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Bestowed Existence

Uploaded by palma on Oct 05, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


Knives and forks are objects external to us. They have an objective - or at least an intersubjective - existence. Presumably, they will be there even if no one watches or uses them ever again. We can safely call them "Objective Entities".

Our emotions and thoughts can be communicated - but they are NOT the communication itself or its contents. They are "Subjective Entities", internal, dependent upon the existence of one observer - us.

But what about numbers? The number one, for instance, has no objective, observer-independent status. I am not referring to the number one as adjective, as in "one apple". I am referring to it as a stand-alone entity. As an entity it seems to stand alone in some way (it's out there) - and be subjective in other ways (dependent upon observers). Numbers belong to a third category: "Bestowed Entities". These are entities whose existence is bestowed upon them by social agreement between conscious agents.

But this definition is so wide and all encompassing that it might be considered useless. Religion and money are two examples of entities which owe their existence to a social agreement between conscious entities - yet they don't strike us as universal and out there (objective) as numbers do.

Indeed, this distinction is pertinent and our definition should be refined accordingly.

We must distinguish "Social Entities" (like money or religion) from "Bestowed Entities". The latter - in stark contrast to the former - are not universal, they re dependent on the society, culture and period that gave them birth. Not so with numbers. Numbers are Platonic ideas which come into existence through an act of conscious agreement between ALL the agents capable of reaching such an agreement. While conscious agents can argue about the value of money (read, about its existence) and about the existence of God - no rational, conscious agent can have an argument regarding the number one.

Apparently, the bestowed entity category seems to free itself from the eternal dichotomy of internal versus external. It is both and comfortably so. But this is only an illusion. The dichotomy does persist. The bestowed entity is internal to the group of consenting conscious-rational agents - but it is external to any single agent (individual). In other words, a group of rational conscious agents is certain to bestow existence on the number...

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   10/05/2000

Category:   Science And Technology

Length:   5 pages (1,113 words)

Views:   1852

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