Meinongian Issues in Contemporary Italian Philosophy 9783110321128, 9783110320923

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Table of contents :
Contents
MEINONG AND MUSICON MUSICAL OBJECTS OF HIGHER ORDERRiccardo Martinelli
ALEXIUS MEINONG ON ONTOLOGY ANDOBJECT THEORYFrancesca Modenato
THREE KINDS OF INCOMPLETENESSAndrea C. Bottani
SPEAKING OF NONEXISTENT OBJECTSMario Alai
BEING, EXISTENCE, AND HAVINGINSTANCESAlberto Voltolini
CRY FOR A SHADOWEMOTIONS AND OBJECT THEORYCarola Barbero
STATES OF AFFAIRS:BRADLEY VS. MEINONGFrancesco Orilia
WHY THERE ARE NO FACTS INMEINONG’S WORLD(ACCORDING TO GUSTAV BERGMANN)Guido Bonino
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MEINONG STUDIES / MEINONG STUDIEN Volume 2 Venanzio Raspa (Ed.) Meinongian Issues in Contemporary Italian Philosophy

MEINONG STUDIES / MEINONG STUDIEN Edited by / Herausgegeben von Forschungsstelle und Dokumentationszentrum für österreichische Philosophie unter der Leitung von Alfred Schramm

Vol. 2 Editorial Board Liliana Albertazzi Mauro Antonelli Ermanno Bencivenga Johannes Brandl Arkadiusz Chrudzimski Evelyn Dölling Kit Fine Jaakko Hintikka Herbert Hochberg Wolfgang Künne Winfried Löffler Johann Christian Marek Kevin Mulligan Roberto Poli Matjaz Potrc Venanzio Raspa Maria Reicher Robin Rollinger Edmund Runggaldier Seppo Sajama Peter Simons Barry Smith Erwin Tegtmeier

Editorial office Dr. Jutta Valent Forschungsstelle und Dokumentationszentrum für österreichische Philosophie, Graz

Forschungsstelle und Dokumentationszentrum für österreichische Philosophie Alfred Schramm (Ed.)

Meinong Studies Meinong Studien Volume 2

Venanzio Raspa (Ed.) Meinongian Issues in Contemporary Italian Philosophy

ontos verlag Frankfurt I Paris I Ebikon I Lancaster I New Brunswick

Bibliographic information published by Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliographie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the Internet at http://dnb.ddb.de

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2006 ontos verlag P.O. Box 15 41, D-63133 Heusenstamm www.ontosverlag.com ISBN 10: 3-938793-35-X ISBN 13: 978-3-938793-35-0 2006 No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use of the purchaser of the work

Printed on acid-free paper This hardcover binding meets the International Library standard Printed in Germany by buch bücher dd ag

Contents / Inhalt

VENANZIO RASPA Introduction: Thinking with and on Meinong in Italy

7

RICCARDO MARTINELLI Meinong and Music. On Musical Objects of Higher Order

39

FRANCESCA MODENATO Alexius Meinong on Ontology and Object Theory

73

ANDREA BOTTANI Three Kinds of Incompleteness

99

MARIO ALAI Speaking of Nonexistent Objects

119

ALBERTO VOLTOLINI Being, Existence, and Having Instances

161

CAROLA BARBERO Cry for a Shadow. Emotions and Object Theory

181

FRANCESCO ORILIA States of Affairs: Bradley vs. Meinong

213

GUIDO BONINO Why There Are No Facts in Meinong’s World (according to Gustav Bergmann)

239

INTRODUCTION

THINKING WITH AND ON MEINONG IN ITALY Venanzio Raspa

Today the debate in Italy about Meinong’s philosophy and related themes is vibrant and varied, as can be seen from the contributions which are collected in this volume. Before proceeding to say something more specific with regard to this, I would like however to try to answer a question which came to me while reading Meinong’s “Selbstdarstellung” and which – like Carroll’s Alice – made me “curiouser and curiouser.” Meinong maintains that he established relationships with foreign (especially English and Italian speaking) scholars very early on, from the time of his Hume-Studien (1877 and 1882); and that he did not fail to remember with gratitude more than once these contacts, which were then terminated by the outbreak of the Great War.1 As regards his relations with Anglo-Saxon philosophy, Meinong is known to have maintained scientific contacts and correspondence not only with Bertrand Russell, but also with John Stuart Mackenzie, H. Wildon Carr and George Frederick Stout,2 to have been read by Charlie Dunbar Broad, George Dawes Hicks, John Laird, George Edward Moore,3 even by Thomas S. Eliot,4 and in a second wave, in the late 20s and early 30s, by Gilbert Ryle, William C. Kneale and John N. Findlay.5 Moreover, from 1877 to 1879 Meinong re1

2 3 4 5

Cf. Meinong (1921), GA VII, p. 58. Translations are mine, unless indicated otherwise; references to English translations appear in brackets. Cf. Kindinger [ed.] (1965), pp. 132-139, 150-153, 221-224, and MeinongNachlaß, LXIII/7019-7020, LXVII. Cf. Moore (1909/1910), Broad (1913), Hicks (1922). Cf. Eliot (1916/1964), pp. 50, 91 ff. and passim. Cf. Findlay (1952) and (19632), pp. xi-xiv, Simons (1986), Dappiano (1994) and

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viewed no less than seven issues of Mind in the Philosophische Monatshefte and published a note in reply to a review of his HumeStudien I which had appeared in Mind itself.6 If his claim is borne out therefore as far as his relations with English speaking scholars are concerned, the situation seems to be very different as regards those with Italians: it seems particularly misleading to equate the two. Indeed, if we look through the entire work of Meinong, we find only rare citations of contemporary Italian scholars (with the sole exception of Vittorio Benussi, who trained and worked mainly in Graz7) – but literally these are only citations and not true theoretical discussions. The names that appear there are those of Alessandro Bonucci, Cesare Burali-Forti, Cesare Lombroso and Michele Losacco. Of these only the last maintained an effective scientific exchange with Meinong, about whose works he also wrote some articles. Who, then, are these Italian scholars Meinong refers to? As his published works are no help to us, all we can do is hunt through his Nachlaß. Here we discover the names of Mario Calderoni, Vittorio Castiglioni, Francesco De Sarlo, Federigo Enriques, Agostino Gemelli, Sante de Sanctis, Giuseppe Sergi and Steno Tedeschi. If we then search for the writings on Meinong published by Italian scholars during his lifetime, De Sarlo, Losacco and Tedeschi are joined by Antonio Aliotta, Gaetano CaponeBraga, Guido De Ruggiero, Francesco Orestano, Alberto Ratti, Giovanni Vailati and Bernardino Varisco. The only proof of relations between the other authors mentioned above and Meinong is their correspondence. But how did these relations actually develop? Now if we examine together both the correspondence and the published writings in Italian on Meinong – excluding an exchange of letters with Vittorio Castiglioni in 18878 – two dates emerge, which we can take as the initial and final dates of the interrelation of Meinong’s thought with 6 7 8

(1997), Bell (1999). Cf. Meinong (1879). The review of Hume-Studien I had been published in Mind, III (1878), n. 9. Benussi had arrived in Austria in 1896 and only returned to live in Italy in November 1918. Castiglioni had asked Meinong to accept a work of his in Italian as PhD dissertation, but after viewing it, Meinong gave a negative answer (cf. MeinongNachlaß, XXXIV/636-640, LXVII).

INTRODUCTION: THINKING WITH AND ON MEINONG IN ITALY

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Italian philosophy and psychology during his lifetime: 1905, the year following the publication of the Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie,9 during which the Fifth International Congress of Psychology took place in Rome, and 1915, the year war broke out between Italy and Austria. The war had dire consequences above all for the peoples involved, but also for the sciences, including philosophy. Meinong was right when he said that the war had effectively severed scientific relations between intellectuals. I will come back to this later; for now I shall simply note that Benussi, who had been one of the first pupils and main collaborators of Meinong, was able to stay in Austria only until the change in the world situation in the fall of 1918 took him back to his home in the south and, hence, away from the institute in Graz which he had adorned for nearly twenty years.10 In the following I will not deal with the relations between Meinong and Benussi,11 but I will simply try to tell a story, from which we can deduce that the theoretical exchange between Italian culture and Meinong was practically unidirectional, that is, that we can only discover what Italians wrote about Meinong and how he was first acknowledged, then almost forgotten, and finally rediscovered – but this last has occurred in our time. The reason for analysing the way Meinong’s thought was received and discussed in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century is not only to make a contribution to the history of its influence but also to study the relationships then existing between Austrian and Italian philosophy. The proximity is after all also geographical. At the start of the 20th century, Meinong’s work aroused interest not just in Italy but more generally throughout Europe. The volume Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie was reviewed as soon as it was published in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Britain, and also Italy.12 This helped spread the reputation of the Graz School, as 9 10 11 12

Cf. Meinong [ed.] (1904a). Meinong (1921), GA VII, p. 12 [(1974), p. 226]. On this see Antonelli (1994), Stucchi (1996). Cf. Russell (1905a) and (1905b), Vailati (1905), an anonymous review (F.) (1906), Dürr (1906), Höfler (1906), Urban (1906), Watt (1906), von Aster

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witnessed by the fact that Giuseppe Sergi first invited, then begged Meinong to take part in the Fifth International Congress of Psychology, which he organised in Rome from 26th to 30th April 1905.13 Though Meinong did not attend in person – indeed he did not participate in any of the congresses to which he was invited – he did however send three leading figures of his School to represent him: Alois Höfler, Eduard Martinak and Vittorio Benussi.14 Höfler presented a paper, “Sind wir Psychologisten?”,15 in which, besides giving a brief presentation of object theory, he publicly responded to the recent edition of the Ueberweg-Heinze, which numbered Meinong among the psychologists.16 Martinak, referring to works by Meinong, Höfler, Ameseder and Mally, lectured on “Das Wesen der Frage” following the line of reasoning developed in Graz;17 while Benussi received acclaim for his three contributions,18 two of which (one on the nature of so-called optical-geometric illusions, the other on the tachiscope, a device he had invented to conduct collective experiments) were grouped together with those of the representatives of the Laboratories of Psychology of Leipzig, Leuven, Paris and Florence in the ‘Experimental Psychology’ session.19

13 14

15 16

17 18 19

(1907), Gomperz (1908), pp. 30-37, 72-73, 84 ff., 213 ff. and passim. Obviously of particular relevance is the debate which Russell initiated with Meinong even before publication of the Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie; a debate which, though concentrated mainly in the first decade of the 20th century, was continued in later works published by Russell. Cf. Sergi to Meinong, Rome, 25.XI.1904 and 31.I.1905 (Meinong-Nachlaß, LXIII/6791 and LXI/6286). In this respect, cf. a postcard and a short letter sent to Meinong by the then secretary of the Congress, Sante De Sanctis (Rome, 9.II.1905 and 2.IV.1905; Meinong-Nachlaß, LXI/6287-6288). Cf. Höfler (1905). Cf. Ueberweg (19029), IV, pp. 312 ff.; cf. also (192312), IV, pp. 534 ff. On the positive reaction to Höfler’s paper presenting the general outline of object theory, cf. Meinong (1906-1907), GA V, p. 212, fn. 1. Cf. Martinak (1905). Cf. Benussi (1905a), (1905b) and (1905c). The proceedings of the Congress are reported by Chiabra (1905); on the last point, cf. p. 430.

INTRODUCTION: THINKING WITH AND ON MEINONG IN ITALY

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The status of psychology in Italy could not be compared with that in Germany or North America: the total number of Italian psychologists amounted to but a few dozen and they had only just obtained (that same year) a government decree setting up the first chairs in experimental psychology.20 However, as the fact that they organised the Fifth International Congress of Psychology in Rome shows, they were very interested in the work carried out by their colleagues beyond the Alps and overseas. The Congress in Rome was attended by Francesco De Sarlo along with some of his pupils: Antonio Aliotta, Vincenzo Berrettoni, Sestilio Montanelli, Francesco Orestano, and Guido Villa. Of these, the first three took part in the same session as Benussi; they were thus able to meet him and discover the common purposes that united them. In 1894 Meinong had founded in Graz the first Austrian Laboratory of experimental psychology; his principal assistants were Stephan Witasek and Vittorio Benussi. And in 1903 Francesco De Sarlo had established a Laboratory of experimental psychology in Florence, the first of its kind in Italy. The studies carried out there, after being published in the first volume of the Ricerche di psicologia [Investigations in psychology] (1905),21 were discussed by Benussi in a long article in the Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie.22 Thus it was in Rome that the Graz School and De Sarlo’s Florence School met. This is not to say that individual scholars were not familiar with Meinong, but the Rome meeting (thanks mainly to Benussi) gave rise to an intense scientific relationship between the two Schools, as is attested by a letter from De Sarlo to Meinong, sent only two weeks after the end of the Rome Congress: Distinguished Colleague, I am most grateful for your kind letter. I take great pride, believe me, in your friendship. I hope that the bonds between your School and

20 21 22

Cf. Marhaba (1981), pp. 32, 46 ff. Cf. De Sarlo [ed.] (1905). On De Sarlo and his School, cf. Albertazzi, Cimino & Gori-Savellini [eds.] (1999), Sava (2000), pp. 17-60. Cf. Benussi (1906). On the relationship between De Sarlo and Benussi, cf. Poggi (1985), pp. 144 ff., Antonelli (1994), pp. 17-18.

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mine grow ever stronger. I perceive that my thinking is moving along very similar lines to yours. I have already had reason to appreciate the noble qualities of Dr. Benussi’s mind and spirit. Allow me to congratulate you on having such a valuable assistant. Please give him my regards. Thank you for the book you sent me:23 I shall treasure it highly. Please accept the volume which details the work carried out in the Laboratory of Psychology which I direct.24 With kindest regards, F. De Sarlo.25 The activity of the Graz School had already drawn the attention of Aliotta who, in La misura in psicologia sperimentale [Measurement in experimental psychology] (1905),26 makes a wide-ranging critical study of Über die Bedeutung des Weberschen Gesetzes (1896). After examining the entire scientific production of experimental psychology from around 1880 onwards, Aliotta becomes convinced – in Cesare Musatti’s words – that Mental events, the constituent elements of the life of consciousness, as such escape measurement, and no artifice can transform quality, which is what characterizes mental activity, into quantity.27 A little later, in 1907, another pupil of De Sarlo’s, Orestano, in his book I valori morali [Moral values], paid ample attention to the Meinongian investigations into value theory expounded in the Psychologisch-ethische Untersuchungen zur Wert-Theorie (1894) and in Über Werthaltung und Wert (1895), examining the relationship between utility and value, the concepts of value and valuation, value feelings and their classification, 23 24 25 26 27

Very probably Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie (see above, fn. 9). Ricerche di psicologia (see above, fn. 21). De Sarlo to Meinong, Florence, 14.V.1905 (Meinong-Nachlaß, LXI/6290). On the relationship between De Sarlo and Meinong, cf. Albertazzi (1999). Cf. Aliotta (1905), pp. 69 ff. On this work by Aliotta cf. Poli (1999a), Sava (2000), pp. 77-106. Musatti (1951), pp. 54-55. Aliotta’s criticism of Meinong is shared by Villa (19112), pp. 137 and fn. 3, 138 fn. 2.

INTRODUCTION: THINKING WITH AND ON MEINONG IN ITALY

13

the distinction of absolute and relative value, and in addition the ethical conceptions of Meinong, the distinction of good and evil, the notion of ethical value and valuation, the altruistic, egoistic and neutral values.28 After the exposition, comes Orestano’s criticism: in particular, he rejects two points which are in his opinion essential for Meinong’s value theory: its foundation upon the feelings of pleasure and pain, and the identification of morality with altruism.29 In L’orientazione psicologica dell’etica e della filosofia del diritto [The psychological orientation of the ethics and philosophy of law] (1907) Alessandro Bonucci agrees with Orestano’s first criticism, but appreciates the psychological analysis of Meinong’s concept of value.30 Still in 1907, De Sarlo founded, in opposition to Croce’s La Critica, the review La Cultura Filosofica,31 which published many contributions on foreign philosophers and psychologists, including some on Meinong. In one of the first issues, De Sarlo himself wrote on the conception of imagination elaborated by the School of Graz. He gave a very sympathetic reading of this conception, of which he appreciated particularly the dynamic point of view, which goes beyond a merely associative consideration of imagination: we are indeed able to produce mental events and acts that are not accompanied by the coefficient of reality, that is “fictions”, which follow laws that are different from those of real mental events. In the case of lies, games and artistic or literary fictions, the mind behaves “as if” it believed in the reality of their respective objects. In this all the mental phenomena are involved, the representation activity as well as thought, feeling and desire; indeed, reading a novel arouses in us emotions and feelings, and likewise imagining events (e.g. planning a journey or anticipating the first meeting with the person with whom one is in love). Thus, imagination activity is this capacity to experience all mental events in the absence of the coefficient of reality; such activity includes a volitive component, so the subject is not merely passive, as in the case of 28 29 30 31

Cf. Orestano (1907), pp. 28-48, 74-83, 163-192, 271-274. Cf. Orestano (1907), pp. 130-134, 271-274. Cf. Bonucci (1907), pp. 125-129. The polemic with Croce occurred in 1907 in their respective reviews. Croce’s contributions are now collected in Croce (1942), pp. 174-193.

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association. Hence, imagination is the capacity to simulate, it is the act to free oneself from the subjection to what is given in the perception, to real stimuli or excitements.32 So we see that the initial attention of Italian scholars for Meinong, above all of psychologists and philosophers with a strong interest in psychology, seems to turn mainly to his investigations into psychology and value theory, and not to object theory. An exception was Giovanni Vailati, who reviewed the Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie in 1905, giving a not really positive judgment of them. According to Vailati, the first three contributions (respectively by Meinong, Ameseder and Mally) do not seem to have any relationship with experimental psychology, but they owe their presence to Meinong’s conviction that he had created a new science, the Gegenstandstheorie, “of which one does not understand the content and still less the method.”33 It would seem to have little in common with that science of things as simple things of which Gregorius Itelson speaks,34 and even less with any logic or methodology. Of all other contributions, Vailati saves only that by Wilhelm M. Frankl. That Vailati already knew Meinong is shown by a letter from him to Brentano, informing him about the very positive judgment that Russell had expressed on some of Meinong’s writings in an article in Mind in 1904,35 as well as from the presence, in Meinong’s library, of the offprints of three articles by Vailati, dated 1897 and 1903, that he had sent to Meinong complete with dedication.36 From the few points made it is clear that Meinong’s theories, which were becoming known in Italy, aroused at the same time approval and disagreement – as often happens in philosophy. Meanwhile, Meinong had published Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wis32 33 34

35 36

Cf. De Sarlo (1907). Vailati (1905). Itelson introduced this theory – which has evident affinities with object theory, as also Meinong (1906-1907, GA V, pp. 334-335) recognized – at the Second International Congress of Philosophy, held in Geneva from 4th to 8th September 1904 (cf. Couturat 1904, pp. 1037 ff.), which Vailati had also attended. Cf. Vailati to Brentano, Como, 16.IV.1904, in Vailati (1971), p. 305. Cf. Mehle (1998), pp. 355-356; the articles concerned are Vailati (1897a), (1897b) and (1903).

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senschaften (1906-1907): as the author himself said, “an apology of object theory”37 to answer the many criticisms and discussions that the publication of the Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie had aroused in Europe. From a rapid look at the volume it emerges that there is no mention of Italian scholars, while a lot of space is given to the criticisms made by Russell, Ernst Dürr and others. This strengthens the initial thesis on the type of relationships established by Meinong with Italy; on the other hand, however, it could not be otherwise. Excluding the brief and, substantially, negative review by Vailati, the first encounters of Italian scholars with object theory involved specifically Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften. This work was at once reviewed by Bernardino Varisco in the Rivista Filosofica (then continued in the Rivista di Filosofia), the other periodical that, together with De Sarlo’s La Cultura Filosofica, published in these years articles and reviews on Meinong. In the following year the same work by Meinong was discussed in the same review by Steno Tedeschi, who was from Trieste like Benussi and had also studied in Graz with Meinong and Witasek.38 Also this first discussion about object theory produced very different results: Varisco was very critical, while Tedeschi was of the opposite view. Varisco rejected some peculiar conceptions of object theory such as the distinction between judgment and objective, the thesis that truth and falsehood do not belong to judgement but to the corresponding objective, and the view concerning impossible objects: an expression like “round square” neither designates an object, even an impossible one, nor possesses some meaning, but it is like an envelope containing a white sheet of paper, which is not a letter at all. Varisco also dwells on mathematics, which – he says –, although its theorems do not come down to psychological laws, is not separable from psychology.39 In this way he implicitly denies that there are ideal objects, because mathematical objects are the typical examples of this kind of objects, and therefore he also denies that there is a science corresponding to object theory. Of opposite tone to Varisco’s review is the article by Tedeschi, who shares substantially the 37 38 39

Meinong (1906-1907), GA V, p. 201. Cf. Tedeschi (1913), p. VIII. Cf. Varisco (1907).

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fundamental theses of object theory as an aprioristic science, agrees clearly with its antipsychologistic direction, recognizes as genuine objects the so-called “homeless objects”, therefore sensation objects and objectives, and looks favourably on impossible objects.40 The discussion of object-theoretical theses (like the thesis of the intentionality of every mental phenomenon, the assumption of unreal objects, the distinction of content and object, the theory of judgment and of objective, the idea of the object as logical prius, the doctrines of the objects of higher order and of the kinds of being) is continued by Tedeschi in some subsequent articles, which are not merely descriptive of Meinong’s thought, but argue “Sulla funzione conoscitiva del giudizio [On the cognitive function of judgment]” and “Intorno agli oggetti del pensiero [On the objects of thought]” from the point of view of Meinong’s philosophy, which he defends against the criticisms of Marty and Russell.41 So, in the obituary that announced his premature decease (in 1911), Adolfo Faggi could truthfully write that “Steno Tedeschi was a pupil of Meinong, whose theory of objects he illustrated and studied;”42 thus Faggi confirmed what Tedeschi himself had written in a letter to Meinong, in which he pledged to spread and to defend the ideas of the School of Graz that were, in good part, also his own.43 In 1910 Meinong was invited to take part to the Fourth International Congress of Philosophy, held in Bologna from 5th to 11th April 1911 under the presidency of Federigo Enriques. From the letters sent to Meinong first by Mario Calderoni, at that time secretary of the Congress,44 then by 40 41

42 43 44

Cf. Tedeschi (1908). Cf. Tedeschi (1910) and (1912). Tedeschi dealt also with Witasek’s aesthetics and Meinong’s value theory in some articles now collected in Tedeschi (1913), pp. 1-15, 16-29, 47-65, 66-75. Faggi (1912), p. 145. Cf. Tedeschi to Meinong, Pisino, 31.VII.1909 (Meinong-Nachlaß, LXIV/7111). Cf. Calderoni to Meinong, Florence, 2.VII.1910 (Meinong-Nachlaß, XXXIV/629): “Monsieur, Au nom de la Commission organisatrice de la Section de Morale, j’ai l’honneur de vous inviter à prendre part aux travaux du IV Congrès international de Philosophie, qui aura lieu à Bologne dans le printemps de 1910 [sic!].

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Enriques, it emerges how keen they were for Meinong to participate personally. Because Alois Riehl would be absent for health reasons, Enriques wrote to Meinong: This circumstance allows me to satisfy the aspiration that I had to make room for your excellent lecture on Psychology and against Psychologism in a plenary session. So everybody will have the pleasure of listening to you. While acquainting you with this intention I allow myself to ask you if I can count on your personal presence at the Congress.45 Once more Meinong did not personally participate in the Congress, but confined himself to sending the much awaited paper, “Für die Psychologie und gegen den Psychologismus in der allgemeinen Werttheorie”, which was read in absence of the author the 11th April 1911.46 From the title one can already see an evident relationship with the paper read by Höfler in Rome some years before. After the Congress, Enriques informed Meinong on the results and on the publication of the Proceedings.47 However, these were late in coming out and – we do not know if because of a misdelivery or of Enriques’ carelessness – a letter sent by Meinong in the summer of the same year, in which he asked for informa-

45 46

47

Votre présence et votre collaboration nous seront précieuses, et, comme nous avons peut constater dans les séances préparatoires, tout vivement désirées, aussi bien par les organisateurs du Congrès eux-mêmes que par bon nombre d’adhérents, qui voudraient bien pouvoir ajouter à la connaissance qu’ils ont déjà de vos écrits la connaissance personnelle de l’auteur et un échange direct d’idées avec lui. Nous osons donc espérer, Monsieur, en une Communication de vous, et la Commission de Morale a délibéré de vous envoyer une invitation spéciale à cet égard.” In a following letter, of 4th August 1910, Calderoni thanks Meinong for his acceptation, and confirms that his paper will appear among those of the Ethics Section (Meinong-Nachlaß, XXXIV/630). Enriques to Meinong, Bologna, 5.III.1911 (Meinong-Nachlaß, XXXVIII/1481). Cf. Atti del IV Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia, Vol. I, p. 362. Cf. also a postcard by Losacco to Meinong (Pistoia, 13.IV.1911), in Meinong-Nachlaß, IL/3857. Cf. Enriques to Meinong, Bologna, 24.VII.1911 (Meinong-Nachlaß, XXXVIII/1482).

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tion on the offprints of his paper, remained without answer. On 19th December 1911 Meinong wrote to Enriques a letter full of resentment for the behaviour of the organization48 and asked if the presidency of the Congress would agree to his publishing the paper in a German review. Enriques made no objections to this request,49 so Meinong’s article appeared first in Logos, then in the Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Philosophy.50 Meanwhile the reactions of Italian philosophers to object theory multiplied. From 1910 to 1915 appeared some articles and reviews by other Italian philosophers such as Michele Losacco, Alberto Ratti, the already mentioned Aliotta and Gaetano Capone-Braga. We said, at the beginning, that Meinong claimed to have established relationships with Italian scholars and not to have failed to mention them more than once; however, the only reference to an Italian author that seems to have some value appears in a footnote of the “Selbstdarstellung”,51 in which an article of Michele Losacco is cited, “La teoria degli obbietti e il razionalismo [The theory of objects and rationalism]”. The article had originally appeared in La Cultura Filosofica, in a moment in which – as the author himself observes – “the name of Meinong is not unknown in Italy to philosophy scholars.”52 Losacco had sent a copy of it to Meinong,53 who greatly appreciated it and sent to the Italian scholar a volume of Über Annahmen (1910) – subsequently reviewed by Losacco54 –, inviting him to continue the study of 48

49 50 51 52 53 54

Meinong to Enriques, Graz, 19.XII.1911 (Meinong-Nachlaß, LVII/11 1911): “[...] so befinde ich mich nach im Ganzen drei oder vier Anfragen an verschiedene Mitglieder der Kongressleitung immer noch in der Lage, weder auch nur einen einzigen Reindruck meiner Arbeit in Händen zu haben, noch auch nur das Geringste darüber zu wissen, ob und wann ich in den Besitz von Abdrücken gelangen werde und auf wie viele ich rechnen kann. Ich glaube nicht, dass mir vorher schon einmal Aehnliches begegnet ist.” Cf. Enriques to Meinong, Bologna, undated (Meinong-Nachlaß, XXXVIII/1483). Cf. Meinong (1912). Cf. Meinong (1921), GA VII, p. 14, fn. 1. Losacco (1910), p. 164, and (1911a), p. 67. Cf. Losacco to Meinong, Pistoia, 2.IX.1910 (Meinong-Nachlaß, IL/3860). Cf. Losacco (1911b).

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his (Meinong’s) works. Later on Losacco revised this article, and to this end he asked Meinong to send him a copy of Über die Erfahrungsgrundlagen unseres Wissens, which he had not been able to consult previously.55 Meinong agreed to the request; on 13th April 1911 Losacco sent Meinong a copy of his volume Razionalismo e misticismo [Rationalism and mysticism]56, a collection of essays on contemporary gnoseology (on the relationship between will and knowledge, on the concept of truth, etc.), including also that on object theory. Referring above all to Über sie Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften and to “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, Losacco illustrates the outlines of the object theory (the Meinongian classification of objects, the principle of independence, the concept of objects of higher order and that of objective), of which he points out – following Hans Pichler57 – the analogies with Christian Wolff’s ontology. He reports and agrees with the reasons that Meinong adduces in support of the new discipline, which he distinguishes both from psychology and from logic and metaphysics; but he criticizes the excessive extension of object theory, which would lead it to invade the fields of mathematics, mechanics, metaphysics, etc., and the merely negative conception of the a priori as independence from the existence.58 Aliotta was much more critical. As we have seen, he had already dealt with Meinong’s psychology, and now he specifically tackled object theory in an essay included in the volume La reazione idealistica contro la scienza [The idealistic reaction against science], which marked his passage from psychology to philosophy.59 According to him, object theory is

55 56

57 58 59

Cf. Losacco to Meinong, Pistoia, 13.X.1910 (Meinong-Nachlaß, IL/3855). Cf. Losacco to Meinong, Pistoia, 13.IV.1911 (Meinong-Nachlaß, IL/3857). Three years later, after a brief letter exchange between Losacco and Meinong on the theme of assumptions (cf. Losacco to Meinong, Pistoia, 28.V.1913, in Meinong-Nachlaß IL/3860a and IL/3861), Losacco published an article on Über Annahmen (cf. Losacco 1914). Cf. Pichler (1910). Cf. Losacco (1910). These criticisms are moderated in the later revision (cf. 1911a, pp. 96-97). Cf. Sava (2000), p. 67.

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– against Meinong’s claims60 – “the science of the Sosein”,61 that disregards the Dasein. Therefore, it distinguishes itself from the empirical sciences and, inasmuch it deals with ideal objects, constitutes “a vigorous defence of rational knowledge against the intemperance of psycologism and empiriocriticism.”62 Among its specific objects object theory includes sensation objects – Aliotta writes “sensation contents” (contenuti sensoriali) – and the so-called impossible objects. Actually, thought can only ascertain a contradiction, which is not always evident but emerges from the relations among properties; here however the thought’s activity ends, it cannot go on to build impossible objects.63 As regards sensation objects, Aliotta ascribes them without any doubt to physics; according to him, object theory sets itself against phenomenism, distinguishing the felt from feeling, i.e. the content from the act, but it confuses the subject of the science with the laws and the explanatory concepts of a given phenomenon which it elaborates. At this point, after having eliminated also sensation 60

61 62 63

Cf. Meinong (1904b), pp. 519-520 [(1960), pp. 108-109]: “Such an omission can be met simply by the stipulation that the theory of Objects concern itself with the given, without paying any attention to its being (Sein), and that it consider only the knowledge of its Sosein. Yet, something which might give us pause in connection with this definition is already intimately tied up with the theory of Objects. If the theory of Objects chose to make one of its fundamental principles that of indifference to being, then it would have to renounce all claims to be a science, and even the knowledge of Sosein would thereby be excluded. As we know, it is completely unnecessary that the Object of knowledge should have being. However, all knowledge must have an Objective which has being; and if the theory of Objects concerns itself with a Sosein which did not have being itself, then, provided that we ignore the exceptional situations to be passed over here, it no longer has any claim to be a theory. Of course, the fundamental principle could always be formulated as follows: the theory of Objects neglects being only in the case of its Objects, but not, however, in the case of (certain) Objectives. But why then the absence of uniformity? Moreover, or perhaps first of all: whether this or that Object is absurd by nature, whether it subsists or could equally well exist – these are questions which are actually of interest to the theory of Objects and which are ultimately questions about being. In brief, therefore: even the restriction to Sosein probably cannot be brought into harmony with the essential nature of the theory of Objects.” Aliotta (1912), p. 142. Aliotta (1912), p. 141. Cf. Aliotta (1912), p. 152.

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objects from object theory, Aliotta can propose his reading of the latter as a “science of the unreal, of the non-existent”: Meinong, while fighting phenomenism, falls into the same error, by identifying the real with the given, and by setting all that is conceived, all relations that are thought, in the field of the unreal. But if we remove from the existent the whole network of relations, what remains if not an incoherent chaos of disconnected facts? Taking his doctrine to its ultimate conclusions, Meinong should deduce that the concept, inasmuch as it goes always beyond intuition, never gives anything real. And what remains then of the science of nature? This latter is possible insofar as one supposes that reality has an ideal structure, that the objectives of our mind are not bare logical fictions, but correspond to real relations.64 From this Aliotta concludes that the separation of the knowledge of the existent from the knowledge of the non-existent leads nowhere; rather, the ideal world makes the given intelligible, raising it to a higher degree of reality. Aliotta’s criticism contains a misunderstanding of the original intentions of object theory: what Meinong calls “the given” (das Gegebene) is not at all only the real but all that can be apprehended; in this sense, given-ness is taken as a property more general than being65 and the given extends to include even the absurd.66 As regards the relationship between what exists and what does not, Meinong does not intend to keep them separate, nor does he intend to construct a theory of the mere nonexistent, but rather he tries to show that, if we want to explain the totality of the world, then we must also take into consideration the non-existent and the connections between existent and non-existent. Passing over Ratti’s merely descriptive review,67 we shall proceed to deal with the ample study, still interesting, by Capone-Braga, “La teoria degli oggetti e l’ontologia [The theory of objects and ontology]”, which 64 65 66 67

Aliotta (1912), p. 157-158. Cf. Meinong (1904b), p. 500 [(1960), p. 92]. Cf. Meinong (1904b), p. 519 [(1960), p. 108]. Cf. Ratti (1913).

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was the crowning moment of the meeting between Italian philosophy and object theory while Meinong was still alive. Capone-Braga reconstructs the phases in the development of object theory from the essay on objects of higher order of 1899 to that of 1904, passing through the article on geometry of colours of 1903; he also examines the contributions of Rudolf Ameseder, Ernst Mally and Wilhelm M. Frankl, and he compares object theory with Husserl’s pure logic and Schuppe and Rehmke’s philosophy of immanence. At the end of his reconstruction, after presenting ideal objects and the concept of Außersein, Capone-Braga writes: As we can see, Meinong’s object is therefore not the real object existing in space and time but the object of thought, which is beyond being and non-being and receives the determinations of being and nonbeing only when it becomes a part of a proposition (objective). This being so, the object is not something perceptible with the senses, but it can be apprehended only through the intellect, hence a priori. The a priori knowledge and method is therefore the life and soul of the theory of objects.68 He recognizes the central value of the notion of a priori in Meinong, which he does not interpret as Losacco does in a solely negative sense, that is as “independent from experience”, or “free from experience” (erfahrungsfrei), but also positively: knowledge is called a priori if it “is objectively founded, it is necessary, evident, certain and independent from experience.”69 Of the positive characteristics, the most important are the first two, which are based on the nature or the so-being of the object: our knowledge consists of objectives, and an objective is the ground, when another objective is its consequence; if then this consequence is necessary, then the objective is called necessary. “All that is rational has therefore an objective as its ground.”70 Certainty and evidence are also essential to the a priori, but they are not peculiar to it, inasmuch as they also belong to inner perception. The aprioristic method is therefore essential for object theory, which aims to be a fundamental science, the basis of the 68 69 70

Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 228. Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 229. Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 230.

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other individual sciences, and it is therefore – according to a clearly platonic reading – a “science of ideas” and of their relations, which “offer themselves as objects to the mind.”71 According to this interpretation, object theory seems to Capone-Braga “acceptable and worthy of all possible study, except in two points”: one cannot accept that the object is beyond being and non-being, because an object has always to be in a certain way, and then “also the round square is in a certain way, that is, in the ideal way;”72 secondly, one cannot accept Meinong’s pertinacity in separating object theory and logic, since “logic, when it is not understood as formal logic or rather as the study of the conditions of thought, is especially a doctrine of concepts and of relations among concepts.”73 And since object theory is a science of ideas, that is, of concepts considered in their objective moment, it is similar to logic considered as the theory of the ideal being (ontology). In the post-war period, Italian philosophers’ interest in Meinong’s thought weakened considerably. The war – as noted above – had severed relations between intellectuals. A confirmation of this, which well reflects the general cultural climate, is offered by Meinong at the end of his “Selbstdarstellung”, where he quotes part of a circular letter printed in the Geologische Zentralblatt, which the Belgian geological society addressed to geologists in the Entente and neutral nations, inviting them to exclude 71 72

73

Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 312. Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 314. Later on Capone-Braga writes: “In the world of the purely thinkable, on which the theory of objects is founded, one cannot distinguish the object from the concept or idea, for the simple reason that, for the object to become part of this world, it must always be considered as an idea. [...] Having established this, that is having identified the object with the logical concept, one sees that the difficulty which Meinong mentions no longer has any sense. The round square for example has only an ideal objective existence, it is not something real, existing in space and time, and hence it is neither square nor round in the sense in which a chalk square or a really existing wooden square is square. The object ‘round square’ has only the property of being square and round: it is in short an idea that has the characteristics of squareness and roundness. But then the ‘round square’ object no longer differs from the logical concept of ‘round square’. Not even this latter in fact is square and round in the sense in which a wooden square is round; it only has the characteristics of squareness and roundness like the ‘round square’ object” (p. 316). Capone-Braga (1914-1915), p. 315.

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German researchers from the scientific community.74 On the other hand, one should not forget that Meinong himself glorified the “just German cause”75 in his letters from 1914 to 1918 and revealed himself to be an ardent nationalist also in his works published in 1915 and in 1917.76 Another factor to be considered is the rise of idealist philosophy in Italian culture and Universities, with the emergence of the public clash between Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile, which resulted in the marginalization from the Italian philosophical scene of scholars with empirical leanings. Such is the background to Guido De Ruggiero’s extremely negative judgment on object theory, which shows his reluctance to understand a philosopher and thus dissuades others from reading him.77 Also the attention that has been turned to the phenomenological movement of Husserlian origin has not led to an analogous appreciation

74 75 76

77

Cf. Meinong (1921), GA VII, p. 59, fn. 1. Cf. Dölling (1999), pp. 184-185. In Über emotionale Präsentation Meinong (1917, GA III, pp. 295, 315, 337) declares himself proud of the victories won in the field by the Central powers. Cf. also Meinong (1915), GA VI, p. XXI: “große Kulturvölker haben sich, vielleicht zum ersten Male in der Geschichte, ausdrücklich zu dem Ziele verbunden, ein großes Kulturvolk und zwei Kulturstaaten zu ‘vernichten’. Es ist mir versagt geblieben in diesem gerechtesten aller Verteidigungskämpfe selbst die Waffen zu ergreifen für Volkstum und Vaterland.” La filosofia contemporanea [Contemporary philosophy] by De Ruggiero was first published in 1912 and republished several times subsequently (19202, 19293, etc.); cf. (1912), pp. 50-52, 106 (on object theory), 111-112 (on the psychology of values). It is interesting to read what De Ruggiero understood of Meinong: “Beyond the ‘objective’, that is the object as existent and real, there is the pure object, free from existence. The passage from the former to the latter is the great mystery; but, after nonchalantly skirting the problem, Meinong can conclude that the knowledge of the objective, inasmuch as it is directed to a reality that is given only in empirical experience, is a posteriori; while the knowledge of the object, inasmuch as it is lacking in presuppositions, is a priori. From here Meinong tries to develop a logic of the object which is tightly connected to mathematics, that is another science which has nothing to do with empirical realities. This doctrine, which later on we will examine as professed in England by Russell and in France by Couturat, betrays the anxiety of Meinong and his pupils (e.g. of Höfler) to found a logic independent of psychology, but on a merely psychological basis” (p. 51).

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for Meinong.78 Antonio Banfi refers briefly to Meinong in the Princípi di una teoria della ragione [Principles of a theory of reason] (1926), while Cornelio Fabro treats him more deeply in La fenomenologia della percezione [The phenomenology of perception] (1941);79 otherwise, Meinong is mentioned only in encyclopaedia articles80 and in a brief review of the Meinong-Gedenkschrift by Norberto Bobbio, who substantially judges the line of research started in Graz to be exhausted.81 For a certain period, Meinong’s thought persists in psychology, above all thanks to Benussi, who in the meantime returned to Italy, and Cesare Musatti, who, at the beginning of his scientific activity, acquires from Benussi and shares Meinong’s theories – as he says himself referring to one of his first works, Analisi del concetto di realtà empirica [Analysis of the concept of empirical reality] (1926), which was written in the spirit of the School of Graz and was not really in line with the actualistic climate dominant at that time.82 Not until 1969 do other Italian works on Meinong appear, specifically by Massimo A. Bonfantini and Francesco Sirchia.83 The following year Michele Lenoci publishes an accurate bibliography on Meinong, followed by a monograph on the Austrian philosopher.84 This marks the beginning of a new story, which runs parallel to the renewed and growing international interest in Meinong, a story which is still in progress and that is not yet possible to tell. Since then Meinong has been investigated in different 78

79 80 81 82

83 84

However, after the break with Meinong in 1902, Husserl is scathing about him. For a reconstruction of the controversy between Husserl and Meinong, cf. Schermann (1970), 11-48; cf. also Lindenfeld (1980), pp. 244 ff., according to whom this break weighed heavily in the subsequent indifference for Meinong within the phenomenological movement. Cf. Banfi (1926), pp. 70-71, 315, Fabro (1941/19612), pp. 205-216 and passim. Cf. Calogero (1934), Mathieu (1957), Merlo (1958). Cf. Bobbio (1954). Cf. Musatti (1964), pp. 7-8. This volume contains a reprint of the 1926 book (on which cf. Poli 1999b, pp. 131 ff.) and other articles. Cf. also Musatti (1929), pp. 356 ff., in which object theory and the theory of production of representations, together with the contributions of Ehrenfels and Benussi, is situated in the broader context that led to the development of Gestaltpsychologie. Cf. Bonfantini (1969), Sirchia (1969), pp. 165-188. Cf. Lenoci (1970) and (1972).

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ways and with differing degrees of interest, intensity and detail by Mario Alai, Liliana Albertazzi, Carola Barbero, Stefano Besoli, Andrea Bottani, Guido Bonino, Paolo Bozzi, Roberto Brigati, Serena Cattaruzza, Luigi Dappiano, Michele Di Francesco, Rosaria Egidi, Vincenzo Fano, Maurizio Ferraris, ancora Lenoci, Marina Manotta, Riccardo Martinelli, Enzo Melandri, Francesca Modenato, Francesco Orilia, Roberto Poli, Alessandro Salice, Marco Santambrogio, Andrea Tabarroni, Albano Unia, Alberto Voltolini and myself. I have certainly skipped some names, and I apologize for this. Especially in the last fifteen years important works on Meinong have appeared.85 The increasing interest in Meinong’s philosophy is also testified by the translations of some of his writings,86 as well as by two Congresses: the first, on “Meinong and his School”, was held from the 9th to the 10th December 1994 in Trento and focused not only on Meinong, but also on his pupils and other contemporary philosophers;87 the second, entitled “The prejudice in favour of the real. Alexius Meinong’s object theory between ontology and epistemology”, took place in Urbino ten years later from the 24th to the 27th November 2004, in the centenary of the publication of the Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie.88 From the above it is clear that the texts collected here represent only a part of the investigations and studies on Meinong that are currently being conducted in Italy. Nevertheless, they give a sufficiently varied idea of the different ways of thinking with and on Meinong. At the beginning we have primarily historical-systematic contributions of a phenomenological character. In accordance with his personal reading of Meinong’s texts, Riccardo Martinelli offers a reconstruction of the Meinongian theory of musical objects of higher order in the historical-philosophical context in which it was conceived, relating it with the contemporary concepts of Helmoltz, Mach, Ehrenfels and Stumpf. Francesca Modenato gives the outlines of Meinong’s object theory as a theory of the pure 85 86 87 88

See in particular the monographs by Brigati (1992), Orilia (2002), Manotta (2005) and Modenato (2006). The first is by Enzo Melandri and was published in 1979. Cf. Albertazzi [ed.] (1996). Cf. Barbero & Raspa [eds.] (2005).

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object, separating it from ontology and associating it rather with gnoseology: object theory is not an ontology that also contemplates nonexistent objects, on the contrary it is a general theory of the object of knowledge. Another group of contributors focuses specifically on the field of analytical philosophy. Andrea Bottani deals with incompleteness, distinguishing three types, which he compares both with the Meinongian concept and with other current points of view. This and the preceding contribution show two different approaches to the theme of incomplete objects. Mario Alai investigates the problem of propositions concerning non-existent objects, pointing out shortcomings in the approach to this question by Frege, Russell, and Orilia’s neo-Russellian strategy; in agreement with both Meinong and Husserl, he holds that we do indeed sometimes speak of non-existent objects, but in so doing we neither state nor imply that they are there, we just express true propositions, although their subject lacks reference. Carola Barbero proposes, on the basis of Meinong’s object theory, a realistic theory of the emotions aroused in us by reading literary texts: these are true emotions, distinguished quantitatively, not qualitatively, from those aroused by real objects. Other contributions, which are also located within the field of analytical philosophy, do not deal exclusively with Meinong, but with themes related to Meinongian ones. Thus Alberto Voltolini, discussing the concept of existence as a property, recently proposed by McGinn, recognizes a plurality of existential properties and, at the same time, takes into consideration the Meinongian thesis concerning the different kinds of being. Francesco Orilia, arguing on Bradley’s regress with the aim of defending a conception that admits states of affairs, accepts the regress (adopting an approach called “fact infinitism”) and validates an intuition of Meinong. While Guido Bonino, who deals with Gustav Bergmann’s interpretation of Meinong’s ontology, shows that, according to Bergmann, it admits no facts; and again Bradley’s regress is involved. These are – as I said – different ways of thinking with and on Meinong. Venanzio Raspa Università degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo Bo” [email protected]

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References Albertazzi, Liliana [ed.] (1996), The Philosophy of Alexius Meinong, special issue of Axiomathes, VII, 1-2. Albertazzi, Liliana (1999), “Il laboratorio della filosofia. L’influenza di Meinong nella psicologia italiana del Novecento”, in Russo, Antonio & Gregoretti, Paolo [eds.], Ugo Spirito: filosofo, giurista, economista e la recezione dell’attualismo a Trieste, Atti del Convegno (Trieste, 27-29.XII.1995), Trieste, Edizioni Università di Trieste. Albertazzi, Liliana, Cimino, Guido & Gori-Savellini, Simonetta [eds.] (1999), Francesco De Sarlo e il laboratorio fiorentino di psicologia, Bari, Laterza. Aliotta, Antonio (1905), La misura in psicologia sperimentale, Firenze, Galletti e Cocci. Aliotta, Antonio (1912/1950), “La teoria degli oggetti del Meinong”, in La reazione idealistica contro la scienza, Palermo, Casa editrice «Optima», pp. 372-385; repr. in Pensatori tedeschi della fine dell’Ottocento, Napoli, Libreria Scientifica Editrice, 1950, pp. 141158. Antonelli, Mauro (1994), Die experimentelle Analyse des Bewusstseins bei Vittorio Benussi, Amsterdam/Atlanta (GA), Rodopi. Aster, Ernst von (1907), Review. Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, herausgegeben von A. Meinong, J.A. Barth, Leipzig 1904. X und 634 Seiten, Vierteljahrsschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie und Soziologie, VI, pp. 271-273. Atti del IV Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia (Bologna, 511.IV.1911), 3 vols., Genova, A.F. Formíggini, 1916; repr. Nendeln, Kraus, 1968. Banfi, Antonio (1926), Princípi di una teoria della ragione, Firenze, La Nuova Italia. Barbero, Carola & Raspa, Venanzio [eds.] (2005), Il pregiudizio a favore del reale. La teoria dell’oggetto di Alexius Meinong fra ontologia e epistemologia, special issue of Rivista di Estetica, XLV, n.s. 30, n. 3.

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Bell, David (1999), “The Revolution of Moore and Russell: A Very British Coup?”, in O’Hear, Anthony [ed.], German Philosophy Since Kant, Cambridge/New York/Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, pp. 193-208. Benussi Vittorio (1905a), “La natura delle cosiddette illusioni otticogeometriche”, in De Sanctis [ed.] (1905), pp. 262-267. Benussi Vittorio (1905b), “Un tachiscopio per esperimenti collettivi”, in De Sanctis [ed.] (1905), pp. 267-269. Benussi Vittorio (1905c), “Gli atteggiamenti intellettivi elementari ed i loro oggetti”, in De Sanctis [ed.] (1905), pp. 440-445. Benussi Vittorio (1906), “Die Psychologie in Italien”, Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie, VII, pp. 141-180. Bobbio, Norberto (1954), Review. Meinong-Gedenkschrift, Graz, Styria, Steirische Verlagsanstalt, 1952, pp. 171, Rivista di Filosofia, XLV, pp. 231-233. Bonfantini, Massimo A. (1969), “Meinong e la svolta verso la tematica degli oggetti”, in Aut-Aut, advance offprint; corrected and extended in L’esistenza della realtà, Milano, Bompiani, 1976, pp. 15-56. Bonucci, Alessandro (1907), L’orientazione psicologica dell’etica e della filosofia del diritto, Perugia, V. Bartelli. Brigati, Roberto (1992), Il linguaggio dell’oggettività. Saggio su Meinong, Torino, Thema. Broad, Charlie D. (1913), Review. Über Annahmen. Von A. Meinong. Zweite umgearbeitete Auflage. Published by J.A. Barth. Pp. xvi + 403, Mind, n.s. XXII, pp. 90-102. Calogero, Guido (1934), “Meinong”, in Enciclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, vol. 22, p. 782. Capone-Braga, Gaetano (1913), Review. A. Meinong, Abhandlungen zur Erkenntnistheorie und Gegenstandstheorie, Leipzig, 1913, La Cultura Filosofica, VII, pp. 529-532.

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Capone-Braga, Gaetano (1914), Review. A. Meinong, Abhandlungen zur Psychologie, Leipzig, 1914, La Cultura Filosofica, VIII, pp. 277-278. Capone-Braga, Gaetano (1914-1915), “La teoria degli oggetti e l’ontologia”, La Cultura Filosofica, VIII, 3, pp. 197-231; 4-5, pp. 290-318; IX, 1, pp. 72-85. Chiabra, Giovanni (1905), “Il V° Congresso internazionale di Psicologia”, Rivista filosofica, VII, vol. VIII, 3, pp. 420-431. Couturat, Louis (1904), “IIme Congrès de Philosophie – Genève. II. Logique et Philosophie des Sciences. Séances de section et séances générales”, Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, XII, pp. 1037-1077. Croce, Benedetto (1942), Pagine sparse, vol. I: Letteratura e cultura, Napoli, Ricciardi. Dappiano, Luigi (1994), “L’idealismo di Oxbridge tra Lotze e Meinong. A proposito delle origini della filosofia analitica”, Axiomathes, V, 2-3, pp. 279-304. Dappiano, Luigi (1997), “Cambridge and the Austrian Connection”, in Poli, Roberto [ed.], In itinere. European Cities and the Birth of Modern Scientific Philosophy, Amsterdam, Rodopi (= Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, 54), pp. 99-124. De Ruggiero, Guido (1912), La filosofia contemporanea, Bari, Laterza (19202, 19293). De Sanctis, Sante [ed.] (1905), Atti del V Congresso internazionale di Psicologia, tenuto in Roma dal 26 al 30 aprile 1905 sotto la presidenza del prof. Giuseppe Sergi, pubblicati dal dott. Sante De Sanctis, Roma, Forzani. De Sarlo, Francesco [ed.] (1905), Ricerche di psicologia, vol. I, Firenze, O. Paggi & C. De Sarlo, Francesco (1907), “La fantasia nella psicologia contemporanea”, La Cultura Filosofica, I, 6, pp. 145-150. Dölling, Evelyn (1999), “Wahrheit suchen und Wahrheit bekennen”. Alexius Meinong: Skizze seines Leben, Amsterdam/Atlanta (GA), Rodopi.

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Dürr, Ernst (1906), Review. Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. Herausgegeben von A. Meinong, Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1904, X, 634 S. M. 18, Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, CLXVIII, 1, pp. 14-69. Eliot, Thomas S. (1916/1964), Experience and the Objects of Knowledge in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley, Ph. Diss., Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University, 1916; Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley, London, Faber and Faber, 1964. (F.) (1906), Review. A. Meinong, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. (Collection de onze travaux de Meinong et de ses élèves.) X et 634 pages, Barth, Leipzig 1904, Archives de Psychologie, V, pp. 279-282. Faggi, Adolfo (1912), “Steno Tedeschi”, Rivista di Filosofia, IV, p. 145. Fabro, Cornelio (1941/19612), Fenomenologia della percezione, Milano, Vita e Pensiero (Brescia, Morcelliana, 19612). Findlay, John N. (1952), “The Influence of Meinong in Anglo-Saxon Countries”, in Radaković, Tarouca & Weinhandl [eds.] (1952), pp. 919. Findlay, John N. (19632), Meinong’s Theory of Objects and Values, Oxford, Clarendon Press (19331). Gomperz, Heinrich (1908), Weltanschauungslehre. Ein Versuch die Hauptprobleme der allgemeinen theoretischen Philosophie geschichtlich zu entwickeln und sachlich zu bearbeiten. Zweiter Band: Noologie. Erste Hälfte: Einleitung und Semasiologie, Jena, E. Diederichs. Hicks, George D. (1922), “The Philosophical Researches of Meinong (I.)”, Mind, n.s. XXXI, 121, pp. 1-30. Höfler, Alois (1905), “Sind wir Psychologisten?”, in De Sanctis [ed.] (1905), pp. 322-328. Höfler, Alois (1906), Review. A. Meinong, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. Mit Unterstützung des k.k. Ministeriums für Kultus und Unterricht in Wien. Leipzig, Joh. Ambr. Barth. 1904, X u. 634 S. Mk. 18, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie

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der Sinnesorgane, I. Abt.: Zeitschrift für Psychologie, XLII, pp. 192207. Kindinger, Rudolf [ed.] (1965), Philosophenbriefe. Aus der wissenschaftlichen Korrespondenz von Alexius Meinong, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt. Lenoci, Michele (1970), “Bibliografia degli studi su Alexius Meinong”, Rivista di Filosofia neo-scolastica, LXII, pp. 437-473. Lenoci, Michele (1972), La teoria della conoscenza in Alexius Meinong. Oggetto, giudizio, assunzioni, Milano, Vita e Pensiero. Lindenfeld, David F. (1980), The Transformation of Positivism. Alexius Meinong and European Thought, 1880-1920, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of California Press. Losacco, Michele (1910), “La teoria degli obbietti e il razionalismo”, La Cultura Filosofica, IV, 2, pp. 184-204; extended version in Losacco (1911a), pp. 67-97. Losacco, Michele (1911a), Razionalismo e misticismo. Saggi e profili, Milano, Libreria editrice milanese. Losacco, Michele (1911b), Review. A. Meinong, Über Annahmen, II. Aufl. Leipzig, 1910, La Cultura Filosofica, V, pp. 529-534. Losacco, Michele (1914), “Le assunzioni. A proposito di un libro del Meinong”, Rivista di Filosofia, VI, 1, pp. 56-74. Manotta, Marina (2005), La fondazione dell’oggettività. Studio su Alexius Meinong, Macerata, Quodlibet. Marhaba, Sadi (1981), Lineamenti della psicologia italiana: 1870-1945, Firenze, Giunti-Barbera. Martinak, Eduard (1905), “Das Wesen der Frage. Eine psychologischlogische Untersuchung”, in De Sanctis [ed.] (1905), pp. 332-336. Mathieu, Vittorio (1957), “Meinong, Alexius”, in Enciclopedia filosofica, Venezia/Roma, Istituto per la collaborazione culturale, vol. III, pp. 476-478.

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Mehle, Ana Juvančič (1998), Meinongova knjižnica v Ljubljani = Die Meinong-Bibliothek in Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete. Merlo, Giovanni M. (1958), “A. Meinong”, in Grande dizionario enciclopedico, ed. by G. Trucco, Torino, UTET, 1933 ff.; 2nd edition fully revised and extended, vol. VIII, pp. 535-536. Meinong, Alexius (1879), “Modern Nominalism”, Mind, IV (1879), n. 13, p. 124; repr. in GA VII, pp. 117-118. Meinong, Alexius [ed.] (1904a), Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, mit Unterstützung des k.k. Ministeriums für Kultus und Unterricht in Wien hrsg. von A. Meinong, Leipzig, J.A. Barth. Meinong, Alexius (1904b), “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, in Meinong [ed.] (1904a), pp. 1-50; repr. in GA II, 481-530 [Engl. trans.: Meinong (1960)]. Meinong, Alexius (1906-1907), Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften, in Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, CXXIX, pp. 48-94, 155-207; CXXX, pp. 1-46; Leipzig, Voigtländer, 1907; repr. in GA V, 197-365. Meinong, Alexius (1912), “Für die Psychologie und gegen den Psychologismus in der allgemeinen Werttheorie”, Logos, III, pp. 1-14; and in Atti del IV Congresso Internazionale di Filosofia (Bologna, 511.IV.1911), vol. III, Genova, A.F. Formíggini, 1916, pp. 132-147; repr. in GA III, 267-282. Meinong, Alexius (1915), Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit. Beiträge zur Gegenstandstheorie und Erkenntnistheorie, Leipzig, J.A. Barth; repr. in GA VI, XV-XXII, 1-728, 777-808. Meinong, Alexius (1917), Über emotionale Präsentation, in Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, CLXXXIII, 2. Abh.; Wien, A. Hölder; repr. in GA III, 283-476. Meinong, Alexius (1921), “A. Meinong [Selbstdarstellung]”, in Die deutsche Philosophie der Gegenwart in Selbstdarstellungen, ed. by R.

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Schmidt, Leipzig, Meiner, vol. 1, pp. 91-150; 19232, pp. 101-160; repr. in GA VII, 1-62. Meinong, Alexius (1960), “The Theory of Objects”, transl. by I. Levi, D.B. Terrell, and R.M. Chisholm, in Chisholm, Roderick M. [ed.], Realism and the Background of Phenomenology, Glencoe (Ill.), Free Press, pp. 76-117. Meinong, Alexius (1968-1978), Alexius Meinong Gesamtausgabe, hrsg. von R. Haller und R. Kindinger gemeinsam mit R.M. Chisholm, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz [abbreviated as GA]. Meinong, Alexius (1974), “Meinong’s Life and Work”, in Grossmann, Reinhardt, Meinong, London/Boston, Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 230-236. Meinong-Nachlaß, Universitätsbibliothek Graz. Modenato, Francesca (2006), La conoscenza e l’oggetto in Alexius Meinong, Padova, Il Poligrafo. Moore, George E. (1909/1910), “The Subject-Matter of Psychology”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, X, pp. 36-62. Musatti, Cesare L. (1926), Analisi del concetto di realtà empirica, Città di Castello, Il Solco; repr. in Musatti (1964), pp. 13-175. Musatti, Cesare L. (1929), “La psicologia della forma”, Rivista di Filosofia, XIX, 4, pp. 329-357; repr. in Mucciarelli, Giuseppe [ed.], La psicologia italiana. Fonti e documenti, vol. 2: La crisi, 1918-1945, Bologna, Pitagora, 1984, pp. 353-382. Musatti, Cesare L. (1951), “La psicologia sperimentale nell’opera di Antonio Aliotta”, in C. Carbonara, P. Filiasi Carcano, R. Lazzarini, G. Martano, C. Musatti, N. Petruzzellis, M.F. Sciacca, L. Stefanini, La psicologia sperimentale nell’opera di Antonio Aliotta, Napoli, Libreria scientifica Editrice, pp. 51-62. Musatti, Cesare L. (1964), Condizioni dell’esperienza e fondazione della psicologia, Firenze, Editrice Universitaria. Orestano, Francesco (1907), I valori umani, Milano/Torino/Roma, Bocca.

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Orilia, Francesco (2002), Ulisse, il quadrato rotondo e l’attuale re di Francia, Pisa, ETS (20052). Pichler, Hans (1910), Über Christian Wolffs Ontologie, Leipzig, Dürr. Poggi, Stefano (1985), “Firenze, Trieste e gli studi di psicologia in Italia 1900-1925”, in Pertici, Roberto [ed.], Intellettuali di frontiera. Triestini a Firenze (1900-1950), Atti del Convegno (Firenze, 1820.III.1983), 2 vols., Firenze, Olschki, vol. I, pp. 139-165. Poli, Roberto (1999a), “Antonio Aliotta e la misura dei fenomeni psichici”, in Albertazzi, Cimino & Gori-Savellini [eds.] (1999), pp. 369392. Poli, Roberto (1999b), “The Concept of Empirical Reality between Logic and Psychology: The Proposals of the Young Musatti”, Axiomathes, X, 1-3, pp. 126-162. Radaković, Konstantin, Amadeo Silva Tarouca & Ferdinand Weinhandl [eds.] (1952), Meinong-Gedenkschrift, Graz, Styria. Ratti, Alberto (1913), Review. A. Meinong. Contributi alla teoria della conoscenza e alla teoria degli oggetti. – Abhandlungen zur Erkenntnistheorie und Gegenstandstheorie. – Hrsg. und mit Zusätzen versehen von seinen Schülern. (Der gesammelten Abhandlungen). – (3 Volumi) – Volume secondo in-8 pag. XII-554. Leipzig, Barth 1913, 14 Mk., Rivista di filosofia neo-scolastica, V, pp. 645-647. Russell, Bertrand (1904), “Meinong’s Theory of Complexes and Assumptions”, Mind, n.s. XIII, pp. 204-219, 336-354, 509-524; repr. in Russell (1973), pp. 21-76, and (1994), pp. 431-474. Russell, Bertrand (1905a), “On Denoting”, Mind, n.s. XIV, pp. 479-493; repr. in Russell (1973), pp. 103-119, and (1994), pp. 414-427. Russell, Bertrand (1905b), Review. Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. Mit Unterstützung des k.k. Ministeriums für Kultus und Unterricht in Wien herausgegeben von A. Meinong, Leipzig, Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth. 1904. Pp. xi, 634, Mind, n.s. XIV, pp. 530-538; repr. in Russell (1973), pp. 77-88, and (1994), pp. 595-604.

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Russell, Bertrand (1973), Essays in Analysis, ed. by D. Lackey, London, Allen and Unwin. Russell, Bertrand (1994), Foundations of Logic: 1903-05, ed. by A. Urquhart with the assistance of A.C. Lewis, London/New York, Routledge (= The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. 4). Sava, Gabriella (2000), La psicologia filosofica in Italia. Studi su Francesco De Sarlo, Antonio Aliotta, Eugenio Rignano, Galatina, Congedo. Schermann, Hans (1970), Meinong und Husserl. Eine vergleichende Studie, Diss., Université Catholique de Louvain. Simons, Peter M. (1986), “The Anglo-Austrian Analytic Axis”, in Nyíri, Janos C. [ed.], Von Bolzano zu Wittgenstein. Zur Tradition der österreichischen Philosophie – From Bolzano to Wittgenstein. The Tradition of Austrian Philosophy, Wien, Hölder/Pichler/Tempsky, pp. 98107; repr. in Philosophy and Logic in Central Europe from Bolzano to Tarski, Dordrecht/Boston/London, Kluwer, 1992, pp. 143-158. Stucchi, Natale (1996), “Seeing and Thinking: Vittorio Benussi and the Graz School”, Axiomathes, VII, 1-2, pp. 137-172. Tedeschi, Steno (1908), “Un’equivalente aprioristica della metafisica (la teoria degli oggetti)”, Rivista filosofica, X, 11.3, pp. 289-303; repr. in Tedeschi (1913), pp. 31-43. Tedeschi, Steno (1910), “Sulla funzione conoscitiva del giudizio”, La Cultura Filosofica, IV, pp. 32-39; repr. in Tedeschi (1913), pp. 76-85. Tedeschi, Steno (1912), “Intorno agli oggetti del pensiero”, Rivista di Filosofia, IV, pp. 107-118; repr. in Tedeschi (1913), pp. 98-112. Tedeschi, Steno (1913), Studii filosofici ed altri scritti, a cura della sorella R. Marcovig-Tedeschi e degli amici A. Gentile e G. Quarantotto, con prefazione di A. Faggi, Genova, Formíggini. Ueberweg, Friedrich (19029), Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Th. 4, 9., mit e. Philosophen- u. Litteratoren-Reg. vers. Aufl. hrsg. von M. Heinze, Berlin, E.S. Mittler & Sohn.

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Ueberweg, Friedrich (192312), Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, Vierter Teil: Die deutsche Philosophie des XIX. Jahrhunderts und der Gegenwart, Zwölfte, mit einem Philosophen-Register vers. Aufl., völlig neubearb. von T.K. Oesterreich, Berlin, E.S. Mittler & Sohn. Urban, Wilbur M. (1906), Review. Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. Mit Unterstützung des k.k. Ministeriums für Kultus und Unterricht in Wien, herausgegeben von A. Meinong. Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth, Leipzig, 1904. – pp. xi, 634, The Philosophical Review, XV, 1, pp. 65-75. Vailati, Giovanni (1897a), Sull’importanza delle ricerche relative alla Storia delle Scienze. (Prolusione a un corso sulla Storia della Meccanica, letta il 4 dicembre 1896 nell’Università di Torino), Torino, Roux Frassati; repr. in Vailati (1987), II, pp. 3-17. Vailati, Giovanni (1897b), “Il principio dei lavori virtuali da Aristotele a Erone d’Alessandria”, in Atti della R. Accademia delle Scienze di Torino, vol. 32, Torino, C. Clausen; repr. in Vailati (1987), II, pp. 113128. Vailati, Giovanni (1903), “La teoria aristotelica della definizione”, Rivista di filosofia e scienze affini, V, vol. II, 5-6, pp. 332-347; repr. in Vailati (1987), I, pp. 317-328. Vailati, Giovanni (1905), Review. A. Meinong, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, Leipzig, Barth, 1904 [Ricerche sulla teoria dell’oggetto e la psicologia], Rivista di psicologia applicata alla pedagogia ed alla psicopedagogia, I, 5, p. 299; repr. in Vailati (1987), I, p. 345. Vailati, Giovanni (1971), Epistolario. 1891-1909, ed. by G. Lanaro, introduction by M. Dal Pra, Torino, Einaudi. Vailati, Giovanni (1987), Scritti, ed. by M. Quaranta, 3 vols., Sala Bolognese, A. Forni. Varisco, Bernardino (1907), Review. A. Meinong, Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften; in 8° di pp. VIII159 – Lipsia, R. Voigtländer, ed.; 1907, Rivista filosofica, X, pp. 228238.

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Villa, Guido (19112), La no/Torino/Roma, Bocca.

psicologia

contemporanea,

Mila-

Watt, Henry J. (1906), Review. A. Meinong, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie. XI und 634 S. Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1904, M. 18, Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie, VII, pp. 259-265.

MEINONG AND MUSIC ON MUSICAL OBJECTS OF HIGHER ORDER Riccardo Martinelli

Summary Music represents a crucial issue in nineteenth-century philosophy and science. Scholars generally possessed a good musical competence and contributed to the explanation of sound perception and aesthetic enjoyment in music. Reflexions on musical psychology, in turn, influenced general theories of mind, sometimes in an impressive way. Meinong plays a remarkable role within this context. Together with Mach, Ehrenfels and Stumpf, Meinong contributed to overtake Helmholtz’ physical-physiological theory, supporting a more comprehensive approach. He was repeatedly concerned with problems such as tonal fusion, tone quality (Klangfarbe) and melodic perception. Although Meinong did not develop musical problems systematically, he assumed a quite original and interesting position. His ideas have been developed by some of his followers in the School of Graz.

1. Music and Psychology: Meinong and His Time In the second half of the nineteenth century, new energies applied to the problem of the foundation of sound perception and musical pleasure gave a decisive acceleration to the acquisition of knowledge in this field. Many factors concurred to favour this evolution. First of all, progress in physiology and experimental psychology made it possible to approach the many questions of the psychology of sound on radically innovative bases. Moreover, the generally good and sometimes excellent musical preparation of most psychologists favoured a high-level and in-depth debate on the theme of human sound perception. All these factors must be read

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against the backdrop of the musical civilisation evolving at that time, which saw the peak of tonal system development as well as its progressive crisis, perceivable both in artistic practice and theory. The progressive diffusion of this trend, partly in keeping with positivist thought, freed the potentials of many disciplines: musical aesthetics, “Musikwissenschaft” (musicology) and ethnomusicology all made substantial advancements at that time. Mostly impressive, however, is the contribution to this topic of a science then only recently established, namely psychology. Important results were obtained in a field where, for many reasons, it had not been possible to attain the type of analytic clarification that Newton’s experience with the prism inaugurated in the field of optics. Overcoming this delay, in turn, enabled unexpected developments in the field of the psychology of perception, which could count on valuable comparisons between visual and auditive phenomena. For all these reasons, musical psychology and Tonpsychologie that mainly developed in Germanspeaking countries and especially within the Austrian area, constantly accompanied the development of scientific psychology, at least until the outbreak of World War I. Their problems constituted an important test for the general doctrines of sensibility, following their developments and in some cases – see the origin of the psychological concept of Gestalt – significantly contributing to their emergence, even more than commonly admitted. The reciprocal influences between the psychology of musical hearing and general theories of perception allow us to underline frequent convergence in the evolution of the two levels. Our attention is here particularly directed at studying the role of Alexius Meinong. Together with some of the leading scholars of the School of Graz, Meinong was musically competent and deeply interested in musical problems. Although apparently marginal, his contribution in this context was for many reasons crucial. In order to appreciate Meinong’s original position, however, a brief account of the problematic context is highly recommended. This is only partly due to the unavoidable technical aspects of any discussion concerning musical problems. Generally speaking, scholars seem to have paid too little attention to the process of evolution in this matter. One must bear in mind that the rise of the problem of melodic perception, a seminal issue e.g. in the evolution of the Gestalt

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approach to psychology, was by no means the result of a series of individual, more or less casual insights: in the late eighteenth Century, psychology of music coherently developed away from the presuppositions of Helmholtz’s doctrine, founded on the physical-physiological analysis of sounds. The search for a more comprehensive theory was in a certain sense stimulated by the complexity of the matter itself. This development was attained at the end of a lengthy, but clearly defined process in which a major role is played by the reflections of Mach, Ehrenfels and Stumpf. Meinong’s opinions on this theme must be read against the background of the complex evolution in this subject matter.

2. Helmholtz and the Foundation of a Musical Science The publication of Hermann von Helmholtz’s Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen, als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik (1863) surely represents a cornerstone in the history of understanding of the foundations of music. The very title expresses the programme behind the author’s work: an all-around study of sound phenomenon, from auditive physiology to the threshold of musical aesthetics. With exceptional interdisciplinary competence, Helmholtz amalgamates the near totality of knowledge then available into a powerful synthesis, containing truly decisive integrations and innovations. The point of departure consists in a careful consideration of the fundamental phenomena of acoustic physics. For Helmholtz, all the phenomenological features of sounds – traditionally identified as pitch, intensity and tone quality – can be explained on the basis of the physical features of sound waves. As long known to experts, pitch and intensity correspond to wave frequency and breadth. As for the problem of tone quality (Klangfarbe), however, a complete and satisfactory examination had not yet been conducted. It is precisely on this point that Helmholtz’s theory proves particularly incisive and innovative: the tone quality of a natural sound, like that of any musical instrument or of the human voice, is not a final and irreducible feature of sound, but is instead a function of the distribution and intensity of diverse

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upper partial tones (harmonische Obertöne). Though not usually perceived directly, they always accompany the fundamental sound, contributing to constructing the characteristic tone quality impression. The analysis of the overall sound within its partial components, however, is not only performed mathematically, as established in Ohm’s law of acoustics: by using the famous resonators – an experimental device which exploits the phenomenon of sympathetic resonance – Helmholtz shows the objective existence of higher harmonics from the physical viewpoint. He is fully aware of the historic importance of the scientific principle which is thus affirmed: Hence every individual partial tone exists in the compound musical tone produced by a single musical instrument, just as truly, and in the same sense, as the different colours of the rainbow exist in the white light proceeding from the sun or any other luminous body.1 Acoustics thus finally rises to a scientific dignity comparable to that of optics: Helmholtz makes his authoritative contribution to both disciplines, successfully crowning one of the most ambitious scientific programmes of the time. In any event, physical acoustics constitutes only the first step in the doctrine of tone sensations. Helmholtz also devotes congruous attention to its psychological aspect, where the results previously obtained appear fully confirmed. With an effort of conscious attention, assisted by exercise, anyone is capable of hearing (heraushören) the higher harmonics within a sound that initially appears unitary, for example that of a certain note on the piano. This convergence between the results of physicalmathematical investigation and those deriving from subjective psychological analysis is not the fruit of chance. The human ear usually perceives the overall sound as an indistinct unity because there is no biological interest that induces it to distinguish the individual higher harmonics. On the contrary, the organism needs to identify the source of sound with precision, recognising it by its characteristic tone quality: for Helmholtz, 1

Helmholtz (1888), p. 48. Vogel (1994, pp. 274-275) quotes a letter of 1857 to Emil Du-Bois Reymond, which shows how Helmholtz was perfectly aware of the great historic importance of his discoveries.

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the influence of past experience makes a certain pattern of higher harmonics assume the value of a sign which represents the sound of the corresponding tone quality. And yet, tone sensations must effectively contain, at least implicitly, all the components: acquiring the subjective faculty of tonal analysis would otherwise prove a totally unexplainable capacity. Helmholtz then moves on to theorise two distinct levels in sound reception: ordinary or analytic perception, and synthetic perception in which the subject becomes aware of all the petites perceptions which make up the impression and normally remain below the threshold of awareness.2 This sort of “musical unconsciousness” – already intuited by Leibniz – for Helmholtz takes on a precise connotation of a physiological nature. The capacity to perform the psychological analysis of sounds is indeed explained simply and rationally if we assume that the ear works in exactly the same manner as one of the resonators Helmholtz built to perform the physical analysis of sounds. Physiological investigation supports this hypothesis: the inner ear presents structures (especially the fibres of the membrana basilaris) that are apt to resound with the vibrations transmitted by the outer ear. In the Helmholtz hypothesis, each fibre of different length is activated by a single corresponding frequency, in such manner that there is a punctual correspondence between the components of the complex wave and its physiological correlate. Helmholtz himself proposes a comparison between the auditive apparatus as such and the chords of a piano which, once the dampers are raised, begin to vibrate by sympathetic resonance: Now suppose we were able to connect every string of a piano with a nervous fibre in such a manner that this fibre would be excited and experience a sensation every time the string vibrated. Then every musical tone which impinged on the instrument would excite, as we know to be really the case in the ear, a series of sensations corre2

Helmholtz (1888), p. 62. This formulation appears as of the 4th edition of the work (Helmholtz 1877, p. 106). The preceding editions instead state that while partial tones are a phenomenon pertinent to “pure sensation (reine Empfindung),” their unification in a single sound with its particular tone quality (Zusammenfassung [...] zu einem Klange) is a process that comes under the domain “of perceptions (Wahrnehmungen).” Helmholtz (1865), p. 101.

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sponding to the pendular vibrations into which the original motion of the air had to be resolved. By this means, then, the existence of each partial tone would be exactly so perceived, as it really is perceived by the ear.3 On this basis, Helmholtz extends to acoustics the principle of specific sense energies, stated in general form by Johannes Müller and already successfully applied by Helmholtz to optics, directly following the studies of Thomas Young.4 Müller had shown how the qualitative differences between sensations does not depend on the qualitative nature of stimuli but, in reality, are conditioned by the specific properties of the nervous system. The optic nerve, always and unfailingly, transmits light sensations, even when distal stimulation is of a chemical or mechanical nature, for example obtained by exerting pressure on the eyeballs with the thumbs. Helmholtz can now radicalise this principle, reaching the most extreme and important consequences. Also the qualitative differences within every single sense depend exclusively on the individual groups of fibres (retinal or basilar membrane) concerned by stimulation. This is the triumph of the scientific principle of analysis: the qualitative differences between sounds can be completely explained with differences in the basilar membrane excited each time. With his Lehre von den Tonempfindungen, Helmholtz thus realises a project which concerns the problem of sensitivity in its entirety: the success of the programme of rendering the quality of sound measurable represents yet another confirmation of the general approach’s validity. Thus nothing makes the nature of colours and sounds more mysterious than that of simple impulses of a motory nature: The two hypotheses just explained really reduce the processes in the nerves of man’s two principal senses, notwithstanding their appar3

4

Helmholtz (1888), p. 129. Ewald Hering, Helmholtz’s great adversary, employs the same image to illustrate the process of perception, though also referring to the “instrument’s overall sympathetic resonance,” in view of showing the shortcomings of the law of specific energies. Hering (1874), p. 103. On the law of specific energies in J. Müller and Helmholtz, see Kremer (1994), p. 238.

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ently involved qualitative differences of sensations, to the same simple scheme with which we are familiar in the nerves of motion.5 This aspect undoubtedly constitutes the theoretic nucleus supporting Helmholtz’s doctrine, indeed so much that the remaining questions proceed from the illustrated concept almost like simple corollaries. The consonance or dissonance of several sounds (in addition to the so-called beats produced by simultaneous sounds) depends on the number of higher harmonics that the different notes have in common, a characteristic Helmholtz calls tonal relationship (Verwandtschaft).6 The repetition of a melody one octave higher, for example, really adds no new tonal element, because the sound of the octave is already contained in the original sound as higher harmonic: for this reason, the octave was recognised first and universally as consonant interval. It would be mistaken, however, to underline only the aspects of Lehre that support a rigidly naturalistic interpretation of the phenomenon of music. Helmholtz clearly recognises how, on the basis of the physicalphysiological mechanisms he systematically investigated, considerable differences in styles and musical taste are conceivable. These differences originate from the aesthetic and psychological element of ordinary use which, on a historical level, becomes manifest in an evolution of forms which occurs in three phases represented by homophonic, polyphonic and harmonic music.7 The very principle of tonality characteristic of this final phase is e.g. understood as an aesthetic choice rather than as a natural necessity.8 Yet, it is with some satisfaction that Helmholtz notes how his study leads to a confirmation, on the scientific level, of the results already obtained “in the field” by the greatest composers, thus configuring science allied with musical classicism.

5 6 7

8

Helmholtz (1888), p. 149. Helmholtz (1888), pp. 253 ff. Helmholtz (1888), p. 236. The aesthetic pleasure of music derives from performing natural operations of “unconscious inference,” analogous to those performed in everyday perceptive experience. See Hatfield (1994), pp. 533-534. Helmholtz (1888), p. 236. On the limits of a strictly naturalistic interpretation of Helmholtz’s doctrine, see Serravezza (1989), pp. 355 ff.

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3. Critical Developments: Ernst Mach Twenty-five-year-old Ernst Mach is without a doubt one of the first to fully grasp the scientific importance of Helmholtz’s Lehre. Immediately following this work’s first appearance, an essay he publishes advances several significant critical observations destined to become a chapter of his most fortunate work, The Analysis of Sensations, the first edition of which dates 1886.9 The first aspect of Mach’s criticism deals with a point of fundamental importance: the question of specific sense energies. For Mach, the admission of a single specific energy for each tone sensation of a different pitch, not only contrasts with the epistemological principle of economy of thought, but also risks making the unity of sound phenomenon substantially incomprehensible. He instead feels it necessary and sufficient to imagine only two specific energies, which he terms dull and bright (Dumpf and Hell), which are contained in different proportion in sounds of different pitch. The model is that of the constant passage between two colours – for example, yellow and red – through all the possible shades of orange. The two energies act analogously to the two fundamental colours, blending and producing the entire gamut of shades of sound from low-pitched to high-pitched, and might find physiological foundation in the different polarity (positive or negative) of the impulses transmitted by each nervous fibre. The use of the theory of colours can be useful to understand one of the reasons of Mach’s critical clarification: the specific energies to which Helmholtz refers are very numerous (one for each distinguishable sound frequency), compared to only three required by the theory of vision. Though the general approach of Helmholtz’s auditive Resonanztheorie can be maintained, it nevertheless must be redimensioned as indicated. Mach then comes to the same conclusions but starting from another series of reasons tied to the psychological analysis of the series of notes. Analysis which shows that the mind does not simply grasp sounds, but 9

The two most important essays which testify to the elaboration prior to The Analysis of Sensations are Mach (1863) and (1885); see also Mach (1866). On the importance of Helmholtz’s Lehre in Mach’s formation, see Swoboda (1988), p. 368.

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immediately connects them in a series whose most extreme elements have a certain resemblance. By reason of this circumstance, to which Helmholtz had not devoted enough attention, [...] we are obliged to assume in all tone-sensations common component parts. Consequently, there cannot be as many specific energies as there are distinguishable tones.10 It is instead the different proportion of the two sense energies in each sound that guarantees the immediate ordering of sounds in the series, without the mediation of calculation. This enables Mach to focus in on a second argument of great historical importance because it provides Ehrenfels the idea for elaborating the concept of Gestaltqualität. Despite its abundance of means (the specific energies), Mach feels Helmholtz’s theory unable to account for a psychologically elementary phenomenon like musical transport: If two series of tones be begun at two different points of the scale, but be made to maintain throughout the same ratios of vibrations, we recognize in both the same melody, by a mere act of sensation, just as readily and immediately as we recognize in two geometrically similar figures, similarly situated, the same form. Like melodies, differently situated on the scale, may be termed tonal constructions of like tonal form [gleiche Tongestalt], or they may be termed similar tonal constructs.11 First of all, Mach brings the problem back to its simplest case in point, considering musical intervals, successions formed by only two notes. Intervals are the most elementary Tongestalten: for Mach, each of them evokes a “characteristic sensation” (charakteristische Empfindung) which, independently of the emotionally pleasant or unpleasant tonecolour, enables its immediate recognition. According to Helmholtz’s doctrine of tonal relationship, intervals are primarily characterised by the presence (and importance) of the higher harmonics shared by the two notes; this, however, is insufficient to explain the “characteristic sensa10 11

Mach (1959), p. 276. Mach (1959), p. 285; (1906), p. 252.

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tion.” Indeed, the higher harmonic shared by two notes of a certain interval, for example the interval C-E, is different from the one shared by the interval F-A, though both cases deal with equal intervals of a major third. In other words, Helmholtz’s theory can not explain how it is possible to recognise that two major thirds, formed by different notes on the scale, are equal intervals. More explicitly, Mach adds that the shared higher harmonic exists solely for the understanding, being the result of a purely physical and intellectual analysis, and has nothing to do with sensation. [...] On the assumption that there exists for every distinguishable rate of vibration an appropriate specific energy, we are obliged, more than on any other theory, to ask where is the common component of sensation hidden that characterizes every third combination?12 This component must instead be sought in certain additional sensations (Zusatzempfindungen): sensations of a second order, so to speak, which indirectly correspond to each interval. Mach is, without a doubt, the first to realise the psychological importance of the phenomenon of transport. It is psychological observation, and not auditive physiology, to reveal the presence of perception units, resistant to being disassembled into partial components, like intervals and melodies. It must be emphasised, however, that all the demonstrations are conducted so as not to contradict the substance of Helmholtz’s tone sensations doctrine, which Mach shares in large part and defends from the harshest criticism. It doubtlessly represents “the speculation of a genius, the expression of an artistic intuition, which points the way [...] along which further research will have to advance.”13 The sense of Mach’s criticism is thus one of reserve for the excessive division, introduced by Helmholtz, of the field of sound into atomic elements. Mach then attempts to reconcile his own observations with the spirit, if not the letter, of the criticised concept, remaining within the limits of a doctrine of sensation. Let us bear in mind, on the other hand, that in Mach’s work the concept of sensation assumes a broad and characteristic meaning, taking 12 13

Mach (1959), pp. 289-90. Mach (1959), p. 306.

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on the form of a neutral element aimed at overcoming the illusory opposition between Ego and external world.14 In this sense, Mach’s criticism does not depend on a refusal of musical positivism, but rather on its radicalisation. In any event, the pars destruens of his analysis of tone sensations is by far, historically and theoretically, the most efficient.

4. The Brentano School The direction indicated by Mach’s criticism was followed by authors of the school of thought which, more or less directly, referred the teachings and work of Franz Brentano: with this, we can introduce the more specific framework of Meinong’s position. Brentano spoke publicly on the topic in a paper presented at the Fifth International Congress of Psychology (Rome, 1905), published two years later in a volume containing his studies on the problem of sensibility.15 In his analysis, the physiological problem of auditive theory takes on secondary importance: psychology is indeed a descriptive science whose laws can in no way be deduced departing from the physical-physiological genesis of the phenomena which constitute its fabric. Brentano instead focuses his attention on the two specific energies identified by Mach, in the attempt to show their insufficiency. By assuming that the different pitch of musical notes results from blending only two elements (just as, for example, grey is composed of black and white), the world of sound would prove deprived of its typical chromatic variety: who would ever sustain that a symphony by Beethoven was painted only “in black and white?” (Grau in Grau gemalt).16 Mach’s two specific energies, which Brentano significantly renames “tonal black and white” (Tonweiss and Tonschwarz), in reality only explain the origin of the series of noises, which extends over the entire auditive range by rea14 15

16

See Antimetaphysische Vorbemerkungen that opens The Analysis of Sensations. On Mach’s concept of sensation see Sommer (1988), p. 322. See Brentano (1905). Also very significant for the problem under examination are the annotations that integrate Brentano’s essay, added when the volume was published: Brentano (1907), pp. 230-40. Brentano (1905), p. 94.

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son of these two elements blending. As for musical sounds, we must hypothesise the presence of more and totally different elements, as in the field of vision where, in addition to black and white, there are pure colours and their blends. Far from admitting with Mach a characteristic sensation for each interval, Brentano hypothesises that an act of an emotional nature (Affekt) combines with sound sensation.17 The single musical notes arouse a slightly pleasant feeling, which considerably increases in combinations of two or more sounds. In the direction of a pleasant feeling, we find first of all the interval of a major third which as harmony (Wohlklang) already approaches the chord of three sounds,” while the melancholic minor third (wehmütig) marks the entrance of the opposite sentiment.18 This draft of a theory of consonance (which will remain without a sequel) is overtly influenced by elementary considerations of harmony and betrays a certain difficulty of Brentano’s doctrine to deal with organised musical structures. In effect, Brentano’s Sinnespsychologie remains firmly tied to the postulate of analysis, disassembling complex phenomena, such as sounds and intervals, into their elementary components. The refusal of physical-physiological explanations does not mean, therefore, a rejection of analysis, though this must be performed within the sphere of pure description of psychic acts. The innovative potentialities of Brentano’s position are instead fully exploited by his followers. The doctrine Christian von Ehrenfels expounds in his famous essay Über Gestaltqualitäten, for example, shows the importance that topics tied to the psychology of sound had assumed in 1890 in the framework of the general psychological debate. The question of melodic perception is central throughout the essay and several years later, the author explained that his point of departure was the attempt to answer the question, “what is a melody?”19 Explicitly referring to the problem of transport raised by Mach, Ehrenfels aims at the descriptive side (in the Brentano sense) of the question. He does not take into account 17

18 19

Brentano (1905), p. 232. On the relation between sensation and higher psychic activities (judgement and feeling), see Eisenmeier 1918), p. 475; on the doctrine of sensation in general, see Baumgartner (1988). Brentano (1905), p. 220. Ehrenfels (1932), p. 168.

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considerations tied to the physiological foundations of melodic perception but instead pursues a generalisation of the Tongestalt phenomenon, finally identifying Gestalt qualities within all the different areas of sense.20 Gestalt qualities are “positive presentation contents:” unitary and completely new contents, compared to the basis on which they are founded, which is the mere sum of the component parts.21 It is for this reason that they resist “transposition,” as Mach had already shown. Melody – a typical case of Gestalt quality – is a unitary, objectively existent analytic element, which is grasped as such without the possibility to reduce it to its individual basic components. Ehrenfels thus lays the basis for a descriptive theory, but one very distant from Brentano’s. Psychological analysis cannot surpass a certain limit, because it would otherwise risk losing those structures, which are primary from the descriptive viewpoint: the Gestalqualitäten. For Ehrenfels, the melodic element is not, however, the only case of Gestalt quality that the world of sound offers: melodies are as much Gestalt qualities as tonal harmony and tone quality. For example, the single higher harmonics tied to the fundamental sound only constitute the basis on which the Gestaltqualität formed by the specific tone quality is built. Thus, for Ehrenfels, every aspect of musical phenomenon is resolved in phenomena of a Gestalt nature. Also conceivable are intersensorial Gestalt qualities, in part founded on auditive phenomena and in part on visual or other type of phenomenon; in particular, Ehrenfels recognises higher-order Gestalt qualities that are built on the basis of yet other Gestalt qualities: Consider, e.g., the orchestral passage accompanying the sunset in the Prelude to the Götterdämmerung of Wagner, whose works, because of the parallelism which is developed in them between musical and theatrical occurrences, provide an inestimable wealth of material for the comparison of Gestalt qualities of all kinds.22

20 21 22

Ehrenfels (1890), pp. 83 ff. Ehrenfels (1890), p. 93. Ehrenfels (1890), p. 117, fn. 5. Ehrenfels was an enthusiastic supporter of Wagner: in disagreement with the prevailing concept, he affirmed the Gestalt value of this famous composer’s works. See Winckler (1986), pp. 193-94.

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Hence the aesthetic value of the concept of Gestalt quality: the higher the level of Gestalt cohesion, the greater the impression that generates the feeling of beauty. Ehrenfels’ concept of Gestaltqualität was going to play an important role in the development of Gestalt psychology, and on Meinong’s own position. In this sense, its influence is comparable to Carl Stumpf’s “tonal fusion” (Tonverschmelzung), a concept defined in the second volume of Stumpf’s Tonpsychologie23. Stumpf’s work can be read as a doctrine of the conditions of reliability for the sense judgements (Sinnesurteile), the most important of which are compare and, especially, note (Bemerken): relations of an objective nature that can be noted by the subject are indeed inherent in appearances.24 Stumpf summarises the principle relations in a table of four elements (multiplicity, increase, resemblance and fusion); in this framework, for example, the analysis of a complex sound into partial sounds becomes “noting a multiplicity” of a sound nature.25 Confident of this apparatus, Stumpf reopens the question of the analysis of sounds. The difficulties in perceiving the higher harmonics in the sound of a piano are not – as Helmholtz affirmed – of a subjective nature that can be overcome with an effort of attention or by resorting to past experience. On the contrary, Stumpf underlines, analysis depends in general on objective factors: in other words, on what component sounds must be distinguished.26 In the case of consonant intervals, such as the octave or fifth, for example, analysis is objectively more difficult than in the case of dissonant intervals of second or seventh. This situation could be expressed by affirming that the intervals of the first group present greater compactness, a higher degree of fusion of its elements. Departing from considerations of this kind, Stumpf introduces and elaborates the concept of sound fusion (Tonverschmelzung), defined as

23

24 25 26

Stumpf published two volumes of his Tonpsychologie, both of which – as we shall see – were reviewed by Meinong. See Stumpf (1883) and (1890); Meinong (1895) and (1891a). Stumpf (1883), pp. 3-4. Stumpf (1883), pp. 96 and 106 ff. Stumpf (1890), pp. 40-41.

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the relation between two contents, more specifically between contents of sensation, whereby these do not constitute a mere sum but rather, a whole (ein Ganzes). The consequence of this relation is that, for its higher degrees, the overall impression – on the same terms – more and more approaches that of a single sensation, and is increasingly more difficult to analyse.27 According to Stumpf, the facts relative to fusion can be observed and verified experimentally and thus express a psychological-musical reality whose value does not depend on accepting the entire theoretical approach which he proposes. He invites the reader to conduct a concrete test of this phenomenon which, as occurs for a single sound, must be heard before it can be defined or understood. Stumpf’s most debated and fortunate doctrine therefore fully reveals the general attitude that characterises scientific work: a blend of Brentano-inspired theory and experimental procedure, which will not fail to exert positive effects on his more brilliant students. Recourse to perceptible experience and experimentation enables Stumpf to determine the various degrees of fusion between sounds. Five levels can thus be distinguished in the octave, each of which presents a different degree of sound fusion.28 Stumpf admits that the degree of fusion undoubtedly depends on the relation between the sound frequencies which, however, do not at all constitute the sensations’ content or direct cause, but instead are situated quite a way down the causal chain that comes to bear in the process of perception.29 Different physical frequencies can provoke the same degree of fusion in subjective perception, be it because low degrees of fusion join together, or rather – much more significantly – because of minimal differences that remain below the threshold between sensation and judgement (Urteilsschwelle). The many laws that Stumpf elaborates are then aimed at establishing fusion’s independence of other factors, and especially of the fact that the notes are effectively heard or perceived in an imaginative act, in a “bloße 27 28

29

Stumpf (1890), p. 128. Stumpf (1890), p. 135. The five degrees of fusion correspond to the groups formed by the intervals 1) octave, 2) fifth, 3) fourth, 4) third and sixth, 5) all the rest. Stumpf (1890), p. 211.

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Phantasievorstellung.”30 The impossibility to reduce fusion to other psychological factors leads us to theorise that its causes must be of a physiological nature; in this regard, Stumpf introduces an interesting correction of the law of specific energies. Though the substance of Helmholtz auditive theory can be accepted, we must nevertheless observe the existence of a logical connection between the inner ear’s system of fibres (which oscillate by resonance) and that of phenomenological sensations, a connection no less problematic than that which, from the vibrations of the air outside the auditive apparatus, leads to sensations.31 The origin of phenomena of fusion must therefore be sought neither in external oscillations of the air, nor in internal oscillations of the fibres, but instead in cerebral processes. The specific energies at the basis of the different degrees of fusion are excited by two stimuli: we can thus speak of second-order specific energies, or rather, specific synergies.32 To each of the five degrees of fusion thus corresponds a specific synergy that originates in the processes of the central nervous system and that can be excited, under certain conditions, even by frequencies slightly different from its own. The hypothesis of specific synergies is quite important: the transfer of the explanation from the ear to the brain, from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system, represents an inversion of tendency of Helmholtz psychology, as Stumpf’s lexical preference already evidences. The specific synergies make it possible to explain fusion even among notes merely fantasised instead of effectively heard, and hence the possibility to compose music of a certain complexity. The composer who creates a score and the musician who mentally reads it must conceive each of the various sounds and intervals with the tone quality and degree of fusion that belong to it; otherwise, the musical sense of the piece in question would be irremediably lost. This is precisely what is not possible in Helm30

31 32

Stumpf (1890), p. 138. From the very first page of Tonpsychologie, Stumpf insists on the fact that psychological analyses must be applicable to the contents of presentation (Vorstellung includes imagination) as well as to the contents of sensation. The argument will prove quite important in the criticism of Helmholtz. Stumpf (1883), p. 152. Stumpf (1883), p. 214.

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holtz’s doctrine, which affirms that the analysis of sounds occurs exclusively in the ear. For Stumpf, on the contrary, the synthesis or fusion of sounds is the fundamental phenomenon, and this occurs in the central nervous system. On the basis of the doctrine of fusion, Stumpf lays the bases for an actual psychology of music. The aesthetic phenomenon of consonance is explained in relation to the psychological phenomenon of the different degrees of fusion: the intervals whose notes are more fused are consonant, while the others are dissonant. But followings Stumpf’s theories would take us too far. It is clear, however, that with his concepts of tonal fusion and specific synergy Stumpf, like Mach before him, looks for a new solution allowing for the manifold and puzzling kinds of musical syntheses that usually take place in process of sound hearing and aesthetic appreciation of music.

5. Meinong’s Position Meinong’s position in this context can be successfully introduced from the starting point of his interesting review (1885) of the first volume of Stumpf’s Tonpsychologie. The paper was published in the first issue of the Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, a journal directed by his friend Guido Adler, one of the leading Austrian musicologists of the time. There is evidence for a direct influence of Meinong upon Adler concerning the definition of the concept of Musikwissenschaft33. Together with Friedrich Crysander und Philipp Spitta, Adler assumed the direction of the Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft, whose first issue appeared in 1885. In 1884, while he attended at the opening essay, devoted to field, method and goal of musicology (“Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft”), Adler asked Meinong for philosophical advice. The two friends met in Graz for a period of “Klausur” and, as a result, Adler introduced in his essay some significant remarks concerning abstraction and inductive method in historical investigations, allowing for an “Analogie der kunstwissenschaftlichen Methode mit der naturwissenschaftlichen 33

See Eder (1995).

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Methode”34. To some extent, then, Meinong contributed in this indirect way to limit the overtly hermeneutical component in musicology of his time. In his review of Stumpf’s work, Meinong fixed in a very short but incisive manner the general idea of a science of music and its relation to psychology. Was die Mannigfaltigkeit der Objekte, welche die Musikwissenschaft in ihr Gebiet einzubeziehen berechtigt ist, zu einem Ganzen verbindet, ist ihre Zugehörigkeit zum Reiche der Töne, welche in den verschiedenartigsten Beziehungen zu Tage tritt. Töne aber sind nicht Geschehnisse der sogenannten äußeren Welt.35 According to Meinong, then, musicology is concerned with tones, but tones are not events in the “so-called external world”. This claim might have been somehow puzzling for the reader of a musicological review. Being aware of this problem, Meinong explains: Zwar meint man leicht von einer Saite, sie gebe einen schrillen oder schnarrenden Ton von sich; auch einem Instrumente, selbst dessen Spieler mag man schönen, schwachen Ton nachsagen und dergl.: indess wird hier weit leichter als auf manchem analogen Gebiete auch dem an exacteres Denken wenig Gewöhnten der übertragene Charakter solcher Ausdrucksweise klar; er kann nicht verkennen, wie Schwingungen eines tönenden Gegenstandes als ein Grundverschiedenes dem Tone gegenüberstehen, den sie zwar hervorrufen, doch nur im Hörenden, dessen eigenster unveräußerlicher Besitz er bleibt.36 Meinong believes that physical and mental events are substantially different. This capital difference is particularly clear in the case of physical oscillations and tones, if compared with other perceptual instances. Accordingly, Meinong claims that sounds are intimately related to psychical phenomena. 34 35 36

See Eder (1995), pp. 37-38. Later on, in 1919, Adler spoke of “objects of higher order”: Eder (1995), p. 39. Meinong (1885), p. 127. Ibid.

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Mögen darum Töne dem praktischen Leben wie mancher Wissenschaft als Zeichen äußerer Vorgänge dienen, sie bleiben gleichwohl Bethätigungen des inneren psychischen Lebens; es ist aber gerade der musikwissenschaftlichen Betrachtung eigen, sich für Töne nicht ihrer äußeren Erreger wegen, sondern für die letzteren der Töne und ihrer Wirkung wegen zu interessieren.37 Far from Helmholtz’s perspective, comprehensively ranging from physics and physiology to the theory of sensations, Meinong assumes a radical position in assuming that tones are activities of “internal psychical life”. Hence the intimate relation of musicology and psychology: In so fern sie [die Musikwissenschaft, R.M.] dies thut, wandelt sie Wege, die zu ebnen unter die Aufgaben jener Wissenschaft gehört, welche ihre herkömmlichen, doch manchen Missdeutungen ausgesetzten Namen »Psychologie« heute jeder grundlos vorweggenommenen Theorie durch die Definition »Wissenschaft von den psychischen Erscheinungen« zu entziehen sucht. In der That ist es psychologische Erkenntnis gewesen, was, gleichviel, wie wenig entwickelt, gleichviel, unter welchem Namen, stets die Grundlage der Musikwissenschaft abgegeben hat […].38 The close relationship of musicology and psychology is quite interesting. Meinong is nevertheless aware of some difficulties concerning this point. Psychology gives the necessary basis to musicology, but […] aber natürlich, nur ein Abschnitt der Psychologie, oder richtiger ein so Aus- oder »Durchschnitt«, zu dessen besonderer Bearbeitung sich dem psychologischen Forscher von Beruf so wenig Anlass zu bieten schien, dass vielmehr manch äußeres Hindernis solchem Vorhaben in den Weg trat.39 Stumpf’s monography, so Meinong suggests, is a first step in the direction of removing such obstacles from the path of musicology, providing the 37 38 39

Ibid. A symbolic conception of perceptual issues, conceived as signs (Zeichen) of external processes, was typically held by Helmholtz. Meinong (1885), pp. 127-128. Meinong (1885), p. 128.

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necessary psychological basis40. But a residual problem still persists: the bounds of music are so wide, that scholars interested in it often speak rather different languages. Indess ist der Kreis der musikwissenschaftlichen Interessen ein so weiter, dass ein Organ, das ihnen in ihrem ganzen Umfange und in wirklich wissenschaftlicher Weise Rechnung zu tragen gedenkt, immerhin auch etwas von jener Sprachenverwirrung wird auf sich nehmen müssen, die jedem internationalen Verkehr anhaftet, in welchem aber Jedermann schon deshalb Toleranz übt, weil er den Zeitpunkt voraussieht, wo er auf ähnliche Toleranz angewiesen sein wird. So erhofft sich denn auch Schreiber dieser Zeilen die Nachsicht des nicht psychologischen Lesers, wenn diesen Manches in den folgenden Mittheilungen etwas fremdartig anmuthen sollte […].41 As a matter of fact, what follows in Meinong’s review was probably scarcely interesting for the “non-psychologist reader” of the Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft. Both Stumpf and Adler, who read the review in advance, became concerned with this problem. Adler tried to induce Meinong to some change, but it was too late: the paper had already been sent to the publishing house.42 For us, on the contrary, Meinong’s review of Stumpf’s Tonpsychologie is illuminating in many respects. For instance, Meinong understands that Stumpf’s treatment of sensory judgements implies a radical shift away from rigid Brentanian orthodoxy. In the Tonpsychologie, Stumpf says that sensory judgements concerning certain appearances (e.g. intervals or tonal relationships generally taken) are influenced by the general state of the mind (Bewußtseinszustände): some differences may then sometimes be noticed, sometimes not.43 This fact, observes Meinong in a footnote, could be extraordinarily important for the theory of knowledge:

40

41 42 43

In reviewing the second volume, Meinong will note that the first one had proved many times to be a handbook, whose utility appeared to him even surprising along time. Meinong (1891a), p. 429. Meinong (1885), p. 128. See Eder (1995), p. 40. Stumpf (1883), p. 40.

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Man darf bedauern, dass Verfasser die große erkenntnistheoretische Bedeutung, die diesen Ausführungen zukommen dürfte, nicht beleuchtet, namentlich, daß er ihre Consequenzen in Betreff der Evidenz der inneren Wahrnehmung nicht gezogen hat.44 Meinong’s remark is quite accurate. Stumpf attacked Georg Elias Müller45 in the above-mentioned place of his Tonpsychologie, but he was apparently unaware that his position was also in contrast with Brentano’s theory. Actually, Stumpf maintained lifelong a strange attitude towards this problem. Although Stumpf in fact didn’t share this capital postulation of Brentano anymore, he clearly didn’t wont to hurt his respected and beloved teacher with an overt polemic concerning the evidence of internal perception.46 As early as 1885, however, Meinong had already understood the profound distance of Stumpf’s position from that of Brentano. Like most readers of Adler’s journal probably did, however, we will drop this question and follow some further polemic issue between Stumpf and Meinong himself. In 1890 Stumpf published the second volume of his Tonpsychologie, and Meinong reviewed it in 1891. Once again, he offers a comprehensive philosophical synthesis. Meinong underlines the importance of Stumpf’s discussion of psychical multiplicity, strictly connected to his own concept of psychical analysis.47 Then Meinong widely discusses Stumpf’s concept of 44 45 46

47

Meinong (1885), p. 130. Stumpf (1883), p. 40. In the long run Stumpf will not escape the sharp criticism of brentanians like Kastil, but the polemic was raised long time after the publication of his posthumous Erkenntnislehre. See Stumpf (1939), p. 217; Kastil (1948), pp. 199-200. See Stumpf (1890), pp. 9 ff. and infra; Meinong (1891a), pp. 430 ff. Meinong will soon devote a whole essay to the problem of analysis: see Meinong (1894). There, Meinong discusses a special problem concerning Klangfarbe, which is a relation made up of only one term. According to Meinong, the “limiting case of plurality is oneness (Einsheit), and even the theory of complexions and relations must consider such limiting case. In the question of tone timbre […] we met with the limiting case” (Meinong 1894, p. 87). This unusual situation is due to an asymmetry in the psychological phenomenon itself: “Overtones usually remain unrecognized”, notes Meinong, and whenever they are recognized the impression of timbre disappears. Therefore, since “the second member of the relation is not given to our cognition”, one easily misunderstands Klangfarbe “as

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Verschmelzung (a topic which we shall consider again later) and the problem of “tone quality” (Klangfarbe). Whereas Helmholtz explained tone quality with the relative pitch of upper partials (i.e. their mutual relationship), Stumpf underlined the role of absolute pitch (of the fundamental and of the upper partials) in determining tone quality. According to Meinong, Stumpf’s solution runs the risk of making tone quality a mere illusion (a “Scheintatsache”), inasmuch as it is reduced to a kind of “psychical mix” (psychische Mischung) between other qualities.48 Meinong agrees with Stumpf that no specifically different content (“keine neue Gattung von Inhalte”) is created in the mind: tone quality remains, so to speak, made up of sound. There is no kind of “psychical chemistry” (“psychische Chemismus”), according to which elements should disappear when they create new compounds. But all this requires then a further step, unfortunately omitted by Stumpf. In the process of psychical analysis any component remains preserved together with the new element that is created. In Meinongian terms, this means that tone quality is a typical example for a “founded content”: Das Verhältnis des letzteren zu den ersteren, also der Klangfarbe zu den Partialtönen, charakterisiert sich dann wohl am einfachsten als das des fundierten Inhaltes zu seinen Grundlagen, obgleich, wie ich bereits an anderer Stelle berührt habe, das sonst für fundierte Inhalte durchschlagendste Argument durch das, was unser Autor zu Gunsten der Bedeutung der absoluten Tonhöhe für die Klangfarbe beibringt, an Boden verloren haben dürfte49. In the second part of this quote, Meinong refers to an essay also published in 1891: “Zur Psychologie der Komplexionen und Relationen”. There, he had already stated the incompatibility of his own theory of founded content and Stumpf’s explanation of tone quality:

48 49

the determination of the key note” and not, as it is actually the case, as a relation (Meinong 1894, p. 88). Meinong discusses this problem in the context of a wider critical discussion of Hans Cornelius’ theses. Meinong (1891a), p. 439. Ibid.

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According to his discussion of timbre the desire to recur to founded contents in connection with timbre should be considerably dampened.50 This problem is particularly interesting. In the same essay Meinong had used Stumpf’s concept of Verschmelzung in order to distinguish complexions and relations. It is precisely from this starting point that one can properly appreciate the evolution of Meinong’s thoughts on this topic. In “Zur Psychologie der Komplexionen und Relationen” Meinong refuses Ehrenfels’ terminology: speaking of “shape qualities” (Gestaltqualitäten), as Ehrenfels did, does not allow for a fundamental distinction between two different things, namely komplexions and relations. The former (k) is made up of a relation (r), holding between two elements (a and b), plus the elements themselves. The nature of this “plus”, however, is itself particular. All elements (a and b, r) are taken together in unity, and deeply interwoven to each other in a unitary nexus. Mostly interesting, the difference between komplexions and relations is due to the degree of “fusion” (Verschmelzung) between the elements a and b.51 The more “fused”, or “blended” with each other, the two psychological elements (a and b) are, the sooner will the mind connect them in a Komplexion. One could say that whenever psychological contents are “well tuned”, the mind works easily upon them, being able to connect them without particular effort. Even more than geometric shape, melody is a typical example for a komplexion in Meinong’s paper. At the same time, however, with this concept of komplexion Meinong kept far from the inspired tones used by wagnerians like Christian Ehrenfels or Alois Höfler, with their typical organicist bias towards biological metaphors in describing melodies and their “life”.52 In Meinong’s hands, on the contrary, musical perception offers the model for complex psychological mechanisms, without trespassing the bounds of scientific explanation. Let us now turn back to Meinong’s review of Tonpsychologie II. As we have noticed, Meinong finds himself in a somewhat uncomfortable 50 51 52

Meinong (1891), p. 70. Meinong (1891), p. 66. See Martinelli (1998), pp. 99 ff.

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situation. On the one side, in Komplexionen und Relationen he uses Stumpf’s concept of Tonverschmelzung in order to distinguish the different kinds of relationship (kompexions and relations) between the basis and the founded content; on the other side, both in the above mentioned essay and in the subsequent review, he overtly admits that Stumpf’s theory of tone quality points in the opposite direction. Meinong suggests then to drop Stumpf’s explanation of Klangfarbe, and to consider it as a founded content: namely, as a kind of Komplexion. However, since kompexions depend, as we have seen, on the degree of fusion, this means, in turn, that tone quality arises because of the relatively high degree of fusion between the tones. To some extent, then, at this time Meinong seems to be even more stumpfian than Stumpf himself, i.e. he is quite radical in applying tonal fusion to a wider range of musical phenomena than Stumpf himself did. On a philosophical level, the main polemic issue between Meinong and Stumpf is the adoption of the so-called “multiplicity doctrine” (Mehrheitslehre) by Stumpf, who thought that the mind really apprehends a plurality of contents simultaneously. On the contrary, the so-called “unity doctrine” (Einheitslehre) implies that the mind is presented each time only with a single presentation (although this might be considered a complex one).53 Gestalt theorists like Max Wertheimer would later be among the most fervent supporters of the latter view: a Gestalt is always a unitary item, whose “parts” can be distinguished only on a secondary and inessential level, and on a subsequent time.54 Stumpf, on the contrary, subscribes the former hypothesis: he holds that we actually perceive multiple appearances, whose components are more ore less fused together (or exhibit other mutual relations), influencing our judgement in each case. Now, Meinong assumes that his position could mediate between these two views: 53

54

See the wide discussion in Stumpf (1890), pp. 9 ff. Stumpf introduces also a third hypothesis: the “contrast doctrine” (Wettstreitslehre), according to which the different tones should be presented to the mind in a very fast succession (pp. 15 ff.). See Wertheimer (1922). The “unity” of the sensation of mixed things was originally held by Aristotle: De sensu et sensibilibus, VII, 447 b.

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Ob dann übrigens der nämliche Gedanke [that tone quality is a founded content, R.M.] nicht auch geeignet sein möchte, in Sachen der Zusammenklänge zu billiger Vermittlung zwischen Einheits- und Mehrheitsansicht das Seine beizutragen?55 At any rate, Meinong later modified his position concerning tonal fusion and the concept of Komplexion. From 1899 on, he distinguishes between psychical act, content (Inhalt) and object (Gegenstand). As a consequence, Meinong cannot speak anymore of Komplexionen in terms of “founded contents”, as he did in 1890. He now adopts the phrase “founded objects” or – borrowing the term from Gustav Theodor Fechner’s Vorschule der Ästhetik – “objects of higher order” (Gegenstände höherer Ordnung).56 Psychological contents and objects may be distinguished from many different points of view; the main difference, according to Meinong, consists in the circumstance that only objects can possess an ideal nature, whereas the content is always real.57 Generally speaking, founded objects are ideal objects: a melody or the similarity between two colours might serve as examples. There is, however, an exception, inasmuch as Meinong admits of real relations (Realrelationen), among which we find now Stumpf’s tonal fusion.58 This change indicates the new and minor role assigned to tonal fusion in Meinong’s psychological system after 1899. Such a move was partly induced by some experimental researches conducted in Graz. Since 1891, Meinong and his scholar and thereafter colleague Stephan Witasek developed some doubt concerning Stumpf’s experimental results on tonal fusion59. However, Meinong and Witasek didn’t announce their results in 55 56 57

58

59

Meinong (1891a), p. 439. Meinong (1899), p. 144; see Fechner (1876), p. 56. According to Meinong, also non-existing objects can be real, provided that their nature could allow them to exist; whereas ideal objects, which also don’t exist, can only subsist and never exist. Meinong (1899), p. 150; on this topic see Findlay (1963). Meinong (1899), p. 150. In his lessons on psychology of 1896-1897 Meinong had already espressed this attitude towards real superiora. See Manotta 2005, p. 75. Witasek (1897), (1904) and (1906) gave important contributions to psychology and aesthetics of music. See Martinelli (1999), pp. 175-182, and (1999a).

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1891. Six years later, Anton Faist, a student of Meinong in Graz, published in the Zeitschrift für Psychologie some experimental results60; in the same year 1897, Meinong and Witasek took up their experimental work and printed in the same journal a contribution entitled Zur experimentellen Bestimmung der Tonverschmelzungsgrade.61 In his paper, Faist criticizes Stumpf’s hypothesis that tonal fusion is independent of the relative intensity of the two sounds, and of the difference of octave.62 Meinong and Witasek agree with the latter point, although with some limitation.63 Concerning the former point, that of intensity, they observe daß es den Thatsachen Gewalt anthun hieße, wollte man alle hier anzutreffenden Verschiedenheiten unter den Intensitätsgedanken zwängen. Verschmelzungen haben ohne Zweifel auch ihre Qualität und diese ist keineswegs unter allen Umständen die gleiche. Man wird die Mittel finden müssen, auch diesen qualitativen Verschiedenheiten nachzugehen; einstweilen aber steht zu vermuten, daß diese Verschiedenheiten nicht die unwesentlichsten unter den Hindernissen gewesen sind, welche einer befriedigenden Beantwortung unserer nur auf quantitative Verschiedenheiten Bedacht nehmenden Fragestellung in den Weg getreten sind.64 Meinong and Witasek insist upon the circumstance that something new is created in the mind by the simultaneous occurrence of the two sounds; and this new construct has its own qualitative features. The insistence on qualitative character was probably rooted in the experimental methodology itself. Instead of using Stumpf’s apparatus (“Intervallenapparat”), which they believed to present some problem concerning Klangfarbe, Meinong and Witasek began their experiments directly with a violin, an instrument with which they “believed to be confident enough”.65 It is quite interesting to notice that Meinong and Witasek 60 61 62 63 64 65

Faist (1897). Faist later developed the problem of consonance in his dissertation (Faist 1900). Meinong and Witasek (1897). Faist (1897), pp. 125 and 131. Meinong & Witasek (1897), p. 199. Meinong & Witasek (1897), p. 199. Meinong & Witasek (1897), p. 190 and 194.

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experimented separately: each of them played the violin each time and noticed the impression of the interval. Stumpf would soon express his complete disapproval of their methodology, observing that Meinong and Witasek “did enter only the way of direct observation, but they described their own perceptions (essentially those of Meinong)”.66 But the main polemic issue with Stumpf was obviously more philosophical than experimental. In Meinong’s new system of thought, the process of foundation assumes a crucial epistemic role. Meinong thinks that […] founding or the foundation process achieves the same for ideas of ideal objects as perception does for ideas of real objects. The old epistemological-psychological principle of intellectus and sensus suffers from the fundamental defect that it neglects, in the face of foundation, the other half of facts.67 The concept of tonal fusion, conceived as a real relation, is now clearly excluded from this field. From this starting point, Meinong will be able to develop his Gegenstandstheorie, distinguishing it both from psychological theory and from ontology. From ontology, because theory of object does not consider the being of things (Sein) but rather their “being-so” (Sosein); from psychology, because foundation applies to objects but not to contents.68 Founded objects are, as already shown, ideal objects; on the contrary, contents are real by definition. This opens, however, a new problem for Meinong’s theory. Having dropped Stumpf’s tonal fusion in its previous application, Meinong now leaves an important question unanswered: provided that we have a founded object, what happens at the level of the corresponding psychological content? Provided that a melody is now considered a founded (ideal) object, what characterizes melodic perception on the psychologically real level of content? As is well known, the solution came in 1904 from the theory of Vorstellungsproduktion, developed under Meinong’s 66 67 68

Stumpf (1897), p. 281. Meinong (1899), p. 153. Meinong’s Gegenstandstheorie avoids the problem of being (Seinsfrage). Objects are rather considered under the threefold aspect of being-so (Sosein), being-what (Wassein) and being-how (Wiesein). See Meinong (1921), 19.

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supervision by Rudolph Ameseder and Vittorio Benussi69. Foundation does for objects what “production” does within the realm of contents. In this way, the problem of melodic perception found a complete solution, ranging across theory of object and psychology. But the distance from concrete musicology and musical experience, which already emerged in the two reviews of Stumpf’s work, was now even greater than before. Riccardo Martinelli Università degli Studi di Trieste [email protected]

69

Ameseder (1904), p. 488; Benussi (1904), p. 310.

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References Ameseder, Rudolf (1904), “Über Vorstellungsproduktion”, in Meinong [ed.] (1904), pp. 481-508. Baumgartner, Wilhelm (1988), “Die Rolle der deskriptiven Psychologie Franz Brentanos am Beispiel der Wahrnehmung”, Topoi, pp. 5-25. Benussi, Vittorio (1904), “Zur Psychologie des Gestalterfassens (Die Müller-Lyersche Figur)”, in Meinong [ed.] (1904), pp. 303-448. Brentano, Franz (1905), “Von der psychologischen Analyse der Tonqualitäten in ihre eigentlich ersten Elemente”, in Brentano (1907), pp. 93-103. Brentano, Franz (1907), Untersuchungen zur Sinnespsychologie, ed. by R. Chisholm and R. Fabian, Hamburg, Meiner, 1972. Cahan, David [ed.] (1994), Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of California Press. Eder, Gabriele J. (1995), “Einführung”, in Alexius Meinong und Guido Adler. Eine Freundschaft in Briefen, Amsterdam/Atlanta (GA), Rodopi, pp. 3-52. Ehrenfels, Christian (1890), “Über Gestaltqualitäten”, in Ehrenfels (1987), pp. 128-55; trans. “On gestalt qualities”, in Smith (1988), pp. 82-117. Ehrenfels, Christian (1932), “Über Gestaltqualitäten (II)”, in Ehrenfels (1987), pp. 168-70. Ehrenfels, Christian (1987), Philosophische Schriften. Bd. 3: Ethik, Psychologie, Erkenntnistheorie, ed. by R. Fabian, München, Philosophia. Eisenmeier, Josef (1918), “Brentanos Lehre von der Empfindung”, Monatshefte für pädagogische Reform, 68, pp. 473-93. Fabian, Reinhard [ed.] (1986), Christian von Ehrenfels: Leben und Werk, Amsterdam, Rodopi.

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Faist, Anton (1897), “Versuche über Tonverschmelzung”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, 15, pp. 102-131. Faist, Anton (1900), Über Konsonanz und Dissonanz, Diss., Graz, Universitätsbibliothek. Fechner, Gustav Th. (1876), Vorschule der Aesthetik, 2 vols., Leipzig, Breitköpf & Härtel; repr. Hildesheim-New York, Olms, 1978. Findlay, John N. (1963), Meinong’s Theory of Objects and Values, Oxford, Clarendon. Haller, Rudolf & Stadler, Friedrich [eds.] (1988), Ernst Mach. Werk und Wirkung, Wien, Tempsky. Hatfield, G. (1994), “Helmholtz and Classicism. The Science of Aesthetics and the Aesthetics of Science”, in Cahan [ed.] (1994), pp. 522-58. Helmholtz, Hermann (1865), Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen, als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, zweite umgearbeitete Ausgabe, Braunschweig, Vieweg. Helmholtz, Hermann (1877), Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen, als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik, vierte umgearbeitete Ausgabe, Braunschweig, Vieweg. Helmholtz, Hermann (1888), On the Sensations of Tone, as a physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, transl. by A. J. Ellis, London, Longmans; repr. New York, Dover, 1954. Hering, Ewald (1874), “Über die sogenannte Intensität der Lichtempfindung (Zur Lehre vom Lichtsinne IV)”, Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch- naturwissenschaftliche Classe, Wien, pp. 85-104. Höfler, Alois (1912), “Gestalt und Beziehung – Gestalt und Anschauung”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 60, pp. 161-228. Höfler, Alois (1921), “Naturwissenschaft und Philosophie. Vier Studien zur Gestaltungsgesetz. Studien II: Tongestalten und lebendige Gestalten”, Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Wien, 1921, pp. 3-94.

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Kastil, Alfred (1948), “Ein neuer Rettungsversuch der Evidenz der äusseren Wahrnehmung (kritische Bemerkungen zu Stumpfs Erkenntnislehre)”, Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, 3, pp. 198218. Kremer, W. (1994), “Innovation through Synthesis. Helmholtz and Color Research”, Cahan [ed.] (1994), pp. 205-58. Mach, Ernst (1863), “Zur Theorie des Gehörsorgans”, Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematischnaturwissenschaftliche Classe, 48, Wien, pp. 283-300. Mach, Ernst (1866), Einleitung in die Helmholtz’sche Musiktheorie. Populär für Musiker dargestellt, Graz; repr. Vaduz-Liechtenstein, Sändig Reprint, 1985. Mach, Ernst (1885), “Zur Analyse der Tonempfindungen”, Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Classe, 92, Wien, pp. 1283-89. Mach, Ernst (1906), Die Analyse der Empfindungen und das Verhältnis des Physischen zum Psychischen, fourth edition, Fischer, Jena (18861). Mach, Ernst (1959), The Analysis of Sensations and the Relation of the Physical to the Psychical, New York, Dover. Manotta, Marina (2005), La fondazione dell’oggettività. Studio su Alexius Meinong, Macerata, Quodlibet. Martinelli, Riccardo (1998), “Musica e teoria della Gestalt. Paradigmi musicali nella psicologia del primo Novecento”, Il Saggiatore Musicale, 5, pp. 93-110. Martinelli, Riccardo (1999), Musica e natura. Filosofie del suono 17901930, Milano, Unicopli. Martinelli, Riccardo (1999a), “Estetica musicale e psicologia nella scuola di Graz”, Axiomathes, 1-3 [special issue: Vittorio Benussi, ed. by S. Cattaruzza], pp. 163-177. Meinong, Alexius (1885), Rezension von: Carl Stumpf, Tonpsychologie, Band I, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. VII, pp. 149-160.

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Meinong, Alexius (1891), “Zur Psychologie der Komplexionen und Relationen”, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. 1, pp. 281-303, trans. “On the Psychology of Complexions and Relations”, in Meinong (1978a), pp. 5772. Meinong, Alexius (1891a), Rezension von: Carl Stumpf, Tonpsychologie, Band II, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. VII, pp. 161-173. Meinong, Alexius (1894), “Beiträge zur Theorie der psychischen Analyse”, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. 1, pp. 307-395; trans. “An Essay Concerning the Theory of Psychic Analysis”, in Meinong (1978a), pp. 75135. Meinong, Alexius (1899), “Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung und deren Verhältnis zur inneren Wahrnehmung”, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. 2, pp. 377-471; trans. “On Objects of Higher Order”, in Meinong (1978a), pp. 139-208. Meinong, Alexius [ed.] (1904), Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, Leipzig, Barth. Meinong, Alexius (1921), “Selbstdarstellung”, in Gesamtausgabe, vol. 7, pp. 1-62. Meinong, Alexius (1978), Gesamtausgabe, ed. by R. Haller e R. Kindinger, 7 vols., Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlaganstalt, 19691978. Meinong, Alexius (1978a) On Objects of Higher Order and Husserl’s Phenomenology, ed. by M.-L. Schubert Kalsi, The Hague/Boston/London, M. Nijhoff. Meinong, Alexius & Witasek, St. (1897), “Zur experimentellen Bestimmung der Tonverschmelzungsgrade”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, 15, pp. 189-205. Serravezza, A. (1989), “Helmholtz, Stumpf, Riemann. Un itinerario”, Rivista italiana di musicologia, 24, pp. 347-422. Smith, Barry [ed.] (1988), München/Wien, Philosophia.

Foundations

of

Gestalt

Theory,

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Sommer, M. (1988), “Denkökonomie und Empfindungstheorie bei Mach und Husserl. Zum Verhältnis von Positivismus und Phänomenologie”, in Haller & Stadler [eds.] (1988), pp. 309-328. Stumpf, Carl (1883), Tonpsychologie, vol. 1, Leipzig, Hirzel; repr. Amsterdam, Bonset, 1965. Stumpf, Carl (1890), Tonpsychologie, vol. 2, Leipzig, Hirzel; repr. Amsterdam, Bonset, 1965. Stumpf, Carl (1897), “Neueres über Tonverschmelzung”, in Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, 15, pp. 280-303. Stumpf, Carl (1939), Erkenntnislehre, Erster Band, Leipzig, Barth. Swoboda, W. (1988), “Physik, Physiologie und Psychophysik. Die Wurzeln von Ernst Machs Empiriokritizismus”, in Haller & Stadler [eds.] (1988), pp. 356-403. Vogel, St. (1994), “Sensation of Tone, Perception of Sound, and Empiricism. Helmholtz’s Physiological Acoustics”, in Cahan [ed.] (1994), pp. 258-87. Wertheimer, Max (1922), “Untersuchungen zur Lehre von der Gestalt I. Prinzipielle Bemerkungen”, Psychologische Forschung, 1, pp. 47-58. Winckler, G.J. (1986), “Ch. von Ehrenfels als Wagnerianer”, in Fabian [ed.] (1986), pp. 182-213. Witasek, Stephan (1897), “Beiträge zur Theorie der Komplexionen und Relationen”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, 14, pp. 401-435. Witasek, Stephan (1904), Grundzüge der allgemeinen Aesthetik, Leipzig, Barth. Witasek, Stephan (1907), “Zur allgemeinen psychologischen Analyse des musikalischen Genusses”, Bericht über den zweiten Kongress der internationalen Musikgesellschaft (Basel 1906), Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, pp. 111-128.

ALEXIUS MEINONG ON ONTOLOGY AND OBJECT THEORY Francesca Modenato

Summary Ontology and object theory are not, from Meinong’s point of view, contiguous territories, nor continuous nor even coincident, as a widespread interpretative tendency seems to understand, in truth led astray to some extent by the ambiguities that weight on the concept of Außersein. It is permissible to attribute to ontology the treatment of objects in their different modes of being, as they manifest themselves to the intentional operations of the consciousness aimed at grasping them in intuitive knowledge. The theory of outside-being objects, on the other hand, should be placed in the framework of pure logic, of “formal” generalities of gnoseological problems, with respect to which the ontological question itself is purely formal.

1. The a priori character of object theory Object theory, that is the science of the object “as such” or of the pure object, responds, in Meinong’s intention, to the need for a science that treats its objects without limiting itself to the particular case of existence, such therefore in this sense as to be defined free from existence (daseinfrei). There are large and important sets of objects that have not found a home (that are heimatlos) in traditional disciplines: these have mostly to do with knowledge of real objects, while non-real being objects, and even more non-being objects, possible and impossible objects can also be objects of knowledge. Traditionally subjects concerning object theory have been treated under the heading “logic”, particularly “pure logic”, and even, since antiquity, under the name of metaphysics, especially ontology as a

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part of it, and the characteristic moment of the freedom from existence has not always been disregarded. But what has never been conceived of is a doctrine of the object free from existence as an end in itself, a doctrine to which everything that can be established about objects without reference to their existence belongs. This is a thing of a priori knowing: in such a-priority we can even see a defining characteristic of the mode of knowing proper to object theory. What concerns object theory is the rational ambit; in no way, therefore, a recently-discovered territory, which indeed, relative to one of its most important sphere, the mathematical, constitutes the ever-admired model of scientific exactitude. Meinong however claims the novelty for his intuition of the peculiar nature of this territory and its limits: or better, of its lack of limits, since, as we have said, object theory in its freedom from existence embraces in principle, besides real objects, also all nonreal ones. Of course freedom from existence does not mean that existence in its proper sense cannot in general belong to objects as such: on the contrary, one of the fundamental values of the new scientific postulate is to be identified in the fact that the peculiarity of the consideration and the knowledge proper to the relative theory affirms itself clearly even where it can be applied to what exists.1 Object theory therefore deals with the object as such. Now, since everything is an object, to give it an adequate definition we are lacking genus and differentia; but the etymology of the term Gegenstand (standing opposite) offers at least an indirect characteristic of it by means of the reference to the lived-experiences (Erlebnisse) which grasp objects, and yet which are in no way to be considered somehow constitutive of objects themselves. It is not essential for objects to be grasped; nevertheless, it is essential for them to be able to be grasped. Grasping theory (Erfassungstheorie) and more generally theory of knowledge are therefore a sort of complement to object theory. Knowing is something ultimate and indefinable; it is a capacity which cannot be reduced to anything more elementary. The essence of this ca1

Meinong (1978a), pp. 14-16.

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pacity consists in the fact that it refers back to something that does not coincide with the lived-experience of knowledge, to which it is therefore transcendent. The prejudice in favour of immanence largely refers back to the privileged position of internal perception with respect to external perception; nevertheless, even that which is perceived internally is indeed immanent to the perceiving subject, not to the lived-experience of knowledge. An object is always the logical antecedent of grasping; this therefore can never create or even simply modify its object, but can only, so to speak, choose it from the manifold objects given to the subject. The “subjective” character of sensible qualities itself only means that this choice is determined by the nature of the grasping subject and not by the real object which offers itself to knowledge. No less than existing objects, subsisting ones too ideally transcend knowledge: ideal objects, such as those of mathematics, are not subjective, nor is their exactness introduced in them by the knowing subject, so that we are not able to think it in the exhaustive way in which they possess it by nature. The necessity of the a-priority sphere, just as it is not to be understood in the sense of a constraint suffered by the subject, cannot be interpreted either as if objects were prescribed by it with a regularity. After all, in the term a-priori itself we clearly meet a moment which is non-subjective and hence objectual: independently of changes its meaning has historically undergone there is in it the reference to the “logical antecedent” which as such can without doubt provide a foundation of knowledge, but which by its essence is above all a being-foundation.2 Meinong’s first dealings with philosophy took place in the empiricist climate of the eighth decade of the 19th century, which essentially required one to “spy” on nature in order to learn its rules. And although he later felt with particular force the need to put forward the reasons of the extra-empirical side of knowledge, he nevertheless claimed to have remained, if not an empiricist, then at least an empirical in a broad sense, for having continued to let himself be guided by facts in his research. Ever since his early works and throughout the course of his research, however, Meinong undertook a real re-foundation of empiricism as far as 2

Ibid., pp. 44-47.

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its epistemological value is concerned. “The intentional model provided him with the means to redefine the ‘given’ objective world so that the relational categories of the observer did not appear arbitrary. This was done by recasting the basic atomic unity of analysis from an idea within the mind to an idea directed at an object”.3 There is in particular a moment in which Meinong makes a decisive turning point in his research: this moment is to be identified in a fundamental modification of the sense and the value attributed to cognitive activity aimed at those which he defines objects “of a higher order”, that is objects built, so to speak, on other objects. Relations are an exemplary case in point: in his 1882 Hume-Studien II relations are considered a “subjective product”; in his 1899 essay Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung relations, in so far as they are evidently drawn a priori from the nature of the inferiora, have their own ontological status as ideal objects.4 While traditional empiricism consists of a theory intent on referring the world we experience back to elementary, concrete, and immediate empirical data which explanation seems to require, what we could call Meinong’s “phenomenological empiricism” sketches the structures and the categorial distinctions just as they appear in the field of objects to the lived-experiences that grasp them. Ever since his work on the theory of relations, which aims to be a development of that of Locke and Hume, Meinong senses the limits of a perspective that denies essential forms and functional relationships, contesting in the name of a psychologistic meaning of experience the value of any a priori principle of a higher order. Meinong is set on the road to recognising such limits by Brentano who taught him to acknowledge evidence as the essential and primary characteristic of true judgement. This meant leaving behind the psychological-empirical plane, on which the processes of consciousness are taken as particular facts, to attain the logico-normative plane where they signify truths. Brentano’s evidence, however, paired up with the Cartesian ideal of absolute certainty: knowledge was certain or it was not. Meinong, on the 3 4

Lindenfeld (1980), p. 124. Meinong (1971a), p. 388.

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other hand, recognised early on the value of uncertain knowledge conferring epistemological dignity on ambits which are accessed with evidence by surmise.5 What is more, the limits themselves of interior perception, to which, within the sphere of what is factual, Brentano granted the exclusive privilege of evident, and hence certain, knowledge, become permeable to evidence by surmise.6 This is undoubtedly oriented towards stressing the inductive side of knowing; but it is interesting to shed light on the fact that at the same time all opposition between the recording of facts and theory disappears: the former does not appear possible without interpretation performing a decisive function in the ever-open comparison and contrast of hypotheses exposed to the possibility of error and doubt. This, far from being a profession of scepticism, is the critical awareness which is reached when one does not limit oneself to judging certain objects, but reflects on the judgements themselves relative to these. Only the inherence of the theory to the inductive process allows factual analysis to lead to the formulation of general laws. Meinong’s re-foundation of empiricism is not so radical as to allow him to overcome what has been defined as the “atomistic model”,7 characteristic of the tradition which Meinong recognised himself as part of. The persistence of this model in his analysis is clear: Meinong gradually gains awareness that the thought of what is manifold is as such thought of unity; nevertheless in unity the components survive as simple discrete parts, which require laborious acts of connection. In the same way he maintains that scientific activity consists, initially at least, in the analysis of the datum by which every complex object is divided into simple conceptual elements. But it is to be noted how he is aware that this method involves the risk of a loss: analysis risks destroying or at least making us fail to grasp emergent factualities with respect to elementary data. Now, a fundamental task of psychology is precisely to investigate these factualities which are the most important in the psychic life, for which classical empiricism lacked the adequate conceptual tools. Meinong identifies this juncture as the moment in which investigation crosses over from the psy5 6 7

Meinong (1971b), pp. 203-209. Meinong (1971c), pp. 463-465; see Rollinger (2005), pp. 159-197. Lindenfeld (1980), pp. 16-22.

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chological plane to that of the theory of knowledge. From this new perspective it appears that these “facts” are in reality “thoughts”, operations of the consciousness for which objects are not subjective products, but terms of intentional reference.8

2. Ontology: objects and modes of being Object theory is not “the theory of all objects”, among which, besides real and ideal objects, there are pure objects, according to a fairly well accepted interpretation.9 The treatment of objects and their different modes of being belongs to ontology, while the science of the pure object precisely “brackets” the ontological question. Let us consider first of all objects in so far as they are, to draw an extremely brief outline of some characteristics of a universe which it is neither easy nor, after all, wise, to systematise: Meinong gradually draws a complex map, whose layout not seldom adapts itself ingeniously to the difficulties that arise as a consequence of the choices made from time to time. It seems to us to be more advisable to investigate the folds and the turning points of this process, thus avoiding the forcing necessary to schematise it. By proceeding in this way we will consciously place ourselves amongst those bizarre “‘continental’ philosophers, who are more inclined to see philosophy as an interpretation of ‘texts’”;10 a species, which in any case is not lacking in exemplars from outside the Continent.

2.1 Existing objects and implected objects Starting from the lower level of empirical knowledge we meet the objects of external perception, which are said to exist or to be real in space and time. Early on Meinong finds himself tackling a theme which was long to accompany him with its aporetic implications: the theme, that is, of 8 9 10

Meinong (1971c), pp. 466-469. See e.g. Poli (2001), pp. 353, 356; Simons (2005), pp. 233-234. Rollinger (2005), p. 185.

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“things” and their knowability. He already confronts this directly in his Hume-Studien II dealing with the relation of cause, which requires the factor of external reality to be taken into consideration right from the beginning. The aporetic aspect of the problem derives from the assumption of a relationship between “psychic reality” and “extra-psychic reality” in conformity with the modern tradition in its empiricist version: the properties of a thing are only given to us indirectly, inferring from a piece of sense data the external cause that brings it about. And yet for the disciple of Brentano access to the existence of things seems allowed with immediacy, in so far as the “psychological expression” which extra-psychic reality must necessarily assume in order to be able to be taken into consideration by us translates into an evident existential judgement.11 Ever more consciously the causal concept of perceiving gives way to the specifically gnoseological meaning of perceiving as true because evident knowing. This is a thesis reached in Meinong’s 1906 work Über die Erfahrungsgrundlagen unseres Wissens: perception – which is to say immediate experience – is a judgement having as its objective existence. But this very definition places us before a re-proposal in a new form of the aporia alluded to above. The objective, that is to say the ideal object which is judged, is other than the object on which one judges: the immediate object of judgement is the fact that the object perceived exists, and not the object perceived itself. Furthermore, even when we tend to communicate a perceptive act with the simplest sentence we can make ourselves comprehensible only by associating the object perceived with a verbal meaning that subsumes it under a general expression: there is no word for the absolutely individual thing that I perceive at this moment. Pure perception is fundamentally inexpressible.12 The connection between sensory intuition and verbal expression which Meinong presents in the psychologistic terms of “association” is defined by Husserl as an “identification-synthesis”, a “fulfilment-unit” between perception, in which the object is given in intuitive presence, and the acts that think it conferring on it the sense expressed by means of 11 12

See Brentano (1969), pp. 60-61; Meinong (1971a), pp. 121-129. Meinong (1973b), pp. 387-393.

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judgement. The presumed ineffability of perception thus appears to resolve itself in the reciprocal inherence of meaning-giving acts, which occur when something is only meant, and meaning-fulfilling acts, by means of which it is intuitively verified.13 On the other hand the positing character of the perceptive lived-experience – which is not grasped by the analysis of Meinong who was convinced of the need to assign it to existential judgement – is saved by the distinction between the nominal belief which apprehends an object simply and the apprehension of the same object according to the forms of categorial connection. The latter mode of apprehending produces the ideal objectivities of the logical sphere, which appears specific and discontinuous with respect to the ante-predicative plane, and which is nevertheless in a genetic relationship with it.14 As far as the perceptive object “by nature” is concerned, the thing, this for Meinong is alternately the set of its properties or their “bearer”. In this second version of the theory defended in the work quoted, the substantial substratum, the noumenic object, is the only real determination common to all things.15 “Participating” in the knowing of this object is something that is given in the phenomenic object, that is to say, the properties by which things appear in different ways.16 But the evidence of this being given to ingenuous experience cannot be the basis of authentic knowledge. Colours, sounds, and other sensory qualities seem to disappear from the universe of objects: they do not belong to ontology or object theory, but rather to the physiology of the perceptive apparatus.17 However in his 1907 work Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften these same qualities are attributed to the gen13 14 15

16 17

Husserl (1922), vol. II, part I, p. 38. Husserl (1922), vol. II, part II, p. 157. F. Weinhandl (1952), pp. 139-140 attributes Meinong’s interpretation of the thing with the character of a “theory of totality”, so that things with their properties, the objects of perception, become objects of a higher order. This reading, coherent with the assumption of the thing as a set of its properties, does not seem to hold in our context. In any case, we have here a good example of how Meinong’s ontology is unfit for systematisation and classification because of its characteristics as a continual work in progress. Meinong (1973b), pp. 459-462. Ibid., p. 397.

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eral science of the objects of knowledge in so far as they are objects knowable a priori. In order to find a home for certain categories of objects left as homeless by the traditionally accepted sciences, Meinong indicates, before impossible objects and objectives, the “objects of sensation” (Empfindungsgegenstände): in a scientific context in fact we speak, for example, of the infinite series of sounds ordered by height and of an infinite number of sounds between two different sounds, something that goes beyond the natural limits of our power of hearing.18 In the second edition of Über Annahmen (1910)19 and in Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit (1915) we can see Meinong’s attempt to bridge the gap between things and properties, which results in the overturning of the theory whereby the grasping of an object is assigned to the being-judgement. Perception cannot show the object in the completeness of its determinations: the object itself appears from time to time according to one of its different properties. The appropriate mode of intending for grasping it is the intending-by-way-of-being of an object intended-byway-of-so-being (Seinsmeinen eines Soseinsgemeinten). Different livedexperiences of grasping according to the so-being mode have a common object, just as one same lived-experience can grasp different objects. By so-being-intending the nature of the presenting “content” determines that of the object grasped, but still leaves space for further determinations; on the other hand, that content can grasp every other object which has that same determination.20 Meinong seems thus to have reached the point of explaining the fact that things offer themselves according to their properties, in an allusive, perspective and incomplete way. Nevertheless his idea of “content” is an obstacle to the satisfaction of this requirement: the content is part of the lived-experience, included in the representation (Vorstellung) as an existent real entity of a psychic nature.21 Only if we accept Husserl’s teaching and we understand it as identical intentional unit with respect to the manifold lived-experiences, in which the essence of meaning is to be recog18 19 20 21

Meinong (1973a), pp. 214-216. Meinong (1977), p. 277. Meinong (1972), pp. 181-186. See Meinong (1971c), pp. 381-385.

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nised,22 is it clear that thanks to this unit a sentence is not bound to intuition but belongs to manifold possible perceptions; and vice versa, one same perception can express itself in sentences of different meanings. For Meinong it still remains to be explained how in a similar incomplete way one can say that precisely this complete object is intended; he believes the difficulty can be resolved by maintaining that to this end the “component” of completeness must be explicitly included in the intending. Now, since “completeness” is hardly to be found as a necessary component in our experience of the innumerable cases in which we intend individuals, Meinong surmises that explicit thinking replaces such a determination with an essential belief in the existence or subsistence of the object intended. Indeed, one could argue, belief itself functions in Meinong’s theory as a surrogate of intuition without which the meaning cannot unfold in the determinate reference to objectivity: Meinong never manages to deal with the theme of intuition radically and with success.23 Real things exist and are complete. Objects that are complete in so far as they are completely determined are opposed to incomplete ones, that is to say determined only with respect to certain properties and undetermined with respect to others. They are introduced originally with reference to abstraction: in his essay Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften the abstract idea is an incomplete object. When, for example, a cello emits its lower sound, we say: “This is C major”, without taking into account its loudness. We speak in this case of abstract representation, whose object is not determined with respect to the moment of loudness.24 The nature of incomplete objects is investigated in Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit with the aim of configuring the intermediate space of possibility between what is factual and what is non-factual to which the principle of excluded middle does not apply. The modality of their being presents interpretative questions which are not easily resolved. The complete real thing is now understood as a set of determinations of an infinitely large number: if we take into account not only what and 22 23 24

Husserl (1922), vol. II, part I, p. 97. Findlay (1972), p. 21. See Meinong (1973a), pp. 326-329.

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how a thing is, but also what and how it is not then the whole number of the determinations that are proper to it can only be infinitely large.25 Each determination either is or is not proper to it: tertium non datur. Incomplete objects on the other hand are determined only with respect to certain properties and indeterminate with respect to others, like the object “something blue” with respect to extension. From this latter point of view, Meinong’s theory goes, the principle of excluded middle cannot be applied: the object “blue” is neither extended, nor non-extended.26 Meinong attributes incomplete objects primarily with the function of epistemic auxiliaries in the operations aimed at knowing complete objects. From this point of view, incomplete objects do not yet appear as entities, so to speak, in the first person: they are postulated with the aim of accounting for the intentionality of thought, of its being directed at an object.27 This, to which intending is directed as to the final object, cannot be present because of the infinite number of its determinations; it is therefore grasped with the help of incomplete objects, present but poorly determined, and the positioning between these and the complete object of incomplete objects completed by further determinations.28 As far as this function of theirs is concerned, incomplete objects are indeterminate not only with respect to so-being, but also with respect to being. From another perspective, however, it could be argued that the objects themselves acquire the ontological consistency of separate objects. Thus we fall into one of the “errors” denounced by Husserl in his critique of Locke’s theory of abstract ideas: that to which an intention is directed becomes because of this an autonomous object of the act. But the fact that it becomes an autonomous object does not mean that it also becomes a

25

26 27 28

Compare Höfler (1890), p. 102: to the concept “non-green” there belongs not only red and yellow, but also sweet, triangular, square, and in general everything physical that is precisely “non-green”, as well as everything that is psychic, like virtue for example. Meinong (1972), pp. 168-171. See Jacquette (1995), p. 258. Meinong (1972), pp. 194-204.

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separate object. The intention does not separate, it “aims at” something.29 What Meinong proposes has all the semblance of a process of separation. Incomplete objects are provided with a mode of being defined as implexive being in that they are implected (implektiert) in complete objects, which, in so far as they, so to speak, host them within themselves are implecting objects (Implektenten). In general, an incomplete object is implected in all those complete objects which can be thought starting from it by means of added determinations. An incomplete object neither exists nor subsists properly in its implecting object, but thanks to existence or subsistence of this it is in some way determined with regard to its being. The implexive being allows determinations partly of factuality, partly of possibility; it is close enough to being in its most proper meaning to be able to be defined as “being” in the same sense.30 If we contemplate Meinong’s ontology from the perspective presented to us by his chapter on the implexive being of incomplete objects it becomes difficult to deny that it appears as a proliferation of innumerable objects, contained within each other like disconcerting Chinese boxes. The same incomplete object can be implected in many complete objects, even non-existent ones: when this happens both implexive being and implexive non-being are proper to it. Meinong defines in this way the ambit of the possibilities compatible with implexive being, which he maintains extends between the extreme limits of implexive being and implexive non-being: for this reason such modes of being would not be reciprocally contradictory like being and non-being simpliciter. Proper to the implexive being of an incomplete object is a degree of possibility which depends on the greater or smaller number of complete objects in which this object is implected. Complete objects acquire in turn a sort of possibility deriving from the incomplete objects implected in them and from their completions.31 According to Findlay, Meinong identifies possibility with a tendency to factuality. A conception of this type seems to him to be more refined and complex than that commonly accepted, whereby the mere approxima29 30 31

Husserl (1922), vol. II, part I, p. 130. Meinong (1972), pp. 213-216. Ibid., pp. 209-213.

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tion to some limit, if it should remain such, does not constitute a possibility: only if in a determined set of circumstances the limit could be reached would its attainment be a genuine possibility. For Meinong, on the contrary, where the tendency were to be realised it would cease to be such.32 But in our opinion, if possibility is defined for its stable and definitive placing at a certain point on the line which stretches between factuality and non-factuality no “tendency” can be recognized. As for the possibilities thus conceived the analogy of what Findlay himself observes regarding incomplete objects stands: “something that is A”, “something that is AB”, “something that is ABC”, etc. are just series of objects.33 The ambit of possibilities opens itself up to our consideration if we bear in mind that the complete object is given to us only by the indirect path of the auxiliary incomplete object, whose incompleteness renders it accessible to possibility. If I affirm that my acquaintance N could arrive tomorrow at place O, but that he could already have arrived there yesterday, I in no way doubt that tomorrow he will arrive or he will not arrive in fact and not possibly, just as I am equally firmly convinced that yesterday he arrived or did not arrive in fact. But I can grasp the complete object N only by means of an incomplete auxiliary object, whose determinations are given in part in the meaning of the words “my acquaintance N” and furthermore in completions, of which I am supposed to know at least the most important. To this completed object, with which both arrival and non arrival yesterday or tomorrow are compatible, only determinations of possibility are proper. Similar determinations are to be predicated in a strict sense only of implexively completed objects. If we stick to the linguistic expression there are also however predications of possibilities that refer to complete objects. Yet we are dealing here not with pure possibilities, but rather with applied possibilities: the same possibility that is proper to the incomplete object is proper to the real and complete object in a mediated way. The nature of the “graduated” being as to the applied possibilities appears to be a problem not easily resolved. It is to some extent analogous 32 33

See Findlay (1963), p. 211. Ibid., pp. 178-179.

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to that which Meinong tackled with regard to the nature of the implexive being: it is indeed the implexive being which is now, so to speak, placed in the complete object. Reasons were found for replying that this mode of being was really a being in the common sense of the term. In favour of a homogeneity of sense of the existential being and the possible being, Meinong adduces, among others, an argument which appeals to intuitive immediacy and is illustrated by the following example: on considering the plan of the Suez or the Panama canal one could already say, and undoubtedly said: this canal (or, more precisely, its existence) is possible, it being obviously an applied possibility, in which the set of data that constitutes the plan represents the “bearer” of the pure possibility. It seems particularly clear that what appears here with the determination of possibility is the common or natural concept of existence.34 We doubt that there are objects to which, because of their nature, the principle of excluded middle cannot be applied. Possibility not merely logical, possibility in a “positive” sense as Meinong understands it, can belong to factuality only in so far as we explain it as open potentiality in the temporal order of becoming. But there is no space for such an opening in Meinong’s rigid determinism which is the evident survival of his empiricist roots: a happening cannot take place if the whole of the conditions that allow it give a possibility less than 1: in other words, nothing could be different from what it is.35

2.2 Subsisting objects. Height of being and modal moment At a higher level with respect to existing realities there are ideal objects. These are objects of a higher order to whom an intimate dependence on those of the lower order is peculiar, they being the “something more” which emerges when they are “taken together”. The subjective operation of taking together is indeed required, but it puts us in sight of an objectiv34 35

Meinong (1972), pp. 221-231. See Meinong (1973c), pp. 526-550.

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ity independent of the subject,36 which does not exist in the same way as things but subsists ideally. The intuition that leads Meinong to these kinds of objects causes a decisive turning point in his research; not so decisive however as to make him abandon completely the atomistic model: it survives on the objective side in the relationship of dependence of the superiora with respect to the inferiora and on the subjective side in the representation understood as a component in the process leading to the judgement which grasps the superiora. To illustrate the type of dependence we are talking about Meinong refers to the incompleteness (Unfertigkeit) which seems to him to be inherent in, for example, the object “diversity” when one attempts to isolate it from what is different. The concept of diversity cannot be thought completely without referring to the objects to which it is tied. This incompleteness is of another type than that, so to speak, external of concepts such as colour and extension, which still cannot be thought one without the other: in the concept “blue” or “yellow” there is nothing in fact that implies extension. We are dealing with objects which build themselves (die sich ... aufbauen) on other objects, which are their indispensable “foundations”. With respect to these latter they are therefore “objects of a higher order”. The example of diversity draws our attention first of all to relations: all representations of relations present objects of a higher order in which the members of the relation, that is to say the terms between which the relation takes place, function as inferiora. Besides relations the ambit of objects of a higher order contains a second, no smaller, class, that of complexes, an example of which can be the object “four walnuts”. In order to represent it to myself it is not enough that there appear in my perception or in my imagination, corresponding to the places a, b, c, d of my field of vision, one walnut respectively: this is not a “collective objective”37 of 36 37

See Meinong (1969b), pp. 291-292. Objektives Kollektiv; the expression is already used in Meinong (1969c), p. 319: Meinong intends by it a connection operated by the synthesising activity of the subject without there being any correspondence in the nature of the things connected and in this sense totally arbitrary. According to Fischer (1971), pp. 473474, n. 16, in his lessons Meinong was later to correct this thesis, holding it to be more appropriate to consider the collective to be a particular object of a

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walnuts represented, but rather this and something else that is added to it, that is to say, the result of a numbering or a “collecting” activity (kolligierende Tätigkeit).38 It is an objective result (ein gegenständliches Ergebnis) which constitutes itself as an object of a higher order on the objects of the representations of the walnuts. The same is true for melody, which is more than an objective collective of sounds, as well as a red square or a green rectangle, whose nature is not constituted simply by its colour and shape, but rather by a determined association or connection of these data. If by real objects we understand those which even when they do not exist by their nature could however exist, opposed to them are ideal objects in so far as they do not exist but subsist. The contrast between real and ideal objects can also be characterised in another way. In the case that it exists, every real object must be able to be perceived: but if we designate real objects as the objects perceivable by nature this allows us to point out that there is a whole class of objects lacking this nature, that is ideal objects: it is obvious that what does not exist cannot be an object of perception. The situation is considered from a positive point of view when one focuses on the analogy of perception, which cannot be lacking from the knowledge of subsisting objects. Judging is doing. Perception therefore is too; but it was always thought that the representations on which it is based, sensations for example, fell, so to speak, into the lap of the subject essentially without its collaboration, being rather the point of departure for all intellectual activity. Things stand differently regarding our knowledge of the subsisting of an ideal object. Here a doing is given not only in judgements; the representative material on which the judgement operates must also be elaborated.39 Let us imagine we have to compare two colours A and B, such as red and green for example. Participating in what happens in this case is both the representation of A, and that of B, in the sense that both the representations are in a certain real relation.40 The operation aimed at establishing 38 39 40

higher order, the “set-complex” (Mengekomplex). Meinong quotes the expression used in Husserl (1966), pp. 71-76. See Meinong (1969b), pp. 295 ff. Ideal are those relations known a priori, real those known a posteriori.

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this relation leads in favourable circumstances to the appearance of a new representation, in this case that of the difference between A and B. This difference is normally not only represented, but also known at the same time by means of an evident judgement: if A and B are different once they are always different since they must be so according to logical necessity, which here is based on one hand on the nature of A and B, and on the other on the essence of difference.41 It is therefore right to call A and B not only members, but also as foundations of the relation of difference. Meinong defines this process as the foundation of the superiora by means of their inferiora. For every foundation the relation of necessity between inferiora and superius is essential. Which superius is constituted depends on the nature of the operations which set in motion the psychic process: faced with the same objects, I may find once that they are different and another time that there are two of them; in the first case I have compared, in the second I have placed them together. But with respect to the nature of the inferiora difference is as necessary as duality. If the objects given are sounds they can be received as a musical motif, and even in this case there is a relation of necessity: they produce this melody and no other.42 It must be noted that the term “foundation”, used previously to designate generally the members of the relation, is attributed in the essay on the objects of a higher order to the inferiora in particular, on which the superius is based necessarily. In Über Annahmen the side of representation is kept distinct from that of the object, even though the two remain parallel. The process by which, starting from two or more “elementary” representations, a new representation is produced, is called “production” (Vorstellungsproduktion), while the term “foundation” is reserved for the objects of representations producing, so to speak, which provide the foundations for the object of the representation produced. The latter is al41

42

The relation of necessity is not generally implicit in that between inferius and superius. This does not hold for real relations and complexes: colours, tactile qualities, and temperatures always present themselves as more or less clearly located, and this connection with spatial determinations is more than a mere coincidence; but I can think a colour in a different place from that in which I am representing it now, or in this place I can think another colour. Meinong (1971c), pp. 394-401.

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ways an object of a higher order, and as such is “founded”.43 As a result of the aforementioned distinction, the relation of necessity will be proper only to foundation and not to production. The activity of Vostellungsproduktion was held to be sufficient to constitute objects of a higher order until the discovery of a particular type of these same objects, the objectives, to which, from the second edition of Über Annahmen onwards, all others are at least potentially traced back. That which had been attributed to representation as one of its exclusive achievements is now discovered to be achievable only when, besides representing, one has recourse to judgement or to something sufficiently similar to it, that is to assumption, a lived-experience which belongs to an intermediate area between representation and judgement in so far as it is “judgement without belief”.44 Judgement and assumption are the authentic operations constitutive of objectivity. If judgement properly “has to do” with the object, the object is grasped – as objectum (Object)45 – in an objective, thanks to which we know something about it: that it exists or does not exist, or that it subsists or does not subsist, that it is in a certain way or that it is not in this way. The objectum which we judge is included as a sort of integrative component in the objective that is judged.46 The objective contrasts with the objectum as an object which not only, just like the objectum, in a favourable case, has being, but which is first of all itself being both in a strict sense, and in the sense of so-being. With this it is to be understood that being in its manifold forms is placed

43

44 45 46

GA IV, p. 11; see Ameseder (1904), p. 481 ff. We also find the term “Vorstellungsproduktion” in Meinong (1969a), p. 198, where it is used however with a different meaning: to produce here means, more generally, to draw an effect from oneself (aus sich selbst herauswirken) and it expresses the concept to which the term “spontaneity” traditionally corresponds. In this work representations are subdivided into representations of perception and imagination: the ambit of “produced” representations, or rather the representations of ideal objects, has not yet been identified. See Meinong (1977), p. 340. See Poli (2001), p. 356. See Meinong (1972), pp. 248-249.

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objectually opposite assuming and judging just as the objectum is opposite representing.47 A subsisting objective of a positive quality – that is the objective of a true affirmative judgement – is also designated as a “fact” (Tatsache):48 factuality is a modal property of the objective. In Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit the relationship of factuality with being is complicated. A “contemplative” and a “penetrative” attitude are distinguished first of all: the former belongs to representation and assumption which remain, so to speak, on the surface; the latter to evident judgement which grasps a fact in depth.49 Reference is also made to different degrees of “height” of being (Seinshöhe): this determination is such that the reduction to its minimum, to zero that is, does not also annul the qualitative property of the objective, that is the distinction between being and nonbeing. We meet the minimum value of this height of being in coincidence with non-factuality, while we find its maximum value with factuality. But these variations are also to be found within the contemplative sphere: the full condition of factuality and non-factuality requires the modal moment which corresponds to what is grasped by means of evident penetration. This moment completes, so to speak, the height of being in accomplished modality.50 If we pause to focus on the reasons which may explain such complications,51 we find ourselves led back to the question of the tortuous relationship between merely thinking and its fulfilment. We suppose that an aid to clarification may be found in Husserl’s considerations on predicative judgements: when they have been produced and categorial objectivities have been constituted in them, if we leave aside their possible fulfilment in intuition, they lead a type of autonomous life as mere sense, as empty judgements, which anticipate and go beyond that which is verifi47 48

49 50 51

Meinong (1973a), p. 226; compare Meinong (1977), pp. 42 ff., 59 ff. Factuality is not to be attributed to those objectives which can constitute the object of a correct negation of being: the objective “that there is no perpetuum mobile” is not a fact. Meinong (1972), pp. 255-256. Ibid., pp. 112, 264-266. See Jorgensen (2002), pp. 95-118.

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able in experience. It is precisely here, where judging loses its certainty immediately proven (could we perhaps say: loses its quality as a penetrative act filled by intuition in accomplished modality of being?) the modalities of doubting, supposing, holding as probable appear, together with the mode of empirical or presumptive certainty, as opposed to that of absolute apodictic certainty.52 From the modal property of factuality Meinong derives that of possibility according to a line of decreasing quantities between factuality and non-factuality, as indicated above; each one of these quantities is a factuality of a lower degree grasped with an evident surmise, where we assume degrees in evidence itself. There is finally the modal property of necessity: it is a special case of factuality, which offers itself in a priori knowledge, where knowing is “understanding”, evidence not only of what, but also of why. Necessary is an objective intuitable a priori.

3. Object theory and Außersein With objects of a higher order we come to a realm of objects which, even though they do not exist, are still objects of thought. In Über Gegenstandstheorie this realm extends to the point of including not only objects which do not exist because of their ideal nature, but also those which cannot exist because they are impossible, like the well-known round square and the golden mountain. This has frequently led interpreters of Meinong to consider his ontology as a universe crowded, together with objects to which some mode of being is proper, with non-existing, non-factual, and even absurd objects. Meinong’s object theory introduces us however to a science which does not want to be an ontology: it is a general science of the object of knowledge. It is to be understood in the light of the principle of independence of so-being from being formulated by Mally,53 which derives from an overcoming of the prejudice in favour of what is real (das Vorurteil zugunsten des Wirklichen): existing objects are far from exhaust52 53

See Husserl (1948), pp. 343-344. Mally (1904), pp. 127 ff.

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ing the sphere of the objects of knowledge. But not even the extension to the subsisting objects is enough to fill it: the same objects to which we deny being must possess characteristic properties, that is a so-being without which our conviction of their non-being would be devoid of sense or justification. The so-being of an object is not therefore influenced by its being or non-being. In general, knowing finds in the so-being of every object a field of application to gain access to which it is not necessary to respond to the question of its being or non-being. This opposition is something which belongs to the objective, not the object as such, in which there cannot be either being or non-being. The “pure” object is außerseiend, outside-being. It seems clear therefore that Außersein is not to be understood as a type of being – nor, on the other hand, as the ambit of non-being, according to a well accepted interpretative tendency54 – but rather it refers to a positivity and a possibility intrinsic in the nature of the pure object.55 Meinong is clearly aware that an assertion of so-being relative to an object does not imply an assertion of being. And yet we would say that there is a paradox implicit in his very position: having freed himself of the prejudice in favour of what is real he cannot manage to free himself completely from that which, paraphrasing it, we could term the “prejudice in favour of what has being”, motivated, it seems to us, by the overlapping of the psychological onto the logical point of view. To justify our thinking a non-being object and in general our thinking an object without taking into consideration the question regarding its being or non-being, that is the object in its so-being, the object außerseiend, Meinong finds it necessary to have recourse to assumption in its quality of simulation of being.56 Despite this ambiguity, the theory whose task it is to investigate the region defined by the object’s “being opposite” the lived-experiences which grasp it marks Meinong’s deliberate distancing himself from the psychologistic empiricism of his origins. The interest of psychology is limited to the objects which exist “in our representations” and this in his 54 55 56

See, among others, Lambert (1983), pp. 14-15; Sweet (1993), p. 571. Meinong (1971d), pp. 485-494; compare Lenoci (1972), p. 112. See Meinong (1977), pp. 240-241.

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eyes denounces the inadequacy of this discipline with respect to the task of considering objects in themselves. The reference to the livedexperiences, albeit indispensable for recognising them, is in fact none other than an indirect characterisation of objects: they have their own positivity and possibility which transcend their merely being grasped.57 Similar considerations lead to the sphere of themes which traditionally belong to logic. In particular, Meinong alludes to affinities and discordances between his object theory and Husserl’s “pure logic” with regard both to their tasks and their common commitment to contrasting psychologism.58 He puts forward reservations regarding the normative value attributed by Husserl to pure logic: the “laws of thought” would lead to a psychologistic interpretation of knowing as a psychic happening. But the laws of pure logic are not simple norms of cognitive activity: they contain rather the idea of this normative function and enounce it as universally binding.59 Logical laws in the most meaningful sense refer to the objectivity or non-objectivity, the truth or falsehood, the consistence or absurdity of meanings in so far as these are determined by the mere categorial form of meanings themselves. There correspond to such laws those of objects in general, in so far as they are thought as determined by pure and simple categories. The purely logical conditions of knowledge are independent, on one hand, of the expressions and the lived-experiences of thinking subjects and, on the other, of ideal relationships between intentions and their fulfilment, that is of the possible cognitive function of meanings. Judgements, representations, and psychic acts of any type are never in question; what interests is not understanding, but the concept which stands as a meaning-unity, and truth which is itself constituted by concepts.60 In Meinong’s treatment the zone beyond being and non-being is suffering from unstable borders: actually, we are faced here with two orders of questions; the first one regards the “formal” generality of the funda57 58 59 60

Meinong (1971d), pp. 494-498. Ibid., p. 502. See Husserl (1922), vol. I, pp. 155 ff. Ibid., vol. II, part I, p. 92 ff; see Modenato (1995), pp. 87-112; for a fuller consideration of these and other themes Modenato (2006).

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mental gnoseological problems, leaving out of consideration every “matter” of knowledge; the second refers to the gnoseologicalphenomenological foundation of concepts and laws of pure logic. They are absolutely inseparable, and yet strictly distinct. Now, the Außersein of pure objects ought to be set in the first order, as to which the ontological question is purely formal. Pure logic seems therefore to respond in the most adequate way to the demands felt by Meinong; in any case, Meinong declared himself convinced that between Husserl’s “formal ontology” and his own object theory there was no substantial difference and he recognised in the “bracketing” of the phenomenological method a synonym of the “freedom from the existent”.61 Francesca Modenato Università degli Studi di Padova [email protected]

61

Meinong (1978b), pp. 293 ff.

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References Albertazzi, Liliana, Jacquette, Dale & Poli, Roberto [eds.] (2001), The School of Alexius Meinong, Aldershot/Burlington USA/Singapore/ Sydney, Ashgate. Ameseder, Rudolf (1904), “Über Vorstellungsproduktion”, in Meinong [ed.] (1904), pp. 481-508. Brentano, Franz (1969), Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis, Hamburg, Meiner. First published 1889. Erdmann, Benno (1892), Logik, vol. I: Logische Elementarlehre, Halle a.S., M. Niemeyer. Findlay, John N. (1963), Meinong’s Theory of Objects And Values, 2nd ed., Oxford, Clarendon Press. Findlay, John N. (1972), “Einige Hauptpunkte in Meinongs philosophischer Psychologie”, in Haller [ed.] (1972), pp. 15-24. Fischer, Auguste (1971), “Zusätze” to Meinong (1971c), pp. 472-480. Haller, Rudolf [ed.] (1972), Jenseits von Sein und Nichtsein. Beiträge zur Meinong-Forschung, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt. Höfler, Alois (1890), Logik, Prag/Wien/Leipzig, Tempsky/Freytag. Husserl, Edmund (1922), Logische Untersuchungen, 3rd ed., 2 vols., Halle a.S., M. Niemeyer. First published 1900-1901. Husserl, Edmund (1948), Erfahrung und Urteil. Untersuchungen zur Genealogie der Logik, Hamburg, Claassen und Goverts. Husserl, Edmund (1966) Philosophie der Arithmetik, in Husserliana, vol. XII, Den Haag, M. Nijhoff. First published 1891. Jacquette, Dale (1995), “Meinong’s Concept of Implexive Being and Nonbeing”, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 50, pp. 233-271. Jorgensen, A.K. (2002), “Meinong’s much Maligned Modal Moment”, Grazer Philosophische Sudien, 64, pp. 95-118. Lambert, Karel (1983), Meinong and the Principle of Independence. Its Place in Meinong’s Theory of Objects and its Significance in Con-

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temporary Philosophical Logic, Cambridge/London/New York/New Rochelle/Melbourn/Sidney, Cambridge University Press,. Lenoci, Michele (1972), La teoria della conoscenza in Alexius Meinong, Milano, Vita e pensiero. Lindenfeld, David F. (1980), The Transformation of Positivism. Alexius Meinong and European Thought, 1880-1920, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of California Press. Mally, Ernst (1904), “Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie des Messens”, in Meinong [ed.] (1904), pp. 121-262. Meinong, Alexius [ed.] (1904), Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, Leipzig 1904. Meinong, Alexius (1969a), “Phantasie-Vorstellung und Phantasie”, in GA I, pp. 193-271. First published 1889. Meinong, Alexius (1969b), “Zur Psychologie der Komplexionen und Relationen”, in GA I, pp. 279-300. First published 1891. Meinong, Alexius (1969c), “Beiträge zur Theorie der psychischen Analyse”, in GA I, pp. 305-388. First published 1894. Meinong, Alexius (1971a), “Hume-Studien II. Zur Relationstheorie”, in GA II, pp. 1-172. First published 1882. Meinong, Alexius (1971b), “Zur erkenntnistheoretischen Würdigung des Gedächtnisses”, in GA II, pp. 185-209. First published 1886. Meinong, Alexius (1971c), “Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung und deren Verhältnis zur inneren Wahrnehmung”, in GA II, pp. 377-471. First published 1899. Meinong, Alexius (1971d), “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, in GA II, pp. 481530. First published 1904. Meinong, Alexius (1972), Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit. Beiträge zur Gegenstandstheorie und Erkenntnistheorie, in GA VI, pp. XV-XXII; 1-728; 777-808. First published 1915. Meinong, Alexius (1973a), Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften, in GA V, pp. 197-365. First published 1907.

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Meinong, Alexius (1973b), Über die Erfahrungsgrundlagen unseres Wissens, in GA V, pp. 367-481. First published 1906. Meinong, Alexius (1973c), Zum Erweise des allgemeinen Kausalgesetztes, in GA V, pp. 483-602. First published 1918. Meinong, Alexius (1977), Über Annahmen, 2nd ed., in GA IV, pp. 1-389; 517-535. First published 1910. Meinong, Alexius (1978a), “Selbstdarstellung”, in GA VII, pp. 1-62. First published 1921. Meinong, Alexius (1978b), “Bemerkungen zu E. Husserls Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie”, in GA, Ergänzungsband, pp. 287-323. Nachlaß XXII/a (1913-1914). Modenato, Francesca (1995), “Meinong’ Theory of Objects: an Attempt at Overcoming Psychologism”, Grazer Philosophische Sudien, 50, pp. 87-112. Modenato, Francesca (2006), La conoscenza e l’oggetto in Alexius Meinong, Padova, Il Poligrafo. Poli, Roberto (2001), “General Theses of the Theory of Objects”, in Albertazzi, Jaquette & Poli [eds.] (2001), pp. 347-372. Radaković, Konstantin, Tarouca, Amadeo Silva & Weinhandl, Ferdinand [eds.] (1952), Meinong-Gedenkschrift, Graz 1952. Rollinger, Robin D. (2005), “Meinong and Brentano”, Meinong Studies / Meinong Studien, 1, pp. 159-197. Simons, Peter (2005), “Meinong, Consistency and the Absolute Totality”, Meinong Studies / Meinong Studien, 1, pp. 233-254. Sweet, Dennis (1993), “The Gestalt Controversy: The Development of Objects of Higher Order in Meinong’s Ontology”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LIII, 3, pp. 553-575. Weinhandl, Ferdinand (1952), “Das Außenweltproblem bei A. Meinong”, in Radaković, Tarouca & Weinhandl [eds.] (1952), pp. 127-156.

THREE KINDS OF INCOMPLETENESS Andrea C. Bottani

Summary In sections 1-3, I distinguish three different kinds of incompleteness – which I call “weak”, “flat” and “genuine” – and I argue that, even if Meinong does not seem to have conceived his incomplete objects as genuinely incomplete, only genuinely incomplete objects can play the role that incomplete objects have to play in Meinong’s theory. In the last section, I try to make clearer the notion of genuine indeterminacy, in terms of which the concept of an incomplete object is defined, and I defend it against other more familiar and less radical accounts of indeterminacy.

One of the most outstanding principles of Meinong’s theory of objects is the assumption that there are (in some sense of “there are”) objects which have no being.1 According to Meinong, only spatiotemporally located objects like this pencil exist, but also abstract objects like the number 2 have being or subsist. On the other hand, there are plenty of objects, like the golden mountain or the round square, that neither exist nor subsist. Since, according to Meinong’s “principle of independence”, what an object is is independent of its being, non-subsistent objects can have properties. The idea that there are non-subsistent objects is grounded on the assumption that every intentional state is directed to something. If one thinks of the round square, for example, there must be something (a nonexistent and non-subsistent object) she is thinking of. And if one desires a golden mountain, there must be something non-existent and nonsubsistent – something that there is but has no being – she is desiring. Since our intentional states are often directed to inconsistent objects (for 1

See Meinong (1904).

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instance, one can think and speak of the object identical with both myself and everything else) as well as to incompletely determined objects (for instance, one can desire something sweet), non-subsistent objects can be overdetermined as well as underdetermined. An object is overdetermined just in case there is at least one property such that the object has both that property and its complement (for instance, both the property of being red and the property of being non-red). And an object is underdetermined just in case there is at least one property such that the object has neither it nor its complement (for instance, neither the property of being red nor that of being non-red). Underdetermined objects are also called “incomplete”. Even if every subsisting object is complete, it is not the case that every non-subsisting object is incomplete (the object that is identical with both myself and my complement, for instance, has no being but is in no way incomplete). On the other hand, it is not the case that every overdetermined object is complete (the round square, for example, is both overdetermined and underdetermined, since it is both round and non-round and it is neither red nor non-red). Due to our inability to grasp all the infinite attributes of a complete object, incomplete objects play an extremely important role in Meinong’s theory of knowledge (it is only through what is incomplete that we can know what is complete). Since objects can be constituents of what Meinong calls “objectives” (for instance, Meinong himself can be a constituent of the objective that Meinong was a great philosopher) and no objective can be complete if one or more of the objects that are constituents of it are incomplete, incompleteness can affect objectives as well as objects. And objectives are, according to Meinong, the truth-makers of propositions and the objects of propositional attitudes.2 Thus, the notion of incompleteness is central in Meinong’s philosophy, playing an important role not only in his ontology and theory of knowledge, but also in his theory of truth and philosophy of mind. I do not intend here to go deeply into the role of incompleteness in the context of Meinong’s philosophy. What I intend to do is simply to wonder how the notion of an incomplete object 2

See Meinong (1902).

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has to be understood. I shall claim that there are at least three different notions of an incomplete object, among which only one is (probably) adequate to Meinong’s purposes. But this does not seem to be the notion of an incomplete object that Meinong had in mind.

1. Weak incompleteness To begin with, let me say that an object x is weakly incomplete just in case, for some P, x has neither the property of being P nor the property of being non-P (for example, neither the property of being red nor the property of being non-red). In symbols: (1)

(∀x) x is weakly indefinite iff (∃P) ¬(Px) ∧ ¬ ((¬P)x)

The idea that something is weakly incomplete in this sense does not require by itself much deviation from classical logic (which is the reason why I have called this kind of incompleteness “weak”). As is well known, standard forms of incompleteness tend to threaten two classical principles: the law of bivalence (LB) and the law of excluded middle (LE). LB says that, for any sentence p, either p or its negation is true (in symbols, Tp ∨ T¬p). LE says that, for any sentence p, the disjunction of p and its negation is always true (in symbols, p ∨ ¬p). The idea that something is weakly incomplete in the above sense is by itself fairly compatible with both LB and LE. To see why, assume a is weakly indefinite. Then, for some property P, ¬(Pa) ∧ ¬ ((¬P)a) – by definition of “weakly indefinite”. And, by definition of ∧ and ∨, ¬(Pa ∨ (¬P)a). However, this is not a counterexample to LE unless (¬P)a is equivalent to ¬(Pa). And this equivalence can be denied. On the other hand, in the same case, neither Pa nor (¬P)a is true. Again, however, this is not a counterexample to LB unless (¬P)a is equivalent to ¬(Pa). And, again, this equivalence can be denied. The principle that (¬P)x is equivalent to ¬(Px) is called the “principle of obversion”. What I have just shown is that, if something is weakly indefinite and obversion holds, then both LE and LB have true counterex-

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amples. But this is not all: if something is weakly indefinite and obversion holds, also the principle of non-contradiction (NC) has true counterexamples. To see why, suppose that a is weakly indefinite. Then, by definition of “weakly indefinite”, for some property P, ¬(Pa) ∧ ¬ ((¬P)a). If obversion holds, we can replace in this formula ‘(¬P)a’ by ‘¬(Pa)’, giving place to ¬(Pa) ∧ ¬ ¬(Pa), which is a fair counterexample to NC. The moral to be drawn is that the principle of obversion and the thesis that something is weakly indefinite are utterly incompatible: endorsing the thesis is tantamount to rejecting obversion. But, inasmuch as obversion is rejected, weak incompleteness poses no further threat to classical logic. Informally, the principle of obversion says that something fails to have a property (say, the property of being red) just in case it has the contrary property (say, the property of being non-red). Failing to be red is tantamount to being non-red: si nullus homo est lapis, omnis homo est non lapis, and vice versa. The principle was well known in the antiquity (in the Parmenides, for instance, Plato argues that, if the one does not have any limits, then it is unlimited). But in the Prior Analytics, Aristotle argues that the principle of obversion is invalid, since being non-good is not tantamount to failing to be good. Indeed, the Aristotelian square of oppositions is grounded on a rigid distinction between propositional and predicative negation, just the kind of distinction that the principle of obversion removes. Since the principle allows us to transform affirmative categorical A- and I-propositions into the corresponding E- and O-propositions (for example ‘every man is mortal’ into ‘No man is non-mortal’ and ‘Some men are mortal’ into ‘Some men are not non-mortal’) and vice versa, it flattens the square of oppositions into a simple pair of opposites. If the principle of obversion is rejected, the impact of weak incompleteness on classical logic is negligible. Its impact on the theory of predication seems to deserve more consideration. For any properties P and Q, say that Q is the complement of P (in short, P*) if and only if, for any x, x falls in the extension of Q just in case it falls outside the extension of P.3 And, for any properties P and Q, say that Q is the negation of P 3

Henceforth, expressions like “P” and “the property P” are used as shorthand for expressions like “the property of being P”.

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(in short, P') if and only if, for any x, x falls in the extension of Q just in case x is non-P. Weak incompleteness entails that a property can be the negation of another without being its complement, or its complement without being its negation (in short, for some P, P* ≠ P'). Thus, something incomplete can lack both a property and its negation and have the complements of both – i.e., it can be both outside the extension of P and outside the extension of non-P, but both inside the extension of P* and inside the extension of non-P*. If the round square is weakly incomplete, for example, it falls both outside the extension of the property of being red and outside the extension of the property of being non-red, so it falls inside the extensions of the complements of both properties. Accordingly, it is false that the round square is red and it is false that it is non-red, but it is true that it is not the case that it is red and it is true that it is not the case that it is non-red. For any property P, thus, weakly incomplete objects fall either in the extension of that property or outside it. So, in a sense, they are fully determined and it is unclear why they might deserve to be called “incomplete”: weak incompleteness is so weak that it can hardly be a kind of incompleteness. No predicative sentence about a weakly incomplete object can be neither true nor false, so bivalence holds. And no disjunction of a sentence about a weakly incomplete object and its negation can fail to be true, so the excluded middle holds. One can wonder whether incomplete objects in Meinong’s sense are just weakly incomplete objects in the defined sense. Does the notion of weak incompleteness capture the Meinongian notion of an incomplete object? It may, but it may not. In (1915), Meinong distinguishes a wider version of excluded middle, which he endorses, from a narrower version of the principle, which he rejects: although it is true by virtue of logic that either the round square has the property of being red or it does not have that property (which is an instance of LE in its wider version), it is not true that either the round square has the property of being red or it has the property of being non-red (which is an instance of LE in its narrower version).4 The thesis that there are incomplete objects does not conflict in any way with the wider version of LE (in symbols: Pa ∨ ¬(Pa)) but im4

Meinong (1915), GA VI, pp. 168-174, 178.

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plies the falsity of the narrower version of the principle (in symbols: Pa ∨ (¬P)a). From this point of view, an object a is incomplete just in case at least one truth concerning a is the negation of an instance of LE in its narrower version (in symbols: ¬ (Pa ∨ (¬P)a)). This is exactly the definition of a weakly incomplete object I gave above – see (1). According to Meinong, the narrower excluded middle does not follow from the wider excluded middle (which, Meinong argues, is the reason why Berkeley’s attack on Locke’s abstract ideas fails). If the inference from the wider to the narrower principle is incorrect, what I have called “principle of obversion” cannot be valid (which, as I have showed, is a necessary condition for having weakly indefinite objects). Thus, one can think that an indefinite object in Meinong’s sense is nothing but a “weakly indefinite” object in the defined sense. Unfortunately, this interpretation of Meinongian incomplete objects – whether faithful to Meinong or not – is uncharitable. Remember that Meinong’s idea that there are incomplete objects is grounded on the assumption that every intentional state is directed to something. So, if I desire something sweet no matter whether it is liquid or not, cold or not, red or not etc. (that is, something sweet whatever it might be), and there is something I desire, what I desire is an incomplete object, undetermined in respect of a number of properties. However, if “incomplete” means “weakly incomplete”, the only way this object can be undetermined in respect of the properties of being liquid, cold, red etc. is to be both outside the extension of each of those properties and outside the extension of its negation: what I desire is not liquid, cold, red etc. and also is not nonliquid, non-cold, non-red etc. It is outside the extensions of all those properties. This raises two problems. First, when I am desiring something sweet, I am not desiring something neither liquid nor non-liquid – something that is outside the extensions of both properties. If I find something sweet and liquid, or something sweet and non-liquid, my desire is satisfied. Obviously, one can desire something sweet and so dense as to be neither liquid nor non-liquid, but in that case what one desires is not something sweet whatever it might be. It is a more complete object, i.e. something sweet and (in addition) dense to the right degree. If this point is extended from desires to all intentional states, the point becomes that

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weakly incomplete objects are not the kind of entities to which an intentional state can be directed. Second, Meinong says that many incomplete objects are “embedded” in existent objects. For example, the incomplete object that I desire when I am looking for something sweet whatever it might be is embedded in this ice cream, since the ice cream has all the determinations of the incomplete object – just the property of being sweet – and infinitely many additional determinations concerning the ice cream’s colour, temperature, weight and so on. Due to our inability to grasp all the infinite attributes of this ice cream, it is only through the incomplete objects that are embedded in this ice cream that we can attain knowledge of it. However, if the incomplete object that I desire – something sweet – is both outside the extension of the property of being cold and outside the extension of the property of being non-cold, there is one set – the set of all things that fail to be cold – to which the incomplete object belong but the complete object fails to belong. Thus, the incomplete object has a determination that the complete object lacks and so, after all, the determinations of the incomplete object are not a subset of the determinations of the complete object (simply, the determinations of the complete and those of the incomplete object have a non-empty intersection). But then, it seems, it can no longer be said that the incomplete object is “embedded” in the complete one.

2. Flat Incompleteness A slightly stronger notion of incompleteness – call it “flat incompleteness” – can be defined as follows. An object x is flatly incomplete just in case, for some property P, neither x has P nor does it fail to have P. In extensional terms, x is flatly incomplete just in case, for some property P, x is neither inside nor outside the extension of P. So, by the above definition of “complement of a property”, x is flatly incomplete just in case x falls neither inside the extension of P nor inside the extension of the complement, P*, of P. In symbols: (2)

(∀x) x is flatly incomplete iff (∃P) (¬ Px) ∧ (¬ P*x)

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The difference between weak and flat incompleteness can be described as follows. While a weakly incomplete object is outside the extension of both P and non-P (and, as a consequence, in the extension of both P* and non-P*), a flatly incomplete object is neither inside nor outside the extension of both P and non-P (and, as a consequence, invariably outside the extensions of P, non-P, P* and non-P*). Flat incompleteness has a much stronger impact than weak incompleteness on classical logic. If an object a is flatly incomplete, for some property P, a neither has nor fails to have P. If a does not have P, it cannot be true that a has P. If a does not fail to have P, it cannot be false that a has P. So, it is neither true nor false that a has P. As a consequence, the law of bivalence comes out false: it is not the case that each predication about a flatly incomplete object is either true or false (it remains to be decided whether being neither true nor false is tantamount to having a third truth value, different both from truth and from falsity, or is tantamount to being valueless, i.e. having no truth value whatsoever – a point to which I shall return later). If something is flatly incomplete, then, the principle of bivalence comes out false; but the principle of excluded middle cannot come out true. For, suppose “Pa” is neither true nor false. Then, also “¬ Pa” is neither true nor false (for the negation of p cannot be true if p is not false and cannot be false if p is not true). So, “Pa ∨ ¬ Pa” is not true (since a disjunction cannot be true unless some disjunct is true), but is not false (since a disjunction cannot be false unless both disjuncts are false). Here is why, in non-bivalent systems, a disjunction is ordinarily treated as neither true nor false when both disjuncts are neither true nor false. In the better-known treatments, excluded middle comes out invalid in the limited sense that it has non-true instances and non-false counterexamples, but no false instances and no true counterexamples. Again, one might wonder whether an incomplete object in Meinong’s sense is, or might be, just a flatly incomplete object in the defined sense. Does the notion of flat incompleteness capture Meinong’s notion of an incomplete object? Again, whether this interpretation is faithful to Meinong or not, it looks uncharitable. For, take again the incomplete object I am desiring (that is, something sweet). If what I desire is flatly incom-

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plete, then it is neither inside nor outside the extension of a huge number of properties, among which is the property of being cold (if there are flatly incomplete objects, there are many objects that neither have nor fail to have that property and what I desire is one of them). When I desire something sweet, however, I do not seem to desire something which neither has nor fails to have the property of being cold, otherwise nothing that has the property of being cold (and nothing that fails to have it) could satisfy my desire. But this is not the case: if I find something sweet and cold (for example some ice cream), or something sweet and warm (for example some sugared tea), my desire for something sweet is certainly satisfied! Moreover, a flatly incomplete object cannot be embedded in any existent object. For, if the incomplete object I am desiring (something sweet whatever it might be) were flatly incomplete, it would belong to the set of all the objects that (i) are not inside the set of cold objects and (ii) are not outside that set. And no existent object can belong to such a set, for no existent object can have this determination.

3. Genuine incompleteness An even stronger notion of incompleteness – call it ‘genuine incompleteness’ – can be defined as follows. An object x is genuinely incomplete just in case, for some property P, it is indeterminate whether x has P or not. In symbols: 3

(∀x) x is genuinely incomplete iff (∃P) Ind (Px)

The exact idea of a genuinely incomplete object largely depends on what one exactly means when one says that it is indeterminate whether x has P or not. If “it is indeterminate whether x has P” were shorthand for “It is neither true nor false that x has P” (or “x is neither inside nor outside the extension of the property of being P”), genuine incompleteness would collapse on flat incompleteness. The only way to keep genuine incompleteness fairly distinct from flat incompleteness is to refrain from defining “indeterminate” in terms of “true” and false” (for example, as “non-

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true and non-false”). Rather, “indeterminate” has to be taken in a primitive irreducible sense, in which “it is indeterminate that x has P” does not even entail that it is not true (not false) that x has P. I take it that this is a perfectly natural sense of “indeterminate”. When physicists say that it is sometimes indeterminate whether a certain particle is located in a certain position l or not, they do not mean that the particle is neither located in l nor outside l (for in such a case the particle would be located outside physical space). They mean that it is indeterminate whether the particle is located in l or not and indeterminate whether it is located outside l or not. Mutatis mutandis, when I say that it is indeterminate whether some individual a is inside the extension of a property P or not, I do not mean that a is located neither inside nor outside the extension of P (for in such a case a would be located outside logical space). I mean that it is indeterminate whether a is located inside the extension of P or outside it. If “indeterminate” is taken in this primitive sense, genuine incompleteness turns out to be fairly distinct from flat incompleteness. An object a is genuinely incomplete just in case, for some property P, it is indeterminate whether a has P or not and indeterminate whether a fails to have P or not (while a is flatly incomplete just in case a neither has P nor fails to have P; and a is weakly incomplete just in case a fails to have both P and non-P). In other words, a is genuinely incomplete just in case, for some P, it is indeterminate whether it is true that a has P and indeterminate whether it is false that a has P (while a is flatly incomplete just in case it is neither true nor false that a has P; and a is weakly incomplete just in case it is false that a has P and false that a has non-P). I shall examine in some detail later the impact of genuine incompleteness on classical logic. But certainly genuine incompleteness raises problems for bivalence. For, if it is indeterminate whether certain sentences are true or not and indeterminate whether they are false or not, it can only be indeterminate whether they are true-or-false or not. If there are genuinely incomplete objects, thus, the principle of bivalence is indeterminate in truth value, while if there are flatly incomplete objects, the principle is determinately false (since many sentences about flatly incomplete objects are determinately neither true nor false – as we saw above). The interesting point is that a sentence that is (determinately) neither true

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nor false is indeterminate in truth value only in a very limited sense. Let me make this point in more detail. If one assumes that some propositions are neither true nor false, one can take the expression “neither true nor false” in one of two ways. One can assume that being neither true nor false is tantamount to having a third truth value, no less determinate than true and false but intermediate between them – just as orange is no less determinate than red and yellow however intermediate between them. Or else, one might say that being neither true nor false is a way of being valueless (neither true nor false nor any other value). In that case, there would be no value that what is neither true nor false has but there would be more than one value that it determinately fails to have. Since being neither true nor false in this sense entails being non true and being non false, for any truth value and proposition it would be fairly determinate whether that proposition has that value or not. Still, there would be no proposition (no matter whether trueor-false or not) capable of being genuinely indeterminate in truth value. To be sure, whether indefinite (= neither-true-nor-false) propositions are treated as having a third truth value or rather as lacking any value makes a great difference in any context where something is seen as genuinely indefinite. But the two alternatives, however divergent they may be, share a common assumption. Even if the former maintains and the latter denies that there is a truth value that an indefinite proposition has, both agree that there are truth values that each indefinite proposition fails to have: it is not true and it is not false. Since this amounts to a common refusal to take seriously indeterminacy in truth value, these rival approaches can be seen as divergent strategies to achieve the same result, i.e. reconciling the existence of neither-true-nor-false propositions with the preservation of determinacy. However, at least in principle, one is in no way obliged to preserve determinacy. One might take seriously indeterminacy in truth value. Taking seriously indeterminacy means assuming that it is indeterminate whether certain propositions are true or not and indeterminate whether they are false or not. This prevents one moving from the premise that a proposition A is indeterminate in truth value to the conclusion that it is not the case that A is true; and prevents one to move from the same premise to the conclusion that it is not the case that A is false.

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One consequence is that, the more genuine the indeterminacy is, the less radical is the rejection of bivalence that it can ground. For, if some propositions are indefinite and what is indefinite is neither true nor false, the law of bivalence must be false. But if it is indeterminate whether an indefinite proposition is true or not and indeterminate whether it is false or not, it can only be indeterminate whether it is either true or false or neither. Both the law of bivalence and its negation will then come out indeterminate (which does not mean “non true”). Genuine indeterminacy in truth value can hold only where the law of bivalence is itself indeterminate in truth value. Some object a is genuinely incomplete just in case some predications about a are genuinely indeterminate in truth value in the above sense. One might wonder whether an incomplete object in Meinong’s sense is, or might be, just a genuinely incomplete object in the defined sense. Now, there may be reasons to exclude that genuine incompleteness can capture Meinong’s notion of an incomplete object. In his Stellung, for example, Meinong says: “[The datum of loudness] is without doubt not included in what is meant when one talks about the ‘tone C’ in regard to its characteristic pitch, when the pitch, for example, is predicated. The object of the abstract C-presentation, therefore, has no loudness. Does one therefore think in truth of a C without loudness? One can reject this perhaps even more certainly than that the thought of the C already contains a datum of loudness. This ‘abstract’ C has the very peculiar property that loudness neither belongs to it nor is missing from it”.5 This strongly suggests that Meinong understands an incomplete object as flatly incomplete in the aforementioned sense (something that neither has a property nor fails to have it), and not as a genuinely incomplete object in the sense just defined. I have already said why I think that flatly incomplete objects cannot play the role Meinong wants them to play (they cannot be the entities to which our intentional states are directed, and cannot be embedded in any existent objects). What remains to be done is to explain why genuinely incomplete objects can play better the same role.

5

Meinong (1906-1907), p. 121; italics are mine.

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So, let us return to my desire for something sweet. What I desire when I look for something sweet cannot be a flatly incomplete object, for in that case it would be neither inside nor outside the set of cold things, and I do not desire something that is neither inside nor outside that set, but just something sweet whatever it might be: should I find something sweet and cold, or sweet and not cold, my desire would be satisfied. On the contrary, what I desire when I am looking for something sweet can be a genuinely incomplete object – something such that it is indeterminate whether it has a property or not. For saying of some a that it is indeterminate whether a has a property or not is not tantamount to saying that a has some determination – i.e., that a belongs (or does not belong) to some set. So, if what I desire (something sweet) is a genuinely incomplete object such that it is indeterminate whether it is cold or not, and I find something sweet and cold (or sweet and not cold), my desire is satisfied, for what I desire has no determination that what I find fails to have (it determinately belongs to no set to which what I find does not belong, and determinately fails to belong to no set to which what I find belongs). Flatly incomplete objects, moreover, cannot be embedded in any existent objects. For something that has a certain determination cannot be embedded in anything that fails to have that determination. And no existent object can be such that it neither has nor fails to have a certain property (for instance, the property of being cold). But genuinely incomplete objects can be embedded in existent objects. If I desire something sweet and what I desire is a genuinely incomplete object, what I desire is embedded in this ice cream, for it has no determination that the ice cream does not have. In short, Meinong does not seem to have conceived of his incomplete objects as genuinely incomplete in the sense defined above. If incomplete objects have to play the role Meinong wants they play, however, the only available option seems to be to conceive them as genuinely incomplete objects. In the following section, I shall say something to make clearer the notion of genuine indeterminacy (and, as a consequence, the notion of a genuine incomplete object).

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4. Genuine versus non genuine indeterminacy Certainly, propositional knowledge has much to do with truth and falsity. To have propositional knowledge of something involves knowing that certain propositions are true and certain others false. And to fail to have propositional knowledge of something involves failing to know whether certain propositions are true or false. The reverse, however, does not seem to hold in the same general way. For, in many familiar and less familiar cases, it is tempting to say that the reason why we are unable to tell whether a proposition is true or false has nothing to do with our ignorance of how things are arranged. If every intentional state is directed to an object, for example, and Tim is desiring something sweet, one can be unable to decide whether an utterance of “What Tim is desiring is cold” is true or false even if one knows perfectly well all there is to know about Tim’s desires and about the meaning of the utterance, i.e. the proposition the uttered sentence expresses in the context of the utterance. In such cases, it looks as if the reason why we are unable to determine whether a proposition is true or false is that there is nothing to be determined: simply, it is indeterminate whether the proposition is true and indeterminate whether it is false. To say that amounts to denying the law of bivalence: some propositions are true, some false and some indefinite. As is well known, the existence and range of indefinite propositions have been a matter of sustained philosophical debate since the very origin of philosophy. A brief list of candidates includes propositions about nonexistent entities such as “The present king of France is bald”, categorially incorrect predications such as “The Moon is even”, paradoxical propositions such as “This sentence is false”, contingent future-tensed propositions such as “On the 27th of May 2020 at 9 o’clock there will be at least 4 people in this room”, vague propositions such as “Tim is bald” (where Tim is a borderline case of baldness) and propositions about the objects of intentional states such as “What I am thinking of is cold” (when I am thinking of something sweet). I have argued that, whenever a proposition is indefinite, one can either assume that, for any truth value, it is determinate whether the proposition has that value or not, or the contrary. The former option entails that

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the law of bivalence is false, and gives us indefiniteness without indeterminacy. The latter option does not entail that the law of bivalence is false, but only that it is indeterminate in truth value, and gives us indefiniteness with genuine indeterminacy. Curiously enough, what I have called “genuine indeterminacy” has been rejected, as far as I know, by all treatments of indefinite propositions in each of the above mentioned fields. Examples include the Aristotelian treatment of future contingents, the Frege-Strawson treatment of nondenoting definite descriptions and Bochvar’s treatment of semantic paradoxes.6 The same holds for any known accounts of vagueness in terms of indefiniteness – supervaluationism and many-valued approaches included. Even Meinong, as I said above, does not seem to have understood his “incomplete objects” as genuinely indeterminate in the above sense. The general aversion for genuine indeterminacy can hardly be fortuitous and may derive from a variety of reasons, the most important being probably a widespread scepticism about the possibility of giving a precise and consistent sense to genuine indeterminacy. One important point is that the alternative between the two above options (genuine versus non genuine indeterminacy) tends to vanish in any case where second order indeterminacy is present. To see why, suppose we adopt the first option and say that “p is indefinite” entails “p is not true and p is not false”. And suppose it is indefinite whether p is indefinite. In the intended sense of “indefinite” this entails that it is neither true nor false that p is not true and neither true nor false that p is not false. In that case, we can no longer say that p is neither true nor false, we have to say that, for any truth value, it is indeterminate whether p has that value or not. Now, the first option no longer diverges from the second. The reason is that the negation of bivalence cannot restore determinacy beyond the hedge of first order indefiniteness. For, as has been shown, no proposition p can be indefinite in the sense of the first option (determinately neither true nor false) when it is indefinite whether p is indefinite. But the second option raises no special problem about higher-order indefiniteness, for in its sense of “indefinite” only an indefinite proposi6

See Frege (1892), Strawson (1950), Bochvar (1939).

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tion can be such that it is indefinite whether it is indefinite. To see why, assume the second option and take “indefinite” as meaning “genuinely indeterminate” (remember that “p is genuinely indeterminate” means “it is indeterminate whether p is true or not and indeterminate whether it is false or not”). In this sense of “indefinite”, a true proposition cannot be such that it is indefinite whether it is indefinite. It must be false that it is indefinite, for a true proposition cannot be such that it is indeterminate whether it is true or not. The same holds, mutatis mutandis, for a false proposition. As a result, only an indeterminate proposition can be such that it is indeterminate whether it is indeterminate. In order to be clearer about what I have called “genuine indeterminacy”, let me specify some points. First, I accept that, if something is true, then it is not indeterminate, but I deny that, if something is indeterminate, then it is not true. The same applies if you replace “true” by “false”. Indeed, if p is indeterminate, it can only be indeterminate that p is true, and it can only be indeterminate that p is false. Since I accept the inference from “p is true” to “It is not the case that p is indeterminate”, but not from “p is indeterminate” to “It is not the case that p is true”, the law of contraposition has to be given up. But this is far from being strange. On the contrary, it is a general trait of many systems where the law of bivalence does not hold. Second, genuine indeterminacy presents no threat to the truth of Tarski’s equivalence “‘p’ is true iff p”. According to Dummett, the equivalence cannot be true if bivalence does not hold. For, if “p” is indeterminate, then “‘p’ is true” is false, and the equivalence comes out less than true, having an indeterminate right-hand side and a false left-hand side. This holds no longer, however, if “indeterminate” is understood as “genuinely indeterminate” in the proposed sense. For in that case, if p is indeterminate, then “‘p’ is true” cannot be false, it has to be indeterminate too. (Indeed, Dummett has in mind contexts where the law of bivalence is false, and not simply indeterminate, as it happens when genuine indeterminacy is present). Third, truth tables for logical connectives can be given in such a way as to preserve truth functionality, just as in the Kleene’s system, according to the rule that a composite formula is indeterminate in truth value unless

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the truth or falsity of the component formulas is enough to determine its value. Fourth, the negative impact of genuine indeterminacy on classical logic is reduced to a minimum. Tim Williamson has frequently emphasized that many-valued treatments of vagueness invalidate a number of forms of inference that are absolutely central and irreplaceable in our common way of reasoning. One of them is: (A1) a = b ¬(Fa ∧ ¬Fb) which, in case F is a vague property, a is a borderline case of F-ness, and a is identical to b, has a true premise but (according to a many-valued approach) an indeterminate conclusion. Another inference form to be invalidated is a contraposed version of (A1): (A2) Fa ∨ ¬Fb ¬a=b which, in the above described case, has an indeterminate premise and a false conclusion.7 Williamson’s point is directed against many-valued approaches, but it can be easily extended to all approaches (including those that envisage truth-value gaps) that treat indeterminate sentences as eo ipso untrue. If “indeterminate” is understood as “genuinely indeterminate”, however, an indeterminate sentence is no longer one which is non-false and non-true, but one such that it is indeterminate whether it is true or non-true, and it is indeterminate whether it is false or non-false. In this sense of “indeterminate”, it is indeterminate whether an indeterminate proposition is lower in truth value than a true proposition, and it is indeterminate whether a false proposition is lower in truth level than an indeterminate proposition. Hence, it is indeterminate whether an inference having a true premise and an indeterminate conclusion (or an indeterminate premise and a false conclusion) is valid or not. Instead of making invalid certain classical forms 7

See Williamson (2002), p. 279.

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of inference, the introduction of genuine indeterminacy makes their validity merely indeterminate. So, in conclusion, a proposition can be indefinite in one of three ways: by having a truth value intermediate between truth and falsity, by lacking a truth value and by being indeterminate in truth value. Accordingly, a predicate P can be indefinite in one of three ways: it can be such that some entities fall neither in the extension of P nor in the extension of non-P (they fall in an intermediate area); it can be such that some entities fall neither in the extension of P nor outside it (they fall nowhere); and it can be such that there are entities such that it is indeterminate whether they fall in the extension of P or outside it (it is indeterminate where they fall). As I have argued above, all these kinds of indefiniteness involve indeterminacy in truth value of sentences provided there is higher-order indefiniteness, but only the third involves indeterminacy in any case (that’s why I have called it “genuine indeterminacy”). None of them involves eo ipso vagueness or fuzziness. For, as long as higher-order indefiniteness remains out of the picture, nothing prevents one from having a sharp set of true propositions, a sharp set of false propositions and a sharp set of indefinite propositions, in any sense of “indefinite”. But even when higher-order vagueness is present, the third kind of indefiniteness – what I have called “genuine indeterminacy” – involves eo ipso no fuzziness. For in this sense of “indefinite”, as I have argued, every proposition such that it is indefinite whether it is indefinite is eo ipso indefinite. This maintains the set of indefinite propositions fairly sharp at the cost of making it very fat.

5. Conclusions I have distinguished three notions of an incomplete object (which I have called “weak incompleteness”, “flat incompleteness” and “genuine incompleteness”). I have argued that, even if Meinong does not seem to have conceived his incomplete objects as genuinely incomplete, only genuinely incomplete objects can play the role that Meinong wants in-

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complete objects play in his theory. Finally, I have tried to make clearer the notion of genuine indeterminacy, in terms of which the concept of an incomplete object is defined, and I have defended it against other more familiar and less radical accounts of indeterminacy. Andrea C. Bottani Università degli Studi di Bergamo [email protected]

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References Bochvar, D. A. (1939), “On a Three-valued Logical Calculus and its Application to the Analysis of Contradictories”, Matematičéskij sbornik, 4, pp. 287-300; Engl. Transl. by M. Bergmann, in History and Philosophy of Logic, 2 (1981), pp. 87-112. Dummett, Michael (1973), Frege. Philosophy of Language, London, Duckworth. Frege, Gottlob (1892), “Über Sinn und Bedeutung”, Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 100, pp. 25-50. Kleene, Stephen Cole (1952), Introduction to Metamathematics, Amsterdam, North Holland. Meinong, Alexius (1902), Ueber Annahmen, Leipzig, Barth (= “Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane”, Ergänzungsband 2). Meinong, Alexius (1904), “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, in Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, hrsg. von A. Meinong, Leipzig, Barth, pp. 1-50. Meinong, Alexius (1906-1907), Über die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften, Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, CXXIX, pp. 48-94, 155-207; CXXX, pp. 1-46. Meinong, Alexius (1915), Über Möglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit. Beiträge zur Gegenstandstheorie und Erkenntnistheorie, Leipzig, Barth. Strawson, Peter Frederick (1950), “On Referring”, Mind, 59, 1950, pp. 320-344. Williamson, Timothy (2002), “Vagueness, Identity and Leibniz’s Law”, in A. Bottani, M. Carrara & P. Giaretta [eds.], Individuals, Essence and Identity. Themes of Analytic Metaphysics, Dordrecht, Kluwer.

SPEAKING OF NONEXISTENT OBJECTS Mario Alai

Summary Frege captures the intuitive meaning and truth-value of some empty sentences, and Russell of some others; but many such sentences are not satisfactorily analyzed by either one. A contemporary approach in the footsteps of these authors suggests how to preserve the truth-value of all such sentences, but not their actual meaning. In my view Meinong’s important lesson is that mention of nonexistent objects cannot be eliminated from a number of commonsensical platitudes without changing their meaning. Yet, in spite of his partially misleading language (that prompted Russell’s criticisms), I think he is not actually committed to an ontology nonexistent objects, but only of thoughts or concepts, as Russell, or representations, as Husserl.1

Can we speak of nonexistent things? And can sentences about them be true? Or must they be false? Or neither true nor false? The discussion on these questions involving analytic philosophers, Meinong and Husserl, has been long and yielded many unsatisfactory answers. No answer seems to be right across the board, but needless to say, the correct insights of each position agree with whatever is right in each of the others. We shall begin by considering the following examples of “empty” sentences: (1) The present King of France is bald (2) The golden mountain is golden 1

I thank Francesco Orilia, Venanzio Raspa, Vittorio de Palma, and especially Ernesto Napoli for illuminating criticisms and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper, and Maria Grazia Severi for reviewing my English text.

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(3) Sherlock Holmes was clever (4) Frank thinks of the golden mountain (5) The round square does not exist (6) The dagger is over my head (said by one who is having a hallucination)

1. Frege According to Frege,2 the truth-value of a sentence is a function of the referent of its terms (because the referent of a complex expression is a function of the referent of its components, and the referent of a sentence is its truth-value). Hence, since in each of the above sentences at least one term lacks referent, none of them is either true or false: they lack truth-value. After all, in general, what we say is true or false depending on the object we are speaking about; but if there are no objects to which our words refer, there is nothing about which our assertion may be true or false. Empty sentences, for Frege, are expressions endowed with sense but without a referent, just as the empty terms occurring in them. Now, this seems to be correct in the case of (1), for upon hearing this sentence our natural reaction would not be that it is false (we would say so if we knew that there is a king in France, now, and that he has hair on his head), but rather that there is something wrong with the sentence, at least as uttered today: it cannot be either true or false, precisely because there is nothing of which it might be true or false. However, there are problems with this solution. Aside from the perhaps minor embarrassment caused by giving up the principle of bivalence for a meaningful sentence, the utterer of (1) might actually mean (although a less natural and less immediately understandable way) (11) There exists a present king of France, and he is bald,

2

Frege (1892).

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which is clearly false; or one could directly and explicitly utter (11): now, from his point of view Frege could not explain why (11) is false (or for that matter, why sentences like “Polyphemous exists” are false). Moreover, although concerning the truth-value of (2) and (3) we have different pre-theoretical intuitions, some of them say that (3) is true, and (2) tautologically true; sentences like (4) are regularly used in everyday language and understood as unproblematically true or false; (5) is certainly true; and no doubt there is at least an interpretation in which (6) is false:3 but again, none of these sentences could be either true or false, if Frege were right. So, there are at least some readings of our expressions Frege seems unable to account for. It might be objected that (2) and (3) cannot be true, since (atomic) sentences are true if and only if the entities referred to by the subject terms instantiate the properties or relations referred to by the predicate terms; therefore, no sentence can be true if one of its terms lack reference. But as stressed by Meinong,4 there is a natural way of speaking in common language in which we truthfully attribute properties to nonexistent objects, and even to objects we know do not exist, as when we say that Sherlock Holmes was clever, Achilles was fast, Santa Claus has a white beard, and the like. According to Ernesto Napoli,5 when we assent to similar claims we are not actually accepting them as true, but just pretending they are true: the convention behind writing fiction, telling legends, etc., is that the author or the narrator pretends to be making true claims, and the reader or listener pretends to be believing them. Convincing as this suggestion is, it cannot be the whole story; for, when the author introduces the name for a fictional character (according to Napoli not actually a name, but a pretended name), he must give some meaning to it. That is, the author must offer a description of the character, elucidate the concept associated to the newly introduced name. Therefore, at least part of what he says about the

3 4 5

These and similar intuitions are what Francesco Orilia calls “dati meinongiani di base” (basic Meinongian data): Orilia (2002), Ch. 9. In Meinong (1902) and (1904). Napoli (2000).

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fictional character also counts as conceptual characterization, as sort of implicit definition for the name; hence, it is analytically true (true by definition), actually true. Thus, the claims that Sherlock Holmes was clever, Achilles was fast, Santa Claus has a white beard, may be understood both de re, as concerning supposedly existent people, and de dicto, as contributing to the meaning of the names, or as analyzing the concepts they express. If understood de re they cannot be true nor false (although we can pretend they are true, for the sake of the story, as Napoli claims); if understood de dicto they are true. The same happens for (2): although it is not true when understood de re, it is true when understood de dicto.

2. Russell Unlike Frege, Bertrand Russell sees no possible truth-value gap: according to his doctrine in “On Denoting”, the deep logical structure of any sentence including a definite description or a proper noun (which according to him amounts to a shortened definite description), is either that there exists exactly one thing, or that there exists nothing, fulfilling such a description.6 Thus, the logical structure of a sentence of the form “The such and such is φ” is: “There exists exactly one thing that is such and such, and it is φ.” When applied to (5) The round square does not exist, this analysis accounts very clearly for its truth, for it becomes (51) There exists nothing that is both square and round. Thus, (5) does not assume any nonexistent thing, but says precisely there exists nothing having the two properties of being square and round. The analysis of (6) The dagger is over my head (said by one who is having a hallucination) 6

See Russell (1905a) and (1919).

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is also convincing, for it becomes (61) There exists exactly one thing that is a dagger [and salient in the present context], and it is over my head. Hence, as shown by (61), (6) is in effect a conjunction of two false claims (for there is no dagger salient in the present context, and in particular, no dagger is over my head); hence, (6) is false, just as intuition says. Actually, there are other possible readings of (6): for instance, the hallucination might cause the speaker to believe that a particular real dagger known to him or to her (for instance, his or her friend’s dagger), is presently pending on his or her own head. (6) should then be read as (62) The dagger [i.e.: my friend’s dagger] is over my head. Of course, (6) is false even in this reading, and Russell’s analysis respects this intuition, for it interprets (62) as (63) There exists exactly one thing that is a dagger [and belongs to my friend], and it is over my head. Since (63) is the conjunction of a true claim (the first conjunct) and a false one, it is false. However, there are also legitimate readings (although possibly less common or less obvious ones) in which (6) is not false. For instance, (64) The dagger [the one I am seeing, whether real or not] is over my head [i.e., that is precisely the position where I see that dagger as being]. In everyday language the verb ‘to see’ some times is understood objectively, as referring to a relation between the subject and an existing object; at other times, it is understood subjectively, as describing a mere subjective sensorial experience, independently of the existence of the object that is apparently perceived. In (64) ‘to see’ has the subjective reading, hence one would say (64) is true, for the subject does have the experience of seeing a dagger over his or her head. But it is not clear how Russell would account for the truth of (64): certainly not by analyzing it as

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(61), which is false. At the end of § 6 I will indicate two paraphrases Russell might give – (67) and (68) – none of which is correct. Besides, Russell’s analysis fails in all the other cases, for it misinterprets sentences (1)(4). To begin with, (1) The present king of France is bald becomes (12) There exists exactly one thing that is presently king of France, and it is bald, which is but a paraphrase of (11), hence false, while (1) is neither true nor false: as we saw, in fact, (11) is a possible but secondary reading of (1), having a different meaning and a different truth-value. As pointed out by Strawson in response to Russell, by bona fide uttering (1), we typically presuppose the existence of (exactly) one present king of France, without actually asserting it. Hence, we are not asserting anything false, but the failure of our presupposition makes us unable to actually make an assertion, i.e. to say something either true or false.7 As already noticed, therefore, a listener’s most natural reaction would not be that we said something false, but something bereft of truth-value. Thus, Russell’s analysis does not make justice to the most natural reading of (1), but only to a less natural and common reading, i.e. (11).8 For the same reason, Russell does not make justice to a further possible interpretation of (6), namely (65) The dagger [whose existence I presuppose, without asserting it] is over my head.

7

8

See Strawson (1950), § III. Also Frege (1892) maintained that when uttering a sentence we presuppose that its subject term refers; but as we saw in § 1, this is not always the case: we are not presupposing this, for instance, when uttering (2) and (3) de dicto. In (1905a) Russell denies the intuitive evidence that (1) is neither true nor false, but the only reason he gives is “since it is plainly false.” He seems to presuppose here his earlier demonstration that the falsity of (1) follows from his theory of denotation, but the whole argument becomes then a petitio principii.

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Moreover, there is an intuitive reading in which we must grant that (2) The golden mountain is golden is not only true, but even tautological – indeed, this is the only reading in which many of us would utter (2); but this is not accounted for by Russell, since he renders (2) as the false sentence9 (21) There exists exactly one thing that is both a mountain and golden, and it is golden. Of course, like (1), even (2) might be understood with a different, implicitly existential meaning: (22) [Implicit: there exists a golden mountain, and] the [aforementioned] golden mountain is [obviously] golden, which is correctly rendered by (21); but again, this interpretation is neither the only possible, nor the most natural one. One might try to deny that there is any reading in which (2) is true, claiming that what does not exist (as the golden mountain) cannot be golden (or of any other nature): in other words, claiming that in order to have a property it is necessary to exist, and that attributing a property is attributing existence. But as we have seen, we cannot deny that (2) is true de dicto. Another objection might be that while (2) is literally false (or, according to a different account, neither true nor false), the intuition that it is true, nay, tautological, is caused by understanding it as (23)

Every golden mountain is golden,

which in fact does not make any existential claim, and whose logical form is spelled out by the true universally quantified sentence 9

In (1905a) Russell denies that “The round square is round” - a sentence of the same form of (2) - is true, simply on the basis that its falsity follows from his theory of descriptions. Once again (see footnote 8) he seems therefore to commit petitio principii: instead of founding his theory on intuitive evidence concerning the examples, he asks the reader to ignore intuitions in order to accommodate the examples to his own theory.

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(24) For any object x, if x is a mountain and golden, then x is golden. In other words, one might claim that, as Husserl also suggests,10 a discourse apparently concerning nonexistent objects is actually a sort of hypothetical discourse. In fact, this is a suggestion Meinong is ready to accept11; but why are (23) and (24) true? Over which domain of objects must their quantifiers range, if they are to be true? If we say that the variable x ranges over existent objects, and that (23) and (24) are true of such objects, then we must grant that also (25) For any object x, if x is a mountain and golden, then x is not golden is true (since there is nothing that is both a mountain and golden, hence the conditional is made trivially true by the falsity of its antecedent). Since this is clearly not what we mean, we must then admit that x ranges over possible objects, including nonexistent ones,12 and this is what both C.I. Lewis and Meinong would say, for in their view (as we shall see below) our discourse domain should include nonexistent (or “intentional”13) objects. But this assumption is rejected by Russell and Husserl alike. According to Russell, logic should not admit unicorns any more than zoology does, and we should not say that, for instance, Hamlet exists in Shakespeare’s imagination, for what exists is only Shakespeare’s and his readers’ thoughts.14 Equally, Husserl stresses that there is no distinction between existing and non existing objects, but between representations 10 11 12

13

14

In Husserl (1894). I thank Vittorio De Palma for calling my attention to this paper. See Barbero and Raspa (2005), p.15. In other words, although we may sometimes understand a conditional as a material conditional, which would make both (24) and (25) true, if we accept (24) we are most likely understanding it as a proper implication, which makes (24) true and (25) false: but then, its semantics seems to require possible objects. I will use here the term ‘intentional’ (also employed by Husserl in this context) to indicate all the nonexistent objects we may speak or think about, regardless of their being merely possible (as the golden mountain) or even impossible (as the round square); in other words, all the typically “Meinongian” objects. Russell (1919).

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occurring in true judgements of the form ‘A exists’ and others occurring in true judgements of the form ‘B does not exist’; there do not exist different worlds (the world of myth, the world of poetry, etc., and the real world), but just one world, the real one, and many different representations.15 But why then are (23) and (24) true, and (25) false? Actually, for the same reasons which make true also the following sentences, which in turn might be cited as grounds by one who considers (2) to be true: (26) If the golden mountain existed, it would be golden. (27) It is necessary that a golden mountain is golden. But why are these true? Again, they seem to refer just to merely possible or intentional objects, so that Russell’s analysis cannot account for their truth. In the case of (3) Sherlock Holmes was clever, it is even clearer that the objection according to which a nonexistent object cannot have any property is misplaced: there is an obvious and very intuitive interpretation in which (3) is true: for instance, it would be classified as true by the man in the street thoughtlessly answering a sudden question, or on a quiz show with true/false answers, or filling out a reading comprehension exercise. This behaviour, as we noticed, has two possible explanations: because people pretend it is true (although it is neither true nor false); and because they know it is true de dicto. Yet, (3) is rendered as false in Russell’s analysis: (31) There existed exactly one thing that was an English detective, lived at 221b Baker Street, etc., and it was clever. Again, (3) might also be understood as the implicitly existential (32) Sherlock Holmes [implicit: existed, and he] was clever,

15

Husserl (1894).

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and in this reading it would be rendered correctly by (31); but what about the more obvious and natural non existential reading, in which it is true? If we offered the counterfactual analysis (33) If Sherlock Holmes had existed he would have been clever, we would encounter the same problems raised by (26): counterfactuals, like modalities and universal quantifications, seem to require reference to possible objects. One might also claim that (3) actually means either of the following: (34) Conan Doyle writes (or implies) that Sherlock Holmes was clever, (35) Conan Doyle writes (or implies): “Sherlock Holmes is clever.” But (34) could be naturally understood as claiming that there exists a man, Sherlock Holmes, of whom Conan Doyle writes that he was clever, and in this sense it would be false; moreover, neither (34) nor (35) are paraphrases of (3), which does not say anything about Conan Doyle. So, we must keep (3) as it is; and since it is true, either (contra Russell) we may refer to nonexistent objects, or (contra Frege), a sentence may have a truth-value even if its terms do not refer. While (2) and (3) have possible implicitly existential readings (although not the most natural and intuitive ones) which are correctly rendered by Russell’s analysis, nothing like that is available for (4) Frank thinks of the golden mountain. One might try to analyze it in Russell’s style (4) as (41) There exists exactly one thing which is both a mountain and golden, and Frank thinks of it. But (41) is false even if (4) is true. It does not help to move the quantifier into the scope of the propositional attitude verb,16 as in 16

Or, as Russell would say, move ‘the golden mountain’ to a secondary occurrence: Russell (1905a).

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(42) Frank thinks that there exists exactly one thing which is both a mountain and golden, for we often think of something without thinking that it exists, and even believing that it does not exist. Nor can we analyze (4) as a case of direct speech, because (43) Frank thinks “Golden mountain” is meaningless: except in case of orders, exclamations, and the like, direct speech expresses a propositional thought, with predication; hence it must consist in a (complete) sentence, not just a in name or description as in (43). On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to say that a person has thoughts concerning an object, as in (4), without specifying which propositional thoughts (if any) that person has. If we look at Russell’s remark that there does not exist Hamlet, but only Shakespeare’s and his readers’ thoughts, it seems that the most natural strategy for him should be to read (4) as about Frank’s thoughts or the concepts they involve. In other words, he might quantify existentially on one of those thoughts or concepts, and then try to characterize its relationship both to Frank, and to the golden mountain. In the next section I shall review one such attempt, and argue that it is successful only to a certain extent. Later on, we shall see that to the extent to which it succeeds, it is also compatible with the interpretation of Meinong’s doctrine I suggest. Summing up, Russell’s analysis seems to make justice to (5), to the most important reading of (6), and to some secondary readings of (1), (2), and (3); but it fails for (4) (at least prima facie), for the primary readings of (1), (2), and (3), and for a secondary reading of (6). In other words, Russell’s account is correct only for sentences that make existential claims, explicit or implicit, affirmative or negative; for all the other sentences, it either yields the wrong truth-value, or it cannot explain why they have the truth-value they have (unless one admits the intentional referents Russell wanted to avoid).

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3. A neo-Russellian analysis We have seen that a possible solution for sentences which are not straightforwardly rendered by Russell’s analysis is to interpret them as counterfactuals like (26) and (33), or sentences on possible objects like (24), or modalities like (27); all these interpretations, however, seem to imply Meinong’s and Lewis’ nonexistent objects. But we have also seen that (2) and (3) are true when taken as implicit definitions, or anyway as conceptual claims. In fact, it has been suggested that any implication of nonexistent objects could be avoided by reading descriptions like ‘the golden mountain’ and names like ‘Sherlock Holmes’, as actually referring to concepts, so that no ontological commitment is needed except to concepts; this is similar to our earlier suggestion that (4) might be considered as being about Frank’s thoughts, rather then the golden mountain. Thus, when paraphrasing our examples as counterfactuals, universal quantifications, or modalities, one could let the quantifiers range not over objects, but over concepts. A strategy of this kind is advocated for instance by Francesco Orilia,17 who sees definite descriptions as expressing determinative concepts (analogous to a kind of Russell’s denoting concepts) themselves understood as second order properties. For instance, is one such concept, and and are its component concepts, or the concepts it involves;18 is also one such concept, and it involves the concepts , , etc. If a concept is either involved by a determinative concept , or conceptually implied by the conjunction of the properties involved by , Orilia says that implies .19 For instance, even if is not one of the component concepts of , still it might be implied by it. Thus, (2),

17 18 19

See Orilia (2002), pp. 57-59, 181-184, 195-198, 221; Orilia (2005). Orilia (2005), p.107. Orilia (2002), p. 221.

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(3) and (4) may be interpreted as concerning determinative concepts, rather than nonexistent objects, respectively as: (28) The concept involves the concept , (36) The concept implies the concept , and (44) Frank thinks of the concept .20 This solution yields a clear answer to the question why (25), (26), (27) are true: they are true for conceptual reasons. However, (28), (36) and (44) are not faithful paraphrases of the originals, for (2), (3) and (4) do not speak of properties or concepts, but of objects (although nonexistent objects). For instance, if we look at (44) versus (4), a concept is not a mountain, and thinking of the latter is not the same thing as thinking of the former. Suppose Frank is a three-year old child: then he probably has the notions of a mountain and of gold, so that he can think of the golden mountain; but he probably lacks altogether the notion of a concept (especially of a concept as complex as these determinative concepts). Thus, he is probably unable to think of the concept of the golden mountain. In order to think of X one needs the concept of X only; but in order to think of the concept of X, one needs both the concept of X and the concept of a concept, and a young child may have the former but lack the latter. Thus, (44) may be false even if (4) is true, and one may understand that (2) or (3) is true, without even understanding (28) or (36). In other words, as also stressed by Husserl, when we think (or desire, or fear, etc.) an object X by means of a representation of X, we are not thinking, desiring or fearing the representation, but X itself.21 Conversely, if my friend says “The Mount Blanc is a mountain”, most probably he intends to speak of the mountain, not of its concept; he 20 21

See Orilia (2005), p. 107. Husserl (1894); (1901); (1901/1913), pp. 377-440.

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probably wishes to explain that the mountain exemplifies the property of being a mountain, not that the concept has among its constituents the concept . Yet, the structure and the linguistic use of his sentence are exactly like those of (2) and (3): why then his sentence should be read as concerning an object, while (2) and (3) as concerning concepts? On the face of it, nothing supports such an interpretation of (2) and (3). The inadequacy of this approach can also be appreciated by considering the problems it encounters with some other examples. For instance, it seems that (1) should be rendered as (13) The concept implies the concept . But (1) – today, in its more natural reading, and differently from (11) – is neither true nor false, while (13) is false because the concept of the present king of France does not imply baldness. The same problem would affect sentences of the form of (37) Sherlock Holmes had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891, to be rendered in this fashion as the false sentence (38) The concept implies the concept . Thus, even the neo-Russellian approach does not yield the actual content of (1)-(4). However, I think its strategy of focusing on concepts to account for discourse on nonexistent objects is basically sound. This may be appreciated by observing that, even if (28) and (36) have a different meaning (say something different) from (2) and (3), they are logically equivalent to them: they are true exactly in the same possible worlds. In § 5 I shall further elaborate on this sound strategy.

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4. Introducing nonexistent referents: Meinong’s ambiguity It may be thought that a better solution is offered by Meinong’s remarks implying that there are nonexistent objects, or objects endowed not with being, but with “quasi-being”,22 or that for any set of properties (including reciprocally incompatible properties, such as round and square), there is some object exemplifying those properties;23 if so, it might be thought, terms may refer to nonexistent objects (such as the present king of France, the golden mountain, Sherlock Holmes), and even to impossible ones (such as the round square).24 As a consequence, (1)-(6) would no longer be empty sentences, and the truth of (2), (3), (4) and (64) would be easily accounted for by showing that it is a function of the referent of their terms, just as Frege thought: in other words, that these sentences do speak of something, and what they say is made true by the objects they are about. On the other hand, the intuitive lack of truth-value of (311) would be explained by pointing out that although it is not empty, it speaks of an incomplete object: since Sherlock Holmes does not exist, it is not determined in all respects (in particular, as to his having or not a cold on March 3rd, 1891), hence sentences concerning respects in which it is not determined cannot be determinately true or false. The lack of truth-value of (1) could also be explained in the same way, but even Strawson’s explanation is compatible with Meinong’s approach: for according to Meinong there is a present king of France, but he does not exist; and since (1) presupposes the claim that he exists, such a presupposition is false, hence (1) lacks a truth-value. Again, the fact that the present king of France, the golden mountain, Sherlock Holmes, the round square and the dagger do

22 23

24

See Meinong (1904), § 4. This implication of Meinong’s claims has been formulated in Meinong (1902), pp. 261 ff., and (1910), pp. 346 ff., and is discussed in analytic philosophy as “the principle of freedom of assumption”: see Orilia (2002), pp. 86-88, and Orilia (2005). Meinong (1904).

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not exist, would explain the falsity of affirmative existential claims like (11), (21), (31), etc., and the truth of negative existential claims like (5). A position similar to Meinong’s is taken by C.I. Lewis: every expression has, beside an intension and an extension (i.e., the class of all things to which it correctly applies), also a comprehension, the class of all coherently conceivable things to which it might correctly apply.25 This approach is supported by the following intuitions we have about expressions such as ‘the present king of France’, ‘the golden mountain’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, and ‘the round square’: it would seem that (i)

they “stand for” something, they designate something, even if it does not exist;

(ii) each of them designate a different thing (hence, it is not the case that they designate the empty class, or nothing at all); (iii) I may call ‘Fido’ my dog, and twenty years later, when it does not exist any longer, I can still use that name to designate it: the name is a designating one, it has a semantic counterpart, even if its putative referent does not exist. It might be observed that it designates an object that once existed (and the same for future objects); hence it refers, after all. However, (iv) if I speak both of Fido, my real dog, and of Lassie, a fictional dog which I believe is real, I am using those names quite in the same way, and it would seem they work in the same way: they play the same “referential” role. The inexistence of Lassie does not seem to prevent me from using ‘Lassie’ in the same way as ‘Fido’. The situation is not much different if I use a name (say, ‘Pegasus’) to speak of an object which I know does not exist: no difference may be noticed in the functioning of language or in my way of using it, whether I

25

Lewis (1943-1944). See also Carnap (1947), § 16. His definition of comprehension excludes therefore contradictory objects, such as the round square, which instead are admitted by Meinong.

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speak of Fido, or of Pegasus. Also, this approach is supported by the intuitions we appealed to in criticizing Frege, at the end of § 1.26 Thus, it would seem that any term has at least an intentional referent; and if in the real world there exists an object identical to it, then this object constitutes a second referent for the term, the real referent; otherwise, the term has just one referent, the intentional one. But this approach raises serious problems: (a) there is a classical distinction between the meaning and the referent of a term (Frege sees it as the distinction between sense and referent; Carnap between intension and extension; etc.), and it is easily understood as a distinction between a notional or conceptual level and a real or ontological level; but obviously an intentional referent is notional, not real: so it becomes unclear what the difference between meaning and reference is. Moreover, it may be easily seen that for any intentional object there is a distinct notion, or concept, and vice versa; so, it might be argued that intentional referents are a useless double for concepts.27 (b) According to Russell,28 the assumption of intentional objects would imply contradictions, such as the claim that the round square is both round (since it is round) and not round (since it is square). Moreover, if for any set of properties (including reciprocally incompatible properties, such as round and square) there is an object endowed with those properties, it follows that the existent round square exists, which is impossible since contradictory objects cannot exist. Meinong would reply that although there is a round square, it does not exist. However, (c) It is obscure what such a third alternative between existence and

26 27 28

See also footnote 3. This observation is in the spirit, if not exactly in the letter, of Carnap (1947), § 16. Russell (1905a), (1905b). See also Orilia (2002), p. 110.

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mere inexistence (quasi-being, or being without existing) might be, and the very assumption of such a third ontological status is utterly implausible. (d) According to Husserl,29 this would result in the unnecessary and misleading doubling of the object, a practice as pernicious as apparently plausible: there are not two objects, the intentional and the real one, but only the latter. The belief that there is always an intentional referent, and sometimes also a real one, may be supported by the fact that the thought of an object is often accompanied, or even constituted, by its mental image, and the same image is often associated with the object’s name or description: hence, the image may easily be identified with the intentional referent. Moreover, this belief is analogous to the ideistic conception of knowledge originated in the Middle Ages and prevailing in the XVII century, according to which, since we know things through our ideas, we directly know only ideas, while knowledge of the corresponding things is merely indirect. But this ideistic gnoseology is wrong, because even if ideas (representations, concepts, etc.) are the means by (or the way in) which we know, it does not follow that they are the object we know; just in the same way, from the fact that we always see through our eyes, it does not follow that we always see (primarily, or exclusively) our eyes.30 Similar objections are raised by Husserl with his criticisms of the “doubling of objects”:31 first of all, our expressions are not always connected to mental images (and we do not always think by means of mental images); secondly (as we already noticed), even when present, these images are the means by which we refer to the object, not the object we refer to; thirdly, if we feel the need of an intentional object to explain how a term refers to an object, and if we think that the image may be such an intentional object, then the same problem arises even for the image itself: how does it 29 30 31

In Husserl (1894). See Alai (1994), pp. 65-68. In Husserl (1894), (1901/1913), pp. 384-389, 436-440, (1913), pp. 206-207.

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refer to its object?32 We cannot postulate a third intentional object, or we would start a pointless infinite regress.33

5. A clearer treatment: speaking of nonexistent objects If this were the end of the story, the truth of (2), (3), (4) and (64) would remain a mystery. Fortunately, there is a better way to interpret Meinong’s remarks: better both because it is closer to Meinong’s own intentions,34 and because it solves our problems without raising the objections (a)-(d) of § 4. As a matter of fact, Meinong explicitly says that the claim that “there are objects that are not” is unnecessarily paradoxical, and that speaking of “the being of the non-being”, or of a third status of “quasi-being” is absurd and may ingenerate confusions. He then explains that he actually means that objects are “beyond being and not being”, and that “being-so is independent of being”; but these expressions, although they may suggest what he is actually aiming at, are not in themselves much clearer than the earlier ones. He also says that the being of an “objective” does not need the being of its object,35 and this may also seem unclear, until one realizes that an “objective”, in his terminology, is more or less a proposition:36 he is then actually saying that the proposition that X is φ may be true even if X does not exist. This shows that Meinong does not have in mind a duplication of objects, or the existence of intentional objects; all he means is that we may speak of nonexistent objects, and we may truth32

33

34 35 36

Following Wittgenstein (1953), Putnam argues that the similitude between an image and an object does not, by itself, make that image an image of that object: (1981), pp. 19, 56-58. A problem Plato had already spotted with his “third men” paradox in the Parmenides, and Husserl raises again: Husserl (1901/13), pp. 384-389, 436-440, (1913), pp. 206-207. On this see also Chisholm (1982). Meinong (1904), § 4. For instance, see Raspa (2005) and Poli (2005).

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fully attribute them properties, or in other words, that there are true propositions about them. It is in this sense that being-so is independent of being: for instance, we may truly say that the golden mountain is golden, even if the golden mountain does not exist. Meinong’s expressive failure consists in phrasing his doctrines as if they were ontological, while they are semantic, and in calling them a “theory of objects”, while he is actually aiming at a theory of predication. One may wonder in which sense true predication about nonexistent objects is possible, i.e., how a sentence containing an empty term may be true: for, if truth is a relation between language and the world, a sentence cannot be true unless there is something in the world to which its subject term(s) refer, and it has the properties or relations attributed by the predicate term(s). But before answering this question, it should be pointed out that this insight – that the explanation of the truth-value of our examples is to be sought within semantics, not within ontology – was clear to the analytic tradition, in particular to Russell (in spite of his other misunderstandings), and to Husserl. As we already noticed, according to Russell saying that unicorns exist in heraldry or in literature is a ridiculous loophole, and what exist are only pictures or verbal descriptions;37 and according to Husserl, one should not speak of intentional objects, but of representations, some of which can be part of true existential judgements, and some can be part of false existential judgement (or of true negative existential judgements).38 In the terminology of analytic philosophy, that is to say that there are concepts (or terms) figuring as subject of true existential propositions (or sentences), and concepts (or terms) figuring as subject of false existential propositions (or sentences). In other words, there are concepts (or names, or descriptions) of existent or of nonexistent objects, and the concept (name, description) of a nonexistent object may figure as subject of true non existential propositions (sentences). How then can we have true predication about nonexistent objects? How can sentences be true when their subject terms do not refer? First, negative existential claims such as (5) can be true only if their subject 37 38

Russell (1919). Husserl (1894).

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term does not refer. In such cases one may analyze away the empty term, as Russell does, showing that it does not actually occur in the deep logical form of the sentence, or one can hold that the sentence is not actually about an object, but about a concept, of which it says that it is not instantiated; but then it must be granted at least that the superficial subject term in the sentence does not refer. Secondly, truth is not always a words-world relation: some truths are conceptual or definitional truth, as (2) and (3) in at least in some possible readings. In such cases, even if the subject term does not refer, the sentence is true if the property or relation attributed by the predicate term is part of (or implied by) the meaning of the subject term. One may also point out that the sentence is actually equivalent to a conceptual analysis like Orilia’s (28) and (36), whose terms refer, for they speak of concepts (saying that the concept which is the meaning of the original sentence’s predicate term is part of (or implied by) the concept which is the meaning of the original sentence’s subject term); but even if so, the subject of the original sentence does not exist. Thirdly, a sentence like (4) is not actually about the golden mountain, but about a mental act of Frank’s, involving the concept of the golden mountain: it says that Frank bears a certain relation (of grasping, or of dwelling upon) to that concept. Yet, grammatically, the term involved is ‘the golden mountain’ (not ‘the concept of the golden mountain’), and it lacks reference. Thus, it is true that we speak of nonexistent objects, in the sense that at least the grammatical subject term may be involved in a true predication even when lacking reference. But is there any philosophical interest in such a claim on the grammatical subjects of our sentences? I think so, because language works in such a way that conceptual analysis or claims involving concepts sometimes are most naturally expressed by speaking in terms of objects, just as it happens with (2), (3), (4) and (5). Also in (64) a claim on perceptions is expressed as a claim on an object. This is understandable, since psychology and philosophy of language explain that both philogenetically and ontogenetically concrete objects are the primary referents of our speech, because of their intersubjective nature;39 only at a later time, by a process of abstraction, we come to focus on concepts (or 39

For instance, see Quine (1960), I § 2.

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terms, perceptions, etc.), and in the beginning we may convey our claims on such matters only through the vocabulary of objects. Moreover, as we shall also see in the following, in order to make it explicit that one is not speaking of objects but of concepts (or terms, perceptions, etc.), we must use a metalanguage, or anyway introduce new terms and concepts (e.g., the concept of concept, of term, of visual image, etc.). Hence, Meinong’s point that we speak of nonexistent objects, on the one hand does not mean that we actually refer to such objects, or that they have any form of existence, because true sentences in which a nonexistent object is the grammatical subject – like (2) and (3), (4) and (64) – may be turned into logically equivalent sentences in which the nonexistent object is explained away – like (28), (36), (45) and (69); on the other hand, Meinong calls our attention on the fact that sentences of the latter type do not have the same meaning as the corresponding sentences of the former type, and cannot supplant them in our speech. Thus, the truth-value of a sentence is not, in general, a function of the referents (understood as those existing objects that are the semantic counterpart of terms) of its terms: if it were, for instance, (2), (3), (4) and (5) should be neither true nor false. In other words, some sentences do not presuppose the existence of referents for their terms; so, even if their subject terms lack reference, they can be true (when making a negative existential claim or no existential claim at all) or false (when making an affirmative existential claim). By the way, if actually truth-value were a function of referents, co-referential expressions should be interchangeable salva veritate in all contexts, but we know they are not (for instance, in indirect and modal contexts). Now, although Frege held that the truth-value of a sentence is a function of the referents of its terms, he was able to cope with the above problems by understanding reference (Bedeutung) as something that, in a very peculiar way, changes with the context: in indirect and modal contexts expressions do not have their ordinary referent (an object for names, a function from objects to truth-values for predicates), but an indirect reference, namely, their ordinary sense.40 This works, of course, because sense 40

Frege (1892); see also Carnap (1947), § 28.

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is stronger than reference (sense determines reference but not the other way out), and identity of sense warrants substitutivity salva veritate in every context. And this works also for (2), (3), (4), (5), and (64), if they are interpreted as concerning concepts, for Fregean senses are concepts, or something very similar.41 But then the most straightforward solution should be acknowledging that, in general, truth-value is a function of the concepts expressed by terms (i.e., of Frege’s senses), not of reference. In fact, this is the solution I am going to suggest, although, in order to avoid the particularities of Frege’s characterization of sense and related problems, I shall rather speak of the truth-value of a sentence as a function of the meanings of its terms (as well as, obviously, of the logical structure of the sentence and of the way the world is), and further identify meanings with the concepts expressed by each term. This, in turn, will explain why sentences including terms which have meaning but no referent may still be true or false. When speaking of meaning, here, I have in mind something similar to Frege’s sense, in that it is the cognitive content of our expressions, what we understand when we understand an expression, and the way in which it identifies its referent. In addition, however, I identify the meanings of non-logical terms with concepts, and the meaning of sentences with propositions. A concept, in turn, is the abstract idea of an individual, or a kind, or a property or a relation,42 and a propositions is the abstract idea of a state of things. There may be different concepts of the same thing (e.g., the concept of the morning star, and the concept of the evening star), and so terms with different meanings may have the same referent. A concept can be the cognitive content of a psychological idea or mental state, it may be common to different subjects and different mental states, it is non-spatial and non-temporal. A concept or a proposition, therefore, may be the cognitive content common to an expression (the expression of which it is the meaning) and to a mental state. As for Orilia, concepts are

41 42

Although they are not what Frege himself calls concepts, i.e. functions from objects to truth-values: see Frege (1891). This is another difference from Frege’s, for whom concepts are functions from individual to truth-values: see Frege (1891).

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structured, so that a concept in general has other concepts as constituents (for instance, the concept of star is a constituent of the concept of the morning star) and concepts imply other concepts (for instance, the concept of star involves that of heavenly body). In what follows, the claim that a concept C involves (or implies) a property P is to be read as meaning that the concept of P is a constituent of (or is implied by) C. Finally, it is not necessary here to address the various problems concerning the nature of concepts, such as whether a concept is always sharply defined, or may be vague or fuzzy, etc. Although for particular purposes concepts may be represented as sets or functions, we do not need to assume that they are sets or functions. I assume that the meaning of some proper names (at the very least those of nonexistent entities) is the concept expressed by the (possibly non sharply delimited) definite description associated to the name; for instance, the meaning of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is the (possibly vague) concept of the English detective who lived at 221b Baker Street, was friend of dr. Watson, etc43. If, as Kripke claims,44 some or most proper names have no analytic association with any definite description, but are linked to their referent by a direct socio-causal chain, then I assume that the meaning of such a name N is the concept expressed by a definite description like “The individual to which N is linked by its socio-causal chain.”45 Thus, let us stipulate that a term designates an object (whether existent or nonexistent) when its meaning is the concept of that object, so that for any name or definite description ‘ _ _ _ ’ we may correctly say: « ‘_ _ _ ’ designates _ _ _ », and also: 43

44 45

See Searle (1958) for a detailed treatment of the vague character of proper names meanings. In this particular example, ‘dr. Watson’ and ‘221b Baker Street’ are themselves names whose meaning is a concept expressed by an associated description. Kripke (1972). This may be applied also to proper names of natural kinds, if, as Putnam claims, the non-descriptive theory of reference applies to them, too. See Putnam (1973), (1975).

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« ‘_ _ _ ’ designates + + + », if the meanings of ‘+ + +’ and ‘ _ _ _ ’ are concepts of the same object. Thus, as long as a term designates something (i.e., as long as it has a meaning), it has at least the ability to refer: if the designated object exists, it refers to it, and if it does not exist, the term still designates it (i.e. it still has the ability to refer to that object). When in everyday speech we happen to say, for instance, that the Italian description ‘La montagna d’oro’ refers to the golden mountain, or that ‘Polyphemous’ refers to a mythological character, etc., in such cases ‘refers’ has obviously the same meaning I just stipulated for ‘designates’. (As a consequence, when saying that the truth-value of sentence is not a function of the reference of its terms, but of their meaning, we may also say that it is a function of their designation). Husserl says something similar: that a representation has a real object means that it represents an object and the object exists; that a representation has an intentional object simply means that it represents an object (without any further implication on its existence).46 If one wishes, one may still speak of terms as having intentional referents, but neither the concept of reference nor the existence of intentional objects must be taken literally. ‘Referring’ and ‘designating’ differ in the same way as ‘finding’ and ‘seeking’: the former implies the existence of its object, the latter does not. Hence, this account avoids the objections (a)-(d) raised in § 4 against the “ontological” interpretation of Meinong’s objects: (a) ‘designating’ does not introduce any third semantic level beyond meaning and reference, for it is entirely defined in terms of meanings (i.e., concepts); we need not abandon the meaning/reference dichotomy, understood as a notional/ontological dichotomy; and there is no duplication of the role of concepts, for designating just is having a meaning, i.e., expressing a concept. (b) Since nothing we say in this way implies that the designated object exists, it would not be a problem if contradictory statements were true of it, since the principle of non contradiction holds only for what is real. But besides, we shall see in the next section that in this way Russell’s contradictions cannot be derived anymore. (c)

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Husserl (1894).

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No obscure third status between existence and non-existence is literally introduced, nor (d) any intentional object is literally introduced beside the real one. Carnap is also close to this solution, when he writes that Lewis’ and Meinong’s distinctions (e.g., between real and non real but possible objects, or between possible and impossible objects) are important, but they can be accounted for by speaking of terms or concepts: for instance, by saying that the term (or concept) ‘unicorn’ is empty, or that the term (or concept) ‘round square’ is necessarily empty.47 Summing up, we have seen that whenever empty sentences make or imply an existential claim on nonexistent objects, as (11), (22), (32), (41), (5), (61), (63), they are either true (if the claim is negative) or false (if the claim is affirmative), and this is correctly explained by Russell. When they neither make nor imply, but presuppose an existential claim, they lack truth-value, and this is correctly explained by Frege and Strawson. Finally, empty sentences that neither make nor imply nor presuppose existential claims, such as (2), (3), (4) in their most obvious readings, and (64), may be true or false because truth-value is not a function of referents but of meanings (or, equivalently, of the designated objects); they may also lack truth-value, when meaning is not determined as to the relevant property, as in the case of (37). This proposal agrees with the correct insight of the neo-Russellian approach, i.e. the idea that the intuitive truth-values of empty sentences may be accounted for by understanding them as somehow concerning concepts, and that they are logically equivalent to sentences referring to concepts. But as we noticed in § 3, they cannot be paraphrased simply by substituting terms referring to concepts to the otherwise empty terms, for this would yield categorial mistakes like (44) Frank thinks of the concept . The same strategy, if consistently followed, would also yield (14) The concept is bald, 47

Carnap (1947), § 16. See above, § 3.

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(29) The concept is golden, etc., which are absurd because concepts cannot be bald, golden, etc. Although the sentences we are discussing somehow convey conceptual information, their terms do not actually refer to concepts, they are empty terms. It is only through a complete reformulation of such sentences that we can get logically equivalent (not synonymous) sentences whose terms refer to concepts. For instance, a person having a propositional attitude concerning X is not speaking or thinking of the concept of X,48 but just of X. However, he or she is able to do this by means of the concept of X. More precisely, (α) speaking of X is (β) using a word designating X, i.e. a word whose meaning is the concept of X; analogously, (γ) thinking of X is (δ) dwelling upon the concept of X (activating it in one’s mind, moving it to one’s working memory, or, as Fodor might put it, placing it into a particular mental attitude “box”49). In all such cases, if X exists one is referring to it, and if it does not, one is still designating it. We may speak of nonexistent objects in the sense that we can designate them, or that our terms keep their referential ability even when they actually have no referent. This, again, seems to be a faithful account of the usage of terms like ‘speaking of’ and ‘thinking of’ with

48 49

This would be the case if, as Frege holds, the ordinary sense of a term became its referent when the term occurs within a propositional attitude. See Fodor (1975).

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respect to nonexistent objects in common language. Thus, we may best interpret Meinong’s doctrine that “being-so is independent from being” as the claim that (precisely for the just given reasons) one can speak of X and say that X is this and that, without either asserting or implying that X exists. To be sure, (α) and (γ) say the same thing of (i.e., they are logically equivalent to), respectively, (β) and (δ); however, they do not say it in the same way (i.e., they have different meanings), and a speaker might not be able, in general, to appreciate their equivalence. (β) and (δ) say in a sort of theoretical metalanguage what (α) and (γ) say in the object language. For instance, who utters (4) might be unaware that he or she is saying something logically equivalent to (45) Frank dwells upon the concept . Hence, it is important to stress that commonsense expressions of the form (α) and (γ) are correct and we should go on using them, even in the awareness that by using them we are committing ourselves to nothing more than what is required by (β) and (δ). Meinong’s chief merit was to uphold this literal correctness of the commonsensical way of speaking, even if he was not altogether clear on the ontological assumptions it carries along. The analytic tradition, on the other hand, was right in maintaining that correct speech cannot in any way commit us to an ontology of nonexistent objects, but at most of concepts, meanings, and the like; however, it has not been able, in implementing this insight, to save the exact meaning of expressions of the forms (α) and (γ).

6. Making the ontological commitments of (1)-(6) explicit The above considerations can be confirmed by a final review of how the sentences (1)-(6) might be rephrased in order to make their ontological commitments explicit. (1) The present king of France is bald,

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intuitively lacks a truth-value (when uttered between 1792 and 1815, or after 1848). We saw that even if we assumed nonexistent objects, it would still be neither true nor false, since the present king of France is an “incomplete” object. But the thesis that there are nonexistent objects is ontologically misleading: if ‘are’ plainly meant ‘exist’, it would imply the truth of the false sentence (11) There exists a present king of France, and he is bald, and we know this is not what Meinong means. But if ‘are’ is to mean something different from ‘exist’, this thesis implies that there is an unacceptable third ontological status between existence and non-existence. Thus, unless by (1) the speaker actually means (11), the correct explicit rendering of (1) is (15) The one thing [whose existence is here presupposed, but not asserted] that is presently king of France is bald, which lacks a truth-value because, as Strawson says, a sentence presupposing a false existential claim cannot be either true or false. On the other hand, if one meant (1) as the false de dicto reading (16) The present king of France as such is bald, his or her actual ontological commitments would be spelled out by the equally false (13) The concept implies the concept . Thus, Meinong’s teaching is not much relevant to (1), but rather to the following examples, in which existence is neither asserted nor implied nor presupposed: (2) The golden mountain is golden is most naturally read as the de dicto (210)

The golden mountain as such is golden,

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and in this reading it is logically equivalent to (23), (24), (26) and (27); moreover, the doubt that any of these formulations commit one to possible objects may be dispelled by noticing that they all are again logically equivalent to Orilia’s (28) The concept involves the concept . But since (28) does not have the same meaning as (2) (which does not mention concepts), the original meaning is correctly explained by saying that (2) speaks of the golden mountain; and since the golden mountain does not exist, it is also correct to say that we speak about nonexistent objects. The same happens with (3) Sherlock Holmes was clever: we would normally utter it in the de dicto way, as a sort of conceptual analysis which neither implies nor presupposes the existence of Sherlock Holmes. Thus, the ontology underlying (3) would become explicit in the neo-russellian (36) The concept implies the concept . But the meaning of (3) is more faithfully given by saying that it describes a fictional (nonexistent) character. On the other hand, if one said (37) Sherlock Holmes had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891, the case would be similar, but not identical to (1): here, in fact, a sincere utterance might be grounded on either of two different beliefs: that Sherlock Holmes existed (just as a sincere utterance of (1) would be grounded on the belief that there exists a present king of France); or that Conan Doyle (or whoever wrote the stories about Sherlock Holmes) stated or implied that he had a cold on that day, so that the fictional character Sherlock Holmes has this property. In the first case, the speaker might understand (37) either as implying the existential claim – and then (37) would be

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false and spelled out by a Russellian paraphrase similar to (11) – or as presupposing it – and then (37) would be rendered as (39) The one person [whose existence here is not asserted, but presupposed] that is an English detective, living at 221b Baker Street, etc., had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891, which is neither true nor false, just as (16). In the second case, instead, the speaker utters (37) simply because he or she believes that Conan Doyle or whoever wrote so; hence, he or she means something false, equivalent to (310) Conan Doyle writes (o implies) that Sherlock Holmes had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891, or (311) The concept implies the concept . But again, both (310) and (311) would correctly represent the ontological commitments of (37) as understood by the speaker, but not its meaning: (310) is a metalinguistic claim, and (311) mentions the concept of Sherlock Holmes, while (37) is an object language claim, and mentions Sherlock Holmes himself. Thus, (37) has a conceptual or metalinguistic content, but unlike (310) and (311), it expresses it in a vocabulary of objects. In this sense, it speaks of a fictional (Meinongian) character. (4) Frank thinks of the golden mountain. In accordance with Meinong and commonsense we explain (4) as saying that Frank thinks of a fantastic (nonexistent) object; but this does not commit us to the existence of such an object, for the content of (4) is spelled out without any reference to it by (45) Frank dwells upon the concept (5) The round square does not exist.

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As it is an explicit existential claim, it is correctly rendered by Russell’s analysis (51). Russell thought that sentences like (5) contradict Meinong’s assumption about nonexistent objects, and it would be so if the assumption were that such objects possess some ontological status. But as we saw, Meinong’s point is just that those objects are something we can speak about. In (5) we designate (as opposed to refer to) the round square, and in so doing we say that it does not exist; moreover, what we say is true, because a negative sentence as this one is true when the object designated by the subject (the round square, in this case) does not have the property designated by the predicate (existence, in this case). The reading I am suggesting shows that it is all right if, speaking of the round square, we can derive both (52) The existent round square exists (a tautology, just like ‘the golden mountain is golden’), and (53) The existent round square does not exist (which is certainly true, because nothing having incompatible properties can exist). In fact, (52) and (53) do not contradict each other, as Russell thinks,50 for ‘exist’ has different meanings in them, as we bring to the light by spelling out their ontological commitments, respectively as (54) The concept involves the concept , and (55) The concept is empty. (6) The dagger is over my head (said by one who is having a hallucination) Like (1), (2), (3), even (6) may have different readings: (61), making an implicit or explicit existential claim; (65), carrying an existential presup-

50

Russell (1905a) and (1905b).

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position; and (64), concerning a merely intentional object (i.e., merely describing a subjective perception). Readings of the first kind are correctly explained by Russell, those of the second kind by Frege and Strawson, while for the third kind the right answer is Meinong’s; but it must be stressed that Meinong’s doctrine, in our interpretation, does not contrast with Russell’s explanation of the first kind and Frege-Strawson’s explanation of the second kind. Actually, in this case there are further possible readings: (62) and (63), where the hallucination concerns the dagger’s spatial position, not its existence; but this does not represent a problem for anyone, as the dagger is a real one, and the sentence is not empty (we are supposedly describing a real hallucination, not a fictional one like Macbeth’). Now, (61) There exists exactly one thing that is a dagger [and salient in the present context], and it is over my head is false, and it is rendered as such by Russell – obviously, for this just is Russell’s chosen reading of (6). But one could also comment, in Meinong’s style, that (61) speaks of a nonexistent object (that one thing that is both a dagger and above my head), and it is false because the object designated (not referred to) by its subject does not have the properties (existence and spatial position) predicated by its predicates. No contradiction arises, for speaking of X does not imply that X exists, as we noticed. As for (65) The dagger [whose existence I presuppose, without asserting it] is over my head, it is neither true nor false, because of its false presupposition, as explained by Frege and Strawson; from Meinong’s point of view, rather than using the ambiguous explanation that it lacks truth-value because ‘the dagger’ refers to an incomplete object, we can adopt Strawson’s explanation and gloss it as follows: it would not be possible to understand (6) as de re and presupposing a false existential claim about the dagger, as in (65), unless one could speak or think of nonexistent objects, i.e. designate them, or dwell upon their concept; but since this is possible, the speaker can understand (6) as de re; so, he or she does presuppose a false existen-

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tial claim, and this frustrates his or her attempt to say something that is either true or false. Finally, (64) The dagger [the one I am seeing, whether real or not] is over my head [i.e., that is precisely the position where I see that dagger as being]. The truth of sentences like this – and (2), (3), (4) – is precisely what Meinong wanted his doctrine to explain, and it is not satisfactorily explained either by Frege, Russell, or the neo-Russellian approach: the speaker has the visual experience of a nonexistent object, and speaks of that object, without asserting or implying anything concerning its existence. If we wish we may say that (64) is true because the perceived object has the perceived property, but we are not actually committing ourselves to the existence of such an object: (64) is just another way to describe a subjective experience, and it is true if the experience is as (64) describes it. Even in this case, the Russellian and neo-Russellian intuition that the truth-value of sentences of this form is determined by representations (concepts, meanings, or, in this case, visual images), rather than by things, is correct; but we must forbear from placing such representations as the direct object of the original attitude (thinking of, or, in this case, seeing), a strategy that would render (64) as (66) I am seeing a visual image of a dagger, and I see it as above my head. This would be a categorial mistake, for one does not see visual images, but sees objects by having visual images of them. Just as thinking of X is dwelling upon the concept of X, seeing X (in the subjective meaning of ‘seeing’) is having a visual image of X. The mistake is caused by mixing up two different accounts, each correct in its own setting: the introspective observation sentence “I am seeing a dagger”, and the sentence of psychological theory “I am having a visual image of a dagger”. The relation between these latter two sentences is the same as that between (4) and (45), and it is analogous to the relation between the everyday language sentences (2) and (3) (understood de dicto) and their theoretical explications (28) and (36).

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The above categorial mistake is eliminated when (66) is turned into (67) There exists exactly one visual image, such that I am now having it, and is an image of a dagger over my head, or (68) I see that there exists exactly one thing that is a dagger and is over my head, where ‘to see [that]’ is a propositional verb and has a subjective meaning like in (64): i.e., just like ‘to think [that]’, it does not imply that its subordinate proposition is true. In § 2 and § 5 we noticed that Russell says that we never need to assume the existence of intentional objects, but only of thoughts, concepts, pictures or verbal descriptions, i.e., subjective representations of one sort or another. So, it might be suggested, (67) and (68) are possible renderings of (64) in Russell’s quantificational analysis. However, neither (67) nor (68) have the same truth-conditions as (64): for, suppose I actually do not see anything, but just pretend, with my gestures and the expression of my face, that I am having this hallucination. Then, if I utter (64), what I say is neither true nor false, while if I utter (67) or (68) what I say is false. Once again, Russell’s idea that every definite description conceals an existential claim (as opposed to an existential presupposition) turns out to be wrong. A logical equivalent of (64), instead, is (69) The visual image [which I am presupposing (but not asserting) I am having] is that of a dagger over my head. Still, as by now we know, (69) cannot supersede (64), because it does not have the same meaning. Meinong’s “theory of objects” may be interpreted as a way to stress both the ineliminability of such locutions as (64), (2), (3) and (4), and their harmlessness: there is nothing wrong with describing ourselves as speaking of, or thinking of, or seeing, nonexistent objects. Mario Alai Università di Urbino [email protected]

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References Alai, Mario (1994), Modi di conoscere il mondo, Milano, Franco Angeli. Barbero, Carola & Raspa, Venanzio [eds.] (2005), Il pregiudizio a favore del reale. La teoria dell’oggetto di Alexius Meinong fra ontologia e epistemologia, special issue of Rivista di estetica, XLV, n.s. 30, n. 3. Carnap, Rudolf (1947), Meaning and Necessity, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press. Chisholm, Roderick M. (1982), “Beyond Being and Nonbeing”, in Brentano and Meinong Studies, Amsterdam, Rodopi, pp. 53-67. Fodor, Jerry (1975), The Language of Thought, New York, Crowell. Frege, Gottlob (1891), “Funktion und Begriff”, Vortrag, gehalten in der Sitzung von 9 Januar 1981 der Jenaischen Gesellshaft für Medizin und Naturwissenschaft, Jena, Herman Pohle. Frege, Gottlob (1892), “Über Sinn und Bedeutung”, Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 100, pp. 25-50. Husserl, Edmund (1894), “Vorstellung und Gegenstand”, hrsg. von K. Schuhmann, in Brentano Studien, 3 (1990/1991), pp. 137-176. Husserl, Edmund (1901), “Draft of a letter to Marty”, in E. Husserl, Briefwechsel, vol. I: Die Brentanoschule, hrsg. von K. Schuhmann, Dordrecht/Boston/London, Kluwer, 1994, pp. 75-83. Husserl, Edmund (1901/1913), Logische Untersuchungen. Zweiter Band: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis, hrsg. von U. Panzer (Husserliana XIX), Dordrecht, Kluwer, 1984. Husserl, Edmund (1913), Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie, hrsg. von K. Schuhmann (Husserliana III), Den Haag, Nijhoff, 1976. Kripke, Saul (1972), “Naming and Necesity”, in D. Davidson & G. Harman [eds.], Semantics of Natural Language, Dordrecht, Reidel, pp. 253-355, 762-769.

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Lewis, Clarence Irving (1943-1944), “The Modes of Meaning”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 4, pp. 236-250. Meinong, Alexius (1902), Über Annahmen, Leipzig, Barth. Meinong, Alexius (1904), “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, in Untersuchungen zur Gegendstandstheorie und Psychologie, hrsg. von A. Meinong, Leipzig, Barth. Meinong, Alexius (1910), Über Annahmen, 2nd ed., Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1910; now in Alexius Meinong Gesamtausgabe, vol. IV: Über Annahmen, ed. by R. Haller, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1977. Napoli, Ernesto (2000), “Finti nomi”, in G. Usberti [ed.], Modi dell’oggettività, Milano, Bompiani, pp. 197-221. Orilia, Francesco (2002), Ulisse, il quadrato rotondo e l’attuale re di Francia, Pisa, ETS. Orilia, Francesco (2005), “La libertà di assunzione nella filosofia analitica contemporanea”, in Barbero & Raspa [eds.] (2005), pp. 91-109. Poli, Roberto (2005), “Meinong, filosofo empirico”, in Barbero & Raspa [eds.] (2005), pp. 116-139. Putnam, Hilary (1973), “Meaning and Reference”, Journal of Philosophy, 70, pp. 699-711. Putnam, Hilary (1975), “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”, in Mind, Language and Reality, Cambridge, University Press, pp. 215-271. Putnam, Hilary (1981), Reason, Truth and History, Cambridge/New York/Melbourne, Cambridge University Press. Quine, Willard van Orman (1960), Word and Object, Cambridge (Mass.), Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Raspa, Venanzio (2005), “Forme del più e del meno in Meinong”, in Barbero & Raspa [eds.] (2005), pp. 185-219. Russell, Bertrand (1905a), “On Denoting”, Mind, 14, pp. 479-493.

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Russell, Bertrand (1905b), Review of: A. Meinong, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, in Mind, 14, pp. 530-538. Russell, Bertrand (1919), Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, London, Allen and Unwin. Searle, John (1958), “Proper Names”, Mind, 67, pp. 166-173. Strawson, Peter (1950), “On Referring”, Mind, 59, pp. 320-344. Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953), Philosophische Untersuchungen, Oxford, Blackwell.

List of examples (1) The present king of France is bald. (11) There exists a present king of France, and he is bald. (12) There exists exactly one thing that is presently king of France, and it is bald. (13) The concept implies the concept . (14) The concept is bald. (15) The one thing [whose existence is here presupposed, but not asserted] that is presently king of France is bald. (16) The present king of France as such is bald. (2) The golden mountain is golden. (21) There exists exactly one thing that is both a mountain and golden, and it is golden. (22) [Implicit: there exists a golden mountain, and] the [aforementioned] golden mountain is [obviously] golden. (23) Every golden mountain is golden. (24) For any object x, if x is a mountain and golden, then x is golden.

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(25) For any object x, if x is a mountain and golden, then x is not golden. (26) If the golden mountain existed, it would be golden. (27) It is necessary that a golden mountain is golden. (28) The concept involves the concept . (29) The concept is golden. (210) The golden mountain as such is golden (3) Sherlock Holmes was clever. (31) There existed exactly one thing that was an English detective, lived at 221b Baker Street, etc., and it was clever. (32) Sherlock Holmes [implicit: existed, and he] was clever. (33) If Sherlock Holmes had existed he would have been clever. (34) Conan Doyle writes (or implies) that Sherlock Holmes was clever. (35) Conan Doyle writes (or implies): “Sherlock Holmes is clever”. (36) The concept implies the concept . (37) Sherlock Holmes had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891. (38) The concept implies the concept . (39) The one person [whose existence here is not asserted, but presupposed] that is an English detective, living at 221b Baker Street, etc., had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891. (310) Conan Doyle writes (o implies) that Sherlock Holmes had a cold on March, 3rd, 1891.

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(311) The concept implies the concept . (4) Frank thinks of the golden mountain. (41) There exists exactly one thing which is both a mountain and golden, and Frank thinks of it. (42) Frank thinks that there exists exactly one thing which is both a mountain and golden. (43) Frank thinks “Golden mountain”. (44) Frank thinks of the concept (45) Frank dwells upon the concept . (5) The round square does not exist. (51) There exists nothing that is both square and round. (52) The existent round square exists. (53) The existent round square does not exist. (54) The concept involves the concept . (55) The concept is empty. (6) The dagger is over my head (said by one who is having a hallucination). (61) There exists exactly one thing that is a dagger [and salient in the present context], and it is over my head. (62) The dagger [i.e.: my friend’s dagger] is over my head. (63) There exists exactly one thing that is a dagger and belongs to my friend, and it is over my head.

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(64) The dagger [the one I am seeing, whether real or not] is over my head [i.e., that is precisely the position where I perceive that dagger as being]. (65) The dagger [whose existence I presuppose, without asserting it] is over my head. (66) I am seeing a visual image of a dagger, and I see it as above my head. (67) There exists exactly one visual image, such that I am now having it, and is an image of a dagger over my head. (68) I see that there exists exactly one thing that is a dagger and is over my head. (69) The visual image [which I am presupposing (but not asserting) I am having] is that of a dagger over my head.

BEING, EXISTENCE, AND HAVING INSTANCES Alberto Voltolini

Summary In (2000), Colin McGinn has powerfully argued that the Frege-Russell conception of existence as the second-order property of having instances does not capture the ordinary notion of existence, which is rather more intuitively and adequately understood in terms of a nonuniversal first-order property which some things possess and some others do not. While agreeing with McGinn that this nonuniversal first-order property must be defended, I will try to show, first of all, that there are some problems in the way McGinn conceives that firstorder property in its application to entities. Moreover, I will remark not only that such a property leaves room for a remaining ontological import of the above second-order property of existence, but also that McGinn’s line of argument actually commits to another, universal, first-order property of existence, which however seems to be, even if not ontologically dispensable, so to speak semantically superfluous. The morale of all these observations is that there really is a plurality of existential properties, two of which – existence and having instances – are more fundamental than the third one – being.

1. In contemporary analytic philosophy, the glorious Kantian, and even older, idea that existence is not a property of individuals has been rendered a sort of commonplace by the Frege-Russell treatment of existence as a second-order property expressed by the existential quantifier. In the Frege-Russell framework, to say that an individual exists (or that many individuals exist) is to say that there is something which is F (or that there are many things which are F), which in its turn means that the property of being F has some (many) instantiations. In his (2000), Colin McGinn has

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tried to undermine the commonplace, by arguing that the second-order property expressed by the existential quantifier does not really capture the ordinary notion of existence, which is rather and more intuitively to be accounted for in terms of a property that some individuals possess and some others do not, i.e., a first-order nonuniversal property of things of the same kind as being red or being human. Mc Ginn raises some powerful objections against the Frege-Russell paradigm, what he labels “the orthodox view”. A first objection says that the second-order property of having instances presupposes the notion of existence, hence the latter cannot be analyzed in terms of the former. For example, that there are planets, i.e., that the property of being a planet has instances, presupposes that those instances – e.g., Mercury, Venus – exist. Conversely, Vulcan is not an instance of the property of being a planet for Vulcan does not exist. Suppose now that one denied that presupposition, by saying that Vulcan is an instance of that property. That would be even worse, for it would amount to the very rejection of the idea that the second-order property of having instances analyzes the ordinary notion of existence. For again, Vulcan does not exist.1 Another objection focuses on problems linked to the strategy of paraphrasing existential statements in terms of sentences expressing the above second-order property. First of all, McGinn remarks that a quantified sentence containing an existential predicate has no convincing paraphrases. Take a sentence like “something exists” and suppose to consider its only viable interpretation, i.e., to take it as saying that the property of being self-identical is instantiated – “There is something which is selfidentical”, in symbols: “(∃x) (x=x)”.2 Yet even this interpretation sounds implausible, for it does not say where the identity sign comes from. Moreover, that very sentence can be obviously inferred from a singular existential statement, like “Venus exists”. Yet if one tries to paraphrase the latter sentence in terms of a quantified existential sentence like “There is something which is identical with Venus”, in symbols: “(∃x) (x=Venus)”, 1 2

Cf. McGinn (2000), pp. 21-23. The other interpretations being either gibberish – “∃x ( x)” – or pleonastic – “∃x (Thing x)” – or against the orthodox view – “∃x (Exists x)”. Cf. McGinn (2000), pp. 27-28.

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the previous problem comes back again, for that quantified sentence presupposes again that Venus exists (in order for “Venus” to refer to something in it).3 More generally, many existential statements resist a quantified paraphrase in which existence is appealed to as the above secondorder property. Take “Venus exists and is F”. But once a quantified paraphrase of that sentence is to be avoided, how can the orthodox view account for the fact that that sentence entails “At least one F exists”?4 To my mind, McGinn’s arguments manage to show that the claim that the second-order property of having instances captures the ordinary notion of existence is ungrounded. According to McGinn, however, his arguments also show that this notion is rather captured by a first-order nonuniversal property of existence, namely a property certain things possess and other do not, which cannot be analyzed in terms of the above secondorder property. Intuitively, this is the property Venus possesses, yet Vulcan fails to possess. Russell originally labelled this property precisely existence.5 In gesturing at the same property, others have chosen different labels: being involved in the causal order, i.e., being a subject of causal manipulations,6 existence in a physical sense, i.e., existing spatiotemporally,7 being complete.8 Yet, as Meinong envisaged, this property has probably a broader extension than that those people ascribe to it. Or, to put it better, for Meinong existing spatiotemporally is nothing but a species of a more general, yet still non-universal, first-order property of existence whose other species is existing non-spatiotemporally, or subsistence (Bestand).9 3 4

5 6 7 8 9

Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 27, fn.13. Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 26. McGinn presents two other objections, namely that the orthodox view does not account for what is for a property to exist and that it implausibly entails that in order for things to exist they have to possess properties. Cf. (2000), pp. 24-25, 28-30. I will consider these objections afterwards. Cf. Russell (19372), pp. 43-44, 449-450. Cf. Castañeda (1989), pp. 241-242, (1990), p. 461. This proposal can be traced back at least to Geach (1969a), p. 58, (1969b), p. 65. Cf. Williamson (1990), p. 173, (2002). Cf. Santambrogio (1990), p. 662. In distinguishing the two species of one and the same general yet nonuniversal first-order property of existence, Meinong is not far from Frege’s distinction be-

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To my mind, however, McGinn’s second claim is more controversial. To be sure, his criticisms against the orthodox view of existence leave positive room for a first-order non-universal property of existence. For one thing, I agree with McGinn that the entailment from “Venus exists and it is F” to “At least one F exists” has to be accounted for by actually taking the latter sentence as “For some x, x exists and x is F”, where “exists” precisely refers to this first-order property.10 Yet it also seems to me that McGinn’s analysis leaves the following questions open. i) Does McGinn give a convincing positive account of the above first-order nonuniversal property of existence, so that it respectively applies and fails to apply to the right entities? ii) Does the fact that the second-order notion of

10

tween abstracta as entities that merely bring about effects and concreta as entities that both bring about and undergo effects. Cf. Frege (1967), p. 212, (19863), pp. 370-373. Meinong labelled his general yet nonuniversal first-order property of existence being (Sein). Cf. Meinong (1971 [1904]), pp. 83-85. Probably the fact that Russell deserved the same label for the universal first-order property of existence (see later in the text) led him to immediately disregard Meinong’s position (as the first letter from Russell to Meinong testifies: cf. Kindinger 1965, p. 348), despite the fact that, apart from terminological issues, it was not so distant from his own original position. In point of fact, the real disagreement between the early Russell and Meinong concerned the extension of the overall domain of entities, all of which possess the universal first-order property of existence: for Meinong, that domain included impossibilia, for the early Russell probably it did not. Relying on further later textual evidence by Russell, Makin (2000), pp. 59-60 maintains that the early Russell’s being coincides with Meinong’s subsistence. Yet this seems hard to believe. For along with genuine subsistents like numbers and classes Russell ranks Meinongian non-subsisting entities like ficta within the items that have being (cf. fn. 5). In any case, I here leave open whether the early Russell’s own existence coincides with being involved in the causal order (or existence in a physical sense etc.) or with Meinong’s being. To be sure, one might wonder whether there are all these finegrained existential first-order nonuniversal properties, and limit oneself to saying that there is one and the same first-order predicate of existence which sometimes occurs restrictedly and some other times unrestrictedly (for this idea, cf. Predelli 2002, pp. 275-276). Yet by so putting things those properties simply come back from the rear door, for they are implicitly mobilized as a criterion for doing the appropriate contextual restriction of the existential predicate. Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 26. In this respect, he says that even a “bifurcating view” that took the occurrence of “exists” in the first sentence as a first-order predicate while the occurrence of “exists” in the second sentence as a second-order predicate would fail to account for the entailment. Cf. ibid.

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existence does not capture the ordinary notion of existence deprive it of any ontological import? iii) Does McGinn’s line of argument limit itself to defend a first-order nonuniversal notion of existence, or does it rather commit one to another first-order, yet universal, property of existence? iv) Is, however, this latter property ultimately dispensable? In what follows, I will scrutinize these questions in detail. It is only after that these questions have been examined that a thorough answer as to the general problem of whether McGinn’s own analysis of existence is more convincing than the orthodox view can be provided. 2. As far as the possession of the first-order nonuniversal property of existence is concerned, McGinn puts forward at least two positive theses: a) entities which possess it are not only, and obviously, actualia, but also possibilia and perhaps even impossibilia; b) entities which fail to possess it are nothing but mind-dependent entities, specifically intentionalia and ficta, for not to possess it precisely means (or is made true by) being a mind-dependent entity.11 I am sure thesis a) will leave many people surprised. Speaking for myself, I would have expected that both possibilia and (if one believes in them) impossibilia fell into the class of things which fail to possess the above first-order property of existence, since in this respect they are the natural candidates: as one would intuitively put it, possibilia fail to exist contingently, impossibilia necessarily. This intuition seems entirely correct. Leaving aside impossibilia for a moment, the fact that a possibile fails tout court to have existence, has it only possibly, is what one would expect once existence is taken to be a first-order nonuniversal property. For a possibile is in the same predicament with respect to many other nonuniversal properties. Take the property of being my brother. My possible brother does not have it tout court, he has it only possibly.12

11 12

Cf. McGinn (2000), pp. 37-38, 42-44 and fn. 29. Cf. e.g. Williamson (2000).

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Nevertheless, McGinn seems to reject this intuitive conception: for him, my possible brother exists, and he is also my brother!13 Yet this rejection is not enough, for if one says that actualia, possibilia and impossibilia all exist, one must be able to account differently for their different (modal) status. Now, this is what McGinn says à propos of possibilia: although they exist as well as actualia, they lack actual existence, they are distant from actuality.14 However, it is hard to understand what he exactly means by that.15 Sometimes, one has the impression that McGinn merely endorses the intuitive conception according to which possibilia exist relatively, i.e., in certain possible worlds only.16 But since this is tantamount to saying that they do not exist absolutely, this cannot be what McGinn has in mind. A natural suggestion may be that McGinn is implicitly endorsing Lewis’ modal realism; thus, by saying that possibilia exist yet they lack actual existence, he simply means that, although they exist tout court, they are located in concrete worlds that are distinct from the actual world, i.e., the world where we live.17 Yet this suggestion cannot work for at least two reasons.18 First of all, one does not see how this account could be extended to impossibilia; as McGinn says that also impossibilia exist yet they (necessarily) lack actuality, their existence cannot be equated with location in some possible world or other, for by definition impossibilia cannot be located in any possible world. Moreover, for Lewis to exist basically is not a nonuniversal first-order property, but rather the Frege-Russell second-order property: to say that a possibile exists is basi13

14 15 16

17 18

As he says, his possible younger sister has the property of being a female (rather than merely having the modal property of being a possible female). Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 41, fn. 19. Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 39. On this, cf. also Van Inwagen (MS). See for instance this quotation: “Such entities exist in the realm of the merely possible; their ontological deficiency consists just in the fact that their existence is not actual.” (2000), p. 39. Cf. Lewis (1973), (1986). Let me put aside the fact that it does not explain how my possible brother is my brother (Lewis would admit that he simply is possibly my brother, by accounting for this as his being my brother – or better, as his having brotherhood with one of my counterparts – in a different possible world).

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cally to say that there exists (in an unrestricted sense of the quantifier) one such thing.19 But also thesis b) above is quite strange, if not untenable at all. First of all, if something does not exist in the sense that (or insofar as) it is a mind-dependent entity, then in point of fact it exists! Simply, its existence is dependent on that of some other entity: necessarily, if it exists, then that other entity exists as well. This is precisely what believers in the idea that ficta (as well as intentionalia) are mind-dependent entities actually claim.20 Moreover, take a sentence like “N exists”, where “N” is a singular term and the predicate expresses the first-order property of existence in question. It seems that in McGinn’s lights, that sentence must mean something different, depending on whether it is true or false. For if it is true, the sentence means that N has the property in question, where if it is false, 19

20

See on this Bradley (1992), pp. 46, 52-54. To be sure, Lewis also admits a universal first-order property of existence, which he seems to treat (along with many others: see later in the text) as being identical with something; cf. (1990), p. 31 and fn. 15. In point of fact, moreover, for him saying that a possibile exists in the restricted sense of the quantifier amounts to ascribing that possibile the first order property of being a part of the possible world which constitutes the restricted domain of quantification (cf. Yagisawa 2005). Yet McGinn cannot endorse this move, for it cannot be said in this sense that even impossibilia exist, as McGinn wishes. Cf. e.g. Thomasson (1999). To be more precise, since those who defend the idea that ficta (and intentionalia) are mind-dependent entities also take them as abstract beings, in Meinongian terms their nonuniversal existence is rather a subsistence, i.e., a non-spatiotemporal existence. Now, one may conjecture that this is precisely the reason why McGinn insists that those mind-dependent entities are nonexistents: that for him they are no abstract entities (hence, they do not subsist either). This is what he has explicitly said afterwards, by denying that they are set-theoretical entities: cf. (2004), p. 226. Yet it is not clear to me how can McGinn contemporarily say that and also claim that they are individuated, hence possess, the properties which are ascribed to them (cf. again his (2004), pp. 226-7). To be sure, it is possible to hold both things together, namely by saying that nonexistents are not sets, but set-correlates. This may both leave concreteness to them and possess the properties by means of which they are described. For this position, cf. Castañeda’s Theory of Guises (see e.g. Castañeda 1989). Yet set-correlates so conceived are precisely mind-independent entities, not mind-dependent ones.

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it means that N is a mind-dependent entity. But this goes against the basic semantic principle according to which the meaning of a sentence is independent of its actual truth-value. To be sure, there is for McGinn an easy way out of this problem: to say that that sentence always means that N is a mind-independent entity, which is true if N exists and false otherwise, i.e., if N is a mind-dependent entity. Thus, McGinn’s thesis would not be an implausible claim about singular existentials’ truth-conditions, but rather a claim about its truthmakers.21 Yet the unwelcome result remains that, depending on its actual truth-value, that sentence has a different modal content. For, if it is true, it is such only contingently. “Hitler exists” is unfortunately true with respect to the actual world, but false with respect to some possible worlds. As McGinn himself says, “existence is not an essential property of Venus and Clinton”.22 Yet, as McGinn himself stresses, it cannot be the case that a mind-dependent entity comes to have existence in other possible worlds.23 But this entails that, if the sentence is false, then it is such necessarily: if “Ulysses exists” is actually false, it is false with respect to every possible world.24 3. As McGinn rightly points out, a consequence of re-evaluating the firstorder nonuniversal property of existence is that the particular quantifier may be given a non-existentially loaded reading, i.e., as a quantifier ranging both over items having and items failing to have that first-order prop21 22 23 24

This is what he explicitly says as far as true negative singular existentials are concerned: cf. McGinn (2000), p. 43, fn. 19. McGinn (2000), p. 39. Cf. ibid. In point of fact, as Van Inwagen (MS) remarks, this asymmetry is problematic already on the ontological side: it cannot be the case that existents have existence contingently while nonexistents fail to have it necessarily. As Van Inwagen suggests, the obvious amendment is to say that existents have existence necessarily, since the fact that they are merely possible in other possible worlds should for McGinn mean that they exist also in those worlds. But I doubt that this amendment is really available to McGinn; as we have seen, existent possi-

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erty. From any true sentence involving a nonexistent item, e.g. “Vulcan is an astronomers’ mirage”, one may rightly infer “There is something which is an astronomers’ mirage”, where the particular quantifier ranges indifferently over entities possessing and entities failing to possess the first-order nonuniversal property of existence.25 As whoever endorses this existentially unloaded interpretation of the particular quantifier maintains, this interpretation does not prevent the quantifier from being sometimes read as being existentially loaded. This happens when the quantifier is contextually restricted to existing items.26 For instance, when we infer from “Venus is a planet” “There is something which is a planet” we implicitly read the above token of the quantified sentence as saying “There is something which exists and it is a planet”.27 Yet this consequence does not mean that the particular quantifier has no ontological import. Philosophical arguments in favour or against entities of a particular kind are precisely aimed at including or excluding items from the overall inventory of what there is, where “there is” mobilizes the particular quantifier in its unrestricted, existentially unloaded, sense. If a philosopher either affirms or denies e.g. that there are possibilia, she precisely means that the categorical property of being a possibile has viz. fails to have instances in the overall domain.28 Asserting that 25 26

27

28

bilia have to be for him items that do not exist in the actual world. In this respect, McGinn says that “∃“ should be called not the existential, but the partial quantifier. Cf. (2000), pp. 32-37. Cf. e.g. Parsons (1980), p. 7. McGinn himself says that the particular quantifier may be endowed with “existential force as a matter of conversational implicature” (2000), p. 35. In this respect, it is clear that sentences of the kind “Fs exist” (or their negations) can be used in different ways. On the one hand, that sentence may mean “There are things which (nonuniversally) exist and are F” (“tigers exist” is typically used in this way), but also “There are things which are F” (which is the way I would use both “possibilia exist” and “possible brothers of mine exist”; on the ontological import of these uses, see below). Note that even a (Quinean) actualist saying that (in the overall domain) there are only things which are actual must implicitly mean the particular quantifier in an existentially unloaded sense, in order for her thesis to be informative. What the actualist maintains is the overall domain of what there is effectively coincides with the domain of the things that are actual. In other terms, the actualist maintains that the things that there (unloadedly) are, are the things that exist in the

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a certain categorical kind is instantiated, saying e.g. “There are possibilia”, is what Carnap would have called an external statement of existence. But even internal statements of existence, asserting that a noncategorical kind has instantiations, may have an ontological import, by mobilizing again an unrestricted, hence existentially unloaded, use of the particular quantifier. If I say “there are possible brothers of mine”, what I assert is that the (modal) property of being a possible brother of mine has instantiations in the overall domain of what there is. As a result of all this, it is not the case that the irreducibility of the first-order nonuniversal property of existence to the second-order property of having instances exhausts what there is to say about existence in general. For it is that second-order property, not the first-order one, that has ontological import. In this respect, even if Quine would have restrained the ontological commitment the particular quantifier induces only to things that exist (in the above, first-order sense),29 the lesson we learnt from Quine that to be is to be the value of a variable remains intact. To be sure, McGinn is close to see this point, for he says that in a Meinongian interpretation of the particular quantifier, the quantifier has an ontological though no existential import. For Meinongians hold that the quantifier unrestrictedly ranges over both subsistents and (spatiotemporally) existent entities.30 To be sure, McGinn seems to attribute to Meinongians in general what only (some) neo-Meinongians believe.31 For one, Meinong himself would have disagreed with this neo-Meinongian interpretation of his position, for he would have rather said that the unrestricted quantifier ranges over both existents in general (that is, both subsistents, i.e., nonspatiotemporal existents, and spatiotemporal existents) and nonexistents in general (such as the golden mountain, which does not exist contin-

29 30 31

above sense, thereby assuming that – contra Meinongians, or McGinn for what matters – the first-order property of existence in question is universal. For a reasoning along these lines, cf. Lewis (1990), pp. 29-30. By implicitly assuming that this property is universal: there are all and only the things that exist in this sense. See previous footnote. Cf. McGinn (2000), p. 33. Cf. Zalta (1983).

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gently, and the round square, which does not exist necessarily).32 In this respect, Meinong’s own interpretation of the particular quantifier squares with McGinn’s own reading of it, according to which that quantifier precisely ranges over both existents and nonexistents. Simply, Meinong and McGinn disagree on what the nonexistents are: for Meinong, they can well be mind-independent entities, while for McGinn they simply are mind-dependent entities – ficta and intentionalia.33 Given this convergence, it is even more curious that McGinn limits himself to saying that Meinongians would give the particular quantifier an ontological import. No doubt, Meinong would have given his reading of the particular quantifier an ontological import – remember Meinong’s famous dictum “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects”.34 Yet if McGinn himself had to say that there are intentionalia or ficta, namely his exhaustive examples of nonexisting entities, in so holding that the categories of being an intentionale and of being a fictum are instantiated he would precisely use the particular unrestricted quantifier with an ontological import. 32

33

34

It is however possible that McGinn simply uses the adjective “subsistent” confusedly, to mean by it not having non-spatiotemporal existence, but belonging to the overall domain of what there is. For in again discussing the Meinongian position, he precisely takes the Meinongian as holding that “merely subsistent entities could have Being even though they have never been conceived” (2000), p. 37. Once one substitutes “subsistent” with “nonexistent”, this reconstruction of the Meinongian position is entirely correct. In this confused use, McGinn could have been led astray by the later Russell himself, who, whenever resuming Meinong’s position many years after his debate with the Austrian philosopher, tended to conflate Meinongian nonexistent objects with subsistent entities (cf. Farrell-Smith 1985, p. 307). (To note McGinn’s obscurity on this point, see also how he uses the word “subsistence” afterwards, where it is unclear if by it he means non-spatiotemporal existence or the first-order universal property of existence whose commitment to was repudiated by Meinong (see Section 5 below): cf. 2004, pp. 227-228.) Cf. McGinn (2000), pp. 37-8 and fn. 24. As he has quite explicitly said afterwards, by using “being” à la Meinong as synonymous with non-universal existence, “there is being and non-being” (2004), p. 228. As I have said before, McGinn is wrong in taking mind-dependent entities as nonexistent ones, but this is inessential here. Meinong (1971 [1904]), p. 83.

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4. The fact that the particular quantifier is by itself existentially unloaded has however a further interesting consequence. As we saw before, one of the reasons why McGinn thought that the second-order property of having instances does not capture the ordinary notion of existence is that the very property of having instances presupposes the fact that such instances exist. Yet McGinn also thought that the sense in which these instances exist is that such items possess the first-order nonuniversal property of existence we have spoken before. However, once we take the particular quantifier as existentially unloaded, it is no longer the case that saying that a property whatsoever has instances eo ipso presupposes that these instances exist in the above sense. It actually depends on the property involved. True, if one truthfully says e.g. that there are planets, i.e. that the property of being a planet has instances, then it is also true that those instances – e.g. Mercury, Venus – exist in the above sense.35 For the property of being a planet is, to use Cocchiarella’s terminology, existenceentailing.36 As a result, in truthfully saying that there are planets, the particular quantifier actually occurs contextually restricted to existents in the above sense: one is actually saying that there are (in an existentially unloaded sense) things which exist (in the above sense) and are planets. Yet if one truthfully says that there are possible planets, i.e. that the (modal) property of being a possible planet has instances, then it is not true that those instances – e.g. Vulcan37 – exist in the above sense. For the property of being a possible planet is not existence-entailing. As a result, in truthfully saying that there are possible planets, the particular quantifier 35

36

37

For reasons we will see immediately later (cf. fn. 39), on this regard McGinn chooses another example, concerning the property of being a tiger. Cf. (2000), p. 51. Cf. Cocchiarella (1982). Cocchiarella ascribes the distinction between the existence-entailing and the non- existence-entailing properties to the early Russell, as a consequence of his distinction between the non-universal first-order property of existence and the universal first-order property of being (see immediately later in the text). Provided that Vulcan is a possible planet. McGinn denies that, by taking it as an intentional object, i.e. as a mind-dependent entity in his framework. Cf. (2000), pp. 40, 42.

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actually occurs contextually unrestricted, hence in the existentially unloaded sense: one is actually saying that there are (in that existentially unloaded sense) things which possibly are planets.38,39 On McGinn’s behalf, however, one may wonder whether the above reasoning does not rather show that truthfully saying that a property whatsoever has instances presupposes another first-order property of existence, this time a universal one: namely, a property that whatever thing in the overall domain possesses. This point escapes McGinn, who, as we saw above (Section 1), limits itself to saying that if a nonexistent like Vulcan were an instance of a property, then the ordinary notion of existence could not be analyzed in terms of the second-order property of having instances. Yet that is what precisely follows from the fact that for McGinn the particular quantifier is in itself existentially unloaded: to say that there is, in an existentially unloaded sense, something that instantiates a property precisely entails that that very something has a first-order property of existence that even nonexistents can possess,40 i.e. the universal property in question.41 This is the property that Russell originally la38

39

40 41

Curiously enough, this point escapes McGinn, who says of the very property of being a planet that a nonexistent may instantiate it. In McGinn’s account, this (debatable) claim derives from the conjunction of two problematic theses, the already discussed thesis that nonexistents are mind-dependent entities and the thesis that “intentional objects have just those properties our mental acts confer on them” (2000), p. 41. Note that if that claim should amount in McGinn to the rejection of the distinction between existence-entailing and non- existenceentailing properties, his own idea that the second-order property of having instances presupposes the first-order nonuniversal property of existence would be severely undermined. For from the fact that a property is instantiated one could never infer that its instantiation has that first-order property. At any rate, that idea needs a reformulation: see immediately below in the text. A similar reasoning must be provided for McGinn’s argument according to which truthfully saying “There is something which is identical with Venus” presupposes Venus’ existence (see Section 1). As the property of being identical with something is not existence-entailing (one would also say something true in claiming that there is something which is identical with Vulcan), no such presupposition obtains. As McGinn has explicitly said afterwards, nonexistents “instantiate properties” (2004, pp. 225-226). From this point of view, it is right to say with McGinn (see Section 1) that the

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belled being42 and that others have again theorized, perhaps under different labels; e.g., existence in a logical sense.43 Since everything whatsoever possesses this property, many have claimed that assigning that property to something is informationally redundant.44 In this respect, this property behaves like the universal property of being identical with something – (∃y) (x=y) – with which is therefore often equated.45 Thus, an unexpected result seems to arise from the scrutiny of McGinn’s argument. It is true that such an argument shows that the second-order property of having instances does not capture the intuitive notion of existence. Yet it is not true that such argument shows that such a notion is best accounted for in terms of the nonuniversal first-order property of existence. For that argument rather forces one to commit to the universal first-order property of existence, Russell’s being.46

42 43 44 45

46

already considered inference from “N exists and it is F” to “At least one F exists” is easily accounted for once existence is taken as a first-order property, but this leaves still open the possibility that either first-order property of existence, the nonuniversal as well as the universal one, is mobilized in the inference. Cf. again Russell (19372), pp. 43-44, 449-450. Cf. Williamson (2002). Cf. for instance Kroon (2004), p. 17, Lycan (2000), p. 19. Cf. e.g. Salmon (1987), pp. 64-65, Williamson (2002). To be sure, unlike Williamson, Salmon says that this universal property is possessed only by actualia, who for him are the only things there are. As I said above (cf. fn. 29), however, what an actualist should properly maintain is that actualia – the only things that there are – possess not this first-order property, but the previous first-order property of existence, by thereby making that property an universal one. McGinn’s other arguments seem to go in the same direction. If the property of being identical with something is not existence-entailing, so that even nonexistents possess it, what a quantified sentence of the kind “(∃x) (x=N)” presupposes is that the object the singular term N denotes has being, not that it exists. Moreover, once one allows for nonexistent items, the argument saying that the possibility of bare particulars entails that things can exist even without instantiating properties mobilizes the universal first-order property of being. Finally, as to the argument saying that the Frege-Russell account of existence presupposes the very existence of properties, one would tend to interpret that existence as the universal property of being, if this interpretation would not be prevented by the fact that this is a first-order property and therefore it cannot be applied to properties themselves.

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5. One would expect that, by assuming the existentially unloaded interpretation of the particular quantifier as ranging over any entity whatsoever, existent as well as nonexistent, Meinong also committed himself to the firstorder universal property of existence we have just introduced. In actual fact, however, this is not the case: Meinong was inclined to reject the idea that nonexistent entities have a sort of quasi-existence (possess quasiSein, in Meinong’s own terminology).47 One might say that Meinong’s position is unreasonably too strong: if Meinong had grasped the fact that, by being a universal property, Russell’s first-order property of being is nothing but a sort of formal property that all items trivially possess, he would have perhaps had no qualms in assuming it in his theoretical framework. Yet one may give a weaker interpretation of Meinong’s position. According to this interpretation, the point is not that there is no such a thing as Russell’s universal property of being, but rather that ascribing it to something is (not only, as we have seen, informationally redundant, but also) so to speak semantically superfluous.48 For to say that a certain item has being is tantamount to saying that that very property is instantiated; in other terms, the predication of the universal first-order property of existence to an item reduces to the second-order predication of its own instantiation. Let us see. On the one hand, as we have already supposed in following McGinn’s real line of argument, saying that any property whatsoever has instances presupposes that such instances have Russell’s first-order universal property of being, i.e., of being identical with something. This is of course true of that very property itself: saying that the property of being identical with something has instances entails that a certain item, call it N, has being, i.e., has that very property. In symbols, “(∃x) (∃y) (x=y) → (∃y) (N=y)”. Yet on the other hand, saying that N has being, is identical with 47 48

Cf. Meinong (1971 [1904]), pp. 84-85. To be sure, the late Meinong was more dubious about this rejection: cf. (1978), pp. 153-154. This position seems ascribable to Van Inwagen (MS), who, although in an actualist framework, shows some sympathy for the idea that all the thing there are have this universal property (which however is for him the only first-order property of existence things may have). It is also implicit in Lycan (2000), p. 19.

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something, of course entails a particular (existentially unloaded) generalization, namely that the very property of being identical with something has instances. In symbols, “(∃y) (N=y) → (∃x) (∃y) (x=y)”. But then we have that N has being, is identical with something, if and only if that property has instances: “(∃y) (N=y) ↔ (∃x) (∃y) (x=y)”. Hence, ascribing that property to a particular something is semantically dispensable: whenever we say that a certain something has that property we are saying that that very property is instantiated.49 Curiously enough, pace Quine, one may take this equivalence to be what lurks behind Quine’s motto that to be is to be the value of a (bound) variable: if “to be” means to have the first-order universal property of existence, then to be is nothing but for that very property to be instantiated, hence for a variable to be bound by the (non-existentially loaded) particular quantifier.50 Let me now take stock. We have seen that, although McGinn’s line of argument actually points towards the need for a universal first-order property of existence and not for a nonuniversal first-order property of existence as McGinn believes, it is the latter and not the former property that fits our intuitions that the second-order property of having instances does not capture the ordinary notion of existence. The former is indeed, even if not ontologically dispensable, so to speak semantically superfluous. Moreover, we have seen that the fact that the above second-order 49

50

To be sure, an equivalence between two sentences, as that expressed by “(∃y) (N=y) ↔ (∃x) (∃y) (x=y)”, only sanctionates that those sentences are samesaying. Cf. Thomasson (2003), p. 152, fn. 30. So, why should one say that what is semantically superfluous is the property involved by the first sentence, the second-order property of having instances, rather than the property involved by the second sentence, the first-order universal property of existence? As far as I can see, this depends on the fact that, unlike the second property, the first property is mobilized in many other sentences for which that equivalence does not hold. Take e.g. “there are thought-of golden mountains”. In this respect, this is something even strict Meinongians like Priest should adhere to, their own contrary convictions notwithstanding (cf. 2005, pp. 108-110). In this, Priest is probably led astray by his appeal not to the contextualist (nonexistentially/existentially loaded) interpretation (à la McGinn) of one and the same particular quantifier, but to the doubling of the particular quantifiers (respectively expressed by the locutions “something” and “there is/there exists”). For this appeal leads him not to recognize a first-order universal property of ex-

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property does not capture the ordinary notion of existence does not mean that it has no ontological import. For we appeal to that property when we are doing ontology, when we have to see (to put it somehow improperly) whether entities of a certain category must be allowed or not within the overall domain of what there is. Thus, perhaps the morale we have to draw from all this is the following. The idea that there is an ordinary notion of existence is an illusion, for (as probably the early Russell himself had envisaged51) existence must be declined in the plural: there actually are different properties that have to do with existence in general, two first-order ones, being and existence (although the first is so to speak semantically superfluous) and a second-order one, having instances.52 Alberto Voltolini Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia [email protected]

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istence over and above the first-order nonuniversal one. According to Makin (2000), pp. 56-57, the early Russell precisely recognized the need for three existential notions, two first-order ones (being and existence) and a second-order one, which is encharged to express ontological commitment. Putting aside Makin’s disputable identification of Russell’s being with Meinong’ subsistence (cf. fn. 9), in the text I precisely advocate one such threefold account. I thank Andrea Iacona and Fred Kroon for their important comments to a previous version of this paper.

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References Bradley, Raymond (1992), The Nature of All Being, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Castañeda, Hector-Neri (1989), “Thinking and the Structure of the World”, in Thinking, Language, and Experience, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, pp. 235-261. Castañeda, Hector-Neri (1990), “Individuals, Reference, and Existence”, in K. Jacobi & H. Pape [eds.], Thinking and the Structure of the World, Berlin/New York, de Gruyter, pp. 459-472. Cocchiarella, Nino (1982), “Meinong Reconstructed Versus Early Russell Reconstructed”, Journal of Philosophical Logic, 11, pp. 183-214. Farrell Smith, Janet (1985), “The Russell-Meinong Debate”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 45, pp. 305-350. Frege, Gottlob (1967), “Le nombre entier”, in Kleine Schriften, Hildesheim, G. Olms, pp. 211-219. Frege, Gottlob (19863), “Der Gedanke”, in Logische Untersuchungen, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 30-53; transl. in Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy, ed. by B. Mc Guinness, Oxford, Blackwell, 1984, pp. 351-372. Geach, Peter T. (1969a), “Form and Existence”, in God and the Soul, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 42-64. Geach, Peter T. (1969b), “What Actually Exists”, in God and the Soul, cit., pp. 65-74. Kindinger, Rudolf (1965), “Briefe von Bertrand Russell”, in Philosophenbriefe. Aus der Wissenschaftlichen Korrespondenz von Alexius Meinong, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, pp. 150154; transl. in Farrell Smith (1985), pp. 347-350. Kroon, Frederick (2004), “Descriptivism, Pretence, and the Frege-Russell Problems”, The Philosophical Review, 113, pp. 1-30. Lewis, David (1973), Counterfactuals, Oxford, Blackwell.

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Lewis, David (1986), On the Plurality of Worlds, Oxford, Blackwell. Lewis, David (1990), “Noneism or Allism?”, Mind, 99, pp. 23-31. Lycan, William (2000), Philosophy of Language, London, Routledge. Makin, Gideon (2000), The Metaphysicians of Meaning, London, Routledge. McGinn, Colin (2000), Logical Properties, Oxford, Clarendon Press. McGinn, Colin (2004), “The Objects of Intentionality”, in Consciousness and Its Objects, Oxford, Clarendon Press, pp. 220-248. Meinong, Alexius (1971 [1904]), “Über Gegenstandtheorie”, in Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. II, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, pp. 481-535; transl. by I. Levi, D.B. Terrell, and R.M. Chisholm, in Realism and the Background of Phenomenology, ed. by R. Chisholm, New York, Free Press, pp. 76-117. Meinong, Alexius (1978), “Über Inhalt und Gegenstand”, in Kolleghefte und Fragmente. Ergänzungsband zur Gesamtausgabe, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, pp. 145-159. Parsons, Terence (1980), Nonexistent Objects, New Haven and London, Yale University Press. Predelli, Stefano (2002), “‘Holmes’ and Holmes. A Millian Analysis of Names from Fiction”, Dialectica, 56, pp. 261-279. Priest, Graham (2005), Towards Non-Being: the Logic and Metaphysics of Intentionality, Oxford, Clarendon Press. Russell, Bertrand (19372), The Principles of Mathematics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Salmon, Nathan (1987), “Existence”, Philosophical Perspectives, 1, pp. 49-108. Santambrogio, Marco (1990), “Meinongian Theories of Generality”, Noûs, 24, pp. 647-673. Thomasson, Amie L. (1999), Fiction and Metaphysics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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Thomasson, Amie L. (2003), “Fictional Characters and Literary Practices”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 43, 138-157. Van Inwagen, Peter (MS), “McGinn on Existence”. Williamson, Timothy (1990), “Necessary Identity and Necessary Existence”, in R. Haller & J. Brandl [eds.], Wittgenstein: Towards a ReEvaluation I, Vienna, Hölder/Pichler/Tempsky, pp. 168-175. Williamson, Timothy (2000), “The Necessary Framework of Objects”, Topoi, 19, pp. 201-208. Williamson, Timothy (2002), “Necessary Existents”, in A. O’Hear [ed.], Logic, Thought and Language, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 233-251. Yagisawa, Takashi (2005), “Possible Objects”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2005 Edition), ed. by E.N. Zalta, forthcoming URL = . Zalta, Edward N. (1983), Abstract Objects, Dordrecht, Reidel.

CRY FOR A SHADOW EMOTIONS AND OBJECT THEORY Carola Barbero

Summary In this paper we examine the emotions we feel while reading a book. Some philosophers think that since objects causing these emotions do not exist, then these emotions should not be considered as true ones. By suggesting an Object Theory in a Meinongian style, we wish to propose a realistic perspective on fictional emotions which is able to dissolve the paradox of fiction.

1. Crying for Anna She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. "Where am I? What am I doing? What for?" She tried to get up, to drop backwards;

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but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. "Lord, forgive me all" she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.1 This is the most tragic moment for the reader. She knew, of course, that things were getting bad because Anna and Vronsky had become increasingly bitter toward each other, that a combination of boredom and suspicion had destroyed Anna’s mental heath and that probably Vronsky was unfaithful and tired of her; nevertheless she couldn’t imagine such a tragic end. She cries, remembering all the beautiful moments Anna and Vronsky spent together and thinking on how cruel life is, sometimes. Let us suppose that the reader’s name is Emma. Then we could reasonably say that Emma is sad because of Anna’s death. Many philosophers think that what we have here clearly is a paradox, the paradox of fiction. The paradox arises because we know perfectly well that a fictional character like Anna does not exist and nonetheless we are saddened by her suicide: but how can we be sad about something that does not exist (because being sad about x implies that x makes me sad, and something that does not exist cannot make me feel sad)? Here is the paradox: (1) Emma is sad about Anna’s tragic end, but Emma knows perfectly well that Anna is a fictional character; (2) To believe in the existence of what makes us sad is a necessary condition for having emotions; (3) Emma does not believe in the existence of what she knows is a fictional character. This is the paradox of emotional response to fiction and it clearly is an argument for the conclusion that our emotional response to fiction is irrational. 1

L. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Ch. XXXI, Part 7.

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We are normally willing to accept all these sentences, they all look true, but they cannot all be true at the same time (or in the same way). That is why, when trying to give an answer to the paradox, we have to refuse (1), (2), or (3), or we have to reformulate them in a way that makes the one not contradict the other. The problem concerning emotions provoked by fictional entities constitutes a specific part of the wider problem concerning nonexistents and it is also one of the most important themes concerning aesthetic fruition and enjoyment. Let us then briefly explain how an Object Theory can be so generous towards nonexistents and in what way this can help solve the paradox of fiction.

2. Pegasus, Anna et similia Object Theory considers, and therefore studies, objects in their absolute generality,2 as pure objects, a priori objects, i.e. objects defined only by the set of properties whose object-correlates they are and hence independently from their possibly also being for someone in some way objects of a particular kind. Actually, Object Theory aspires to take into account all objects, chairs as well as unicorns, numbers as well as round squares, existent objects as well as nonexistent ones, and consequently searches for the principles all these objects in their absolute generality obey. (1) The cat is furry (2) The round square is round (3) Last night I dreamt of Pegasus (4) I am more similar to Anna Karenina than to Emma Bovary

2

Many authors – Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Gregory of Rimini, Roger Bacon, Francisco Suarez, Christian Wolff, Thomas Reid, Bernard Bolzano, Kazimier Twardowski, Alexius Meinong – have considered objects in their absolute generality, and have also dealt with other themes we will focus on later, such as the difference between being and existence, essence and existence, nonexistent objects. For an historical sketch see Nef (1998), Raspa (2002) and Bakaoukas (2003).

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(5) Four is an even number3. Object Theory analyses all these different objects – i.e. the cat, the round square, Pegasus, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, the number four – as pure4 objects, or rather simply as objects. Therefore such a theory needs a definition of ‘object’ ample enough to be at the same time suitable for a cat, a number, Anna Karenina and so on. Object Æ5 {p1, p2, p3,…} Cat Æ {mammal, feline, furry, four-legged, clawed, whiskered,…} Anna Karenina Æ {passionate and beautiful woman, married sister of Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky, Vronsky’s lover, the wife of Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, …} Pegasus Æ {winged horse, Medusa’s and Poseidon’s son, mythological animal, …} According to this definition everything which has at least one property is an object, everything which is not a mere nothing is something. This emerges intuitively while comparing (1)-(5) with: (6) Uyyuyuqwy is odd (7) I’m waiting for wrtgfh. While in (3) I can say that there is something I dreamt about (Pegasus), in (7) I cannot say that there is something I am waiting for. This happens because Pegasus is an object while wrtgfh6 is not. It is so independently of 3 4 5

6

Object Theory takes these sentences at face value, as concerning objects literally, independently from their nature. ‘Pure’ is here synonymous with ‘a priori’, i.e. an object is what it is by virtue of its nature and not according to its existing or being real. We will not dwell upon the nature of this arrow here, whether it stands for identity or something else. We will focus on this later. This is why we define the relation subsisting between the object and the set of its constitutive properties generically as ‘correspondence’. Here the criterion for distinguishing what is an object from what is not, is the following: the name ‘Pegasus’ stands for the object Pegasus, to which certain

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the particular kind of objects those figuring in (1)-(5) are: it does not matter that Pegasus is a mythological object we will never meet in the street, whereas a cat is a real object we can meet, nourish and stroke. These differences do not pertain to the Object Theory itself, but to more specific sciences: zoology will of course study cats, but surely not winged horses, as geometry will analyse the characteristics of the triangle and not those of the round square. This is because zoology – unlike Object Theory – studies only what exists, and geometry successfully analyses authentic geometrical forms and not impossible, contradictory ones. Object Theory therefore aims at considering any object not only in its generality, but also before determining whether it is a real being like a cat, a mythological one like Pegasus or an ideal one like a number; it focuses purely on their all being objects. What does this mean? How can an object be pure? An object seems in fact always to be an object for somebody:7 an object I buy, an object I make, an object I touch and so on; why would it then be important to deal with objects in their generality without concentrating on what objects are for us in our everyday experience? Let us consider: (8) Santa Claus, who has a white beard and curly hair, does not exist (9) The round square has been mathematicians’ bad dream for a long time (8) and (9) clearly are both true statements, nevertheless the objects they speak about – Santa Claus and the round square – do not exist (and therefore we cannot buy or touch them as we do with flowers and tables). Is it then correct to consider them ‘objects’ in a plain sense? We could answer that no, of course Santa Claus and the round square are not objects – in fact they could never be in front of us – and therefore the truth value of such statements should be considered as undetermined.8 If so, a sentence

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properties correspond, while ‘wrtgfh’ does not stand for anything. On the problems a criterion of this sort may raise, see Salmon (1999), in particular pp. 304308, Kroon (2003), especially pp. 155-157, and Caplan (2004). As the etymology of the word object suggests: object (ob-jectum) is something which stands in front. Others could also maintain that statements of this sort are not undetermined, but

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like (8) would not express any proposition; it would be exactly like (6). Or instead, we could answer that Santa Claus is not an object and consequently that the name ‘Santa Claus’, lacking reference, should be considered an empty name, and that this would be the reason why the sentence containing it, although being grammatically correct, would have no truth value.9 However, while taking this line, we would soon have a serious problem to face: sentences containing empty names should be neither true nor false, but that does not correspond to what really happens. Take for instance: (10) Santa Claus has a white beard and curly hair (11) Santa Claus is a vampire with red hair (12) Santa Claus does not exist (13) Father Christmas does not exist (14) Doctor Jekyll does not exist (15) Mr. Hyde does not exist.10

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plainly false (either because he is a descriptivist, or because he considers as false those statements containing empty names). See for instance Russell, from On Denoting (1905) onwards. According to the referentialist position, the name ‘Santa Claus’ cannot be conceived as having a Fregean Sinn, because the only semantic function of a name is that of referring to its bearer. Considering that empty names have no bearer, the referentialist cannot ascribe any semantic function to them. That is of course a problem, given that they do seem to have one. Referentialist positions which try to face problems rising from empty names are found in Taylor (2000) and Everett (2000). One could of course maintain that a claim such as (15) is false, for instance because one supports a theory according to which Mr. Hyde is an abstract entity and therefore, as a fictional character, does exist. According to Brock (2002), an interesting problem facing any realist dealing with fictional entities is certainly that of explaining in what sense it might be true that a fictional entity does not exist. Kripke, for instance, answers – in his John Locke Lectures (1973) – that a sentence like (15) might be true if what we want to mean is that there is no such person as Mr. Hyde (Lecture 6, p. 20). Thomasson (1999) similarly solves the problem by claiming that a sentence like (15) is true only when we engage in restricted quantification, i.e. when with ‘Mr. Hyde does not exist’ we are restricting the quantifier to cover only real people. For a strong objection against re-

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Here (10) seems to be true and (11) false. How can this happen, once ‘Santa Claus’ is considered merely as an empty name? Or take (12) and (13) on the one hand, and (14) and (15) on the other: they all seem to be true sentences, nevertheless (12) and (13) seem to say the same thing, and so do (14) and (15). However, the two pairs of sentences do not seem to be about the same object: in fact they say the same thing – that they do not exist – about two different objects (Santa Claus-Father Christmas, Doctor Jekyll-Mr. Hyde). How can these sentences be true, if – according to the position maintaining that they are empty names – they effectively speak about nothing? How is it possible for (12) and (13) on the one hand and (14) and (15) on the other to concern different objects, given that, correctly speaking, they should not stand for any object whatsoever?11 The problem posed by these examples is whether it is possible to get past a serious dilemma. Take (12): it seems to be true and to be about Santa Claus. But, although (12) is true, it cannot be about Santa Claus, because there is no such thing (person) as Santa Claus for it to be about. (12) seems to be a subject-predicate proposition, and we know that a subject-predicate proposition is meaningful only in virtue of its picking out some existent object and ascribing some property to it, and if (12)’s subject term does not pick out anything with these characteristics (i.e. an existing object), then (12) should have no meaning. Similarly, if (12) really is about Santa Claus, then we should conclude that Santa Claus must in some sense be, in which case (12) would be false.12 Here is the dilemma: if (12) is true, then (12) should be about something, nonetheless it seems that there is no thing it is supposed to speak about. It would nevertheless

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stricted quantification see Walton (2003). Nevertheless I here take these sentences into account only in their being simply true. For a rich discussion on the emptiness of names, see Braun (1993). It would be false of course just when to exist and to be were considered as synonyms: one and the same thing could therefore not be said not to exist but to be, because if it exists it also is and vice versa. Things would be different if we introduced a distinction between Being and Existence, maintaining that everything is, but not everything exists. We can find a proposal of the second kind in Russell’s Principles of Mathematics (1903): “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 […]” (p. 449).

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be important for us – because it corresponds to what we effectively believe – to be able to say that (12) is both meaningful and true. It is precisely here that the importance of an Object Theory which considers objects13 independently from their being, existing or otherwise, emerges. In order for sentences (12) or (14) to be true, they cannot contain empty names, names without a reference. This is because the reference of a term is its contribution to the truth of the assert. ‘Santa Claus’ therefore cannot be considered an empty name or, rather, a name cannot be considered as empty just because its referent is not a spatio-temporal object. We have a name, ‘Santa Claus’, and we know that this name does not refer to an existing object (person). Nevertheless, from our point of view, it is possible to be an object without being an existing object, i.e. the definition of what an object is does not include its possible existing. A strong, primary motivation for accepting nonexistent objects – as (12)-(15) clearly show – is thus the idea that they are necessary in order to account for the truth of some propositions we are willing to agree with. Many philosophers14 think that the main aim of a theory of nonexistent objects is precisely that of giving a satisfactory semantic analysis of sentences such as (12)-(15), normally defined as examples of negative existentials, or even a sentence such as (3), which clearly is an intentional statement. Therefore it is apparent that an object is the referent of a name15 and it is characterized by at least one property; we could also say that objects, according to Object Theory, are those correlates deriving from a combination16 of properties. 13

14 15

16

Kroon (2003) maintains that problems of the kind derive mostly from a confusion between mere ways of speaking – as, for instance, happens in metaphorical discourse – and objects in a strict sense. Such sentences as those in the examples should therefore be analysed by a Pretence Theory (and not by an Object Theory), in the typical domain of pretence. For instance, Chisholm (1973), Parsons (1980), Routley (1980), Zalta (1988). From this point of view a word, referring to an existing (Queen Elizabeth) as well as to a non existing (Anna Karenina) object, is correctly said to be a name, but a mere unintelligible series of letters (Jiujhfiweush) is not considered a name. Meinong in his Gegenstandstheorie (1904) maintains that the mathematical

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In order to be an object (an object-correlate or a pure object), it is thus sufficient to have (to correspond to) at least one property. Here is the domain of Object Theory: (∃ D) ((∀x) (∀P) (Px ⊃ x ∈ D)) There is a domain of quantification D (which coincides with the domain of Object Theory) containing every object x (considered before and independently from its possible existence or non-existence), and this object is defined by some property P: Object: (∀x) ((Ox ≡ (∃P) Px)) The condition that is both necessary and sufficient for being an object is to have at least one property. This is of course what an object needs only in order to be such and not what an object needs in order to be an object for someone. The above definition is the a priori definition of object, i.e. it is the definition of what an object is before existing, subsisting or non existing. Therefore, nearly everything falls into this category, and what does not, is really a mere nothing, like Uyyuyuqwy in (6).

combinatorial theory should be at the service of Object Theory. Rapaport (198586) explicitly follows the Austrian philosopher (see especially pp. 85-86) suggesting the structure of objects be understood as a combinatorial possibility: according to him, given various properties, it is possible to obtain different combinations of them, and all these different combinations are logically possible. We can therefore legitimately say that every set of properties is combinatorially possible.

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3. The birth of Anna Karenina Anna Karenina (Анна Каренина) is a novel written by Lev Tolstoy and published in 1877. The novel initially appeared serially in the periodical Ruskii Vestnik, but the novel’s first complete appearance was in book form. It is believed that the character of Anna was inspired by Maria Hartung, the elder daughter of Alexander Pushkin. Most Russian critics panned the novel upon its first publication as a “trifling romance of high life”, while Fyodor Dostoevsky declared it to be “flawless as a work of art”. His opinion is seconded by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired “the flawless magic of Tolstoy’s style” and the motif of the moving train, which is subtly introduced in the first chapters (the kids playing with a toy train) and inexorably developed in subsequent chapters (Anna’s nightmare dream), thus heralding the novel’s majestic and tragic end.

Anna Karenina is a fictional literary character created by Lev Tolstoy and accepted (i.e. recognized as such) by a community of readers and critics. Anna’s creation process can be seen as being constituted by three moments: the first one is the pretending use of language;17 the second one the hypostatising use of language;18 and finally the third one (which is the first step reconsidered, or considered again after the hypostatising use has taken place) is the characterizing use.19 In these three steps the fictional entity is created both as an abstract and as a concrete entity. Let us examine these steps in detail, one by one. 17 18 19

Following Schiffer (1996). Schiffer (1996). This particular use of language is not from Schiffer, as in the previous cases, but it is an idea of my own.

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With the pretending use of language the author of the novel starts writing. The creation process has hence begun.20 He writes false statements pretending they are true. At this moment in the work, while combining properties, the entity being dealt with is not yet a fictional entity. It is more like an imaginary entity or rather an invented one. The hypostatising use starts as soon as the novel is finished. A name now has a referent with a different ontological status from the previous imaginary one: names in fact now refer to fictional entities, which are, as far as their external properties are concerned, abstract objects. Once the fictional entity has been recognized, and therefore accepted by a community of readers and critics, thanks to the hypostatising use, it is nevertheless necessary to go back into the novel. The entity we are willing to accept is characterized, within the novel, by a set of properties which have to be true of it. This is achieved thanks to the characterizing use of language, where it is seen that the internal properties21 are those properties used by the author to make the entity up, and are therefore the ones that characterize the fictional entity. In short: the characterizing use is an ontologically committed transformation of the pretending use, and this transformation is in turn made possible by the hypostatising use. The most important of these three steps clearly is the second one, the hypostatising use, because without it we would have no fictional entity of any sort. Nonetheless the characterizing use may be probably more interesting, because it gives details about how fictional entities are created by 20

21

I evidently do not consider the pretending use of language exactly in the same way as Schiffer (1996). In fact I maintain that when the pretending use of language starts what we have is first of all a pure object, i.e. an object exclusively defined by the set of properties whose object-correlate it is, that can be identified, only afterwards, as a merely imagined object as well as a fictional one. The pretending use of language involved when, for instance, Tolstoy started Anna Karenina, could therefore somehow be considered as the first moment in the creation of a fictional entity, even if this can really be recognized as true only subsequently, when the hypostatising use of language starts, making the subsequent characterizing use legitimate (and so the pretending use, too). Correctly speaking there is only one kind of property, but it may be an internal property (when attributed by the author) or an external one (when attributed by readers and critics). The distinction between two kinds of properties therefore refers to two different ways of predicating a single property.

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their author. Characters, as far as their internal properties are concerned, are created by being written about by their authors, i.e. they can be brought into existence merely by being described as existents. The characterizing use of language therefore makes it clear that there is a high degree of similarity between fictional objects and social objects:22 they both are stipulated objects. While creating Anna, Tolstoy stipulated that Anna is a woman, exactly in the same way as the Italian highway code stipulates that a driving licence is made up of 20 credit points (i.e. that the driving licence will be suspended when a driver has a total of 20 points for traffic violations). I speak of stipulation because precisely what happens is that when an author builds up a character through internal properties, in the course of creating a story, then it is true that – as far as its internal properties are concerned – the character has those properties. Similarly, once the highway code has stipulated that the driving licence is made up of 20 credit points, then it is true that it is so characterized. Here is a definition of creation appropriate for fictional entities: (Clf)23 To create a fictional entity means to make it be thanks to an act of stipulation. In fact the internal properties which contribute to building up Anna Karenina as a concrete object are but those properties attributed to it by the author in order to produce, to fabricate, to make Anna Karenina exist. This is why there is such an object as Anna Karenina. Since the name ‘Anna Karenina’ is introduced first in the novel written by Tolstoy (and not imported into it from some other structure or context), then we need have no qualms about identifying the character introduced in the novel and accepted by readers and critics with this same object characterized by the author. This creating out of thin air is therefore the same as stipulating 22

23

Searle (1995) has noticed the similarity between cultural entities and institutional entities, in their both being brought into existence simply by being represented as existing. His favourite example is money: “‘This note is legal tender for all debts public and private’. But that representation is now, at least in part, a declaration: It creates the institutional status by representing it as existing. It does not represent some prelinguistic natural phenomenon” (p. 74). ‘Clf’ stands for ‘Creation of Literary Fiction’ and is presented as a possible defi-

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that the object in question is to have exactly certain properties. By stipulating, for instance, that Anna Karenina is to be a woman, to have Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin as husband, as son Seriozha, and as special lover an army officer called Count Vronski, Tolstoy has generated Anna Karenina as a concrete entity, making it be. What makes the author’s generation stipulative24 in nature? The fact that such generation is always correct, whatever its content. If an author attributes a certain property to a character, then it is invariably true that the character has that property. The author therefore makes it true that a character has a certain property by creating the character with this property. The author is free to stipulate what properties a character is to have without ever being wrong:25 this is the essential creative freedom storytellers typically enjoy. It is important not to forget that the author exercises creative rights and powers while creating his characters. His power comes from his being immune from error. Tolstoy says Anna Karenina’s “shining grey eyes, looked dark from the thick lashes.”26 Could he have been wrong about this? Of course not, because everything Tolstoy writes about Anna Karenina must be true. Here is the principle of Freedom of Creation: (FC) If, while creating a character X, the author attributes to X the property P, then it is true that X has P. The author is therefore the maximal authority in choosing what properties a character will have. Anna Karenina could in fact have been different from what it is, if Tolstoy’s pretending use of language had been different, attributing to this entity different properties from those it actually has.27 24 25

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nition only as far as fictional literary entities are concerned. On the stipulative nature of fictional entities, see also Meinong (1917), GA III, p. 374. Of course, if the author wants to write a realistic novel, as is the case in Anna Karenina, all the natural, physical and moral laws which are valid in our world must apply in the novel. Nevertheless, as happens for instance in science fiction novels, mirroring reality is not relevant. Chap. 18, part I. Anna Karenina could have been different, but nevertheless still have remained the same object if, for instance, Tolstoy had attributed to her the property of having left a daughter in St. Petersburg instead of a son, or if he had endowed

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4. Anna and Emma Emma reads of Anna’s death and cries. This mirrors, as we have remarked at the beginning, what has been called ‘the paradox of fiction’: it is seen as somehow paradoxical to cry for something we know perfectly does not exist. While it is absolutely rational to cry for an existent person, it is not rational to cry for a nonexistent one. The argument at the basis of this paradox is made up by three premises: (1) that in order for us to be moved somehow by what we come to read about people and situations, we must believe that these people and situations really exist; (2) that these beliefs are lacking when we knowingly engage with fictional texts; and (3) that fictional characters and situations do in fact seem capable of moving us at times. Here is the paradox. Colin Radford,28 opening the philosophical debate on fictional emotions, in a famous 1975 article maintains that our apparent ability to respond emotionally to fictional characters and events is “irrational, incoherent, and inconsistent.”29 He argues this on the grounds that existence beliefs concerning the objects of our emotions are necessary for us to be moved by them, and that such beliefs are clearly lacking when we read (or see) works of fiction. Since such works do in fact move us at times, Radford concludes straightforwardly that our capacity for emotional response to fiction is irrational. As evidence for his argument Radford takes the case of something very tragic we first believed was a true account and which subsequently turns out to be false: once aware of this fact, according to him, we no longer feel sad or desperate as before, because we know it is false, it is a lie,

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her with different properties of this sort. In that case the shape would clearly have been preserved. And what if Tolstoy had attributed to her the property of being a cat? In that case, of course, we would still have an entity named ‘Anna Karenina’, but it would be a different one, only having the same name the previous object had (because the object would clearly not be the same). On problems of this sort, see Thomasson (1999), pp. 56-69. Radford (1975). Radford (1975), p. 75.

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it is a novel. He writes that “It would seem that I can only be moved by someone’s plight if I believe that something terrible has happened to him. If I do not believe that he has not and is not suffering or whatever, I cannot grieve or be moved to tears.”30 Clearly what Radford here means to say is that we can only be rationally moved by someone’s plight if we believe that something terrible has happened to him and that if we do not believe that, we cannot rationally grieve or be moved to tears. But such beliefs are absent when we knowingly engage with fictions. One could object to Radford that while we are engaged in the fiction, we somehow forget that what we are reading is a fictional work and therefore that it is not real: Emma can read about Anna Karenina’s tragic end temporarily losing her awareness of its fictional status. To an objection of this kind, Radford would answer by offering two different considerations: first, if Emma really forgot that what she was reading was not real, then she would not feel any of the various forms of pleasure that often accompany other negative emotions (fear, pity, sadness, etc.) in fictional but not real-life cases; and second, the fact that she does not even try to do something, to react somehow: when she reads about Anna throwing herself under the train, she has the awareness of her fictional status even while she is moved by what happens to her.31,32 Nevertheless, what Radford offers is not the solution to a mystery, rather it is an easy recognition of something strange about human nature: he does not explain how is it that we can be moved by what we perfectly know does not exist, but he just says that the fact of being moved by what we know does not exist is irrational and illogical. How can we then explain the great and positive influence literary (and more generally artistic) works have on people? Why then do people read so much? Why do teachers try to transmit to children the passion for reading books, when this activity is nothing but dangerous for their intellectual development? In order to give an answer, we need to go deeper into the question. 30 31 32

Radford (1975), p. 68. Radford (1975), p. 71. Radford (1977).

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Here what is involved is a paradox, a paradox concerning the emotional response to fiction. There is a paradox where two or more statements that are by themselves true, contradict each other. Radford’s paradox is based on three premises all of which he claims to be true. The first claims that to have an emotional response to a story, one must believe that that story actually exists or has existed; the second that such beliefs are often lacking when we read stories; and the third that we clearly have emotional responses to works of fiction. Because these premises contradict each other Radford comes to the conclusion that emotional responses to fictional characters and events are irrational and incoherent. To solve the paradox we therefore have to deny some (or at least one) of these premises. Pretence theorists, Kendall Walton33 in the lead, robustly deny premise (3),34 i.e. that we fear horror film entities or feel sad for the tragic end of Anna Karenina. Walton maintains that “It seems a principle of common sense, one which ought not to be abandoned if there is any reasonable alternative, that fear must be accompanied by, or must involve, a belief that one is in danger.”35 According to Walton, it is only make-believedly true that we fear horror film entities, feel sad for Anna Karenina, etc. In fact he claims that when, for instance, Emma cries for Anna’s death, what she is really doing is participating in a game of makebelieve: she would make as if there were a woman committing suicide and she would then feel a quasi-emotion, quasi-sadness, which clearly would not be considered as true. Such situations of make-believe would generate fictional truths, as for instance the one saying that Emma is sad because of Anna’s death (in this case, of course, what is true is that it is fictional that Emma is sad because of Anna’s death). Emma, while crying, is playing a game. He therefore admits that these characters move us in various ways, but regardless of what our bodies tell us, or what we might say, think, or believe we are feeling, what we actually experience in such cases are nothing but quasi-emotions. Quasi-emotions differ from true ones primarily in that they are generated not by existence beliefs (such as the belief that the woman who is committing suicide really exists), but by 33 34 35

Walton (1978). See also Kroon (1994). Walton (1978), p. 6-7.

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second-order beliefs about what is fictionally the case according to the work in question.36 This means that it is only make-believedly the case that we respond emotionally to fictional characters, and this happens because our beliefs concerning the fictional properties of those characters generate in us quasi-emotional states. Many objections can be raised against Pretence Theory. The strongest is the one which focuses on the disanalogies with the paradigmatic cases of games of make-believe. While proposing his theory Walton makes explicit reference to the familiar games of make-believe played by children, in which globs of mud are taken to be pies, for example, or games in which a father, pretending to be a monster, pursues his child and attacks him.37 One such disanalogy concerns our lack of choice: unlike children playing a game, while reading a novel we cannot control our emotional responses. For instance we cannot simply refuse to play and prevent ourselves from being affected – as kids can,38 nor are we able to just turn our emotional responses on (think about those fictional texts which simply fail to generate their intended emotional response). Another disanalogy concentrates on the phenomenology of the two cases: it is simply not true to ordinary experience that consumers of fictions are in similar emotional states when watching movies, reading books, and the like.39,40 36

37 38

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“Charles believes (he knows) that make-believedly the green slime [on the screen] is bearing down on him and he is in danger of being destroyed by it. His quasi-fear results from this belief” (Walton 1978, p. 14). Walton (1978), p. 13. “[…] if it [the fear produced by horror films] were a pretend emotion, one would think that it could be engaged at will. I could elect to remain unmoved by The Exorcist; I could refuse to make believe I was horrified. But I don't think that that was really an option for those, like myself, who were overwhelmedly struck by it” (Carroll 1990, p. 74). “[…] many theatre-goers and readers believe that they are actually upset, excited, amused, afraid, and even sexually aroused by the exploits of fictional characters. It seems altogether inappropriate in such cases to maintain that our theatre-goers merely make-believe that they are in these emotional states” (Novitz 1987, p. 241). Carroll strongly claims that “Walton’s theory appears to throw out the phenomenology of the state [here ‘art-horror’] for the sake of logic” (Carroll 1990, p. 74); in fact, in contrast with kids playing make-believe, when responding to works of fiction we do not seem to be absolutely aware of playing any games.

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Another possibility to solve the paradox is, following a classical line of thought, to deny premise (1), i.e. that existence beliefs are a necessary condition of emotional response. In fact we could reasonably maintain that although our emotional responses to actual characters require beliefs in their existence, there is no good reason to hold up this particular kind of emotional response as the model for understanding emotional response in general. What makes emotional response to fiction different from emotional response to real world characters is that, rather than having to believe in the actual existence of the entity in question, all we need do is to ‘present’ it to ourselves.41 Existence beliefs are then rejected as a requirement for emotional response to fictions and the only kinds of beliefs required when engaging with fictions are beliefs in those properties characters have and that make them funny, stupid, frightening, pathetic, and so on. We will follow here this second possibility of solving the paradox,42 mostly because it is compatible, as we will see later on, with Object Theory and its assumptions. There is also a third way out of the paradox: to deny premise (2), suggesting a concept of weak (or partial) belief. In this case the emotions involved in response to fictional characters would not be the same kind of emotions that we experience in response to real life persons. To experience emotions for characters, many people need to have a sort of “willing suspension of disbelief”. This phrase was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge,43 who maintains that creating a suspension of disbelief means cre41 42

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Lamarque (1981) speaks about ‘mental representation’, Carroll (1990) about ‘entertainment in thought’ and Smith (1995) of ‘imaginative proposal’. Radford powerfully rejects this second way out: “Lamarque claims that I am frightened by ‘the thought’ of the green slime. That is the ‘real object’ of my fear. But if it is the moving picture of the slime which frightens me (for myself), then my fear is irrational, etc., for I know that what frightens me cannot harm me. So the fact that we are frightened by fictional thoughts does not solve the problem but forms part of it” (Radford 1977, pp. 261-62). Coleridge coined the phrase ‘Suspension of disbelief’ in his Biographia Literaria (1817): “[...] it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith” (Ch. XIV).

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ating a different kind of emotions from those experienced in real life. Nevertheless this third solution implies strong behavioural disanalogies between our emotional responses to real versus fictional characters.44 The solution we will follow is hence the second one, which claims that the emotional response to fiction is different (but quantitatively, i.e. in degree, and not qualitatively) from the emotional response to real world characters, and that all we need to do is to ‘present’ the fictional entities and the events they are involved in to ourselves, and to believe in some of the properties characterising what is presented. This means, first of all, that Emma’s emotion for (a fictional character such as) Anna Karenina does have an object which is somehow presented to her and which causes her emotions. Emma believes in some properties Anna has – i.e. the property of being desperate and abandoned, the property of being rejected by her friends, and the property of falling under a train – and this is enough for Emma to feel sad for her. An important element to consider here is the judgmental element: is it correct to say that if E cries for A, this means that E judges that A is miserable and sad? According to Object Theory sketched above, of course it is. In fact, as emerges from (FC), if the author attributes to the fictional entity X the property P, then it is true that X has P: that is why we are willing to admit that E recognizes this property as characterizing A and consequently judges that A has that property. Our main interest here is ontological and not psychological: therefore we do not aim at explaining what happens in people’s minds while reading and what the difference is, for instance for Emma, between reading about Anna Karenina’s death or her cousin’s death; what we mostly mean is to make clear that fictional entities are objects, that they are characterized by specific properties, and so there is something, in this case some of 44

Even when the existence beliefs are of the weak or partial variety, Walton argues that: “Charles has no doubts about whether he is in the presence of an actual slime. If he half believed, and were half afraid, we would expect him to have some inclination to act on his fear in the normal ways. Even a hesitant belief, a mere suspicion, that the slime is real would induce any normal person seriously to consider calling the police and warning his family. Charles gives no thought whatever to such courses of action” (Walton 1978, p. 7).

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the internal properties characterizing Anna Karenina, that Emma is directed to when she cries. According to the paradox of fiction set forth by Radford, there is a problem with fictional emotions because in those situations there seems to be no object, no existing object. In his original article, he asks the following questions in order to stress the mysterious nature of our emotional responses to fiction: “We are saddened, but how can we be? What are we sad about? How can we feel genuinely and involuntarily sad, and weep, as we do knowing as we do that no one has suffered or died?”45 According to Object Theory, in contrast with Radford’s point of view, being an object and being an existing object are not one and the same thing. Something – like Anna Karenina, Pegasus or even the round square – can be an object without being an existing one. From this perspective the paradox does not arise: (1) Emma is sad about Anna’s tragic end, but Emma knows perfectly well that Anna is a fictional character; (2) To believe that there is an object which makes us sad is a necessary condition for having emotions (i.e. the emotion has to be directed towards something); (3) Emma does believe there is a fictional character whose name is Anna Karenina and whose end is tragic. Object Theory therefore makes us identify an object (a fictional object, Anna Karenina) causing a specific emotion (sadness) and that is how the paradox disappears. Of course it is important to remember that there are many objects of many different kinds and clearly the corresponding emotions will be of many different kinds too. Clearly there is a big difference between: (a) Emma cries for Anna Karenina’ death and (b) Emma cries for her cousin’s death, 45

Radford (1975), p. 77.

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nevertheless it is important to underline that the difference does not concern the kind of emotion involved here (false the first one and true the second), but the degree, i.e. there is a quantitative difference between the two and not a qualitative one. Those objects with which we are more concerned (like Emma’s cousin) will clearly cause stronger emotions than those caused by objects far from us. This distinction of degree makes clear also what happens in everyday situations: (c) Emma is scared of Mr Hyde (d) Emma is scared of Jack the Ripper (e) Emma is scared of that man over there who is killing a dog (f) Emma is scared of the man over there who is killing her cousin (g) Emma is scared of the man who is pursuing her with a knife. Now, let us suppose that Emma is a prostitute and lives in London in 1888. (c) tells us that Emma fears Mr Hyde, the main character of Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde published in 1886. She fears Mr Hyde because he is ugly and violent, and because he is responsible, among many crimes, for the brutal murder of Sir Danvers Carew. There is an object which is a fictional entity and Emma fears it (while reading, even a bit afterwards, but not for long). A quite different situation is the one depicted by (d), where we find Jack the Ripper, the popular name given to a serial killer who killed a number of prostitutes in the East End of London in 1888. The killings took place within a square mile and involved the districts of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Aldgate, and the City of London proper. Emma fears Jack the Ripper because she is a prostitute working every night in the district of Aldgate: she is a potential victim. In this case her being scared would probably make her not go to work for some days, or even change her job: she fears Jack the Ripper and accordingly she behaves and reacts, avoiding danger as much as possible. (e) speaks about a danger at hand: a man killing a dog. Those who kill animals without any apparent reason are evil people, who simply gain pleasure from torturing and then killing other beings. Emma fears that man because she knows he is unpleasant and she prefers not to have anything to do with him. (f) is almost the same as (e), though there is a significant dif-

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ference: now it is Emma’s cousin, and not a dog, that is being killed. This would of course strongly affect Emma’s emotions, and as a reaction she would probably cry out and scream, or she would call the police and so on. The last example, (g), where Emma fears for her own life, clearly reflects the highest degree of emotional response to an object X which is the cause of that emotion. Since there are objects of many different kinds it is therefore legitimate to suppose that the corresponding emotions will vary in degree. This means that, if we have an object (any object), then we have a true emotion whose degree will vary from person to person and from situation to situation. A significant result which is important to emphasize here is that thanks to the definition of object given by Object Theory, the hypothesis of the irrationality of fictional emotions can be definitively abandoned and we can therefore give more convincing reasons regarding not only novels and stories, but artworks in general. While abandoning irrationality, we also put aside Walton’s Make-Believe Theory, according to which nothing real, nothing serious, would be involved when we read or see fictional works, and the corresponding emotions would not therefore be true. The Theory we want to propose here is a realistic theory of fictional emotions, based on Object Theory, according to which the necessary and sufficient condition for an emotion to be true is to be directed towards an object. And an emotion directed towards a fictional object, clearly is directed towards an object. Emma cries for Anna Karenina, so not for nothing, not for her mother whose destiny was similar to Anna’s, not for an abstract entity: she cries for a woman who in a jealous rage commits suicide by throwing herself in the path of a train, she cries because she remembers how beautiful and passionate Anna and Vronsky were during the mazurka at the ball in Moscow, and in the end she cries because she understands how true were the opening lines of the novel, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. The properties of the fictional entity mostly relevant here are the internal ones, and this happens because we are normally more emotionally involved with those properties we share – or we could somehow share – with them (being a woman, having an old

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and boring husband, meeting a fascinating man, being desperate because we have been threatened with never seeing our son again if we leave or misbehave…), than with those which distinguish us from them (being an abstract entity, being the character separating Tolstoy’s first and second period, being as famous as Emma Bovary, being the symbol of a desperate passion, …).

5. Believing in Anna and believing in Queen Victoria Emma cries for Anna’s death. Suppose that Emma cries for her death for four months. In that case we would probably consider Emma foolish. Emma cries for Queen Victoria’s death. Suppose that Emma cries for her death for four months. In that case we would probably consider Emma a very strange person. Emma cries for her cousin’s death. Suppose that Emma cries for him for four months. In that case we would probably consider Emma perfectly normal. What does that mean? It means that while it is legitimate to cry, or more generally to be sad, for Anna Karenina’s death, but for a short moment, it is not seen as normal to cry for her as we would for a relative or a friend; it means also that it is normal to cry for Queen Victoria’s death, since everybody in those years when Emma lived knew the Queen and was very interested in her vicissitudes, nevertheless it is a little strange to cry for her for such a long time; it means, in the end, that it is absolutely understandable to cry for one’s cousin death, and it is ‘logical’ to cry for four months and even more. These examples show different reasons for crying for something. Anna Karenina, Queen Victoria and Emma’s cousin are all objects – and therefore they are all accepted in our ontology – even if they are not on the same metaphysical level (i.e. they are not objects of just one kind). Anna Karenina is a fictional object created by Lev Tolstoy and accepted by readers and critics. Queen Victoria and Emma’s cousin are two exist-

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ing (at that time) persons connected with Emma in different ways, i.e. they are different kinds of objects not only in themselves but for Emma too. Therefore, believing in Anna Karenina or believing in her own cousin are for Emma both authentic acts of believing: there is no qualitative distinction between these two acts (what she believes in is, in both cases, an object), but a quantitative one, i.e. a difference in degree. We can maintain this thanks to Object Theory and thanks to the definition of object given above. Nevertheless, according to Alexius Meinong, whose Gegenstandstheorie has inspired our own, we cannot believe in Anna Karenina and in Queen Victoria in just one way, because while the latter is the object of a judgement, the former is not, since there is no real conviction in our assertions concerning it. In the case of Anna Karenina, Meinong thinks that what is concerned is an assumption,46 which has an intermediate position between judgements and representations, being affirmative or negative, but without any conviction. Classical examples of assumptions are – besides fictional literary works – those propositions expressing questions, desires, lies and games. In fact, what happens in all these different cases and specifically in fiction, Meinong maintains, is that we assert something without being convinced of it: when we read a novel we do not believe in it as we do while reading a newspaper, but we make as if what written were true, as if there were a woman who desperately loved a handsome man who didn’t return her love in the same way, and so on and so forth. Assumptions are then connected to fictional emotions, i.e. those emotions we have while reading a book or while watching a film. Exactly as assumptions – without being judgements – are similar to judgements in the fact of maintaining the opposition between affirmative and negative, in the same way fictional emotions – without being emotions – are similar to emotions while holding the distinction between pleasure and sorrow. Actually, according to Meinong, when we cry for Anna Karenina, we feel something which is similar to sadness, but that correctly speaking is not true sadness. The pity we are aware of while reading the novel by Tolstoy 46

Meinong (1902/1910).

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is not simply an emotion of lower degree, quantitatively different from a real one, but it is a qualitatively different emotion, a false emotion, hence not an emotion at all.47 Therefore Meinong maintains that an existing object48 is a necessary condition for having true emotions, i.e. we are truly sad if and only if there is an existing object which makes us be sad, if not we are not really sad. This sounds strange, because it seems that, where emotions are concerned, a nonexistent object is the same as nothing. Nevertheless, according to Meinong’s own Theory of Objects, an object is whatever it is independently of its possible existing or subsisting, thanks to the Principle of Independence of Being-so from Being (Prinzip der Unabhängigkeit des Soseins vom Sein).49 This means first of all that the way the object “is” (existence, subsistence, non-existence) does not influence what it is. Unicorns, numbers, trees and round squares are all objects according to Meinong. Clearly from an epistemological point of view there is a big difference between them, since the way we can get information or knowledge concerning them is different. From a psychological point of view there is an important difference too, since it is different to grasp cognitively a unicorn or to grasp a tree. We perfectly agree with all this. But what we firmly want to maintain is that in our ontology – or according to Object Theory – they are all objects. Then, and here is our objection to Meinong, if they are all objects, why does it happen that an emotion towards a nonexistent proves to be a non-emotion? If we have an act directed towards an object, then why is the act recognized as a non-act just because the object does not exist? ‘Existence’ in its strong occurrence was never an important point for Meinong, in fact the sharp distinction 47

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Meinong (1902/1910), GA IV, pp. 309-317 distinguishes fictional emotions from aesthetic ones: while the first kind are false emotions, the second kind are true ones. We do not make this distinction between ‘fictional’ and ‘aesthetic’ emotions (and then between fictional and aesthetic objects), since we do not even try to investigate here the relationship subsisting between these two concepts, how it happens that the one supervenes on the other, what that means and how that changes things. To simplify things we will assume here that ‘fictional’ and ‘aesthetic’ (emotions or objects) are interchangeable terms. For the relevance of assumptions in Meinong’s Gegenstandstheorie, see Kroon (1992). Meinong (1904), GA II, p. 494.

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for him was between object and mere nothing, rather than between existent and nonexistent. In order to have a true emotion what we need is an object causing that emotion, i.e. if we have the emotion and we have the object, we do not understand how the emotion should not be true. A possible answer to this problem could be that Meinong’s main interest here is at the same time ontological, psychological and epistemological, and this is probably the reason why nonexistent objects cannot legitimately be considered as the cause of true emotions: because an object has to be an object for someone, here or there, an object that we can touch, we can break, we can study. And it is just an object of that kind (i.e. an existing object) that can cause true emotions. Nonetheless, our point of view, unlike Meinong’s, is specifically ontological. We do not want either to understand what the difference is, in people’s heads, between crying for a fictional object and crying for a real one, or to explain those cases where there is an evident confusion between fictional and real objects.50 We are perfectly aware that emotions are still a big problem, if not even a mystery, that psychology has not solved yet: they are a product of our brain, but they are something we fail to wholly understand the operations of. As a result of this lack of psychological understanding of why we have certain emotions in certain situations, there is no way of proving definitively that we can only feel emotions about events we think are real (we know from our own experience that we often have stronger emotional responses to characters in books and movies than to people we see on the evening news). We have absolutely no intention here of supporting any specific psychological theory to the detriment of another. What we are doing is just proposing an ontological answer to the paradox of fiction based on Object Theory. The ontological interest which guides us here makes us face the paradox of fiction by using ontological tools. In order to have an emotion we need an object causing it (in fact, for someone who starts crying without any reason – and ‘reason’ here is a synonym for ‘object’ – we would not say “he is sad”, but “he is depressed”). According to Object Theory an object is the correlate of a set of properties. Fictional entities derive both 50

A clear example of this is, for instance, the film based on Stephen King’s novel Misery.

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from the attribution of internal and of external properties. Being the correlate of sets of properties, fictional entities are objects. That is why we legitimately consider as true emotions (even if differing in the degree of intensity) the emotions we feel towards fictional literary entities, because there is a specific object – a fictional object – causing them. This is our solution to the paradox. This makes clear why it is neither irrational nor absurd for Emma to cry for Anna Karenina’s death. There is an object Emma is crying for and, from an ontological point of view, that is enough for us. We clearly need to explain the difference between crying for Anna Karenina and crying for an existent person, and we explain this by introducing a difference in degree of intensity between the two. It is precisely this difference of degree that makes us understand the legitimacy (even if not the truthfulness) of both these statements: (*) Emma is crying for Anna Karenina (**)Emma is crying for nothing.51 This second sentence means “Emma is crying for nothing existent”, “There exists nothing Emma is crying for”. This does not mean that problems concerning the emotions we feel towards fictional entities are nothing but problems deriving from the way we describe some events.52 We can describe things in many different ways and this will clearly depend on our interest in a specific moment. If we want to make children stop screaming about the monster in the film, then probably all we need to say is “Come on, it doesn’t exist”, and we would be somehow right. Nonetheless this does not change our ontology: we have many objects of different kinds (existent, impossible, fictional, possible, past, …) and for an emotion to be a true one, it is enough to be directed towards an object. If we have an emotion and we have the object of the emotion, there is no problem at all from an ontological point of view, even if the object is a fictional one. 51 52

Uttered when Emma is actually crying for Anna Karenina. As Neill (1991) remarks, we could describe Emma’s sadness for Anna saying that she is not sad for a fictional person, rather she is sad for a real, existent person whom Anna reminds her of. The fictional entity would therefore be a pretext, an excuse to think about and to feel emotions for real persons and events.

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While maintaining Object Theory we therefore solve the paradox of fiction by dissolving it: there is no paradox because there is an object. Philosophers have nevertheless offered many different, and often conflicting solutions to this paradox, as we have seen above: some argue that our apparent emotional responses to fiction are only ‘make-believe’ or pretend, others claim that existence beliefs are not necessary for having emotional responses (at least to fiction) in the first place, and still others hold that there is nothing especially problematic about our emotional responses to works of fiction, since what these works manage to do (when successful) is create in us the ‘illusion’ that the characters and situations depicted therein actually exist. From our viewpoint what we have here does not qualify as a ‘paradox’ at all: our emotional responses to fiction are absolutely rational and normal, and the rationality of these emotions does not prevent them from being different, in degree, from those emotions we feel towards real, existent entities. Carola Barbero Università degli Studi di Torino [email protected]

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References Bakaoukas, Michael (2003), Nothing exists. A history of the philosophy of non-being, Philadelphia, Xlibris Corporation. Braun, David (1993), “Empty Names”, Noûs, 27, pp. 449-469. Brock, Stuart (2002), “Fictionalism about Fictional Characters”, Noûs, 36, pp. 1-21. Caplan, Ben (2004), “Creatures of Fiction, Myth and Imagination”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 41, pp. 331-337. Carroll, Noël (1990), The Philosophy of Horror; or, Paradoxes of the Heart, New York, Routledge. Chisholm, Roderick M. (1973), “Homeless objects”, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 27, pp. 207-223. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1817), Biographia Literaria; or Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions, London, Rest Fenner. Everett, Anthony (2000), “Referentialism and Empty Names”, in Everett & Hofweber [eds.] (2000), pp. 37-60. Everett, Anthony & Hofweber, Thomas [eds.] (2000), Empty Names, Fiction and the Puzzles of Non-Existence, Stanford, CSLI Publications. Kripke, Saul (1973), The John Locke Lectures 1973, unpublished typescript. Kroon, Frederick (1992), “Was Meinong Only Pretending?”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 52, pp. 499-527. Kroon, Frederick (1994), “Make-Believe and Fictional Reference”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 42, pp. 207-214. Kroon, Frederick (2003), “Quantified Negative Existentials”, Dialectica, 57, pp. 149-164. Lamarque, Peter (1981), “How Can We Fear and Pity Fictions?”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 21, pp. 291-304.

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Meinong, Alexius (1902), Üeber Annahmen, Leipzig, J.A. Barth (= «Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane», Ergänzungsband 2). Meinong, Alexius (1904), “Über Gegenstandstheorie”, in Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie, hrsg. von A. Meinong, Leipzig, J.A. Barth, pp. 1-50; in GA II, pp. 481-530. Meinong, Alexius (1910), Über Annahmen, Zweite, umgearbeitete Auflage, Leipzig, J.A. Barth; in GA IV, pp. 1-389, pp. 517-535. Meinong, Alexius (1917), “Über emotionale Präsentation”, Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Phil.-hist. Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, CLXXXIII, 2. Abh.; in GA III, pp. 283-476. Meinong, Alexius (1968-1978), Alexius Meinong Gesamtausgabe, hrsg. von R. Haller und R. Kindinger gemeinsam mit R.M. Chisholm, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, Graz. Nef, Frédéric (1998), L’objet quelconque. Recherches sur l’ontologie de l’objet, Paris, Vrin. Neill, Alex (1991), “Fear, Fiction and Make-Believe”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49, pp. 47-56. Novitz, David (1987), Knowledge, Fiction and Imagination, Philadelphia, Temple University Press. Parsons, Terence (1980), Nonexistent Objects, New Haven/London, Yale University Press. Radford, Colin (1975), “How Can We Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 49, pp. 67-80. Radford, Colin (1977), “Tears and Fiction”, Philosophy, 52, pp. 208-213. Rapaport, William J. (1978), “Meinongian Theories and a Russellian Paradox”, Noûs, 12, pp. 153-180. Rapaport, William J. (1985-86), “Non-Existent Objects and Epistemological Ontology”, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 25-26, pp. 61-95.

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Raspa, Venanzio [ed.] (2002), Alexius Meinong. Teoria dell’oggetto, Trieste, Edizioni Parnaso. Routley, Richard (1980), Exploring Meinong’s Jungle and Beyond, Canberra, Australian National University. Russell, Bertrand (1903), The Principles of Mathematics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Russell, Bertrand (1905/1973), “On Denoting”, Mind, n. s. XIV, 479-493; now in Russell (1973), pp. 103-119. Russell, Bertrand (1973), Essays in Analysis, ed. by D. Lackey, London, Allen and Unwin. Salmon, Nathan (1999), “Nonexistence”, Noûs, 32, pp. 277-319. Schiffer, Stephen (1996), “Language-Created Language-Independent Entities”, Philosophical Topics, 24, pp. 149-167. Searle, John R. (1979), “The Logical Status of Fictional Discourse”, in P.A. French et al. [eds.] Contemporary Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language, Minneapolis, University of Minneapolis Press, pp. 233-243. Smith, Murray (1995), “Film Spectatorship and the Institution of Fiction”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 53, pp. 113-27. Taylor, Kenneth A. (2000), “Emptiness without Compromise”, in Everett & Hofweber [eds.] (2000), pp. 17-36. Thomasson, Amie L. (1999), Fiction and Metaphysics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Walton, Kendall (1978), “Fearing Fictions”, Journal of Philosophy, 75, pp. 5-27. Walton, Kendall (2003), “Restricted Quantification, Negative Existentials, and Fiction”, Dialectica, 57, pp. 239-242. Zalta, Edward N. (1983), Abstract Objects. An Introduction to Axiomatic Metaphysics, Dordrecht/Boston/Lancaster, Reidel.

STATES OF AFFAIRS: BRADLEY VS. MEINONG Francesco Orilia

Summary In line with much current literature, Bradley’s regress is here discussed as an argument that casts doubt on the existence of states of affairs or facts, understood as complex entities working as truthmakers for true sentences or propositions. One should distinguish two versions of Bradley’s regress, which stem from two different tentative explanations of the unity of states of affairs. The first version actually shows that the corresponding explanation is incoherent; the second one merely points to some prima facie implausible consequences of the explanation it stems from, e.g., that there are infinite explanatory chains and that, for any given fact, there are infinitely many facts involving exemplification relations of increasing levels. But these consequences can be swallowed after all, thereby leading to the acceptance of a doctrine which may be called fact infinitism, a doctrine adumbrated in a well-known discussion of relations by Meinong.

1. Introduction In Appearance and Reality,1 Bradley presents an argument (or family of arguments), which is still hotly debated in various formulations and interpretations under the heading “Bradley’s Regress”. Here is an excerpt of what he says: We may take the familiar instance of a lump of sugar. This is a thing, and it has properties. ... It is, for example, white, and hard, and sweet; but what the is can really mean seems doubtful. ... Sugar is obviously 1

Cf. Bradley (1893), Ch. 2, pp. 16-18.

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not mere whiteness, mere hardness, and mere sweetness; for its reality lies somehow in its unity. ... The word to use, when we are pressed, should not be is, but only has. The whole question is evidently as to the meaning of has; and, apart from metaphors not taken seriously, there appears really to be no answer ... [A possible answer is:] ‘There is a[n independently real] relation C, in which A and B stand; and it appears with both of them.’ But here again we have made no progress. The relation C has been admitted different from A and B, and no longer is predicated of them. Something, however, seems to be said of this relation C, and said, again, of A and B. And this something is not to be the ascription of one to the other. If so, it would appear to be another relation D, in which C, on one side, and on the other side, A and B, stand. But such a makeshift leads at once to an infinite process. The new relation D can be predicated in no way of C, or of A and B; and hence we must have recourse to a fresh relation, E, which comes between D and whatever we had before. But this must lead to another, F; and so on, indefinitely. Thus the problem is not solved by taking relations as independently real. I shall not try here to uncover what precisely Bradley intends to argue for in this and related passages.2 I shall rather concentrate on a certain way of considering Bradley’s regress, namely as a challenge for those who accept states of affairs (or facts)3 such as that of a given lump of sugar’s being white (hard, sweet, ...), i.e., a complex involving as constituents the lump and a property (e.g., whiteness or sweetness) understood as a universal.4 The friend of states of affairs, of course, admits also relational ones, e.g., the lump’s being on a certain table, where the universal involved is the relation on. Now, once a state of affairs is admitted in the ontological inventory, its unity, that it exists as a complex in addition to its constituents, requires, at least prima facie, an explanation. This is the problem of the unity of states of affairs.5 The challenge is that, in confronting this issue, we may be trapped in an infinite regress of the kind evoked in the above 2 3 4 5

See on this, e.g., Candlish (2002). I shall use “state of affairs” and “fact” interchangeably. See Armstrong (1997). Vallicella (2002).

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quotation, which is typically seen, following Bradley, as an unwelcome result. In a paper of 1899, Meinong appears to confront a similar problem and in dealing with it he also individuates the call for an infinite regress. Interestingly, however, the Austrian philosopher’s attitude toward it is rather different from Bradley’s: A complexion is a relation together with its members. This must not be taken to mean that the complexion is merely the relation and its members. That would basically be the same as the ... objective collective consisting of a, b and r. Rather, a and b stand in the relation r which can only mean that also a and b respectively, each stand in a relation to r, [...] a relation r' or r'' respectively which could also be the same. It is very clear that what we just said concerning a, b, r can be repeated concerning a, r, and r' and also concerning a, r, and r''. In this way, new relations can appear without end. As far as I can see, there are no theoretical difficulties hidden in the preceding statement, as there are also none in the thought that the division of a line leads to an infinite series of always smaller partial lines.6 Just as for Bradley’s quotation, I would like to look at this text too not so much for the purpose of historical exegesis, but from the perspective of the current debate on states of affairs.7 And in doing this I see in Meinong an invitation to appeal without any fear to an infinite regress in providing an explanation of their unity. In contrast, Bradley pulls in the opposite di6

7

Meinong (1899), p. 147. In the quoted English translation, where I put the dots in brackets, there are some extra words, “that a relation, that is”, which apparently should not be there. Thus, I shall not be deterred here by the consideration that it is not clear to what extent we can attribute states of affairs, as here understood, to Meinong. Obviously he acknowledges objectives, but these are rather like propositions, since they can be subsistent or non-subsistent just like propositions can be true or false (more on the distinction between states of affairs and propositions below). Note also that, whereas Meinong distinguishes the two relations r' and r'', we shall be concerned with a single (exemplification) relation. In considering them Meinong might have in mind something like the relations corresponding to what linguists call thematic roles, like agent, patient, beneficiary, and the like. I think that an account of them may be postponed for present purposes. For my view on the matter see Orilia (2000).

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rection, as he appears to see something wrong in an explanation that leads to an infinite regress. Should we draw inspiration from Bradley or from Meinong here? To put it otherwise, is the infinite regress in question vicious or harmless? As we shall see, the answer depends on how we understand Bradley’s regress in relation to the problem of the unity of states of affairs. For although this is not generally recognized, we can identify in the literature, we may say, both an internalist and an externalist Bradleyan regress. These are two different (kinds of) arguments that spring from two possible approaches to the problem of the unity of facts. I shall argue that (i) the infinite regress involved in the former is indeed vicious and should then lead us to abandon the corresponding approach, but (ii) the one in the latter is harmless and provides no conclusive reason for rejecting the approach that makes it arise.

2. Some preliminaries Let us conveniently represent with “Fa” a state of affairs consisting of the entity a’s being F.8 Similarly, let us represent with “Rna1 ... an” a relational fact consisting in a1’s being in the relation Rn to a2, ..., an. In the following I shall typically consider an arbitrary non-relational state of affairs Fa with the understanding that what I say is generalizable to relational ones such as Rna1 ... an. A fact Fa is a complex in that it has constituents or “parts” which occur (are present or contained) in Fa, although not in a mereological sense. They are at least F and a, but we should not rule out at the outset, for reasons that we shall see, that there are more. At least in typical cases (wherein F is a contingent property such as a certain skin color for a person), Fa is a non-supervenient complex (with respect to F and a), viz. it is possible that F and a exist, but Fa does not exist. In fact, we can imagine a world in which F and a exist (for there are, e.g., the facts Fb and Ga), without the existence of Fa. For instance, although there are the facts Bs 8

It is worth emphasizing that “Fa” and similar expressions are not being used here as sentences, as in first order logic, but as singular terms that purport to designate facts.

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and Wm (Stevie Wonder’s being black and Mick Jagger’s being white), there could instead be the facts Bm and Ws, were it the case that S.W. is white and M.J. is black. In such a circumstance, the properties B and W, and the individuals s and m would still exist but the facts Bs and Wm would not exist. Since they are non-supervenient complexes, states of affairs must be distinguished from propositions as they are understood nowadays at the end of a theoretical path springing from Bolzano’s propositions, Frege’s thoughts, Meinong’s objectives, Moore’s propositions and the propositions of Russell’s Principles of Mathematics (1903). Leaving aside immaterial details, we can say that, given any property P and an object x, there exists the proposition that predicates P of x, understood as a complex with P and x as constituents. We could represent it as P(x), where parentheses are displayed to distinguish it from the state of affairs Px. This proposition may be untrue (it could be a non-subsisting objective, in Meinong’s terminology), but still it would be part of the ontological inventory, thereby granting a meaning to the sentence “x is P”. In contrast, the state of affairs Px might or might not exist (at least in the typical case in which P is a contingent property). For a correspondentist in truth theory, the existence or non-existence of the state would make the proposition true or false, as the case may be. In sum, whereas propositions are supervenient on their constituents, states of affairs (typically) are not such. I shall overlook the distinction between two kinds of Bradley’s regress and speak in the singular as if there were one Bradley’s regress, when I have to say something that holds in general for all versions. Let me do this just now in order to fix some useful terminology. Note first that the regress arises in connection with a certain (hypothetical) fact, which can be taken to be its origin. In relation to the above passage from Appearance and Reality, the origin is the fact consisting, say, in a certain lump of sugar’s being white. In relation to Meinong’s passage above, the origin is a’s being in the relation r to b. In the following formulation of the regress by Loux,9 the origin is the fact Fa:

9

Loux (1998), pp. 38-39.

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According to the realist, for a particular, a, to be F, it is required that both the particular, a, and the universal, F-ness, exist. But more is required; it is required, in addition, that a exemplify F-ness, ... a relational fact. But the realist insists that relations are universals and that a pair of objects can bear a relation to each other only if they exemplify it by entering into it. The consequence, then, is that, if we have to have the result that a is F, we need a new higher-level form of exemplification (call it exemplification2) whose function is to insure that a and F-ness enter into the exemplification relation. Unfortunately, exemplification2 is itself a further relation, so that we need a still higher level form of exemplification (exemplification3), whose role is to insure that a, F-ness and exemplification are related by exemplification2; and obviously there will be no end to the ascending levels of exemplification that are required here.10 As this quotation clearly shows, the Bradleyan argument invites us to postulate, step after step, newer and newer relations, which we shall call E1, E2, E3, etc., where the letter “E” remind us that they are exemplification relations (where Loux deploys exemplification, exemplification2, exemplification3, I find it more convenient to use E1, E2, E3, etc.). Let us concentrate on the generic fact Fa, taken as origin of a regress. Following Loux’s reasoning, we can see that at the step where E1 is introduced, call it step p1, a fact E1Fa is hypothesized. It contains as constituent, beside F ed a, E1 as well. Having started from Fa, the relation E1 which we introduce at step p1 is obviously a dyadic exemplification relation, which we can then also represent as “E2”. In general, we can imagine a sequence of steps such that, at every step pi a new relation Ei is introduced, i.e. (i + 1)-adic exemplification, Ei+1. At step pi a fact Ei .... E2E1Fa, with constituents Ei, .... , E2,E1, F, a is also considered. Accordingly, the reasoning generates, so to speak, a sequence of (hypothetical) states of affairs, whose first member is the origin Fa and whose ith element is the fact Ei .... E2E1Fa introduced at step Ei. This sequence may also be aptly called a (Bradley’s) regress (the context can tell us whether by this term we mean an argument

10

The “realist” in Loux’ quotation is the realist with respect to universals, for whom, traditionally, Bradley’s regress constitutes a problem.

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or a sequence). It is convenient to assume that the origin Fa of such a sequence could also be represented by “E0a”, where E0 coincides with F. We leave it open for the time being whether the states of affairs postulated at each new step of a Bradleyan argument are ultimately all identical to the origin Fa. If this were so, Fa should be taken to have as constituents not only F and a, but also E1, E2, etc., which we could then call non-canonical constituents of Fa. Let us then reserve the label canonical for the constituents F and a. Let us also call primary all such constituents (whether canonical or not) to distinguish them from other entities which may happen to be contained in some sense in Fa (e.g., mereological parts of a). More precisely, F is a canonical constituent with a prima facie attributive role and a a constituent with argument role. Having admitted the possibility of non-canonical constituents, we must then also leave it open the possibility that a prima facie attributive constituent is not the really attributive constituent of the state in question and that it is instead just another argument beside a. This possibility obtains when, e.g., Fa happens to be identical to a fact E1Fa wherein there is a non-canonical constituent E1 which is prima facie (and perhaps really) attributive. Call faithful a representation of a fact such as those we have seen, Fa, E1Fa, etc., inasmuch as there is in them a symbol for every primary constituent. For example, if the only primary constituents of Fa are F and a, then “Fa” is a faithful representation of Fa. On the other hand, if there is in Fa a non-canonical constituent, e.g. E1, so that Fa could more explicitly be represented as “E1Fa”, we shall say that “Fa” is not a faithful representation of Fa.

3. Two versions of Bradley’s regress According to Loux (1998), the first member of a Bradley’s regress (Fa, in his example) is a fact which is different from its second element (E1Fa) and more generally each En .... E1Fa is different from the “successive” element En+1 En .... E1Fa. This is evident from the way Loux continues his presentation:

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... it is reasonable to think that once the realists have told us that a is F because a and F-ness enter into the relation of exemplification they have completed their explanation of the fact that a is F. There is of course something new that the realist might want to go on and explain – the new [emphasis mine] fact that a and F-ness enter into the relation of exemplification; however, the failure to explain this new fact would seem to do nothing to jeopardize their explanation of the original fact that a is F.11 In this account, the difference between the nth element S of a regress with Fa as first member and the subsequent one, S' , is due to the fact that S' contains an additional constituent, En+1, not contained in S and thus external to it. Moreover, S is a state of affairs wherein En is the canonical constituent with prima facie attributive role and En-1, ..., E1, F, a are the corresponding arguments. On the other hand, it is En+1 which has the prima facie attributive role in S'. Loux thus provides, at least as I interpret him, what we could call an externalist Bradley’s regress, i.e. an argument according to which the relation En introduced at step pn is external, in the sense explained, to the state of affairs postulated at the preceding step. From this point of view, the expressions “Fa”, “E1Fa”, “E2E1Fa”, ... are all faithful representations of different facts, whose prima facie attributive constituents coincide with their really attributive constituents. Typically, however, we find in the literature an internalist Bradley’s regress, i.e. an argument which, in inviting us to postulate an ever growing number of exemplification relations, E1, E2, E3, ..., considers them all as constituents of the origin Fa, in such a way that the sequence, Fa, E1Fa, E2E1Fa, ..., corresponding to these postulations, is such that its members are all mutually identical. In fact, we could say that at every step pi, for i > 0, it is postulated that Ei relegates Ei-1 to the argument role beside Ei-2, ..., E2, E1, E0 (= F), a, and proposes itself as the really attributive constituent of Fa. In general, this assertion implies that EiEi-1 ... E2E1Fa is identical to the preceding member of the sequence, Ei-1 ... E2E1Fa. We would then simply have a multitude of different unfaithful representations “Fa”, “E1Fa”, “E2E1Fa”, ..., which correspond to just one fact. These representations purport to display more and more efficiently 11

Loux (1998), p. 39.

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the presence in the state of affairs Fa of the non-canonical constituents E1, E2, etc. From the perspective of someone who analyzes Fa, these exemplification relations add themselves, with prima facie attributive role, to the canonical constituents F ed a, in an attempt to keep them together; but each of them is immediately demoted from its hypothetical attributive role by the “next” exemplification relation and thereby definitely confined to an argument role. Here are some examples of this way of seeing the matter (In Hochberg’s quotation I have replaced his notation for exemplification with mine): There are many ways of constructing the problem posed by Bradley. One way ... is the following. We take an atomic sentence ‘Ga’ to state that a particular has or exemplifies a property. The existence of the indicated fact – the particular exemplifying the property – is the truth condition for the sentence. The fact is taken to consist in the particular, a, and the property G, in the exemplification relation, E2. But supposedly, it cannot be so taken. For there must be a further constituent [italics mine]: a three-term exemplification connection that obtains of G, a, and E3. But then there must be a further constituent [italics mine] connecting these four constituents, and so on. The supposed problem can be taken to be that to acknowledge E3 as a constituent of the fact that a is G is to prohibit allowing one to specify the factual truth condition for the sentence ‘Ga’, since it is not the fact consisting of a and G in the relation E2. For that purported fact turns out to be [italics mine] a fact containing the three-term connection which, in turn, must be construed as a fact containing a four-term relation and so on.12 ... [I]t is not enough simply to say that the state of affairs of a’s being F is a unity. This unity must be explained. ... One thing is for sure: the metaphysical cement cannot be provided by introducing another universal, the relation of instantiation, to hold between a and F for a vicious regress is threatened instantly. ... How are, a, F, and the instantiation universal unified? If we introduce a further universal, a relation holding between pairs of particulars and universals and the relation of instantiation, the same question is begged. And so things will 12

Hochberg (1989), p. 19.

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continue as we introduce further entities to try to glue the constituents together. Unity cannot be provided by adding another item to the complex [italics mine].13

4. The request for an ontological explanation One could think that the exemplification relations introduced step by step in a Bradley’s regress with origin Fa should be understood as constituents not so much of facts E1Fa, E2E1Fa, etc., but of propositions E2(F, a), E3(E2, F, a), etc. After all, the fact Fa presumably corresponds to some true sentence “a is F”, which in turn expresses as meaning a proposition F(a). Moreover, one could plausibly hold that, in relation to any proposition G(x), logic postulates an infinity of logically equivalent propositions E2(G, x), E3(E2, G, x), etc., just as it postulates an infinity of propositions, it is true that P, it is true that it is true that P, ..., logically equivalent to a given proposition, P. Hence, why shouldn’t we think that in a Bradleyan regress we postulate erroneously, at every new step, new facts E1Fa, E2E1Fa, etc., or an increasingly complexity in one fact, simply because we are conditioned by the existence of the propositions E2(F, a), E3(E2, F, a), etc.? If it were so, we could say that there is just one (relatively simple) fact Fa to which all these propositions correspond, just like only this fact corresponds to the propositions: it is true that F(a), it is true that it is true that F(a), etc. Bradley’s regress would be in this case trivially harmless in that it would simply be a reminder of the existence of an innocuous infinite series of tautologically equivalent propositions. This proposal has been advanced by Armstrong.14

13 14

Dodd (1999), p. 150. Armstrong (1997), pp. 18-19. Something similar has been proposed by Hochberg (1989). Perhaps the same could be said of Russell (1903), § 99, Orilia (1991), and Gaskin (1995), were it not for the fact that these authors discuss the problem of the unity of propositions rather than of states of affairs. It seems to me that Hochberg discusses with some ambiguity both states of affairs and propositions.

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Unfortunately, this will not do, for Bradley’s regress is triggered, as we have noted, by a request for an explanation in relation to a fact Fa. This is evident in the above quotations by Loux and Dodd. More precisely, as vigorously argued by Vallicella,15 given the fact Fa, the Bradleyan argument presupposes that we should explain why we are in a world which contains Fa over and above F and a, since F and a could have existed without Fa. An appeal to the propositions E2(F, a), E3(E2, F, a), etc., cannot provide this explanation, for they must be assumed to exist independently of the existence of the fact Fa. If Fa did not exist and there were only F and a, there would still be all these propositions (just like the proposition F(a)), although they would be false.16 Bradley’s regress is not trivially harmless. Moreover, an explanation not based on supervenience is needed, if any.17 If Fa supervened on F and a, the explanation could simply be based on supervenience: there is Fa, because (i) there are F and a and (ii) Fa supervenes on them.18 But since a typical state of affairs does not supervene on its constituents, this will not do. It must be emphasized that the requested explanation is not of the causal brand. If it were we could simply answer that Fa exists because another fact caused it. For example, if Fa is the fact consisting of Socrates’ eating, we could say that Fa exists, because it was caused by a fact such as Socrates’ being hungry. Obviously, the requested explanation is of another kind. We could call it ontological. The philosophical tradition has always acknowledged ontological (non-causal) explanations beside the causal ones. For instance, there are alternative explanations of the existence of concrete particulars (over and above that of universals or classes) along these lines:19 (i) there are universals in a compresence relations; (ii) there are substrates in which universals inhere; (iii) there are entities lo15 16 17

18 19

Cf. Vallicella (2000), (2002) and (2002a). Cf. Vallicella (2002a), p. 207. Even for something concrete like a bicycle there could be a request for an ontological explanation of why it exists in addition to its parts, given that it is not supervenient on its parts (Orilia 2004). But I shall not dwell on this, since we focus here on states of affairs. This may perhaps be doubted (Orilia 2004), but seems to be accepted by most ontologists (cf. Vallicella 2002a). Cf. Loux (1998).

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calized in specific portions of space. These explanations are not meant to be alternative, but rather complementary to causal explanations such as those based on protons, electrons and the like. In general, given a (legitimate) request for an explanation of a proposition P, one should answer with another proposition Q, which is taken to be linked to the former by an explanatory relation, expressible with words such as “because” or “in virtue of”. If the answer is correct, Q explains, at least partially, P. Let us use the symbol “⇐“ to represent this relation. Thus, “P ⇐ Q” means “P in virtue of Q” or equivalently “P because Q”, “P is an explicandum of Q”, “Q is an explicans of P”. A formal account of this notion can be found in Tatzel’s (2002) attempt to reconstruct Bolzano’s analysis of the concept expressed by “because”. Rather than “P ⇐ Q”, Tatzel writes “Q > P”,20 but he means essentially the same thing.21 He interprets this expression as follows: Q is a partial or complete mediate ground of P. The disjunction “partial or complete” regards the fact that in asserting “P because Q” we do not usually think we have said all that must be said in an attempt to clarify P, although we do not rule out that this could be the case. The term “mediate” has to do with the fact that in asserting “P because Q” we do not rule out that there could be intermediate explanatory elements in between P and Q: P because Q, since there are propositions P1, ..., Pn such that P1 = Q, Pn = P and, for i = 1, 2, ..., n, Pi is an immediate (partial or complete) ground of (immediately explains)22 Pi+1. Clearly, the relation ⇐ is transitive just like entailment, but it must not be confused with it. For example, the former, but not the latter, can connect only true propositions and is irreflexive and asymmetric.23 The relation ⇐ is generic in that it could be either causal or ontological. An index “c” or “o” could be added, depending on whether the explanatory 20 21

22 23

Tatzel (2002), p. 16. Note however that Tatzel uses his symbol as expressing a relation that connects collections of propositions, rather than propositions. Where he talks of a collection of propositions {P1, ... , Pn}, I would talk of a conjunctive proposition P1 & ... & Pn. See Tatzel (2002) for details on this notion. Cf. Tatzel (2002), p. 17.

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link is of the former or of the latter variety. Thus “P ⇐o Q” means that Q is an ontological explicans of P and “P ⇐c Q” that Q is an causal explicans of P. In the following, the index “o” may be considered as implicit, when it is clear that we are dealing with ontological explanation. Similarly, I shall typically say “explicans”, as elliptical for “ontological explicans”. Before closing with these technical details, let us define explanatory chain, for it will be useful below. By that we shall mean a set of propositions ordered by the relation ⇐. If C is an explanatory chain whose only members, P1, ..., Pn, are such that P1 ⇐ P2, P2 ⇐ P3, ..., Pn-1 ⇐ Pn, then C will be represented by “P1 ⇐ P2 ⇐ P3 ⇐ ... ⇐ Pn-1⇐ Pn”.

5. Facts: ontologically brute versus explainable In sum, Bradley’s regress presupposes this assumption: (BBA) Bradleyan Basic Assumption. If Fa exists (over and above F and a), there must be a proposition P, not based on supervenience, such that: the proposition that Fa exists ⇐o P; i.e., there must be a P which provides an ontological explanation of the existence of Fa in addition to its “parts” F and a, without it being a proposition that merely asserts that, given F and a, Fa must also exists for it supervenes on F and a. Could not we reject (BBA), by arguing that states of affairs supervene on their constituents? In order to answer positively, we should admit that after all there are in the ontological inventory, albeit as non-subsistent, states of affairs which we prima facie would not include in it, e.g., Bm, Mick Jagger’s being black. Such states of affairs would correspond to false sentences in a correspondentist account of truth. Perhaps this theoretical move is present in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. In this way, states of affairs become indeed supervenient on their constituents: Given F and a, Fa must also be given, although perhaps as merely non-subsistent. But they would hardly be distinguishable from Meinong’s objectives and thus from propositions. And at any rate this move would not be sufficient to reject (BBA), for it would lead us to accept states of affairs (or similia) of

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the type S’s subsistence, where S is a state of affairs. A state such as this cannot be considered as supervenient on its two constituents, subsistence and S. In fact, we must distinguish, e.g., worlds like ours wherein Wm but not Ws subsists (Mick Jagger, but not Stevie Wonder, is white) and worlds wherein Ws, but not Bs, subsists (S.W. , but not M.J., is white).24 In the end we must still admit states of affairs that do not supervene on their constituents and thus we simply postpone the problem of finding an ontological explanation of the existence of non-supervenient states of affairs. Moreover, the non-subsistent states of affairs are hardly needed for the correspondentist theory of truth, for false sentences can be simply taken to be sentences which fail to correspond to any fact. I shall thus assume that there are no non-subsistent states of affairs and that states of affairs, if they exist, are not (in typical cases) supervenient on their constituents. In spite of this, we cannot take for granted that (BBA) be accepted. As far as causal explanations are concerned, we readily admit that there may be “brute facts”, i.e. that some propositions can contribute to explain other propositions, without themselves be explainable in a causal sense. For instance, the propositions asserting the existence of certain fundamental forces may be taken to have this status in modern physics. Analogously, we should perhaps admit that there are “ontologically brute facts”, that is, that some true propositions cannot be explained in an ontological sense. For example, some nominalists, rather than acknowledging universals, view in this fashion the propositions that point to objective resemblances among particulars.25 Similarly, one could argue, we could hold that the existence of each state of affairs is “ontologically brute”. This means rejecting (BBA) and opposing to it the Brute Fact Approach: (BFA) There are facts, but, for a typical fact Fa, there is no proposition P (neither based on supervenience, nor of some other type) such that: Fa exists ⇐o P. 24

25

Here I repeat what I have already claimed in an ancestor of this work, “Stati di cose e regresso di Bradley”, presented at the workshop Oggetti, fatti e stati di cose, giornata di studi sull’ontologia del Tractatus, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli, 5 March, 2002. For a richer treatment of this issue, see Lando (2006), Ch. 3. Cf. Varzi (2005), p. 63.

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We find this proposal in Van Inwagen (1993).26 I shall not attempt at this juncture to argue in favour of either (BFA) or (BBA). I simply emphasize that both versions of the regress implicitly oppose the former and presuppose the latter, but differ in that they stem from alternative proposals regarding the ontological explicans which (BBA) invites us to look for.

6. The internalist regress This version of the regress arises from this way of providing an explicans for a fact Fa: (I1) What makes Fa an entity that exists over and above F and a is the presence in Fa of the dyadic exemplification, E2, which connects F and a, so that Fa = E2Fa. In sum, since by the above conventions E2Fa = E1Fa, Fa exists ⇐ Fa = E1Fa. Now, patently, the following proposition is true: (IBR) Internalist Bradleyan Regress. If (I1) is true, then, for any number n > 1 and fact Fa, Fa = E1Fa = E2E1Fa = .... = En ... E2E1Fa. We can see this with a little induction. Suppose Fa exists. By (I1), Fa = E1Fa. Assume for the inductive hypothesis that Fa = E1Fa = E2E1Fa = .... = En ... E2E1Fa. This implies that there is En ... E2E1Fa, i.e., the relational fact En+1 ... E3E2Fa. Clearly, (I1) is meant to be valid not only for a nonrelational fact such as Fa, but also, mutatis mutandis, for a generic relational fact Ra1 ... an, and thus also for En+1 ... E3E2Fa. Hence, by (I1), En+1 ... E3E2Fa = En+2En+1 ... E3E2Fa. That is, En ... E2E1Fa = En+1En ... E1Fa. The desired result follows by the transitivity of identity. Thus, (I1), via (IBR), forces us to postulate ad infinitum noncanonical constituents, E1, E2, ..., in every state of affairs Fa and by the same token forces us to acknowledge that there is no finite number n that 26

Cf. Van Inwagen (1993), p. 37.

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is the number of non-canonical primary constituents of Fa. For suppose there were such a number n. Then, Fa would be identical to En ... E2E1Fa. But it would also be different from En+1En ... E1Fa, which contradicts (IBR). Accordingly, it seems wrong to say, as we should in accepting (I1), that there occurs in Fa one constituent, E1, which brings about the feat of “unifying” F and a so as to make Fa existent. For why shouldn’t we attribute this role to E2, E3, etc.? This question suggests the following alternative to (I1): (I2) What makes Fa an entity that exists over and above F and a is the presence in Fa of all the exemplification relations E2, E3, E4, etc., so that the explicans of Fa is something like this: for each n ≥ 2, En connects all the exemplification relations of level (or “adicity”) less than n, as well as F and a, in such a way that Fa = ... E4E3E2Fa = ... E3E2E1Fa. In sum, Fa exists ⇐ Fa = ... E3E2E1Fa. Obviously, (I2) is in conflict, just like (I1), with the basic intuition that a simple fact like Fa must have a finite number of primary constituents. For (I2) asserts explicitly what (I1) implies, namely that the relations E1, E2, E3, etc. are all primary constituents of Fa. But could not we bite the bullet and admit that every fact has an infinite number of primary constituents? This means admitting an actual infinity, but, after Cantor, as Vallicella27 admits, this need not be seen as problematic.28 However, there is a more serious problem: (I2) implies that no constituent of Fa is really attributive. Proof: if there is a really attributive constituent in Fa, this must be either F, or some exemplification relation. But it cannot be F, because 27 28

Vallicella (2002a), p. 209. Vallicella (ibid.) attributes something like (I2) to McTaggart. However, according to Broad (1933), p. 85, as I understand him, McTaggart endorses a version of Armstrong’s idea, mentioned above, according to which the regress is trivially harmless, since it consists of a series of propositions tautologically implied by a proposition asserting the existence of a fact such as A’s being related to B by R: “McTaggart admits that there is this endless series in connexion with any relational fact, but he denies that it is vicious. His answer amounts to saying that the first term, i.e., that A has R to B, is a fact in its own right, and that the rest of the series consists merely of further consequences of this fact”. (But see also note 29 below.)

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this property is demoted to the argument role by E1. Suppose then that, for some n > 0, the exemplification relation En is the really attributive constituent of Fa. This is impossible, since En is demoted by En+1 to the argument role. Yet, in a fact we must distinguish between attribute and arguments. Consider dyadic exemplification is interesting and John exemplifies wisdom. Intuitively, the truthmaker of the former assertion is a fact with the property of being interesting as attribute and dyadic exemplification as argument, whereas that of the latter is a fact with dyadic exemplification as attribute and wisdom and John as arguments. But according to (I2), counterintuitively, in every state of affairs Fa, all the exemplification relations, and F with them, occur after all as arguments, just like, one would want to say, dyadic exemplification in the truthmaker of dyadic exemplification is interesting. I conclude therefore that both (I1) and (I2) should be abandoned: the infinite regress springing from the internalist version of the Bradleyan regress, Fa = E1Fa = E2E1Fa = .... , is indeed vicious.

7. The exernalist regress This version of the regress arises from the idea that an explicans of the existence of a fact Fa can be provided as follows: (E)

What makes Fa an entity that exists over and above F and a is the state of affairs E2Fa, understood as different from Fa, in that E2 is taken to be the really attributive constituent of the former, whereas F is taken to be the really attributive constituent of the latter. In sum, since, by the above conventions, E2Fa = E1Fa, the proposal here is that Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists, where Fa ≠ E2Fa.

Clearly, the following proposition must be accepted: (EBR) Externalist Bradley Regress. If (E) is true, then, for every number n > 1 and fact Fa, there are n facts E1Fa, E2E1Fa, ...., En ... E2E1Fa mutually distinct and distinct from Fa, as well as an ex-

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planatory chain (of cardinality n+1), Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2E1Fa exists ⇐ .... ⇐ En ... E2E1Fa exists. The truth of (EBR) is as obvious as that of (IBR). In this case too a simple induction can be offered to back it up. Assume there is Fa. Then, by (E), there exist the fact E1Fa different from Fa and the explanatory chain with two members Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists. For the inductive hypothesis suppose that (i) there are n facts E1Fa, E2E1Fa, ...., En ... E2E1Fa mutually distinct and distinct from Fa, and (ii) there is the corresponding explanatory chain of cardinality n+1, Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2E1Fa exists ⇐ .... ⇐ En ... E2E1Fa exists, which we call C; Now, En ... E2E1Fa is the relational fact En+1 ... E2Fa; clearly, (E) is meant to be valid not only for a non-relational fact like Fa, but also, mutatis mutandis, for a generic relational fact Ra1 ... an, and thus also for En+1 ... E2Fa, i.e., for En ... E2E1Fa. It follows, by (E), that there exists also the fact En+1 ... E2E1Fa, such that En ... E2E1Fa exists ⇐ En+1 ... E2E1Fa exists. Hence, by the transitivity of ⇐, there is also the explanatory chain obtained by adding the following to C: En+1 ... E2E1Fa exists. That is, there exists the following chain with n+2 members: Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2E1Fa exists ⇐ .... ⇐ En ... E2E1Fa exists ⇐ En+1 ... E2E1Fa exists. The thesis (E) could aptly be called fact infinitism, for, via (EBR), it invites us to admit that, for each state of affairs Fa, there are infinite distinct facts E1Fa, E2E1Fa, etc. Perhaps fact infinitism or at least something in the same spirit may be attributed to Meinong on the basis of the above quotation.29 Does this doctrine have any unacceptable consequences? Let us investigate this issue. 29

Of course, fact infinitism tout court cannot straightforwardly be attributed to Meinong, for it is not clear, as already mentioned above, that a category of states of affairs, as here understood, is acknowledged by Meinong. Contrary to what I am suggesting, however, Russell does not attribute anything akin to fact infinitism to Meinong and instead sees in the latter’s appeal to an infinite regress a sort of acceptance of the internalist Bradleyan regress. For in commenting on the approach of the Austrian philosopher, he says (1904, p. 28): “But the unity of a complex raises a logical problem, of which Meinong seems to be not fully aware. What is added, we are told, is the relation, rightly related; but when we consider the relation as well as the terms, we do not obtain the complex. and if

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Note first that, for any fact Fa, there exists an infinite explanatory chain, an infinite series of propositions linked by ⇐, without a last member, a “ground” supporting the alleged explanation of the existence of Fa: Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2E1Fa exists ⇐ E3E2E1Fa exists ⇐ .... This could be taken to be the infinite regress generated by this version of the Bradleyan argument. One could suspect that it is vicious, since it is at odds with a principle often (implicitly) accepted, which we could call Absolute Foundationalism. It goes like this: (AF) All explanatory chains are finite. That is, for any explanatory chain C, there is a finite set S of propositions such that (i) C ⊇ S, and (ii) for any proposition P ∈ S, if there is an explicans Q of P, then Q ∈ S. Intuitively, (AF) is true if every explanatory chain coincides with, or is part of, a finite explanatory chain that terminates with what we could call a basic proposition, i.e., a true proposition B such that for no proposition we add the relations of the relation to the terms, and still the relations generated in the resulting endless process, we still do not obtain our original unity, but only an aggregate”. If we follow this Russellian interpretation of Meinong in seeking inspiration for an account of states of affairs, we should see the endless series of exemplification relations, E1, E2, ..., as constituents of the fact Fa, thereby rendering the fact something like a mere list of items, F, a, E1, E2, ..., without a really attributive constituent (see above). But I think that Russell does not grasp here what Meinong has in mind, for the latter accepts something like the externalist Bradleyan regress, and thus something in the spirit of fact infinitism. For example, he says: “the relations which are contained in a complexion never are its constituent parts regardless how essential they may be” (Meinong 1899, p. 147). As applied to states of affairs, I take this to mean that, given that a complex such as a state of affairs exists, certain relations (the various exemplification relations) must also exist (are “contained” in it), but not qua constituents of the state of affairs in question, but of different ones, as claimed by fact infinitism. Something like fact infinitism appears to be entertained by Broad (1933, p. 86) and it may be suspected that he attributes it to McTaggart. But Broad dismisses it immediately, as he takes for granted the brute fact approach: “The fact that at every stage after the first the relating relations are purely formal and are merely repeated shows that we are now embarked on the self-evidently impossible task of explaining [italics mine], by means of particular relational judgements, that general relational form which is presupposed by all relational judgements whatever”.

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Q it is the case that B ⇐ Q. Clearly, in the chain Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2 E1Fa exists, ... there is no such basic proposition. Hence, if there is a fact and (E) is accepted as an ontological explanation of its existence, (EBR) leads us to deny (AF). Admittedly, to reject (AF) might seem strange. For intuitively it seems correct to say that we have an explanation for P, only insofar as there is, so to speak, an increase in our knowledge/understanding, when we contemplate P. But, one could argue, if in an attempt to explain P I begin an explanatory task wherein at every stage I must presuppose a succeeding stage, then there is no increase. For any such increase is an approximation to the final stage and if there is no such stage, then there is no explanation. And thus there cannot be infinite explanatory chains. But in fact good motivations in favour of such chains can be offered. That at any given stage we can continue the explanatory task does not show that no knowledge or no understanding is provided at any stage. It merely shows that at no stage we know/understand everything that there is to know/understand about the explicandum which gives rise to the explanatory chain. And noting that the explicandum in question gives rise to such an infinite chain may be considered part of our understanding of it.30 To make fact infinitism even more respectable in the face of its rejection of (AF), it may be worth noting that it is compatible with a partial foundationalism: (PF) For every proposition P, either P is basic, or there exists a finite explanatory chain P ⇐ Q1 ⇐ ... ⇐ Qn. For even admitting that there is the infinite explanatory chain Fa exists ⇐ E1Fa exists ⇐ E2 E1Fa exists ⇐ ..., this does not rule out that there could also be another finite explanatory chain, possibly of the causal kind, such as Fa exists ⇐ Q1 ⇐ ... ⇐ Qn ⇐ B. In the light of the above, it looks like its incompatibility with (AF) should not be considered an unacceptable consequence of fact infinitism. Still one could insist that the explanatory link that connects, in the approach under examination, the proposition that Fa exists to those that 30

Cf. Klein (1998) and (2003).

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assert the existence of E1Fa, E2E1Fa, etc., reveals a relation of ontological dependence from Fa to E1Fa, from the latter to E2E1Fa, and so on ad infinitum. This is reasonable, but it is problematic only if there were strong arguments to reject infinite chains of ontological dependence, i.e., infinite sequences of entities, each one of which is ontologically dependant on the next one in the sequence. But in fact we are still lacking a shared and clear-cut notion of ontological dependence31 and thus we can hardly expect such arguments. And perhaps fact infinitism can contribute to a clarification of this notion in inviting us to admit such chains. It could still be objected that fact infinitism is problematic because it explains the existence of a fact Fa circularly, in appealing to another fact E1Fa.32 But the explanatory request we are presupposing is not concerned with all the facts collectively taken. It simply asks, distributively, for an ontological explanation of every single fact and thus there is no circularity in appealing to a fact different from the one hypothetically taken into consideration as an explanatory target. Unless, of course, one does not appeal to F2 in order to explain F1, to F3 in order to explain F2, ..., to Fn+1 in order to explain Fn, and then goes back to F1 in order to explain Fn+1. But this certainly does not happen in the approach we are considering. One could insist, however, that the explanatory request we should presuppose is not distributive, but collective, a request that asks us to accept, not so much (BBA), but this stronger principle: (BBA*) If P is the proposition that asserts collectively the existence of all facts, then, if P is true, there must be a proposition Q (not based on supervenience) such that (i) P ⇐o Q, and (ii) for no fact F, Q (trivially) implies the proposition that F exists. But (BBA*) strikes me as unreasonably strong, for at least at first glance to find such a proposition Q seems hopeless. Be that as it may, to accept (BBA*) is not in itself an argument to reject fact infinitism, but at most to 31 32

Cf. Varzi (2005), pp. 123-127. This objection has been raised by Arianna Betti at the II Italian Conference in Analytical Philosophy in Pisa (2005), where a version of this paper has been presented, and, as I have understood him, by William F. Vallicella in email correspondence.

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point out that for the supporter of this view the collective existence of all facts is likely to be ontologically brute. But this is an outcome that the fact infinitist could coherently and plausibly accept. There remains this possible criticism. Where there is prima facie just one fact, Fa, fact infinitism postulates an infinite number of distinct states of affairs and thus it is a rather uneconomical theory, which should be dismissed in the light of Ockham’s razor.33 But the rejection of a theory T1 in the light of Ockam’s razor is a comparative matter, which presupposes a better theory T2, and does not make T1 in itself unpalatable. Thus, in particular, Ockam’s razor cannot be used to dismiss fact infinitism if not after a careful comparison with rival approaches. And even if fact infinitism happened to succumb to a better alternative, this would not make it an approach that leads straight on to contradiction or implausible consequences as is the case, as we have seen, with an approach that accepts (I1) or (I2) above. At any rate, although I have no room to argue for it here, I think that that it is far from obvious that such a better alternative exists,34 except perhaps if we identity this alternative with the brute fact approach. I should like then to briefly compare these two approaches in a final section. In sum, as far as I can see, the infinite regress springing from Bradley’s externalist regress is not vicious and consequently fact infinitism is an approach worth serious consideration.

8. Concluding remarks As compared to fact infinitism, the brute fact approach prima facie looks like a more economical theory, for it avoids postulating an infinity of exemplification relations and states of affairs corresponding to any given state. Nevertheless, before preferring it in the name of Ockham’s razor, we must be careful, for fact infinitism postulates all these additional entities in an effort to provide an explanation where the brute fact approach simply gives up. Thus, choosing the latter might seem like preferring to 33 34

Cf. Armstrong (1978), vol. I, pp. 106-107. Cf. Orilia (2005).

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the current theory of light a “more economical” theory that does not postulate photons, since it flatly claims that light simply cannot be explained. There is an important difference, however. Whereas the current theory of light can be used to provide causal explanations and predictions that the “no-theory theory of light”, as we may call it, would obviously be unable to offer, fact infinitism is in no such privileged position with respect to the brute fact approach. Clearly, the postulation of exemplification relations and states of affairs springing from the former doctrine is idle from this empirical perspective. A perspective wherefrom it seems wrong to follow Meinong in comparing such relations to the infinite number of points that we postulate in between any two points in a line. For the postulation of these points is not similarly idle, to the extent that it is an essential component of the mathematics at work in physics. Note, however, that not everything that is postulated in ontological explanations is idle in this sense. For example, the postulation of tropes or universals to account for property attribution may be empirically significant, for we may find empirical evidence (based on the use of statistics in quantum mechanics) to choose between tropes and universals or even to admit both of them in our ontology.35 Thus, if we conceive of ontology as a discipline at the service of empirical science, which must offer conceptual clarifications that can somehow contribute to empirical investigations, but that has no right to postulate entities to the extent that they appear idle in this respect, then we have no reason to prefer fact infinitism. But if we have a broader view of ontological inquiry, if we conceive of it as capable of deepening our understanding of reality in a way that may have no practical effect on empirical investigation, then we may want to accept fact infinitism.36 Francesco Orilia Università degli Studi di Macerata [email protected]

35 36

Cf. Orilia (2006). I wish to thank Venanzio Raspa for calling my attention to Meinong’s passage quoted above when I was discussing fact infinitism with him. Thanks also to Arianna Betti, Franca D’Agostini, William F. Vallicella and Achille C. Varzi for useful discussions.

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References Armstrong, David M. (1978), Universals and Scientific Realism, 2 vols. (Nominalism and Realism and A Theory of Universals), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Armstrong, David M. (1997), A World of States of Affairs, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Bradley, Francis H. (1893), Appearance and Reality, London, Swan Sonnenschein and Co. Broad, Charlie D. (1933), An Examination’s of McTaggart’s Philosophy, vol. I, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Candlish, Stewart (2002), “Francis Herbert Bradley”, in E. Zalta [ed.], The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2002 Edition), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2002/entries/bradley. Dodd, Julian (1999), “Farewell to States of Affairs”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 77, pp. 146-160. Gaskin, Richard (1995), “Bradley’s Regress, The Copula And The Unity of The Proposition”, The Philosophical Quarterly, 45, pp. 161-180. Hochberg, Herbert (1989), Russell’s Paradox, Russellian Relations and The Problem of Predication and Impredicativity, in C. W. Savage & A. C. Anderson [eds.], Rereading Russell, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, pp. 63-87. Klein, Peter (1998), “Foundationalism and The Infinite Regress of Reasons”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 58, pp. 919-925. Klein, Peter (2003), “When Infinite Regresses are Not Vicious”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 61, pp. 718-729. Lando, Giorgio (2006), Le relazioni nel Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, doctoral thesis, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli. Loux, Michael J. (1998), Metaphysics, A Contemporary Introduction, London, Routledge.

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Meinong, Alexius (1899), “Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung und deren Verhältnis zur inneren Wahrnehmung”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie der Sinnesorgane, 21, pp. 182-272; repr. in A. Meinong, Gesamtausgabe, ed. by R. Haller and R. Kindinger, with the collaboration of R.M. Chisholm, 7 voll., Graz, Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1969-78, vol. II, pp. 377-471. Engl. transl., “On Objects of Higher Orders”, in A. Meinong, On Objects of Higher Orders and Husserl’s Phenomenology, ed. by M.-L. Schubert Kalsi, The Hague, M. Nijhoff, 1978. (Page references are to this translation.) Orilia, Francesco (1991), “Type-free Property Theory, Bradley’s Regress, and Meinong and Russell’s Reconciled”, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 39, pp. 103-125. Orilia, Francesco (2000), “Argument Deletion, Thematic Roles, and Leibniz’s Logico-grammatical Analysis of Relations”, History and Philosophy of Logic, 21, pp. 147-162. Orilia, Francesco (2004), States of Affairs and Bradley’s Regress: Armstrong versus Fact Infinitism, unpublished manuscript, http://www.unimc.it/ web_9900/prov_dip/Filosofia/Person/Orilia/Orilia1.htm. Orilia, Francesco (2005), “Stati di cose, esemplificazione e regresso di Bradley”, presented at the II National Conference in Analytical Ontology, Pisa, July 7-9, 2005, forthcoming in Rivista di Filosofia. Orilia, Francesco (2006), “Quantum-Mechanical Statistics and The Inclusivist Approach to The Nature of Particulars”, Synthese, 148, pp. 5777. Russell, Bertrand (1903), The Principles al Mathematics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Russell, Bertrand (1904), “Meinong’s Theory of Complexes and Assumption”, Mind, 13, pp. 204-19, 336-54, 509-24; repr. in Russell (1973), pp. 21-76. (Page references are to this version.) Russell, Bertrand (1973), Essays in Analysis, ed. by D. Lackey, New York, George Braziller.

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Tatzel, Armin (2002), “Bolzano’s Theory of Ground and Consequence”, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 43, pp. 1-24. Vallicella, William F. (2000), “Three Conceptions of States of Affairs”, Noûs, 34, pp. 237-259. Vallicella, William F. (2002), “Relations, Monism, and the Vindication of Bradley’s Regress”, Dialectica, 56, pp. 3-35. Vallicella, William F. (2002a), A Paradigm Theory of Existence, Ontotheology Vindicated, Dordrecht, Kluwer. Van Inwagen, Peter (1993), Metaphysics, Boulder, Westview Press. Varzi, Achille C. (2005), Ontologia, Bari, Laterza.

WHY THERE ARE NO FACTS IN MEINONG’S WORLD (ACCORDING TO GUSTAV BERGMANN) Guido Bonino

Summary The paper deals with Gustav Bergmann’s analysis of Meinong’s ontology, carried out in Realism. A Critique of Brentano and Meinong (1967); more specifically it aims at making it clear in what sense Meinong can be regarded as a “reist”. Reism is characterized by Bergmann as a position – largely dominant in the philosophical tradition – which (i) neglects the ontological category of facts; (ii) neglects or downplays nexus (and more in general subsistents); (iii) tends to consider all entities as things or thing-like. As a by-product, some light will be thrown on the sense of Bergmann’s ontological enterprise.

1. Bergmann and Meinong Gustav Bergmann is not a philosopher very well known nowadays1; his outmodedness and the arduousness of his writings make him a rather neglected figure. Yet in the fifties and sixties of the last century – though even then far from the philosophical mainstream – his work enjoyed a considerable reputation. His most important book is probably Realism, whose subtitle reads A Critique of Brentano and Meinong2. In fact the volume is divided in two parts: the first is devoted to a presentation of

1 2

Two brief but useful presentations of Bergmann’s philosophy are Addis (1971) and Tegtmeier (1999). Bergmann (1967).

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Bergmann’s own philosophical views3, the second to an examination of Brentano’s and Meinong’s philosophies. The presentation of Bergmann’s own philosophical views is intended – among other things – to provide a “foil” (background) for a more profitable discussion of the conceptions which are under scrutiny in the second part of the book. In spite of its being often mentioned in Meinongian bibliographies, it does not seem that Bergmann’s painstaking analysis of certain selected themes of Meinong’s views produced a great impact on Meinongian studies4. The only paper wholly devoted to Bergmann’s interpretation of Meinong’s philosophy is the recent one by Rosaria Egidi5, which both offers a general survey of the matter and then concentrates on the particular question of representationalism. Bergmann’s book can be read as a defense of realism, in two different senses of the word realism, as opposed to nominalism (realism1), and as opposed to idealism (realism2). Alternatively, it can be read as a sustained criticism of what Bergmann believed to be the three main philosophical errors which act as stumbling blocks on the way to realism2: (i) nominalism, (ii) reism, and (iii) representationalism. Nominalism is of course the doctrine according to which there are no universals. Reism can be roughly and preliminarily characterized as the view according to which all entities are things (in a sense of ‘thing’ which will be specified in the next section). The main feature of representationalism is the idea that there are intermediaries of some sort between mental entities (subjects, minds, or whatever) and their intentions; these intermediaries inhabit what Bergmann calls the Third (world), whereas the First is the properly mental 3 4

5

For a presentation and an analysis of the first part of Realism cf. Bonino & Torrengo [eds.] (2004). There are some obvious exceptions. Kenneth Barber translated both Hume Studien by Meinong as a part of his Ph.D. thesis with Bergmann: Barber (1966). The Hume Studien are also discussed by him in two articles: Barber (1970) and (1971). Another student of Bergmann’s, Reinhardt Grossmann, published a book on Meinong in the famous series “The arguments of the philosophers” (Grossmann 1974). Grossmann’s presentation of Meinong’s philosophy is deeply influenced by Bergmann’s own philosophical views and preoccupations, more than by his interpretation of Meinong’s philosophy. Cf. Egidi (2005).

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world and the Second is the physical one (the so-called “external world”). Typical intermediaries of such a kind are the ideas of the empiricist tradition. Given Bergmann’s theoretical aims, Brentano and Meinong are not arbitrarily chosen as the main subject matters of the second part of the book. In fact Bergmann wanted to show how nominalism, reism and representationalism can frustrate the intents of someone who aims at establishing a realist2 position. Brentano and Meinong are undoubtedly two such self-styled realists2; yet they suffer, in different ways and at different degrees, from the errors just mentioned. According to Bergmann’s diagnosis, Brentano is an extreme nominalist and an extreme reist; together with his representationalism, these two positions structurally imply idealism, Brentano’s intents notwithstanding. In fact one of the main aims of Bergmann’s presentation of Brentano’s views is that of showing in what sense they can be regarded as idealistic. The case of Meinong is less straightforward. With respect to nominalism, Meinong is as extreme as Brentano; with respect to representationalism, Meinong struggled more than any other philosopher to free himself from its snares, and that is according to Bergmann the main reason for his glory6. Yet he could not free himself from reism (even though his reism is as sophisticated as reism can be), and the snares of both nominalism and reism prevented his philosophy from being satisfactory according to Bergmann’s standard: “In the third [scil. struggle], however, against representationalism, he led, and, had he also been in the forefront of the other two, might have conquered, might have arrived at an ontology not only realistic2 and no longer representationalist but also adequate in all other respects. The one at which he did arrive is not. Yet at the price of much bizarreness, he came agonizingly close. That makes him the most memorable Don Quixote of a great cause”7. Thus, both Brentano and Meinong were reists; yet they belong to different kinds of reism. The aim of this paper is simply that of making it clear in what sense Meinong was a reist according to Bergmann. I hope

6 7

Realism is dedicated “To the glorious memory of Alexius Meinong”. Bergmann (1967), p. 340; cf. also Egidi (2005).

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that some understanding of the sense of Bergmann’s ontological enterprise will emerge as well. A preliminary clarification is here in order. Bergmann’s highly selective examination of Meinong’s philosophy, though based on a careful reading of the texts, is not properly an essay in the history of philosophy – and the same holds for the examination of Brentano’s philosophy. To be more accurate, it does not belong to what Bergmann calls “factual history”, but rather to “structural history”, that is something very close to what is usually known as “rational reconstruction”. As has already been said, Bergmann’s own philosophical views are used as a foil in the presentation of Meinong’s philosophy; another foil is provided by what Bergmann calls the “prototype”, a fictitious philosophical position never really held by anyone, but close to many views actually held, and worked out in detail just to be used in these comparative analyses.

2. The foils and reism Because of their role as foils, a succinct presentation of Bergmann’s own views and of the “prototype” is required. But before doing that, another preliminary step is appropriate, concerning Bergmann’s philosophical method: the ideal language method. Bergmann conceives of philosophy, in a positivistic vein, as the clarification of “philosophical” uses of words. Whereas ordinary (commonsensical) uses do not require any special explication (if we cannot understand them, what can we understand at all?), some uses of some words in the traditional philosophy – if taken literally – give rise to absurdities. A typical example is such a thesis as ‘Physical objects do not exist’. The only way to perform this clarificatory task is by means of an ideal language. First of all, one must construct, in a purely formal (i.e., syntactical) way a language. Once interpreted, such a language, in order to be the ideal language, must satisfy three conditions: (i)

it must be such that it is possible, by means of it, to say everything that is said in ordinary (commonsensical) language;

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it must be such that it is not possible, by means of it, to say any of the absurdities which are characteristic of the traditional philosophy;

(iii) it must be such that it is possible, by speaking of its syntactical and semantical properties by means of the ordinary language – which plays the role of a metalanguage –, to solve all traditional philosophical problems. If the constructed language does not satisfy the three mentioned conditions, then it is not the ideal language. For instance, if it does not satisfy condition (i), that means that it is not “complete”, in the sense that it leaves some part of our experience out of consideration. Of course one can never be certain that the language he has put forward is really the ideal language, since the taking into account of aspects of experience previously neglected or the discovery of new philosophical problems can always prove it to be inadequate. The best one can do is to propose a language and show, case by case, as they present themselves, that it is adequate. The “reconstruction” of the traditional philosophical problems through a metalinguistical discourse about the syntactical and semantical properties of the ideal language is meant by Bergmann not as a “dissolution” of such problems, purporting to show that they are merely illusory, but rather as the correct way to deal with genuine philosophical problems. According to this method, the main task of a philosopher is that of proposing an ideal language, and then of showing how, by means of it and of metalinguistic discourse about it, one can explicate philosophical problems. Concerning more specifically ontology, its purpose is traditionally conceived as that of listing the categories of entities; each ontological category must correspond to a syntactic category of the ideal language. The main ontological categories acknowledged by Bergmann are the following: (A) things (1) particulars (2) characters (i) properties (ii) relations (B) facts (C) subsistents (3) nexus (4) other kinds of subsistents

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The category of subsistents is rather heterogeneous; roughly, the subsistents are the referents of the logical constants of the ideal language, with the addition of some other cognate entities. Intuitively, they are responsible for what Wittgenstein would have called the “form” or the “structure” of the world. By contrast, things correspond to its “content” (they are the referents of the descriptive constants of the ideal language). The category of things is further divided into two subcategories, that of particulars (referred to by individual constants) and that of characters (referred to by predicates); the term ‘character’ is approximately equivalent to the more usual ‘universal’. As predicates may be monadic or polyadic, so characters may be properties or relations. All things are simple entities. Unlike things, facts are complex entitities. The complexity of facts consists of their having constituents; such constituents are particulars and characters. But in addition to particulars and characters, also subsistents are involved in facts. In connection with facts, the most significant subsistent is the nexus of exemplification, which ties together the particular(s) and the character (property or relation) which make up the fact. The nexus are in fact those subsistents that “connect” other entities into more complex entities. Exemplification does not need a further nexus to tie it to what it ties, otherwise an endless regress would ensue, as Bradley had shown. Here lies one of the main differences between things and subsistents, a difference which has to do with the “dependence” or “independence” of these entities. There is a sense in which facts may be regarded as independent, whereas things must be regarded as dependent. Such a dependence of things (both bare particulars and characters) is spelled out by the so-called principle of exemplification, according to which no character that is not exemplified by at least one particular exists, as well as no particular that is not “qualitied” by at least one character exists. Bergmann says that in this sense both particulars and characters are dependent2, whereas facts are independent2. But while they are dependent2, there is also a sense in which things are independent, i.e., capable of a certain “autonomy”. A particular, for instance, must indeed be qualitied, but it must not exemplify a certain specific character. The mere presence of a particular and the character red does not make up the fact that that particular is red. In order for some things to make up a fact, a connection is

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required, and such a connection is provided – according to Bergmann – by a subsistent, i.e., the nexus of exemplification. But this nexus, being a subsistent, does not need another connection in order to be connected to the other constituents of the fact, otherwise it would not be a subsistent but rather a thing (i.e., a relation), and an endless regress would start. In this sense things may be said independent1, whereas subsistents are dependent1. As has already been said, in Bergmann’s ontology facts are conceived of as complex entities, since they have constituents which are “in” them (in some metaphorical sense of ‘in’). Things are simple in that they have no constituents. Yet certain characters, such as red and round, cannot straightforwardly be considered “simple”, in the sense in which red and round, singularly taken, can be considered such. Bergmann admits these characters in his ontological catalogue, but he insists that they are not complex in the sense in which facts are; in order to distinghuish them from genuinely complex entities (i.e., the facts), he calls them ‘derived’, and the simple characters of which in some way they are “made up” are called ‘components’ rather than constituents. Finally, ordinary objects, such as chairs, are not to be conceived of as things in Bergmann’s ontology, but rather as facts. A red round spot, for instance, might presumably be analysed as a particular exemplifying two characters, i.e., redness and roundness. Some further words may be usefully expended in commenting on the distinction between particulars and characters. Characters are conceived of by Bergmann in a rather traditional way. All characters possess a qualitative aspect (which Bergmann calls nature); such a qualitative aspect is what distinguishes, for example, red from blue. Particulars are conceived of as bare, i.e., as devoid of any nature. That means that two particulars differ only numerically. The only task particulars perform is what is traditionally referred to as individuation. For instance, two distinct spots which are exactly the same with respect to their characters are two and not one, because the same characters are exemplified by two (numerically) distinct particulars. As particulars account for individuation, characters account for identity (in a certain respect). For instance, two red spots are identical with respect to colour because the two relevant particu-

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lars exemplify (literally) the same character (i.e., redness). Bergmann thinks that the acknowledgment of both characters and (bare) particulars is the only adequate way to account for the traditional problems of the one and the many. The arguments purporting to get to such a conclusion do not concern us here. The category of bare particulars is not recognized in the “prototype”8, which usually rejects characters as well. In the prototype a new category is substituted for both bare particulars and characters. The entities belonging to such a new category are called by Bergmann perfect particulars, and correspond to what nowadays are more commonly called tropes. Perfect particulars are indeed particulars, so that they can account for individuation, but they are not bare, in so far as they possess a qualitative aspect (a nature) which differentiates them one from another. Bergmann holds that the solution to the problems of the one and the many provided by the notion of perfect particulars is fraught with many difficulties, but that is here beside the point. What is more interesting is that, whereas according to Bergmann an ordinary object is to be analysed as a fact (i.e., the exemplification of characters by particulars), in the prototype ordinary objects are to be conceived of as bundles of perfect particulars. Let us assume that the object to be analysed is a red round spot. According to Bergmann’s view, it must be assayed as

ν1 (a, A1, A2), where ‘a’ stands for the particular which individuates the spot, ‘A1’ for the universal red, ‘A2’ for the universal round, and ‘ν1’ for the nexus of exemplification. In the prototype the same spot is assayed as

ν2 (a1, a2), 8

In Realism many ontological models – which are more or less fictitious – are developed. The prototype is only one among them, and the one which is going to be described here is greatly simplified and does not exactly correspond to it. Rather, what here is called ‘prototype’ is really built by borrowing from several different models among Bergmann’s ones. Given the highly selective character of this presentation of Bergmann’s views, I hope that such an exegetical inaccuracy is not harmful, and that it is more than counterbalanced by the ease of using a single label.

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where ‘a1’ stands for the perfect particular grounding the redness of the spot, ‘a2’ for the perfect particular grounding its roundness, and ‘ν2’ for a nexus different from ν1 in that it connects entitities belonging to same ontological category, whereas ν1 connects entitities belonging to different categories9. Bergmann asks us to put ourselves in the situation of someone who has not yet decided about the ontological category to which the entities referred to by ‘ν1 (a, A1, A2)’ and ‘ν2 (a1, a2)’ belong. The advocate of the first assay acknowledges – up to this moment – subsistents, bare particulars and universals; the advocate of the second assay acknowledges subsistents and perfect particulars. Neither of them is likely to regard the new “complex” entity as a subsistent. The former can contemplate the possibility of considering the new entity either as a bare particular or as a universal, but both alternatives seem rather unattractive. In fact the new entity neither seems to be “bare”, nor can plausibly be considered as a universal which has a particular “within” itself. Thus he is almost forced to recognize a new category, i.e. that of facts. By contrast, the advocate of the prototype may easily be tempted to regard the new entity as belonging to the same category of the perfect particulars: in that case the only difference between a1 and a2 on the one hand and the new entity on the other would be that the former are “simple”, whereas the latter is “complex”. Let us assume that such a view has been accepted: in that case the distinction between things and facts collapses. Yet, in a sense, in the philosophical tradition the entities envisaged in such a world have usually been considered more nearly like things than like facts. Therefore, if we exclude subsistents, one could claim that in the prototype only things are admitted (both “simple” and “complex” ones) and that facts are not contemplated at all. Such a neglect of facts is according to Bergmann the main feature of reism. But reism is a more complicated notion than that. The “simple” things of the prototype cannot be regarded as constituents of the “complex” things in the same sense in which bare particulars and universals are con9

In Bergmann’s terminology, ν1 is an inhomogeneous nexus, ν2 is a homogeneous one.

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stituents of facts in Bergmann’s ontology. Analogously, a “complex” thing of the prototype cannot be considered complex in the same sense in which facts are complex. The proper notions of complexity, of thing, of fact and of nexus stand or fall together. One who accepts them all embraces what Bergmann calls a “complex ontology”. Those who deny facts are not “complex ontologists”: their “complex” things can be regarded as complex only after a fashion, and their “simple” things cannot be really constituents of the “complex” ones. An alternative and better model for such a conception is that of “function ontologies”, of which Frege’s is the most articulate example10. In function ontologies functions coordinate some entities (the arguments) to some others (the values). Contrary to what happens in complex ontologies, in function ontologies no entity can be considered as being a constituent of some other entity, or as being “in” it: the arguments of a function are not “in” its value. With this proviso, one could say that functions play in function ontologies a role similar to that played by nexus in complex ontologies. In a sense, the prototype could rather naturally be thought of as a function ontology11. In fact such an interpretation is more in keeping with the idea that both what is referred to by ‘a1’ and ‘a2’ and what is referred to by ‘ν2 (a1, a2)’ are “things”, in so far as it abandons any notion of complexity, which in Bergmann’s view can be appropriately attributed only to facts. According to this interpretation, ν2 should be regarded as a function, which takes the two (“simple”) perfect particulars as arguments, and yields the (“complex”) spot as value. Therefore ‘ν2 (a1, a2)’ should not be read as a sentence, but rather as a definite description. However, Bergmann holds that in the philosophical tradition ‘ν2 (a1, a2)’ has more often been read as a sentence than as a definite description, so that the “simple” perfect particulars have usually been taken as being, in some way, “in” the complex spot. Accordingly ν2, which should be regarded as a function, has been mistaken for a nexus (in fact Bergmann calls it a “pseudonexus”). From Bergmann’s point of view, the whole pro10 11

Cf. Bergmann (1958) and (1963). In Bergmann’s ontology functions are disposed of with the aid of Russell’s theory of definite descriptions.

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totype, interpreted in this way, is irremediably confused, and hardly coherent12. Whatever the inadequacies of the prototype, several of its features have been shared by many philosophers, including – as we shall see – Meinong. As has already been said, the “complex” things of the prototype, not being facts, cannot be regarded as genuine complexes; the connection between their components (not: constituents) is not secured by an authentic nexus, such as ν1, but rather by a pseudonexus, such as ν2. In order to make the difference explicit, the “complex” things of the prototype are labeled ‘clusters’: in the prototype ordinary objects are therefore conceived of as clusters. Another typical feature of reism, in addition to the neglect of facts, is the somewhat blurred grasp of subsistents. Reists tend to think that there is only one main category of entities, i.e., things (“simple” and “complex”); such a tendency to simplification is certainly tempting, and may lead to overlook the category of subsistents as well, in particular nexus, whose role is not very clear in an ontology devoid of genuine facts. The outright rejection of subsistents, or at least their downplaying (which reveals itself in the reluctance to grant them a full ontological status), is thus another feature shared by many forms of reism. To sum up, reism is characterized by: (a) the neglect of facts; (b) the neglect or at least the downplaying of nexus; (c) the claim that all entitities are things or thinglike (which means, among other things, that they are not really complex).

3. Meinong: facts, objects, Objektive and Komplexe At first sight charging Meinong with reism may seem quite odd. In fact, several features of Meinong’s philosophy sound rather “anti-reistic”. First of all, one of the most important reasons of Meinong’s renown is his acknowledgment of Objektive13, as one of the two categories of entities 12

13

On the contrary, interpreted as a function ontology, the prototype – though unacceptable for Bergmann because of reasons which do not concern us here – would be at least consistent. Since many English words have already been preempted by Bergmann to be

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(Gegenstände) in addition to Objekte. For several aspects, Meinong’s Objektive are very close to what other philosophers call ‘facts’ or ‘states of affairs’. To be sure, facts and states of affairs are not always regarded as being the same kind of entity. The locus classicus of such a distinction is Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, in which a (positive) fact is defined as the subsisting of a state of affairs. Whatever the differences between facts and states of affairs, there seem to be a sense in which both of them are opposed to things or objects. According to logical atomism, for instance, objects are simple, whereas states of affairs or facts are in some way combinations of objects. But another difference is apparent. Let us look again at Wittgenstein’s Tractatus for an illustration. The difference in question can be clearly discerned if one considers the different semantical relations between names and objects on the one hand, and sentences and facts on the other. A name can only stand for the object of which it is a name; if there is no object for which the purported name stands, then that is not really a name, but a mere noise. If names are “logically proper” names – not, as Russell would say, disguised definite descriptions –, then it does not even make sense to ask whether the objects they name exist: if they did not exist, there would be no name at all. A sentence, on the contrary, may be true or false, but in any case it is a sentence. If there is the fact described by the sentence, then the sentence is true, or – in a less awkward formulation – if the state of affairs described by the sentence obtains, then the sentence is true; otherwise it is false. Therefore names have a simple, or “monodimensional”, relation with what they name, whereas sentences have a more complex relation. Wittgenstein makes the difference palpable by means of an analogy with points and arrows: names are like points, which are monodimensional, while sentences are like arrows, which can have different directions (they are “bipolar”, as Wittgenstein says). The same analogy holds if one turns from semantics to ontology. Whereas objects are like points (and therefore have no poles at all), states of affairs and facts are like arused in a technical sense, in order not to spawn confusions some of Meinong’s technical terms will not be translated into English. Thus the occurrence of a German word will indicate that a notion belonging to Meinong’s philosophy is at stake.

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rows; in a sense one could even maintain that they are bipolar, in that states of affairs may subsist or not subsist, and facts may be positive (the subsisting of states of affairs) or negative (the not subsisting of states of affairs). The opposition between objects on the one hand and facts and states of affairs on the other is set up quite clearly in the Tractatus, and it is one of the central tenet of that work. In the views of other philosophers the same opposition may be less clear, somewhat blurred, or in some way confused. Yet it seems that the idea that facts (or states of affairs) are more like arrows than like points is a fundamental feature of the very notion of fact. From this perspective, Meinong’s Objektive seem to side with facts rather than with objects, in so far as they can be tatsächlich or untatsächlich, i.e., they can subsist or not subsist (with reference to Objektive Meinong uses the verb bestehen). To be sure, Meinong seems to extend a similar conception to Objekte as well: as Objektive can subsist or not subsist, so Objekte – contrary to Wittgenstein’s, or for that matter Russell’s, conviction – can exist or not exist. Of course that is simply a consequence of what Ernst Mally called the principle of the independence of Sosein from Sein, where ‘Sein’ comprises both kinds of being, i.e., the Existenx which pertains to Objekte and the Bestand which pertains to Objektive. Therefore the opposition between Objekte and Objektive with respect to their “monopolarity” or “bipolarity” (if I may use Wittgenstein’s metaphor) disappears. In a sense, from a Wittgensteinian point of view, Meinong’s Objekte are more like facts than like objects. But that of course does not mean that Objektive are not like facts. Meinong himself recognized the strict correspondence between his notion of Objektiv and that of fact or other cognate ones. For instance, he claimed that “An objective that subsists is also called a ‘fact’”14, and likened Objektive to Bolzano’s propositions in themselves (Sätze an sich), Stumpf’s states of affairs (Sachverhalte), and Brentano’ and Marty’s contents of judgment (Urteilsinhalte)15. The resemblance between Objektive and facts is limited, in that facts are usually conceived of as being actual, 14 15

Meinong (1910), p. 69; English translation, p. 55. Cf. Meinong (1910), p. 98; English translation, p. 74.

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whereas Objektive may subsist or not subsist. That is of course the reason why, in the passage just quoted, Meinong qualifies the identification of an Objektiv with a fact with the clause ‘that subsists’. As to the term Sachverhalt, it is less clear whether it can be applied without awkwardness to a non-subsisting Objektiv, and the English translation, ‘state of affairs’, is not much different from it in that respect16. The technical sense that these terms have acquired in the Tractatus (i.e., to refer to possible facts, at least according to most of Wittgenstein’s interpreters) has probably turned them into better equivalents of Meinong’s Objektive. At any rate, these are mainly stylistic niceties, which do not compromise the substantial affinity between Objektive on the one hand and facts and states of affairs on the other. In addition to Objektive, also Meinong’s notion of Komplex is relevant in connection with the reism issue. Concrete objects (what Bergmann would call “ordinary objects”, i.e., chairs, tables, etc.) are thought of by Meinong as Komplexe. Analogously to what happens in the prototpye, an ordinary object is conceived as a Komplex, which is composed of perfect particulars (tropes)17 that must somehow be connected together. The reason why this notion has to do with the reism issue is that it seems to involve the dichotomy between simple and complex, which according to Bergmann is fundamental in accounting for the difference between things and facts.

4. Meinong’s reism The three sections above mainly provided some preparatory material. Before examining Bergmann’s assessment of Meinong’s alleged reism, just some methodological considerations are still needed. Bergmann’s analysis is not only “structural” (in the sense already explained), but also highly

16 17

For a discussion of such linguistic questions cf. Findlay (1963), pp. 89-91. For a detailed demonstration – carried out in a Bergmannian spirit – that such components must be perfect particulars, and not universals, cf. Grossmann (1974), pp. 5-11.

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selective18, in that it addresses just some particular questions, or at least deals with Meinong’s ontology in a peculiar manner, determined by Bergmann’s own concerns. The very method by means of which the analysis is carried out is that of reconstructing Meinong’s views within a conceptual frame of reference which is typically Bergmannian. That of course “screens off” certain aspects of the issues to be examined19, but at the same time allows for a better insight into some specific questions. A further problem is engendered by the fact Meinong went through different phases in his philosophical development, so that it is difficult to speak of Meinong’s ontology “in general”, without differentiating among the phases. To be sure, Bergmann devotes a full chapter to such a “periodization”20, but he does not have recourse to it in dealing with the questions now considered. Yet, on the whole it seems to me that his analysis is not seriously impaired by this deliberate omission. Roughly speaking, the arguments examined below refer to the period spanning from 1899 (Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung und deren Verhältnis zur inneren Wahrnehmung) to 1910 (second edition of Über Annahmen). First of all, it must be noticed that in Bergmann’s ontology the categories of facts and complexes coincide21, whereas Meinong distinguishes between them, or – to be more precise – he distinguishes between Objektive and Komplexe22. An immediate corollary is that for Bergmann ordi18 19

20 21 22

Bergmann’s selectivity in dealing with Meinong is here more than “squared” by my own selectivity in dealing with Bergmann. That is especially evident with regard to the notion of Objektiv, which has different aspects and involves many different problems in Meinong’s system, while Bergmann concentrates on few limited themes. Some relatively recent studies on Meinong’s Objektive are Lenoci (1997), Manotta (1997), Modenato (1999). Bergmann (1967), chapter XX. With regard to this identification Bergmann follows in the path of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus or, for that matter, of Russell. The difference between Bergmann and Meinong in this respect should be a warning against an easy identification, which would prejudge the whole question, of the notions belonging to the former’s ontology with those belonging to the latter’s. In fact, the main aim of Bergmann’s analysis is that of proving such an identification to be erroneous. That is also a good reason to use both English and German in order not to confuse what should not be confused (cf. footnote 14 above).

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nary objects are both facts and complexes (since the two characterizations have exactly the same meaning), while Meinong equates ordinary objects with Komplexe, but differentiates them from Objektive23. Thus, in order to exhibit Meinong’s reism, Bergmann has to show that neither Komplexe nor Objektive can be equated to his own facts/complexes, or – which is the same – that Meinong’s assay of ordinary objects is inadequate (from Bergmann’s point of view). In such a way one of the characteristic feature of reism – i.e., the neglect of facts (a) – would be shown to belong to Meinong’s ontology. At the same time, another feature of reism will be exposed as belonging to it, i.e. the tendency to consider all entities as things or thing-like (c). As to the remaining feature (b), concerning nexus and more in general subsistents, some comments will eventually be put forth. In order to achieve his goal, Bergmann sets up an example based on two tones, middle c and middle e; the latter is higher by a third than the former. In Bergmann’s own ontology such a situation would be assayed as: (1) two bare particulars, each exemplifying a pitch character (C and E); (2) a connection, which takes on the form of a second order relation connecting the two characters (H), together with a ternary nexus of exemplification (a subsistent); (3) the fact H (C, E). In the prototype the two bare particulars and the characters C and E would be replaced by two perfect particulars (let us call them ‘c1’ and ‘e1’). With respect to (1), Meinong’s ontology agrees with the prototype. The question Bergmann wants to examine is what in Meinong’s ontology is substituted for (2) and (3). The easy answer seems to be that the role of the connection is played by what Meinong calls a Relation, and that of the fact by an Objektiv. It is to be noticed that the example set up by Bergmann and now under examination involves what is usually called an internal relation; the case of external relations will be taken up later. Bergmann puts forward a notation for the Relation and the Objektiv which are supposed to do the job which in the foil is done by (2) and (3). The Relation can be written as ‘(c1; e1)’, and the Objektiv as ‘(c1; (c1; e1); e1)’. 23

For the notion of Komplex and its relation with that of Objektiv cf. mainly Meinong (1910), chapter VIII; on the same topic cf. also the comments in Findlay (1963), pp. 94-100, and Tegtmeier (2000).

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The reasons for such a notation will become clear as the arguments unfold. Bergmann’s aim is that of proving that both Relationen and Objektive are to be regarded as particulars (according to his own conception of particulars). If he succeeded, a significant part of the task of establishing that Meinong’s ontology possesses the features (a) and (c) of reism would be accomplished. In fact, with reference to (a), Objektive could not be regarded as facts; as we have seen, the only other candidates to the role of facts (or at least of ordinary objects) in Meinong’s ontology are Komplexe, which will be examined later. With respect to (c), it is obvious that if Relationen and Objektive are particulars, then they are things. In order to demonstrate that an entity is a particular, one has to show that (i) it possesses the characteristic of “thinghood”, which in its turn divides into (I') independence (which distinguishes things from subsistents), and (I'') simplicity (which distinguishes things from facts); (ii) it possesses “particularity” (which contrasts with “universality”, and distinguishes particulars from characters). Showing (ii) is an easy task. Let us consider the case of Relationen, and let us suppose that c2 and e2 be two other perfect particulars grounding the same pitches as c1 and e1. In Meinong’s world the entities referred to by ‘(c1; e1)’ and ‘(c2; e2)’ are obviously two, and not one. That suffices to decide that they possess “particularity” (if they were universals, they would be literally the same). Therefore Relationen, if they are things, cannot be characters. It remains to be shown that they are things, i.e., to address (i), with its two halves. The same argument holds with respect to Objektive: in Meinong’s world (c1; (c1; e1); e1) and (c2; (c2; e2); e2) are obviously two, and not one.24 Let us turn now to (i'), and let us consider again the case of Relationen, which is relatively easier. Yet, even with respect to Relationen that is not an easy task, since Meinong holds that (c1; e1) depends on c1 and e1, in that it is linked to them in a very intimate way. In fact, according to Meinong (c1; e1) is “built upon” c1 and e1, which are its “indispensable basis”. Trying to spell out such a view, Bergmann claims that it means – among other things – that (c1; e1) would not be there, and would not be what it is, unless c1 and e1 were there, and were what they are. Therefore, 24

Bergmann maintains that he mainly refers to Meinong (1899), §§ 2-7, for Relationen and to Meinong (1910), Ch. III, for Objektive.

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at least prima facie, Relationen do not seem to be independent entities, but rather dependent. Bergmann’s business is thus that of showing that Relationen are nevertheless independent, in a different sense from the one just pointed out, according to which they are of course dependent. If one reflects on Bergmann’s explication of Meinong’s view concerning the link between Relationen and their basis, which makes reference to what the entities in question are, it becomes apparent that such entities have natures (i.e., what they are), and that the link among them is primarily a link among their natures. Now, in Bergmann’s own ontological scheme, particulars such as c1 and e1 cannot have natures (for Bergmann particulars are always bare), and that reveals a major flaw in Meinong’s ontology. In fact, according to Bergmann, the very notion of a perfect particular is unacceptable. Yet in trying to elucidate someone else’s views, one is forced to hover somewhat uneasily between his own frame of reference (which obviously one thinks is the true, or correct, or reasonable one) and that of the author which is the subject matter of the analysis. If the analysis itself is not to stop immediately with the first disagreement, one has to allow for some tolerance, and to grant some points he regards as incorrect, for the sake of the argument. Thus Bergmann is willing to grant Meinong his peculiar natured entities25. But if these entities have a nature, they cannot be subsistents (here Bergmann comes inevitably back to his own categories), since it does not even make sense to suppose that subsistents have natures. And if they are not subsistents, they are not dependent in the sense in which subsistents are dependent (dependence1). Thus he has found a sense in which Relationen may be said to be independent: they are independent1. To sum up, Relationen cannot be characters, and cannot be subsistents; in order to complete his demonstration, Bergmann has now only to show that Relationen cannot be facts either, and in order to do that he has to turn to (i''), i.e., to the issue of simplicity. However, before moving on to (i''), two comments are in order. The first comment has to do with the nature of Bergmann’s “demonstration”. As one can easily see, the “demonstration” concerning the independence of Relationen has many gaps, to say the least. Just one example: the fact 25

Bergmann has much to say about the role of natures in Meinong’s ontology, but that is decidedly beyond the scope of this paper.

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that subsistents are dependent1, and that Relationen are not subsistents, obviously does not entail that Relationen are independent1. In fact Bergmann does not explicitly claim that his argument really amounts to a proof, even though he may seem to be doing just that. Rather, the argument can be regarded as establishing a (more or less) strong “structural suggestion”: in analysing an ontological scheme (or a putative “ideal language”) and in assessing its adequacy, more often than not it is not possible – or not very interesting – to find a “knock-down” argument. Rather one has to appraise the whole of the scheme, with its strengths and its weaknesses, trying to understand whether it is “structurally” sound (in a non-technical sense of ‘sound’). In this perspective, Bergmann’s argument, though not conclusive, has a certain force, in that it shows that, if Relationen were subsistents, that would be “counterstructural” (i.e., it would not jibe with the other parts of the ontological scheme). Further arguments can strengthen such a claim, and in fact Bergmann does provide other supporting arguments (one among them will be put forth later). The second comment is just to point out that – as in the case of particularity – the argument concerning Relationen can easily be duplicated in the case of Objektive: it would only be a little more complicated. For the ease of the exposition, Relationen rather than Objektive are subjected to analysis with reference to simplicity (i'') as well. However, it must be borne in mind that – in this context – what holds for Relationen also holds for Objektive26. (c1; e1) is one entity; if it were complex (i.e., if it were a fact, according to Bergmann’s ontology), c1 and e1 would be two among its constituents. Yet it could not consist simply of c1 and e1 singularly taken, since it is supposed to be something over and above them. A collection as such is never an entity. Such a maxim is a central tenet of Bergmann’s ontology. A full explication of it would be quite a laborious task, but some elucidations may be readily given. Let us consider the case of a fact (which is, by the way, the case under discussion here). A fact has some constituents that are things, but it does not simply consist of these

26

Or at least that is Bergmann’s claim, who does not examine in detail the case for Objektive. Yet he tries to justify the parallelism. His justification seems to be reasonable, but giving a full account of the question would take too long here.

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things. The fact is obviously distinct from the mere collection27 of the things that are its constituents: one can have a tree and the colour blue without having a tree’s exemplifying the blue. Therefore the fact needs a specific ontological ground; by contrast, the collection as such is automatically given once the single constituents are given; in this sense it does not need an ontological ground (it is not an entity, over and above its constituents). This maxim is shared also by Meinong, who holds that, in order to get (c1; e1), a further entity (an ontological ground) is required in addition to c1 and e1; this entity should somehow account for the unity of all the constituents into a single item. In Bergmann’s ontology such additional entity would be – as might be expected – a nexus of exemplification. But Meinong is not very clear – to say the least – about the notion of nexus. Therefore he maintains that if the additional entity were required to secure the unity of c1 and e1, then still another entity would be required to secure the unity of the additional entity with the other constituents, and so on. We would obviously be confronted with an instance of Bradley’s regress. And since that is not acceptable, it must be regarded as a reductio ad absurdum of the original premiss, i.e., that (c1; e1) be complex. Hence (c1; e1) must be simple, and thus it cannot be a fact. Since all the other alternatives have already been discarded, (c1; e1) can only be a particular. Quod erat demonstrandum. At first sight it may seem that something has gone wrong in the argument. Bergmann has succeeded in showing that Meinong demonstrated that Relationen are simple; yet Meinong was forced to such a conclusion only because – as Bergmann himself remarks – he was not clear about the notion of nexus; otherwise he would quite easily have opted for Bergmann’s own solution, which purports to get rid of Bradley’s regress. To be sure, Bergmann’s argument retains a certain force as and ad hominem argument, but that seems to fall short of what is needed. Yet it seems to me that this interpretation of the argument is subtly misleading. In fact, what Bergmann really wants to show is that Meinong’s acceptance of Bradley’s argument indicates that he does not have the theoretical resources to 27

According to Bergmann, a collection is not the same entity as a class; it is rather the extension of a class. Collections – though they have no ontological significance – are indicated by curly brackets.

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solve it in the only way in which it can be solved according to Bergmann, i.e., by means of the notions of nexus and fact (complex). Thus Meinong is forced to give up the hypothesis that Relationen be anything but (simple) particulars; only in this way, from his point of view, is Bradley’s regress made impossible. Time has come for a full account of Bergmann’s notation for Relationen and Objektive. Given that both Relationen and Objektive are to be thought of as simple, why such complex notations? In particular, what does the semicolon stand for? The notation is to be read as functional, since Bergmann’s surmise is that Relationen and Objektive, not being complex, are to be regarded as functions. Better, they are the values of different functions for their bases (the arguments). The semicolon is therefore a functional symbol, like ‘+’ in ‘3 + 2’. Thus ‘(c1; e1)’ stands for the value (the Superius, as Meinong would say) of a certain function which takes c1 and e1 as its arguments (Meinong’s Inferiora), and ‘(c1; (c1; e1); e1)’ stands for the value of another function which takes c1, (c1; e1) and e1 as its arguments. The obvious conclusion is that Meinong’s is a function ontology. Yet, contrary to Frege, Meinong does not explicitly admit the required functions in his ontological inventory, so that his ontology is only implicitly functional. What has been said about the functional style of Meinong’s ontology turns to be helpful to understand another remark by Bergmann which indirectly supports both the argument aiming at establishing (i'') and that aiming at establishing (i'), thereby keeping an earlier promise. In his own reasoning concerning Relationen Meinong is led to regard Bradley’s regress as a genuine threat because he is arguing on the hypothesis – ex absurdo, as it were – that a Relation is a complex. In such a case the regress would be vicious in so far as it prevents (or better, it makes it an endless task) the ontological grounding of the very same entity which is to be grounded, i.e., the Relation. But in other contexts a similar regress may be quite harmless. Let us consider the case of Objektive. Meinong seems willing to accept a regress along the following lines: if there is the Objektiv (c1; (c1; e1); e1), then at least two further Relationen must be admitted, i.e., (c1; (c1; e1) and (e1; (c1; e1). But then new Objektive are engendered, i.e. (c1; (c1; (c1; e1)); (c1; e1)) and (e1; (e1; (c1; e1)); (c1; e1)). These in turn

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demands new Relationen, and so on. Yet, provided only that Relationen and Objektive are conceived of as (values of) functions, i.e. as simple, this regress is harmless, since it does not threaten the ontological ground of the original Objektiv, which is not a complex to be accounted for, but an autonomous thing, which does not need any additional entity for its “completion”28. The contrast between the two cases makes Meinong’s reism only too apparent, since it rehashes once again the idea that all entities must be thought of as things or as thing-like. That also supports the claim that Relationen (and Objektive) are independent1. Several other arguments are provided by Bergmann to buttress his claims concerning Meinong’s ontology. None of them seems to be truly conclusive if taken in isolation, and the ones which have been examined here are probably the most straightforward. Yet the several arguments “hang together”, and their conjoined force – that is Bergmann’s trust – amounts to a very strong “structural” evidence. Let us assume, then, that Objektive are not facts and cannot be regarded as analogous to facts. Yet the case of Komplexe remains to be examined. After all, ordinary objects are equated by Meinong with Komplexe, not with Objektive. But before addressing the issue of Komplexe, something has to be said about reale Relationen. The example that has been under scrutiny until now concerns an internal connection (that of being higher by a third), or – to use Meinong’s terminology – an ideale Relation. But reale Relationen are admitted as well in Meinong’s ontology. Bergmann feels rather uneasy with Meinong’s reale Relationen, in so far as he thinks that they are somewhat “hybrid” entities, halfway between entities such as c1 and ideale Relationen like (c1; e1). On the whole, his analysis of them is not quite satisfactory29. Yet some remarks may be helpful in understanding what has to 28

29

By making reference to a distinction introduced in Vallicella (2000), one could say that in the first case the regress is harmful since the connection is supposed to be “internal” with respect to the entity which is to be grounded, whereas in the second case it is harmless because the connection is supposed to be “external”. On Bergmann’s and Meinong’s treatment of Bradley’s regress, cf. also Orilia (2006). A more thorough investigation of the opposition between reale and ideale entities provides Bergmann with further evidence supporting his claims concerning Meinong’s ontology. However, the whole issue is here left on one side.

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be said about Komplexe. Bergmann’s paradigm in dealing with reale Relationen is that of a red square spot. The assay of such a spot must involve two Gegenstände grounding its colour and its shape (let us call them ‘r1’ and ‘s1’) and a Relation holding between them. This Relation is called ‘coincidence’ by Bergmann (and is indicated by ‘coinc1’); it corresponds to the being bundled together of r1 and s1 (the coinstantiation relation of traditional bundle ontologies). Being a Relation, though a reale one, coinc1 must be thought of as a particular (that is what the subscript alludes to). Yet, contrary to ideale Relationen, it cannot be regarded as the value of a function having r1 and s1 as its arguments (it is nor founded on them, to use a less peculiarly Bergmannian formula). As has already been said, it is not easy to treat such “hybrid” entities in Bergmann’s frame of reference, and to assign them a clear status. Be that as it may with regard to reale Relationen, what concerns us here is that they behave like the ideale ones in the context of Objektive. The Objektiv which consists in the circumstance of r1 and s1 being bundled together can thus be assayed as (r1; coinc1; s1). Whatever the exact status of coinc1, the Objektiv just assayed is a (value of a) function, and as such, it is a simple, thing-like entity. An ordinary object is not to be equated with it but rather with a Komplex. Coming back to the question of Komplexe, we have already seen that Meinong accepts the principle according to which a collection as such is not an entity. Let us take again the example of the red round spot, which is an (ordinary) object. Since a collection is not by itself an entity, the spot cannot be assayed as the mere collection of the perfect particulars grounding its colour and its shape, i.e., it cannot be assayed as {r1, s1}. Meinong is perfectly aware of that. He sees that something more is required, which can “connect” in some way r1 and s1, thus giving rise to a new entity. Looking at his ontological supply, he soon finds a plausible candidate for such a “connecting” role, i.e., the Relation coinc1. But if we add coinc1 to the collection {r1, s1}, we only get another collection, i.e., {r1, s1, coinc1}. Such a collection does not really amount to a new entity (the Komplex, the red square spot), since it is nothing over and above its elements singularly taken. Nothing changes if we substitute the Objektiv (r1; coinc1; s1) for coinc1: we would get {r1, s1, (r1; coinc1; s1)}, which is

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only another collection30. That is in a sense Bergmann’s final condemnation of Meinong’s ontology. Notwithstanding all his efforts, Meinong cannot ultimately ground ordinary objects, since his Komplexe are really nothing over and above their “components” (not: constituents). That is the reason why such Komplexe are called by Bergmann ‘cryptoclusters’. In the prototype ordinary objects are assayed as clusters. From Bergmann’s point of view, the notion of cluster is irremediably confused, since ν2, the entity that is supposed to give them unity, is not really a nexus, but merely a function mistaken for a nexus, and as such it cannot perform its duty. Meinong’s case is similar: he thinks that coinc1 can do the trick, but he does not realize that it is merely another member of a collection31. As the clusters of the prototype fail because of the inadequacy of ν2, which is not a nexus, but a hidden function, so Meinong’s cryptoclusters fail as well, because coinc1 is not a nexus, but merely another particular added to the collection. The arguments examined so far have provided some structural evidence that the features (a) and (c) of reism can legitimately be attributed to Meinong’s ontology. In fact it does not countenance facts (a), and all its entities are things or thing-like (c). That accounts for its outcome being ultimately a failure, at least according to Bergmann’s standards. What about the feature (b), i.e., the neglect or downplaying of nexus? In an ontology devoid of genuine facts, and in which all entities are like (simple) things, no real nexus can be countenanced. In fact the notion of nexus (and more in general of subsistent) really makes sense only in the context of a complex ontology like Bergmann’s. Literally, then, also feature (b) belongs to Meinong’s ontology. Yet there is a sense in which here lies one of the reasons of his glory. In spite of his final failure, Meinong’s continual efforts to “ground” in some way the link between Relationen and Objektive on the one hand and their Inferiora on the other, or the “unity” of Komplexe, show that he realized – however dimly – that there lurk some 30

31

Neither Meinong nor Bergmann seem to take this option into account, even though it is structurally available. However, because of its sterility, that is not a great loss. That is of course only another way to say that Komplexe are not facts, in Bergmann’s sense of ‘fact’.

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important problems, which is much more than what can be said of most ontologists. The inadequacy of his solutions is another matter. His philosophical development could thus be seen as an endless quest for nexus. He did not find them, and put other (thing-like) entities to nexus’ use32; they could not do work, but at least he recognized the need. That is also the reason why his reism, though undeniable, is as sophisticated as reism can be, or – as Bergmann defined it – “stretched to the utmost”. Guido Bonino Università degli Studi di Torino [email protected]

32

Something similar happened – be it said en passant – when Russell tried to respond to Bradley’s criticisms concerning the problem of the unity of the proposition. As the correspondence clearly shows, Russell realized that in order to account for such a unity he had to do something more than merely adding other elements to those to be “united”; yet apparently he could not do anything else, and acknowledged that Bradley’s objections remained unanswered. Cf. especially Russell (1910a) and (1910b), Bradley (1911), Russell (1911).

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References Addis, Laird (1971), “The Philosophy of Gustav Bergmann”, Allgemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijbegeerte, LXIII, pp. 78-98. Barber, Kenneth (1966), Meinong’s Hume Studies: Translation and Commentary, Ph.D. diss., University of Iowa. Barber, Kenneth (1970), “Meinong’s Hume Studies. Part I: Meinong’s Nominalism”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XXX, pp. 550-567. Barber, Kenneth (1971), “Meinong’s Hume Studies. Part II: Analysis of Relations”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, XXXI, pp. 564-584. Bergmann, Gustav (1958), “Frege’s Hidden Nominalism”, Philosophical Review, LXVII, pp. 437-459; then in Gustav Bergmann, Meaning and Existence, Madison (Wis.), The University of Wisconsin Press, 1959, pp. 205-224. Bergmann, Gustav (1963), “Ontological Alternatives”, first published in Italian translation with the title “Alternative ontologiche. Risposta alla dr. Egidi”, Giornale critico della filosofia italiana, XVII, pp. 377405; then in Gustav Bergmann, Logic and Reality, Madison (Wis.), The University of Wisconsin Press, 1964, pp. 124-157. Bergmann, Gustav (1967), Realism. A Critique of Brentano and Meinong, Madison (Wis.), The University of Wisconsin Press; then in Gustav Bergmann, Collected Works, vol. III: Realism. A Critique of Brentano and Meinong, ed. by E. Tegtmeier, Frankfurt am Main, Ontos-Verlag, 2004. Besoli, Stefano [ed.] (1997), La nozione di stato di cose, special issue of Discipline filosofiche, VII, n. 2. Bonino, Guido & Torrengo, Giuliano [eds.] (2004), Il realismo ontologico di Gustav Bergmann, special issue of Rivista di estetica, XLIV, n.s. n. 25. Bradley, Francis Herbert (1911), “Reply to Mr. Russell’s Explanations”, Mind, XX, pp. 74-76; now in Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell,

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vol. VI: Logical and Philosophical Papers 1909-1913, ed. by J.G. Slater and B. Frohmann, London/New York, Routledge, 1992, pp. 394-397. Egidi, Maria Rosaria (2005), “Il ‘Meinong’ di Gustav Bergmann”, Rivista di estetica, XLV, n.s. 30, n. 3, pp. 54-70. Findlay, John N. (1963), Meinong’s Theory of Objects and Values, 2nd ed., Oxford, Clarendon Press, (19331). Grossmann, Reinhardt (1974), Meinong, London/Boston, Routledge & Kegan Paul. Lenoci, Michele (1997), “La concezione dell’obiettivo in Alexius Meinong”, in Besoli [ed.] (1997), pp. 259-279. Manotta, Marina (1997), “L’obiettivo di Meinong fra proposizione e stato di cose”, in Besoli [ed.] (1997), pp. 211-236. Meinong, Alexius (1899), “Über Gegenstände höherer Ordnung und deren Verhältnis zur inneren Wahrnehmung”, Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane, XXI, pp. 182-272; now in Alexius Meinong Gesamtausgabe, vol. II: Abhandlungen zur Erkenntnistheorie und Gegenstandstheorie, ed. by R. Haller, Graz, Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1971, pp. 377-471; English translation by M.-L. Schubert Kalsi, On Objects of Higher Order, in A. Meinong, On Objects of Higher Order and Husserl’s Phenomenology, The Hague/Boston/London, M. Nijhoff, 1978. Meinong, Alexius (1910), Über Annahmen, 2nd ed., Leipzig, J.A. Barth, 1910; now in Alexius Meinong Gesamtausgabe, vol. IV: Über Annahmen, ed. by R. Haller, Graz 1977; English translation by J. Heanue, On Assumptions, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of California Press, 1983. Modenato, Francesca (1999), “L’obiettivo e la fattualità secondo Meinong”, Rivista di storia della filosofia, LIV, pp. 437-464. Orilia, Francesco (2006), “Bradley’s Regress: Bergmann vs. Meinong”, forthcoming. Russell, Bertrand (1910a), Letter to F.H. Bradley, 9.4.1910, in Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. VI, pp. 349-351.

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Russell, Bertrand (1910b), “Some Explanations in Reply to Mr. Bradley”, Mind, XIX, pp. 373-378; now in Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. VI, pp. 354-358. Russell, Bertrand (1911), Letter to F.H. Bradley, 2.3.1911, in Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. VI, p. 352. Russell, Bertrand (1992), Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. VI: Logical and Philosophical Papers 1909-1913, ed. by J.G. Slater and B. Frohmann, London/New York, Routledge. Tegtmeier Erwin (1999), “Die Bedeutung Gustav Bergmanns”, Metaphysica, 0, pp. 19-36. Tegtmeier Erwin (2000), “Meinong’s Complexes”, The Monist, LXXXIII, pp. 89-100. Vallicella, William (2000), “Three Conceptions of States of Affairs”, Noûs, XXXIV, pp. 237-259.