Effability, Ontology, and Method

Philosophy Research Archives 9:419-469 (1983)
Abstract
Bergmann has proposed an ontology that contains an entity many find strange: particularity. And in fact, Bergmann, too, seems to find it strange. He proposes a phenomenological method in ontology, and holds, as he therefore should, that particularity is presented. Nonetheless, he also holds that it is ineffable, that its presence in a particular is an unsayable state of affairs, and that it is something which is not a thing and yet is also not nothing. Bergmann’s position has been long developing, but especially in three recent essays. The aim of the present essay is to explore these views. We shall examine Bergmann’s method, and some criticisms of it by Rosenberg, in order to see whether we cannot get a better grasp of particularity. Specifically, we shall try to see whether it is not, after all, effable. It will turn out that this disagreement on the effability of particularity is really three disagreements: one concerning whether a particular can be thought apart from particularity, a second concerning the analysis of intentionality, and a third concerning whether, in the ontologically important sense of ‘different’, entities that are different are separable
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