PHIL 4120 Lecture Notes - Gilbert Ryle, Ontological Argument, Logical Form
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Monday, February 28, 2011
Influenced by Austen, Wittgenstein
Systematically misleading expressions:
“Duncan is teaching.”
“Red is a colour” – object/thing red and has the property of being a colour (“What is
“Sherlock Holmes smokes a pipe” – But Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exist, but does smoke
“God exists”/”God does not exist” – logically impossible to deny the existence of God
“Satan does not exist”
“The average family has 2.3 children”
Subject/predicate sentences – says something about the object
One part understands a part of the world, other ascribes a description to it
Misled to the grammatical structure of a sentence
“Red is a colour” = “Anything red is coloured”
Don’t presuppose the existence of things we don’t need to presuppose
Mislead an incautious philosopher in the subject term for the sentence to be true or false
Duncan is teaching – (Descriptive Theory of Proper Names)
God – that thing which exists by virtue of its perfection, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc.
The denial of God’s existence is a contradiction
Problem: Could be used to prove the perfect anything – ex. Perfect boyfriend, hamburger
Any argument form that can be used to prove false arguments has to be a bad argument
Anselm made the mistake of being circular. In defining God, he thought he could sue the
word exists. Defining “God” = defining “God exists”
God exists only if something is: all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, exists
Cannot define “God exists” with blahblahblah exists. Cannot be one of the words used to
describe. Exists does not play the role of predicate.
Exists is not an activity for someone to engage in, not the name for property or activity
for. Plays a role like ‘is’ – not the is of existence, but the ‘is’ of predication
Redness is a colour – is there a way of saying it without presupposes redness? (anything
red is coloured) – stop treating it as a noun – physical objects are the only nouns.
Punctuality is not a thing – but a trait of character. Problem of universals goes away.
Still have a problem – what makes a red thing of red? What makes someone’s shirt red is
that it resembles something else also red. Looking similar isn’t a thing.
Sherlock Holmes smokes a pipe – stop treating SH as a name, not a name for objects in
the world. Idea is to find something less preposterous for the sentences to be about
Ryle thinks some expressions are as such as they imply the existence of strange objects
(God, fictional characters, half children)
Ex. Language about the mind Ryle is interested in?
“I have an idea” “I’m experiencing redness” “My pain is acute”
Makes it seem like that are mental objects
Ryle knows we have mental lives, we all know our decisions affect our body, etc. Not
debated by any rational person
Rephrase our mental language – “My pain is large today” vs. “I am really sore today”
“I had an idea yesterday” vs. “Yesterday I thought it would be great if…”
Strange mental objects/properties and turning them into sentences about you
Ryle: Philosophy is trying to find a to say things without systemically misleading
Philosophers are tempted to infer things from inaccurate sentences
Does the paraphrase work? Do we lose something in translation?
What is someone saying when they say, “God exists”?
Parable of the gardener – the same as saying God exist/God doesn’t exist
Disagreement is not of empirical facts, but aesthetics
People dispute whether or not God exists – Dispute between believers and non-believers
isn’t empirical, logical, solved by observation – There are more or less intelligent
positions. Some statements involve claims about facts that are different that the claims of
facts we are accustomed to believe in. Some things are may seem like facts, but are
Essay question - Is he saying there is a 3rd fact not empirical/logical?
Aesthetic disputes are real disputes – there are ways to argue for/against aesthetics
What is the benefit of having one belief over another?
Red is a colour object/thing red and has the property of being a colour ( what is red?) Sherlock holmes smokes a pipe but sherlock holmes doesn"t exist, but does smoke a pope. God exists / god does not exist logically impossible to deny the existence of god. Subject/predicate sentences says something about the object. One part understands a part of the world, other ascribes a description to it. Misled to the grammatical structure of a sentence. Red is a colour = anything red is coloured . Don"t presuppose the existence of things we don"t need to presuppose. Mislead an incautious philosopher in the subject term for the sentence to be true or false. Duncan is teaching (descriptive theory of proper names) God that thing which exists by virtue of its perfection, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc. The denial of god"s existence is a contradiction. Problem: could be used to prove the perfect anything ex.