cells, electrons, and gravity are is not settled prior (logically antecedently) to the material world. There is nothing to do that. It is settled for the material-world-in-time either necessarily (for which we must have an account) or by no reason at all (which is unsatisfying) or by divine creation -- we do not have to decide which now; but we do know that logical templates, "platonic forms," and abstractions are only delusions that postpone explanation without advancing it.

(b) God or god.

Where do possibilities with content come from? Most philosophers assume that point is somehow "already" settled, somehow settled before the philosophical story begins, because they can't imagine what would do it. So they just postulate possible worlds or abstracta, or the like. But such stories are especially incomplete and unsatisfactory if there are real natures of things, solid with the things like gold, carbon and iron, and if what we know about what might have been is fully grounded in the knowledge of real natures which come to be and pass away with their cases. For where do the natures of things, the real necessities and real impossibilities come from? Unless we say the necessities of nature (that we abstract from the real uniformities of things) are all there could be, there is, as yet, no account of why they are as they are, determining how things have to be. Why do protons have a life of 1030 years, when the cosmos does not even "last" that long (supposing it does not)? Why do the universal constants, all seventy of them, have the values they do? Elsewhere, I suggested that "Lewisized Spinozism" may be the only comprehensive alternative to creation.

All the other hypotheses, platonist and nominalist ask much more in the way of unreasoned commitment to unexplained multitudes than monotheism or pantheism. There are really only two choices: either the cosmos is god (or an emanation or necessary expression of god) or God is above and beyond the cosmos (paralleling Augustine's thought in De Libero Arbitrio, Bk. II). And if the cosmos is somehow god, a divine self-explaining substance, then it is not in its aspect as material that the explanation of its being is to be found, but in its self-subsistence. So in either case we have one self-subsistent substance, in the one case making the cosmos freely, in the other, emmanating it or materially expressing itself by nature (natura naturans), a theophany. Essentially the choice is Spinozism revised, or monotheistic creation. In either case, there is a self-accounting being, a substance whose being is the source of necessity and possibility. Pantheists, as well as theists, will want to say, as I do, and Aquinas did, "The cosmos somehow endures forever" [Ross, 1987].

Philosophers who won't go that far either drop out of the inquiry or fault the search for "ultimate explanations for being" as involving some as yet unidentified error of thinking. I do not know of a respectable statement of what such an error consists in, even treating Sartre's atheism with the greatest respect.

Actual and potential things are the only kinds with content. The real universals are "solid" with things, beginning to be with them and destroyed with them, without an external basis in reality, but coincident with individuals, stuffs and kinds, coming and going with them. Yet the being of the cosmos, the natures of things, and the existence of any individual thing need an explanation. If one cannot accept the notion that somehow all possibilities are actual, that being and being possible are equivalent (basically a Parmenidean option), then one is forced toward the option that some substance (something that exists in itself and on account of itself) is primary and not, in its explanatory aspect, material. Why not material? Because there is nothing about things qua material that has any explanatory "force" to account for the being of anything at all.

Inevitably we are forced toward saying that being is explanatorily prior to possibility and necessity, with the consequence that there is something that exists no matter what and entirely on account of itself. We then have to choose between the neo-platonic emmanationist options that the material world is the one substance expressed in the attribute of spatio-temporality, "extension" (perhaps along with a maximal expression in the attribute of thought and, perhaps, in an infinity of other attributes), and the theistic creation options. For if you postulate neither God, the creative personal substance, nor god, the one eternal substance of all things (nor god, the absolute, the one mind to emanate all things by thought -- the idealist analogue), you have no final story as to why or how anything is possible at all or why or how anything is impossible either. One has to acknowledge one self-subsistent being in order to bring the account of possibility, necessity, truth, realism and scientific knowledge to a coherent close.

Some philosophers say such "ultimate inquiries" are beyond our role or competence. They deny what Plato, Parmenides, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Spinoza -- to name but a few, plainly accomplished: to tell such a final story. How well is another matter. Such enquiries are within our disciplinary competence and are no more in disarray than disputes about "S knows that P" that have come to no stable resolution either.

(c) The theistic option.

The classical theistic option, particularly that the divine being is simple, not a complexity of attributes, is worth recapitulating; it has often been misunderstood or ignored. The common natures of things, the real universals (which are not really universal apart from our understanding) are created with the things. The choice made, God's power ordered, it cannot be altered; it is immutable. One reason is that God's contingent condition is logically the determinate of his necessary condition (determinable), and so it is all of it -- just as the being red of a colored thing is all of its being colored, though it might have been yellow. Thus while everything possible is not actual, and some of the possible is accounted for by the unexercised abilities of things and the potentialities of things fulfilled one way rather than another, the merely possible that might have been but is not rooted in the natures of creatures, is within the absolute power of God but inaccessible to us because of untaken divine elections (which, had they been taken, would still have been inaccessible to us because the actualities would have been instead of us). There can be no unrealized capacity in a being "in pure act." So there can be no successive deciding.

What might have been, as far as it is logically determinate, is a projection from what is actual. Those projections are from the abilities of things, for example, that I might have written a different sentence. Thus what might have been, that has determinate content, is conceptually consequent on the actual, not coordinate and certainly not explanatory. What I might have been is a conceptual envelope surrounding me and depending on my actual being, and in no way constitutive of me, prior to me or explanatory of me. My counterpossibilities surround me like my smell whose shape drifts one way or another in the wind.

God's absolute power has no restraint, ad extra, or in exemplars. God's intentional object is what God makes. To suppose a real distinction between God's knowledge (God's intention) and the real cosmos is inconsistent with God's simplicity and God's non- representational, operative intelligence.

Just as there is no realm of exemplars that empowers God as to what is made, so there is no darkness of impossibility that restricts God. Everything is impossible without God. Nothing but what God is or makes has real possibility with content, possibility in se. There is no possibility in a finite subject without creation. There is no impossibility-with-content apart from the creation of real things and, particularly, of thinking things. Impossibilities are the negative cloud (of logic) "next out" from the positive cloud of counterpossibilities of real beings, and so, dependent for content on what there actually is, and, indeed, on what humans actually think, as well as on our choices of logic.

Whatever God makes is antecedently not possible, without content at all, without even a subject for impossibility. So it is just as correct to say "before" the cosmos was made, it was not "possible in itself," as it is to say "before" the cosmos was made, it was possible in God's ability to make it. [Cf. Aquinas, De Potentia, where he says before creation the world is "possible in itself."]

Since possibility and impossibility with content are abstract derivatives of being (possibility with content being the first logical/semantic cloud around actual beings, and impossibility being the next negative cloud around a single subject), God makes both the real possibilities and the real impossibilities by making other things.

Now that is one large-scale picture in outline. Is there a coherent alternative? I think not, although revised Spinozism, in which all possible being is actual and all maximally complete modes under all attributes are all actual, seems to be the nearest to viable. If the actual is not all that is possible, from whence is the actual possible? My answer: from the ability of a self-subsistent being. What is yours?