True or false?

A book with the potential to devastate philosophy

The Presocratic philosopher Parmenides formulated a perplexing problem about the very possibility of falsehood, of thinking something that is not true. The puzzle starts with the natural idea that whenever we think, there is something that we are thinking. There is no such thing as an act of thinking in the course of which nothing is thought. But what exactly does a thinker think, when he or she thinks? Answering this with respect to true thoughts appears straightforward enough. If I think that Neptune is blue – which is true – the world furnishes me with what I am thinking, namely the fact that Neptune is blue. But what if I think, falsely now, that Neptune is red? In this case, the world comes up short: there is no fact for me to think. So it looks as though I think nothing. And to think nothing is to…

 

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