Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2011

Troubles with the (modally) open horizon of life

Objects. I tend to think that they cannot be hostage to descriptions. This is what I called in a previous post the (modally) open horizon of life and I take Kripke to be defending this principle in Naming and Necessity against descriptivism - Socrates could very well have never gone into philosophy etc. This was my main misgiving with Meinongism: there could be no way to disentangle description and reference in a Meinongian framework. Terrence Parsons (in his 1979 JP paper, for example) argues that there is nothing substantial ever put forward against nonexisting objects. Only Russell's dislike of Meinong. He draws an interesting comparison between the fate of naive set theory and the fate of naive object theory. While the first deserved the recognised efforts of Zermello, Frankel, Russell, Quine etc to build a non-naive version of what is a set, the idea of object was just abandoned (too early) because some prima facie objections were raised (by Russell, by the way). A general

Refering to objects

In his very interesting commentary on my last post, Tomás writes: "Quineans think Meinongians and realists alike confuse reference and meaning. I guess Meinongians think that realists and Quineans alike confuse reference with existence. Surely one cannot bring an object to existence simply by referring to it, if bringing about just means bringing into existence. And I believe that acknowledging this is precisely what distinguish the Meinongian from the global realist." It is interesting the idea that we can refer to objects even if they don't exist. But my main concern with Meinongians is that I suspect that they have to embrace some kind of descriptivism and in that sense they confuse meaning and reference too. It all depends on how you carve those concepts through. But can there be a form of Meinongianism that dispells my suspicion of excessive attachment to descriptions and their resources? (I would bet on a Donnellan seasoning...). In any case, I like the independ

The crossroads of existence and description

I hear often variations of the following complaint against Kripke's firm commitment to the distinction between denoting something and whatever surrounds the process of describing something: "The indiscernibility of identicals is too strong a principle to be accepted in all times and circumstances. It assumes that identity is always already given - that identities precede any act of identification - and takes identity as an arch-structure capable to ensure respect for singularities (to allow Socrates not to fulfill any of the descriptions we attach to him), as identity is already there no matter the work we do with our descriptions. This arch-structure, however, is just too heavy to be swallowed." I tend to both agree and disagree with the complaint. On the one hand, Kripke makes justice to the independence between things and their descriptions in a way that Frege or even Russell do not (even though Russell allow for existence to play some role in his semantics). On th

The sacrality of art and science (and politics and love?)

Marina Abramovic's Lips of Thomas (about endurance without being rescued by the public) can be compared with the Milgram experiments (about endurance without being helped by doubts on the reliability and good will of scientific experimenters). Both are about loci taken as sacred: the lab, the gallery. There, the foreign is allowed to come in and help by bowing their heads. The bowing produces the sacrality. The sacrality makes art art, science science.