Almost nothings

For many philosophers, the scholarly debate around holes began in earnest in 1970, with Lewis and Lewis’s now classic article ‘Holes’ (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48: 206–212.) The authors presented their paper in a highly unusual format – that of an imaginary discussion between two philosophers, called Argle and Bargle, who are pondering the holes in a piece of Gruyère cheese. Argle believes that every hole has a hole-lining, and therefore the hole-lining is the hole. On the other hand, Bargle points out that even if hole-linings surround holes, things don’t surround themselves. Since the 70’s the philosophical debate around holes has continued and expanded considerably, and has now been complemented with an article by Kristopher McDaniel assistant professor in the department of philosophy at Syracuse University, NY. The professor outlines the possibilities for a new and more comprehensive category of entities which includes holes, and which he calls ‘Almost Nothings’.

“Examples of almost nothings include holes, cracks, and shadows; almost nothings thrive in the absence of ‘positive’ entities such as donuts, walls, and sunlight.”

And to remind readers of the enigmatic nature of holes, the professor give the following illustrated example.
“Consider a rectangular piece of cloth with a single hole in its left-hand side: ”

“If you destroy most of the fabric except for a small amount that surrounds the hole, as shown below,”

” – then you will have destroyed the original host of the hole (the piece of cloth) and yet the hole will persist.”
The paper continues with further discussion around Possibilia, Meinongianisms and Being-by-Courtesy – in the final analysis, concluding:

“Just as there are modes of being, some of which are degenerate, there are different ways of being identical, kinds of parthood, modes of spatiotemporal relatedness, and so forth.”

See: ‘Being and Almost Nothingness’ in the journal Noûs, Volume 44, Issue 4, pages 628–649, December 2010.

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