Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

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Consul
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » August 13th, 2018, 1:42 pm

Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 8:54 am
A unicorn is a mental construct with no real correlate even if the possibility of its real correlate were posited. It is the same with the mental construct of the world without subjects, with the difference that even the possibility of its existence cannot be consistently posited. But there are real cows in our real world. What did I miss?
Not all philosophers think that fictional objects/persons are possible objects/persons. Saul Kripke doesn't:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/poss ... jects/#Uni

Kripke's view has the consequence that all fictional/mythical objects (known to be fictional/mythical and thus to be nonactual) are impossible objects, i.e. objects which couldn't have actually existed. So neither unicorns nor Sherlock Holmes could have existed.

In his own words:

"I shall try to give a brief explanation of the strange view of unicorns advocated in the text. There were two theses: first a metaphysical thesis that no counterfactual situation is properly describable as one in which there would have been unicorns; second, an epistemological thesis that an archeological discovery that there were animals with all the features attributed to unicorns in the appropriate myth would not in and of itself constitute proof that there were unicorns.

As to the metaphysical thesis, the argument basically is the following. Just as tigers are an actual species, so the unicorns are a mythical species. Now tigers, as I argue in the third lecture, cannot be defined simply in terms of their appearance; it is possible that there should have been a different species with all the external appearances of tigers but which had a different internal structure and therefore was not the species of tigers. We may be misled into thinking otherwise by the fact that actually no such 'fool's tigers' exist, so that in practice external appearance is sufficient to identify the species. Now there is no actual species of unicorns, and regarding the several distinct hypothetical species, with different internal structures (some reptilic, some mammalian, some amphibious), which would have the external appearances postulated to hold of unicorns in the myth of the unicorn, one cannot say which of these distinct mythical species would have been the unicorns. If we suppose, as I do, that the unicorns of the myth were supposed to be a particular species, but that the myth provides insufficient information about their internal structure to determine a unique species, then there is no actual or possible species of which we can say that it would have been the species of unicorns.

The epistemological thesis is more easily argued. If a story is found describing a substance with the physical appearance of gold, one cannot conclude on this basis that it is talking about gold; it may be talking about 'fools' gold'. What substance is being discussed must be determined as in the case of proper names: by the historical connection of the story with a certain substance. When the connection is traced, it may well turn out that the substance dealt with was gold, 'fools' gold', or something else. Similarly, the mere discovery of animals with the properties attributed to unicorns in the myth would by no means show that these were the animals the myth was about: perhaps the myth was spun out of whole cloth, and the fact that animals with the same appearance actually existed was mere coincidence. In that case, we cannot say that the unicorns of the myth really existed; we must also establish a historical connection that shows that the myth is about these animals.

I hold similar views regarding fictional proper names. The mere discovery that there was indeed a detective with exploits like those of Sherlock Holmes would not show that Conan Doyle was writing about this man; it is theoretically possible, though in practice fantastically unlikely, that Doyle was writing pure fiction with only a coincidental resemblance to the actual man. (See the characteristic disclaimer: 'The characters in this work are fictional, and any resemblance to anyone, living or dead, is purely coincidental.') Similarly, I hold the metaphysical view that, granted that there is no Sherlock Holmes, one cannot say of any possible person that he would have been Sherlock Holmes, had he existed. Several distinct possible people, and even actual ones such as Darwin or Jack the Ripper, might have performed the exploits of Holmes, but there is none of whom we can say that he would have been Holmes had he performed these exploits. For if so, which one? I thus could no longer write, as I once did, that 'Holmes does not exist, but in other states of affairs, he would have existed.' … The quoted assertion gives the erroneous impression that a fictional name such as 'Holmes' names a particular possible-but-not-actual individual."


(Kripke, Saul A. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980. pp. 156-58)
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm

Tamminen wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 5:09 pm
All we can consistently imagine must fit into the logical space, the space of possibilities, and this space is necessarily within the limits of the subject-world relationship. As I said, unicorns fit perfectly into that space, but the world without subjects does not.
You're always asserting the subject-dependence of the world (universe/cosmos) without ever explaining it. For example, why do planets and stars depend on the existence of subjects? What is it about them that makes it impossible for them to exist in a subjectless world?
Your appeals to logic are baseless, because the alleged dependence in question is ontological rather than logical, and there is no logical principle which rules out the possibility of subjectless worlds.
Tamminen wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 5:09 pm
Remember that we try to posit the universe, not an object.
The whole world (universe/cosmos) can well be regarded as one big object (or substance).

"The world we live in is a very inclusive thing. Every stick and every stone you have ever seen is part of it. And so are you and I. And so are the planet Earth, the solar system, the entire Milky Way, the remote galaxies we see through telescopes, and (if there are such things) all the bits of empty space between the stars and galaxies. There is nothing so far away from us as not to be part of our world. Anything at any distance at all is to be included. Likewise the world is inclusive in time. No long-gone ancient Romans, no long-gone pterodactyls, no long-gone primordial clouds of plasma are too far in the past, nor are the dead dark stars too far in the future, to be part of this same world. Maybe, as I myself think, the world is a big physical object; or maybe some parts of it are entelechies or spirits or auras or deities or other things unknown to physics. But nothing is so alien in kind as not to be part of our world, provided only that it does exist at some distance and direction from here, or at some time before or after or simultaneous with now."

(Lewis, David. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. p. 1)
Tamminen wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 5:09 pm
When you say it is easy for you to imagine the world without subjects, I could ask you to describe what such a world might look like.
For instance, read a physical description of the universe as it was 10 billion years ago!
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by DrJamchie » August 13th, 2018, 3:14 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
May 23rd, 2018, 12:41 pm
Is there any physicalist/materialist theory of consciousness that doesn't end with the conclusion that consciousness is an illusion?
Yes. Say consciousness is an object inside virtual reality generated by human brain. In similar way as any object inside a video game. They do exist in any practical sense. They are not an illusion, as several players can agree on i.e. who has won, so those objects can even be objective. People do pay money to get those objects, so they are as real as it could ever matter. Also in no way they are physical phenomena. There are absolutely clear parallels between virtual reality and things we experience inside our consciousness. Take dreams for example.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 13th, 2018, 4:16 pm

Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 1:42 pm
Not all philosophers think that fictional objects/persons are possible objects/persons.
Perhaps we must find better examples then.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm
You're always asserting the subject-dependence of the world (universe/cosmos) without ever explaining it.
I think I have tried to explain it all the time, but there is no direct way of saying it. Perhaps you just have to get it by thinking of the possibility of its existing without subjects, not merely seeing the picture of it before your eyes. Needs a small amount of reflection.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm
Your appeals to logic are baseless, because the alleged dependence in question is ontological rather than logical, and there is no logical principle which rules out the possibility of subjectless worlds.
Yes, it is ontological, but also logical, because the basic ontological structure of 'subject-world', which must be taken as a premise because it precedes logic, also defines the logical space where we can posit possibilities. So there is a principle in the ontology of logic which rules out the possibility of positing the existence of the subjectless world. But as I said, we cannot avoid certain kind of circularity in this reasoning.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm
The whole world (universe/cosmos) can well be regarded as one big object (or substance).
Now I am beginning to understand why you find it so easy to imagine the universe without subjects. Because if you think that way, it surely is easy, and there is no problem with it. Another subjectless world can easily be posited parallel with ours, but not an alternative for it. See my recent posts.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm
For instance, read a physical description of the universe as it was 10 billion years ago!
As I said, you are in that universe. And if you are not, it is only part of the universe.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » August 13th, 2018, 4:17 pm

DrJamchie wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Yes. Say consciousness is an object inside virtual reality generated by human brain. In similar way as any object inside a video game.
Is a virtual reality a reality or an unreality? Are virtual objects real objects, or are they like unreal objects of hallucination?

"virtual. A philosophical term meaning 'not actually, but just as if.' It came into recent vogue with the use of computer techniques to enhance a computer memory. Virtual-memory techniques extend the data storage of a computer without adding hardware. On a personal computer, for example, virtual memory can be a part of RAM used as though it were a hard disk storage space. Such a virtual disk can be used like a hard disk, but does not have the physical limitations of an actual mechanical disk. Similarly, something can be present in virtual reality without its usual physical limitations. The debate about the value of virtual existence has appeared throughout the history of philosophy, with an especially vigorous debate in the era of Duns Scotus at the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the age of nominalism.

virtual reality (VR). Virtual reality pertains to convincing the participant that he or she is actually in another place, by substituting the normal sensory input received by the participant with information produced by a computer. This is usually done through three-dimensional graphics and input—output devices that closely resemble the participant's normal interface with the physical world. The most common I-O devices are gloves, which transmit information about the participant's hand (position, orientation, and finger bend angles), and head-mounted displays, which give the user a stereoscopic view of the virtual world via two computer-controlled display screens, as well as providing something on which to mount a position/ orientation tracker.
The definition of VR includes several factors and emphases: artificial reality, as when the user's full-body actions combine with computer-generated images to forge a single presence; interactivity, as when the user enters a building by means of a mouse traveling on a screen; immersion, as when the user dons a head-mounted display enabling a view of a three-dimensional animated world; networked environments, in which several people can enter a virtual world at the same time; telepresence, in which the user feels present in a virtual world while robotic machines effect the user's agency at a remote location in the actual primary world.

virtual world, virtual environment. A scene or an experience with which a participant can interact by using computer-controlled inputoutput devices. Most virtual worlds attempt to resemble physical reality, but controversy continues about the value of various levels of resemblance. Virtual worlds are not tied to physical reality, since any information that can be visualized can also be made into a virtual world that a participant can experience. Cyberspace, in other words, contains many kinds of virtual worlds. Even if a virtual world imitates a physical world, a decision has to be made whether the VR should imitate the perceived world of human phenomena or the world known to physical sciences (which often defies the assumptions of human phenomenology)."


(Heim, Michael. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. pp. 160-1)
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » August 13th, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:16 pm
Yes, it is ontological, but also logical, because the basic ontological structure of 'subject-world', which must be taken as a premise because it precedes logic, also defines the logical space where we can posit possibilities. So there is a principle in the ontology of logic which rules out the possibility of positing the existence of the subjectless world. But as I said, we cannot avoid certain kind of circularity in this reasoning.
The no-subject-no-object principle may be axiomatic in your Weltanschauung (worldview), but I simply reject it as false. Subjectivity or experientiality is not constitutive of, not essential to natural/physical reality. How could the sudden death of all objects which are subjects of experience cause all material objects in the universe (such as planets and stars) and the universe as a whole to cease to exist?
Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:16 pm
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 2:01 pm
For instance, read a physical description of the universe as it was 10 billion years ago!
As I said, you are in that universe. And if you are not, it is only part of the universe.
Yes, but it's a subjectless temporal part of the universe, and that's my point. For if there was a time when there were no subjects, then the universe exists subject-independently. Of course, fundamentalist/antiemergentist property dualists will disagree, since they believe that there have always been experiential properties and thus subjects of experience in the universe. But even if they are right—I think they aren't—, it doesn't follow that there will always be subjects in the universe, let alone that their existence in the universe is ontologically necessary, or that the existence of the universe as a whole depends on their existence.
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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Greta » August 13th, 2018, 7:13 pm

Felix wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 11:54 am
Greta: For mine, a universe before biology only has subjects if we speculate on the beingness of stars, black holes and other ostensibly nonconscious entities. Where are the subjects in the early universe of hot plasma clouds?
In a finite temporal universe, the same problem applies to physical objects, from whence did their being arise? They have no more primacy than do subjects, and less if they are simply the necessary foundation for the existence of subjects. And we can't be sure that consciousness requires our particular brand of biology. If you hanker after intelligent star clusters, read Olaf Stapleton's sci-fi novel 'Starmaker'.
I have wondered plenty how much we underestimate this fearsome beast of nucleation that is 150,000kms away and yet still appears large in our skies and shines brightly for us to look at. In a sense, the Earth and the rest are simply part of the Sun - its outlying reaches. The scale relationship is about akin to a human with a few bugs insects and many microbes floating around.

Still, for the Sun itself to harbour consciousness, there would need to be a reason, an advantage to being conscious. Try as I might, I can't see any. Then again, all things considered, the Earth and humanity could be thought of as the solar system's brain - a budding locus of control (if we don't screw up or get unlucky).

Or what of the Milky Way? Can there be any entity that ticks more "God boxes" that Saggitarius A*, the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy, which most likely is the galaxy's creator? Then again, there is Laniakea - the supercluster of which the entire Milky Way is the tiniest part. Could any of these systems be sufficiently connected with feedback loops to create a conscious experience?

Consider the vast slow motion dance between Laniakea and the Shapley Supercluster. Is that the interaction of two molecules in a larger reality? I hope so! :)

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 14th, 2018, 3:53 am

Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:45 pm
The no-subject-no-object principle may be axiomatic in your Weltanschauung (worldview), but I simply reject it as false.
OK, but your arguments are not valid.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:45 pm
How could the sudden death of all objects which are subjects of experience cause all material objects in the universe (such as planets and stars) and the universe as a whole to cease to exist?
It would have existed for the subjects there had been. But the main point is that the whole subjectless world is nonexistent. If all of us, and I mean all subjects in the world, were zombies, and the whole physical universe were the same as it is now, what would there be? First: there would be no 'us'. Second: there would be no sense in 'existence'. Third: there would be no existence. Fourth: there would be nothing. Paradoxically: the only difference from our present world would be that the hypothetical world would not exist. The world would not end with a bang, it would only cease to exist. And because this is paradoxical and absurd, the only possible conclusion is that there are necessarily subjects in the world.

I think that you do not see clearly enough what 'existence' means. It is too close to us.
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:45 pm
Yes, but it's a subjectless temporal part of the universe, and that's my point. For if there was a time when there were no subjects, then the universe exists subject-independently. Of course, fundamentalist/antiemergentist property dualists will disagree, since they believe that there have always been experiential properties and thus subjects of experience in the universe. But even if they are right—I think they aren't—, it doesn't follow that there will always be subjects in the universe, let alone that their existence in the universe is ontologically necessary, or that the existence of the universe as a whole depends on their existence.
In short: consciousness is not everywhere, but its evolution is necessary.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Halc » August 14th, 2018, 9:28 am

Tamminen wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 12:52 pm
P1 and P3 are true, so P2 must be false. P1 is part of the definition of the world.
OK, you've shown that P2 is incompatible with your definition. So what? We wanted to know why an unobserved world couldn't exist. We didn't want to know if that situation is inconsistent with your personal definitions.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 14th, 2018, 10:27 am

Halc wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 9:28 am
OK, you've shown that P2 is incompatible with your definition. So what? We wanted to know why an unobserved world couldn't exist. We didn't want to know if that situation is inconsistent with your personal definitions.
I think that definition is reasonable. For me it is a premise. And what do you mean by 'we'? There are many of 'us' for whom it is obvious that without subjects there is nothing, and after seeing its self-evidence stop asking why.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by RJG » August 14th, 2018, 11:04 am

Tamminen wrote:If all of us, and I mean all subjects in the world, were zombies, and the whole physical universe were the same as it is now, what would there be?
Then there would still be us zombies and all the other objects of the physical universe. These are still something, ...right?

Tamminen wrote:First: there would be no 'us'. Second: there would be no sense in 'existence'. Third: there would be no existence. Fourth: there would be nothing.
Not so. Your reasoning is flawed (not logically valid). Your First and Second (premise) statements do not logically lead/connect to your Third and Fourth (conclusion) statements."no sensing of X" does NOT = "no X"

From the relativistic perspective: If I were one of these zombies, then I couldn't know, nor make the claim (one way or the other) whether or not SOMETHING exists OR NOTHING exists!

And from an external reference perspective: If zombies were incapable of (subjectively) sensing things, then this does not mean, nor equate, to that "things do not exist". "no sensing of X" does NOT equate to "no X"

So, from both possible perspectives, Tam, your argument is still not logically sound.
Last edited by RJG on August 14th, 2018, 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 14th, 2018, 11:22 am

Halc wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 9:28 am
We wanted to know why an unobserved world couldn't exist.
This 'why' is interesting. There is no logical route to any ontological standpoint, not to materialism, not to the subject-world structure I am proposing. Ontology precedes logic. A logical proof of my argument is impossible because of the impossibility of using logic outside of the world. But I have given reasons for my standpoint from the premise of the subject-world ontology, and the conclusion is clear. There is no other answer to the question 'why'. But if you do not get it, you go on asking 'why' even if it is unreasonable.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by RJG » August 14th, 2018, 11:48 am

Halc wrote:We wanted to know why an unobserved world couldn't exist.
Tamminen wrote:This 'why' is interesting. There is no logical route to any ontological standpoint, not to materialism, not to the subject-world structure I am proposing. Ontology precedes logic. A logical proof of my argument is impossible because of the impossibility of using logic outside of the world.
1. Without logic, there is NO WAY to (logically) conclude "an unobserved world couldn't exist".
2. With logic, there is NO WAY to conclude "an unobserved world couldn't exist".

So, with or without logic, there is NO WAY to conclude/claim "an unobserved world couldn't exist". ...but yet you continue to claim this, why???

Tamminen wrote:But I have given reasons for my standpoint from the premise of the subject-world ontology, and the conclusion is clear.
The subject-world ontological perspective is a relativistic viewpoint that does NOT support the conclusion that "an unobserved world couldn't exist". -- For without a subject, there can be no "observing" or concluding of ANYTHING.

Tam, it appears to me, that you are jumping between two reference views (relativistic, and external) to create the conclusion that "an unobserved world couldn't exist". Pick one reference view from which to make your stand/claim, and you'll see that it fails either way.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Tamminen » August 14th, 2018, 11:59 am

RJG wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 11:04 am
Then there would still be us zombies and all the other objects of the physical universe. These are still something, ...right?
Yes and no, that is the paradox.
RJG wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 11:04 am
Not so. Your reasoning is flawed (not logically valid). Your First and Second (premise) statements do not logically lead/connect to your Third and Fourth (conclusion) statements."no sensing of X" does NOT = "no X"
There is a semantic confusion in the second point, perhaps due to the fact that my native language is not English. I meant something like: speaking of 'existence' in this context is nonsense. But that other meaning goes as well.

I did not mean to give a logical syllogism, just say what I think is the case if we were zombies.
RJG wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 11:04 am
From the relativistic perspective: If I were one of these zombies, then I couldn't know, nor make the claim (one way or the other) whether or not SOMETHING exists OR NOTHING exists!
You are right. There would be no 'I'. And if there would be no others either, there would be nothing. No 'I', no existence. Because that is what existence means. I am not going to prove this. It cannot be proved. But for me it is obvious.
RJG wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 11:04 am
And from an external reference perspective: If zombies were incapable of (subjectively) sensing things, then this does not mean, nor equate, to that "things do not exist". "no sensing of X" does NOT equate to "no X"
There is no external perspective.

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Re: Whatever Consciousness is, it's Not Physical (or reducible to physical).

Post by Consul » August 14th, 2018, 12:20 pm

Tamminen wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 3:53 am
Consul wrote:
August 13th, 2018, 4:45 pm
How could the sudden death of all objects which are subjects of experience cause all material objects in the universe (such as planets and stars) and the universe as a whole to cease to exist?
It would have existed for the subjects there had been. But the main point is that the whole subjectless world is nonexistent. If all of us, and I mean all subjects in the world, were zombies, and the whole physical universe were the same as it is now, what would there be?
If there were no subjects, the whole physical universe would not be the same as it is now, since a world with subjects is different from a world without subjects. To answer your question: If there were no subjects, the world would be a world of objects none of which is a subject, i.e. an experiencing object.
Tamminen wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 3:53 am
First: there would be no 'us'. Second: there would be no sense in 'existence'.
What do you mean by "sense" here? Of course, if there were no subjects, the world wouldn't mean anything to anybody, since there would be nobody (no subject or person) who can find being or life meaningful.
Tamminen wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 3:53 am
Third: there would be no existence. Fourth: there would be nothing. Paradoxically: the only difference from our present world would be that the hypothetical world would not exist. The world would not end with a bang, it would only cease to exist. And because this is paradoxical and absurd, the only possible conclusion is that there are necessarily subjects in the world.
This is just a series of non sequiturs. The important point is that the existence of nobody (nonexistence of anybody) doesn't entail the existence of nothing (nonexistence of anything), and you have utterly failed to establish a necessary (onto-)logical connection between the existence of something and the existence of somebody.
Tamminen wrote:
August 14th, 2018, 3:53 am
I think that you do not see clearly enough what 'existence' means. It is too close to us.
I don't think so. There's nothing inherently subject-relative about existence. "To exist" doesn't mean "to exist for me/us".

(I know Heidegger's idiosyncratic concept of existence, who writes in his introduction to Was ist Metaphysik?/What is Metaphysics? that "in Sein und Zeit [Being and Time] the name 'existence' is exclusively used to refer to the being of man." But his ontology is a terrible mess!)
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