Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Alexius Meinong (1853-1920)

An under-appreciated philosopher whose theory of objects, which distinguished between "being" and "existence," influenced the works of Terence Parsons and Roderick Chisolm, among others. For Meinong, an object could have "being," even if it did not actually exist, simply because someone could "intend" or imagine it.  In this respect, it seems to me that Meinong's work was also important for the "possible worlds" device used by David Lewis, Saul Kripke and others (e.g., there is a "possible world" in which an actually non-existent object exists). In any case, Meinong's theory of objects seems to me consistent with the intuition that some non-existent beings, including fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes, can seem more real than millions of  actually existing persons.

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