Two Senses of Ontology

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Two Senses of Ontology

It will be useful for us to get clear on the notion of "positive ontology". "Ontology" when it's used as a mass term usually means the study of being as such. But this cannot be what one means when one says "provide a positive ontology for x". For, it wouldn't make sense to say "provide a 'the study of being as such' for x".

So what does one mean by "positive ontology"? Well, to answer that question it's important to note that "ontology" can be used -- and is often used by philosophers -- as a count-noun rather than a mass term. For example, when philosophers say "my ontology includes 4-dimensional spacetime worms," they're using "ontology" as a count-noun. When we use "ontology" in this sense, we're referring to our commitments about what exists, our ontological commitments.

We can think of "ontology" as a count-noun picturesquely by imagining ourselves writing out a list of everything that we think exists. If we were to carry out this project by writing down specific things on the list like that baseball, that butter knife, Joe's 32nd birthday, the millitary ... the list would be too long to finish in our lifetime. So we would be better off to speak at the most fundamental or general level we can. That is, we would write down general categories like physical objects, times, sets, events, or whatever. When we have completed our list, we have produced our positive ontology -- the things that we think exist. If later on under the influence of some clever Berkeleyan idealist, say, you decide that there aren't any physical objects, you would erase that category from our list. You would then say something like, "my ontology doesn't include physical objects." Again, a great many contemporary philosophers use ontology in this sense.

Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists". This is uncontroversial. What nearly all philosophers have realized is that you don't need to show that something exists in order to explain what that thing must be like if it were to exist. Go back to our Berkeleyan idealist. She can write pages and pages for you on what the concept of a physical object is. She will even (depending on the nuances of her view) cheerfully admit that the concept of physical object is coherent. But note that in doing so she never once will attempt to show that these things exist -- she doesn't include them in her ontology. She doesn't have a positive ontology for physical objects, but she knows perfectly well what the concept is, and that it is coherent. This is because it's not necessary to provide a positive ontology for x in order to explain why the concept of x is coherent.

Sometimes philosophers who do have positive ontologies for x decide to put aside the reasons for why they think that x exists, in order to focus purely on what the fundamental nature of x is like. The positive ontology they have for x will not shed much light, in this context, on what x is like. For example, if you want to know what the concept of a baseball most fundamentally involves, and a philosopher replied, "Well, that's easy. Look, they are part of my positive ontology! They are included among the set of things that exist!" you would think it a very annoying joke indeed. This is because providing a positive ontology for x is not sufficient to explain what the concept of x amounts to.

In short, conceptually analyzing x and providing a positive ontology for x are two different projects. Anyone who conflates these -- for example, one who says that you must provide the latter to provide the former -- is making an elementary philosophical mistake.


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Bump. I was hoping some of

Bump.

I was hoping some of you philisopohical types would answer this. The conversations with Gavagai are very interesting, even if a bit beyond my knowledge base.

 

OK. Maybe more than a bit beyond. 


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Quote: In short,

Quote:
In short, conceptually analyzing x and providing a positive ontology for x are two different projects. Anyone who conflates these -- for example, one who says that you must provide the latter to provide the former -- is making an elementary philosophical mistake.

Again, I fail to see the relevance, nor do I see the conflict with what we are saying.  Within the word game of conceptualizing x without providing a positive ontology, I'm perfectly happy to allow you to opine on the supernatural all day.  What does this have to do with the fundamental reality of whether the supernatural exists outside of conceptualization?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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You missed the point: one

You missed the point: one can show that x is coherent without having to show that x exists. Two separate tasks.

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I see the point clearly. 

I see the point clearly.  I don't see the relevance.

I'm perfectly willing to grant that there are paradigms in which you can discuss the supernatural with meaning and coherence.  I fail to see how that specific coherence has anything to do with the ability to describe what the supernatural is in reality.

 

 

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The relevance: when

The relevance: when somebody says, "You can't coherently conceive of x unless you provide a positive ontology for x," they're making an elementary philosophical mistake.

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Ok... last try... I don't

Ok... last try... I don't want to sound dismissive. I'm not trying to be. It's just that I can't think of any other way to say what I'm saying, and I'm not getting an answer to my questions.

Quote:
when somebody says, "You can't coherently conceive of x unless you provide a positive ontology for x," they're making an elementary philosophical mistake.

Fine.

This doesn't have any relevance to the point that the words, "supernatural, et al," outside of the context of internal meaning and coherence, which has no inherent connection to their external validity, cannot be described in terms of what they are. Without this description, anything which we claim about them is a contradiction, since the very concepts defy definition, i.e. description, i.e. any positive claim.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not going to keep saying the same thing. As far as I can tell, you haven't refuted my point. Perhaps some of our other philosophy whizzes can tell me what I'm missing, or can properly explain what I'm saying if I'm correct.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hamby, I've answered your

Hamby,

I've answered your questions. But you're just not getting the point. One doesn't need to talk about x as x is in reality in order to provide a coherent conceptual analysis of x. For example, one may disagree with many metaphysicians that bare substrata exist. I don't think a "positive ontology" can be provided for these things. Nevertheless, one who doesn't accept their existence in reality can still agree that the concept is coherent.

To respond with, "Yeah but how is this relevant to whether such entities ARE in reality?!" is to miss the point entirely. 

 

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Gavagai wrote: Thus, if a

Gavagai wrote:

Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists". This is uncontroversial. What nearly all philosophers have realized is that you don't need to show that something exists in order to explain what that thing must be like if it were to exist.

I see, like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, FSM, etc. It's just speculation on how you think this thing would act if it were real. When assumptions are based on assumptions, anything is possible.

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."--Stephen F. Roberts


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I think Gavagai is saying,

I think Gavagai is saying, one doesn't need to prove the existence of invisible teapots orbiting Jupiter, to discuss whether these invisible teapots are more suitable for making, earl gray or darjeeling

 ? is this essentially correct Gavagai


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Yeah, I got the point, as

Yeah, I got the point, as well, Gav.

 I agree with Hamby that the distinction you make doesn't save the ontological category of the supernatural from the problem that there is nothing we can say about what it is.

We can talk about the supernatural all day, but the point is that unless some positive description of the supernatural's attributes are given, the hypothetical discussion about the supernatural are meaningless.  

Without a positive ontological desription of the supernatural, we cannot talk about the supernatural in any meaningful way.  This is not to say that we cannot include the term 'supernatural' in a grammatical English sentence, but that when we do the sentence will be nonsensical if it is supposed to represent reality.  I can say that the invisible pink unicorn is nice, but when the sentence is analyzed, the sentence is non-sensical because the concept of something being both pink and invisible is absurd.  Thus, saying it's nice is not saying anything at all, because there is nothing in the sentence to be nice or not to be nice, only a string of words without any actual referent.

You can say what you think the supernatural would be like if it were to exist if you like.  However, the words would have no meaning when analyzed, so the exercise is pointless.

Shaun 

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


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Not entirely pointless

Not entirely pointless ShaunPhilly, such concepts are used in theoretical physics/quantum physics


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Gavagai wrote:

Gavagai wrote:

 

Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists".

No,  it does not. It means provide an identity. One need not demonstrate that said entity exists. We can speak of the identity of unicorns.

Your error here is very basic.

In addition, the term 'positive ontology' is redundant. "Negative ontology' is oxymoronic. To exist is to have identity, to have attributes.

Quote:
 

This is uncontroversial. What nearly all philosophers have realized is that you don't need to show that something exists in order to explain what that thing must be like if it were to exist.

But to provide an explanation of what it 'might be like' is to provide an ontology! 

We cannot speak of 'existents' or 'concepts' without speaking of identity. Read your Kant.

Quote:

In short, conceptually analyzing x and providing a positive ontology for x are two different projects. Anyone who conflates these -- for example, one who says that you must provide the latter to provide the former -- is making an elementary philosophical mistake.

The only person making elementary philosophical mistakes is you. To conceptually analyze something requires that you have a concept, which by definition, has identity!

 

Quote:
One doesn't need to talk about x as x is in reality in order to provide a coherent conceptual analysis of x. 

 No kidding! But even an imaginary concept requires identity.

If this is the heart of your argument, then you are conceding your argument doesn't do anything to negate the requirement of an ontology for a term! You're really quite confused.

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ShaunPhilly wrote: Without

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Without a positive ontological desription of the supernatural, we cannot talk about the supernatural in any meaningful way.

Unless we steal the concept of materialism, and thus, not use the term as it is intended.

Gav has not given 'two senses' of ontology, the claim is preposterous. He's merely expressed the difference between real and imaginary concepts. Yet both require identity, by definition, to be concepts. 

Gav has merely expressed his confusion of what is really being discussed on our boards.  Nice looking posts, but they mask pretty basic blunders.

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todangst

todangst wrote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:

Without a positive ontological desription of the supernatural, we cannot talk about the supernatural in any meaningful way.

Unless we steal the concept of materialism, and thus, not use the term as it is intended.

 Agreed.  For anyone not understanding this point, what Todangst means (I think) is that we use terms from nature (and hence naturalism) to talk about supernature.  But if supernature is not-nature, how could we use concepts that describe nature to describe what it is not? 

We can't. 

The implication is that talking about the supernatural is somewhat like describing the color of invisible objects.  

Quote:
Gav has merely expressed his confusion of what is really being discussed on our boards. Nice looking posts, but they mask pretty basic blunders.

Yes, I appreciate when someone like Gav is at least able to express themselves in nice words, but nice words and complex sentence structures (sorry Matt Slick) doesn't necessarily imply that the odeas they express are coherent or point to truth.

I've always liked the following quote, from the Vorlon Kosh (nerd alert!);

 

Kosh wrote:
The truth points to itself

Shaun 

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


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ShaunPhilly

ShaunPhilly wrote:
todangst wrote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:

Without a positive ontological desription of the supernatural, we cannot talk about the supernatural in any meaningful way.

Unless we steal the concept of materialism, and thus, not use the term as it is intended.

Agreed.

I should note for others that this point is already implicit in your own post.

Quote:

For anyone not understanding this point, what Todangst means (I think) is that we use terms from nature (and hence naturalism) to talk about supernature. But if supernature is not-nature, how could we use concepts that describe nature to describe what it is not?

Precisely.

Quote:

We can't.

The implication is that talking about the supernatural is somewhat like describing the color of invisible objects.

I use this quote all the time, because it 1) says it well and 2) shows that these points are 2) eons old and 3) originate in theism:



"What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it."- St. Augustine, From Sermon LII. 16

Whole passage found here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160302.htm

 

 

Quote:
Gav has merely expressed his confusion of what is really being discussed on our boards. Nice looking posts, but they mask pretty basic blunders.

Quote:

Yes, I appreciate when someone like Gav is at least able to express themselves in nice words, but nice words and complex sentence structures (sorry Matt Slick) doesn't necessarily imply that the ideas they express are coherent or point to truth.

Precisely. In fact, in this case, they mask a basic confusion.

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Arrrr I think I see To

Arrrr I think I see

To postulate about things that have not been proven to exist, in physics/quantum physics. is to do so on the premise that these things are in or are of nature, ie although such theories are pure speculation these concepts hold a real possibility of being proven or rejected

 

 

 


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Quote:

Todangst,

Quote:
Quote:

Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists".

No, it does not. It means provide an identity. One need not demonstrate that said entity exists. We can speak of the identity of unicorns.

So when you want someone to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn, you mean for them to "provide an identity" of a unicorn. Later on you seem to suggest that "providing an identity" involves providing a "positive attribute". So to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn is, ultimately, to provide some positive attribute of a unicorn. For example, winged. Is this a fair portrayal of your view? If not, what would be an example of providing an identity (or attribute) for a unicorn?

Also:

Quote:
Gav has not given 'two senses' of ontology, the claim is preposterous.

You're wrong. I did. The first sense of "ontology" is when it's used as a mass term. And the second sense is when it's used as a count noun. When you use the word 'ontology', you don't mean it in either of these senses?

 

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Gavagai wrote: In short,

Gavagai wrote:

In short, conceptually analyzing x and providing a positive ontology for x are two different projects. Anyone who conflates these -- for example, one who says that you must provide the latter to provide the former -- is making an elementary philosophical mistake.

Yep... However, if you are making claims and engaging in discourse  with entities and goals that lie within the belief-bounds of a positive ontology, then you are responsible.  Conceptual analysis of x can also happen within a variety of conventional frameworks, many of which do not meaningfully overlap.

 For example... you can talk about 'god' all you wish, but without a verifiable connection to the empirical world, it merely remains a hypothetical entity... and as I gather you would go further than that and say your god actually exists outside of all conventional boundaries, your responsibilities are lofty indeed.    

 

 

 


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Wyzaard, My concern was not

Wyzaard,

My concern was not about God. The point was that questions about the existence (ontological status) of something are to be distinguished from questions about the nature (conceptual analysis) of something.

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Gavagai wrote: So when you

Gavagai wrote:
So when you want someone to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn, you mean for them to "provide an identity" of a unicorn. Later on you seem to suggest that "providing an identity" involves providing a "positive attribute". So to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn is, ultimately, to provide some positive attribute of a unicorn. For example, winged. Is this a fair portrayal of your view? If not, what would be an example of providing an identity (or attribute) for a unicorn?

Yes. Well, this is how I understand it atleast! Smiling
Usually when philosophers ask questions about ontology, e.g. in metaethics or mathematics, they ask how the thing exists. So some ethicists believe morality exists as a non-cognitive practice, some mathematicians belief numbers exist in a platonic universe... etc.
This appears to be how we are using it here as well.

If you look at Toganst's argument, he claims that supernatural can only be defined in terms of what it's not. Some words seem to get their definition from what they are not, but they don't rule out everything so there is still something leftover. Supernatural, on the other hand, rules out everything that might have made it meaningful.

Quote:
the second sense is when it's used as a count noun.

What's a count noun?


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Strafio wrote: What's a

Strafio wrote:
What's a count noun?

A count noun is a noun that refers to something which can be counted i.e. a ball or balls, a chair or chairs, a theist or theists.

A non-count noun would be a noun that refers to something that can not be counted, often a noun that refers to category of things as a thing in itself or a the state of a thing as a thing i.e. blue, sand, health. 

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Strafio,    Unless he's

Strafio,

   Unless he's authorized you as his spokesperson, let's be safe and wait for Todangst to confirm that that's actually his view.

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,

Quote:
Quote:

Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists".

No, it does not. It means provide an identity. One need not demonstrate that said entity exists. We can speak of the identity of unicorns.

 

So when you want someone to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn, you mean for them to "provide an identity" of a unicorn.

Provide an identity. Period.

To exist is to exist as something. We cannot speak of existence sans identity.

I don't know how to make this any clearer.

Quote:

Later on you seem to suggest that "providing an identity" involves providing a "positive attribute".

There's no 'later on', this is consistent throughout.

To exist is to exist as something, to have identity. To have character, attributes, etc.

Quote:

So to "provide a positive ontology" for a unicorn is, ultimately, to provide some positive attribute of a unicorn.

Please tell me how you can make a reference to an entity without speaking of identity.

If you cannot, you concede the issue.

Also:

Quote:
Gav has not given 'two senses' of ontology, the claim is preposterous.

 

Quote:

You're wrong.

No, I've demonstrated that you are not only wrong, but that you are wasting my time.

 

Quote:

I did. The first sense of "ontology" is when it's used as a mass term. And the second sense is when it's used as a count noun.


You wrote this:

"Thus, if a philosopher were to say "provide a positive ontology for x", what she means is "show that x exists"."

Again, you delieated between 'real existent' and abstraction, and I showed that matters of ontology in both cases are one and the same. To speak of existence is to speak of identity, whether we are discussing an atom, a rock or a unicorn.

 

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Strafio wrote: sually when

Strafio wrote:
sually when philosophers ask questions about ontology, e.g. in metaethics or mathematics, they ask how the thing exists.

Precisely.

Quote:
 

So some ethicists believe morality exists as a non-cognitive practice, some mathematicians belief numbers exist in a platonic universe... etc. This appears to be how we are using it here as well. If you look at Toganst's argument, he claims that supernatural can only be defined in terms of what it's not. Some words seem to get their definition from what they are not, but they don't rule out everything so there is still something leftover. Supernatural, on the other hand, rules out everything that might have made it meaningful.

They are references that eliminate any possible reference... 

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Vessel wrote: Strafio

Vessel wrote:

Strafio wrote:
What's a count noun?

A count noun is a noun that refers to something which can be counted i.e. a ball or balls, a chair or chairs, a theist or theists.

A non-count noun would be a noun that refers to something that can not be counted, often a noun that refers to category of things as a thing in itself or a the state of a thing as a thing i.e. blue, sand, health.

The matter has no real bearing here...

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Todangst,You've missed the

Todangst,

Any entity that exists has an identity; that's obvious. But it has virtually nothing to do with the point of this thread: that there is a distinction to be made between a conceptual analysis of x and the ontological status of x.

Moreover, it's true that there are two senses of ontology. The fact that you disagree shows that you lack familiarity with the relevant philosophical literature, since virtually all contemporary philosophers would agree that "ontology" can be used as either a mass term or a count noun.

Cheers,

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,

Any entity that exists has an identity; that's obvious.

That is not what I said.

Here is what was actually said:

 To exist is to exist as something. We cannot speak of existence sans identity.

I stated that existence and identity are necessarily intertwined. We can't speak of any 'x' unless 'x' has identity.

Quote:

But it has virtually nothing to do with the point of this thread:

Your erroneous misreading has nothing to do with this thread, agreed.

Quote:

that there is a distinction to be made between a conceptual analysis of x and the ontological status of x.

To conceive of anything requires identity, which requires ontological status. You cannot speak of any 'x' in the first place unless 'x' has identity.

This is the most basic of basic metaphysics.

Quote:

Moreover, it's true that there are two senses of ontology.

The point here, again, (and again and again) is that your two senses have no bearing on the matter of ontological status. To observe an 'x' or to conceive an 'x' requires identity.

Quote:

The fact that you disagree shows that you lack familiarity with the relevant philosophical literature,

I am not disagreeing that there can be a distinction of any kind here, I am disagreeing that there is a distinction vis a vis ontological status. To conceptualy analyze 'x', 'x' must have identity.

You're really quite lost here, so the next time you think there's a problem on my end, a bit of advice: read over your own posts again... the error lies there.

 Let me prove my assertion:

Tell  me how you can provide a 'conceptual analysis of x' without speaking of identity?

Either provide the response or concede the issue. 

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Todangst, Your posts rest

Todangst,


Your posts rest on elementary philosophical confusion. Identity involves a reflexive, symmetrical, and transitive relation between things; it's not the same as existence. The fact that you conflate them demonstrates quite clearly that you don't know what you're talking about here.

And it remains true that there are two senses of ontology, despite your confusion.

Cheers,

Gavagai

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,


Your posts rest on elementary philosophical confusion.

Actually, I'll demonstrate that you're the one who's lost.

And you continue to demonstrate an ability to even read my post accurately. You really seem in way over your head.

Quote:

Identity involves a reflexive, symmetrical, and transitive relation between things; it's not the same as existence.

You cannot speak of existence without speaking of identity.

I again challenge you to do so. Notice that I already did this above.

Quote:

The fact that you conflate them demonstrates quite clearly that you don't know what you're talking about here.

You're the one who is confused, and unlike you, I can do more than assert, I can demonstrate.

The fact that you think you can speak of existence sans identity shows me that you have no business in this discussion.

I again challenge you to speak of existence sans identity. I again ask you to tell me how you can 'conceptually analyze x' without speaking of identity. How can you CONCEIVE 'x' if 'x' has no identity?

Go on, respond. Please.

 

Quote:

And it remains true that there are two senses of ontology, despite your confusion.

You're the confused one. Your distinction was between real entities and abstractions. The distinction was ridiculous and unnecesary.

 

Your own words:

This is uncontroversial. What nearly all philosophers have realized is that you don't need to show that something exists in order to explain what that thing must be like if it were to exist.

And to explain what it would be like if it were to exist requires that 'x' has identity.

I do hope that you'll come to see this. Again, respond to my challenge. It will point you to your error. 

 

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Tod, Yes, to speak of

Tod,

Yes, to speak of something existing, you would have to presuppose its identity. That's obvious. And, as I've already said, this has little to do with the fact that conceptually analyzing some thing is different than positing that thing's existence. This is a very important distinction, since some people think that things can't be conceptually analyzed in a coherent manner unless they exist. I really don't know why you're arguing against a distinction that nearly all contemporary philosophers work with.

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Gavagai wrote:

Gavagai wrote:

Tod,

Yes, to speak of something existing, you would have to presuppose its identity. That's obvious. And, as I've already said, this has little to do with the fact that conceptually analyzing some thing is different than positing that thing's existence.

No, it has everything to do with conceptually analyzing 'some thing'... because to conceive of an entity at all requires identity. To analyze, or conceive or posit requires identity.

Quote:

This is a very important distinction, since some people think that things can't be conceptually analyzed in a coherent manner unless they exist.

It is not an important distinction vis a vis this thread, it's entirely moot here, seeing as to conceive of anything requires that it has identity.

I will AGAIN ask you to show me how you can 'conceptually analyze x' without speaking of identity, and you will again dodge the direct challenge, right?

Quote:
I really don't know why you're arguing against a distinction that nearly all contemporary philosophers work with.

Here's something for you to consider: You are misunderstanding what you read in 'contemporary philosophy'

Whatever distinctions you wish to raise between existents and 'conceptual analyses' are moot vis a vis the simple reality that to conceive requires identity.

 Again, there is a way for you to uncover this on your own: please attempt to provide a 'conceptual analysis of any x' without speaking of identity at any time.

 

 

 

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Todangst,Most contemporary

Todangst,

Most contemporary philosophers think there's a difference between conceptually analyzing x and positing x's existence. I agree with them. You don't. And you're suggesting that I'm misunderstanding contemporary philosophy? That's nonsense.

Yes, to conceptually analyze something presupposes identity. Again, this has little to do with the basic distinction between (1) getting clear on the conceptual analysis of something and (2) getting clear on the ontological status of something. Both tasks involve identity, but it doesn't follow that they should be conflated into one task.

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,

Most contemporary philosophers think there's a difference between conceptually analyzing x and positing x's existence.

But not concerning the axiom of identity. And this is my point here.

 

Quote:

I agree with them. You don't.

Again, you don't even have a clue as to what you're talking about.

 

Quote:

And you're suggesting that I'm misunderstanding contemporary philosophy? Yes, to conceptually analyze something presupposes

identity.

 

And yet, that's my point here!

 

You are a very confused person.

 

Quote:

 

Again, this has little to do with the basic distinction between the conceptual analysis of something and the ontological status of something. Both tasks involve identity, but it doesn't follow that they should be conflated into one task.

If you concede that they both necessarily involve identity, then you are refuted.

End of story.

Your own words:

In short, conceptually analyzing x and providing a positive ontology for x are two different projects. Anyone who conflates these -- for example, one who says that you must provide the latter to provide the former -- is making an elementary philosophical mistake.

 

The point here is that you yourself concede that to do either project requires identity.  An identity provides an ontology.

Checkmate.

 

 

 

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Todangst,Any philosophical

Todangst,

Any philosophical tasks you care to specify presuppose identity. It doesn't follow that the tasks are one and the same. That's ridiculous.

 Getting clear on the ontological status of x and getting clear on the conceptual analysis of x are two different philosophical tasks, even though you have to presuppose identity to get either of them up and running. Nearly all philosophers would agree with this. The fact that you argue against such an obvious distinction is embarrassing. It's obvious that you haven't even studied any serious logic or philosophy beyond dropping the names of "fallacies" whenever you can.

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,

Any philosophical tasks you care to specify presuppose identity. It doesn't follow that the tasks are one and the same. That's ridiculous.

You're ridiculous: What I am saying is that one requires the other.

You yourself concede this! 

 And the actual point before you is that identity provides ontology. And thus, this thread can end.

Quote:

Getting clear on the ontological status of x and getting clear on the conceptual analysis of x are two different philosophical tasks, even though you have to presuppose identity to get either of them up and running.

And since identity provides ontology, you've checkmated yourself here.

Quote:

Nearly all philosophers would agree with this. The fact that you argue against such an obvious distinction is embarrassing.

I'm not arguing against there being any distinction between these two tasks. 

Instead I am saying that both tasks necessarily require identity.

Which you yourself concede.

And identity provides ontology.

Checkmate.

 

 

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Todangst,Your posts depend

Todangst,

Your posts depend on elementary philosophical confusion and sloppy thinking.  Ontology is used as a count noun by most analytic philosophers, and it connotes whatever they think exists. Identity, on the other hand, is a transitive, reflexive, and symmetric relation that doesn't entail a vast range of ontological commitments.  It is nonsense to say "identity provides ontology". That's gibberish. You continue replying to give the impression that you're keeping afloat in this discussion, but it's obvious you haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. Please review some basic logic and philosophy before you reply again.

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Todangst,

Your posts depend on elementary philosophical confusion and sloppy thinking.

Yes, yes, you assert this insulting comment all the time, but you never seem able to back it up with anything other than a non sequitur.

In other words, you end up proving that you're projecting your own slopiness onto me...

Quote:

Ontology is used as a count noun by most analytic philosophers that connotes whatever they think exists. Identity, on the other hand, is a transitive, symmetric, and reflexive relation that doesn't entail the existence of things.

For the 100th time, the point before you is that your 'two ontologies' both depend upon identity. You yourself concede this. As for identity entailing existence (i.e. an actual existent rather than an abstraction like a unicorn), this has nothing to do with my arguments. You, as usual, are unable to correct a basic misconprehension of the argument even after multiple corrections.

Quote:

It is nonsense to say "identity provides ontology". That's gibberish.

Really? This is not an argument. It's a childish tantrum (as is the remainder of your post.)

And it's also painfully obviously false: To have identity is to have characteristics (whether 'abstract' or 'real&#39Eye-wink, ergo to speak of identity is to have an ontology. This is basic metaphysics.

 Explain to me how something can have a concept, an identity, which requires an explanation of the nature of the entity (characteristics), and not also have an ontology. This is what you would do if you actually had an argument.

Instead, you throw an insult.

This speaks volumes to your inability to respond in a civil manner.

You don't, because you can't.

To have identity is to have attributes, characteristics, this is precisely what an ontology is.... to speak to the nature of an entity, i.e. it's characteristics.

You can't provide the grounds for a coherent identity in a conceptual analysis without providing the basics for an ontology.

And you can't respond to this other than to toss insults, can you?

That says it all. 

 

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Todangst, I asked you to

Todangst,

I asked you to review some basic logic and philosophy before you replied again. It appears that you've failed to take my advice.

When I say that your posts rest on philosophical confusion and sloppy thinking, it's because they do. I'm sorry if you find that insulting. The truth isn't always comfortable. The fact that you think I'm "projecting" reflects wishful thinking on your part.

For the 100th time, providing the ontological status of x and providing a conceptual analysis of x both involve identity, but it doesn't follow that they're one and the same task. Pretty much any philosophical project you care to dream up presupposes identity; only a neophyte would think this means that all such philosophical tasks are one and the same.

By arguing against this and saying that it's a "childish tantrum" you've placed yourself at odds with a distinction nearly all philosophers would cheerfully endorse. It's clear that you don't study philosophy regularly.

Best,

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Gavagai wrote:

Gavagai wrote:

For the 100th time, providing the ontological status of x and providing a conceptual analysis of x both involve identity, but it doesn't follow that they're one and the same task.

And for the 101st time, let me correct you and say "Fine, they can be two tasks" but this distinction has no bearing on any matter of discussion here, as the two task share common elements, making them the same vis a vis the discussion. 

 1) Both require identity.

And to provide an identity speaks to 2) the nature of a proposed concept, ergo it leads to an ontology.

This is unavoidable. If you disagree, actually present an argument and not a naked assertion combined with insults. 

 

Quote:

By arguing against this and saying that it's a "childish tantrum" you've placed yourself at odds with a distinction nearly all philosophers would cheerfully endorse

Your string of insults is the childish tantrum. You never actually cite any philosopher for me to disagree with, so your attempt to act as if I am calling their works childish is, itself, again, childish.

Cite me someone who holds that identity, a set of attributes, characteristics, i.e. a nature, does not lead to ontology. Waiting.

For the 100th time, the point before you is that your 'two ontologies' both depend upon identity.

You yourself concede this.

Next, to have identity is to have characteristics (whether 'abstract' or 'real' ) ergo to speak of identity is to have an ontology. This is basic metaphysics.

Please respond to this point or concede it.

Next:

Explain to me how something can have a concept, an identity, which requires an explanation of the nature of the entity (characteristics), and not also have an ontology.

To have identity is to have attributes, characteristics, this is precisely what an ontology is.... to speak to the nature of an entity, i.e. it's characteristics.

I don't look forward to an answer, instead, I forsee more insults, attacks, etc., from the very guy asking for civil discourse....

 

I'd just love to hear how you can provide an identity for a conceptual analysis of 'x' and not provide an ontology. I'm just waiting for your learned response.

 

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Provide an indentity for a

Provide an indentity for a conceptual analysis of any 'x'

 

And then show how completing this task of providing an identity does not provide a basic ontology.

 

Waiting (for more than just insults or assertions concerning anonymous experts) 

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You guys are stuck in a

You guys are stuck in a loop of assertion and re-assertion.  Maybe I can help:

I don't think Gav is trying to talk about existence without identity (which is obviously impossible).  I think he's trying to talk about identity without talking about existence (which may be okay, Tod?). 

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Textom wrote: You guys are

Textom wrote:

You guys are stuck in a loop of assertion and re-assertion. Maybe I can help:

I don't think Gav is trying to talk about existence without identity (which is obviously impossible). I think he's trying to talk about identity without talking about existence (which may be okay, Tod?).

Both are codependant of eachother.


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Textom wrote: You guys are

Textom wrote:

You guys are stuck in a loop of assertion and re-assertion. Maybe I can help:

I don't think Gav is trying to talk about existence without identity (which is obviously impossible). I think he's trying to talk about identity without talking about existence (which may be okay, Tod?).

I think that's a fair evaluation.  I'll add some observations.

I think Tod has admitted the distinction of a conceptual analysis and providing an ontology.  I think what he simply means is that having an idea of something is different from saying that the idea has a referent in reality.  I accept this distinction.

I think that Tod's point is to accept the distinction, but to say that the distinction has no teeth in regard to the issue of providing an ontology for certain concepts (as this thread relates to the broken concept thread elsewhere).  He is saying that while the steps themselves are distinct (agreeing with gav), one leads to the other.  he's saying that having a concept analyzed--an idea--describes what that thing would be if it were to exist.  Then, one can go on to analyze if said thing exists beyond an idea.

(I'll say, obviously parenthetically, that this is the key to the question of the supernatural's broken concept status; How can one describe something that shares no ontological categories with the very world of description--the natural world--without stealing natural concepts and thus creating a paradox?  The paradox is using the natural world to describe that which is spposed to be unlike the natural world) .

Gav, I see your distinction, but I fail to see why it is important on this forum? What does it demonstrate in relationship to Tod's argument concerning the broken concepts and their ontology (or lack thereof)?

Shaun 

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Textom wrote:

Textom wrote:

You guys are stuck in a loop of assertion and re-assertion. Maybe I can help:

Gav reassserts things I've already demonstrated to be actually immaterial to the discussion, whereas I continually challenge him to demonstrate how hiw argument is pertinent to the discussion. I don't merely assert. However, he does merely assert, and insult.

All he does is lie, and claim that I am denying something that I never even discuss, let alone deny. I.e. he implies that I am denying something that 'modern philosophy agrees with, such as 'a count-noun rather than a mass term.'

I don't even address that issue. Instead, I ask him what relevance it has to begin with! Instead, I ask him to tell me how he can provide an identity for a conceptual analysis without providing characteristics, a nature, an ontology.

His entire thread is a non sequitur.

Quote:

I don't think Gav is trying to talk about existence without identity (which is obviously impossible). I think he's trying to talk about identity without talking about existence (which may be okay, Tod?).

And I've only dealt with this error 100 times already!

This distinction has no bearing on our discussion, whether we are talking about a real entity or an abstraction, identity is required. Gav accepts this. To provide identity is to provide characteristics, a nature, i.e. an ontology.

So this distinction, again, has no bearing on the matter. None. Zero. Which is why we can expect more insults and tantrums, but no arguments from Gav.

 

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ShaunPhilly wrote:

ShaunPhilly wrote:
Textom wrote:

You guys are stuck in a loop of assertion and re-assertion. Maybe I can help:

I don't think Gav is trying to talk about existence without identity (which is obviously impossible). I think he's trying to talk about identity without talking about existence (which may be okay, Tod?).

I think that's a fair evaluation.

I've already dealt with this 'distinction' and shown it has no relevance to matters of ontology. Whether we speak of an actual 'x' or provide a conceptual analysis of a putative x, we speak on matters of ontology, necessarily.

Quote:

I think Tod has admitted the distinction of a conceptual analysis and providing an ontology.

To provide a conceptual analysis is to provide a putative ontology. The sole difference is that the concept need not have an extra mental existence. To this, I say: so what? What bearing does this have on the matter of ontology?

To conceive of something requires that you ponder a thing's nature. Ontology.

Quote:

I think what he simply means is that having an idea of something is different from saying that the idea has a referent in reality. I accept this distinction.

There is a difference, but the distinction is immaterial vis a vis ontology.

Quote:

I think that Tod's point is to accept the distinction, but to say that the distinction has no teeth in regard to the issue of providing an ontology for certain concepts (as this thread relates to the broken concept thread elsewhere).

Precisely. And this marks all of Gav's arguments: his point has no actual bearing on the matter.

Quote:

He is saying that while the steps themselves are distinct (agreeing with gav), one leads to the other. he's saying that having a concept analyzed--an idea--describes what that thing would be if it were to exist. Then, one can go on to analyze if said thing exists beyond an idea.

What I am saying is that it doesn't matter whether x exists or not, to concieve of ANYTHING requires identity, characteristics, a nature, i.e. ontology. To conceive is to conceive something, characteristics, elements, a nature.

 

Which is why I challenge Gav to tell me how he can provide an identity for a conceptual analysis without providing characteristics, a nature, an ontology.

All he does in response is again lie that I am denying something that I never even discuss, let alone deny. I.e. he implies that I am denying something that 'modern philosophy agrees with, such as 'a count-noun rather than a mass term.' 

I don't even address that issue. Instead, I ask him what relevance it has to begin with!  Instead, I ask him to tell me how he can provide an identity for a conceptual analysis without providing characteristics, a nature, an ontology.

 

 

Quote:

(I'll say, obviously parenthetically, that this is the key to the question of the supernatural's broken concept status; How can one describe something that shares no ontological categories with the very world of description--the natural world--without stealing natural concepts and thus creating a paradox? The paradox is using the natural world to describe that which is spposed to be unlike the natural world) .

Yes.

 

Quote:

Gav, I see your distinction, but I fail to see why it is important on this forum? What does it demonstrate in relationship to Tod's argument concerning the broken concepts and their ontology (or lack thereof)?

Shaun

Very good question. In fact, you could post a different form of it in every one of his threads.

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Yes, Bob, I'm here at the

Yes, Bob, I'm here at the annual Theist vs. Atheist Debate... here's the play by play...

Theist: It's possible to conceptualize without speaking of identity.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: It's possible.

Atheist: Do it.

Thiest: It's possible.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: Lots of people know that it's possible.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: Lots of people know that it's possible, you poopoo head. You don't know that, so I win.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: You don't know what you're talking about.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: (prolonged silence)

 

That's all from the floor... Back to you, Bob!

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Yes,

Hambydammit wrote:

Yes, Bob, I'm here at the annual Theist vs. Atheist Debate... here's the play by play...

Theist: It's possible to conceptualize without speaking of identity.

Atheist: Do it.

Theist: It's possible.

Our discussion has now moved on to the simple, bone dead obvious reality that to provide an identity, a set of characteristics, a nature,  is to provide an ontology.  However, your assessment is quite accurate: Gav's arguments are a supposed attempt to raise a possibility of providing meaning for these terms, when in fact they fail to do any such thing.

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I admit, I'm baffled by the

I admit, I'm baffled by the way this is going.  Granted, I don't have a PhD in logic, but I'm far from ignorant of it, and I simply can't understand how any discussion of a conceptualization without an ontology (or with some mysterious second ontology that somehow has something to do with count nouns... why that was ever brought up, I can't fathom) would be allowed to go on without a demonstration of how such a thing is possible -- in other words, an example of a concept without identity.

While I admit that G's threads are much less laborious to read than the late great StMichael's, I think we're seeing the same shell game.  There's a non-sequitur somewhere, and if you look like you're going to pick up the shell that it's under, it magically moves to another one.  If we can't prove supernatural through ontology, we can prove it with linguistics.  If that doesn't work, we'll try it with something else.

It would be so simple if he'd just stop telling us we're wrong, and start making with the demonstrations, or concede.

(I, for one, am damn curious to read these contemporary philosophers who have destroyed your thesis.  I wish he'd give us some excerpts, or something that would back up this claim!)

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

I admit, I'm baffled by the way this is going. Granted, I don't have a PhD in logic, but I'm far from ignorant of it, and I simply can't understand how any discussion of a conceptualization without an ontology (or with some mysterious second ontology that somehow has something to do with count nouns... why that was ever brought up, I can't fathom) would be allowed to go on without a demonstration of how such a thing is possible --

Precisely.

The simple reality is this: to conceive of anything, requires identity, which speaks of characteristics, a nature. This is ontology.

Gav's discussion of 'two different' senses of ontology is utterly moot vis a vis the only matter of contention: that purely eliminative references, that rule out any universe of discourse, are meaningless, because failed references violate the axiom of identity

Quote:

While I admit that G's threads are much less laborious to read than the late great StMichael's, I think we're seeing the same shell game. There's a non-sequitur somewhere, and if you look like you're going to pick up the shell that it's under, it magically moves to another one. If we can't prove supernatural through ontology, we can prove it with linguistics. If that doesn't work, we'll try it with something else.

It would be so simple if he'd just stop telling us we're wrong, and start making with the demonstrations, or concede.

Yes.

Quote:

(I, for one, am damn curious to read these contemporary philosophers who have destroyed your thesis. I wish he'd give us some excerpts, or something that would back up this claim!)

No contemporary philosopher would deny that providing a nature for a concept is providing an ontology. What 'gav' is blathering on abou is his delineation concerning count-nouns and mass terms, etc., an issue that 1) I don't even address because 2) it has no bearing on the matter.

So when he says I am rejecting what they say, he's lying, because I've in fact said that this discussion has no bearing on the matter, , and furthermore, Gav hasn't even attempted to show how it could...

His inabilty to grasp this shows me that he's merely ripping things out of a book that he really doesn't understand... that's precisely why he rants and insults when his 'arguments' fail, because he doesn't really grasp why they have no bearing on the matter, so he can't follow up in any meaningful way other than to toss insults. He thinks he has something that relates, and when I don't agree, in his mind, I'm 'rejecting modern philosophy' when, in fact I'm merely saying what othere here have said: these issues do not relate in the first place.

Again, once you concede that a conceptual analysis of an imaginary entity requires identity just as much as a discussion of real entities does, then you've basically agreed with my point. All that is left is for Gav to recognize his latest blunder: that to provide a nature for an abstraction is to provide an ontology!

And this is where the game ends in checkmate.

 

 

 

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Wow, I really need to start

Wow, I really need to start posting again...