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Eternal Possibilities

A Neutral Ground for Meaning and Existence

David Weissman

Publication Year: 2008

Eternal Possibilities: A Neutral Ground for Meaning and Existence builds on David Weissman's earlier Dispositional Properties and makes a signal contribution to the study of metaphysics. Here, broadening and enriching the point of view adopted in his earlier work, Weissman cites and criticizes a large number of theories proposed by authors from Plato to Wittgenstein and others exploring language theory and metaphysics.

Students of Wittgenstein will be especially interested in Mr. Weissman's critical examination of Wittgenstein's claim in the Tractatus that possibilities are the facts for logic. Weissman proposes a modal theory of properties: they exist in the first instance as possibilities. He argues that a sentence is meaningful if it signifies a property or complex of properties existing as a possible, and true if that possible is instantiated. The status of possibilities and their relation to actual states of affairs are considered in detail.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Series: Philosophical Explorations


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

THERE ARE several friends and fellow teachers who have helped to clarify my ideas in the many years that were spent in writing this book. I am particularly thankful to John Blom and Marshall Spector for their detailed...

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pp. 3-16

KANT supposed that metaphysics should restrict itself to the conditions which must obtain for the experience of any object whatever. One condition he emphasized is that concepts of the understanding have application to sensuous intuition only. Kant would identify the world with...

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1. Platonism in the Tractatus

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pp. 17-56

WITTGENSTEIN once held views about mind and knowledge that are like Plato's. Those ideas are expressed in the Tractatus under the guise of the picture theory. The correlates to Plato's Forms are possibilities in logical space. As a Form may achieve partial realization in...

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2. Two Kinds of Possibility: Material and Eternal

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pp. 57-108

THE IDEA of logical space is often mentioned in the Tractatus as Wittgenstein explicates his picture theory of meaning and truth; but no clear statement of its value for his theory appears there. My interpretation of the Tractatus requires that logical space be acknowledged as the fundamental...

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3. Relations among Eternal Possibilities: The Nexus

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pp. 109-140

THIS CHAPTER makes several related claims. First, it proposes that there is a specific difference distinguishing eternal possibility from actuality. They differ as the determinable and the determinate. Second, there are certain relations that prevail among properties existing as...

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4. Possibilities Instantiated: The Actual World

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pp. 141-188

POSSIBILITY and actuality are the lower-order, more determinate expressions of existence. A nexus of possibilities is a possible world. There is at least one actual world, our own, with one or several nexus instantiated here. Four issues need clarification....

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5. Carnap, Goodman, and Quine on the Relation of Language to the World

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pp. 189-236

WITTGENSTEIN'S picture theory invites us to suppose that a sentence is fit to represent a particular state of affairs because there is one possibility for form instantiated in both of them. The picture theory is open to criticism at two places. First, it may be denied that the relation of language...

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6. Meaning: The Representation of Possibilities in Language

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pp. 237-290

THE FIRST two sentences of the Tractatus read: "The world is all that is the case" (l). "The world is the totality of facts, not of things" (1.1). What is the case are facts. Fact is a relationship having a state of affairs and a sentence as its terms. The relation binding these two is...


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pp. 291-300

Author Bio

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p. 301-301

Back Cover

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p. bc-bc

E-ISBN-13: 9780809387069
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809328703

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Philosophical Explorations