Does his impossible worlds category include (and can describe) literally all impossible things/worlds?

Inconsistencies, paradoxes, impossible solutions to problems (and impossible problems); really impossible things (as there are philosophers that told me that paradoxes, for example, are not really/truly impossible things because otherwise they could not exist; "Obviously, impossible things are not, in any situation, possible. But if by "impossible things" you mean "contradictory things" or "paradoxical things," then yes. Depends on what you mean by "really impossible." If you mean things that are physically impossible, then obviously we can describe these things using logic. If you mean things that are logically impossible, then this question (is there any logic system/method or anything else that can find and describe impossible things?) doesn't make any sense.") Can it describe all the impossible worlds that even logic systems that allow impossibilities (like paraconsistent logics, dialetheism, trivialism...etc) cannot describe (due, for example, to their limitations)?

Russell's set paradox cannot have a solution (solution in the sense of representing the contents of Russell's set paradox) in a way that makes sense in naive set theory (classical logic), it is impossible and cannot exist: as a scientist told me once,

"The contents of a Russel-type set are not just non-computable in that you can't figure out the answer. You can arrive at it by exhausting all possibilities, either. That is, if you take every possible state the human brain can be in, none of them include the computation of Russel's Set's contents. That is, not only can the contents not be computed, they cannot even be represented. No stimulus can cause us to comprehend Russel's Set, since such comprehension is not possible to begin with. The solution to Russell's set does not exist. It cannot exist. There is no arrangement of atoms in the universe that spells out the solution. There is no pattern of neuronal activity in the brain that could ever represent the solution. It's like asking what democracy tastes like. It doesn't make any sense."

So could we find an impossible world from Alexius Meinong's impossible worlds where this solution would exist and could be found and represented?

  • There is no known example of a true contradiction. You ask whether we can find one in an impossible world. The answer is obviously yes since it is the fact we can find one or more that makes that world impossible in the first place. I wonder if this is what you really meant to ask.
    – user20253
    Sep 18, 2018 at 14:04
  • @PeterJ what do you mean with "true contradictions"? I mean, one perfectly impossible situation (and what I think it is a true paradox) is: "a Euclidean circle and a Euclidean line that intersect at three points"
    – bautzeman
    Sep 21, 2018 at 1:03
  • @bautzeman - A 'true' contradiction' would be a contradiction that exists.as more than a fiction or hypothesis. Some philosophers (Priest, Routley, Melhuish et al ) come to believe from a study of metaphysics that there are such things, rendering the world paradoxical, and some physicists also (Heisenberg maybe) but this is an optional interpretation and there are no demonstrable examples,
    – user20253
    Sep 21, 2018 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


I don't believe that Meinong's impossible worlds do include all impossible worlds/ things. The following 1915 quotation seems crucial :

[It is] no more possible for a whole to contain itself as part or for a difference to be its own object of reference or its own foundation (Fundament). An object of higher order can never be its own subordinate. [EP, 1917, i I] (Janet Farrell Smith, 'The Russell-Meinong Debate', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Mar., 1985), pp. 305-350 : 321.) [EP : On Emotional Presentation [chap. 2, "Defective Objects"], trans. M. Kalsi. Northwestern University Press, 1972.]

So this impossible 'thing' or state of affairs is ruled out by Meinong himself.

Meinong does allow worlds in which the Law of Non-Contradiction does not hold :

Meinong's actual concession in Uber die Stellung der Gegenstands-theorie in 1906 to Russell's charge of contradiction runs as follows:

Russell lays greatest emphasis on the fact that recognition of such [impossible] objects would deprive the Law of Contradiction of its unrestricted validity. Of course I can in no way avoid this consequence . . . The Law of Contradiction is applied by everyone only to what is actual and what is possible. [USG, 1906 : 16] [USG - Uber die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften. Leipzig: Voightlander.]

Meinong is admitting in this passage that contradictory impossible objects violate the law of noncontradiction. But he certainly is not conceding that his theory is contradictory. (Janet Farrell Smith : 324.)

Meinong did not see his concession that the law of noncontradiction has restricted validity in its ontological formulation as a grave defect since for him the law was not meant to apply to impossibles in the first place. (Janet Farrell Smith : 325.)

But all that we are left with, so far as I can see, is that (at least) one type of impossible world is banished from Meinong's ontology - a world in which an object of higher order is its own subordinate. Whether other types are excluded and if so what they are and by what criteria they are excluded, I'm unable to say. Wish I could be of more help.

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