Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Alexius Meinong

Was Alexius Meinong serious about nonexistent objects?

Yes, and it cost his reputation dearly, because Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) was to make great fun of him for it in his famous article “On Denoting” (1905). Still, other twentieth-century philosophers, such as Terence Parsons (1939–) and Roderick Chisholm (1916–1999) were to defend the consistency of Meinong’s ontology and the usefulness of being able to talk about non-existent objects. Meinong believed that nonexistent objects include the merely possible, as well as the impossible. He thought that existence was just a property of objects, like smell or shape, so that, for example, fictional characters lack that property, while Meinong himself had it.


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