« Saturday Night at the Oldies: Songs Suggestive of Chess | Main | Further Proof of the Inanition of the Muslim World »

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think I agree with you. Donnellan’s explanation seems entirely circular.

When the historical explanation of the use of a name (with the intention to refer) ends in this way with events that preclude any referent being identified, I will call it a "block" in the history.
What does he mean ‘preclude any referent being identified’? Does he mean it is rather like the naked fugitive in Mark’s gospel story, where we are unable to identify which man was the one in the linen cloth? Surely not, for he goes on to talk about ‘negative existential statements’. Surely he means that no such referent exists. He also says
the block is the introduction of the name into the child's speech via a fiction [my emphasis] told to him as reality by his parents
But what is this fiction, this falsehood, if not the statement ‘there is a kind man called St Nick etc’. But ‘there is’, pace Meinong, is existential. Thus ‘Santa Claus does not exist’ means ‘the story of Santa ends in a block’, which in turn means that Santa does not exist. A circular explanation, of embarrassingly short diameter, no?

Off to church now. See my response to you in the earlier thread.


I was maintaining something different, namely that existence and nonexistence cannot hinge on names and their transmission.

But I think you are right with your circularity objection.

(On second thought my objection and yours may be equivalent.)

It is circular to say that: Santa does not exist because at some point in the past 'Santa' was introduced via a fiction. For that is to say that Santa does not exist because Santa does not exist.

I am glad you like my coinage, 'circle of embarrassingly short diameter.'

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2008



June 2024

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad