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Winter Colloquium Series - Markus Gabriel
WhenWednesday, Mar 6, 2019, 12 – 2 p.m.
Campus locationSavery Hall (SAV)
Campus roomSavery Hall Room 408
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Philosophy
University of Washington

Location: Savery Hall Room 408

Title: On the Essence and Existence of so-called “Fictional Objects”

Markus Gabriel
Professor of Philosophy
Bonn University

It is an equally widespread and erroneous assumption in contemporary ontology that fictional objects belong to the class of absolutely non-existent objects. In this paper, I argue for a view I call “ontological relativism about non-existence”. According to this position, there are no absolute non-existence facts. What there is not, depends on what there is in a field of sense. The field of sense of fictional objects turns out to be constituted by the ontological fact that its objects are essentially interpretation-dependent. They would not have existed, had they not been exposed to an interpretation. In this context, I will introduce a distinction between “hermeneutical” and “meta-hermeneutical” objects and defend the view that fictional objects have their essence in virtue of meta-hermeneutical contexts (which I call “scores”), while they are subject to variation conditions in contexts of interpretation. 

Keyword: Fictional objects, non-existence, fields of sense, New Realism, hermeneutics, aesthetics

Markus Gabriel received his PhD (Dr. phil.) (2005) and his Habiliation (2008) at the University of Heidelberg. After a postdoc at NYU, he taught as Assistant Professor at the New School for Social Research from 2008-2009. Since 2009 he holds the chair in epistemology, modern, and contemporary philosophy at the University at the time becoming Germany’s youngest full professor in philosophy. In 2012, he became Director of the International Center for Philosophy at the University of Bonn. In 2017, he became founding director of the multidisciplinary Center for Science and Thought which brings together natural science and philosophy on common research topics (including consciousness and intelligence; Quantum Gravity and anthropic reasoning; the Simulation hypothesis and the relation between physics and metaphysics). He is the author of many books, including Fields of Sense. A New Realist Ontology; the two international bestsellers: Why the World does not Exist and I am not a Brain and most recently Neo-Existentialism. In these books, he lays the ground for a philosophical position now widely known as “New Realism”. He has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, the University of Palermo, the University of Lisbon, and many others.

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