People in that room don't exist.

Is it contradictory because "people in that room" mean the people exist?

Does "in the room", "in the school", etc all imply the existence?

For example, "this car doesn't exist" is contradictory because "this" implies the car exists

  • "People in this room don't exist." sound weird in natural language. We usually say: "The room is empty." Dec 5, 2023 at 8:59
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA I'm talking about logic...
    – user68943
    Dec 5, 2023 at 8:59
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA I'm sorry that I'm poor at detailing something.
    – user68943
    Dec 5, 2023 at 9:09
  • If you speak about "logic", you have to translate it into a logic formula. And this can be done in different way, like e.g. "the room is empty" that is Room = ∅. Alternatively, use suitable predicates and quantifiers. Dec 5, 2023 at 10:05
  • No. Only propositions enter implications. "People in that room" and "this" are not propositions and do not imply anything at all until placed into one.
    – Conifold
    Dec 5, 2023 at 10:11

2 Answers 2


In The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, page 92, Heidegger writes:

If we compare it with the Kantian thesis, the Thomistic thesis says—indeed, in agreement with Kant—that existence, there-being, actuality, is not a real predicate; it does not belong to the res of a thing but is nevertheless a res that is added on to the essentia [concept]. By means of his interpretation, on the other hand, Kant wishes to avoid conceiving of actuality, existence, itself as a res; he does this by interpreting existence as relation to the cognitive faculty, hence treating perception as position.

This is set out in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason A598/B626 (at page centre):

Being is evidently not a real predicate, that is, a conception of something which is added to the conception of some other thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations in it. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgement.

That is, in making the judgement "people are in that room" they thereby exist in one's mind, which is the only reality one can be absolutely certain of. The "are" constitutes the copula of a concept (people) plus predicate (in the room) brought to existence by the judgement. Concept plus predicates is the constitution of a thing since Aristotle. This Kantian form of existence applies to things observed, not the observer's mind.

OP: Does "in the room", "in the school", etc all imply the existence?

So no, they are predicates which would need to be joined to a concept in judgement for existence to be actualised.

It follows that "people are not in that room" asserts where people are not and does suggest that people might be elsewhere. The statement "unicorns are not in that room" strikes one differently and prompts the objection that the concept is not realistic.

  • “People in that room don't exist" makes sense without being contradictory?
    – user68943
    Dec 5, 2023 at 10:55
  • @Collins I just added on that point. It does add extra considerations. Dec 5, 2023 at 10:59
  • “People in that room don't exist" makes them seem like ghosts. Dec 5, 2023 at 11:01
  • I mean it goes like this.
    – user68943
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:39
  • A: Do you know about the people in that room, they sleep every night.
    – user68943
    Dec 5, 2023 at 11:40

It is contradictory. “People in that room don’t exist.” means that people in that room are declared to have no existence whatsoever. If they have no existence then how did you define “people” ? They must be having at least physical attributes to be called “people”. If you want to say that the room is empty and you wish to emphasise that it is empty of people then you should say : The room is empty of people.