Sunday, January 29, 2006

Meinongian Objects

Brandon writes here:
  • For the Meinongian solution to negative existentials -- i.e., that there are nonexistent objects independent of thought -- is a very elegant one. It's usually accused of 'ontological extravagance', but I don't think most people have much of an idea what they mean by phrases like that.

I would accuse it of ontological extravagance for the following reason: it claims that "there are" nonexistent objects. But of course there aren't.

An 'ontological claim' is just a fancy expression that there are (or there aren't) things of a certain kind. There are no non-existent things, because to say that unicorns are non-existent is just another, clearly confusing to some, way of saying that there are no unicorns.

1 comment:

Sam said...

The Meinongian can say that "there are" Meinongian objects while there don't exist Meinongian objects, so long as he is willing to differentiate between two levels of existence, i.e. between actual, existing objects, on the one hand, and mere ens rationis on the other. The Meinongian is able to avoid ontological extravagance because his universe is just as populated as "the real world," i.e. he admits of no entities that do not actually occur in the real world. However, what occurs in the real world can be divided into those things that exist in the real world, e.g. this table, Bill Clinton, Mt. Rushmore, and things that do not exist but are in the real world, inasmuch as they are thought, e.g. the round square, this chimaera, some horse.

What I find most interesting is whether one would be willing to allow for a corresponding ens rationis for every actually existing object, such that the latter is the mental content of intentional attitudes towards the former (and how that could possibly get cashed out while allowing for differentiation and identity).