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Thursday, May 24, 2012


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You seem to agree on Ed's statement:
"There is no second-level existence without first-level existence"
And further below, you comment:
"There is a sense in which 'Ed is a faithful husband' makes true 'Faithful husbands exist.'  The first entails the second.  But the entailment holds only if 'Ed' picks out an existing referent.  But then it is clear that second-level (general) existence presupposes  first-level (singular) existence.  Ed, despite his denials, enjoys first-level existence".
So your idea is that if "instantiation" is a second-level diadic property connecting properties to individuals then their terms (or at least the individuals?) must be there prior to this connection.
But what if, as for Wittgenstein, "instantiation" (in his words "the connection between objects") is not a property ? I remember that you brought up the frussellian existence theory to discuss about Wittgenstein's views. My point is still that for Wittgenstein, "instantiation" is not a property.
And if "instantiation" is not a property (neither first nor second order property) then also your claim of a first-level existence *prior to* a second-level existence seems less obvious to me.
(I apologize if I'm off-topic or too long but your answer on this would be really appreciated)

Please let me add these lines to what I said before:
You can say "p", "q", "p & q" (where "p" and "q" are propositions) and finally state " 'p' and 'q' exist prior to 'p & q' '"
You can name "a", "b" and say "ab" (where "a" and "b" are objects) however you can not state "'a' and 'b' exist prior to 'ab' '"
The fact that you can name one by one the constituents of a state of affairs and, by this way, express its logic- syntactic articulation doesn't imply that the constituents of a state of affairs exist prior to the existence of the actual state of affairs they constitute. For an object "to exist" means "to be part of", "to be constituent of" a state of affairs.
In this respect Wittgenstein's views can not be assimilated to Frussellian's. And your "first-level existence priority" argument would not work in Wittegenstein's case.

Part of the argument runs

10. Therefore, if a first-level concept C is instantiated, then there is some individual x such that x instantiates C.

14. Now either x exists or it does not.

Bill comments on this with
The point is simply that an individual that instantiates C either exists or it does not. That is simply an instance of the Law of Excluded Middle. [my italics]
I think the italicised sentence reveals some of the dangers of taking 'exists' as a predicate. The natural reading of italicised sentence S is
either (there is an individual that instantiates C) or (there is no individual that instantiates C).
Our working assumption is that C is instantiated and that therefore there is an individual that instantiates it, which we name 'x'. We can go on to discuss the properties of this x but only on this assumption. This is fine. But there is a 'perverse' reading of S:
(an individual that instantiates C (call it x)) (either exists or does not exist).
This looks like a kind of scoping error which I have tried to indicate by the parentheses. We then appear to be saying, of this individual called x, that either it exists or it does not exist. This, I think, is nonsense. Or, rather, the latter disjunct is nonsense and the former is uninformative. It does make sense, though, if we think of 'x' as naming not an object but a concept, viz, the concept instantiator of C, but this would take us outside the bounds of FR logic, I think.

What we have here is a potential violation of the proof rules of FR logic. What FR allows us to say is something like this.

Assume C is instantiated. Then there is an individual that instantiates it. Call this individual 'x'.
In the subsequent development of the argument 'x' can be used to name an instantiator of C, but only so long as the assumption that C is instantiated is accepted. Within this region of the proof the name 'x' has 'direct reference' semantics, but outside this region the name is 'undefined' and it is illegitimate under FR proof rules to use it. Recalling the twists and turns of this discussion over the last five years or so, I don't think the issue of the scope of names has yet come up, and this may have a connection with our concerns with the semantics of names. I say a bit more along these lines here.


Thanks, but as I see it you are just begging the question against me. If the issue is whether 'exists' a has a legitimate first-level use, one cannot counter the claim that it does by just assuming the truth of a system of ideas that disallows it.


Ed would not agree that there is no second-level existence without first-level existence. That's my claim that he opposes. He thinks existence = second-level existence = general existence = instantiation = someness.

I think Witt is a distraction at this point. The main bone of contention is what I mention in the preceding paragraph.

I am with you Mav, and have been following the conversation.

Thanks, Jason. I wonder how many find this interesting.

Ed appears to be shifting the burden of proof when you press him with your questions, and as long as an interlocutor does that, little headway can be made.

He might also be playing coy. Note the following phrases in his latest post.

"Maverick needs to explain what that sense is."

Does he mean "sense" in the Fregean way? He has been talking about that, and he could use that as an argument about why he disagrees with you since there is no "sense" of existence qua existence. And,

"Those of us trained in the analytic method are taught to give examples. Find a use of the verb 'exists' that is not consistent with the definition set out by Brentano"

Why must we show a "use" or example when the logic is sufficient? And we must use Brentano's definition? Since when is it required of an interlocutor to argue for one's own position but only through the premises of another?

I could be parsing this too harshly, but hermeneutic charity has already been waived.

Ed is coy and evasive at times.

Honestly, I find it refreshing compared to the gladiatorial style if one may choose one's dissenters. Aside, I am not trained in the analytic tradition, which is more than a style, so I personally feel no such compulsion.

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