• Shawn
    12k
    In speaking about non-existent objects like Pegasus one often hears from philosophers that the sense of the entity like Pegasus exists in a different way than a person like Nixon. Pegasus has a different sense from Nixon in that it exists as a object which is not apparent in the observable universe, whereas Nixon was an actual person who was the president of the United States.

    But , there seems to be a problem with not specifying the degree of sensibility of different immaterial or non-existent entities like Pegasus or unicorns. This issue arises for example when we learn about Meinongs Jungle, which states that the plethora of non-existent objects like Pegasus or unicorns are apparently referents for stories or mythologies pertaining their "existence" to the discourse of human thought.

    Now, I would like to simplify the issue and assume that the "existence" of Pegasus or unicorns is defined as their epistemic content in ordinary human affairs... to be found in an encyclopedia.

    But, the issue isn't readily solved, for what are we to do about non-denoting/non-existent objects like round-squares that hide in Meinong's Jungle? After all, everything needs a name, so aren't we committed to epistemic content or the description of these non-existent objects? Wittgenstein thought that some objects were nonsensical, such as the elusive round-square. Even if we were to follow the procedure of researching the epistemic content in an encyclopedia of a round-square, we wouldn't find much on it.

    Therefore, it seems that after resorting to epistemic content of non-existent objects like Pegasus or unicorns, we could put them in a zoo, but, finding an elusive round-square would be impossible. Why is that?
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Why is it that concatenating words - or the ideas they represent- should be constitutive of anything in any way?
  • Shawn
    12k


    I don't quite understand. Are you talking about the representative theory of understanding? A la, picture theory of meaning?
  • Shawn
    12k
    @Banno, what do you think?
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Maybe. I merely mean that anyone can string together words or ideas willy-nilly. You worry square circles and unicorns and Pegasus; how about slithy toves? Or tivy slothes? Hexagonal pentagons?

    Or do the words matter? Or the ideas? For inclusion into the class of that which can be, what is required? That it already "be"?

    There are lexical, semantic, and structural aspects of language in expressing being. Neglecting these and applying in any sense meaning as a predicate makes no-sense of the resultant proposition, thought, idea. With square-circle, meaning is not created, only an arbitrary juxtaposition that is itself nonsense.
    so aren't we committed to epistemic content or the description of these non-existent objects?Shawn
    Ans. No, it seems to me.
  • Shawn
    12k
    There are lexical, semantic, and structural aspects of language in expressing being. Neglecting these and applying in any sense meaning as a predicate makes no-sense of the resultant proposition, thought, idea. With square-circle, meaning is not created, only an arbitrary juxtaposition that is itself nonsense.tim wood

    Well, yes mostly. I'm not sure what you mean by lexical, semantic, and structural aspects of language in expressing being, may actually mean? Are you saying that this is just a feature of language?

    Square-circles or round-squares are broadly known to be nonsensical strings of words. Where, Pegasus or unicorns aren't as questionable.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    what do you think?Shawn

    ...that you are overthinking the issue. There isn't a problem here.
  • Shawn
    12k


    But, I have a question. What is the difference between Pegasus or unicorns and round-squares?
  • Banno
    15.1k
    At first blush, the former is a fiction, the latter a contradiction.
  • Shawn
    12k


    So, in your opinion, when speaking about the ontology of a unicorn, we can say it's a literary fiction. But, how do we classify round-squares?
  • TheMadFool
    13.6k
    If I catch Meinong's drift, everything save contradictions of course exists, just in different ways or worlds. As far as I can tell, there are at least two kinds of worlds - the mental and the physical. These two worlds overlap - a stone can be touched and also imagined - but some objects are exclusive to each domain - a unicorn is pure mental but, :chin: Hmmmm...I can't seem to come up with a physical object that can't be thought of (once seen). Can you? I'd be much obliged if you could try and let me know what it/they is/are?

    If none can be found then the conclusion is obvious: the physical world is a proper subset of the mental world i.e. there are more mental objects than there are physical objects. Since I'm far less talented than Meinong when it comes to inventing new words, I'm simply going to use our trusty "exist" and say more mental objects exist than physical objects. What are the ramifications of this simple fact if any?

    For one, the mind transcends the physical - what's physically impossible is mentally possible e.g. I can't fly physically but on occasion I do so, mentally, in my dreams and let's not forget my imagination. That's odd. Let's not ruffle any feathers here and whole-heartedly endorse physicalism but that amplifies the strangeness - how can the physical brain reach beyond the physical like this? God knows!

    Meinong, a wise man by all accounts, went a step further and coined new words like "subsist" to prevent confusion which would've resulted had he relied on the word "exist" which has a distinct and obvious bias for the physical plane.

    Nonexistence then is reserved for the impossible, the one I'm most familiar with being the so-called logical contradiction. A square-circle, for instance, can't be conceived of - try it! I did and I failed. Are we to now expect, after a coupla million years of evolution, another, the third level (supramental world) (the first being the physical, the second the mental) will bud out of the mental world and contradictions would be meh!? Is this what Zen koans and logical paradoxes are all about? Tentative first and therefore catch-as-catch-can steps into the supramental world :chin:
  • Fine Doubter
    192
    Round squares look round because their squareness is "recessive". They simply have an extra level of abstractness from Pegasuses. All language always has been symbolic and allusive, and heavily based on symbolic allusions to symbolic allusions, all the time. The fabric of the universe is analogy, all the way down.
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