Is a hole a real thing, or just a place where something isn’t?
Finn (Suki)
Source: Aeon, 29 June, 2018
Paper - Abstract

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  1. This is just a taster for a topic covered some while ago by the paper she cites:-
    "Lewis (David) & Lewis (Stephanie) - Holes"
  2. She alludes to Achille Varzi. I have the following works by him and others on the topic of holes:-
    "Casati (Roberto) & Varzi (Achille) - Holes"
    "Casati (Roberto) & Varzi (Achille) - Immaterial Bodies"
    "Casati (Roberto) & Varzi (Achille) - Counting the Holes"
    "Lewis (David) & Lewis (Stephanie) - Casati and Varzi on Holes"
    "Miller (Kristie) - Immaterial Beings"
  3. Maybe to be entertaining, Finn uses words in a philosophically reckless way. Madonna is a “material girl in a material world”. But “material” here is used in the sense of “materialistic” (as any good Catholic would know). And “black holes” are cited as examples of holes, when they aren’t (just as the big bang wasn’t a bang, as such). But this casualness can have serious philosophical consequences.
  4. Finn sees a tension between three materialist theses:-
    1. There are no immaterial objects.
    2. There are holes.
    3. Holes are immaterial objects.
    It seems to me that this runs together different uses of “immaterial”.
  5. Thesis (i) argues against immaterial objects in the sense of universals – things that inhabit Plato’s heaven, which the materialist wants to forego.
  6. However, holes – whatever they are, in Thesis (iii) – are not that sort of immaterial object, or at least not if we’re talking about holes in buckets.
  7. In topology, holes are features of manifolds, or surfaces. Topology deals with abstract objects, so holes aren’t anything special if we’re talking about mathematics.
  8. But in the physical world, the world that is merely modeled by mathematics, holes are just gaps in an object. They are regions of spacetime that contain none of the object’s matter, but are at least in part bounded by its surface. They may contain other matter – air, for instance – so are not immaterial in any sense.
  9. Much more could be said …


For the full text, see Aeon: Finn - Is a hole a real thing, or just a place where something isn’t?.

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