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Thursday, October 24, 2013


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Perhaps this is answering metaphilosophy with more metaphilosophy, but it seems to me that given MPIE, one can reasonably distinguish between essence and existence by differentiating between the experience of existence and the experience of essence. In that in the physical realm one can experience the effects of existence without apprehending the totality of the essence of that which is experienced, e.g. "I feel something in the dark I don't know what it is, but I know its real". Even on idealism this could work as I feel an object's/idea's "influence" on my mind and therefore this object/idea exists even though I may vastly misunderstand its essence, to put it in a medieval way.

>>This goes together with the fact that existence is what confers uniqueness upon a thing. To the conceptualizing mind, nothing is strictly unique. For every concept is repeatable even if not repeated. Existence, however, cannot be conceptualized. As the absoluteness and uniquness in things, it is perhaps no suprise that the difference between existence and essence cannot show up extensionally.<<

This is an interesting argument that we have not considered before.

From London in the Autumn mists.

Hi Ed,

One question is whether and how existence enters into the diversity of things. Peter is not Paul. They are numerically diverse/different. Is numerical difference numerical-existential difference? Do Peter and Paul differ in their very existence even though they have existence in common?

Bill Solomon,

Interesting point. I can know that something is 'there' in the dark by feeling it without knowing much about what it is.

But am I experiencing the existence of a thing when I touch it, or when I try to move it and it resists being moved? Or is it rather the case that I am merely experiencing various physical features of the thing: size, shape, smoothness, weight, solidity, etc.?

I would say that latter. Suppose someone puts an anvil on the floor of my study and I stub my toes on it in the dark. Do I thereby experience the existence of the anvil? But I could have the same experience in a very vivid dream in which there is no (external) anvil.

There are difficult questions here about how we know existence and about the idealism-realism controversy.

Lukas, I'm sure you have a line on this. Please tells us about it.
We don't know existence by conceptualization, so some Thomists say we know it via judgment. What do you say, Lukas?

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