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Ontology of Works of Art

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Consul
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Consul » February 1st, 2019, 7:45 pm

Consul wrote:
February 1st, 2019, 4:54 pm
An existential object is a thing
Note that by "existential object" I don't mean an existent/existing object but simply an object in the narrow ontological sense of the term, because whether something belongs to the ontological category <object> is independent of whether it exists. Santa Claus is an (existential) object, but not an existent/existing one.

Existent objects can but needn't be intentional objects (of thought), but all nonexistent (fictional/imaginary) objects must be intentional objects (of thought), because there is nothing more to them (than being an intentional object). In the case of nonexistent objects, being reduces to being thought about (or being represented in some other way); so they are nothing in themselves independently of our representations of them. Being thought about or being represented is not an existence-entailing property, so it doesn't contradictorily turn something nonexistent, a nonentity into something existent, an entity.
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Count Lucanor » February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am

Consul wrote:I'm saying that works of music such as symphonies are abstract types; but, as opposed to platonistic realists about abstracta, I'm an antirealist or fictionalist about them.
But that will only mean that you're antirealist about platonic abstracta, but realist about other non-platonic abstracta. It would be different if you stated that you're antirealist about any possible abstracta, making you a nominalist. However, you do seem to conceive non-platonic abstracta, since you say that there are non-platonic abstract types such as symphonies. That's why your next sentence looks quite contradictory:
Consul wrote: So I must say that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony qua abstract type does not exist, being nothing but a nonexistent object of thought. Ontologically, it has the same status as Santa Claus.
That something can be nonexistent, in the strict sense, seems absurd. If something is an object of thought then it is an existent object of thought. Therefore, you're proposition actually stands as saying that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony exists as an object of thought. Since thoughts are constituted by concepts, then it follows from your proposition that the Ninth is a concept. Ontologically speaking, leaving aside platonism, concepts can be either mental representations or mental abilities. And if there's something to call abstract, while not being a platonist, we're only left with only those two options.
Consul wrote: I'm aware that my view appears counterintuitive, because one of its consequences is that the Ninth wasn't created by Beethoven. For to create something is to bring it into existence, and what doesn't exist has never been brought into existence by anybody.

But what did Beethoven do then when he composed his Ninth? Well, he did create something, but something different from it: auditory images (sound-images) of (a performance of) it in his mind and its score.
Again, I spot a contradiction when you first say the Ninth was not created (composed) but then ask how Beethoven composed his Ninth. If you took the nominalistic view that Beethoven created something that just happened to be called Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, it would imply that the Ninth is a concrete, existent object.
Consul wrote: The set/class of volcanoes is the extension of the concept <volcano>; but platonists about sets/classes think the former exists independently of the latter, because sets/classes don't depend for their being on being concept-extensions. So the set of volcanoes existed long before the human concept of a volcano was created.
Sets and classes are the outcome of the mental process of categorization, as such they are mental objects created in our minds after several volcano entities have come to our knowledge. In theory I would need just one particular concrete volcano to form the particular concept of that volcano. I could have no name for it yet, it's just that thing that has those properties. When other objects resembling that particular volcano appear in my experience, then I would extract all their perceived common features to form the abstract universal <volcano>, a general conceptual category which subsumes all past, present and future volcanoes, being just the same or equivalent to the set/class of all volcanoes. Then the order of things will be: a real volcano -->the concept of that real volcano -->awareness of more real volcanoes -->the general concept of volcano and its application to sets of all volcanoes.
Consul wrote: Tokens of mental representations are concrete, but they are not substantial in the sense of being substances.
Perhaps under some definitions of the word "concrete" it could also point to mental objects, which immediately would imply abstract objects only as non-mental objects if we acknowledge the universal duality abstract/concrete. But given that distinction, I prefer to think of "concrete" as real, mind-independent, substantial physical objects, and by extension, their properties and relations.
Consul wrote:I think the concept C doesn't exist at all, because concepts as ways of thinking of things don't exist absolutely but relatively to persons/subjects.
I understand you make a distinction of concept C as a neutral, non-mental thing (belonging to an ontology which I'm not quite clear yet, because it seems to have no ontology whatsoever, perhaps just a name) and my or your concept C as a mental thing. I cannot help but find a relationship between concept C and my or your concept C, since realistically speaking, concepts can only be mental objects.
Consul wrote: As Jonathan Lowe would put it: This chair and this dog are "primary substances", and they are instances of the "secondary substance" or substantial universal (kind-universal) chairhood or doghood. That is, every chair instantiates the kind chair and every dog instantiates the kind dog. These kinds are respectively characterized by a set of attributes (properties) which are exemplified by all chairs or dogs.
I would put it differently than Lowe. This chair and this dog are substances, indeed, but their kinds are not. They are mental categorizations, so it's not like a non-mental token object instantiating a non-mental kind object, but a a non-mental token object instantiating a mental (aka abstract in my view) kind object.
Consul wrote: If concepts are mental representations, are they conscious ones or nonconscious ones? If the former, they are mental images or mental words; but if the latter, it is not clear what they are. Words in a nonconscious "language of thought"? But there is no empirical evidence for such a nonconscious system of mental representation in the brain.
I don't think there's any other alternative for concepts than being objects of thought, and therefore, conscious.
Consul wrote: What exactly do you mean by "substantial entities"? Things, objects, substances? But concrete entities can belong to other ontological categories as well, e.g. properties and events.
I would agree with the last remark only if we refer to properties and events of real, substantial objects.
Consul wrote: All concrete, mental or physical candidates for the referent of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" or Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" turn out to be unfit for the job. No performance of Hamlet is Hamlet, and no performance of the Ninth is the Ninth. So I think the relationship between Hamlet or the Ninth and its performances, which are located in space and time, is best described in terms of the type-token distinction.
A performance of Hamlet or the Ninth are performances of literary or musical compositions, respectively. Surely they alone are not the composition, but the composition is implied in the performance, and the composition exists regardless of it being performed. What makes the job is that its constitutive elements and relationships have been permanently established, and allow me to reemphasize: permanently established, which means physically registered in some medium, so as to be objectively (mind-independently) appropriated in time and space by independent subjects. A pure mental object, even the most structured one, by its own definition, could not be objectively, permanently established. Perhaps we could call Beethoven's Ninth and other art works "social objects" with their singularity defined as shareable and transposable properties, using several mediums, while keeping faithful to their formal structure.
Consul wrote: What exactly do you mean by "composition"? Of course, you can send a physical copy of the Ninth's score or a physical recording of a performance of it into space; but if you do, you're not thereby sending the Ninth itself into space.
A composition is a form, a conscious creation, a unique configuration of elements constituting an organic whole. Some creators compose architecture, sculpture or paint, some others compose music, poetry or choreographies. If I sent a printed edition of Hamlet into space, wouldn't I be sending at the same time the work of art Hamlet into space? What's the difference with the Ninth?

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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Burning ghost » February 2nd, 2019, 2:59 am

Consul -

Thanks for the patient reply. I cannot disagree now I understand the manner in which you’re using the terms. I’ll leave you and Count to it for now although there is something of a tangential idea I’d like to hear your thoughts about.

I’d also like to clarify a little about Kant maybe, but not massively important because you say “non-existent” for “abstract entity” which is perfectly sound in the manner you’ve presented it whether I’d choose other words to say the same thing or not - I hope you can appreciate that many other people may misunderstand too.
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Consul » February 3rd, 2019, 5:30 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
But that will only mean that you're antirealist about platonic abstracta, but realist about other non-platonic abstracta. It would be different if you stated that you're antirealist about any possible abstracta, making you a nominalist.
"I believe there are only concrete objects or entities. That is, I reject ontological abstractism aka platonism = realism about abstracta."
—Consul: viewtopic.php?p=327966#p327966

So, yes, I'm a nominalist (fictionalist) about all abstracta.

But what's the difference between "platonic abstracta" and "non-platonic abstracta"?
Well, if you think there are abstracta which don't exist eternally, independently, and necessarily in a non-spatiotemporal "Platonic heaven", you may call them non-platonic. Abstract artifacts or games are candidates, but there is still the crucial question as to how mental or physical actions can naturally bring something into existence that is neither mental nor physical.

"Some abstract objects appear to stand in a more interesting relation to space. Consider the game of chess, for example. Some philosophers will say that chess is like a mathematical object, existing nowhere and ‘no when’—either eternally or outside of time altogether. But that is not the most natural view. The natural view is that chess was invented at a certain time and place (though it may be hard to say exactly where or when); that before it was invented it did not exist at all; that it was imported from India into Persia in the 7th century; that it has changed over the years, and so on. The only reason to resist this natural account is the thought that since chess is clearly an abstract object—it’s not a physical object, after all!—and since abstract objects do not exist in space and time—by definition!—chess must resemble the cosine function in its relation to space and time. And yet one might with equal justice regard the case of chess and other abstract artifacts as counterexamples to the hasty view that abstract objects possess only trivial spatial and temporal properties."

Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/

And David Lewis writes:

"Sets are supposed to be abstract. But a set of located things does seem to have a location, though perhaps a divided location: it is where its members are. Thus, my unit set is right here, exactly where I am; the set of you and me is partly here where I am, partly yonder where you are; and so on."

(Lewis, David. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. p. 83)

I find this very mysterious. If Lewis is right, then I am always accompanied and surrounded by the set whose only member I am, i.e. my singleton (unit set). I cannot bring myself to believe in such an obscure entity that is imperceptible in principle.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
That something can be nonexistent, in the strict sense, seems absurd. If something is an object of thought then it is an existent object of thought. Therefore, you're proposition actually stands as saying that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony exists as an object of thought. Since thoughts are constituted by concepts, then it follows from your proposition that the Ninth is a concept. Ontologically speaking, leaving aside platonism, concepts can be either mental representations or mental abilities. And if there's something to call abstract, while not being a platonist, we're only left with only those two options.
I'm not saying that there are nonexistent objects, because I'd indeed contradict myself by saying so. So I'm just saying that some objects (of thought) don't exist. And I reject the view that being thought about entails being. To say that the Ninth is an object of thought is not to say that it "exists as an object of thought."

"If an object is non-existent, it is non-existent. End of story."

(Priest, Graham. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. p. 296)

Note that there's nothing absurd about saying that an object is nonexistent, because to be nonexistent is simply not to be existent. A nonexistent object doesn't really have the negative property of being nonexistent, it just lacks the positive property of being existent.
I generally believe that there are no negative properties such as being a nonsmoker. For example, to be a nonsmoker is simply not to be a smoker, to lack the property of being a smoker.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
Again, I spot a contradiction when you first say the Ninth was not created (composed) but then ask how Beethoven composed his Ninth. If you took the nominalistic view that Beethoven created something that just happened to be called Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, it would imply that the Ninth is a concrete, existent object.
From my point of view, to compose a symphony is to create a symphony-score. Beethoven's original manuscript is certainly an existent concrete object, but it's not the symphony itself.

Generally, to create object-thoughts (thoughts of an object) is not to create thought-objects (objects of thought). To create a mental idea or image of something is not to also create what it represents.

For the paradox of creation, see: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art- ... atParaCrea
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
Consul wrote:The set/class of volcanoes is the extension of the concept <volcano>; but platonists about sets/classes think the former exists independently of the latter, because sets/classes don't depend for their being on being concept-extensions. So the set of volcanoes existed long before the human concept of a volcano was created.
Sets and classes are the outcome of the mental process of categorization, as such they are mental objects created in our minds after several volcano entities have come to our knowledge. In theory I would need just one particular concrete volcano to form the particular concept of that volcano. I could have no name for it yet, it's just that thing that has those properties. When other objects resembling that particular volcano appear in my experience, then I would extract all their perceived common features to form the abstract universal <volcano>, a general conceptual category which subsumes all past, present and future volcanoes, being just the same or equivalent to the set/class of all volcanoes. Then the order of things will be: a real volcano -->the concept of that real volcano -->awareness of more real volcanoes -->the general concept of volcano and its application to sets of all volcanoes.
Sets or classes (provided there are such abstract objects) aren't mental creations existing in our minds. We create a concept (as a mental representation existing in our minds) and thereby select a set/class, viz. the one of the things falling under the concept (which may be the empty set/class). Since concepts can be arbitrarily defined by us, the sets/classes which are their extensions can be picked out arbitrarily by us too; but the latter aren't thereby mentally or conceptually created by us.

(By the way, there's a useful distinction between natural classes and unnatural classes. However, it's not an exclusively binary distinction, because there are different degrees of naturalness, depending on the degree of objective resemblance or similarity among the class's members. A perfectly natural class is one whose members are qualitatively identical such as the class of electrons. This is the highest degree of naturalness a class can have.)

"Cantor speaks of a collection into a whole, and this may lead to the mistaken view that sets somehow depend for their existence on some collecting activity of a mind. According to this misconception, which is rather widespread among philosophers, sets are mental creations. The set consisting of the desk before me, the oldest living rabbit in Australia, and a hair on Napoleon's head, is a perfectly wholesome set of three things. Some philosophers have thought that in order to form this set, there must be something in common between its members, and since they could not come up with some plausible common feature, they concluded that being thought together in one thought is the uniting force. What 'makes a set' out of these diverse things, they maintain, is the mental act of thinking them together. And then they infer that the same holds for every set: every set is a whole, a unit, by virtue of the fact that its members are thought together. But this conception is mistaken. The three things just mentioned form a group, a set, whether anyone thinks of them together or not. Since each one of the three things exists (existed at some time), the group exists. To put it differently, there are many sets of things nobody has ever thought of together.

The mistaken notion that sets depend for their existence on minds is invited by Cantor's reference to 'intuition or our thought'. But, as I just tried to emphasize, the members of a set need not be thought of in order to be members of that set. There are millions of things that form sets, there are millions of sets, of which nobody has thought or ever will think. I believe that Cantor speaks here of objects of our intuition or thought in order to make clear that any thing whatsoever can be a member of a set. Members are not confined to certain kinds of thing, to certain categories of thing. There are sets of individual things like the set of three things just mentioned. But there are also sets of numbers, and sets of properties, and sets of relations, and so on. Whatever there is, is a member of a set. If it exists, it is a member of a set."


(Grossmann, Reinhardt. The Existence of the World: An Introduction to Ontology. London: Routledge, 1992. pp. 58-9)
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
Perhaps under some definitions of the word "concrete" it could also point to mental objects, which immediately would imply abstract objects only as non-mental objects if we acknowledge the universal duality abstract/concrete. But given that distinction, I prefer to think of "concrete" as real, mind-independent, substantial physical objects, and by extension, their properties and relations.


Okay, but that's very different from the definition of "concrete" in contemporary ontology, which includes mental entities. (Correspondingly, the definition of "abstract" excludes mental entities.)

"The abstract/concrete distinction in its modern form is meant to mark a line in the domain of objects or entities. So conceived, the distinction becomes a central focus for philosophical discussion only in the 20th century. The origins of this development are obscure, but one crucial factor appears to have been the breakdown of the allegedly exhaustive distinction between the mental and the material that had formed the main division for ontologically minded philosophers since Descartes."

Abstract Objects: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
Consul wrote:As Jonathan Lowe would put it: This chair and this dog are "primary substances", and they are instances of the "secondary substance" or substantial universal (kind-universal) chairhood or doghood. That is, every chair instantiates the kind chair and every dog instantiates the kind dog. These kinds are respectively characterized by a set of attributes (properties) which are exemplified by all chairs or dogs.
I would put it differently than Lowe. This chair and this dog are substances, indeed, but their kinds are not. They are mental categorizations, so it's not like a non-mental token object instantiating a non-mental kind object, but a a non-mental token object instantiating a mental (aka abstract in my view) kind object.
Of course, "secondary substances" (qua substantial universals/forms or kinds) are categorially different from "primary substances" (qua individual objects or things).

Kinds qua universals are not "mental categorizations" but mind- and concept-independent entities. But, of course, you needn't acknowledge kinds as universals.

The Positions in the Ontology of Kinds (Sorts/Species/Genera/Types):

1. antirealism: there are no kinds
2. realism:
2.1 reductive realism: there are kinds and they are…
2.1.1 many as one: sets/classes of objects
2.1.2 many as one: sums/fusions/aggregates/groups of objects
2.1.3 many as many: pluralities or collectives of objects
2.1.4 complex/structural attributes (universals)
2.2 nonreductive realism: there are kinds and they are entities sui generis: substantial forms/universals ("secondary substances")
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
I don't think there's any other alternative for concepts than being objects of thought, and therefore, conscious.
We consciously think about concepts, so they are objects of thought; but what is a concept (in itself), ontologically asking?

If concepts are part of my field/stream of consciousness, they must be mental entities; but what mental entities are therein which are properly called concepts? There are mental images that represent their objects iconically or picture-like (like photographies) or symbolically or word-/sentence-like. For example, when I think about dogs, doing so is an episode of inner speech containing the word "dog(s)". Is the concept <dog> identical to the word "dog" or the class of the word's mental tokens?
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
Consul wrote:All concrete, mental or physical candidates for the referent of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" or Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" turn out to be unfit for the job. No performance of Hamlet is Hamlet, and no performance of the Ninth is the Ninth. So I think the relationship between Hamlet or the Ninth and its performances, which are located in space and time, is best described in terms of the type-token distinction.
A performance of Hamlet or the Ninth are performances of literary or musical compositions, respectively. Surely they alone are not the composition, but the composition is implied in the performance, and the composition exists regardless of it being performed. What makes the job is that its constitutive elements and relationships have been permanently established, and allow me to reemphasize: permanently established, which means physically registered in some medium, so as to be objectively (mind-independently) appropriated in time and space by independent subjects. A pure mental object, even the most structured one, by its own definition, could not be objectively, permanently established. Perhaps we could call Beethoven's Ninth and other art works "social objects" with their singularity defined as shareable and transposable properties, using several mediums, while keeping faithful to their formal structure.
A symphony (qua abstract type) is represented by its score and realized by its performances (qua concrete tokens). ("to realize" in the sense "to bring into concrete existence", "to give actual or physical form to")

None of the concrete mediums you're referring to are or contain the Ninth itself. For instance, a CD that digitally encodes a performance of it isn't and doesn't contain the Ninth itself.

Again, the question is: What does the proper name "Beethoven's Ninth Symphpony" refer to? If it refers to something, it refers to one thing and to no other thing(s). My contention is that this one thing isn't any concrete, mental or physical entity.

The reason why I don't believe in the existence of abstract musical compositions (works of music) is that it is unintelligible to me how mental or physical actions of a composer could create something that is neither mental nor physical. How could the writing of a score (and the composer's musical imagination involved in it) cause the popping into being of an abstract entity? That would be an act of magic!
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 12:38 am
A composition is a form, a conscious creation, a unique configuration of elements constituting an organic whole. Some creators compose architecture, sculpture or paint, some others compose music, poetry or choreographies. If I sent a printed edition of Hamlet into space, wouldn't I be sending at the same time the work of art Hamlet into space? What's the difference with the Ninth?
If one particular printed edition of Hamlet were Hamlet (itself), then all the other textually identical ones wouldn't be Hamlet, since one thing cannot be identical to two or more different things.

If one particular printed edition of Hamlet were only a token of Hamlet (itself), then there would be no ontological problem, since there can be indefinitely many textually identical printed editions of Hamlet qua different concrete Hamlet-tokens of one and the same abstract Hamlet-type.

There are relevant distinctions between the kinds of art. The type-token distinction is applicable to works of music, works of literature, works of theater, works of dance, works of cinema, but not to buildings, sculptures, or paintings.

By the way, Nelson Goodman distinguishes between "autographic" and "allographic" artworks: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/good ... eForWorArt
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Consul » February 3rd, 2019, 8:03 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
February 2nd, 2019, 2:59 am
I’d also like to clarify a little about Kant maybe, but not massively important because you say “non-existent” for “abstract entity” which is perfectly sound in the manner you’ve presented it whether I’d choose other words to say the same thing or not - I hope you can appreciate that many other people may misunderstand too.
If an entity is something that exists, then "nonexistent entity" is certainly a self-contradictory phrase.

That abstracta don't exist is certainly not true by definition (of "abstract"). It's a substantive metaphysical thesis.
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Count Lucanor » February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am

Sorry for the delayed response, it's been a busy week.
Consul wrote:
Count Lucanor wrote:But that will only mean that you're antirealist about platonic abstracta, but realist about other non-platonic abstracta. It would be different if you stated that you're antirealist about any possible abstracta, making you a nominalist.
"I believe there are only concrete objects or entities. That is, I reject ontological abstractism aka platonism = realism about abstracta."
—Consul: viewtopic.php?p=327966#p327966

So, yes, I'm a nominalist (fictionalist) about all abstracta.

But what's the difference between "platonic abstracta" and "non-platonic abstracta"?
Well, if you think there are abstracta which don't exist eternally, independently, and necessarily in a non-spatiotemporal "Platonic heaven", you may call them non-platonic. Abstract artifacts or games are candidates, but there is still the crucial question as to how mental or physical actions can naturally bring something into existence that is neither mental nor physical.
If you're a nominalist, then you don't accept any abstracta at all, but there's a strange ontological sense to your idea that something can exist as non-existent. So, while you deny the possibility of existence of abstracta, at the same time you acknowledge its being in a realm that is neither mental or physical, but still ontological, that is, real. I cannot agree that "whether something belongs to the ontological category <object> is independent of whether it exists". It must exist to be in any ontological category. I had said earlier that abstract objects don't exist as substance, as real concrete entities, but the brain processes that constitute the experience of thought, abstraction events implied, certainly exist. Therefore, abstraction as process and mental representation does exist in that sense, or another way to put it: what the brain does, does exist. Does the running of a marathoner exist? One could argue that it doesn't, neither races, boxing matches, and so on, but I don't find any practical benefit from holding that position.
Consul wrote: And David Lewis writes:

"Sets are supposed to be abstract. But a set of located things does seem to have a location, though perhaps a divided location: it is where its members are. Thus, my unit set is right here, exactly where I am; the set of you and me is partly here where I am, partly yonder where you are; and so on."

(Lewis, David. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. p. 83)

I find this very mysterious. If Lewis is right, then I am always accompanied and surrounded by the set whose only member I am, i.e. my singleton (unit set). I cannot bring myself to believe in such an obscure entity that is imperceptible in principle.
Paraphrasing your statement about the Ninth itself not going into space, sets of things cannot go into space either, as they can't be located somewhere, because they are not the things in themselves!! Lewis just reifies the mental categorization of sets.
Consul wrote: I'm not saying that there are nonexistent objects, because I'd indeed contradict myself by saying so. So I'm just saying that some objects (of thought) don't exist. And I reject the view that being thought about entails being. To say that the Ninth is an object of thought is not to say that it "exists as an object of thought."

"If an object is non-existent, it is non-existent. End of story."

(Priest, Graham. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. p. 296)

Note that there's nothing absurd about saying that an object is nonexistent, because to be nonexistent is simply not to be existent. A nonexistent object doesn't really have the negative property of being nonexistent, it just lacks the positive property of being existent.
I generally believe that there are no negative properties such as being a nonsmoker. For example, to be a nonsmoker is simply not to be a smoker, to lack the property of being a smoker.
Simply it's not possible that a being lacks the essential property of being. Then there's no being, no object to refer to. OTOH, an accidental property could be expressed in language in positive or negative terms. Something could be a thing that lacks the property of being in a certain mode, while maintaining its properties of being in some other sense. It could be a non-existent object as a substantial concrete object, but existent as a relation, a name, a mental process. An object of thought has the property of being in that sense.
Consul wrote: From my point of view, to compose a symphony is to create a symphony-score. Beethoven's original manuscript is certainly an existent concrete object, but it's not the symphony itself.
In theory, a symphony can be created without a written score. Actually, most modern music gets transcribed to standard notation (if they ever) after being composed and recorded. The score and the sound recording are just mediums to register the musical work that has been composed. They are not the work of art, but they inseparably carry the work of art with them.
Consul wrote: Generally, to create object-thoughts (thoughts of an object) is not to create thought-objects (objects of thought). To create a mental idea or image of something is not to also create what it represents.
Since there can be mental ideas of fictional beings, it follows that the mental idea does not create or imply at the same the real being. But that doesn't mean that the mental idea of a real thing and the thing in itself are not connected and that the mental process does not occur.
Consul wrote: Sets or classes (provided there are such abstract objects) aren't mental creations existing in our minds. We create a concept (as a mental representation existing in our minds) and thereby select a set/class, viz. the one of the things falling under the concept (which may be the empty set/class). Since concepts can be arbitrarily defined by us, the sets/classes which are their extensions can be picked out arbitrarily by us too; but the latter aren't thereby mentally or conceptually created by us.
Classifications are mental creations, quite subjective, and as such, a bit arbitrary. Once again, I'm reminded of Borges' fictitious Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a Chinese Encyclopedia, which describes the taxonomy of the Emperor's animals:

In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (ii) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) etcetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.

Consul wrote:
Okay, but that's very different from the definition of "concrete" in contemporary ontology, which includes mental entities. (Correspondingly, the definition of "abstract" excludes mental entities.)

"The abstract/concrete distinction in its modern form is meant to mark a line in the domain of objects or entities. So conceived, the distinction becomes a central focus for philosophical discussion only in the 20th century. The origins of this development are obscure, but one crucial factor appears to have been the breakdown of the allegedly exhaustive distinction between the mental and the material that had formed the main division for ontologically minded philosophers since Descartes."

Abstract Objects: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abstract-objects/
It may be true that the mental/physical distinction corresponding to the abstract/concrete distinction is outmoded in philosophical circles, but in other points of that same SEP entry it's not yet a settled matter, as described in The Way of Abstraction, which resembles more accurately my own position. Also, interesting to note is that the statement in the quoted paragraph is supported by the work of a neoplatonist (Frege) and that the paragraph ends with this remark:
The common theme in these developments is the felt need in semantics and psychology as well as in mathematics for a class of objective (i.e., non-mental) supersensible entities. As this new ‘realism’ was absorbed into English speaking philosophy, the traditional term ‘abstract’ was enlisted to apply to the denizens of this ‘third realm’.


See also:
Platonism is the view that there exist such things as abstract objects — where an abstract object is an object that does not exist in space or time and which is therefore entirely non-physical and non-mental. Platonism in this sense is a contemporary view... The most important figure in the development of modern platonism is Gottlob Frege...


https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism/
Consul wrote:
The Positions in the Ontology of Kinds (Sorts/Species/Genera/Types):

1. antirealism: there are no kinds
2. realism:
2.1 reductive realism: there are kinds and they are…
2.1.1 many as one: sets/classes of objects
2.1.2 many as one: sums/fusions/aggregates/groups of objects
2.1.3 many as many: pluralities or collectives of objects
2.1.4 complex/structural attributes (universals)
2.2 nonreductive realism: there are kinds and they are entities sui generis: substantial forms/universals ("secondary substances")
Assuming that kinds could have an ontology, some options are missing in this one, such as kinds as mental categorizations.
Consul wrote:
We consciously think about concepts, so they are objects of thought; but what is a concept (in itself), ontologically asking?
I would say we think with concepts, they constitute our thoughts.
Consul wrote:
If concepts are part of my field/stream of consciousness, they must be mental entities; but what mental entities are therein which are properly called concepts? There are mental images that represent their objects iconically or picture-like (like photographies) or symbolically or word-/sentence-like. For example, when I think about dogs, doing so is an episode of inner speech containing the word "dog(s)". Is the concept <dog> identical to the word "dog" or the class of the word's mental tokens?
I don't believe that thinking of a word is the same as thinking of what the word represents. I also think that "mental images" is a figure of speech due to our inability to accurately describe the nature of our cognitive processes.
Consul wrote:
A symphony (qua abstract type) is represented by its score and realized by its performances (qua concrete tokens). ("to realize" in the sense "to bring into concrete existence", "to give actual or physical form to")

None of the concrete mediums you're referring to are or contain the Ninth itself. For instance, a CD that digitally encodes a performance of it isn't and doesn't contain the Ninth itself.
In fact, they do contain a composition, its codified structure. Just as the collection of printed letters arranged in a predefined order (or the audiobook version) carry an identifiable work of literature. They don't just represent the work, they don't stand in replacement of the absent work, they realize the work in order to be perceived, decodified and appropriated. In music, this requires that the encoded sounds are "activated" at the moment the subjects are ready to contemplate the work of music, and we call that a performance, or a reproduction. But no one calls an audiobook a "performance" of a literary work, even though the same relation between score and sounds seems to work, because what's encoded in the verbal symbols is semantic in nature. Theatrical plays are a bit different because other formal elements, the scenes in relation to the contemplating public, are involved.

Consul wrote:
Again, the question is: What does the proper name "Beethoven's Ninth Symphpony" refer to? If it refers to something, it refers to one thing and to no other thing(s). My contention is that this one thing isn't any concrete, mental or physical entity.

We need to be cautious, not to confuse semantics with ontology. The name "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony" could refer to many things in the social, cultural domain, such as the general understanding of the work by the public, its performances, recordings, etc. The vagueness of such connotations makes it difficult to point to a particular object. But in the strict sense it certainly denotes something singular and concrete, which is the original composition itself. When we use the word "The White House" it could have several connotations and some of them could be "the President of USA, the US government, etc.", but it could just mean a building.

Consul wrote:
The reason why I don't believe in the existence of abstract musical compositions (works of music) is that it is unintelligible to me how mental or physical actions of a composer could create something that is neither mental nor physical. How could the writing of a score (and the composer's musical imagination involved in it) cause the popping into being of an abstract entity? That would be an act of magic!
Human creations are the result of a process that starts as an idea, a mental image of the transformations to apply to physical materials, which will guide the creator through the actual physical process of constructing the work. So it doesn't just pop up into existence, there's no mystery or magic in it. It's not an abstract entity that gets itself transformed automatically into a physical entity, and it's not even a complete mental image. The creator uses the physical medium to experiment with different arrangements of the elements of the composition, which means constant rethinking of the work and transformation of the physical materials, until the last version is achieved.

What happens with musical compositions is that they work with sounds produced by instruments, which unlike painting and sculpture, need to be played or reproduced to be contemplated. Instead of an executed work, we have the instructions or encoding to reproduce the work, which in some sense is similar to what happens with literary works. Before written literature, works of art that transmitted verbal meanings only used oral performances, later they were registered in writing, becoming its notation a sort of score of the verbal utterances.
Consul wrote: If one particular printed edition of Hamlet were Hamlet (itself), then all the other textually identical ones wouldn't be Hamlet, since one thing cannot be identical to two or more different things.
All and any of the editions of the work of art Hamlet are the work of art Hamlet, since all are reproductions of the original edition that brought to existence that play. All reproductions of Bohemian Rhapsody need not to be particular works of art that are said to be identical or different among them, they are all the same Bohemian Rhapsody.
Consul wrote: If one particular printed edition of Hamlet were only a token of Hamlet (itself), then there would be no ontological problem, since there can be indefinitely many textually identical printed editions of Hamlet qua different concrete Hamlet-tokens of one and the same abstract Hamlet-type.
The only problem is that Hamlet, or any work of art, as a singular work with particular properties that appeared in a place and time, cannot be a type, a general category at the same time. It wouldn't be recognizable as Hamlet.

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Consul
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Re: Ontology of Works of Art

Post by Consul » February 13th, 2019, 4:40 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Sorry for the delayed response, it's been a busy week.
No problem.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
If you're a nominalist, then you don't accept any abstracta at all, but there's a strange ontological sense to your idea that something can exist as non-existent. So, while you deny the possibility of existence of abstracta, at the same time you acknowledge its being in a realm that is neither mental or physical, but still ontological, that is, real.
To deny the actual existence of something is not necessarily to deny its possible existence; but if abstracta exist necessarily by definition, they exist impossibly if they don't exist actually. (To use the language of possible worlds, a necessary being exists either in all possible worlds or in no possible world.)

No, nonexistent (abstract or concrete) objects do not "exist as non-existent"; nor are they in any real realm of reality. For "reality does not contain more than what exists." (Tim Crane)
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
I cannot agree that "whether something belongs to the ontological category <object> is independent of whether it exists". It must exist to be in any ontological category.
Nonbeings/nonentities/nonexistents don't fall under ontological categories qua categories of being/existence/reality; but the same categories (concepts or predicates) can be applied to them as "meontological" ones. (Meontology = the study of nonbeing.)

For example, (the real planet) Venus is an object and (the unreal planet) Vulcan is an object too; and Vulcan's being an object doesn't entail its existing, especially as "(is an) object" is just a formal concept/predicate which doesn't represent a real kind or (sortal) property, such that to say that the (sortal) concept/predicate "object" applies to Vulcan is not to say that there is a real property—being an object—or a real kind—objecthood—that is instantiated by it. (Generally, there is no 1:1 correspondence between concepts/predicates and properties.)
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
I had said earlier that abstract objects don't exist as substance, as real concrete entities, but the brain processes that constitute the experience of thought, abstraction events implied, certainly exist. Therefore, abstraction as process and mental representation does exist in that sense, or another way to put it: what the brain does, does exist. Does the running of a marathoner exist? One could argue that it doesn't, neither races, boxing matches, and so on, but I don't find any practical benefit from holding that position.
No brain process is an abstract entity. Abstraction as a cognitive process isn't an abstract entity either. And processes or events such as races and boxing matches aren't abstract entities either. These are all concrete occurrences (occurrents) rather than substances.

In the broadest sense, "occurrence"/"occurrent" is an umbrella term for events and processes, but also for states (of affairs) and facts (which are all nonsubstances). The former are time-dependent, dynamic entities by definition, while the latter aren't (by definition). All dynamic occurrences, i.e. all events and all processes, are concrete by definition. There could be abstract states or facts, but there couldn't be abstract events or processes. There is no happening, no becoming and no change in a (timeless) world of abstracta, but only static being.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Paraphrasing your statement about the Ninth itself not going into space, sets of things cannot go into space either, as they can't be located somewhere, because they are not the things in themselves!! Lewis just reifies the mental categorization of sets.
Lewis doesn't regard sets as mental objects, but as nonmental ones out there where their (concrete) members are. The set of dogs is where the dogs are. Of course, they are not all at the same place, so both the dogs and their set have a divided location.

By the way, Lewis argues ingeniously (in his book Parts of Classes, 1991) that "a class is the fusion of its singleton subclasses." In other words, according to him, a set is the (mereological) sum of the unit sets (singletons) of its members.
For example: {a, b, c} = {a} + {b} + {c}
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Simply it's not possible that a being lacks the essential property of being. Then there's no being, no object to refer to. OTOH, an accidental property could be expressed in language in positive or negative terms. Something could be a thing that lacks the property of being in a certain mode, while maintaining its properties of being in some other sense. It could be a non-existent object as a substantial concrete object, but existent as a relation, a name, a mental process. An object of thought has the property of being in that sense.
Of course, no being can be beingless; but a nonbeing can.

Reference doesn't entail existence. It can very well be existentially unilateral as an intentional relation—in the sense that only the referrer and the referring exist, and what is referred to (the object of reference) doesn't.

A mere, i.e. fictional or imaginary, object of thought has neither existence nor subsistence, nor any other mode of being. The thoughts of it are there, but it itself isn't.

Nonexistent things do not exist as anything (else), because they do not exist at all. For example, it is false and misleading to say that the planet Vulcan doesn't exist as a celestial body in physical space but only as an idea/concept or name or thought in people's minds. For no idea/concept, name, or thought is identical to Vulcan and called "Vulcan"!
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
In theory, a symphony can be created without a written score. Actually, most modern music gets transcribed to standard notation (if they ever) after being composed and recorded. The score and the sound recording are just mediums to register the musical work that has been composed. They are not the work of art, but they inseparably carry the work of art with them.
Okay, you can mentally compose a symphony by creating (a sequential complex of) mental images of musical sounds (and remembering them). But to do so is to imagine a first (physical) performance of it, and no imagined or real performance is the symphony itself.

By the way, in cases of musical improvisation as we find it in Jazz, the physical performance is the act of composition.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Classifications are mental creations, quite subjective, and as such, a bit arbitrary.
That classifications are mental actions doesn't mean that classes (or sets or kinds) of things are mental creations. Classification is class-selection and class-representation (by means of concepts), but not class-creation or class-construction.

Keith Campbell rightly calls the claim that "no kinds [or classes] of thing existed before we discerned, classified and labelled them" "grotesquely anthropocentric." (Abstract Particulars, 1991, p. 18)
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Once again, I'm reminded of Borges' fictitious Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, a Chinese Encyclopedia, which describes the taxonomy of the Emperor's animals:

In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (ii) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) etcetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.
The arbitrarily defined and extremely distributive concept <animal which is (a) or…or (n)> selects and represents, but doesn't thereby create or construct the class of things falling under it, because the class-members exist independently of the class-concept.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Also, interesting to note is that the statement in the quoted paragraph is supported by the work of a neoplatonist (Frege) and that the paragraph ends with this remark:


Platonism is the view that there exist such things as abstract objects — where an abstract object is an object that does not exist in space or time and which is therefore entirely non-physical and non-mental. Platonism in this sense is a contemporary view... The most important figure in the development of modern platonism is Gottlob Frege...

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism/
Right. What Frege called drittes Reich (before the political Third Reich of the Nazis came, with Frege having been sorta proto-Nazi himself) is a realm of abstracta, i.e. of entities which are neither mental nor physical. For example, what he calls Gedanken (thoughts) aren't concrete thoughts in the psychological sense (= acts/events of thinking) but abstract propositions (what Bernard Bolzano had earlier called Sätze an sich [sentences in themselves].)
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Consul wrote: The Positions in the Ontology of Kinds (Sorts/Species/Genera/Types):
1. antirealism: there are no kinds
2. realism:
2.1 reductive realism: there are kinds and they are…
2.1.1 many as one: sets/classes of objects
2.1.2 many as one: sums/fusions/aggregates/groups of objects
2.1.3 many as many: pluralities or collectives of objects
2.1.4 complex/structural attributes (universals)
2.2 nonreductive realism: there are kinds and they are entities sui generis: substantial forms/universals ("secondary substances")
Assuming that kinds could have an ontology, some options are missing in this one, such as kinds as mental categorizations.
No, because this option belongs to 1: To replace kinds with mental categories or concepts (or linguistic predicates) is to be an antirealist or nominalist about them.

By the way, I forgot to mention that there are not only kinds of things or objects but also kinds of stuffs or materials.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
I would say we think with concepts, they constitute our thoughts.
I would say we think with words, because I think thinking is inner, silent speaking.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
I don't believe that thinking of a word is the same as thinking of what the word represents.
Of course, there's a difference between using a word object-linguistically to think about what it represents and using other words meta-linguistically to think about the word itself.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
I also think that "mental images" is a figure of speech due to our inability to accurately describe the nature of our cognitive processes.
I don't think so. Mental images are real ingredients of the conscious mind, being the elements of imagination, including cogitation (thought). There's no imagination without mental imagery. (And there's no thought qua inner speech without linguistic imagery.) Imagination and cogitation qua mental actions mean the use of (various kinds of) mental images for certain purposes.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Consul wrote:None of the concrete mediums you're referring to are or contain the Ninth itself. For instance, a CD that digitally encodes a performance of it isn't and doesn't contain the Ninth itself.
In fact, they do contain a composition, its codified structure.
What exactly do you mean by "composition"?
A performance of the Ninth takes place on the basis of and is guided by its score, since that's what makes it a performance of the Ninth. A performance of the Ninth's score is an acoustic translation (and interpretation) of it.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Just as the collection of printed letters arranged in a predefined order (or the audiobook version) carry an identifiable work of literature. They don't just represent the work, they don't stand in replacement of the absent work, they realize the work in order to be perceived, decodified and appropriated. In music, this requires that the encoded sounds are "activated" at the moment the subjects are ready to contemplate the work of music, and we call that a performance, or a reproduction. But no one calls an audiobook a "performance" of a literary work, even though the same relation between score and sounds seems to work, because what's encoded in the verbal symbols is semantic in nature. Theatrical plays are a bit different because other formal elements, the scenes in relation to the contemplating public, are involved.
In the case of literature, of books and audiobooks, we always stay in the sphere of (written or spoken) language. A printed copy of Hamlet (qua token) is a material realization of Hamlet (qua type); and as such, i.e. as a mere object, it cannot be called a performance of it. But reading from it is a performance, so an audiobook is a recording of a linguistic performance.

Is the reading (aloud) a performance of Hamlet? Playing Hamlet on stage is a theatrical performance of it. (The actors certainly don't read from the book on stage, since they recite the text from memory.) If we distinguish between written and spoken realizations of a work of literature, reading from or reciting a written (graphic) Hamlet-token can be regarded as a spoken (acoustic) Hamlet-token; and as such it can be regarded as a literary performance of Hamlet, especially as there is such a thing as oral literature.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
We need to be cautious, not to confuse semantics with ontology. The name "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony" could refer to many things in the social, cultural domain, such as the general understanding of the work by the public, its performances, recordings, etc. The vagueness of such connotations makes it difficult to point to a particular object. But in the strict sense it certainly denotes something singular and concrete, which is the original composition itself. When we use the word "The White House" it could have several connotations and some of them could be "the President of USA, the US government, etc.", but it could just mean a building.
Then which thing is "the original composition itself"? The original score? But the score of a symphony is not the symphony itself but only a written representation of it. If it were the symphony itself, music would be nothing but musical literature.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
Human creations are the result of a process that starts as an idea, a mental image of the transformations to apply to physical materials, which will guide the creator through the actual physical process of constructing the work. So it doesn't just pop up into existence, there's no mystery or magic in it. It's not an abstract entity that gets itself transformed automatically into a physical entity, and it's not even a complete mental image. The creator uses the physical medium to experiment with different arrangements of the elements of the composition, which means constant rethinking of the work and transformation of the physical materials, until the last version is achieved.
Yes, artists do use mental materials (ideas, images) and physical ones; and as far as artworks are concerned to which the token-type distinction is inapplicable such as paintings and sculptures, their creation is ontologically unproblematic, since everything remains in the realm of the conrete. But those who believe in the existence of created abstract artworks (qua types) need to explain how they can be created non-magically through the mental or/and physical activities of artists. For the very idea of a created abstractum or abstract artifact seems ontologically incoherent, given that concrete materials cannot be transformed into an abstract object (like a lump of bronze can be transformed into a statue), with the concrete (the mental-or-physical) and the abstract (the nonmental-and-nonphysical) being mutually exclusive.

By the way, when I say that a token "realizes" its type, I don't mean to say that an existing abstractum is transformed into a concretum. For, as I already said, I regard abstract types as ficta, i.e. as mere objects of thought that aren't part of reality like concrete tokens.
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
All and any of the editions of the work of art Hamlet are the work of art Hamlet, since all are reproductions of the original edition that brought to existence that play. All reproductions of Bohemian Rhapsody need not to be particular works of art that are said to be identical or different among them, they are all the same Bohemian Rhapsody.
Again, given that "one thing cannot be identical to two or more different things," this is incoherent unless you use the token-type distinction. One type can have many tokens, and many (numerically different) tokens can belong to one and the same type; but many (numerically different) tokens cannot be one type. (Nor can one token be one type.)
So you should have written instead that:

"All and any of the editions of the work of art Hamlet are tokens of the work of art Hamlet."

"All reproductions of Bohemian Rhapsody…are all tokens of the same Bohemian Rhapsody."
Count Lucanor wrote:
February 10th, 2019, 12:04 am
The only problem is that Hamlet, or any work of art, as a singular work with particular properties that appeared in a place and time, cannot be a type, a general category at the same time. It wouldn't be recognizable as Hamlet.
Well, Hamlet qua fictional/unreal artwork-type—with types being particular objects rather than universals—never "appeared in a place and time," because only its real tokens did and do—especially Shakespeare's original manuscript as its first token.

If I believed that there really are abstract artifacts or artworks qua types, I'd argue that there are no tokenless types. Types are generically existentially dependent on their tokens. That is, they are not rigidly existentially dependent on any particular token of them, but on there being some tokens (at least one). This means that an artwork qua abstract type cannot exist before its first concrete token begins to exist, and it cannot cannot continue to exist when its last token ceases to exist.
And types cannot be identified or recognized other than by means of their tokens.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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