If one was writing a book that described the entire world or universe as it is, how should that book present the world to us? It is not enough to speak truly, itemizing “all that is the case”, one must also use the right notions while doing so.
Philosopher Theodore Sider wants us to accept structure as the all important fundamental notion of how to talk about the world. His idea of structure is that it reveals where the joints or articulations of the world can be carved, and that the structure of the world is real and it is objective. Structure is the right and proper way to find these joints, and go about this carving.
(Of course the structure that Sider promotes is not to be confused with the structuralism of linguistics and anthropology that was so popular before deconstruction and post-modernism critiqued it nearly to death. This post is not about structuralism because its structure is a reflection of language and the mind itself, not an attribute of the actual world.)
Chapters 1-8 are titled: Structure, Primitivism, Connections, Substantivity, Metametaphysics, Beyond the Predicate, Questions, and Rivals. Chapters 9-12 are devoted to ontology, logic, time, and modality (because I guess these are favorite topics in metaphysics) and what structure tells us about them. I don’t think Sider is saying that reality is carved naturally into these four domains, but I think it makes a rather nice fourfold.
In Metaphysics, Ontology is another word for Being, but it can also mean a classification system for the different kinds of things that exist (but I guess that’s not metaphysical). Modality is the Metaphysical or Epistemic study of necessity and possibility, so it is certainly related to time. There are also modal logics which have quantifiers for modalities such as necessity and possibility.
I closing I must say that once you carve up some structure by its joints, then you are left with parts, which may be structures in their own right. And as I’ve posited elsewhere, functions and actions are the structures and parts of time. I also wonder if there is a comparison of Sider’s structure to the metaphysics of E. J. Lowe, but perhaps I should just read each of their work.
Theodore Sider / Writing the Book of the World
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