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Philosophy Speaker Series

March 22 at 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Event graphic including head shot of Dr. Gurpreet Rattan, Professor of Philosophy from the University of Toronto.

The UBC Philosophy Speaker Series presents Dr. Gurpreet Rattan, Professor of Philosophy from the University of Toronto.

Talk Abstract: Philosophers have long found the nature of thoughts about oneself, or I-thoughts, in which one thinks about oneself subjectively, as oneself, to be special. One very influential account of I-thoughts comes from David Lewis, who distinguishes I-thoughts from thoughts about objective matters. Lewis puts forth an especially interesting thought experiment to support his view, in which two omniscient gods who know everything there is to know about objective matters could be such as still not to know which god they themselves are. This sounds strange, or even inconsistent – how could something be omniscient but not know which thing it was? – but in defence of the possibility of their ignorance, Lewis writes, but only (literally) parenthetically and tentatively:

“(the trouble might perhaps be that they have an equally perfect view of every part of their world, and hence cannot identify the perspectives from which they view it)”.

Perhaps because this remark is made parenthetically and tentatively, and not followed up at all by Lewis, virtually nothing has been made of it in the literature on Lewis or I-thoughts in general. In this paper, we explain this remark and its significance for the question of whether there is something special about I-thoughts. We explain the remark in terms of a notion of omnipresence – the notion of a subject occupying every perspective on objective reality all at once.

The paper on which this talk is based was co-authored with Zain Raza (University of Toronto).


March 22
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm


Arts Building (ART)
1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Arts and Humanities
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates