Whole and object: groundwork for a new metaphysics of objects and the language of existence
thesisposted on 10.11.2016 by Podosky, Paul-Mikhail
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
What it is to be an object and what it is to be a whole are separate enterprises: answering the former is doing ontology, and answering the latter is not. By providing this distinction, a new metaphysics of objects emerges. The positing of a whole is a referential gesture, either by ostension or naming, and the alleged object is postulated without consideration of internal causal operations between its parts. An object, however, requires careful physical explanation. I explicate the concept of object as an ontological function which takes mereological sums as arguments, and by causal operations on the members of that sum as structural relata, returns holistic properties of a singular entity. With the revised notions of whole and object in mind, I consider what implications this bears on existential quantification. Following Meinong, I believe that the existential quantifier does not capture existence. Instead, I argue that the existential quantifier expresses a mereological notion of countability; the collecting of things as one. The existential status of a counted entity is left unstated until it is explicitly asserted as existing by a speaker, in the mental frame of a realist attitude, and this expression of existence is captured by the existence predicate. The existence of the counted entity, the alleged object, is confirmed or denied as an object in light of whether it satisfies the conditions specified by an endorsed theory of causally productive relations; the conditions under which something is an object.