Horse-parts, white-parts, and naming: Semantics, ontology, and compound terms in the white horse dialogue
Graduate studies at Western
Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 6 (2):167-185 (2007)
|Abstract||In this article I argue against Chad Hansen’s version of the “White Horse Dialogue” (Baimalun) of Gongsun Longzi as intelligible through writings of the later Moists. Hansen regards the Baimalun as an attempt to demonstrate how the compound baima, “white horse,” is correctly analyzed in one of the Moist ways of analyzing compound term semantics but not the other. I present an alternative reading in which the Baimalun arguments point out, via reductio, the failure of either Moist analysis; in particular they point out how neither analysis accounts for ordinary, acceptable inferences like “There is a white horse; therefore there is a horse.” At issue for Gongsun Longzi is a fundamental problem with atomic terms: none of them seems capable of referring to a particular, “stand-alone” individual.|
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