Weird toast, apophenia and what makes a thing a thing
This well-known internet meme of Jesus or Mary on a toast struck me as particularly relevant while reading Brains in a vat by Hilary Putnam:
"An ant is crawling on a patch of sand. As it crawls, it traces a line in the sand. By pure chance the line that it traces curves and recrosses itself in such a way that it ends up looking like a recognizable caricature of Winston Churchill. Has the ant traced a picture of Winston Churchill, a picture that depicts Churchill? Most people would say, on a little reflection, that it has not. The ant, after all, has never seen Churchill, Or even a picture of Churchill, arid it had no intention of depicting Churchill. It simply traced a line (and even that was unintentional), a line that we can 'see as' a picture of Churchill. (...) We can express this by saying that the line is not 'in itself' a representation1 of anything rather than anything else. Similarity (of a certain very complicated sort) to the features of Winston Churchill is not sufficient to make something represent or refer to Churchill. Nor is it necessary (...) So it may seem that what is necessary for representation, or what is mainly necessary for representation, is intention.
Why do I blog this? reading pdf scattered on my desktop at the airport, waiting for my flight to Montreal, always a good time to think about such abstract matters. That topic, related to apophenia is always intriguing to nail down.