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Philosophy notes on the problem of non-existence:

The present king of France may not exist but he does ‘inxist’. He does not ‘ex’ist out there in the ideas that have been argreed upon for so long that they have solidified, rather he ‘inxists’ in the fluid of our shared Universal mind whenever we think it. (Pegasus is 0) How many beans do you have? 0. There are no examples of beans in my existence. ‘pegasus doesn’t exist’ = There are no examples of Pegasus is my existence.

Problem of non-existence

‘pegasus never existed’ – meinong says something in the imagination still has being though lacking existence. I agree, like the number 4, or anything in the imagination, like a perfect circle, concepts, of course they have some kind of being, they are different to things that have never been thought of so cannot be the same as something that didn’t exist and need distinguishing. It means there are no examples of Pegasus, there are only ideas.

“a” = a concept or idea the = example of a concept or idea

What about russells expanded sentences, ‘there must be at least one etc..’ surely those words then are referential to reality? (the words there do stand for things in reality rather than as superficially summarized groups of other words as Russel makes out )

Does Russel’s theory mean that the person constructing the sentence is using his method subconsciously? Or does he mean the person comprehending the sentences is using his method? Or both? Or neither? Or is it that this logic only emerges when we examine a sentence and isn’t actually part of the process of sentence construction or comprehension at all? Why does it matter that in some sentences “the” is quantifier?

The (or ‘I have an’) idea of there being a present king of France exists and there at least one person being the present king of France and at most one person being the present king of France and that person is bald.

(have most of essay explaining RTD)

Possible objection to russel: Disagree with Russell. ‘baldness’ or ‘an exemplification of baldness’ requires there being at least one individual person. ‘the present king of france’ specify a single role, albeit a vacant one, but baldness mentally conjures a person into an empty throne by describing one of their characteristics. Therefore although the ‘the’ in ‘the present king of france’ could be said to be a quantifier, but ‘is bald’ does not necessarily merely mean ‘has baldness’ but could be a defining characteristic. This is because it has associations relevant to real kingship, such as being male, being old enough to rule. It flows in the same direction as kingship. Saying ‘the present king of France is leafy’ allows completely for Russel’s theory. But I argue that listing enough likely characteristics will sway the meaning of the ‘the’ from a quantifier as Russel says, to being a singular term. For example, “the present king of France is bald, unmarried, gluttonous and owner of a fine navy.” All that has been added are further descriptions, but with each addition the notion of the ‘the king’ referring to a specific individual person becomes stronger and stronger. How could a thing that is not an individual person be all those things? They all correspond to the alledged king. Or: “ what we call proper names are not really proper names at all, but rather they are abbreviations for definite descriptions.” (PAGE 19 LYCAN)YES. By listing more words I come closer to making a definite description of the king and thus closer to referring to him. Putting them together adds up a to proper name, and so the “the” may mean ‘there is at least one person who is king of france, there is at least one example of baldness

“strawson holds that expressions do not refer at all; people refer, using expressions for that purpose.” I go one further, the entire situation refers, the whole context including the persons history, the physical space they are occupying and the words of the sentence itself, surely they can never be completely isolated?

Pg23 donnalan,pg 25, donnalan is good Pg 26 “RTD is still correct as an account of the truth-values of sentences taken literally, while Donnellan is often right about the speaker-referent and speaker-meaning.” “MaKay makes the general point that a speaker’s intentions may be arbitrarily crazy.” Pg 27

“an anaphoric expression inherits its meaning from another expression, its anticedent, usually though not always occurring earlier in the sentence or in a previous sentence”pg27 –IS a problem for RTD which picks individual sentences both out of physical context, and potential ‘anaphrocal’ context. “It is not obvious that russell’s theory can accommodate all the anaphoric uses of descriptions” pg 29. If two people talk who have met before (as most of a persons conversation is) the various sentences are likely to refer to past happenings and rely on transmitting meaning with anaphoric sentences. This is a basis of friendships and other inter personal relationships, we spend time with the same people who can make sense of us using what we have said previously (possibly days, weeks, even years) before as part of our understanding of what that person means to say. RTD misses this completely. JUSTIFTY this claim. You have to know the person to understand the context properly, we don’t only read words or people, we read entire situations. For example, a telephone sales person has his conversations recorded and played to a friend and a stranger. The stranger would understand the literal words and may well be able grasp from the tone that the salesman is stressed. The friend would be able to to this, probably to a more accurate degree, and would also be able to guess some of the friends negative thoughts and feelings about the stressful conversation. The friend may pick up subtle sarcastic comments they recognize as their friends unique sense of humour, providing further information about the mood. They may have an ‘in-joke’, a sort of ‘rolling anaphor’. (anaphor usually means something within a set piece of text like two sentences, but I’m arguing for the limitations of such a study and a RTD is limited to being one of these). Things only really ‘hang togethor’ and make the most sense in the entire contextual story of a persons life, but clearly the aim of many (if not most) sentences is to express a consensually agreed meaning; and so the intention of the speaker moves centre stage. The attention of the speaker. Did the speaker intend to only say “the present king of france is bald” and for that sentence to then be picked apart? Clearly he did in this case, as the sentence has been specifically engineered, or perhaps, constructed to exemplify a linguistic problem. It could be said to be a sort of ‘meta-sentence’ that was never was intended to ever refer to an actual individual person who satisfies the role of being king of France as well as being bald, so Russell has held up a weak sentence to the cutting knife of logic. I demmand a context for how the intentions of someone could be to lead them to say ‘the present king of France is bald’ and to intend to assert it as true, it is indeed a bizarre sentence, no more bizzaire than ‘the cow that rules the moon is pregnant’. The chances of someone actually intending to transmit that literal meaning is very slim. Someone who speaks English to specify the ‘present’ king is not going to be so ignorant. Therefore RTD is limited to improbable utterings which use the word “the” to superficially suggest reference to a single thing when the ‘the’ is actually a quantifier that is in this case false. Reference to artistic creations of fiction cannot count, as they are surely anaphoric in some grand sense of the word.

It could be said that if a random sample of people provided the tape of the stressed salesman’s conversation with a customer the results would have been very similar to each other, but people do not communicate randomly. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most people have at least one person they talk to considerably more than the rest of the population that they have not even met. Therefore this considerations importance is significant, because it affects a great many sentences that occur with definite descriptions, which means the theory only applies to an very small slice of a small slice of a linquistic pie.

The words said by the salesmen to both were the same but the full message communicated cannot be isolated from the context and so the receiver.

“The analysis of 'The so-and-so exists' is slightly different, because 'exists' is not a predicate according to Russell. That sentence would be analysed thus:

(1) There is at least one so-and-so
(2) There is at most one so-and-so”

so there is nothing special about existence, it is not some special quality, it just means there is 0 of that thing. Rather, saying ‘x does not exist’ it is more the case that ‘x does compute’ as we are referring to our own mental databases on what exists not to what actually exists.

http://www.annewitton.org.uk/russell.php

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/linguistics-and-philosophy/24-241-logic-i-fall-2005/readings/chp21.pdf

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/tta/anaphora/anaphora.htm

http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dATutXkA0rMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA151&dq=Significance+of+Russell%27s+theory+of+definite+descriptions&ots=9yAw6W9Vfp&sig=JiC03eOW_jcnPGqjDrPfKxBoMIM#v=onepage&q=Significance%20of%20Russell's%20theory%20of%20definite%20descriptions&f=false

Philosophy


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