Sunday, December 03, 2006

Follow the Bouncing Coloured Existential Ball.

"On Existentialism" from Plantinga (no introduction required, the title says it all...)

(N.B. if your wondering why certain words are in colour, it's because I find it very difficult to keep all the examples of propositions distinct from the objects. No the use of italics are not good enough! So the use of colour keeps them visually and mentally ungarbled.)

Existential Thesis:

Singular propositions (thisnesses) are ontologically dependent upon contingent objects (exemplifications)

Part of the argument against the Existential Thesis:

(3) Possibly Socrates does not exist

(4) If (3) then the proposition Socrates does not exist is possible

(5) If the proposition Socrates does not exist is possible, then it is possibly true

(6) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed

and

(7) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates would not have existed

from (3), (4) and (5):

(8) Socrates does not exist is possibly true (i.e. the proposition could have been true)

from (6) and (7):

(9) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed and Socrates would not have existed

from (8) and (9):

(10) It is possible that both Socrates does not exist and the proposition Socrates does not exist exists

Therefore, the existential thesis is contradicted.

My confusion is with the denial of (6), the Pollock or Pollockian Existentialism, or anti-serious existential actualism, or serious anti-actualism with existential flavour, or …, objection. I don’t know what to call it nor do I get what it is exactly. Plantinga tries to clarify the position by adding another slew of premises, but I think (12) is supposed to sum it up:

(12) Necessarily for any object x, possible world W, and property P, if x has P in W, then x exists in W.

I get (12) and I get (6), but it gets a little hazy when you use existence as the property in the support of (12) in order to deny (6). Which seems to be what is going on, at least I think?

Perhaps I shall back up a bit and plug-in Socrates into premise (12):

(12*) Necessarily for any object Socrates, possible world W, and property existing, if Socrates has existence in W, then Socrates exists in W.

This seems to sound okay. But I can’t understand how given (12*) there is a denial of (6) and (7),

(6) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates does not exist would have existed

and

(7) Necessarily, if Socrates does not exist had been true, then Socrates would not have existed

Is Pollock (or the anti-serious existential actualist) saying that if we take Socrates does not exist as true then it conflicts with Socrates having the property of existing at W? If so, then they aren’t upholding the existentialist mantra of singular propositions being dependent on contingent objects. It’s the other way round, at least I think? I thought that you couldn’t take the does not exist part to conflict with Socrates having the property of existing at W. That would mean that the contingent object (Socrates) is dependant on the singular proposition (does not exist). Exemplifications are not dependent on thisness. If your following the bouncing coloured ball, red is not dependent on green, but green is dependent on red. Or as Plantinga says from the get go on the existentialist’s behalf:

“… thisness are ontologically dependent upon their exemplifications. Take any thisness t and the object x of which t is the thisness; t could not have existed if x had not. … Every thisness has essentially the property of being exemplified by the object that does not exemplify it. More exactly, the thesis in question is that it is necessary that every thisness has that property; it is not as if there could have been thisness that could have lacked the property in question.” (159)

Yeah… well... the point is that I don’t understand how (6) and (7) conflict with (12). Perhaps if the whole thing was turned into a black and white movie with French subtitles then I’d get the anti-serious existential actualist’s point of view, but as it is explained here, I’m at a loss.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

yay Chelsea! I find comradery in your confusion!

6:51 PM  

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