- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Nihilism1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Summary" above.
Write-up2 (as at 29/04/2018 11:02:24): Nihilism
- Otherwise known as Eliminitivism, Nihilism is the view that there are no persons or – more alarmingly – that we don’t exist.
- Whether what is eliminated is the same in all cases must await detailed examination.
- Peter Unger – at least at one time4 – argued (rather improbably) that:-
- He didn’t exist: "Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist" (1979).
- There are no people: "Unger (Peter) - Why There Are No People" (1979), though this seems to be a corollary of a more general thesis, introduced in Section 6.
- There are no ordinary things: "Unger (Peter) - There are no Ordinary Things" (1979).
- Eric Olson:
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Nihilism" (2007) considers the matter (but rejects the thesis).
- Olson accepts some of the arguments that lead to nihilism. See:-
→ "Olson (Eric) - Why I Have No Hands" (1995), as sensationalised in …
→ "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands" (2012).
- Peter Van Inwagen: If I remember correctly, van Inwagen thinks that all that exists are organisms and simples. See:-
→ "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings" (1990), and in particular …
→ "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Extreme Answers to the Special Composition Question: Nihilism and Universalism" (1990)
This is no threat to the elimination of persons, of course.
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Objects and Persons" (2001); in particular:-
→ "Merricks (Trenton) - Surviving Eliminativism", and
→ "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?"
Merricks thinks that we – and other organisms – exist, but that statues don’t. Again, this is no treat to the existence of persons.
- One reason for considering this topic is that lots of the arguments – sorites-style5, or “too many occupants” – occur throughout the topic of personal identity. If they are unsound here, they may be so elsewhere.
- In particular, it’ll be interesting to compare Olson’s argument that he has no hands with his “thinking animal6” argument. He seems committed to both.
- Note that nihilism is also used in many other contexts. Obviously, I ignore the ethical / political sense. But there is also the mereological7 sense, which is more relevant to my concerns. Mereological nihilism is the doctrine that things don’t have proper parts.
- For a page of Links8 to this Note, Click here.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read9, include10 the following:-
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Review of 'What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology' by Eric T. Olson", Baker
- "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?", Kurtz
- "Olson (Eric) - Why I Have No Hands", Olson
→ "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands"
- "Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist", Unger
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Précis of Material Beings", Van Inwagen
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Liggins (David) - Nihilism without Self-Contradiction", Liggins
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Epiphenomenalism and Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Surviving Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?", Merricks
- "Miller (Kristie) - 'Personal identity' minus the persons", Miller
- "Morton (Adam) - Why There Is No Concept of a Person", Morton
- "O'Leary-Hawthorne (John) & Cortens (Andrew) - Towards Ontological Nihilism", O'Leary-Hawthorne & Cortens
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Nihilism", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? What Now?", Olson
- "Rodriguez-Pereyra (Gonzalo) - Modal Realism and Metaphysical Nihilism", Rodriguez-Pereyra
- "Sider (Ted) - Against Parthood", Sider
- "Sides (Carl Brock) - Mereological Nihilism and the Limits of Paraphrase", Sides
- "Sosa (Ernest) - Existential Relativity", Sosa
- "Stone (Jim) - Parfit and the Buddha: Why There Are No People", Stone
- "Unger (Peter) - Skepticism and Nihilism", Unger
- "Unger (Peter) - There are no Ordinary Things", Unger
- "Unger (Peter) - Why There Are No People", Unger
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Extreme Answers to the Special Composition Question: Nihilism and Universalism", Van Inwagen
- "Weatherson (Brian) - The Problem of the Many", Weatherson
- "Williamson (Timothy) - Nihilism", Williamson
- "Zuboff (Arnold) - Moment Universals and Personal Identity", Zuboff
- This is mostly a place-holder11.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (29/04/2018 11:02:24).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 4: See the introduction to "Unger (Peter) - The Mental Problems of the Many" (2004) for a recantation.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
- Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
- There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
- Frequently I’ll have made copious marginal annotations, and sometimes have written up a review-note.
- In the former case, I intend to transfer the annotations into electronic form as soon as I can find the time.
- In the latter case, I will have remarked on the fact against the citation, and will integrate the comments into this Note in due course.
- My intention is to incorporate into these Notes comments on material I’ve already read rather than engage with unread material at this stage.
- I may have read others in between updates of this Note – in which case they will be marked as such in the “References and Reading List” below.
- Papers or Books partially read have a rough %age based on the time spent versus the time expected.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018