Ideas from 'Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions' by Bertrand Russell [1904], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Essays in Analysis' by Russell,Bertrand (ed/tr Lackey,Douglas) [George Braziller 1973,0-8076-0699-5]].

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3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 6. Making Negative Truths
It seems that when a proposition is false, something must fail to subsist
                        Full Idea: It seems that when a proposition is false, something does not subsist which would subsist if the proposition were true.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.76)
                        A reaction: This looks to me like a commitment by Russell to the truthmaker principle. The negations of false propositions are made true by some failure of existence in the world.
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 2. Excluded Middle
Excluded middle can be stated psychologically, as denial of p implies assertion of not-p
                        Full Idea: The law of excluded middle may be stated in the form: If p is denied, not-p must be asserted; this form is too psychological to be ultimate, but the point is that it is significant and not a mere tautology.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.41)
                        A reaction: 'Psychology' is, of course, taboo, post-Frege, though I think it is interesting. Stated in this form the law looks more false than usual. I can be quite clear than p is unacceptable, but unclear about its contrary.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
If two people perceive the same object, the object of perception can't be in the mind
                        Full Idea: If two people can perceive the same object, as the possibility of any common world requires, then the object of an external perception is not in the mind of the percipient.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.33)
                        A reaction: This is merely an assertion of the realist view, rather than an argument. I take representative realism to tell a perfectly good story that permits two subjective representations of the same object.
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 1. Nature of Relations
The only thing we can say about relations is that they relate
                        Full Idea: It may be doubted whether relations can be adequately characterised by anything except the fact that they relate.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.27)
                        A reaction: We can characterise a rope that ties things together. If I say 'stand to his left', do I assume the existence of one of the relata and the relation, but without the second relata? How about 'you two stand over there, with him on the left'?
Relational propositions seem to be 'about' their terms, rather than about the relation
                        Full Idea: In some sense which it would be very desirable to define, a relational proposition seems to be 'about' its terms, in a way in which it is not about the relation.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.53)
                        A reaction: Identifying how best to specify what a proposition is actually 'about' is a very illuminating mode of enquiry. You can't define 'underneath' without invoking a pair of objects to illustrate it. A proposition can still focus on the relation.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 3. Objects in Thought
When I perceive a melody, I do not perceive the notes as existing
                        Full Idea: When, after hearing the notes of a melody, I perceive the melody, the notes are not presented as still existing.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.31)
                        A reaction: This is a good example, supporting Meinong's idea that we focus on 'intentional objects', rather than actual objects.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / c. Individuation by location
Objects only exist if they 'occupy' space and time
                        Full Idea: Only those objects exist which have to particular parts of space and time the special relation of 'occupying' them.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.29)
                        A reaction: He excepts space and time themselves. Clearly this doesn't advance our understanding much, but it points to a priority in our normal conceptual scheme. Is Russell assuming absolute space and time?
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 5. Contingency
Contingency arises from tensed verbs changing the propositions to which they refer
                        Full Idea: Contingency derives from the fact that a sentence containing a verb in the present tense - or sometimes in the past or the future - changes its meaning continually as the present changes, and stands for different propositions at different times.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.26)
                        A reaction: This immediately strikes me as a bad example of the linguistic approach to philosophy. As if we (like any animal) didn't have an apprehension prior to any language that most parts of experience are capable of change.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
I assume we perceive the actual objects, and not their 'presentations'
                        Full Idea: I prefer to advocate ...that the object of a presentation is the actual external object itself, and not any part of the presentation at all.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.33)
                        A reaction: Although I am a fan of the robust realism usually favoured by Russell, I think he is wrong. I take Russell to be frightened that once you take perception to be of 'presentations' rather than things, there is a slippery slope to anti-realism. Not so.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Full empiricism is not tenable, but empirical investigation is always essential
                        Full Idea: Although empiricism as a philosophy does not appear to be tenable, there is an empirical manner of investigating, which should be applied in every subject-matter
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.22)
                        A reaction: Given that early Russell loads his ontology with properties and propositions, this should come as no surprise, even if J.S. Mill was his godfather.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 6. Judgement / b. Error
Do incorrect judgements have non-existent, or mental, or external objects?
                        Full Idea: Correct judgements have a transcendent object; but with regard to incorrect judgements, it remains to examine whether 1) the object is immanent, 2) there is no object, or 3) the object is transcendent.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.67)
                        A reaction: Why is it that only Russell seems to have taken this problem seriously? Its solution gives the clearest possible indicator of how the mind relates to the world.
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
The complexity of the content correlates with the complexity of the object
                        Full Idea: Every property of the object seems to demand a strictly correlative property of the content, and the content, therefore, must have every complexity belonging to the object.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.55)
                        A reaction: This claim gives a basis for his 'congruence' account of the correspondence theory of truth. It strikes me as false. If I talk of the 'red red robin', I don't mention the robin's feet. He ignores the psychological selection we make in abstraction.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
If p is false, then believing not-p is knowing a truth, so negative propositions must exist
                        Full Idea: If p is a false affirmative proposition ...then it seems obvious that if we believe not-p we do know something true, so belief in not-p must be something which is not mere disbelief. This proves that there are negative propositions.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Meinong on Complexes and Assumptions [1904], p.75)
                        A reaction: This evidently assumes excluded middle, but is none the worse for that. But it sounds suspiciously like believing there is no rhinoceros in the room. Does such a belief require a fact?