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Death and Nonexistence$
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Palle Yourgrau

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190247478.001.0001

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The Paradox of Nonexistence

The Paradox of Nonexistence

Chapter:
(p.1) I The Paradox of Nonexistence
Source:
Death and Nonexistence
Author(s):

Palle Yourgrau

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190247478.003.0001

The paradox of nonexistence, bequeathed us by Parmenides, is introduced: how can there be something that fails to exist if there’s nothing “there” to not exist? This is a paradox since, intuitively, many things do in fact fail to exist—for example, creatures of fiction or myth, impossible objects like the round square, past objects like the dead, and so on. Bertrand Russell’s proposed solution in 1902 is explained, suggesting we distinguish existence from “being,” where being is taken to belong to everything we can think of, existent or not. This distinction, or something like it, is then seen to be echoed by a number of philosophers, historical and contemporaneous, though not always in the context of attempting to resolve the paradox of nonexistence.

Keywords:   nonexistence, being, existence, Parmenides, Bertrand Russell, fiction

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