Conceptual Models are Models of HavingTruth Conditions.

In my efforts to construct a conceptual model of what reality would be like if there were a Satan, I am concerned about the purpose of such an effort. See: The Value of Conceptual Models of Satan The purpose for the model is found in a realistic or correspondence understanding of truth, under the constraints of a presupposition that thinking of justified belief, let alone the thinking of knowing, is reflective. Here “reflexive” means “thought about thinking.”

The reflective interpretation of thinking assumes that what we are aware of in thinking is something produced by thinking and not things in-themselves apart from thought. There might be some thinking which is directly about things-in-themselves But whenever we have the least concern about the correctness of our thinking we think about our thinking. The support for the representational understanding of thinking is that whenever we try to think carefully we reflect on our thinking. We cannot think of ourselves not thinking of our thinking. For any attempt to think of ourselves not thinking about our thinking leads to our thinking about our thinking.

What we think and say can be true or false depending upon whether we say of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. This realist interpretation presupposes that our thoughts and words are a type of dependent reality – dependent upon humans- and real – independent reality- to which our thoughts and words refer, viz. things in themselves apart from out thinking.

The fundamental challenge to realism based on a correspondence theory of truth points out that we have no concept of things in themselves. For whenever we try to think of things apart from out thinking, we think of them whereby we fail to guarantee their existing apart from thinking of them. This challenge leads me to hold a mitigated skepticism about truth. See Confession of a Truth Skeptic .

We must acept the result that a conceptual model of reality independent of our thought is not a model of reality independent of our thought.

The mere possibility of thinking of reality apart from our thought seems illusory.

However, the possibility of the way we think corresponding to conditions apart from our thinking can be shown by distinguishing two types of our thought. Let us call them empirical and abstract. The distinguishing feature of empirical thought is that we can imagine what we think about. The distinguishing feature of abstract thought is that any imagery of what is thought about is dismissed as misleading. Now we cannot really think without imagery. So, completely abstract thought is an idealized type of thought that we cannot attain. Abstract thinking requires keeping always in the background an intellectual conscience to criticize any recourse to imagery. So, idealized abstract thought can be used as a substitute for a reality beyond our thinking which can be compared with our normal ways of thinking. Of course, constructing the abstract model requires showing the abstract way of thinking more or less accurately represents the empirical way of thinking. Hence for the case of Satan, I need to display how my ways of talking about Satan with abstract moral and theological concepts is in accord with religious talk of Satan with all of its imagery.

Some realists, let us call them “classical realists,” assume our thought can match reality apart from thought. This assumption holds that the structure of empirical thoughts can be the same as the structure of things-in-themselves. We have truth when the structure of empirical thoughts we obtain by abstraction from our images corresponds to the structures outside human thinking. I do not accept this type of direct realism. For when we try to think of abstract structures outside our minds we are thinking of our thought in constructing that abstract structure.

The important message of this post is the conceptual models show the possibility of truth by correspondence with a reality apart from truth claims. But this all takes place within our thinking.