hello i would like to know at what point does something come into existence, for an example take a painting does it come into existence the second the painter thinks of it and can see it in their minds eye(because can you think of something that doesn't exist)or is it when the painter first makes the first brush stroke on the canvas or is it only when the painting is completed and others can see it. It could also be said that the painting always existed because all the materials the painting is made out of was already here in one form or another, they were just never put together in that certain way before. What i really want to know is does something exist simply because someone can think of it and see it in there mind or does it have to be seen touched or smelled in the physical world.For another example, the computer you are reading this on definitely exists because you can see it and touch it and so can others but the programs on it like Microsoft word or excel do not physically exist, you can not...

You asked, "What I really want to know is does something exist simply because someone can think of it and see it in their mind, or does it have to be seen, touched or smelled in the physical world?" I'd say neither . There's a sense in which I can think of a unicorn and see it in my mind: I can imagine it. But my feat of imagination doesn't show that unicorns exist. I can have an idea, or an image, of a unicorn, and perhaps then my idea or image exists. But that doesn't show that unicorns exist, because my idea isn't of an idea, and my image isn't of an image; instead, it's an idea, or image, of a unicorn. On the other side, physicists tell us that neutrinos exist, but it's at best a stretch to say that neutrinos can be seen or touched, much less smelled! And it may well be that abstract objects such as numbers exist even though we can't see, touch, or smell them.

Hello, my question(s) is: could emotions, concepts and physical things that are opposite to each other, exist without each other? For example, if there were no such thing as hot, then could cold exist? What about joy and sorrow? Could we identify one without the other? Do they require our awareness of them, for them to exist? Obviously this isn't the case with some things, like gravity.

You've asked three different questions about three apparently different kinds of items: emotions, concepts, and physical things. So there may be as many as nine different answers, depending on which question is being asked about which kind of item (and some of those nine answers may be of the form "It depends"). I'll choose just one of those kinds -- concepts -- and try to answer your three questions about it. 1. It's controversial just how concepts themselves exist , but it's clear that a concept can be instantiated -- there can be instances of the concept -- even if the opposite concept isn't instantiated. Take the concept self-identical . Everything instantiates that concept, because necessarily everything is identical to itself. But nothing instantiates the opposite concept, self-distinct , because nothing could be distinct from itself. Or consider two more controversial examples, the concepts physical and nonphysical . Some philosophers say that everything is physical, so...

I have been reading a recently published book about the existence of all things (e.g. addressing the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?"), and am struck by an interesting issue I see in the book and others like it. The author interviews philosophers (among other professionals) who often speak about the existence of things based on what one can imagine (e.g. one imagining something about possible worlds). It seems to me that there should be some kind of theory about how thoughts relate to the universe before anyone can conclude things about its nature. I know there are philosophers who have raised the question that the "laws" that govern thought/logic may be very different than the physical laws that govern the universe (and hence whatever theories we have about the world may be nothing more than our own ideas); so why is there such emphasis placed on imagination when discussing metaphysical issues? Why is the intelligibility of an idea about the universe (e.g. whether there are many...

You asked, among other things, "Why is the intelligibility of an idea about the universe...a criterion for determining the truth-value of the idea?" I wouldn't say that an idea's being intelligible to us is a criterion for its being true: that would be thinking too highly of ourselves! But an idea's being intelligible to us is necessary for our determining (i.e., ascertaining) its truth-value and even for our entertaining the possibility that it's true. If an idea is unintelligible to us -- if we can't make any sense of it -- then we can't make sense of the assertion that the idea is true, or even possibly true, or false, or even possibly false. I think we can understand the claim that some unspecified aspects of reality are unintelligible to us. But we can't understand the suggestion that some particular unintelligible claim about reality might be true (or false, for that matter). That limitation applies to science just as much as to philosophy. I suspect that the book you're reading is...

Everything needs a cause, right, or it couldn't happen, right? But, if everything needs a cause, how could anything happen? Because the thing that would cause it to happen would also need a cause. So does that means the universe can't happen/could never get to now? Or is time a cause in and of itself? And "drags" things as time goes forward, like a replay in a video game? But then time would need a cause too, right?

Many quantum physicists say that lots of events occur without being caused to occur. But let's assume that they're wrong and that every event needs a cause. One way to answer your challenge is to allow for an infinite regress of contingent events: a series of events stretching back endlessly in which no member is logically or metaphysically required to happen. I don't see what's wrong, in principle, with an infinite regress of events. One might reject such a regress on the grounds that "time couldn't stretch back forever," but I see no good reason to say that it couldn't. But even if time couldn't stretch back forever, you can still squeeze infinitely many events into a finite time if they "telescope" so that the time between them decreases geometrically as you go back. We needn't treat time itself as a cause in any of this. Indeed, if (as almost all philosophers have held) some events are contingent, and if every event has a sufficient explanation why it occurred rather than not, then an...

Here's a quote from Hume: "Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable, implies a contradiction." My question is this: what is the difference between something that is logically a contradiction and something that happens to not be instantiated? For example, ghosts do not exist. Could you explain how the concept of a ghost is not a contradiction? Thanks ^^

What is the difference between something that is logically a contradiction and something that happens to not be instantiated? As I think you already suspect, it's the difference between (1) a concept whose instantiation is contrary to the laws of logic or contrary to the logical relations that obtain among concepts; and (2) a concept whose instantiation isn't contrary to logic but only contrary to fact. Examples of (1) include the concepts colorless red object and quadrilateral triangle . Examples of (2) include the concept child of Elizabeth I of England . Concepts of type (1) are unsatisfiable in the strongest sense; concepts of type (2) are merely unsatisfied. Could you explain how the concept of a ghost is not a contradiction? Good question. I'm not sure the concept isn't internally contradictory. Can ghosts, by their very nature, interact with matter? Some stories seem to want to answer yes and no . If I recall correctly (it's been a while) the movie ...

Is existence a property? The way I became confounded was an example like this: a phoenix is a bird, it has feathers, and it is born from ashes, but it does not exist, whereas a penguin is a bird, has feathers, exists, and is born in snow. As in, existence and being born in snow are properties of penguins, but not of phoenixes. I feel there might be some mistake, but I certainly lack the expertise to puzzle through this on my own.

Why not think of it this way? The concept phoenix is the concept of a bird, with feathers, that arises from ashes, etc. The concept penguin is the concept of a bird, with feathers, that's (typically) born in a cold climate, etc. As it happens, the first of those concepts isn't fulfilled: nothing answers to the concept; there are no phoenixes; phoenixes don't exist. As it happens, the second concept is fulfilled: something answers to it; there are penguins; penguins exist. Both concepts exist, but only one of them is fulfilled. Our having the concepts phoenix and penguin doesn't imply that either concept is fulfilled, nor does it imply that there's any sense of 'exist' in which phoenixes (or for that matter penguins) exist.

My supposition is; can an abstract possess an abstract? That is, a person (tangible) can possess morality or happiness, but "time" can not possess either. Or, a "society" can be said to be moral (or immoral) but is it the "society" that possesses that morality, or just the tangible members of that society?

In my opinion, the best way to think of properties (attributes, characteristics, traits) is to think of them as abstract objects. On this way of thinking of them, anything at all that possesses a property possesses (or, maybe better, instantiates ) an abstract object. You possess the property of being human: you instantiate the abstract object humanity . But abstract objects themselves can also possess properties -- most obviously, the property of abstractness . On this view, society (construed as an abstract object) can be (say) immoral provided it makes sense to describe an entire society that way: any obstacle to a society's counting as immoral wouldn't stem from the abstractness of society or the abstractness of immorality. Much more to be found here .

Is similarity a fact of things in the world, or is it an observation made by sentient beings? Take two cats, for example. Is it an objective fact of the world that the two cats are similar (shape, size, biology, etc.)? Or are there, ontologically speaking, just two phenomena (or two portions of the phenomenal world) that we, as conscious beings, perceive as similar and categorize as cats?

I think it depends on what's meant by 'similarity'. If similarity is just the sharing of properties -- having in common this or that attribute -- then it would seem that any two things are similar. Even Barack Obama and the Battle of Hastings have lots of properties in common: being known to historians, being the subject of books and articles, being distinct from the number 3, being referred to by me in this sentence, and so on. (You might reply that similarity is only the sharing of intrinsic properties, but it isn't always easy to draw a line between intrinsic and extrinsic properties.) So from the perspective of the world, any two things are similar -- and maybe equally similar, since any two things share infinitely many properties. But almost all of those properties will be uninteresting to us, and that's where we come in. From among those infinitely many properties, we conscious beings focus on just a handful in accordance with our interests. If we restrict ourselves to...

Is modern philosophy too abstract? I mean when it asks questions about being does it ask questions that about any kind of being when perhaps it could be asking question about the particular kind of being that we live in? I guess you could say the answer is no because philosophers deal with questions about science and science is about the world we live in. But is the kind of being of science the only "concrete" form of being that philosophers can ask about? I personally think that their is more to being than either physics or hyper-abstractions that only look at being in terms of temporarily, causality and quantity, etc. Is a disagreement about what we think is "being" perhaps one of the central splits between analytic and "continental" philosophy?

I tend to use the noun 'being' as a count noun: You and I are both beings; maybe the number seven is also a being (although of a different kind from you or me). I'll therefore use the words 'existence' or 'reality' for what you seem to refer to by 'being' in your question. When it asks questions about existence or reality, modern-day philosophy -- including analytic philosophy -- ranges as broadly as you like. Philosophy doesn't confine itself to the world described by natural science. Often philosophy asks about the existence or reality of non-natural beings such as abstract objects (maybe numbers, properties, propositions) or concrete, non-natural beings (maybe immaterial minds or souls, maybe God). It's true that analytic philosophers tend to respect natural science, but they shouldn't (and largely don't) think that all legitimate questions are questions for natural science. Furthermore, contemporary philosophy -- perhaps especially analytic philosophy -- asks about ways that reality could...

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