This course will investigate aspects of the philosophy of existence and being which touch on its relationship with the philosophy of language and mind, as well as with metaphysics. We will look at some of the history of the idea of existence in philosophy, and how it relates to the idea of being. We will examine and criticise the dominant 20th century conception of existence which derives from WV Quine, which links existence with certain quantified formulae in formalised versions of our best theories of the world. The course will then examine relationship between existence and non-existence; or, rather, it will examine claims about non-existence and how we should understand them, and it will locate the significant of this within a broader account of mind and language.
By the end of this course students who have completed all the requirements will:
- have a good understanding of the key ideas of Frege, Meinong, Russell, Quine and Kripke on the question of existence;
- have a good understanding of the problem of nonexistence and its main proposed solutions;
- have an understanding of the relationship between questions of existence and recent discussions of fundamentality.
Each student will be expected to (i) give at least one 20 minute presentation, and the evaluation of the presentation will feed into the overall grade; (ii) submit one term paper of 4000 words, on a topic agreed with Professor Crane.