Existence is an abstraction like Love or Happiness, and thus not a concrete object, but a property we ascribe mentally to concrete objects, so how can it exist completely onto itself, when it depends completely on concrete objects? Might as well say "only concrete objects exist", which is obvious. Your thoughts? Am I wrong? If so, let me know.
You exist, I exist but does Existence exist?
There are circular concrete objects, but does the circle abstraction have independent existence? Or is it only in the mind and only ascribed by mind onto various circular concrete objects?
So, circle is a generalisation but does it exist outside the mind? Similarly, is Existence a generalisation, does it exist outside the mind? Do concrete objects have merely the property we call existence, but is existence independent of mind and of those concrete objects?
I saw this objection on a website, and wanted to know what the response is or workaround. Here is the relevant piece:
Existence is an abstraction. Like the abstractions of "love" or "happiness", the validity of the concept relies on the referents to which the concept referes.
What does the concept of "existence" refer to. If we start with a simple Merriam-Webster dictionary definition we find that existence is the totality of existent things. Furthermore, existence refers to the state or fact of having being especially independently of human consciousness and as contrasted with nonexistence. As a property, existence is the manner of being that is common to every mode of being.
In her book "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" she writes:
This is not to say that "existence" is a concrete, tangible entity to which you can point to directly.
Like "circles", "love" and "happiness",
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Objectivism is the identification of how concepts are formed. Since concretes are the only things that exist, how do we form abstractions which describe things which are clearly not concretes? In essence, this is what her book "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" covers.
Starting with the recognition that consciousness is an active process consisting of two essentials: differentiation and integration, she proceeds to outline the roles that existents (elements of existence) and consciousness contribute to the various stages of forming a concept as well as the identification of different types of concepts.
From the first-level concepts being the identification of the observable concrete objects, to the abstraction of characteristics, attributes, motions, etc., based on perceptually given similarities, to the use of previously formed concepts in forming more extensive and more intensive knowledge, her discoveries in this field are unprecidented.
If this is an area of interest to you, I would encourage you to study the source directly rather than trying to peice the disjointed information you find from various critics or even its advocates together. A forum such as this one, or many others, can suppliment your understanding on the finer points, but are usually not laid out in a general systematic approach to the topic.
answered Dec 18 '11 at 16:34
Yes, existence exists.
Unfortunately, the critical website once again completely misunderstands Objectivism and proceeds to knock down straw-men. The concept of existence is an abstraction. Rand rejected the position of the so-called "realists" who believed that abstractions exist out there in the world (whether in the world of forms--Plato--or in the concretes themselves--Aristotle). See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology ("ITOE"), forward to the first edition. The website is ascribing to Objectivism the "realist" position, which is utterly false. Rand rejected both intrinsicism and subjectivism, basing her philosophy instead on objectivity.
When we say "existence exists" we do not mean that the abstraction "existence" exists out there somewhere. As Rand explains in ITOE (p. 166, 2nd ed.), the meaning of every word is the existents to which it refers. Thus saying "existence exists," quite litterally means that "the existents to which the concept existence refers, exist." Because the existents to which the concept "existence" refers are all existents that exist in the universe, the proposition can be refined to "all existents that exist, exist."