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new introEdit

I've made another attempt at an introduction which is readable, which covers the main points in the article, and which I hope answers the main objections to the old introduction. Rick Norwood 14:22, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I've added some references, and (forgive me) weeded out 'epistemological' claims about existence, which are easily confused with issues about existence itself. With existence itself, we are concerned about what it is, how we define it, whether we can define it, problems that philosophers have had with the very concept itself. Cartesian questions like whether we can be certain of the existence of certain things, should not be in this article. edward (buckner) 14:50, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm very glad to have you weigh in on what was getting out of hand. I understand and now agree with your assertion that Descartes' famous dictum has more to do with epistemology than with ontology. Rick Norwood 15:11, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

See my note above on 'Pegasus'. My memory of modern logic is getting rusty, but I am right about 'existential generalisation'? Where is it in Wikipedia? edward (buckner) 14:59, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Looking through articles like Existential quantification and doing a search through WP suggests that there is no treatment of existential generalization anywhere. I can hardly believe it. Perhaps the variant spelling / terminology is the problem. Would anyone else care to check? edward (buckner) 15:14, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I'll find a citation for your NOT(x=y), now that you've added the necessary qualifying clause. I'm not sure what you mean by "existential generalisation". It sounds like what is now called the scientific method. That is, "Socrates is mortal", "Plato is mortal", "Aristotle is mortal", we know of no exceptions to this pattern, therefore "All men are mortal."

I didn't write the not x=y bit. Existential generalization is the rule that from Pa, infer Ex Px. Google it and find out. edward (buckner) 15:14, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I am still unclear why you do not consider the question of the existence of things not seen -- gods in particular -- not an important ontological question. As you may remember, I don't believe in such things, but whether or not existence is created seems to me an important ontological question, as does the question of whether or not existence is confined to that which we may, at least in theory, experience. Rick Norwood 15:11, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

The existence of God, or of gods, is part of theology, or is discussed in the Ontological argument article. The existence of black holes, particles &c is part of physics. It's not that such questions are not important, the question is what belongs in the scope of the article. This article is about what it means to say something 'exists', and the difficulties around that. It's not about specific existential questions like, does God exist. edward (buckner) 15:22, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I can live with that, especially since we finally seem to be making progress. I'm going to remove the not(x=y), if you have no objection.

Ah, that "existential generalization". Godel, for example, demonstrated that there are statements that are true, but which cannot be proven true. I assume that the question you raise is this. Can we, from the statement "3 is odd", deduce the statement "There exists a 3 and it is odd." My guess is, no, we can't. For example, from "Pegasus flies" we cannot deduce the statement, "There exists a Pegasus and it flies." Therefore existential generalization would be a fallacy. Rick Norwood 15:38, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

 ? Rick I'm not with you. EG is a standard bit of predicate calculus. That is a fact. The point of the paragraph in question is to show that there is a problem with it, applied to ordinary language. edward (buckner) 15:46, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Specifically, the paragraph is highlighting a problem. 'Pegasus flies' implies 'something (namely Pegasus) flies'. It is this intuition that leads to the EG rule in standard logic (in Free Logic this rule is rejected, for the reasons alluded to in the paragraph). The problem is that 'Pegasus does not fly' implies something (namely Pegasus) does not fly. I.e. whether the sentence is true or false, something is Pegasus. It is merely identifying a difficulty (one which Free Logic supposedly solves). edward (buckner) 15:50, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

This wasn't a part of predicate calculus the last time I taught the subject, but that was some years back. On the other hand, it sounds like one of Frege's ideas that Russell found counterexamples to, so I'm going to have to do some research and get back to you. Rick Norwood 18:22, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm bemused by this. It's one of the first things you learn about natural deduction. My undergraduate primer was Lemmon. Here, for example. It is sometimes called different names (existentialization, particularization) so maybe that's where the confusion lies. edward (buckner) 08:13, 21 August 2007 (UTC)


Dear Lord, is this entry beyond twisted. Talk about being unable to talk coherently and in a way that makes sense. As tough as this entry may be to put in words.... as it is shown.... I think it may be necessary to start this topic off with such a phrase. We can not make sense of this until we know the full truth about everything. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.194.18.59 (talk) 08:33, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

First sentenceEdit

"Existence is the property of being; that which is in the category of what is."

I've tried to parse this generously, in some way that would give the statement content, but I can't, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for a reference.

To demonstrate my problem, suppose this was an article about cats. Would you begin by saying, "Cat is the property of being a cat; a cat is that which is in the category of cats." I find your definition of existence similarly vacuous. If you can quote a reputable source for it, I'll stand down. Rick Norwood 18:36, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree. The first clause is contentious, because the main dispute in this area is precisely whether existence is a property or not. The second clause is vacuous. Existence is in the category of what exists. edward (buckner) 08:14, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
good luck finding a better opening line. if you find a worse one, i'll revert it. i'm open to a better starting definition. existence is a vacuous notion. it only means is. x is is equivalent to x exists or has the property of existence. if you were to define it in sets, it is the set of things that are or what is. --Buridan 13:33, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

"Being is that which belongs to every conceivable term, to every possible object, of thought-in short to everything that can possibly occur in any proposition, true or false, and to all such propositions themselves... To exist is to have a specific relation to existence-a relation, by the way, which existence itself does not have... For what does not exist must be something, or it would be meaningless to deny its existence ; and hence we need the concept of being, as that which belongs even to the non-existent." — pp. 449-450, Bertrand Russell - The Principles of Mathematics - New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1903, second edition 1937.

Definitions (from external link) Newbyguesses - Talk 12:58, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

That was not in support of the current first sentence, it is weak, by all means upgrade it. I meant it as food for thought, and from a mathematical viewpoint, but it would be best to read the whole paragraph by following the link on the articlepage. Newbyguesses - Talk 13:07, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Since we are using existence in the common sense of the word, and since it is difficult to define, I think it is best to locate the study by the area in which it occurs and its name within that area. The whole rest of the article discusses the problem of what existence is -- we can hardly hope to answer that question. Rick Norwood 13:54, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

nominalism and realismEdit

Dbuckner wrote "nominalist = medieval nominalist." My understanding of the medieval sense of the words is that "realists", following Plato, taught that abstractions really existed, while "nominalists" taught that abstractions were only names, with no real existence. Is this really how the words are still used in modern philosophy? Rick Norwood 12:46, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Generally yes. But in any case, if you try reading past that sentence, you will find that the section is about 'medieval nominalism'. Either way, whoever put in the bit I removed wasn't thinking too hard. edward (buckner) 21:06, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
There is this sentence — Thus Ockham argued that "Socrates has wisdom", which apparently asserts the existence of a reference for "wisdom", can be rewritten as "Socrates is wise", which contains only the referring phrase "Socrates". — Some linking text could then follow on Problem of universals#Medieval nominalism, but there seems enough for now on Ockham and his clever razor. Nominalism, as a school, retains substantial connection to its roots, is my understanding. (There is this recent thread at the humanities reference Desk - [1] ) - Newbyguesses - Talk 13:08, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
If you want to link to an article that is rubbish, fine. It has a splendid sentence 'A position subsequently identified as conceptualism was formulated by Pierre Abelard'. There are two fundamental errors in that sentence. edward (buckner) 21:08, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks edward. That phrase - The nominalist approach to the question (not to be confused with the scholastic usage of "nominalist") is to argue that ... - had been there for some time. I opened a thread at the Humanities reference Desk on ==Ockham and Existence== yesterday on this, by the time I got it figured out, the "confusing' sentence was already gone! Thanks also for the information on that other article - I must look closely at that sort of thing, it seems one just cannot believe everything one reads, these days. Newbyguesses - Talk 23:10, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I think I was the one who put in the "confusing sentence". Thanks for setting me right and removing it. Rick Norwood 13:19, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Descartes, againEdit

I am not sure - if Descartes believes that he exists, then that is ontology; or else, Descartes believes that he exists, and that is epistomology. If this is too confusing, a replacement could be found for Descartes in the leadsect. I think it best to keep a sentence there, rather than just delete Descartes, if there are any suggestions? Is this needed, Edward, otherwise, we can leave well enough alone with the leadsect. for now, it seems to be working alright. I believe I noticed some recent discussion here concerning Descarte's suitability, though I do think it works OK for now, Newbyguesses - Talk 02:21, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

My own formulation of Descartes' famous dictum is that the universal set is not equal to the empty set. But that would be original research. Rick Norwood 13:21, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
From nothing, nothing could have proceeded. Therefore, from nothing, everything must have proceeded. (Being too unlearned and uninformed to be capable of Original, Reseasch, I , must have read this somewhere?) Newbyguesses - Talk 07:56, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Sounds familiar to me. I'm also fond of the Gahan Wilson cartoon of people bowing down to an empty alter, "Is Nothing Sacred?" Rick Norwood 17:14, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Descartes' point, on existence, is that there is no, clearly defined, objective method of understanding reality. Information about understanding reality belongs in the ontology article. This article is about reality. Thus, why is Descartes discussed herein? 72.191.34.52 (talk) 23:39, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Existential generalizationEdit

I'm still trying to understand what is going on with existential generalization. I find it in books from the 1950s and earlier, e.g. Suppes, "Introduction to Logic", but not in books 1970 or later, e.g. Hamilton, "Logic for Mathematicians" or the "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mathematics". The online sources I looked at are either from philosophy or else from class notes.

The problem with existential generalization (the problem we are having here is a special case) is with statements that are vacuously true. For example, "If an even prime is bigger than two then it is green." is a vacuously true statement. We would not, however, assert that there exists a green even prime bigger than two. I think we get around this by paying closer attention to the scope of the quantifier. In the statement "There exists x, if x is an even prime bigger than two then x is green." the scope of the quantifier must be everything that follows. Therefore 42 is an example of such an x, since the statement "If 42 is an even prime bigger than 2 then 42 is green." is a true statement, as is any statement with a false hypothesis.

How does this apply to our Pegasus? "Pegasus flies." is equivalent to, "If there is a Pegasus, then it flies." We apply existential generalization to get "There exists x, if x is a Pegasus then x flies." Keeping in mind that the scope of the quantifier must be the entire rest of the sentence, Lassie is an example of such an x, since the statement "If Lassie is a Pegasus, then Lassie flies." is a true statement.

Why the phrase "existential generalization" does not appear in the later books I looked at still puzzles me. Maybe it has gone out of style, or maybe I just looked in the wrong books.

Rick Norwood 14:04, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure you understand EG. EG is only from singular terms. Your example "If an even prime is bigger than two then it is green." is a universally quantified sentence.

(x) [ [even(x) & prime(x) & x > 2] -> green(x) ]

Now, as it happens, we can existentially generalise on the number 2, to give

(E y) (x) [ [even(x) & prime(x) & x > y] -> green(x) ]

i.e. there is some number (namely 2) such that &c. But your translation

"There exists x, if x is an even prime bigger than two then x is green."

is not correct.

>>How does this apply to our Pegasus?

Let p be Pegasus. Then EG allows us to infer from 'flies(p)' that 'Ex flies(x)'. Does that help? edward (buckner) 11:18, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

The trouble I have with that example is, what are we to do with the statement "Pegasus flies faster than the speed of light." We certainly cannot conclude there exists x that flies faster than the speed of light.
Here is what Suppes says. "Existential Generalization (EG). The assertion that a condition is satisfied by a named individual implies the assertian that this condition is satisfied by some individual."
As an example, he writes "Ma" and on the next line, he uses EG to deduce from Ma the following: (There exists x) Mx.
Here is how Hamilton, twenty years later, handles the same situation. (There exists x)A is an abbreviation for ~((for all x)(~A)), where A is any well formed formula. Since implications are well formed formulas, Hamilton deals with the Pegasus as outlined above.
I'm not sure what happened in the twenty years between Suppes and Hamilton, but I suspect that the concept of Existential Generalization was replaced by the idea of free and bound variables and the scope of a quantifier. Since Hamilton, another thirty years have passed, and if I ever teach Mathematical Logic again, I'll probably have to learn the subject all over again, with new notation.
The more I look into this, the less I think it has anything to do with the question of the existence of imaginary objects. Rick Norwood 19:13, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Nothing you say here suggests mathematical logic has changed in any way. E.g. it is standard that Ex Fx is equivalent to ~ (x) ~Fx. But let's go back to the Pegasus problem, as stated in the article. The problem is that P(a) is either true or false. Thus P(a) v ~P(a). If Pa is true, then EG allows us to infer Ex Px. But if ~Pa is true, EG allows us to infer Ex ~Px. Thus, either way, we can infer the existence of some x that is either P or not P. Thus, whether or not 'Pegasus flies' is true or false, we can still infer the existence of something (i.e. Pegasus). Which seems absurd. That is the problem identified in the article. edward (buckner) 12:55, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
This may be relevant, if Pegasus does or does not exist. In classical logic, inconsistent premises always make an argument valid; that is, inconsistent premises imply any conclusion at all. This is known as the paradox of entailment. (Another article needs work?) Newbyguesses - Talk 13:24, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

The mathematical idea of existence has nothing to do with the real world idea of existence. For practical reasons, axiom systems are usually based on the real word, but as far as the mathematics goes, you could just as well have Axiom One: Every quirtle is a glottle; Axiom Two there exists at least one glottle that is not a quirtle. This assertion of the existence of a glottle has nothing to do with existence in the sense that it is discussed in the article.

It seems clear to me that, as Aristotle so patiently explained, we say things in the real world exist. We also say that abstractions, such as "goodness", have a kind of existence, but a different kind of existence from existence in the real world. If there were no minds, there would be no abstractions. A similar and perfectly elementary consideration applies to fictional characters. They exist in people's minds, or on the printed page, but not in the world. It is a secondary kind of existence, what Tolkien called "subcreation". Rick Norwood 21:17, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

That may be so, but how does this point to any problem with the 'Pegasus' article we were discussing? You were indicating there was some sort of problem with that paragraph.edward (buckner) 15:08, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

My understanding of the paragraph is this: what the paragraph calls "existence in the wide sense" is what Meinong called "Existenz" and what the paragraph calls "existence in the narrow sense" is what Meinong called "Bestand". ("Sense" or "scope" -- I suggest changing the title to "sense" since "scope" has quite a different technical meaning.) The paragraph then goes on to say that assertions of existence in the wide sense are typically of the form "N is P". I assume an example would be "Socrates is mortal". But "Pegasus is a myth" has that same form, "N is P", yet Meinong would not even allow Pegasus to Bestand, but would put Pegasus in the class of "impossible objects".

The article goes on to say that existence in the narrow sense is typically of the form "N exists". An example would be "a triangle exists", or (if you allow me to mix languages) "a triangle Bestand". But we could also say, "Socrates exists", which has the same form, but the meaning "Socrates Existenz".

I would like to try a rewrite to clear up this difficulty. Have you any objection? Rick Norwood 18:02, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

OK it turns out we are talking about different paragraphs. You are now talking about the one called 'wide and narrow scope'. I am sure it never used to have that title in the original version. Obviously it should be 'sense'. ARe you are absoutely certain about what Meinong says here, i.e. do you have a reference? edward (buckner) 07:34, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I added a section heading, and used the word "scope", incorrectly. Sorry, my bad. Newbyguesses - Talk 07:53, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

To save myself a trip over to the library, I trusted what Wikipedia has to say about Meinong. If that's wrong, then we have a lot of work ahead of us, but it sounds authoritative to me. Rick Norwood 12:56, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

You referred to Wikipedia? Disbelief. Anyway I took a quick look at the article, as well as refer to a primary-ish source (my copy of 'On Assumptions'). The article leaves much to be desired: there are things that seem plain wrong, plus other things that aren't properly cited. For example, when Meinong talks about 'subsistence' and so forth he is not talking about things like Pegasus, but usually what we now call 'propositions'. It was his disciple Ernst Mally who came up with the stuff about objects. Also, surely Meinong would allow that Pegasus subsists, since a flying horse is not logically impossible, whereas a 'square circle' is. edward (buckner) 13:07, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
PS I note that the Wikipedia article on Mally makes no reference to his connection with National Socialism. edward (buckner) 13:10, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
The section being discussed here rather does lack - reference-wise. There are only five references citations for the article as a whole, I think they are all for quotes. The ones for this section should be very easy to track down. Good luck. Newbyguesses - Talk 14:03, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Knowing how way leads on to way... . What you are saying is that after we finish rewriting this article, one of us needs to rewrite the article on Meinong. I have only one thing to say about that. It ain't me, babe.
In any case, I think we agree that there are problems with the paragraph in question (in this article). Do you want to attempt a rewrite, or shall I? Rick Norwood 12:40, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Good work, Newbyguesses. Rick Norwood 12:49, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
I will keep trying to track down references where they are needed, and others are working here on sections that need work, good. Whole sections lacking references is not the best, though the lead shouldnt need any. The article is presentable, surely, and can be made better with but a little work. After that? Newbyguesses - Talk 23:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Meinong and existenceEdit

I was going to try to work on this article, but it started taking on a life of its own, and it seemed best to me to just follow its progress. I do follow the existential generalization issue presented by dbuckner, and that seems correct to me. However, in terms of basic categories of existences, it seemed there were undistinquishe domains that needed to be in the article. I think what I was envisioning are the distinctions of Meinong: specifically a) existence (this is understandable to me as "actual existence) b) subsistence (I understand this as "existences of the mind". The category Being-given I don't understand at all. Maybe Meinong was considered a quack, but those seem to be pretty solid assumptions he's made there. Richiar 05:16, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

As I understand it, the third form of existence discussed by Meinong was the sense in which logical contradictions, such as "square circles" exist. That is, things that can be asserted to exist which cannot exist even as mental constructs, also called oxymorons. I also think Meinong's distinction resolves the "Pegasus flies" problem. Rick Norwood 17:13, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

It seems the "square circles" would be an imaginary existence of the mind, like the chesire cat in Alice in Wonderland. (Actually, Alice too). A real existence as an imaginary mental image. The dream of the scientist KeKulé who dreamed a mental image of benzene being circular, and then actually discovered that benzene was circular. That would be a correspondence of an existing mental image to an actual reality. So that might lend support to two domains of "existing". (Inner, outer, to quote Ken Wilbur, or, subjective and objective: I don't know who argues for or against that). I'm wondering if the "Giving-being" isn't the distinction of being-for-itself vs. being-in-itself?? Richiar 05:13, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

The phrases "being-for-itself" and "being-in-itself" don't communicate anything to me. I have no problem, however, if the article uses two categories, physical being and ideas. Round benzine would be a physical being whose discovery was aided by an idea. (Of course, benzine is really hexagonal and non-planar, but that's neither here nor there.) Most discoveries begin as ideas. There was a time when "Man on the moon" was only an idea.

I think Meinong's third category is things that exist as verbal constructions but which do not even exist as ideas. That is, if I understand him, he would claim we can have an idea of a Cheshire cat, but we cannot even have an idea of a square circle or a red that is green. Rick Norwood 12:39, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't think Meinong would have said that non-existent objects exist in the mind. They are just as mind-independent as real chairs, tables &c. It's just that they don't exist. You might all find this section of this article helpful. edward (buckner) 15:05, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I am unable to understand this. Consider Pegasus. If no mind had ever thought of a Pegasus, it would not have existence in any sense. Pegasus has existence only to the extent that it exists as a mental concept. It has no existence outside the human mind.

On the other hand, I thought of a problem with my own and, to the extent that I understand them, Meinong's categories. There are only finitely many human minds, each of which has only finitely many thoughts in its lifetime. But there are infinitely many natural numbers. Therefore, there is some natural number nobody has ever thought of. And yet, a mathematician would say that natural number exists.

I'll follow up your links, and see if they help. Rick Norwood 18:00, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

You seem to be arguing that the word 'Pegasus' refers to our mental concept of Pegasus. There is a standard argument against this, given by Mill, Frege, Quine and others. The argument is that it is the expression 'Our mental concept of Pegasus' that refers to our mental concept of Pegasus. I.e. we already have a term for the concept. But the word 'Pegasus' refers to Pegasus. Unless you also want to claim that the mental concept of Pegasus = Pegasus. But Pegasus is a horse, not a concept. edward (buckner) 07:04, 8 September 2007 (UTC)


I read your link with great interest, and I have a number of ideas on the subject, but in order for them to avoid the No Original Research restriction in Wikipedia, I have to publish them in a refereed journal first. Can you recommond a good journal that publishes papers in this area? Rick Norwood 19:28, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Any philosophy journal would accept a good, well-researched article on this subject. edward (buckner) 07:04, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
The article discusses Aristotle's Categories previous to the Meinong material. Two points that then occur to me, that might have bearing on this,
A mathematician might say that the concept of the set of all natural numbers is conceivable, and therefore exists. That is not the same as saying "2" exists, though 2 is a natural number, nor does it assert that any particular member of the set exists, only that some member of the set exists, for the purposes of mathematics.
A table "exists" - we say it is made of a substance, wood. A thought "exists" - we say it exists within a mind, (though that is a disputable point); however, just because a table is "made" of wood, its existence is no more or less "real" than the existence of even the most ephemeral of thoughts.
These points are of course arguable, are argued. I recall a library book on Philosophy of mathematics, not a specialist text, but useful perhaps, which I may be able to re-locate, though there may not be much there on Categories as such.
Newbyguesses - Talk 23:17, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

It is Saturday, and I am at home, without my reference books in easy reach, but I am pretty sure that any mathematician would agree that if S is a set and x is an element of S, then if S exists it follows that x exists. I think this is an axiom of set theory in ... um... Halmos's Naive Set Theory ...???... . But I'm trusting my memory. Rick Norwood 13:08, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I am continuing to follow this discussion and find it quite interesting. Thanks edward for the reference to nonexistence. I am continuing to read it. As I ponder these issues, it seems there may be some confustion as a result of inadequate conceptualization for the discussion, or what one might call "domains of distinction". I will present below possible distinctions for this discussion. (I do not believe that they can be put in the article, as I know of no general discussion of these distinctions in secondary or primary sources that could be used for the Wikipedia article. But for the purpose of maybe helping with the discussion, I am presenting them):

Consider the two statements:

a) Pegasus flies

b) Pegasus has flies

These two statements could bring forth the following categories:

Mind existences:

image of horse

image of pegasus

word "pegasus"

belief "pegasus"

story of "pegasus"

image of flies

Pegasus "is"

horse "is"

fly "is"

flying "is"

(This is a clarification of the above: there is a discussion of language and the relationship to "is" in "An Introduction to Metaphysics" and "On the Way to Language", both by M. Heidegger). Richiar 04:27, 28 September 2007 (UTC)


Actual existences:

book about pegasus

horses

flies

birds

airplanes

Actual Actions:

flying (eg. airplanes, flies, birds)

conversation about pegasus

Richiar 18:15, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

As I look at these categories, it might be more properly stated that mind existences are actual also: but intangible, thus one could say actual mind existences that are intangible, and actual existences that are tangible. Then there could be the category of "nonexistence", which is the current topic of debate. Richiar 16:58, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Semantics of existenceEdit

The fifth paragraph of this section has an interesting idea, but the paragraph is grammatically very difficult to understand, and I'm not sure what its saying, if anything. Maybe a rewrite might help (keep content but less complex sentence structure). Richiar 01:43, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

That fifth paragraph has been the subject of a lot of controversy with no consensus. I'm going to be bold and try a rewrite. Rick Norwood 13:18, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Rick, you have added the sentence " On the other hand, the statement "A bridge crosses the Styx at Limbo," has the same form, but does not imply existence." This is POV statement – certainly some philosophers would claim that that "A bridge crosses the Styx at Limbo," does not assert the existence of such a bridge, but the dominant view is that it does assert existence (for example, the statement seems synonymous with "at least one bridge crosses the Styx at Limbo", which is a number statement, thus asserts existence (the statement "zero bridges cross the Styx at Limbo" would be taken to be a denial of existence).
This reminds me of a few things that would be needed to be added at this point. But the sentence you have added needs to be qualified, or referenced, nonetheless. edward (buckner) 10:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I'll give it a shot, but you may want to work on this paragraph as well. Rick Norwood 13:22, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't know about how others feel, but I think this article has vastly improved in a meaningful direction since Edward requested assistance back in July. Nice work. Maybe improvements can be made, but I like how its going so far. Rick,Your work on the paragraph seems a good improvement. Thanks. Richiar 21:14, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me, by contrast, that it's getting steadily worse. Can anyone explain what the section 'Semantics of existence' is about? It seems now like a set of random unconnected observations, most unreferenced, some of them rather dubious. Sorry to be critical. I'd help, but I find the subject too difficult at the moment. edward (buckner) 08:28, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

My understanding of the paragraph is that the word "existence" is used in at least three ways. First, it is used to mean "exists in the real, physical world", as in the sentence, "I believe in the existence of elephants but not in the existence of unicorns." Second, it is used by mathematicians in a highly technical sense, as the scope of a particular quantifier with particular properties given by axioms and definitions, as in the sentence, "The existence of five and only five Platonic solids has been proven within the axioms and definitions of Euclidean geometry." Finally, it is used in the sense in which fictional objects exist within the worldview of human beings. Thus "The existence of Sherlock Holmes is thanks to the writing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." Rick Norwood 17:45, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks Rick. But 1. is that what the paragraph is saying? Shouldn't it be amended to say that? and 2. Suppose it is claimed that 'fictional objects exist within the worldview of human beings'. Then I might reply: are there such things as fictional objects? I.e. (and spelling the problem out) I can validly ask whether fictional objects exist. Do you now see there is a problem with what you are saying here? If it is correct to say that there is a sense of the word 'exist', according to which fictional characters exist, then the question whether there are such things as fictional characters, i.e. do they exist, makes no sense (it would be like asking whether bachelors are unmarried). Do you see the problem now? edward (buckner) 13:12, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks edward. Your comments seem appropriately candid, and a critical perspective will help the article. If you can direct us to the version that seemed more appropriate we can look to see where it maybe currently fails, when you have time.Richiar 22:13, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Richiar. The problem is that there are certain fundamental and very difficult questions about the topic of existence (see my reply to Rick above). If this article is to be any good, it should be illuminating people about those problems. But it isn't working, because even the people who are involved in writing the article itself are having the same problems. This is probably one of the most difficult subjects to write about coherently, which is why I despair. Thanks for you kind support, however. edward (buckner) 13:12, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
I am trying to understand your point, and I have certainly had the experience of thinking I understood something, a mathematical concept for example, and then discovering that there was a subtle point I was missing. Is that the case here? I'm willing to talk about it.
Language is an imperfect tool for the transfer of ideas. Communication is possible only to the extent that people use words in the same way. I gather we understand "existence" in the same way in the first two cases, the scientific and mathematical, and that it is only in the case of "fictional existence" that we have difficulty.
My understanding is that the problem arises in an attempt to apply a mathematical rule, "If A has property P, then A exists," to statements outside the field of mathematics. But outside of mathematics, people use words losely, not precisely. Mathematical rules do not apply to ordinary language. As Yuri Manin points out, to a mathematician "She got married and got pregnant," means the same thing as "She got pregnant and got married," because the "and" operator is commutative. In common language, however, the meanings are very different.
Most people would agree that "Sherlock Holmes is a detective," is a true statement. Applying the rule "If A has property P, then A exists" we arrive at the statement "Sherlock Holmes exists." You seem to believe that there is a profound problem with this. In my view, it is a simple case of using the word "exist" in two different ways, a common enough problem with words in ordinary language. Yes, of course Sherlock Holmes exists, I've read the stories. No, of course Sherlock Holmes does not exist, he's a fictional character. Since I think most people would agree that both of those statements are true, it necessarily follows that the meaning of the word "exists" isn't the same in statement one as it is in statement two.
What we need is a textbook or scholarly article on the subject which will guide us in writing the paragraph. Rick Norwood 14:59, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Here is a link to Michael Dummett which might address the problem with communication as well as classification that you are addressing. [2] I found it under the article on Reality. I follow what you are saying in your communication above.Richiar 01:06, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Trying for rewrite of "Semantics" sectionEdit

I'm going to try my own rewrite of the Semantics section, but rather than put it on the main page, I'll put it in the discussion section for comments. I will rewrite it as suggestions are made.

There are some common ways of understanding the meaning of the world "existence". First, it is used to mean existences of the real, physical world, such as in the sentence, "I believe that elephants are real". Secondly, there is the meaning of existences as "objective principles of truth" beyond the subjective experience: eg., "the existence of five and only five platonic solids has been proven by Euclidian geometry". Finally, there is the meaning of existences as fictional subjective mental processes: eg., "I believe elephants are real but not Unicorns"; "Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arther Conan Doyle, and existes in books, movies, and the imagination". There have been centuries of debate and research investigating these ideas.

Several schools of philosophy have addressed these issues. (Elaborate on: Frege; Dummett; Bretano; Wittgenstein; B. Russell; Nominalist approach; Categories (Plato, medieval concepts; Ockham.)

Richiar 00:04, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

This sounds fine to me, but I'm going to attempt a rewrite for style.
There are some common ways of understanding the meaning of the world "existence". First, it is used to mean existence in the real, physical world, as in the sentence, "Elephants exist." Second, there is the meaning of existence as "objective principles of truth" beyond the subjective experience, for example, "The existence of five and only five platonic solids has been proven by Euclidian geometry." Finally, there is the meaning of existence which includes mythical or fictional mental constructs, for example, "Unicorns exist in myth but not in reality," or "Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arther Conan Doyle, who existes in books, movies, and the imagination." There have been centuries of debate and research investigating these ideas.

Rick Norwood 15:06, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

OK. I got it. I will take it a little further. Richiar 01:08, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


>>I have certainly had the experience of thinking I understood something, a mathematical concept for example, and then discovering that there was a subtle point I was missing. Is that the case here?

Well, sort of, but see below.

>>Most people would agree that "Sherlock Holmes is a detective," is a true statement. Applying the rule "If A has property P, then A exists" we arrive at the statement "Sherlock Holmes exists." You seem to believe that there is a profound problem with this.

Yes, there is a profound problem. The view you are referring to is that existence is not 'univocal' and it was debated extensively in the middle ages, as well as now. As for scholarly articles, the best online by far is Barry Miller's article 'Existence' in the SEP. Also, to understand better what is wrong with the view you put forward, see the chapter 'Glimpses beyond' in Quine's Methods of Logic. This is all giving me a better idea of how the article could be developed to be more accessible. Thanks for the help. edward (buckner) 18:38, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

I hate to say it, but to me the Barry Miller article seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Early philosophers seem to have been very naive about the nature of language. They seem to have assumed that the correspondence between language and the universe was much stronger than it actually is, and that the laws that work for precise language, such as the language of mathematics and science, can be applied to ordinary language, where in fact counterexamples abound. If I understand what "univocal" means, then it seems to me that the non "univocal" nature of the word "existence" is the answer to all of these problems. The other answers, especially the "many worlds" answer, seem to me silly, much like Robert Morley and his friends pretending that Sherlock Holmes is real. In fact, every word has as many meanings as there are people who "know" that word, and the astonishing thing is not breakdowns in communication and in the laws of logic, but rather how often communication is possible and how often the laws of logic work. Rick Norwood 20:24, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

You know best, Rick. edward (buckner) 08:33, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
Aside from the issue that Millers article might appear to be making assumptions (mountain out of mole hill, naive view of relationship between language and world, assuming precision that is not the case), this seems to be to be a digression and it seems to me the Miller article is notable and reasonably comprehensive in an introductory way, to be practically a helpful source that could be used constructively in writing a wiki article about the topic "existence". If the views you're expressing can be found in notable sources, then they could be added as a counterview to the views of the existence article by Miller. I don't have the same sense of the article that you seem to: the issues seem cogent to me. If these issues have been debated for centuries and are still current and presented in SEP, all the more reason to consider the Miller article as an appropriate reference. The issues of the Ancients relationship with language and world might be a topic for another article, maybe a sub topic under history of philosophy of language, if there are any notable sources for that. Richiar 02:52, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Rick. You may well be right (and thus Russell, and Quine, and Frege, and also medieval philosophers like Ockham, Buridan, Boethius of Dacia and many others are possibly wrong) in defending the 'two sense' view of 'exists'. However, this being Wikipedia, we have deal with NPOV. What is required is (a) to provide suitably-referenced sources for the one-sense view (I found a good quote from Russell the other night) (b) explain the view in a simple way that doesn't confuse the reader, and gives him or her a good sense of why the one-sense view has been taken seriously by many philosophers.

>>I hate to say it, but to me the Barry Miller article seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Early philosophers seem to have been very naive about the nature of language.

As I said, the art of getting this right is to explain the issue in a way that makes the mountain real, and plainly visible to the average reader. This is what I have been struggling with. On the comment about 'early philosophers', do you include Frege, Russell and Quine? For they defend the one-sense view. Indeed, the entire predicate calculus is built on the one-sense view. edward (buckner) 07:56, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Of course, what I'm afraid of is that I don't know best. I can say things here on the talk page that I would never put into the article unless I found a published source. On the other hand, I have a lot of published source material on my book shelf about the predicate calculus, and I know that it was never intended to be applied to ordinary language. In fact, textbooks often warn against attempting this (Manin is noteworthy). The predicate calculus should only be applied to well formed formulas, at least from a mathematician's viewpoint. What the philosophical viewpoint on this I don't know, but surely the subject has been discussed.
At least we seem to be close to agreement on the first paragraph. I'm looking forward to Richiar's extension of that. Rick Norwood 13:40, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Inspite of the vissicitudes and undulations this seems to be a constructive dialogue (I hope), and I am getting ready to continue with the above as soon as get a little more review done. Richiar 21:21, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

New leadEdit

There are many problems with the current opening. Philosophers from the analytic tradition who study existence would get very upset if you called their branch of philosophy 'ontology'. The paragraph goes on to talk about the questions that arise about existence, but the list given here is of mostly epistemological questions (e.g. does there exist an external reality ...). Ontology is more closely connected with the problem of Essence, which is a separate article. Sorry to be negative (that's what I'm best at). I have some positive ideas but this is a very difficult to present at a non-specialist level in a clear way.

Here's what the opening paragraph should be, in my view.

  • Existence is what is asserted by the verb 'exist' (derived from the Latin word 'existere', meaning to appear or emerge or stand out). The word 'exist' is grammatically a predicate. Some philosophers have argued that it is logically a predicate, and predicates something called 'existence' of the subject. Thus 'four-leaved clover exists' predicates exists of the subject four-leafed clover. Cognates for this predicate are 'is real', 'has being', 'is found in reality', 'is in the real world' and so on.
  • Other philosophers have denied that existence is logically a predicate, and claim that existence is really asserted by the etymologically distinct verb 'is', and that all statements containing the predicate 'exists' can be reduced to statements that do not use this predicate. For example, 'Four-leaved clover exists' can be analysed into the equivalent statement 'some clover is four-leaved', where the verb 'is' connects the subject 'some clover' with the predicate 'four-leaved'.
  • The philosophical question about whether 'exists' is a predicate or not is an old one, and has been discussed and argued over by philosophers from Aristotle, through Avicenna, Aquinas, Scotus, Hume, Kant and many others. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dbuckner (talkcontribs) 11:09, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I noticed your suggestions: your thoughts seem cogent. I'll have to look at the intro and reflect on it. Give me a day or two. Richiar 04:37, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Extending section of Semantics of ExistenceEdit

I have been working a couple of days on taking some ideas from the Miller article, trying to simplify them, and combine them with Ricks paragraph from the section above. There will likely be some editing problems with the sentences, and paragraphs, but I'm putting them here just to include some basic ideas to what we've been working on. Also, I notice some similarities with what Edward has suggested for the introduction, so we'll probably have to reassess this also in light of that. Give it a whirl, Rick.

If the ontology is an issue, then it can be worked over somehow.

The new paragraphs I've been working on are below:

In English the word "exists" and "is" are verbs of being. In discussing existence from the analytic philosophy perspective, therefore, we are concerned with the predicates ‘is’ and ‘exists’.

The issue of the meaning of existence is inextricably intertwined with the idea or word ‘exists’. On the surface one might think that a statement "Tom exists" means the same thing as "Tom is real". This meaning can be called into question however because it is considered from an analytic view as a negation of Tom as imaginary, or Tom as being nonexistent. To extend the arguement, Tom could not be considered as existent in reference to a property or attribue of nonexistence if considered from the point of view of the state of affairs prior to Tom's birth. The idea of existence in reference to nonexistence in this situation is simply meaningless. Thus, a reasonable conclusion is that Tom's existence can't be based based in the idea that it has the same meaning that "Tom is real".

There are some common ways of understanding the meaning of the world "existence". First, it is used to mean existence in the real, physical world, as in the sentence, "Elephants exist." Second, there is the meaning of existence as "objective principles of truth" beyond the subjective experience, for example, "The existence of five and only five platonic solids has been proven by Euclidian geometry." Finally, there is the meaning of existence which includes mythical or fictional mental constructs, for example, "Unicorns exist in myth but not in reality," or "Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arther Conan Doyle, who existes in books, movies, and the imagination." There have been centuries of debate and research investigating these ideas.

In general (although not exhaustively) analytic philosophers have developed two views of the meaning of "existence". The first (considered to be the Frege-Russell distinction) is that there are four different meanings of ‘is’ — a) the ‘is’ of existence, b) the "is" of identity, c) the "is" of predication, and d) the "is" of generic implication (inclusion), The second view can be expressed by the statement "existence is not a predicate".Richiar 04:27, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

R, consider the following three sentences

(A) Tables exist in the real world (B) Hobbits exist in the world of LOTR (C) Platonic solids exist in the world of geometry.

Note the word 'exist' occurs in each of these. It is plain to me that it is used in exactly the same sense, each time. Of course, it is qualified by 'in the real world' in the first case, by 'in the world of LOTR' in the second, and so on. But that is not an argument that the word 'exist' has a different meaning. Any more than the word 'man' has a different meaning in 'running man' than in 'sitting man'. I.e. the expression 'exists in the real world' has a different meaning to the expression 'exists in the world of LOTR'. But the word 'exists' has exactly the same meaning in both. edward (buckner) 09:55, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

OK. I used the word "meaning" which you are referring to in a nontechnical sense, and perhaps you could suggest a better way to express it. I am noticing there are contexts to the three examples you gave above. Go ahead and suggest a more appropriate word. Richiar 05:15, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

First sentence.Edit

According to Wikipedia guidelines:

First sentence
The first sentence should give the shortest possible relevant characterization of the subject. If the subject is amenable to definition, the first sentence should give a concise one that puts the article in context. Rather than being typically technical, it should be a concise, conceptually sound, characterization-driven, encyclopedic definition. It should be as clear to the nonspecialist as the subject matter allows.

The current first sentence, defining "existence" in terms of "exist" (we could then go on to define "exist" in terms of "existence") is about as uninformative as a first sentence can be. Etymology should come later. The lede should be aimed at the general reader, not the specialist.

I am going to try to rewrite the lede so that it does not read like a bad textbook.

Rick Norwood (talk) 13:48, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

spellingEdit

The only spelling given by my dictionary is "existence", and this is the spelling used in the title of the article. I've changed "exhistence" to "existence" throughout the introduction, since that changes at least one redlink to a greenlink. I leave it to other editors: should this change be made throughout the body of the article? If there is an objection to this, then at least exhistentialism should redirect to existentialism. Rick Norwood (talk) 14:13, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Fixed the mis-spellings throughout the article. [3].NewbyG (talk) 23:57, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Philosophical meaning applied to modern physicsEdit

First of all, I'm not sure about the following. But I am positive that this is true, although I totally don't know if it's original work and/or can be published on wikipedia without further sources: If we could deterministically say if something exists or does not exist at all, then nothing can exist "a bit", "sometimes" or "with a certain chance". However, the Uncertainty principle tells us[1] that even in an empty region of space matter and antimatter is created and destroyed continuously ("Created and annihilated, created and annihilated - what a waste of time," said Feynman). But if I'm not mistaken, you can't be sure of what is exactly created if you don't measure it perfectly, so actually all you're measuring is a chance that a certain particle is created and therefore exists for a short time. This would conflict with a deterministic interpretation of existence. Please let a physicist check this first. --Tulcod (talk) 15:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I think you are confusing the statements "x exists" and "we know x exists". There is considerable discussion about whether a correct statement of uncertainty is "We cannot know the position and momentum of a particle at the same time." or should it be "A particle does not have an exact position and momentum at the same time." Rick Norwood (talk) 15:19, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Your point is clear to me. However, if I'm not mistaken, the latter is already "proven". A particle doesn't have both a precise speed and a precise location. So maybe this goes for existence too. But then again, I'm just an amateur physicist, and there's quite a chance I'm wrong and the uncertainty principle doesn't stretch to existence. --Tulcod (talk) 20:07, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Both of you have views that are not well-represented in the article, because the article is skewed toward philosophy. While I said in a recent post here that I thought the article should just let philosophy have its way, I'm thinking a disambiguation page is needed. The word "exists" as it is used in physics (which underpins its usage in all the sciences) is different (perhaps a subset) from the usage in philosophy and in any case, the physicists' views are neglected here, while minor philosophers are mentioned. That's a problem.--Levalley (talk) 06:12, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Objective ExistenceEdit

An additional topic I would like to see on this entry is objective existence. There are many things about existence itself, but no information on how to decide whether or not something has an objective existence. I propose an "existence test" for objective existence.

To have a meaning for the word existence, at least two things must exist. The existence of each implies the existence of the other. For example, in the case of a pen, we can take into consideration two of its states. Namely, an "up" sate and a "down" state(If we only had one state, neither its existence nor its description would be meaningful). States must also be capable of change, otherwise the pen would be forever stuck in one state and the other state would, again, not exist. Hence, a state exists only if it can change into another. Also, by definition, at least two distinct states must exist, as well as change.

Now, in order to be able to say that a pen exists, we simply have to name a few of its states that anyone would expect a pen to have, show that they exist, and show that the object under consideration is in the states we expect it to be.Psychosmurf.jovic (talk) 04:33, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, but this is OR.Rick Norwood (talk) 15:55, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Except that many people have already published it. All it needs is are citation. The physical sciences, which I assume Smurf is referring to, use a different view on existence, very similar to what he's saying. I suppose it's the science of philosophy rather than the philosophy of science. But a really good article on existence would do both.--Levalley (talk) 06:14, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Addition of new modern experts and the order they're inEdit

For about two years, Saul Kripke, Gareth Evans, Scott Soames were listed (in that order) as modern experts on the problem. It seems non-controversial that Kripke is such an expert, and since no one challenged adding Evans and Soames for two years, it appears they are generally regarded as experts as well. On June 2, 2007, Nathan Salmon added himself as an expert, ahead of Soames. He references his Wiki, which provides no secondary sources saying he's a modern expert. I've been in a kind of endless loop trying to wikify some philosophy articles - one wants to understand what a person has to say about Existence, because they're mentioned here, but when you go to the linked page, it's unclear which part of their page is about Existence. What makes someone notable/worthy of inclusion in this section? Should that be the order they are in? I'm following the trail of a few people who have been self-editing their bios, and this trail led me here. It just seems a little self-serving for Salmon himself to put himself in ahead of Soames. Any newer people who should also be mentioned? Going to the Soames article, we find the same thing, passive constructions stating the person is well-known or famous, but without secondary citations. Something to work on. Otherwise, to me, there's something odd about jumping from someone like Kripke to the other three mentioned.--Levalley (talk) 03:00, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

This article is improving but...Edit

I'm going over the histories of several articles, and this one has improved immensely, IMO. However, the overall subject is still confusing in the lead. Philosophy doesn't own the word "existence." Different languages, for example, have different words for existence. A disambiguation page for the word "existence" seems excessive. One or two more sentences in the lead, dealing with the word-in-general, and then giving over to philosophy, are in order. Then, the article needs to trim modern/unsourced philosophers and focus on more views on existence before the 20th century. This is because the explosion of academic publishing in the 20th century - and the easy target of a concept like "existence" means that the literature is vast, and problems of naming/fictional characters/possible words, etc., etc. are each interesting and deserve expansion before more recent (and repetitive work) is mentioned. Let's do the basics very well, and leave the "but he also talked about it" in his publications part out of the article. Original ideas, well-citated, that's my view on how to improve this article.--Levalley (talk) 06:10, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

The section where Dostoevsky is mentionedEdit

Was on the right track and makes one believe that something other than analytic philosophy is going to come in, in order for there to be balance. But no. No exploration of Dostoevsky's views or other similar views on existence are included. Instead, the article leapfrogs from Russell (even the Russell part sounds forced and needs more citations - is Russell really an expert on existence? Let's see the citations, please) to others who appear to be almost randomly linked in. More connectors are needed. If this is how the majority of modern experts on existence see the issue, let's see some citations - from textbooks, for example. Or a well-reasoned argument that they're related, which would do as well.--Levalley (talk) 06:20, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Article needs some workEdit

It especially needs citations.

Also, there are minor inconsistencies in capitalization, punctuation, etc., that need to be cleaned up. I'll try to do it.

It seems to hop around from topic to topic a lot. The lead doesn't work as an overarching place to start the article. More context is needed.--Levalley (talk) 22:06, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Physical existence and SeparationEdit

If there is only one physical thing, can it be considered to exist? In other words, when there is no observer assuming all physical things (including air, solid, liquid substances space etc)are one single thing can existence be applied to physical things in its limited context of observer and observed?


is existence different from the defintion of existing thing? can you say a cat exists if there is only head of cat lying on the floor?

This is because the same word is used to describe different things. Jimmy wales exists as a person. When used in this context it means Jimmy wales exists as something which fits the defintion of person whether in actuality he may be alive or dead or may be some kind of fictional character. Wikipedia exists. when used here it specifically means Wikipedia as a physical\virtual thing conforming to the already accepted notion of Wikipedia. I exist. This statement when used for self description means I exist as physical being in tangible form occupying space and time. God exist. This statement may mean to some God exists as a physical being or God exists as a concept just like Numbers exist, alphabets exist but not occupying physical space or time. In other words, exists as a word is used to in different contexts to mean different things. Some times to refer to physical existence and some time abstract ideas or concepts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.124.230.149 (talk) 12:26, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Challenge and removeEdit

"The word 'exist' is certainly a grammatical predicate, but philosophers have long disputed whether it is also a logical predicate. Some philosophers claim that it predicates something, and has the same meaning as 'is real', 'has being', 'is found in reality', 'is in the real world' and so on. Other philosophers deny that existence is logically a predicate, and claim that it is merely what is asserted by the etymologically distinct verb 'is', and that all statements containing the predicate 'exists' can be reduced to statements that do not use this predicate. For example, 'A Four-leaved clover exists.' can be rephrased as 'There is a clover with four leaves.'

This philosophical question is an old one, and has been discussed and argued over by philosophers from Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, through Avicenna, Aquinas, Scotus, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard and many others. Nagarjuna presents the eastern view."

This phony argument long has been rejected as trivial since its first use in the 20th century. This is not an "old" question and never came up in those philosophers. No matter how you rephrase you cannot get away from "is" ("there is") and whether you say is or there is makes no difference at all. "There is" is identical to "exists" unless you mean only to point out the object (demonstrative use) - oh look, there it is. This is what in philosophy is called a verbal distinction only, slightly different words that refer to the same concept and the same reality. If the argument is going to be included it needs to be below in some sort of special section and needs to be identified with the name of those who proposed it and supported with references. Don't overreach yourself without any historical knowledge of the topic.Dave (talk) 10:40, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

The question is certainly found in Aristotle (De Interpretatione) who distinguishes between 'is' predicated as a third element, when it does not signify existence (a chimera is a monster), and 'is' predicated as a second element (buttercups exist) when it signifies existence. Avicenna is responsible for the distinction between the being of existence, and the being of essence, later taken up by Henry of Ghent, then Duns Scotus. It was extensively discussed in the middle ages. Kant famously discussed whether existence is a predicate or not, and so on. Edward Ockham (talk) 11:20, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Steering the article with Edward OckamEdit

Edward and I have been communicating in the personal message section and he asks that the exchange be continued here. Note that his user page and talk area are a bit misleading. He is NOT a new user but is an experienced user since 2003. As to whether he is a WP officer he has not said. As far as I am concerned, as long as he does not pull rank and use it to browbeat us as so many of them do it makes no difference to me. So far in this article I have seen no sign of it. Maybe his rank is strictly editorial (the best kind).

A few different questions have come up. Note that, my position is not that of article innovator nor that of pushing any idea of my own. Nor am I plugging any particular agenda although I confess to a predilection for Thomism, which is not what you ordinarily find among Protestants and rationalists. Moreover these ideas are not new to me.

And finally, I got into these articles by observing how unsatisfactory they are from a content and presentational point of view. I view myself as an article fixer. All this means that I do not see myself in confronation with Edward or anyone else. My goal is a run of higher-quality articles in the philosophy section. A few years ago I noted the utter impossibility of doing any philosophy articles on WP due to vandalism and personal confrontationism. The situation is better now due to the WP policy enforcement section and a new willingness to boot people not being serious. Nor am I any respecter of degrees in philosophy. Quite often the degree holder was a specialist and had an agenda; i.e., his point of view was far from neutral and he was not doing his best work here, only slumming around, so to speak. What I do respect is real spoken evidence of philosophic insight, which can only come from extended periods of investigation and thought, and I may add not a little suffering. That has nothing to do with degrees. For example, Boethius did his best work sitting in a jail cell awaiting condemnation and execution. I'm not saying, you need to have done that specifically, but you need sobriety and good intentions. We're not interested in teen-age horn-bucking, which is about all the response I have got in past years.Dave (talk) 12:10, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Multiplication of "being" articlesEdit

Probably the most general issue is whether there should be two articles, existence and being. I wondered that myself; indeed, there is also object (philosophy) and entity and a few more. Philosophically these named items are all beings or related to beings; there are only verbal distinctions between beings, entities, objects and existents. In the case of object you might argue for a rational distinction. But really, an object is a being is an entity is an ent is a thing. As an article fixer I did not raise the issue because I found that, unless you just drop the names of philosophers, you are going to end up with very long articles. Now, it is possible to offload to a series of subarticles - St. Thomas on existence, Kant on existence, etc. but the articles are not currently set up that way. So, we are really talking about steering the set of articles on ontology, are we not, Edward? How much time do you have? How far are you willing to go? What are your suggestions? What can we do with what we actually have and how would you enhance that? The ball is in your court.

Unreferenced materialEdit

It may seem as though my dissatisfaction is of content, but that is not the emphasis I want to project. It is actually of form. Most of the statements off the wall or incomprehensible in these articles are unreferenced, which means the WP philosopher did it off the top of his head. You know when I first started here the request for references seemed most unreasonable and I didn't see why I should do it, a scenario familiar to most of you I am sure. Then I started discovering that the things I thought I knew and could give off the top of my head had somehow gotten a lot of errors and confusions mixed in. I perceived that this is the case for most off-the-top-of-the-head writing on WP, so now I am a reference afficionado. The section I removed, which came to Edward's attention, was removed because it has no references. The content is another issue. You must put in references. If Avicenna or Occam dealt with this question we want to know where and what generally they said, with quotes if necessary. Fair enough? A related issue is the dropping of names without any further explanation of why the name is being dropped. This is really the same as a list: "the following philosophers beleive x: John Doe, Jane Smith, Tom Thomas, etc." WP policy is against mere lists unless they are in a list section, such as "see also" or "list of philosophers who believe x". You need to explain what you are listing and why.

The Triviality, the TrivialityEdit

All right Edward, some philosophers have made a big deal over the use of "is" as a connector of items in the sentence. What do you want to do about it? It seems to me personally the concept is a specialized topic so if you want it back, it should go down lower in the article. Moreover, although ancient philosophers may have mentioned it from time to time they did nothing with it really; that started in earnest in the age of reason. I presume "later" is further down in the article. Now we are considering article organization. Why dont you make a few suggestions, tell us what mergers you might want, give us an article outline or two? Do some work here, give me something to fix or enhance. I personally don't see how the issue can be anything but trivial, as even to consider the use of "is" is to debate the existence of the unity that is the topic of the sentence. You can't debate at all without implying the possibility of non-existence. Language is by nature ontological, even when you think it isn't. Being does not magically appear when you think it should and go away when you want it to. You might not want your "is" to suppose the existence of anything but it does just the same. The universe is notoriously resistent concerning what WE want. This topic of triviality is covered under epistemology by the way. However there is no "right" way to do an article such as this. So, give us some idea, some suggestion, some outlines and when you start work, some references. Fair? So, in summary, here is what should follow here: 1) Merger suggestions after you have perused all the "being" articles. 2) Article outlines so we can start work on these articles or this article. 3) The removed section rewritten so as to include references and explanations of ideas (succinct of course). 4) A suggestion of where in your outline the referenced part should go.Dave (talk) 12:10, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

"Moreover, although ancient philosophers may have mentioned it from time to time they did nothing with it really; that started in earnest in the age of reason." Why do you say this? That is almost the opposite of the truth. Have you heard of the Ontological argument? Edward Ockham See in particular the section Ontological_argument#Criticisms_and_objections. Edward Ockham (talk) 15:55, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

A starting point for referencesEdit

  • Aristotle's position on the secundum/tertium distinction is explained in chapter 10 of De Interpretatione.
  • Avicenna's view that existence is an 'accident' is referenced here.
  • Anselm's position is explained in the article Ontological argument and you can find numerous references on the net and in popular reference works.
  • Aquinas discusses the question in his famous essay on Essence and Existence. Any good reference work will contain a discussion of this, e.g. Stump, Eleonore (2003). Aquinas. Routledge. ISBN 0415029600.
  • The secundum/tertium distinction was also a topic discussed by dozens of the minor scholastic philosophers in the 13C. I will locate some references
  • The distinction is fundamental to understanding the philosophy of Duns Scotus.
  • William of Ockham discusses the issue extensively in his attack on Scotus in his Commentary on Peter Lombard's sentences.
  • In the enlightenment period, there is Descartes, who presents a revised version of Anselm's argument.
  • Another important discussion is by Hume in the Treatise of Human Nature, at the end of Book I part 2.
  • Then there is Kant, whose rejection of existence as predicate is famous, see the relevant section of the Critique of Pure Reason.
  • Franz Brentano, followed by C.S. Peirce and Gottlob Frege were the first of the modern philosophers to discuss the secundum/tertium distinction, to formalise the idea of 'secundum adiacens', and to argue that there are not two distinct ideas of existence. Frege presents this as a solution to the ontological argument (i.e. a way of demonstrating its fallacy).
  • Quine's famous assertion that 'to be is to be the value of a variable' is a variant of Frege's position.
  • We should not ignore Alexius Meinong, who believed that existence is a predicate, and that as a consequence some things do not exist. He said that 'there are things, such that there are no such things'.

As you can see there is a lot of material. Edward Ockham (talk) 16:23, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

[edit] And to persuade you of the importance of this 'trivial' distinction, please see the entry on non-existent objects in the SEP: "... in order to take the idea of nonexistent objects seriously, one has to give up views held by important philosophers about the nature of existence and adopt the view that existence is some kind of predicate of individuals ... Furthermore, in order to assert “there are nonexistent objects” without implying “nonexistent objects exist”, one has to suppose that sentences of the form “There are Fs” mean something different from sentences of the form “Fs exist”". Note the part in bold (my emphasis). That is the very principle that you want to sideline, and which you deleted from the original article. Edward Ockham (talk) 16:31, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Dolhenty and the threeEdit

Fine, Dolhenty is a good source. However, he has his own presentation, which should not be presented as "the way it is"; that is, "the three criteria." His presentation is not the general philosophic one. It appears as though he has cooked something up from the transcendentals. I'm not saying, he should not have done that, and I'm not saying it isn't valid, but, it's his and not generally the way it is done. So, I took out the three - the first - well, I agree, it is logically the first, is generally considered so and the argument is in fact the standard argument. Another way to go would be to tag the view as his: according to Dolhenty ... but then that would make it appear as though he did NOT utilize the transcendentals but innovated it all himself. It's only his presentation that is innovated, but we can't find fault with that as every single one of them (the metaphysicians) has his own mode of expression.Dave (talk) 14:37, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Content of this pageEdit

The entire introduction, body, and conclusion are about what people think exists and how people know what exists. None of the article addresses existence as a stand-alone concept, independent from the observer. If we consider the etymology of the word exist, a better method of adding content and organizing it arises. The first definition "to appear" amounts to something being observable. Mind you, not being observed, being observable. So, the first section of this article should discuss what the minimum criteria are for observation. This should be the basis for this article, observation and interpretation. So much of this article is semantic in nature that it resembles a crash course in rhetorical logic and reasoning. Really guys, is there no way that we can go from "to be" to "what is"? 72.191.34.52 (talk) 23:32, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

You (and I) think so, but that's not exactly the usual way to think of "existence" in the history of philosophy. Now consider a system where "thinking" is just a way of "perceiving the abstract reality", then the modern distinction between presence of an object and our perception of the presence of an object disolves, because our perception is then not a system independent from reality. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 07:04, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Bad dichotomyEdit

The fourth sentence in the intro:

Materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter, ...[snip]... Supernaturalism, on the other hand, holds that other things exist (or may exist) in addition.

This is not a proper contrast, f.ex. modern mathematical platonism might hold that numbers are real existant objects, but doesn't automatically contain so called "supernatural phenomena" such as miracles, incorporeal spirits, avatars of Vishnu, or flying carpets. AFAIK, materialism contrasts with idealism, with a "soul-matter dualism" inbetween. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 07:04, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, don't understand you. I would have thought that the problem is the other way round: in views of the world in which numbers are not a part of nature (I think I'd agree with that) you end up appearing to assert that they are supernatural, which isn't right William M. Connolley (talk) 19:44, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Late answer: three categories in my mind: A. material world, B. platonic ideal types, C. spirits, supernatural, flying carpets and stuff. Plato did claim that B was the ideal world. Whether to set B=C or describe C as an intermediary between A and B, or perhaps put A=B, is not predetermined by the Platonic original idealism. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 07:18, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Formal languagesEdit

Large amounts of the "formal languages" section look to be irrelevant, incoherent, or garbled.

I've just removed:

Calculus is intuitively constructed with infinitesimal small objects that approach non-existence in their limits. l'Hôpital's rule can evaluate indeterminate forms having non-existing solutions where the derivative limit of the function may exist. Application (or repeated application) of the rule often converts an indeterminate form to a determinate form, allowing easy evaluation of the limit. The fundamental theorem of calculus specifies the existence between the two central operations of calculus: differentiation and integration. Calculus is the study of change and area, (in the same way that geometry is the study of shape and algebra is the study of operations) and their application to solving equations. This subject constitutes a significant part of modern mathematics. Calculus is applied in every branch of the physical sciences, actuarial science, computer science, statistics, engineering, economics, business, medicine, demography, and in other fields wherever a problem can be mathematically modeled and an optimal solution is desired. Calculus has two major branches, differential calculus (change) and integral calculus (area), which are related by the fundamental theorem of calculus. The first part of the theorem, sometimes called the first fundamental theorem of calculus, shows that an indefinite integration[2] can be reversed by a differentiation. The first part is important because it guarantees the existence of antiderivatives for continuous functions.[3]

because it has no real relation to the concept of existence at all, otehr than the trivial sens ein which all things exist (or don't). Using the connection used above, we could stuff the entirety of wikipedia into this article by saying "Elephants, which exist, are..." William M. Connolley (talk) 17:46, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Aaaand the entire section is sadly deficient in references William M. Connolley (talk) 17:48, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Chopped more:

In classical logic, the logical connective is a symbol or word used to connect two or more sentences in a grammatically valid way, such that the compound sentence produced has a truth value ("existence") ...

That lot only seems to be in there because of an (unjustified) asserted equivalence between "truth value" and "existence" William M. Connolley (talk) 17:51, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Is there a Wikipedia article or content on how "Truth and Existence" are related? Perhaps there should be one, there are sources on this, so this section intended. Formal language existence logic is based on truth preservation. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 19:31, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, lets see. how "Truth and Existence" are related? Nope: redlink. You could, I think, have discovered that for yourself William M. Connolley (talk) 22:32, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

The "formal languages" section is actually all about maths. It still needs extensive tidy up, but I've renamed it "mathematics" and removed some irrelevant paragrpahs that were clearly copied in from other wiki articles without whoever did it understanding what they were about William M. Connolley (talk) 22:32, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

On further review (and having tried to interest a couple of people in it) I've concluded that the entire formal languages / maths section was too badly garbled to be worth saving. I've removed the lot, leaving only a short summary in the intro. If you want a ref to the text, here [4] is a convenient link William M. Connolley (talk) 09:33, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

The extra eyes would help. However, mathematics is a subset formal language, both are explicitly related to truth and existence. Please, I am missing how this helps the article. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 16:03, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Then you should read what I said: the entire formal languages / maths section was too badly garbled to be worth saving. It is not true that adding badly garbled material to an article is helpful. On the contrary, it is bad. Removing badly garbled material is helpful. I hope that helps you understand William M. Connolley (talk) 19:41, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
You definition of "badly garbled material" make no sense. If was fine until you alone took issue with it, for what ever reason so may be seen. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 22:02, 16 January 2011 (UTC)


Truth and ExistenceEdit

Hey ... [5] can you elaborate on your view of Truth and Existence. Sources would help here. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 19:59, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

No, I don't want to offer you my view of truth, or of existence. But I am prepared to point out the obvious: that truth and existence are not the same thing William M. Connolley (talk) 20:13, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
How are they related for the benefit of this article? Please be careful about removing TRUTH , until we have the relation between the two established. It could be a simple matter of semantics, which is what formal languages aim to address by formal definitional rules. For example, existence could be subjective and truth could objective. Let's find a few good sources, what do you say? Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 20:25, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
No. Please be careful about *adding* truth until the relation is established William M. Connolley (talk) 22:23, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
You work to build a good article now. To me at least the removals, and admittance to no compromise, seem to counter that goal. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 22:00, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

PlatoEdit

Plato considered them to be essentially the same [6] Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 20:38, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

If Plato did indeed think so, that might merit a place in the article. However, I can see nothing in the Plato article, or the truth article, or your ref to substantiate your claim. Can you please quote the relevant text William M. Connolley (talk) 22:23, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
This [ — Preceding unsigned comment added by unknown (talkcontribs)

Tags?Edit

There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the tags are still needed William M. Connolley (talk) 18:15, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

[7] was unnecessary provocation. Your assertion about truth not being the same as existence is based on a false premise. When you remove information based on you own assumed premise, this is the basis of pushing you own POV about truth and existence as separate. Please have faith in the source provided, there are others. Please do not remove further material until this issue is clarified. Please self-revert now. We are here to build Wikipedia, there are good suggestions on how to address this article in the talk above.Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 15:32, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Please do not remove further material until this issue is clarified. - if the issue in question is my assertion about truth not being the same as existence then the issue needs no clarification. Truth is not the same thing as existence. It is you who labour under a false premise. If you doubt me, I suggest you propose a merger of the truth and existence articles and see how far you get William M. Connolley (talk) 17:43, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Your proposal would be a waste of time, the articles require expansion and categorization, the topics are so foundational. These two are an example of Wikipedia ignoring real substance for pop issues. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 22:05, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Ah, good, you have now accepted at the very least that wiki will not agree with your assertion that truth == existence. In that case, can you please stop raising this dead issue? William M. Connolley (talk) 09:10, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

SupernaturalEdit

So many issues. I'm a little dubious about the removal of:

Supernaturalism, on the other hand, holds that other things exist (or may exist) in addition.

(though happy that In other words, matter is the only substance has gone, as it didn't help). That seems to me to be trivially true: supernaturalism (or religion, though the supernaturalism article is coy about identifying religion as supernatural) pretty well by defn involves things supposed to in some sense "exist" beyond the natural world William M. Connolley (talk) 22:49, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

The article requires restructuring to breakdown how existence is approached in each categorization. The remove was an attempt to push out a valid categorization from existence. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 15:36, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
I think supernaturalism is not the natural opposite of materialism, it foremost contrasts with naturalism. Materialism contrasts with idealism, I think. Supernaturalism is topical, somehow, but elsewhere, than contrasting to materialism. It's about discourse structure... Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 07:22, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

The early modern treatment of the subjectEdit

This bit seems all about logic, not specifically about existence. Who defends it? William M. Connolley (talk) 20:59, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

What are you looking for to support it? Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 04:04, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
  1. ^ http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0106100
  2. ^ More exactly, the theorem deals with definite integration with variable upper limit and arbitrarily selected lower limit. This particular kind of definite integration allows us to compute one of the infinitely many antiderivatives of a function (except for those without a zero). Hence, it is almost equivalent to indefinite integration, defined by most authors as an operation that yields any one of the possible antiderivatives of a function, including those without a zero.
  3. ^ Spivak, Michael (1980). Calculus (2nd ed.). Houstan, Texas: Publish or Perish Inc. ISBN 091409890X

Source for “In mathematics if an object is constructed, its existence is said to be proved..."Edit

Does anyone have any sources (or better language) for the following, which does not define existence in mathematics, but describes its use? –

“In mathematics if an object is constructed, its existence is said to be proved, and if assuming its nonexistence produces a contradiction, existence of the object is also said to be proved.” ParkSehJik (talk) 19:46, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

No. But it sounds correct to me, just as you described. BlueMist (talk) 02:41, 18 December 2015 (UTC)

Note, the mathematic summary in this article [8] was removed, since I largely produced it, of course I would like to see the contribution restored. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 00:42, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

I think that a single paragraph summarizing mathematical foundational aspects of existence with acceptable citations would be important to have. But that old section was first too mathematically detailed for this more general article, then the later paragraphs don't belong under mathematics at all. Something else is needed.
The above quote is notable for its constructional and methodological approach to mathematical proof of the existence of a proposed object. BlueMist (talk) 02:36, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

I've added a sentence, in the introduction and in the article, that more accurately expresses the meaning of existence in mathematics. In mathematics, all proofs are based on axioms. Within the axioms of a group, there exist groups in which the fundamental operation is not commutative. Within the axioms of a field, there do not exist fields in which one of the two fundamental operations is not commutative. Existence and non-existence are relative to some set of axioms. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:44, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, I belive it's appropirate to summarize this [9] sourced material. It's recently been updated and would develop significant contrast as to "how" mathematics exists. How ... exists has always been an interesting issue. Zulu Papa 5 * (talk) 01:42, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

This is a good source, but I think most mathematicians have more respect for Kurt Gödel than this author does. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:48, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

Predicative nature - Frege, object, propertyEdit

Subjects have predicates. Subjects are objects. I am not sure that Frege can be interpreted to say what our article states. I am not a scholar re the cited Frege source, but might I suggest "Frege says existence is not a property of things". ParkSehJik (talk) 19:51, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

"Existence of existence".Edit

Surely, at several levels, this question cannot be answered as a direct consequence / example of Gödel's incompleteness theorems ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 101.174.63.216 (talk) 09:38, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

We Evolved Reality from the Possibility of ExistenceEdit

Existence darrylpenney.com dwpenney2@bigpond.com

PROOF 1: Descartes was both right and wrong in stating that ‘I think, therefore I am’, which makes his remark a half-truth, and perhaps he should have said, that ‘we evolved reality out of the possibility of existence’. That we evolved reality is simple (until we delve into it), but the ‘possibility of existence’ needs explaining.

Occam’s Razor states that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one and has been around for centuries. It is not logic because it is imprecise, but it has staying power and must be true to a certain extent. It is actually a solution in the style of the Mathematics of the Mind and is a half-truth and not precise, useful most of the time, but not to be relied upon but should form one pillar of a solution. In other words, ‘that we do not exist’ is the simplest proposition, but we are real, as we know, but we are real in ‘the possibility of existence’! In other words, probability space! To simplify, existence is a half-truth (we may or may not exist), but the probability of existence is a truth because it is continuous and all-embracing.

The Multiverse has been suggested to hold the infinity of universes with all the different combination of ‘natural constants’, and it is considered that ours is one of them because all of the constants are ‘right’ for our existence (in probability space). Whilst this is un-provable, a moment’s reflection suggests that this is possible, and likely, because all of these universes are in probability space and do not exist! But, Life (on earth) has evolved a reality out of this probability space.

PROOF 2: Previously, it was derived that ‘we evolved reality from the probability of existence’ by using the Mathematics of the Mind. The derivation of the probability of existence, is strengthened by approaching it from another direction. The more directions from which something can be derived, the larger the number of predictions that can be made from it and the ‘better’ the theory.

Our universe is a closed system and we would consider that the Law of Conservation of Energy, would apply and indeed it probably does, but what is this law? ‘In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy in an isolated system cannot change – it is said to be conserved over time’. (Wikipedia, Conservation of energy) Also, it has one dimension, which is time. (Wikipedia, Conservation law)

It is strange that under this law, our universe would have one dimension (time) and this presumably reflects the logic that we cannot ‘see’ inside that universe and that it is, thus, indeterminant to us. Current thinking is that our reality operates under space-time and we have to logically live in a ‘conserved’ universe, else it would run out of something eventually. So, where do we find a theoretical model for a conserved space that has the dimensions of space and time?

On the other hand, ‘in quantum mechanics, the probability current (sometimes called probability flux) is a mathematical quantity describing the flow of probability… It is a real vector’. (Wikipedia, Probability current) This isn’t very helpful, but shows that it is used and the dimensions of the Conservation of Probability are ‘total probability always = 1, in whole x, y, z space, during time evolution’ (Wikipedia, Conservation law, conservation of probability, number of dimensions)

This Conservation of Probability aligns with our universe in that we have ‘in whole x, y, z space, during time evolution’. Its not quite space-time because ‘time evolution’ is the same as the ‘time passing’ that I have used previously, and it is not an interval of time. Time interval is man-made, as is space interval in ‘whole x, y, z space’. I want to point out here that we have found a ‘complete’ mathematical ‘statement’, and our world appears to satisfy part of it, but I maintain that by Occam’s razor the simplest and most logical system will probably apply ‘best’, and that is the mathematical system, and is a Truth. So, how does our view of the universe (world O) compare with the mathematical form, and if it differs, why have we complicated things?

The ‘total probability always = 1’ aligns with Conservation of Energy, plus has the logic that every point in the space contributes to the sum and it must do so instantly to avoid local violations. So, every point is ‘entangled’ with every other point in the space constantly and instantly to provide a constant sum of energy. How can this be? The answer is, as we derived previously, what we call gravity, which affects EVERY particle-particle, particle-energy and energy-energy reaction in the universe according to the Law of Conservation of Energy because of a simple attraction that must exist for us to exist (out of the multiverse).

To logically satisfy the law, instantaneous accounting must be kept, and that is done automatically because there is only a constant amount of energy/matter, and photons and matter continually change their energy, as we have seen (Pound-Rebka experiment) to keep the total energy at 1 to satisfy the Law of Conservation of Energy.

So, gravity is the mechanism to provide a universe that we can live in, and that attraction of gravity (between matter, energy etc.) provides a source of energy which is part of the limit 1, Conservation of Energy sets the Conservation of Probability limit of 1, and a set limit of 1 requires instantaneous velocities to be attainable, so that the limit equals 1 at all times. This effect is ‘entanglement’. 101.171.170.169 (talk) 12:36, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

relaxEdit

language is nowhere near precise enough to come up with an accurate description of such concepts as existence. since this is an encyclopedia, not a bible, we can simply repeat what others have said, in their own language. too many of our articles on abstract concepts use too much abstract language. we should strive to not be too postmodern here. what would the average reader want to see here?Mercurywoodrose (talk) 17:29, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Materialism and Physicalism are two very different notionsEdit

Materialism is ancient classical, and it refers to things that can be grasped by touch. Things that are only seen are not necessarily material !

Physicalism is both ancient and modern and has evolved with the cultural and technological advancement of physics. It refers to what is evident in public, empirical science. That means that "energy" which is a purely mathematical construct is physically "real" or "evident" but due to its multiplicity of 'forms', all of which express 'potential' energy, it cannot coherently be said to "exist". BlueMist (talk) 22:56, 19 December 2015 (UTC)

Existence A commonsense explanationEdit

06:32, 25 February 2017 (UTC)06:32, 25 February 2017 (UTC)06:32, 25 February 2017 (UTC)~ EXISTENCE is being something, somewhere at some time The source and extent of existence is unknown.

All things exist as a pair of absolutely different, interdependent and inseparable forms.

Form 1. MATTER - it is tangible and inert and includes any and every thing that occupies space exclusively - it consists of particles which aggregate to create tangible objects or disaggregates according to particular particle properties. Elementary partcles are infinitely small and numerous such as photons which are free and able to travel through space and electrons which are similar but linked to protons.

Form 2. ACTIVITY - it is intangible and is the activity of matter impacting on matter. It has numerous names including life and energy and countless subordinate names. Activity is commonly called energy and sub classified under that name.

LIFE IS ACTIVITY - life in general is any and all unspecified activity but we require specific behaviour for creatures to be considered as alive. A particular life requires specification of a thing, place and/or time. Bodies of matter with no activity are dead. In the beginning there was matter impacting crudely on matter which developed repetitious bumping patterns called vibrations some of which formed harmonious relations as a basis for evolving complex life.

ENERGY is activity contained in matter It has many specific interchangeable sub forms such as chemical, electrical, mechanical, nuclear and potential and may be measured by the formula Actvity = Mass multiplied by the square of the speed of photons (light is the effect of photons impacting on matter and has no speed per se)

We become aware of things as ideas which are vibrations of our tangible brains and accordingly consist of brain particles and their activity. They are generated either directly by inhertitance and imagination or indirectly by sensing material things which exist independently. Direct ideas. such as dreams, gods and fairy tales have no external existence. So a basic task is to determine whether the subject of any consideration is tangible or intangible. Can you touch it? Can it touch you or other things?

Note that we may take sequential photos to represent motion but we cannot photograph the actual motion because motion is an idea.and we cannot photogragh ideas. However future technology may enable direct iterpretation of brain vibrations.


We use the vibrations of matter to recognise all forms of life from the incredibly tiny vibation of crystals for clocks to the large patterns of stellar activity for seasons and times.

Just like music the quality of life varies with the calibration and organisation of vibrations. Compare the barking of an animal to the song of a singer or the music of an orchestra.. It is fair to say that life is not only a song, life is a fabulous symphony.

From there we may even progress to understanding that the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a difference between intensity of brain vibrations. Apparenltly being conscious requires higher levels of activity which causes fatigue.

We have suffered confusion about life because fabulous power and profits have been gained on the basis of myths and promises of places in paradice and relief from hell. The common theme claims the existence of a spirit such as a god or ghost and the failure to distinguish between the two forms comprising existence, matter and its acyivity.

Also instead of genuine definitions of existence and life we have been fobbed off with examples and descriptions. Hence many assume there are gods and life after death and an equivalence of energy and matter. Einstine’s famous equation is not a definition of energy as popularly believed it is a formula for measuring the quantity of energy (the activity contained in matter). The problem is not his equation, it is his definition of light and his false claim that photons have no mass, which lead to consequent false assumptions, particularly that speed, intangible activity, is interchangeable with tangible matter.

The myths of spirits, gods and ghosts have been significant factors in wars and strife we have suffered throughout history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Norman George Wheatley (talkcontribs) 06:32, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

This is not the place to publish original essays, irrespective of their merit. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:41, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

Existence A commonsense explanationEdit

06:38, 25 February 2017 (UTC)06:38, 25 February 2017 (UTC)06:38, 25 February 2017 (UTC)~ EXISTENCE is being something, somewhere at some time The source and extent of existence is unknown.

All things exist as a pair of absolutely different, interdependent and inseparable forms.

Form 1. MATTER - it is tangible and inert and includes any and every thing that occupies space exclusively - it consists of particles which aggregate to create tangible objects or disaggregates according to particular particle properties. Elementary partcles are infinitely small and numerous such as photons which are free and able to travel through space and electrons which are similar but linked to protons.

Form 2. ACTIVITY - it is intangible and is the activity of matter impacting on matter. It has numerous names including life and energy and countless subordinate names. Activity is commonly called energy and sub classified under that name.

LIFE IS ACTIVITY - life in general is any and all unspecified activity but we require specific behaviour for creatures to be considered as alive. A particular life requires specification of a thing, place and/or time. Bodies of matter with no activity are dead. In the beginning there was matter impacting crudely on matter which developed repetitious bumping patterns called vibrations some of which formed harmonious relations as a basis for evolving complex life.

ENERGY is activity contained in matter It has many specific interchangeable sub forms such as chemical, electrical, mechanical, nuclear and potential and may be measured by the formula Actvity = Mass multiplied by the square of the speed of photons (light is the effect of photons impacting on matter and has no speed per se)

We become aware of things as ideas which are vibrations of our tangible brains and accordingly consist of brain particles and their activity. They are generated either directly by inhertitance and imagination or indirectly by sensing material things which exist independently. Direct ideas. such as dreams, gods and fairy tales have no external existence. So a basic task is to determine whether the subject of any consideration is tangible or intangible. Can you touch it? Can it touch you or other things?

Note that we may take sequential photos to represent motion but we cannot photograph the actual motion because motion is an idea.and we cannot photogragh ideas. However future technology may enable direct iterpretation of brain vibrations.


We use the vibrations of matter to recognise all forms of life from the incredibly tiny vibation of crystals for clocks to the large patterns of stellar activity for seasons and times.

Just like music the quality of life varies with the calibration and organisation of vibrations. Compare the barking of an animal to the song of a singer or the music of an orchestra.. It is fair to say that life is not only a song, life is a fabulous symphony.

From there we may even progress to understanding that the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a difference between intensity of brain vibrations. Apparenltly being conscious requires higher levels of activity which causes fatigue.

We have suffered confusion about life because fabulous power and profits have been gained on the basis of myths and promises of places in paradice and relief from hell. The common theme claims the existence of a spirit such as a god or ghost and the failure to distinguish between the two forms comprising existence, matter and its acyivity.

Also instead of genuine definitions of existence and life we have been fobbed off with examples and descriptions. Hence many assume there are gods and life after death and an equivalence of energy and matter. Einstine’s famous equation is not a definition of energy as popularly believed it is a formula for measuring the quantity of energy (the activity contained in matter). The problem is not his equation, it is his definition of light and his false claim that photons have no mass, which lead to consequent false assumptions, particularly that speed, intangible activity, is interchangeable with tangible matter.

The myths of spirits, gods and ghosts have been significant factors in wars and strife we have suffered throughout history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Norman George Wheatley (talkcontribs) 06:38, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

Um, according to the definition at the top of this article...Edit

I don't exist. Serendipodous 10:45, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

Lead Section (and Philosophy-Game vandalism)Edit

It goes without saying that a fair number of the edits on this page involve "philosophy game" vandalism, and it can get annoying, especially when people do it so unsubtly that it destroys the flow and sense of the lead. I do not think it unreasonable to attempt one of these two solutions.

  1. Protect the page in some fashion so editors don't need to swing by and fix philosophy vandalism.
  2. Edit the leading line to work with philosophy game.

Option 1 is pretty straight-forward. Option two is a little less, but looking deep into the annals of the edit history (not really I only went back a couple months), it seems that there is at least one viable lead line that works for the game-lovers and does not detract (and in my opinion, it adds) to the understanding of the reader. Link "being" to the being page, and for good measure, "real" to real. I actually take umbrage with Bonadea's edit that "being" is used in its everyday sense because in the next sentence, the importance of what, exactly, existence is is proclaimed a central topic of "philosophical study of the nature of being...". "Being real" is the central crux of what existence is, and in Wikipedia:Overlinking editing guidelines, it specifically says that "Everyday words understood by most readers in context" should not be linked. Since "being real" is the context of what existence is, "being real" cannot be understood in context (because excepting tautology, something cannot give context to itself). I edited it for now - please revert it if you believe it is needed. Azertygod (talk) 07:05, 2 April 2018 (UTC)

The thing is that the auxiliary "being" is simply a linking verb, a present participle associating "real" with the noun it describes, namely "existence". The sentence does not talk about "the state of being", but "the state of being real", and so wikilinking "being" makes no sense. It is a function word, not a content word - in the following sentence however it's a content word, and could be linked there. In that sentence, both "being" and "existence" are used to explain the term "ontology", so your quote above is a little misleading. As for "real", it is certainly used with its common meaning. I am very much against manipulating Wikipedia articles for the sake of a game (and to be honest I would also think it'd ruin this game to artificially create paths - surely the whole point is to see if there is a path or not!) --bonadea contributions talk 07:26, 2 April 2018 (UTC)
I have to agree with you, even when I don't want to (RIP philosophy game). It seems like you and Just plain Bill seem to have the protection of this page pretty solid (20 min response time!) - so I'm assuming that's why you haven't requested semi-protection on this page. Thanks for the (incredibly) quick response! Azertygod (talk) 07:42, 2 April 2018 (UTC)

Get to philosophy?Edit

In my edit to the article, I started to redo the intro paragraph but before I finished I lost interest, but I thought that my edit was still an improvement so I published it. After that somebody undid my edit and said something about getting to philosophy but I have no idea what that means. Can somebody please tell my what it means and why my edit was undid? Tommy bombyy (talk) 23:37, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Maybe it has something to do with me not finishing with the intro paragraph and the other edits I was planning on doing? I'm not really sure. Tommy bombyy (talk) 23:56, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
I undid your edit because it did not seem like an improvement. You used "refers to" twice in the first two sentences, and "arguably" (a common weasel word) in the third sentence. Wikipedia:Getting to Philosophy sometimes prompts disruptive edits to this article, twisting the text around so the first link starts a chain leading to the philosophy article. Hope that clarifies it a bit. Just plain Bill (talk) 00:08, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
I understand now, but why not just let the chain exist? (see what i did there?) Tommy bombyy (talk) 00:15, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

The Existence of Existence on WikipediaEdit

Was just looking into some old Wikipedia history, and ran across a complete archive of all "recent changes" which were made on April 4, 2001. See [10], its only two pages! On there we can find that Larry Sanger created this article on that day, with the comment "The start of an article on one of my favorite subjects." Collapsed below is the actual text of that first edit, almost 18 years ago, extracted from the August 2001 Wikipedia edit archive. Cheers!--Milowenthasspoken 18:03, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

The first edit of Existence
This is just a set of notes about the subject, not yet well organized and far from exhaustive.

Existence is the ontological topic par excellence. In Anglo-American philosophy (this article will have to be augmented with summaries of work in other traditions), probably the most widely-asked question about it is what sort of concept it is, or what function it serves in languages, both natural and formal. Another significant topic, related to the first, but somewhat less discussed, is whether 'existence' or 'exists' can be [[philosophical analysis|analyzed or defined or otherwise explicated, and if so, what the explication might be.

Hume and Kant, among others, are each well-known for their shared view that the claim that a thing exists, when added to our notion of a thing, does not add anything to the concept. For example, if we form a complete notion of Moses, and superadd to that notion the claim that Moses existed, we are not adding anything to the notion of Moses. [This needs to be greatly expanded.]

Frege and Russell, among many others, for similar reasons are well-known for their view that 'exists' is not a (logical) predicate, or more precisely, not a first-order predicate--or, perhaps equivalently (and perhaps not), that existence is not a property. This has become the dominant but not the universal view in twentieth-century and contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. But, as G. E. Moore pointed out in an early essay, it is a matter of some difficulty to say what exactly what this view amounts to. [This too needs to be greatly expanded, and probably made into its own article.]

The words (and concepts) 'existence' and 'being' are treated in slightly different ways in Western philosophy. Aristotle pointed out that there are various ways in which a thing can "be" and inaugurated ontology as a field with his notion that there are categories of being, such as substance, attribute, and acting-upon. Similar claims, however, are not as often made on behalf of existence. That is, contemporary philosophers at least are wont to treat existence as a univocal, unambiguous concept, as if the only sense of 'existence', or the only sort of existence worth talking about, were the existence of physical objects. Consequently, some discussions of existence have an unclear bearing on, for example, the sense in which numbers, possibilities, and properties exist (or might be thought to exist).

Even if the ambiguity of 'exists' is sometimes overlooked, oddly enough, the ambiguity of 'does not exist' is not. That is, ontologists are fond of pointing out that there are various ways in which things can fail to exist: they can be fictional (Sherlock Holmes), imaginary (the golden mountain), legendary (Loch Ness Monster), mistakenly inferred (the ether), etc. The multiplicity of ways in which a thing can fail to exist has be so striking to some that it has been suggested that existence is, in fact, merely an "excluder" concept--used to classify items by what they are not (not fictional, not imaginary, not mistakenly inferred, etc.)--as 'real' is sometimes thought to be.

Though often not discussed under the heading of existence, disputes among realism, phenomenalism, physicalism, and various other metaphysical views concern what might be called the criteria for existence. For example, phenomenalist, generally speaking, is the view that everything that exists is mental. Most phenomenalists would want to deny that this claim is a definition of 'exists'; if phenomenalism were treated as a definition of 'exists', then others might accuse the view of trying to be "true by definition." Accordingly, it might be dismissed as a trivial exercise in redefining the ordinary concept of existence, which is, perhaps, of little interest to anyone. Exactly what relation, however, definitions (or analyses, or explications, etc.) and criteria have is an interesting and vexed question. See definitions vs. criteria.|}.
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