Philosophy of … thinking

Posted in Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, realism, Science by e1saman on September 22, 2010

philosophy of scienceI tried to read the following post on philosophy of science, and I think I am confused; What do you understand of the following paragraph?

Can we think about non existent objects?

But isn’t denying that we can think about non-existent objects self refuting? What have we been talking about this whole time if not whether or not there are any of this kind of thought! So denying that there are any just shows that we have been thinking about non-existent objects all along! The very thoughts about non-existent objects that we have been discussing. But this is too quick. This is again just another example of an existentially quantified statement. ‘There are no thoughts about non-existent objects’ is really just saying that thoughts about non-existent objects don’t exist but that does not thereby mean that I am thinking about some non-existent objects! And this is for just the same reason as above; there are no objects which can be correctly described as the ones that I am thinking about.

My poor understanding is that if we cannot even make thoughts about something non-existent, then we have to accept that non-existence itself is non-existent… But maybe logic does not apply this way here!

Maybe it’s poor tactic but I like to answer to questions with other questions, and in this case I would like to ask what does it really mean if we can think of non-existent objects?

Someone would say that imagining of non-existent objects has helped mathematics a lot. But someone else would say that mathematics is just a description  of the way our mind works¹, nothing to do with reality. In this context then imagining of non-existing object can lead to some (not new but)  hidden ways of thinking, or in some hidden memories of something existed in the past.

Finally behind the initial question maybe there is a strong realistic point of view.

I suppose we do not want to involve the idealist here because then we will open a looooong thread!


¹ A description of the ‘laws’ that govern the way that we perceive the world.