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On the Vacuity of the Concept of Existence

The Grey Man

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Kant said:
Being is evidently not a real predicate, that is, a concept of something that can be added to the concept of a thing It is merely the positing of a thing, and of certain determinations in themselves. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgment.

The Critique of Pure Reason, A 599/B 627
Schopenhauer said:
It seems to me that the doctrine of the laws of thought might be simplified if we were only to set up two, the law of excluded middle and that of sufficient reason. The former thus: “Every predicate can either be affirmed or denied of every subject.” Here it is already contained in the “either, or” that both cannot occur at once, and consequently just what is expressed by the laws of identity and contradiction.

(...)

The second law of thought, the principle of sufficient reason, would affirm that the above attributing or denying must be determined by something different from the judgment itself, which may be a (pure or empirical) perception, or merely another judgment.

The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, 286
Thought is the interconnection of concepts which are thereby identified with each other; judgment is the act of combining the concepts. We call a concept that is connected to another concept by means of judgment the predicate to the latter's subject. For example, in the sentence,

Socrates is a man.
Socrates is the subject, 'a man' the predicate. 'is', as a conjugation of 'being', is, as Kant said, the copula, which is no part of the subject nor the predicate. The common classroom conception of the sentence as a thing composed of only a subject and a predicate does not adequately express the function of the word 'being'. It refers not to a concept which can be predicated of another, but to the predication itself.

figure1.jpg

Every subject is a predicate to its own predicate's subject—that is, identity is a symmetrical relation

figure2.jpg

—but not all concepts are not identical with all other concepts. For example, Socrates and Immanuel Kant are both men, but Socrates is not Immanuel Kant.

figure3.jpg

We say that a concept which is identical to concepts which are not identical to each other contains those concepts

figure4.jpg

and may in turn be contained by yet another concept.

figure5.jpg

My examples have thus far shown only the containment of the particular by the general, but the general is also contained by the particular. Just as each species incorporates many individuals, so does each individual partake in many species.

figure6.jpg

There are thus two senses in which non-identical concepts can be predicated of another:
  1. As reifications of an idea; or
  2. As attributes of a substance
Sanzio_01_Plato_Aristotle.jpg

The answer, then, to @onesteptwostep's question is that Plato's ideas don't exist and neither does substance because existence is not a predicate. As for what they are in concreto, my view is that idea and substance are alternative names for the totality of the objects of experience and the unity of the percipient subject respectively.

What do you think?
 

Animekitty

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Is Plato still alive?
If not then in what way do we refer to the deads "existence"?
My bones are dust. Whence then am I.
(hamlet looking at skull)

existence is not a predicate.
Martin Heidegger?
 

Cognisant

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Semantics prove nothing, just because saying something exists doesn't prove its existence doesn't mean that therefore it doesn't exist.
 

The Grey Man

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The Grey Man

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Semantics prove nothing, just because saying something exists doesn't prove its existence doesn't mean that therefore it doesn't exist.
When I say that nothing exists, I am not denying the existence of everything as a predicate. I'm denying that existence is a predicate which can be denied or affirmed of a thing at all with any meaning.

Plato's bones are dust, but from this it does not follow that he does not exist. In fact, some people call him immortal. He can no longer have spirited debates in the Academy, but who will deny that he lives still in those words of his that have become the possession of our culture? And besides, what difference does it make to him whether we call him dead or alive? That his atoms no longer maintain his form is a fact no more important than that ours formerly did not maintain ours.
 

Animekitty

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If my form ceases to be maintained, that would seem to bad if the only form I can take is human. When my atoms rejoin the Earth Biom then I would transition to a new form, human, non-human, terrestrial or cosmic. Perhaps I may enter the magnetic fields of the Earth. I would never lose form but transition between forms. This would need to be a physical process as I am not transitioning into the books I have written but the objects/forcefields around me as my flesh decays.
 

The Grey Man

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True, Plato's books are not a stage of his development, but more like a phenomenon that he has caused.
 

Cognisant

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I'm denying that existence is a predicate which can be denied or affirmed of a thing at all with any meaning.
Seems to me that you're just stretching the definition of existance to something so broad it ceases to be useful.

Although I get it, after the Ship of Theseus has been entirely rebuilt it's uncertain whether it continues to exist, or rather the conceptual existence of the ship as a singular thing doesn't fit the reality of a ship being a composition of parts.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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I'm denying that existence is a predicate which can be denied or affirmed of a thing at all with any meaning.
Seems to me that you're just stretching the definition of existence to something so broad it ceases to be useful.

Although I get it, after the Ship of Theseus has been entirely rebuilt it's uncertain whether it continues to exist, or rather the conceptual existence of the ship as a singular thing doesn't fit the reality of a ship being a composition of parts.
It's better understood in the context of ontological arguments for God (like Anselm).
The arguments usually go like how God must necessarily exist by definition and stuff (not going to expand). The vacuity of existence as predicate arguments are often used to point out the logical flaws in such arguments.
http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/ontological_kant.htm

The Theseus ship thing is usually related to a different context - personal identity - continuity of identity and such (not existence as such - however it can still occur in the context of mereological existence and stuff).
 

onesteptwostep

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The problem of universals actually have their answers which have been answered a long time ago. The stance that Plato's ideas, or his forms, or aka that realism isn't real is the position of nominalism, contrasted with the position that universals are real, that is, realism.

I've mentioned this in another philosophy topic but before William Ockham, medieval philosophy held that universals existed and that the highest universal were the ideas in God's mind, that is, ante rem. The ideas then would emanate into our minds, aka post rem. This Catholic Philosophy encyclopedia goes in more depth: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11090c.htm Theologically this is in tangent with the notion that God's will is above reason, but I don't have my philosophy books with me at the moment (I'm on vacation atm) to fully elaborate. It also touches upon the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation- so you can see why this was a big thing back in the day. There were some political reasons why Ockham put forth this new idea but again, don't have my books with me ^^ Thomas Aquinas was a realist, to note.

It was after the proposition that Ockham put out to counter the realism of his day people would understand the modern understanding of what 'universals' were. He used his "Ockham's Razor" to establish his nominalism- and it's through the refutation of realism that people began to diverge into the scientific era.

As for substance mentioned in the OP I'm not sure what Grey Man is getting at.
 

The Grey Man

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Though Kant did indeed identify being as the copula of judgment in his refutation of the ontological argument, I chose merely to highlight that he did identify it as such in the OP. To describe the apple in my hand, I might with good reason employ terms like 'light', 'solid', 'round', 'rough', 'red', and 'sweet', but 'existence' is totally superfluous.

As for substance mentioned in the OP I'm not sure what Grey Man is getting at.
There are two opposing ways of describing things. One can identify either an individual with its species (i.e. a substance with its attributes) or a species with its individuals (i.e. an idea with its reifications). I call describing the particular in terms of the general realism; the opposite I call idealism. In other words, realism and idealism are to me not contrary doctrines, but contrary methods of knowing things. The one explains the part and is commonly called science, the other elucidates the whole and is called philosophy.

We intuitively attribute redness and roundness to apples—it is a fact that the apple in my hand is red, whatever I might say—but with the intellect we can go further and attribute both the sweetness of an apple and that of a pear to a certain occult substance which is their common intelligible "sub-stratum", perhaps a certain molecular structure that is present in both. Even further, we can attribute all attributes of any object whatsoever to the disposition of matter in space, but as Kant famously pointed out, space is a form of intuition,* so we find ourselves precisely back where we started. The mind is the "substance of substances", the coveted thing-in-itself, which is why I identified substance with the "unity of the percipient subject".

The other side to this is that the introspective or philosophical method of knowing the general through the particular inevitably finds its "idea of ideas" in that interconnection of everything in nature which is precisely the matter of science, so that idealism and realism converge.

* Mainländer convincingly argues that matter is the second form, a complement to space that he identifies with Locke's secondary qualities. I recently read an incomplete online translation of his magnum opus by a private individual who calls himself YuYuHunter and was quite impressed. Predictably, the academic community has not seen fit to translate into English the only serious attempt in history to rectify Schopenhauer's doctrine, seemingly confirming the latter's belief in an insidious "conspiracy of silence" against him.
 

onesteptwostep

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So let me get this straight: the mind is the ultimate substance? Or to put it more precisely, our mind that perceives the unity of all.
 

The Grey Man

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It is both the ultimate substance and the ultimate idea. All things are contained within it and it is contained by nothing; all things are attributes of it and it is an attribute of nothing, which is why I call it the ex nihilo.
 

onesteptwostep

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Haha that's a good one, you're basically attributing divinity to humans! How very infidelic. ;]
 

The Grey Man

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And why not? The mind has:
  1. Omnipresence ("I am that I am"; "thou art that")
  2. Omniscience (for it is inconceivable that what is known is not known by some one)
  3. Omnipotence (the unity of the will, which manifests for itself as those causa efficiens which the world of multiplicity)
  4. Omnibenevolence (Socrates: "no one knowingly does evil")
Does it not...? :confused:
 

onesteptwostep

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The Hegelian 'Absolute Mind' maybe, but not ours... plus you would have to address solipsism and the existence of other minds, and whether separate minds are all connected somehow, and whether that connection is connected with God, and so forth.
 

The Grey Man

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The Hegelian 'Absolute Mind' maybe, but not ours... plus you would have to address solipsism and the existence of other minds, and whether separate minds are all connected somehow, and whether that connection is connected with God, and so forth.
All minds are one and all minds are individuated from each other and connected with each other. Time is the development without beginning or end that makes individuation possible. The present is like stretch of a road that extends into a vanishing point behind and in front of us. Just as our stretch may intersect another which is yet one in the same road due to an unseen turn, so are each of us inwardly indistinguishable from each other—all of us determinations of one in the same mind. At least, that's my view. I suppose God in this analogy would be the road, whole and entire.

In accordance with the principle of "all one mind", it seems to me that evil actions—those that benefit the actor by harming others—are harmful to the actor, and that they just don't know it. A torturer can suppose, intellectually, that he is inflicting immense pain on his victims and still exult in their screams, but it's quite a different story if he can actually feel their pain. Then and only then would he truly understand the consequences of his actions.
 

The Grey Man

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I've begun to think of the mind as a rotating horn torus:

coloured_horntorus.gif

The point in the middle is the "I", the points connected by the sides of the hexagons objects united by their reciprocal relations with each other (causality). The "I" is connected to the objects by means of the 'causal law' described by Schopenhauer whereby the origin of a sensory impression is perceived as removed from the subject in space.

Everyone flows into everyone; that our memories tell us only of past selves is irrelevant.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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In accordance with the principle of "all one mind", it seems to me that evil actions—those that benefit the actor by harming others—are harmful to the actor, and that they just don't know it. A torturer can suppose, intellectually, that he is inflicting immense pain on his victims and still exult in their screams, but it's quite a different story if he can actually feel their pain. Then and only then would he truly understand the consequences of his actions.
I do evil even if I know it harms me and contributes to the harm of others.
The evil will compels me. It is not rational.
 

Rook

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Uncertainty... I seem to be ape.

Existence and nothingness might be the same.

Can a boabab concieve of galaxies?
So... can the human reach immutable truth?

Far tech has taken us. Of the universe we do concieve. Yet... a true scientist cannot discount any reality, even a reality along christian lines. What if it is our eternal fate?

Thus hedonism, egotism, cosmic nihilism are adequate responses: For if the mind is a mere flower petal floating upon an unknowable breeze, it must enjoy being the petal to the fullest extent... ofc, we are beings of great imagination.

We are petals that can concieve of a million forested planets; blooming things abound.

There is no great answer. Just the great question: What?
 

The Grey Man

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No progress is made in any knowledge-seeking endeavour by saying merely "I know only that I know nothing" and washing one's hands of it. If any progress is to be made, we must first have confidence in our ability to pronounce the truth. I would rather follow the example of Kant, who preserved his confidence in his conclusions after waking from his "dogmatic slumber" by basing them on the principles of human thought itself, than wallow in indiscriminate skepticism.
 
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