“…the Most Memorable Don Quixote of a Great Cause”. Bergmann’s Critique of Meinong

In R. Egidi & G. Bonino (eds.), Fostering the Ontological Turn: Gustav Bergmann (1906-1987). Ontos Verlag. pp. 201-228 (2008)
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At first, I explain how Bergmann reads Meinong. As regards his method, Bergmann’s stated aim is to examine Meinong’s thought through all the stages of its development; but he is very selective in choosing exactly what to consider, not just within each of Meinong’s texts, but equally among his texts – indeed he completely ignores Meinong’s mature works. Moreover, he often alters Meinong’s thought by translating it into his foil ontology. As regards the content, Bergmann interprets Meinong as a reist and a nominalist. I try to show that such a view is not correct. I then discuss this interpretation by focusing on which Meinong Bergmann reads, that is, which writings he refers to and at the same time which of Meinong’s theories he criticizes. I sketch the four phases of the development of Meinong’s thought distinguished by Bergmann: his first theory of relations, the theory of the objects of higher order, of objectives, and finally object theory. I present Bergmann’s critique and compare his distinction of different degrees of independence, which establish differences of status among categories of existents, with Meinong’s distinction between kinds of being. Finally, taking into account also Meinong’s mature work, I offer an assessment of Bergmann’s proposal to rethink object theory. Considering Meinong’s theory of incomplete objects, I show that Bergmann would have found in Meinong an ally not only in the battle against representationalism, as he maintains, but also in that against nominalism.
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