HPS Student, Faeze Fazeli (Fafa), and HPS Alum, Mousa Mohammadian, Present Paper at the APA Pacific Division Meeting

Author: Char Brecevic

HPS graduate student Faeze Fazeli (Fafa) and HPS alum Mousa Mohammadian will be presenting their paper titled "Avicenna’s Flying Man in Einstein’s Elevator" at the American Philosophical Association's Pacific Division Meeting on Thursday, April 9th, 2020. An abstract for this paper is provided below.

We read Avicenna’s Flying Man Though Experiment (FMTE) by employing the epistemological distinction between the outside observer and the inside observer in thought experiments, suggested by Einstein in his well-known elevator thought experiment. This allows us to make a distinction between these questions:

  1. What does the outside observer (i.e., us) understand from FMTE?
  2. What does the inside observer (i.e., the Flying Man (FM)) apprehend in FMTE?

Looking at these questions through the lens of Avicenna’s essence-existence distinction, we show that most commentators, who hold that FMTE is establishing a kind of self-awareness for FM, are only responding to Q1. Arguing that FM apprehends some existence with no essence, we show that our interpretation explains two discontents about FM’s (alleged) self-awareness, namely, Avicenna’s failing to determine the faculty through which FM is self-aware and FMTE’s requiring direct acquaintance with an immaterial particular (i.e., FM’s self) which is inconsistent with Avicenna’s epistemology.

For more information about the APA Pacific Division Meeting, please follow this link: https://www.apaonline.org/event/2020pacific