Analiza i Egzystencja (Jan 2015)

Richard Gale i problem negacji

  • Adam Bastek

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 29


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There is still no agreement as to the way of interpreting negative statements and the ontological status of negative facts or events. Following W. V. Quine (On What There Is), some philosophers claim that world becomes overcrowded. It becomes overcrowded because positive events (or states of affairs) carry on their backs an infinite number of negative phantoms (quasi- entities). For instance, my being here now requires my not being elsewhere. As we know, in his works Quine developed a minimalistic vision of ontology (Quine’s taste for desert landscapes related to Ockham’s razor). On the other hand, every true proposition (positive or negative) corresponds with an event – there must be a negative event. Otherwise we will find it difficult to express what it is that corresponds to a negative statement. This point of view was temporarily presented by B. Russell (Philosophy of Logical Atomism). Gale (On What There Isn’t) examines the arguments for and against negative facts and events. The purpose of this paper is to present Gale’s inquiry into negatives and its ontological consequences. The conclusion of Gale’s investigations is as follows: what exists in the world is positive and the world is fully describable in positive statements. He argues along Kantian lines with British accent: it is meaningful to say that some objects are non-existent but it is meaningless to apply negation to the universe as a whole. While he argues along Kantian lines with British accent, I suggest solution with Polish accent (S. Leśniewski): it is contradictory to say that some objects are nonexistent.