Absence and Nothing: The Philosophy of What There is Not
2021 | ISBN: 0198831536 | English | 240 pages | PDF | 2 MB
Nothing is not. Yet it seems that we invoke absences and nothings often in our philosophical explanations. Negative metaphysics is on the rise. It has been claimed that absences can be causes, there are negative properties, absences can be perceived, there are negative facts, and that we can refer to and speak about nothing. Parmenides long ago ruled against such things. Here we consider how much of Parmenides’ view can survive. A soft Parmenidean methodology is adopted in which we aim to reject all supposed negative entities but are prepared to accept them, reluctantly, if they are indispensable and irreducible in our best theories. We then see whether there are any negative entities this survive this test. Some can be dismissed on metaphysical grounds but other problems are explained only once we reject another strand in Parmenides and show how we can think and talk about nothing. Accounts of perception of absence, empty reference, and denial are gathered. With these, we can show how no truthmakers are required for negative truths since we can have negative beliefs, concerning what-is-not, without what-is-not being part of what is. This supports a soft ontological Parmenideanism, which accepts much though not all of Parmenides’ original position.
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