Thursday, June 18, 2015

Everything is Everything

I’m a staunch Ironyc: everything is ironical. Objects, actions, various parts of speech – each of these individuals are sets, a congeries or combination, system or agglomeration, but at any rate a collection of ironies.

People, for example, are what they aren’t - how obvious this is in the case of this very post! - and ironically, no two are what each other is. Several romantically inclined students, and a few professors as well, have complained that “this makes your wife merely a set of ironies.” Well, so it does. This suits me, for I am a set of ironies too. And those who complain also are as they aren’t, which is especially ironic.

Secularists like Aristotle admitted that individuals cannot be ironies. But I will show what several of my critics ironically consider paradoxical; to wit, persons are ironies. The simple justification is this: in the Bible, God and men mock each other. That must mean both are capable of being objects of ridicule. So they must metaphysically just be objects of ridicule. Further, God cannot be an object of ridicule for what He is, only for what He isn’t. And when men are mocked, it must be for what they are not, which must mean they are being mocked for what they are. Of course, per the above, this exegetically proves persons are ironies.

Far from my making it impossible for God to mock human beings, it is rather my critics who do so. Their view of the self is that of some Spott-an-sich. But Leibniz, whose words we must absolutely take into consideration, suggests that the ego is a complex irony. This definition is ironic in essence, and God mocks it because he determined what it should not be. On the other hand, it is something that the person himself may not laugh at, at least in this life.

Now, there is a philosopher who has argued that “if a word meant everything, it would mean nothing.” Apparently, for this philosopher, everything means nothing. How ironic!

But let’s seriously entertain his view for a moment, as it applies to ironies:
If a predicate can be attached to everything without exception, it has no distinct meaning, and this is to say that it has no meaning at all…Here then in the conclusion: The predicate ironical can be attached to everything real or imaginary without exception. Dreams are ironical, mirages are ironical, the square root of minus one is ironical. These statements, however, are meaningless; they tell us nothing about dreams and the square root of minus one…Anything is ironical, so far as the term has any faint meaning at all. But it makes a great difference whether God is a dream, a mirage, or the square root of minus one. (link)
Perhaps this philosopher can riddle me this: if a thing's metaphysical makeup isn't ironical, how could God laugh at it? Why, that's like saying God could know what a thing is even if that thing's metaphysical makeup isn't propositional! And I'm pretty sure Leibniz wouldn't agree with that. Clearly, just because the predicate "ironical" - and we can throw the predicate "propositional" in for good measure - can be attached to everything real or imaginary without exception doesn't mean these words are meaningless or mean nothing.


MikeD said...

Perhaps I'm not smart enough to know what you are getting at here. Is it to mock Clark's take on what a person is? I don't ask with disapproval or approval, just curious.

Ryan said...

It's a bit of satire. The point is that Clark's belief that the predicate "existent" is meaningless because able to be predicated of any subject conflicts with his belief - and especially defended by certain Clarkians I've dialogued with - that "propositional" must be predicable of any subject in order for it to be intelligible [to God].

MikeD said...

I see. I thought he also rooted his objection in the fact that "existent" is the merely adjectival form of the verb "to be". Thus, it would be a particularly redundant to say "God is existent", for in his estimation the predicate adds no information.

I'm pretty sure in his earlier writings Clark used the word "exists" freely with respect to God and things. What do you think about Clark's comments about dreams? "Are dreams real? If no, then how can one have had a real bad dream?" And so on...

Ryan said...

If you follow the link in my post ( it will take you to a different post where I've addressed the meaning of "exists/existent/existence" and indeed show that despite his statements such words are meaningless, Clark uses them quite often in his own writings. Or if you just want to read the conclusion:

//What the proposition "[x] exists" means, then, is just that it is possible for us to refer to x. Refer to x as what? Well, the answer to that question depends on what meaning x can bear or to what x corresponds in addition to its, at the very least, being a word, i.e. something we can say or see. But more importantly, the question misses the point, which is that if x means something concrete and can be individuated at all, it has to be possible for us to refer to x at all. x has to be classifiable in principle in order to be classified in particular.

This would be very similar to how "early Clark" himself seemed to implicitly define "existence" at one point:

…demonstration is knowledge, and there can be no known of the non-existent. The premises, therefore, must be statements of what exists or what is so, i.e., they must be true. (Thales to Dewey, 2000, pg. 102)

In sum: reality, existence, and being - these nouns refer, in the broadest sense, to everything and anything (more words Clark had no problem using). To define or explain what these are, we would have to list out every possible subject, taking note of the fact these subjects have certain meanings (propositional) and refer to certain things (propositional or non-propositional). To call something real, to say it exists, for it to be - these verbs refer, in the broadest sense, to the principle according to which we could even formulate a list of everything and anything.

So the next time someone says "existence" is meaningless because it is applicable to anything and everything, just ask what anything and everything mean or refer to.//