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Markus Gabriel (2015:44-49) – fato

quinta-feira 11 de janeiro de 2024, por Cardoso de Castro


Por "fato" refiro-me a qualquer coisa que seja verdade em relação a algo. É verdade que a minha mão esquerda está neste momento a escrever esta frase. Este fato não é idêntico à minha mão esquerda. A minha mão esquerda e os fatos em que ela está inserida são diferentes, pelo menos no sentido de que a minha mão esquerda está inserida em muitos fatos sem, portanto, ser muitas mãos esquerdas. A minha caneca está sobre um pires. Isto é um fato. O fato de a minha caneca estar em cima de um pires não é nem a minha caneca nem o meu pires, mas o fato de estarem relacionados de uma certa maneira, de estarem na relação de um estar em cima do outro. É um fato que 7+5=12 na medida em que é verdade para 7 e 5 que, quando estão na relação relevante de adição, são iguais a 12, ou seja, que uma certa relação de três lugares se mantém entre 7, 5 e 12.


We saw how zoontology had to admit that there are some interest-independent facts grounding our specific interests. Both Meillassoux   and Boghossian have recently made a compelling [45] case that no position in ontology or epistemology can avoid acknowledging absolute facts: Something is the case regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not  , for even if almost all facts were interest-relative, this fact itself would not be interest-relative. We could not change the fact that almost all facts are interest-relative by deciding to be interested in them not being interest-relative. Therefore, in order to get a firm grip on ontological realism on this level it is important to present a realist conception of facts.

By ‘fact’ I refer to anything that is true of something. It is true of my left hand   that it is right now typing this sentence. This fact is not identical with my left hand. My left hand and the facts within which it is embedded are different at least in that my left hand is embedded in many facts without therefore being many left hands. My mug stands on a saucer. This is a fact. That my mug stands on a saucer is neither my mug nor my saucer, but the fact that they are related in a certain way, that they stand   in the relation of one standing on top of the other. It is a fact that 7+5=12 in that it is true of 7 and 5 that when they stand in the relevant relation of addition, they are equal to 12, that is, that a certain three-place relation holds between 7, 5 and 12.

This conception of facts differs from the traditional Russellian conception in many respects, most notably in that it attributes truth to the facts and not to a relation between facts and propositions. I refrain from the idea   that facts are truth-makers such that they make some propositions true and some false. A true thought about an object that it is such and so is a fact as much as it is a fact that London is north of Italy, or that Mount Vesuvius is a volcano. The true thought that Mount Vesuvius is a volcano differs from the fact that Mount Vesuvius is a volcano, as Mount Vesuvius would have been a volcano had no one ever thought so. Nevertheless, true thoughts do not only become facts by being thought about and, therefore, by making thoughts about them true or false; they are already facts by themselves in just the same sense in which it is a fact by itself that Vesuvius is a volcano. I accordingly give up on the idea that truth-aptitude, that is some system  ’s property of being at least either determinately true or false, is primarily a matter of that system being a representation of facts. Truth is not identical with an accurate representation of facts, even though there are instances of truth where this partly holds, such as when I truly believe on a perceptual basis that I stand in front of Big Ben. [46] Truth in my view rather is the glue holding facts together insofar as there only are facts if something is true of an object.

There are facts only if something or other is true of an object. Russell thinks that facts are independent from truth to the extent to which they allow for something to be true of an object (for propositions to be true or false). They make propositions true or false, but they are not themselves true or false. My view is that truth is not primarily a property of propositions, let alone articulated thoughts (thoughts someone has). Of course, some thoughts are true, but this does not make it the case that thoughts and only thoughts (or any other representational system) can be true. Facts are truths in our ordinary way of speaking about them.

As I will argue in more detail later, this preserves another valuable insight from Russell, namely his claim that no object just exists by itself. He famously makes an interesting case that ‘o exists’ is meaningless. One of his arguments is that every individual which has any properties whatsoever has to exist, so that denial of existence becomes pointless, as we can never deny the existence of a given individual. He believes that existence, therefore, is not a predicate in the ordinary sense, which is why he offers an alternative revisionary ontology. However, this opening move is problematic given that existence might still be a property that simply holds good of all objects. Why claim that there cannot be any properties that all objects necessarily have even though assertions in which this property figures as predicate violate our understanding of what it is to assert something?

Be that as it may, an interesting part of his argument that we do not say of individuals that they exist consists in his insight that there must be a reason why nothing exists without being determined as thus and so. For him, the reason for the fact that there is no undetermined existence, no sheer or purified being, as it were, is that claims of existence mean that a propositional function has values to the effect that it is sometimes true. It is sometimes true that ‘x is a bottle of beer’ because there are instantiations of ‘x’, such as that Negra Modelo bottle over there, which assign the truth-value true to the proposition ‘That Negra Modelo bottle over there is a bottle of beer.’ This view straightforwardly entails that there is nothing that does not have any properties whatsoever because existence is tied to propositional functions, and they always exhibit patterns of property-attribution. Of course, here a lot hinges on the question of why there would not be [47] a propositional function ‘x exists’ that is true for that Negra Modelo bottle over there and false for Indiana Jones (assuming we are not speaking about the movies)? Also, is Russell not ultimately committed to claiming that the relation between a propositional function and the instantiations which turn it into a true proposition only comes to be if someone holds beliefs that are at least either determinately true or determinately false? But this would amount to a crazy form of idealism, or at least ontological anti-realism, in that this would mean that nothing had ever existed had no one ever had any truth-apt beliefs such that a certain propositional function is sometimes true. Thus, Russell would have to make a case for all-out Platonism about propositions according to which propositions sometimes also happen to be grasped, asserted, believed, denied, etc., but that they are ‘out there’, regardless of our further representation of them. But on this construal it would be difficult to see why propositions would not belong to the facts, given that we can have true or false beliefs about them so that they fulfil the function of truth-makers in any event.

Evidently, we must steer clear of the notion that nothing would have existed had no one had any beliefs about it, a proposition secretly driving modern ontology since Kant   had suggested that to exist is to appear in the field of sense of possible experience, which will be discussed later. Any such theory of existence, that is to say ontology, will turn out to be incoherent as it will run into problems regarding the prior existence of objects and the obtaining of associated facts leading to something like creatures capable of truth-apt thought. We simply do not make it the case that generally or globally there is something rather than nothing because there is something about us (that we think or conceptually represent) that creates all the facts including those supposedly obtaining before or generally independent of our arrival.

According to the traditional model already to be found in Plato   and Aristotle  , the minimal requirement for there being facts is that some property is instantiated, which we can write down with the now traditional formula F(x), where ‘F’ is a property and ‘x’ is a variable sign whose range is whatever objects (or object-names) can fit in the argument place according to some system of rules. That the cat is furry, the mug is round, the moon is shining, are all minimal facts in this sense. However, even though we can represent all facts in this form by just breaking them down to the fact that we can judge things to be thus and so (however complicated), [48] this does not mean that facts always only have the logical form of some individual falling under some concept. Conditional facts such as: Had I not eaten for three days, I would by now either be starving or already dead can formally be represented as me falling under some concept (the conditional with variables), but this leads to an overly abstract form of representation and might mislead us into thinking that to exist is to fall   under concepts. In the next chapter I will argue that to exist is not identical with falling under concepts. Falling under concepts is a local case of existence, but does not generalise to everything there is. Counterfactuals such as

(CC) Had Britney not eaten the cheese, she might have chosen the ham instead.

are also facts, as they hold good of something or other, in this case of Britney, the cheese and the ham. (CC) has an internal structure characterising how things would have been had certain conditions been met. As I will argue in the modalities chapter, there are no absolute modalities. Modalities are as restricted as ordinary existential assertions, which means that we can legitimately regard (CC) as being about Britney, the cheese and the ham. (CC) describes a truth; it says what holds good of certain objects. To reduce facts to property instantiations or to any other logical equivalent of a grammatical structure we find in some natural language or other might be the right move at some point in a specific philosophical argument. But from an ontological point of view, identification of facts with property instantiation is prima facie unwarranted, as this rules out that there could be sui generis modal facts, among other things. There might be reasons for a reductive account of facts according to which there are simple or atomic facts (property instantiation) that make up more complex facts. However, many of the reasons traditionally given for something like this hinge on foundationalist epistemology, that is, on the idea that we have to grasp the facts piecemeal and build a system of more complex beliefs on the basis of simple ideas, which to some extent is a different topic. Nevertheless, within the given context we can reject all versions of foundationalist epistemology that hinge on a conception of the external world as being the homogeneous totality of what is always already there, as this metaphysical world-picture can be rejected on the grounds developed here.

Given that we already know that even the most radically [49] anthropomorphic version of zoontology has to admit that there are interest-independent facts (at least the fact that all other facts, that is, almost all facts, are interest-relative), we have already succeeded in knowing something about things in themselves. We know that the domain of things as they are in themselves — those things that are utterly observation-, mind-, theory- and consciousness-independent — partly consists of interest-independent facts. This might not be a very substantive form of knowledge. It is not like knowing that some (many or even all) things in themselves are subatomic particles or free-floating Berkeleyan minds. Nevertheless, it is fully-fledged knowledge about things in themselves, as we know that they have at least the following structure: that they partly consist of interest-independent facts. The degree of cognitive or broadly epistemic satisfaction plays no essential role in telling the individuals in the interest-independent domain apart. They are just not distinguished by being distinguished by us.

Ver online : Markus Gabriel

GABRIEL, Markus. Fields of Sense. A New Realist Ontology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015