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Monday, December 17, 2007

Collingwood on the Immeasurability of Feeling

Collingwood notes (I'm obviously having a 'Collingwood Week') that the problem with trying to quantify feelings is not just that we can't stick a ruler or scale in our minds, but is even worse: As you move along a range of feeling the feeling changes in kind, not just in degree. You can add four times the heat to a substance and measure four times the temperature (if you are starting your scale at absolute zero). But if at the first temperature you had a nice toasty feeling, at the second you won't have a feeling four times as nice and toasty -- you will have the agonizing feeling of being roasted alive. And if you halved the original temperature, you wouldn't get a nice, toasty feeling that was only half has intense as the one you had to start, you'd get an entirely different feeling of freezing. No reducing the amount of 'warm, toasty feeling' will ever arrive at the feeling of being cold.

5 comments:

  1. Uhh, not true in all cases. Imagine that you are standing in a commercial freezer and wearing an electrically heated vest (I own one, it's for winter MC riding). You feel warm and toasty. If you turn down the 'stat, you will indeed arrive at a feeling of being cold.

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  2. This is to totally miss Collingwood's point: the scale of temperature is a continuum of quantity, but the scale of feelings contains differences in kind. The feeling of cold is not a feeling of being toasty only less intense; it is an entirely different feeling.

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  3. No, I got his point (in your rendition, anyway). I'm simply policing your accuracy of thought. That, after all, is my function in this universe.

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  4. All right, but then I don't understand how your example is a counter-example.

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  5. You say--without qualification--"No reducing the amount of 'warm, toasty feeling' will ever arrive at the feeling of being cold." I say, Not always true. That was really all I had in mind.

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