On the Inconsistency of Meinong’s Ontology

  • Raúl Orayen
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 172)


My aim in this paper is to give an analysis of the logical difficulties which are present in some of the main theses in Meinong’s ontology. These theses have been criticized by logicians since 1905, the same year Russell published “On Denoting” in Mind, posing serious objections to Meinong’s doctrines and giving an alternative theory, by setting up his well-known theory of descriptions. Nevertheless, a new study of this question is justified, as we shall see later, because Russell’s arguments are not as conclusive as one might think than to be at first glance. One of his arguments is based on a misinterpretation of the theory he attacks, and the rest of them lose some of their strength due to Meinong’s replies to his objections.


Definite Description Ordinary Language Ontological Theory Impossible Object Existent Object 
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  1. 14.
    Cf. Meinong, Ueber Moeglichkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit (Leipzig: Barth, 1915), pp. 278 and 282, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, vol. II (Leipzig, Barth), pp. 493–4 (Cited by Findlay, op. cit., pp. 50, 105 ).Google Scholar
  2. 16.
    Cf. Russell, Principles of Mathematics ( New York: The Norton Library, 1964 ), p. 449.Google Scholar
  3. 22.
    Cf. Anthony Kenny, “Descartes’ Ontological Argument,” included in Joseph Margolis (ed.), Fact and Existence ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1969 ), p. 33.Google Scholar
  4. 24.
    Wonfilio Trejo, “Russell: Descripción y existencia,” Critica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 2 (1968), especially pp. 89 and 93.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    Reinhardt Grossmann, Meinong (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974; Héctor-Neri Castañeda, “Thinking and the Structure of the World,” Philosophia 4 (1974), 3–40, “Individuation and Non-Identity; A New Look,” American Philosophical Quarterly 12 (1975), 131-40, “Identity and Sameness,” Philosophia (1975), 121–50, “Philosophical Method and the Theory of Predication and Identity,”Google Scholar

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

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  • Raúl Orayen

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