Understanding Quine 's Theory And Ontological Commitment

Decent Essays

Are there holes? This might seem like a simple question, but it is not to philosophers at times. This is a question of ontological importance, the question of what exist. W.V. Quine seeks to highlight ontologies purpose, and ultimately their function in his paper, “On What There Is”. This paper was very influential in the philosophical world in term to what we consider as ontology. In this paper, we will go through Quine’s thought process on the question of non-being and the use of descriptive statements to cut through what Quine actually considers as ontology. Then from there we will explore the problem of holes and come to a, hopefully, satisfying conclusion about the best possible ontology for knowing if holes exist.
In order to …show more content…

When people say that Pegasus is not they are not rejecting the idea of Pegasus, but rather the physical manifestation of Pegasus. Ideas and physical manifestations are very different when we talk about existence, and Quine is quick to point out some confusion on McX’s part. He states, “McX never confuses the Parthenon-idea. The Parthenon is physical; the Parthenon-idea is mental…The Parthenon is visible; the Parthenon-idea is invisible. We cannot easily imagine two things more unlike, and less liable to confusion, than the Parthenon and the Parthenon-idea.”(Quine, 2). Ultimately, Quine rejects McX’s argument and goes on to Wyman’s postulation of non-existence.

Wyman takes a different approach to the problem of non-existence than McX does. He says that Pegasus is “an unactualized possible” (Quine, 3). Pegasus to Wyman is just something that could exist and that just doesn’t have a corporeal existence in our world. Quine wants to get rid of this notion for two reasons it seems. One is because this creates and inflation of ontology, and Occam’s razor is disregarded. And two, it creates a problem for ontological disagreement. The first point is an idea of importance. Quine still wants the best ontology that he can find at the moment. With the multiplication of unactualized possibilities, there is too many things added into the definition of existence. In this case, the meaning of exist is expanded broadly. He says, “We have all been prone to say, in our

Get Access