• Ignacio Angelelli


Frege’s concept of existence as non-emptiness is first presented (9.1). Next, it is shown that such an approach to existence is but a clarification of what Gilson calls the “Avicennian” or “essentialist” tendency in western metaphysics (9.2). The chapter concludes with a brief reference to the place of being in the world of concepts (9.3).


High Predicate Predication Theory Existential Sentence Predicate Existence Western Metaphysic 
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  1. 1.
    BG, p. 24.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aristotle [4], P, 203,b, 30. Cf. also Maritain [1], § 84, p. 272; Bochenski [1], p. 257.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    GRG I, p. 24 note 2.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    BG, p. 23; GRL, for example, § 47.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    GRG I, p. 24 note 2.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Published by Bartlett [1], p. 11. The letter is dated 1906.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    GRL, § 53.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cf. Section 6.43, in fine. Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cf. Section 6.83.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    UBR, p. 10.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    KSCH, p. 453.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Particularly Gilson [1]. For the special case Aquinas-Duns Scotus (as two representatives of both tendencies), cf. Gilson [2].Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    This is, as far as I know, the best designation for individual in the Western philosophical tradition. The necessity of having a threefold schema (instead of the much repeated essence-existence or Sosein-Dasein),clearly follows from some texts of Gilson [2], for example, p. 205 (in particular the footnotes). The discussion reproduced there between Aquinas and Duns Scotus shows that there are three factors. It likewise becomes apparent that only in terms of three such factors may the disagreement between both philosophers be formulated. For Scotus “nec valet, habet duo esse, igitur est duo entia”, while for Aquinas speaking of two esse’s implies two individuals. It is correct to say that the disagreement concerns the insight into esse (Gilson [2], pp. 347–348, 378), but this, in turn, requires the taking into account of the dimension singularity-universality as well.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Aquinas’ esse: “Pour Thomas d’Aquin […] chaque être a son esse propre, en vertu duquel precisément il est un être, et qui est en lui ce qu’il a de plus intime: illud quad est magis intimum cuilibet et quad profundius omnibus inest” (Gilson [2], ibid.,as in the preceding note). It is clear, at least, that this existence has nothing to do with second intentions, i.e., with non-emptiness of predicates. Here existence is, so to speak, a property of the first level… of course a most exceptional one, because it cannot be conceived as other properties (i.e., of an “already existing” entity). According to some critics, Aquinas’ esse is today represented by Heidegger’s Sein (cf. for instance Echauri [1]).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    le terme `esse’ ne connote plus d’abord l’acte d’exister mais plutôt l’être de la substance définie par sa quiddité“ (Gilson [2], p. 378). ”Chez Duns Scot, il n’y a pas d’esse par lequel une essence soit un être; le mot esse désigne alors simplement la substance elle-même prise dans sa réalité actuelle hors de sa cause et de l’intellect“ (ibid.,p. 486). ”Dès que l’esse ne signifie plus l’acte d’être mais la réalité de l’essence posée hors de sa cause…“ (ibid.,p. 486, note 2).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Because it will be necessary to stress that existence does not concern individuals, but properties. Kaufmann [1] describes existence, one, many, number (i.e. the higher predicates of his Avicennian philosophers) as being accidents of the things (pp. 422, 424, 343 etc.). What are these things? Frequently they are… sets of marks, i.e., concepts. Thus, to say that existence is an accident (p. 422) is not to say that existence is an entity which may be absent from Peter (while Peter continues to exist), but that existence is not a mark of man. Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cf. Gilson [1], Ch. IV.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Accidens accipitur dupliciter, uno modo proprie, alio modo pro extraneo; quando Avicenna inquit quod existentia accidit essentiae, ly accidit accipitur pro extraneo, non alio modo, id est non est de quidditate essentiae“ (a text of a later Scotist, quoted by Gilson [1], p. 134). Gilson [1], p. 126, note 1, removes any doubt about whether the original text of Avicenna’s doctrine is duly respected by the Latin versions.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cf. the following decisive text: “et sic loquitur Avicenna de quidditate V Metaph.,cap. 1, ubi dicit omne tale esse accidens essentiae, quod non est de formali conceptu ejus, et quidditatem ad omne hujusmodi esse in potentia, ut ad unum et multum et caetera hujusmodi” (Duns Scotus, quoted by Gilson [2], p. 203).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gilson [1], p. 123.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gilson [1] as a whole might be quoted.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Whitehead-Russell [1], *24.03, Russell [5], V.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    on ne peut pas démontrer qu’un être existe parce qu’il est nécessaire, ou infini, ou suprême; tout au contraire, on saura que la nécessité ou l’infinité existe lorsqu’on aura prouvé l’existence d’une essence [read: “suppositum”] qui les possède“ (Gilson [2], p. 124, commenting on Duns Scotus).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cf. Chapter 1, note 13.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Cf. Section 5.44.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Chapter 7, note 62.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
  28. 28.
    As it follows from Gilson [1].Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Carnap [6], p. 234. Springer [1] could have seen a perfect agreement between Maimonides and Carnap. For Maimonides, cf. Kaufmann [1], p. 389, note 48.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Although these authors do not employ my terms, I think that this is what Anscombe-Geach [1] (pp. 90–91) mean.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    The result is that Gilson’s suggestion: il faut choisir (Gilson [2], p. 205) is no longer meaningful.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    For instance, FUB, p. 27, note.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    It is curious to observe that Kant [1], (Erste Abt., erste Bet.,1) begins by viewing the problem in terms of higher predication: “Es ist aber das Daseyn in denen Fällen da es im gemeinen Redegebrauch als ein Prädikat vorkommt, nicht sowohl ein Prädikat von dem Dinge selbst, als vielmehr von dem Gedanken den man davon hat.” (We quote the text of the edition Königsberg 1783.) As Wolff [1], § 243 indicates, “realitas” also means quidditas and real predicates are those which belong to the set of marks of a quidditas. (Cf. Heidegger [1], p. 164f, p. 184f.; Heidegger [2], p. 10.) Instead of developing the idea of existence as predicate von dem Gedanken,Kant will content himself with saying that existence is not a “real” (first level) predicate. (Cf. Eisler [1], “Existenz”, in fine.) Heidegger, commenting on Kant, seems interested in pointing out the positive side of that negative statement. (Cf. Heidegger [1], p. 184; Heidegger [2], pp. 8, 14, 26), and he even suggests (as does Kant) that existence is some sort of predicate, for instance: “Weil Sein kein reales Prädikat, aber gleichwohl Prädikat ist,mithin dem Objekt zugesprochen und doch nicht dem Sachgehalt des Objekts entnehmbar ist…” (Heidegger [2], p. 26). But when it is time to say more precisely what sort of predicate existence is, we see that existence is related to subjectivity (ibid.). Brentano is perhaps the only coherent philosopher in matters of whether existence is a predicate; he definitely considers existential sentences as eingliedrig (“A ist”) and the possibility does not even remain for asking what sort of predicate existence is. (For instance, Brentano [1], 27, in fine,cf. Brentano [3], for example, p. 106.) But behind Brentano’s “A”,the dimension singularity-universality is hidden as it is concealed behind Gilson’s incomplete dichotomy essence-existence. Aristotelian metaphysics of ousia and Aristotelian predication theory together have contributed to create the illusion that such pairs of terms as essence-existence, Sosein-Dasein,etc. are exhaustive. “La chose”, “res”, “Ding” - ousia’s inheritors -, ambiguously cover both univer- sals and singulars. Such is the ambiguity covered by “essence” or “Sosein”.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Section 7.56.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    “Les Scholastiques on fort disputé de constantia subiecti,comme ils l’appelloient, c’est à dire, comment la proposition faite sur un sujet peut avoir une venté réelle, si ce sujet n’existe pas” (Leibniz [1], p. 429). What is that subject? Is it a singular or a universal? If that term corresponds to “res”, then we may realize how ambiguous was the problem de constantia subiecti. Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Keckermann [1] (Liber II, Sectio Posterior, cap. I) distinguishes “praedicatio notionalis” and “praedicatio realis”; the former occurs when a secunda notio de prima praedicatur. (This is of course but one example.)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Cf. Section 7.58.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Heidegger [3], § 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ignacio Angelelli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TexasUSA

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