Friday, November 03, 2006

Caplan's DREN Ch2 S1.1

As a comment on this section, I'd like to knuckle down, bite the bullet, plea for help and say I have no idea what's going on here.
One, what is a mode of being? I'm not quite sure, and it doesn't look like anyone really is quite sure. Meinong seems to have identified two, Concrete being and Abstract being. This part makes sense, I have a certain mode of being, and the referent of "the least prime number" has another. But more than that, Meinong puts these modes in a hierarchy, and I'm not sure why: "On Meinong's view, every object that 'existieren' also 'bestehen', but not every object that 'bestehen' also 'existieren'. I don't see that relation at all between abstract existent objects and concrete existent objects. What is this property I supposedly share with the number 2? What is 'bestehen'? If 'bestehen' denotes and abstract mode of being or a certain way of sub-standard existence then I don't have it. I exist as a concrete object, not as an abstract entity. If 'bestehen' means something like "possibly exists" then it wouldn't apply to abstract entities, because if they have a lower mode of being they couldn't possibly have a higher one. Perhaps 'bestehen' means something like 'makes sense', but this would apply to non-existent possible objects as well, which Meinong denies.
Another, unrelated problem I'm having: Is existence a predicate or a quantifier, or both? We can talk of existence as a quantifier, "there exists an x such that", or a predicate "the constant 'a' satisfies the predicate of existence". Each use has it's own implications as to what existence means. Meinong's statement "There are objects of which it is true there are no such objects" would make more sense if this were straitened out first. I think Priest has the right idea in not using the existence quantifier, since it includes some assumptions about existence (such as the validity of Fa -> ExFx) that maybe it's best not to start with when in a discussion about existence itself.


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