## A holey theory

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• 4.3k
Is there no difference between being taken account of and existing prior to that account?

Seems Quine doesn't honor/accept that distinction.

Just to make sure we're not delving into exegesis, as I also refused to with @180 Proof , let's just drop the name Quine and say "this account", if that's ok with you.

However, I certainly did not introduce anything like that. To exist is to be the value of a variable -- which is to say that first order predicate logic's existential operator is in use. So insofar that an entity is able to truthfully have something predicated of it, then we are justified in believing that it exists. And, I imagine we'd agree, that whether we speak about something doesn't influence its existence either, so sure things exist before we give accounts of them. I'm just not making a distinction really.
• 7.4k
Yeah, nice cop out. I'll leave you with an opportunity to learn something about logic.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analytic-synthetic/

https://www.logicalfallacies.info/begging-the-question-2/
• 4.3k

I am aware of these things, Benkei. It could just be that we disagree, you know?
• 7.4k
Yeah, that's not how logic works.
• 4.3k
C'est la vie! :D

We can repeat ourselves if you want.

"All donuts have holes" is false because there exists a donut without a hole. Where? Right there! Pacman's world is donut shaped, unless the surface of a donut is somehow not the shape of a donut, or unless we assume that donuts must have holes simply because that's how we define them.

Now perhaps you're just not convinced -- you're like, hey, no, this is definitely a rectangle. OK, no problem. I disagree that "donut" is analytic or a priori -- it's a word that denotes a shape, denotes a pastry, denotes tires, denotes the motion that things move in. . . and even the denotation of a shape need not be analytic. We can, upon coming to see some other feature of the world -- such as 2-dimensional space which behaves like the surface of a donut -- think that it might be OK to call this thing a donut cuz it's close enough.

But I gather you don't want to. I'm alright with that. It's not really a logical point -- it's just the way we're looking at the problem. To you "All donuts have holes" is true, because that's what it means to be a donut, which means that it'd be impossible -- by the very criteria you're spelling out -- to give you an example. But only because there are specific criteria -- that is asserting "All donuts have holes" is true because of a definition is simply stipulating the boundaries that you're willing to accept when using the word "donut".

No worries. We can agree to disagree. It's not going to collapse the foundations of logic as we know it.

The hole in Kimberley is 0.17 km2
Kimberley is 164.3 km2

Both denoted entities have different predicates, so they are distinct from one another. And the hole has true predicates, so we are justified in inferring that the hole exists.
• 7.4k
Dude, you admitted to the analytical truth when you had to turn to 2 dimensional representations of donuts, which aren't donuts, to pretend a donut without a hole exists . So you have not demonstrated it is false at all, you've merely said "the two dimensional representation is a donut doesn't have a hole". Well duh, but that wasn't the claim now was it?

The simple fact remains that, like the definition and understanding of bachelor, a donut always has a hole - a hole is a necessary condition for something to be a donut. You like to pretend it's my definition but like the bachelor definition, I didn't make it up, it's a definition I learned and which is the agreed mathematical meaning. It's not that I'm forcing a boundary on meaning here, I'm insisting you use words with their proper meaning instead of making shit up because it's convenient for your argument. You want to reject donuts have holes but there are no definitions of donuts without holes because it's a necessary topological feature for a shape to be a donut.

And since you're the one invoking a logical fallacy, it's on you to demonstrate where I commit a fallacy. All you have is "I don't like the definition of donut because it results in conclusions I don't want to commit to". Well tough fucking luck really.

The hole in Kimberley is 0.17 km2
Kimberley is 164.3 km2

Both denoted entities have different predicates, so they are distinct from one another. And the hole has true predicates, so we are justified in inferring that the hole exists.

No you can't. Unicorns have horns is true but I can't infer they exist from that fact.
• 4.3k
No you can't. Unicorns have horns is true but I can't infer they exist from that fact.

I've thought such things before, too, but now i'm going to ask you:

If Unicorns have horns, where are they?

The other thought I had was simply to accept their truth but translate the sentence, but it's not as interesting I don't think -- and I think the above response gets at a strength to the approach I'm using.
• 7.4k
If Unicorns have horns, where are they?

On the top of their head. Here's a picture:
• 4.3k

I don't mean where are the horns, but where are the unicorns.

That's clearly just a representation of a unicorn, and not a unicorn.

:D

I've already dropped the point. Do you want me to give you a button that says "winner"?

If so, then here it is: You are the winner. I was wrong and you were right.
• 2.2k
EDIT: Also this leads to the deliciousiously abstract and totally silly but still interesting question: Are there such things as 2-dimensional holes? lol

I won't dwell on donuts any more (never liked them anyway, or bagels for that matter), but I am a bit puzzled by this. Why not 2-dimensional holes? A hole in a plane, for example, would be 2D (or even 1D if it's just one point). Or did I misunderstand you?

At first I was uncertain about whether I'd posit that holes exist, but now I'm leaning towards the belief that holes exist. So, mostly, I think my thesis is just that holes exist, and I'm asking how you countenance that -- also, it's a question that gets at some of the popular topics 'round here without invoking the usual suspects ;)

I don't know if I'd say that it cannot be conceptualized that way... that's a bit more a priori than my approach has been so far. If the pacman example is wrong, consider the argument from predicates that I put towards Benkie here.

So my thesis is this: There exists a hole such that the hole is 0.17 km2, and it is in Kimberley.

And the question is: How's that work, on your view?

I pulled up some notional thoughts on Quine to jump from. What would you say about the existence of the hole?

Well, one way out of the predication argument, for someone who doesn't want to admit holes into their ontology, would be to claim that any talk about a hole can be translated into talk about stuff (similarly to how, according to Russell, names can be eliminated by replacing them with definite descriptions). For instance, a hole in the ground can be described solely in terms of topography. (This is where you came in with your flat torus counterexample, but I don't think it works.)

This isn't wrong, but as I alluded to above, I take a looser, more pluralistic stance on ontology and am willing to go along with your/Quinean reasoning. Things exist by virtue of playing a role in our conceptual schemes. Or to put it a slightly different way, each thing exists within the context of those schemes in which it has a role to play - and that's good enough, as far as being and non-being are concerned.

(Interestingly, in solid state physics holes can be very active players indeed: they can pop in and out, move around, attract, repel, scatter and be scattered...)
• 11.6k
Just to make sure we're not delving into exegesis, as I also refused to with 180 Proof , let's just drop the name Quine and say "this account", if that's ok with you.

Fine by me.

However, I certainly did not introduce anything like that. To exist is to be the value of a variable -- which is to say that first order predicate logic's existential operator is in use. So insofar that an entity is able to truthfully have something predicated of it, then we are justified in believing that it exists. And, I imagine we'd agree, that whether we speak about something doesn't influence its existence either, so sure things exist before we give accounts of them. I'm just not making a distinction really.

To exist is to be the value of a variable
things exist before we give accounts of them

My issue with Quine's account was posed to you. My issue with the account you're offering is that those two claims directly above are mutually exclusive. If the one is true, the other cannot be, and vice-versa.
• 11.6k
So insofar that an entity is able to truthfully have something predicated of it, then we are justified in believing that it exists. And, I imagine we'd agree, that whether we speak about something doesn't influence its existence either, so sure things exist before we give accounts of them.

I agree with the first claim(although I'm not sure of the significance of saying something "truthful"), disagree with the claim that speaking doesn't influence(some things') existence, and agree with the last claim... (some)things exist before we give accounts of them.

I suspect our ontologies/taxonomies will differ in a few remarkable ways. Quine's maxim, which you've borrowed here in this account, had an agenda. Namely to target the superfluous nature of the terms "existence" and "exists" and the nature of abstract objects.
• 4.3k
I won't dwell on donuts any more (never liked them anyway, or bagels for that matter), but I am a bit puzzled by this. Why not 2-dimensional holes? A hole in a plane, for example, would be 2D (or even 1D if it's just one point). Or did I misunderstand you?

You understood me fine.

Is it fair to call a gap in a number line a hole?

I think it has some similar problems to holes we see in the ground, except that it has the disadvantage of being yet even more abstract. At the very least with holes I can plant trees into them, fall into them, and so forth -- there's a causal interactive network. I'm not as confident when it comes to describing two-dimensional holes because it seems that for any series or function, if there is a hole in it, then that section is simply not defined or is said to not exist.

But perhaps we don't mean all the rest when we say "hole" and simply just mean this gap -- so that the natural number line is filled with holes (and if we can say the space between numbers exists, there would even be more hole than there are numbers)

Well, one way out of the predication argument, for someone who doesn't want to admit holes into their ontology, would be to claim that any talk about a hole can be translated into talk about stuff (similarly to how, according to Russell, names can be eliminated by replacing them with definite descriptions).

Definitely! That was what my attempt was at saying the hole in Kimberley is Kimberley arranged hole-wise (so that the relationship is not named, but is instead a predicate, and of course we can also get rid of names if we wish and then even Quine the description so that the hole is not a hole but is holing and existing ;)) -- I think that's what the materialist would have to do, is translate the sentence into something more philosophically rigorous.

(This is where you came in with your flat torus counterexample, but I don't think it works.)

No worries. I'm fine with dropping it if it's not persuasive.

This isn't wrong, but as I alluded to above, I take a looser, more pluralistic stance on ontology and am willing to go along with your/Quinean reasoning. Things exist by virtue of playing a role in our conceptual schemes. Or to put it a slightly different way, each thing exists within the context of those schemes in which it has a role to play - and that's good enough, as far as being and non-being are concerned.

How would you answer @creativesoul's charge of things not existing prior to conceptual schemes, then?

(Interestingly, in solid state physics holes can be very active players indeed: they can pop in and out, move around, attract, repel, scatter and be scattered...)

Cool.

For me I'm not trying to delve into scientific descriptions here because I think such descriptions assumes too much.

Rather, I would like to build up to things like scientific knowledge than take scientific knowledge as my ontology.
• 4.3k
To exist is to be the value of a variable
things exist before we give accounts of them

My issue with Quine's account was posed to you. My issue with the account you're offering is that those two claims directly above are mutually exclusive. If the one is true, the other cannot be, and vice-versa.

Can something be the value of a variable prior to a speaker?

Well, it seems so to me.

Water had a density prior to naming mass and volume. We didn't have the conceptual tools to measure it at one point, but our conceptual tools -- so I think at least -- don't effect things like water.

@Banno had a picture somewhere... here it is:

It's not that predicating something truthful of an entity is the criteria of existence -- rather, this is just a good inference. If we're saying true things of something, then that thing exists. It's not the predication that makes it exist, it's the predication that justifies our inference.

I agree with the first claim(although I'm not sure of the significance of saying something "truthful"), disagree with the claim that speaking doesn't influence(some things') existence, and agree with the last claim... (some)things exist before we give accounts of them.

I suspect our ontologies/taxonomies will differ in a few remarkable ways. Quine's maxim, which you've borrowed here in this account, had an agenda. Namely to target the superfluous nature of the terms "existence" and "exists" and the nature of abstract objects.

So we agree on the first account, then.

For the second and third, let's say that these are at odds with one another. In one account we're asked to demonstrate how it is possible for us to make something exist through language -- something like a promise or a marriage, is what I imagine you have in mind -- and in the other we're asked how things exist in spite of our speech. One is dependent upon speech and the other is resilient to speech. For now let's restrict ourselves to the class of entities which we'd call resilient, because I suspect that accounts of these two types of entities will not be consistent.

What do you think of that?
• 23.7k
If we're saying true things of something, then that thing exists.

Here be dragons.

Notice that existential generalisation takes Q(a) and concludes that there are things which have the property Q. You want to take Q(a) and conclude that (a) exists. It's not the same.

(a) is assumed in setting up the domain... (a, b, c,...)

SO that (a) exists is an assumption of the system, not a conclusion.
• 4.3k

Ok, yes, I see the difference.

It's not the same.

∃xL(x) ^ (x = "hole")

was my first attempt at a formalization, but it doesn't get at the inference I was attempting to lay out -- it's just a statement of my position.

Perhaps it'd be better for me to simply point -- by finger, by name, by weblink. The variable is part of language, but the hole is not.
• 23.7k
It's a mistake I've committed more than once. It's the same error that sits behind the ontological arguments for god - treating the existence of individuals as a predicate.
• 4.3k
Yeah, but that's my old belief I'm attempting to move past :D

How come it is the more you learn of philosophy, the less you really know?

But I see what you mean clearly. Give it a few months and I'm liable to make the mistake again :)
• 23.7k
Give it a few months and I'm liable to make the mistake again

A few minutes before you posted I wrote a piece making exactly that error, but realised my mistake just before pressing "Post"...
• 587
If you were to go outside to an open space, hold your hand out in front of you, take a flashlight and point it upwards from underneath your hand, there would be no shadow (well barring some low lying clouds). For there to be a shadow, there needs to be a surface (not necessarily flat) on which the shadow appears. So the word "shadow" points to an object - namely the atoms/molecules that comprise the surface where the shadow is currently appearing.

Shadows exist physically - they can be observed and measured.
• 15.9k
A hole is a boundary just as a surface is. So a hole, together with the surface of the object the hole is in, encloses or shapes part of an object: a body of water, or air, or slime.
• 2.2k
Is it fair to call a gap in a number line a hole?

I think it has some similar problems to holes we see in the ground, except that it has the disadvantage of being yet even more abstract. At the very least with holes I can plant trees into them, fall into them, and so forth -- there's a causal interactive network. I'm not as confident when it comes to describing two-dimensional holes because it seems that for any series or function, if there is a hole in it, then that section is simply not defined or is said to not exist.

But perhaps we don't mean all the rest when we say "hole" and simply just mean this gap -- so that the natural number line is filled with holes (and if we can say the space between numbers exists, there would even be more hole than there are numbers)

Yes, I think the primary concept of a hole is that of a gap, an absence in the middle of something. As such, we can very well think of holes in 2D or 1D. When we think of real, three-dimensional things, like a pair of pants or a fence for example, we can conceptualize them geometrically as surfaces or lines, wherein a hole will also assume an idealized 2D or 1D form in our mind.

A hole in the ground can be thought of as a gap in the surface (2D) or a missing volume of matter (3D), but when you are thinking about planting trees in it or falling to its bottom, you are shifting attention from the hole to the ground.

How would you answer creativesoul's charge of things not existing prior to conceptual schemes, then?

To exist is to be the value of a variable
things exist before we give accounts of them

"X is Y."

"Well, Y is a human concept. Are you saying that there were no X before anyone thought of Y?"

Quine's deflationary analysis of existence is a conceptual analysis, not a causal account of it, which would be an oxymoron anyway.
• 7.4k
Yes, I think the primary concept of a hole is that of a gap, an absence in the middle of something. As such, we can very well think of holes in 2D or 1D. When we think of real, three-dimensional things, like a pair of pants or a fence for example, we can conceptualize them geometrically as surfaces or lines, wherein a hole will also assume an idealized 2D or 1D form in our mind.

How can you express a hole in 1D? I would think a hole appears as part of a relationship with other things so 2D is the lowest you can go?
• 2.2k
A line is 1D, a surface is 2D. Think of dimensionality as the number of independent coordinates that you need to locate a point in the domain. For example, if I wanted to locate a gap in the fence, I could say that the 6th plank from the left is missing. I would require two measurements to specify where a pants hole is located.
• 7.4k
oh dear. I need to not talk about math any more. :lol: Points on a line it is. I only remembered "points" for some reason and got confused.
• 4.3k
Yes, I think the primary concept of a hole is that of a gap, an absence in the middle of something. As such, we can very well think of holes in 2D or 1D. When we think of real, three-dimensional things, like a pair of pants or a fence for example, we can conceptualize them geometrically as surfaces or lines, wherein a hole will also assume an idealized 2D or 1D form in our mind.

I agree with this idea of a hole -- a gap, an absence in the middle of something.

But it seems to me that the set of natural numbers, for instance, aren't missing anything between the numbers. If we were to compare the set of natural numbers to the reals then we could say that there's something in one set that is not in the other set. But there's not a gap in the set of natural numbers unless we were to take out 3 or something like that.

Analogically, we could take the set of all polygons, and order them in accordance with their sides and the natural numbers excluding 1 and 2. There isn't a hole in between triangles and squares.

I realize I didn't specify which set I was thinking of before, but just set "number line" -- what do you think of this?

A hole in the ground can be thought of as a gap in the surface (2D) or a missing volume of matter (3D), but when you are thinking about planting trees in it or falling to its bottom, you are shifting attention from the hole to the ground.

Are you? consider the ground before you have a hole. Where do you plant the tree? In order to plant it firmly in the ground one must make a hole.

The hole is defined extensionally rather than intensionally, so there's no need to focus on either the 2D surface of the hole or the volume of matter missing, right?

Or does that seem funny to you?
• 4.3k
A hole is a boundary just as a surface is. So a hole, together with the surface of the object the hole is in, encloses or shapes part of an object: a body of water, or air, or slime.

So it sounds like you're giving existential equality to holes and surfaces, and agreeing with me that there is such a thing?
• 15.9k
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