- . . . a good notation has a subtlety and suggestiveness which at times
make it seem almost like a live teacher.
→ Bertrand Russell, introduction to "Wittgenstein (Ludwig) - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus"
- But ordinary language is all right.
→ Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book2
- David Lewis spoke of “the philosophy room,” and the term has gained some currency. But in philosophy’s house there are many rooms, and one of them, more austere in design and more sparsely furnished than perhaps any of the others, is the ontology room. (The ontology room is not the epistemology room or the philosophy-of-mind room, and it is separated by many rooms and many long corridors from the political-philosophy room.)
- Let ‘discussants’ abbreviate ‘participants in discussions in the ontology room’. Discussants converse in a language I will call Tarskian. The vocabulary of Tarskian consists of closed or open sentences and closed or open terms of English (or some natural language) and the sentential connectives, brackets, quantifiers, variables, and identity sign of the vocabulary of first-order logic (so-called) with identity – perhaps supplemented by items from the vocabulary of various well-defined extensions of first-order logic with identity.
- … ‘Chairs exist’ does not represent itself as metaphysically neutral. Nor does it represent itself as metaphysically partisan. It does not represent itself as having any metaphysical implications at all (or at least none more controversial than, e.g., ‘There is something, and not, rather, nothing’ and ‘There is a certain amount of organization in the material world’). Which is not to say that it has no metaphysical implications. Perhaps it has just the metaphysical implications that I have denied it has.
- Perhaps I have gone badly wrong and the proposition it expresses “outside” does entail such propositions as Chaireg and the proposition that composite inanimate material objects exist. After all, Trenton Merricks thinks so and Eli Hirsch thinks so (albeit they disagree about the truth-value of those propositions) – and, like Roy Sorensen, they are highly intelligent, serious, and extremely able philosophers. But, since ‘Chairs exist’ does not wear its logical structure on its sleeve (if it indeed has anything that can usefully be called a logical structure), it is possible for there to be an ongoing, substantive metaontological debate about what proposition it expresses and whether that proposition has metaphysical implications and, if it does, what they are. This Introduction has been a contribution to that debate.
- there is no “official” introduction – or conclusion – but I’ve extracted the first few and last few paragraphs to give an indication of what the paper is about.
- I’ve ignored the footnotes.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)