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Meinongianism Claim: Existence is a property that some objects possess and some don't; there "are" non-actual or non-existent objects (such as Santa Clause, possible worlds, and perhaps even impossible worlds).

Question: What would then be the difference between a non-existent object and an abstract object, such as a proposition or the number 2?

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1 Answer 1

The difference is simple, non-existent objects don't exist whereas abstract objects might.

For example, round squares are non-existent because they are self-contradictory. The golden mountain is non-existent because it is not actual. Fictional entities are non-existent because fiction isn't literal truth.

Non-existent objects are not (at least, needn't be) abstract. The golden mountain really is made of gold, it is concrete and not abstract--- it just doesn't exist. Likewise, there is a detective who really lived at 221b Baker street, he just didn't exist.

Meinongianism and the theory of non-existent objects has not gotten wide acceptance. Most philosophers who advance some sort of Meinongianism these days try to accomplish the same as the distinction between exist/not-exist with some other distinction(s) like abstract/concrete or actual/possible/impossible.

See this article, especially section 5.4 for more discussion of this.

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