ERIC Number: ED390039
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
It's Nothing, Really...Nothing at All.
Pullman, George L.
Philosophy was created by accident out of nothing. The verb "to be" can be confused with "to exist." The accidents of the fact that the "copula" is both a transitive and an intransitive verb are sometimes thought to have plagued ancient Greek thinking until Aristotle discovered logic and thus saved the world from thoughtless "copulation." From this perspective, dividing "logos" from "ontos" makes language reliable, and thus real thinking becomes possible. Conversely, if "to be" cannot be distinguished from "to exist," then thinking clearly or speaking in a straightforward fashion is not possible. The accident of the copula made philosophy possible because its effects made the creation of nothing possible; further, if nothing is possible, then anything is possible--a prospect that disturbed the Eleatics and the sophists as much as it did Aristotle. Investigation allows two claims to be made: (1) the Eleatics and the sophists appear to have been grappling with the effects of the copula even if they did not manage to fully or explicitly distinguish between existence and predication; in other words, the Eleatics and the sophists were trying to deal with the copula's ability to create nothing and render all descriptions uncontrollably metaphorical; and (2) philosophy did not succeed where the Eleatics and the sophists failed because if it had succeeded, then ontology would have disappeared. (Contains 12 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Aristotle; Copula (Grammar); Historical Background; Ontology; Sophists
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition (14th, University Park, PA, July 12-15, 1995).