Field of Research
Reality and Representation: In Search of an Equilibrium
The central theme in my current research is the search for an equilibrium between the philosophical analysis of the structure of the material world and our prephilosophical, linguistic and mental, representation of the latter. The task of establishing such an equilibrium has proven difficult. For our ordinary conception of the material world seems to be internally inconsistent, and it seems to clash with powerful philosophical principles. The resulting problem space spans the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of physics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and psychology.
One equilibrium problem concerns the nature and representation of ordinary, macroscopic objects, such as persons, tables, trees and mountains. A philosophical theory of ordinary objects should attempt to preserve our familiar conception of the latter. This conception, however, seems to be riddled with paradox, which suggests that macroscopic material objects are really very different from the way we ordinarily represent them.
I have developed a theory of material objects that answers philosophical, linguistic and psychological questions in a unified framework: What is the nature of complex material objects? How do we speak about ordinary objects? And how do we perceive such objects? While the orthodox position in contemporary discussions is that our familiar conception of objects is defective and in need of substantial revision, the proposed theory of objects manages to save the appearances, establishing an equilibrium between the metaphysics of material objects, the semantics of natural-language discourse about objects, and the psychology of object individuation. A central thesis is that seemingly inconsistent ordinary judgements about objects are really consistent because they manifest different perspectives on the same objects, a primarily spatiotemporal perspective and a perspective that is dominated by sortal concepts such as table and tree. This thesis is supported by psychological work on perception and perceptual development.
1. Sattig, Thomas (2015): The Double Lives of Objects: An Essay in the Metaphysics of the Ordinary World. Oxford University Press.
2. Sattig, Thomas (2014): “Pluralism and Determinism”, Journal of Philosophy, 111: pp. 135-150.
3. Sattig, Thomas (2012): “The Paradox of Fission and the Ontology of Ordinary Objects”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 85: pp. 594-623.
4. Sattig, Thomas (2010): “Compatibilism about Coincidence”, Philosophical Review, 119: pp. 273-313.