## Truths, Existence

• 8.9k
Claim: Every imaginable proposition is true ... in some possible world.

If I say "god exists" then it is true (in some possible world).

If I say "Santa Claus exists" then it is true (in some possible world)

If I say "Parmenides has reincarnated as Jeff Bezos" then this too is true (in some possible world)

A kinda modal realism begins to take shape ... everything exists (in some possible world).
• 12.6k
Meinongs jungle... :clap:

What kind of strange things hide there is a mystery.
• 128

If I say "there is only one possible world" then it is true (in some possible world).

Now solve this.
• 148
"Possible" presumes a relation or syntax in which that which is possible is distinctly identified and related to the rest of reality. God by definition would subsume the whole of that reality by dint of omnipresence, so if your conception entails God existing in any part, God by definition subsumes the whole.
• 6.5k

Claim: Every imaginable proposition is true ... in some possible world.

It sounds like an impossible world. Are impossible worlds also possible worlds?
• 8.9k
Something like that, yes.

Good point. That statement is self-contradictory. Also, sheep could have wings (it's possible) i.e. there has to be at least one more possible world than this our own, contradicting your claim that there's only one possible world. :smile:

Yep, that's something that seems possible.

There is more than one world or there are many worlds.
• 12.6k
You should read Max Tegmark's Multiverse theory.

It resonates strongly here.
• 12.6k
Every imaginable proposition is true ... in some possible world.

Try Godel's incompleteness theorem. :fear:
• 8.9k

Gödel's theorems? Math is axiomatic, oui?
• 12.6k

Yes, but how do you mesh modal realism with Godel's Incompleteness Theorems?
• 8.9k
Yes, but how do you mesh modal realism with Godel's Incompleteness Theorems?

I'd have no choice, based on how possible worlds are defined.
• 8.9k
You should read Max Tegmark's Multiverse theory.

It resonates strongly here.

I will if possible. Currently I'm involved in another more earthly project. Danke.
• 19.9k
Every imaginable proposition...

Possible worlds do not allow contradictions. They are what we in the trade call impossible,

In one sense you've simply hidden the principle of explosion in your specification.
• 8.9k
Gracias for the comment. I concede yer point.

Excepting contradictions, am I correct in saying any other kind of proposition is true ... in some possible world? The very idea of it could've been different (contingency) contains the seed of possible worlds.
• 19.9k
You are in danger of treating possible worlds as if they are discovered, rather than posited. As if they were actual.

A possible world is just a supposition. It's a way of woking out the consequences of our common parlance "what if...".

"What if I'd not answered this OP" can be parsed as "What would be involved in a possible world in which Banno did not answer this OP". So one consequence would be that you did not reply to my post. And so on.

If your posit leads inevitably to a contradiction, then you have nor posited a possible world. You cannot coherently posit a possible world in which you did and did not reply to this post.

"It could have been different..." can be understood as "There is a possible world in which..."
• 1.1k
Danke

On a more serious note, didn't Leibniz present the possible as the restraint applied to perfection? Sort of along the lines of "this sucks, but you should see what didn't happen."
• 8.9k
Gracias. You're right. Apologies, I believe I posted in haste (makes waste).

Yes Leibniz has been credited as the first to propose possible worlds; Descartes is mentioned in the Wikipedia article as a possible influence.
• 1.1k

If what Leibniz and Descartes presented are apologies of sorts, are you seeking for something else?
• 16.7k
everything exists (in some possible world).

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/08/the-multiverse-as-imagination-killer/497417/

Well, it's not quite the multiverse, but it's as good as. I never understood the point of Meinong.

Bugs Bunny or Super Mario exist as fictional characters in cartoons and computer games. The names have referents and the figures have characteristics - Bugs is a rabbit, not a camel or a penguin. They exist as works of fiction but that is still a kind of existence. But if I dream up some fictional cartoon character purely of my own imagining, that nobody else knows about, I would not grant it any kind of existence whatever.

I tossed the question to ChatGPT:

Wayfarer: 'What is the main point of the philosophy of Hans Meinong?'
ChatGPT: ' Hans Meinong was an Austrian philosopher known for his work in metaphysics and the philosophy of psychology and language. One of the main points of his philosophy was his theory of objects, which was a response to the problem of how we can talk about and think about objects that do not exist in the same way that physical objects do. Meinong argued that there are many kinds of objects that we can talk about, including abstract objects like numbers and moral values, and that these objects have a kind of existence that is different from the existence of physical objects. He also argued that we can have meaningful thoughts and statements about these kinds of objects, even though they do not have a physical presence.'

Now, that I agree with, but I would limit the kinds of 'objects' to such as numbers, geometrical axioms, principles, and the like. I have long argued that (at least some of these) are real but not existent in the way that tables and chairs are. It's not 'anything goes' - there are no actual unicorns or square circles or married bachelors, and they are therefore not the subject of any meaningful statement. But the natural numbers (for instance) really do have a different kind of reality or existence to chairs and tables - which is a problem for modern philosophy, as it presumes that there cannot be different kinds or modes of existence or reality: that something either exists, or it doesn't. Whereas in Platonist epistemology, there are different levels of knowing, corresponding to different classes of objects (see the Analogy of the Divided Line).
• 8.9k
If what Leibniz and Descartes presented are apologies of sorts, are you seeking for something else?

Nyet, just a follow up comment to yours.

Hi, long time no see. What makes numbers more tangible than ideas like god, souls? Also, you already know that God is synonymous with $\infty$, a number presumably. Mathematicsl Paltonism half-implies the existence of God ($\infty$). What sayest thou?
• 16.7k
Numbers are not tangible, tangible meaning 'able to be touched'. What makes them the subject of direct experience is that anyone can count, and practically everyone learns arithmetic.
• 19.9k
Did you know that if you paste a long post into ChatGPT playground and then add "TL:DR", it will generate a summary?

Meinong proposed that some things, such as abstract objects like numbers, can exist in some sense even though they are not physical objects. He argued that we can have meaningful thoughts and statements about these kinds of objects, even though they do not have a physical presence.
• 16.7k
No, didn't know that. I'm really enjoying playing with it. And also with Lensa, which turned me into an astronaut.

Oh, and if that is all Meinong said, then I can't see the controversy, but for some reason, the term 'golden mountain' always comes to mind when I hear the name.
• 16.7k

Wayfarer: What is it with Hans Meinong and 'the golden mountain'?

ChatGPT: ... As for "the golden mountain," it is a term that Meinong used to refer to an imaginary object that does not actually exist. He used this example to illustrate the idea that there can be objects of thought or reference that do not have any physical existence, but that can still be meaningful and have properties. The concept of the golden mountain is often used in discussions of Meinong's theory of non-existent objects, which holds that there can be objects of thought or reference that do not exist in any sense, but that can still be the subject of true or false statements."

But as I said above, things you can just think up with no referent, are not in the same class as (for instance) the real numbers, which likewise only exist as 'intelligible objects' but are the same for all who can count.
• 208
A kinda modal realism begins to take shape ... everything exists (in some possible world).

Well, no, not unless one is already a modal realist: simply saying "there is a possible world such that X" doesn't commit one to any ontological realist position wrt possible worlds, for most people (i.e. who are not modal realists) possible-world semantics is just a different way to talk about modality and conceptualize logical space.

If you're not a modal realist, "there is a possible world where Santa Claus exists" only asserts that Santa Claus existing is not a logical impossibility- "Santa Claus exists" does not imply a contradiction, and so it is logically possible (and if X is logically possible, and we're using possible-worlds talk, then we say that "there is a possible world such that X"). It doesn't imply the existence of some other world- only the absence of contradiction/logical impossibility- unless you're already committed to a modal realist interpretation of possible-world talk.
• 8.9k

Danke for the clarification. I made the same mistake ... twice (I have another thread on modal realism, it's equally hopeless).
• 8.9k
Numbers are not tangible, tangible meaning 'able to be touched'. What makes them the subject of direct experience is that anyone can count, and practically everyone learns arithmetic.

Every time you hold a tennis ball in yer hand, you're feeling its mass (0.056 kg) × acceleration due to gravity
(9.8 ms-2) = weight (0.56 N), which is a number?! :chin:
• 208
And don't get me wrong, modal realism is certainly an interesting position... just not a particularly widely held one (as far as I can tell, at any rate).
• 16.7k
Question: 'What is 'modal realism' in philosophy?'

ChatGPT: 'Modal realism is a philosophical theory that holds that possible worlds exist and are as real as the actual world. The theory was first proposed by the philosopher David Lewis, who argued that possible worlds should be understood as concrete, spatiotemporal entities rather than as abstract concepts or mere possibilities.

According to modal realism, possible worlds are like alternative versions of reality that could have been actualized but were not. These possible worlds may differ from the actual world in terms of their history, their physical laws, and the events that take place within them. Modal realism suggests that it is possible to talk about and make sense of these alternative realities as if they were real, even though they are not the actual world we happen to inhabit.

One of the main motivations for modal realism is to provide a more satisfactory explanation for modal concepts such as possibility and necessity. Modal realism allows us to understand these concepts in terms of the existence of possible worlds, rather than in terms of logical or epistemic notions that are more difficult to explain.

However, modal realism is a highly controversial theory and has been the subject of much criticism from philosophers. Some have argued that it is too speculative or that it lacks sufficient evidence to be taken seriously. Others have pointed out that it is difficult to see how modal realism could be reconciled with our common-sense understanding of the world.'

I've bolded what I consider the salient passage. What modal realism provides is that ideas such as possibility and necessity are 'concretized' by allowing that they have real existence in some possible world. It solves the problem of the way in which possibility and necessity can be conceived to be real.

This 'solution' is similar in many respects to the motivation behind the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. This too seeks to dissolve the apparent conundrum of the wave-function collapse by saying it doesn't really happen.

Again, I suggest that both these problems (which may be versions of the same problem) can be solved by recognising degrees of reality - that is, things can be more or less real. And I suggest the underlying philosophical problem is that modern philosophy generally has nothing which corresponds with the idea of 'degrees of reality'. The mainstream consensus is that things either exist, or they don't exist. There is no provision for different kinds or degrees of reality (which is what I would have thought 'modal metaphysics' really should be about.)

Werner Heisenberg explored these ideas in his writings on physics and philosophy. This article says that

At its root, the new idea holds that the common conception of “reality” is too limited. By expanding the definition of reality, the quantum’s mysteries disappear. In particular, “real” should not be restricted to “actual” objects or events in spacetime. Reality ought also be assigned to certain possibilities, or “potential” realities, that have not yet become “actual.” These potential realities do not exist in spacetime, but nevertheless are “ontological” — that is, real components of existence.

“This new ontological picture requires that we expand our concept of ‘what is real’ to include an extraspatiotemporal domain of quantum possibility,” write Ruth Kastner, Stuart Kauffman and Michael Epperson.

Considering potential things to be real is not exactly a new idea, as it was a central aspect of the philosophy of Aristotle, 24 centuries ago. An acorn has the potential to become a tree; a tree has the potential to become a wooden table. Even applying this idea to quantum physics isn’t new. Werner Heisenberg, the quantum pioneer famous for his uncertainty principle, considered his quantum math to describe potential outcomes of measurements of which one would become the actual result. The quantum concept of a “probability wave,” describing the likelihood of different possible outcomes of a measurement, was a quantitative version of Aristotle’s potential, Heisenberg wrote in his well-known 1958 book Physics and Philosophy. “It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”

The problem for modern philosophy, however, is that the 'realm of possibility' can only be understood as being 'in the mind' - that is, subjective, and therefore not 'objectively real'. That is the central conundrum in my view.
• 8.9k
And don't get me wrong, modal realism is certainly an interesting position... just not a particularly widely held one (as far as I can tell, at any rate).

I haven't been able to get me hands on arguments for modal realism - I assume it's just a position one adopts, kinda like how one believes in God sans any proof. Perhaps we could a variation of Anselm's ontological proof (for theism) to prove all possible worlds exist; after all, it does make sense to say that all possible worlds is "that than which nothiny greater can be conceived" and since it wouldn't be that if it doesn't exist, it (all possible worlds) exists.

Danke for the comment. Please read my reply to deletedmemberbcc (vide supra). I appreciate you trying to keep it real (using science, which is at present the judge of what is real and not real ,to weigh in on controversial metaphysical issues is done in good faith.

Heisenberg's remarks are interesting. Very Aristotelian. Aristotle, as per a podcast I'm listening to, invented the notions of potential and actual to harmonize Parmenides (no change) and Hercalitus (all change).
• 16.7k
Aristotle, as per a podcast I'm listening to, invented the notions of potential and actual to harmonize Parmenides (no change) and Hercalitus (all change).

Bingo. Right on the money there, Smith.
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