[lit-ideas] Meinong's Jungle

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 16:37:10 EDT

As we discuss the sound Popper's Penguins make, and stuff (vide McEvoy,  
"Re: Philosophy of Music") we may want to connect it with the great Meinong 
and  his junge. This excerpted from wiki:
"Meinong's jungle is the name given to the repository of non-existent  
entities in the ontology of Alexius Meinong."
"Meinong ... believed that since non-existent things could apparently be  
referred to, they must have some sort of being, which he termed sosein 
("being  so"). Thus, in Meinong's schema, entities such as unicorns, square 
circles and  golden mountains all have being."
Or 'propositions', or 'irreal numbers', or quite a few items of stuff that  
Popper would have as World III, and I, in my imaginative moments, as World 
IV  and beyond. (As St Augustine said, "Don't ask me what the World IV is; I 
know  what it is, but if you ask me, I won't").
"The strangeness of such entities lead to this ontological realm being  
referred to as "Meinong's jungle"".
"The jungle is described in Meinong's work Über Annahmen (1902)."
"The name, "Meinong's jungle" is credited to William C. Kneale, whose  
Probability and Induction (1949) includes the passage 
"after wandering in Meinong's jungle of subsistence … philosophers are now  
agreed that propositions cannot be regarded as ultimate entities".
----- Grice would cite often from this book, which he found as  
ontologically very crucial. Kneale could never have attended Austin's meetings  
Kneale was Austin's senior, though.

:The Meinongian theory of objects (Gegenstandstheorie) was influential  in 
the debate over sense and reference between Gottlob Frege and Bertrand  
Russell which led to the establishment of analytic philosophy and contemporary  
philosophy of language. Russell's theory of descriptions, in the words of 
P.M.S.  Hacker, enables him to "thin out the luxuriant Meinongian jungle of 
entities  (such as the round square), which, it had appeared, must in some 
sense subsist  in order to be talked about"".
Hacker was until recently the depository of the job that Grice practiced  
for DECADES at Oxford: Tutorial fellow in Philosophy at St. John's, St. Giles 
 Street, Oxford -- the little room to the left of the second building,  
overlooking the backyard.
"According to the theory of descriptions, speakers are not committed to  
asserting the existence of referents for the names they use.
Meinong's jungle  is cited as an objection to Meinong's semantics, as the 
latter commits one to  ontically undesirable objects; it is desirable to be 
able to speak meaningfully  about unicorns, the objection goes, but not to 
have to believe in them.  Nominalists (who believe that general or abstract 
terms and predicates exist but  that either universals or abstract objects do 
not) find Meinong's jungle  particularly unpalatable."
--- and mutatis mutandis, items of World III which have no World I  
counterparts, I allege.
"As Colin McGinn puts it, "[g]oing naively by the linguistic appearances  
leads not only to logical impasse but also to metaphysical extravagance - as  
with Meinong's jungle, infested with shadowy Being." An uneasiness with the 
 ontological commitments of Meinong's theory is commonly expressed in the 
bon mot  "we should cut back Meinong's jungle with Occam's razor".
McGinn never met Grice, but he dedicated a few pages to him in his  
"Memoir". "He had only one tooth", he hyperbolises.
"Meingong's jungle was defended by modal realists, whose possible world  
semantics offered a more palatable variation of Meinong's Gegenstandstheorie, 
as  Jaakko Hintikka explains: If you ask "Where are the non-existent 
objects?" the  answer is, "Each in its own possible world." The only trouble 
that  notorious thicket, Meinong's jungle, is that it has not been zoned, 
plotted and  divided into manageable lots, better known as possible worlds. —
Hintikka,  Jaakko, The Logic of Epistemology and the Epistemology of Logic, p. 
Hintikka, a Finn, contributed, to PGRICE, ed. Grandy/Warner, the festchrift 
 for Grice.

Related topics

Empty name, a name without a referent

Fictionalism, a theory which holds that one can talk about fictional  
objects without being committed to their existence

Noneism, the philosophical belief that there are things that do not  exist


Jacquette, Dale (1996). 
On Defoliating Meinong's Jungle.
Axiomathes 1

Kneale, William C. (1949). 
Probability and Induction. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. p. 12.
Hacker, P. M. S. (1986). Insight and Illusion. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 
 p. 8. 
Klima, Gyula (2001). "Existence and Reference in Medieval Logic". In Karel  
Lambert. New Essays in Free Logic. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 
p.  211. 
McGinn, Colin (1993). The Problem of Consciousness. Oxford: Blackwell. pp.  
p. 105. ISBN 0631188037. 
-- Memoirs of a philosopher (for a reference to  Grice).
-- In Woodfield, "Thought and object" for a defense of Grice's  
telementationalism as non solipsistic. Avramides's theory is related.
Smith, A. D. (2002). The Problem of Perception. Cambridge: Harvard  
University Press. pp. p. 240. 

Hintikka, Jaakko (1989). The Logic of Epistemology and the Epistemology of  
Logic. Kluwer Academic. pp. p. 40. 

Further reading
Routley, Richard (1982). 
Exploring Meinong's Jungle and Beyond. Ridgeview Pub Co. 

Crittenden, Charles (1991). Unreality: The Metaphysics of Fictional  
Objects. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801425204. 
Jacquette, Dale  (1997). Meinongian Logic: the Semantics of Existence and 
Nonexistence. Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 311014865X. 

External links
Nonexistent Objects entry by Maria Reicher in the  Stanford Encyclopedia of 
Philosophy, 2006-09-07
Grice, Vacuous Names -- citing "Meinong" and "jungle". 
Grice, "Life and opinions", citing Kneale, "Probability and  induction".
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