Theory and History of Ontology

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  • "History Logic" and "Bibliographia" are my other websites. "Table of Contents" gives the list of the pages, for other indexes see the "Sitemap". "Modern Ontologists" contains a table with links to the pages on the most important philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries who have written on ontology. The "Search" function can be used to find a particular author or subject.


Selected and Annotated Bibliography of Reinhardt Grossmann

A complete bibliography of the published writings of Reinhardt Grossmann and of the studies about his philosophy has been compiled by Javier Cumpa in the volume edited by him: Studies in the Ontology of Reinhardt Grossmann (2009), pp. 284-289; I give the list of the books and a selection of the most important articles.


  1. Grossmann, Reinhardt. 1965. The Structure of Mind. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

    Contents: 1. Introspection. Inspection of phenomenal objects - Awareness of mental acts - Sensing and perceiving 3; 2. Mental Acts. The relational view - Nonexistent objects - Brentano's idealism 39; 3. Presentation and Judgment: Universals - Concepts - Frege's conceptualism - Abstraction 60; 4. Meaning. Mental contents - Intentional contexts - The behavioristic approach 104; 5. Intentionality. Possible particulars - Possible states of affairs - The intentional nexus 144; 6. Realism. Direct and indirect knowledge - Perceptual and phenomenal objects - Delusive perceptual situations 180; Index 238-248.

    "This book avoids a number of traditional problems from the philosophy of mind. Emotions and volitions are hardly mentioned; and very little is said about imagination and memory. I am concerned in the main with only one topic: the realism-Idealism controversy. This concern explains why I limited the discussion to thought and perception. It also explains why at times I had to go rather deeply into the problems of general ontology; for if my analysis is correct, the realism-idealism controversy arises from certain disagreements in general ontology.

    Nor does this book deal with a number of currently fashionable topics. I say nothing on whether or not mental states are after all nothing but brain states. I do not discuss this point because I am convinced that there is nothing to be discussed. The correct answer to the question seems to me so obvious that I simply took it for granted in writing this book. The problem of our knowledge of other minds is of quite a different sort: it is, philosophically speaking, interesting and difficult. Since I do not discuss the problem, I may mention here that I consider all solutions in terms of so-called criteria for the application of expressions unsatisfactory. The one fashionable topic which I do discuss, though not under a separate heading and not in the movement's jargon, is the so-called private language argument. I am sure that the attentive reader can construct my position on this matter from the first chapter." (from the Preface).

    Translated in Spanish as: La estructura de la mente. Barcelona, Labor, 1969.

  2. ———. 1969. Reflections on Frege's Philosophy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

    Contents: Editorial Foreword VII; Preface IX; Note XV-XVI; Chapter I. Begriffschrift: Three Confusions 3. Act and Content 5; Subject and Predicate 13; Identity and Description 19; Function and Argument 23; Chapter II. Grundlagen: Two Distinctions 28; Ideas 29; Concepts 50; Objects 83; Reduction 108; Chapter III. Sinn und Bedeutung: A Solution 153; Identity 154; Truth 181; Chapter IV. Later Papers: Second Thoughts 224; About Sense and Reference 226; About Definitions 248; Index 255-261.

    "I chose the title "Reflections on Frege's Philosophy" rather than, say, "An Outline of Frege's Philosophy" because I wanted to indicate that this book is not a systematic treatise on all or even most of Frege's views. I did not set out to write an exposition of Frege's philosophy, nor did I intend to provide a detailed commentary on his most important works.

    My goal was rather modest in regard to Frege. I hoped to be able to discuss a few selected ontological problems within a very narrow setting. Frege's philosophy, as I found out, most conveniently provides such a setting. Not only does it center around the very questions which I wanted to take up, but it also deals with them in a manner which I find most congenial. Even though the ontological problems were foremost in my mind, however, I would be very pleased if my efforts contribute to a better understanding of Frege's philosophy as a whole.


    It was clear to me from the beginning that Frege's views would have to be discussed with an eye on their gradual development. There are several definite stages in Frege's advancement, I believe, and his later views grow out of earlier ones. This conviction explains the structure of the present book. The first chapter is about the Begriffschrift. I tr y to uncover the origins of the main themes of Frege's philosophy. These themes have their roots, I think, in three basic confusions: subjective and objective entities are not sharply distinguished; objects are not clearly separated from concepts; and identity is conceived of at times as a relation between signs, and at other times as a relation between entities. In the second chapter, the emphasis is on two cornerstones of Frege's mature philosophy, namely, his distinction between objective and subjective entities, and his notion of the difference between objects and concepts. But his attempt to reduce Arithmetic to logic raises the unsolved problem of identity. These topics are discussed against the background of the Grundlagen. Frege's philosophical development reaches a second peak with the three classical papers published in 1891 and 1892. These articles, especially "Über Sinn and Bedeutung," explain Frege's views on identity and truth. Both of these views rest on his distinction between sense and reference. The third chapter is about that distinction and its consequences. Frege's later published and unpublished manuscripts contain modifications, qualifications, and second thoughts about his earlier solutions. In Chapter Four I deal with some of these later ideas but this is rather an epilogue; the real drama occurs in the second and third chapter." (from the Preface).


    "If, in conclusion, we look back at Frege's system, we see that another of its main flaws has been eliminated. What remains as before is Frege's conviction that there are senses -- both senses of proper names and Thoughts. I have argued that a correct ontology contains states of affairs instead of Fregean senses. What descriptions represent -- as distinguished from what they describe -- are states of affairs, not senses. What sentences represent are states of affairs, not Thoughts. The sense-reference distinction, Frege's most original and most famous metaphysical innovation, must be rejected. Some metaphysical mistakes are so profound that generations of philosophers continue to discuss and learn from them. This is such a mistake." (p. 253).

  3. ———. 1973. Ontological Reduction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Contents: Preface 1; Introduction. A Principle of Acquaintance 3; Part One: Numbers and Quantifiers 29; Part Two: Properties and Classes 109; Part Three: Individuals and Structures 141; Conclusion: A List of Categories 177; Notes 191; Index 207-215.

    "The structure of this book requires a brief explanation. The philosophical inquiry proceeds simultaneously, as it were, on three different levels. First and foremost, there is the problem of the nature of a ()logical reduction. What reduction devices and methods have been proposed? How does one go about showing that a given ontological kind can be reduced to another? What kinds of definitions are important from a strictly ontological point of view? These and similar questions arise in connection with the main topic of this book I shall contend that most kinds of definitions have no reductive power whatsoever. On the positive side, I maintain that there are only two ways of showing that what is alleged to be an ontological kind reduces In reality to another kind. First, it may be discovered that two expressions which apparently represent different entities or different kinds of entities refer in truth to the very same entity or kind of entity. In most instances, one of the two expressions will then be an abbreviation of the other. Second, it may be discovered that a certain informative identity statement is true. In this case, either a description describes the same entity or kind of entity for which there is also a label, or two different descriptions describe the very same entity or kind of entity.

    On the second level there are comments about the status and nature of a selected group of categories. Here the main topics are indicated by the five main parts of this book. The first part consists of some introductory remarks about the so-called principle of acquaintance. The second part deals with numbers and quantifiers in general. In I he third part, the discussion turns to properties and classes. The fourth part is concerned with individuals and structures. The fifth part contains a summary of the most important results and a list of categories.

    A discussion of the nature of ontological reduction has to be illustrated by examples. Numbers (and quantifiers in general), properties, classes, individuals, and structures are the five categories selected here as examples. In regard to numbers, it is argued (1) that they cannot be reduced to properties or classes, (2) that they form a subcategory of their own, and (3) that they belong to the main category of quantifiers. In regard to properties, the main contentions are (1) that there are no complex properties-that is, no properties represented by complex propositional forms-and (2) that there are properties which do not determine classes. Classes, I shall affirm, need not be determined by properties. The fourth section consists of essays about four particular problems which arise because there are structures and, in particular, spatio-temporal structures.

    On the third and last level of inquiry, an attempt is made to formulate a complete list of the main categories. But while the problem of ontological reduction is rather thoroughly discussed, and while there is also a fair amount of talk about particular categories, discussion of the hierarchy of categories is admittedly rather sketchy. Nevertheless, a glimpse at the whole system of ontology seemed to me better than no glimpse at all.

    Thus, with the three levels of inquiry in mind, you may think of this book in rather old-fashioned terms, as "A discussion of ontological reduction, with special reference to the status of selected categories and culminating in the outline of a list of categories"." (from the Preface)

  4. ———. 1974. Meinong. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

    Contents: Preface IX-X; I. Individuals and Properties 1; II. Ideal and Real Relations 21; III. Ideas and Their Intentions 48; IV. Objects of Higher Order 57; V. Assumptions and Objectives 78; VI. Being and Aussersein 106; VII. Empirical Knowledge: Perception and Introspection 121; VIII. Relational Knowledge: The Theory of Entities 156; IX. The Apprehension of Objects 182; X. Modalities 199; Appendix I. Meinong's Ontology (by Meinong) 224; Appendix II. Meinong's Life and Work (by Meinong) 230; Notes 237; Index 255.

    "This book on Meinong is primarily concerned with his arguments for the positions for which he is famous among some philosophers and infamous among others. But philosophical contentions carry little weight when they are viewed in isolation. Matters are too complex, too difficult, to be settled in an isolated way. Every argument must be evaluated against a background which includes a philosopher's other arguments and some of his basic assumptions or -- if you wish -- prejudices. I therefore discuss Meinong's arguments within the context in which they appear, but with an eye on his earlier positions as well as on his later changes of mind. There are at least two further reasons for adopting this particular approach in Meinong's case.

    Findlay, in his classic study of Meinong's philosophy, compares him with G. E. Moore.(1) Although this comparison is apt, there is one respect in which Meinong differs greatly from Moore. Meinong's philosophy develops over the years from a sparse ontology into an ample one. Every new idea is built upon an old one; new problems arise in the wake of earlier solutions; certain questions are raised time and again, but their answers are more and more refined. In short, there is a definite development, with a definite trend, definite stages, and a distinct final view.

    I also wished to impress on the reader how misleading the prevalent view is that Meinong was a spendthrift metaphysician who delighted in multiplying entities continuously and needlessly. If one becomes aware of how Meinong's full ontology develops very slowly over many years from very austere beginnings, how he resists the temptation to solve a problem by admitting a new kind of entity, and how he gives in only after a whole series of arguments for the new kind of entity has accumulated, one will, hopefully, be less inclined in future to think of Meinong as the 'supreme entity multiplier in the history of philosophy'.(2)" (from the Preface).

    (1) J. N. Findlay, Meinong's Theory of Objects and Values, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1963), p. 348.

    (2) This phrase if from Gilbert Ryle's article in the Oxford Magazine 26 October 1933.

  5. ———. 1983. The Categorial Structure of the World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    For the Table of Contents, see the link at the end of the page.

    "This book attempts to give a complete and accurate list of the categories of the world. In other words, it tries to bring Aristotle's Categories up-to-date.

    My investigation into the categorial structure of the world was guided by two main ideas, one systematic, the other, historical in nature. The systematic idea is that most ontological disputes concern, all appearances to the contrary, not the existence of certain entities, but rather their nature. In each one of the chapters which deal with distinct categories, I have therefore discussed the main alternative categorizations of the kind of entity in question. Individual things, for example, have been classified either as particulars (as substances, in the traditional sense) or else as bundles of properties. For properties, too, there are two important views: they are categorized either as particulars (located in space and/or time) or as universals. Numbers, to give a third example, have been conceived of as multitudes of units, or as properties of properties, or as classes of properties or of classes. In regard to these three kinds of entity, I come to the conclusions that individuals are particulars rather than bundles, that properties are universals rather than particulars, and that numbers are neither multitudes, nor properties, nor classes, but belong to an entirely different category of quantifier.

    The historical idea is that until very recently, an Aristotelian ontology of substance and accidence formed the basis of almost all philosophizing. Descartes, for example, is still a member of this tradition. However, in the 17th century there occurred a decisive break with that ontology. The notion of substance was attacked from the left by empiricists (Berkeley) and from the right by rationalists (Leibniz). As a result, a bundle view of individuals was widely accepted, and the Aristotelian distinction between essential and accidental properties was abandoned. But the acceptance of an ontology of bundles and properties raised a series of new questions. How do bundles of properties differ from mere classes? What role do relations play in the formation of bundles? What is the ontological status of relations? What kind of complex entity is a fact? And so on. The 19th century sees the final destruction of the Aristotelian ontology. Not just one, but several new categories appear on the ontological stage: relations, structures, classes, and facts. In this work, I try to take stock of these ontological innovations of the last hundred years or so.

    The manuscript for my book was substantially finished several years ago. I mention this fact because it explains why I have not been able to do two things which I would like to do. Firstly, I would like to discuss in greater detail some of the important contributions to ontology which have recently been published. As it was, I could only insert brief references to the works of Armstrong, Butchvarov, Castañeda, Hochberg, and other philosophers. Secondly, I would now devote a separate chapter to negation, in order to emphasize that it is just as much a fundamental category of the world as, say, the category of property. I think that there are precisely eight categories (not counting existence), namely, individuals, properties, relations, classes, structures, quantifiers, facts, and negation. On second thought, negation really deserves, not just a chapter of its own, but, like existence, a whole separate part; for it is clear that, like existence and unlike the categories, it is not a property. I shall have to write another book called "Negation and Existence"!" (from the Preface).

  6. ———. 1984. Phenomenology and Existentialism: An Introduction. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

    Contents: Preface IX-X; Part I. The background. 1. Descartes: a new conception of the mind 1; 2. Brentano: the thesis of intentionality 29; 3. Kierkegaard: a different conception of man 68; Part Ii. Edmund Husserl: the problem of knowledge 77; 4. The distinction between particulars and universals 79; 5. Husserl's early views on numbers 89; 6. Husserl's distinction between essences and their existences 101; 7. Husserl's distinction between individuals and their aspects 115; 8. The phenomenological method 136; Pat III. Martin Heidegger: the meaning of being 147; 9. Heidegger's project 149, 10. Modes of being 163; 11. The nature of existence 178; Part IV: Jean-Paul Sartre: the question for freedom 199; 12. The structure of the mind 201; 13. The origin of nothingness 226; 14. The pliancy of the past 251; Index 275-278.

    "This book is based on lectures which I have given for the last ten years or so. This explains its style. Some other features, I think, require a little more explanation.

    Different philosophers have quite different conceptions of what philosophy is all about. I am no exception, and my particular conception of philosophy has shaped my treatment of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre. In brief, I believe that all important philosophers-whether they know it or not and

    whether they admit it or not-deal with certain traditional problems. There is a, sometimes hidden, continuity to philosophy.

    No matter how revolutionary a philosophical movement may at first appear to be, and Phenomenology and Existentialism certainly claimed to be revolutionary, a closer look reveals that the same old problems are merely discussed in a new way. I selected three such problems-the problem of knowledge, the problem of existence, and the problem of freedom-in order to provide some focus to the discussion, and because I believe that they were of major concern to Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, respectively.

    But philosophical books are written, not only with a definite conception of philosophy in mind, but also from a particular point of philosophical view. My philosophical view is not easily described in contemporary terms. Although I was schooled in what is now called the 'analytic' tradition, I was also taught to appreciate Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas and Scotus, Descartes and Berkeley. I hope to show with this book that one so schooled can appreciate Heidegger and Sartre as well. It is surely silly to assume that only an Existentialist, say, can understand another Existentialist; as silly, I might add, as to believe that all Existentialists talk nonsense.

    Finally, there is the fact that I argue, rather vehemently at times, for my own philosophical views. This will undoubtedly offend those who believe that an introductory text should present an unbiased picture. In defense of my polemical style, I can only plead that I find it very difficult to develop the dialectic of a particular problem -- the arguments and counter-arguments, the choices and limits -- without taking a definite stand myself. I assure the reader that I sound much more dogmatic than I am.

    And I invite him to develop the arguments further than I have done, refuting my contentions in the process. This is the very stuff of which philosophy is made.

    It goes without saying that Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre have thought and written about things other than knowledge, existence and freedom. Just as it is obvious that there are other Phenomenologists and Existentialists. After all, this is merely an introduction to, not a survey of, Phenomenology and Existentialism. My main criticism of most of the introductions and anthologies in this field is that they contain bits and pieces from numerous sources from Dostojewski to Marcel, without ever following up on any one topic, with the result that the student cannot possibly appreciate the complexity of the issues, or be impressed by the manner in which philosophical problems grow out of each other." (from the Preface)

  7. ———. 1990. The Fourth Way: A Theory of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Reprinted with an Introduction by Erwin Tegtmeier: Grossmann's Radical Empiricism (pp. I-IV) in: Reprint Philosophy: Modern Classics of Analytical Philosophy Series, Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2006.

    Contents: Preface VII-VIII; One: Knowledge of the External Wold: Perception 1; Two: Knowledge of Our Minds: Introspection 89; Thee: Mathematical Knowledge: Perception Again 127; Bibliography 299; Index 304-311.

    "In his commentary on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Vaihinger considers the four possible views which result if one combines the epistemological distinction between rationalism and empiricism with the ontological distinction between realism and idealism. He claims that until Kant, rationalism was always connected with realism, empiricism always with idealism. But Kant discovered a new combination: The marriage of rationalism with idealism. And then Vaihinger mentions in parentheses that the fourth possible combination, empiricism with realism, has always been considered to be impossible (see H. Vaihinger, Kommentar zu Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, vol. I, p. 52). It is this "impossible" view which I shall defend. That is why I called this book "The Fourth Way."

    Empiricism means different things to different people. I have in mind the view that our knowledge of the external world rests entirely on perception, and that knowledge of our own minds is solely based on introspection. I hold that there is no special faculty of the mind, no Platonic "contemplation," no Cartesian "understanding," no Husserlian "eidetic intuition," by means of which we know external objects. My version of empiricism may be called "radical," for it insists, not only that we know the familiar objects around us by perception, but also that we know numbers and other abstract entities by means of perception. I hold that the truths of arithmetic ultimately rest just as much on perception as the truths of physics.

    It is in regard to this contention that my view differs most profoundly from other theories of knowledge. While many contemporary philosophers accept empiricism in regard to the "natural sciences," hardly anyone agrees with me that logic, set theory, and arithmetic are a matter of empirical knowledge. But empiricism cannot stand on one leg. An empiricism that claims exception for logic, set theory, and arithmetic is no empiricism at all. Arithmetic, in particular, is the touchstone for any serious attempt to defend empiricism. I shall therefore have to discuss arithmetic knowledge in great detail.

    Realism, too, has many meanings. I mean the view that there are such perceptual objects as apples, that these things consist of smaller things like molecules, and that these in turn consist of even smaller objects like elementary particles (or of whatever else the physicist may discover). None of these things is mental. Nor do they depend for their existence or nature on there being minds. But my realism, too, is of a radical sort, for I also hold that there are sets and numbers, and that these things as well do not depend for their existence or nature on minds. Just as an empiricism in regard to science alone can be no more than a paltry evasion of the rationalist's challenge, so realism only in regard to ordinary perceptual objects can be nothing but a worthless response to the idealist's taunt. The realist's work is only half done after he has refuted Berkeley. That an apple is not a collection of ideas is fairly obvious. "That number is entirely the creature of the mind," however, seems to be an unshakable conviction of even the most realistic philosophers.

    But even if we rid ourselves of this idealistic bias, even if we accept numbers and sets as part of the furniture of the world, there remains the formidable task of placing these entities somewhere in the hierarchy of categories. Granted that numbers are nonmental, to what category do they belong'? Are they sets? Or are they perhaps properties of properties? This task, I believe, has been so futile up to now because the proper category for numbers was simply not a part of standard ontologies. Philosophers have for generations tried in vain to squeeze numbers into one of the familiar and traditional categories. Until very recently, there was very little to choose from: Numbers had to be either individual things or else properties of individual things. For an idealist, they could only be either intuitions or concepts. A third possibility finally appeared with the reluctant acceptance of the category of set. But this acceptance posed a new challenge: How to reconcile the existence of sets with empiricism.

    Vaihinger, as I said, claims that Kant discovered a new combination: the compatibility of rationalism with idealism. I do not think highly either of Kant's rationalism or of his idealism. But Kant discovered -- and proudly insisted on -- one crucial truth: arithmetic is necessary and yet synthetic. With this discovery, he challenged all empiricists as well as all rationalists. Empiricists have to explain how arithmetic can possibly be necessary; rationalists, how it can possibly be synthetic. This challenge, I believe, has not been met." (from the Preface)

  8. ———. 1992. The Existence of the World. An Introduction to Ontology. New York: Routledge.

    Contents: I. The Discovery of the World: Timeless Being 1; II. The Battle Over the World: Universals 14; III. The Structure of the World: The Categories 46; IV. The Substratum of the World: Existence 91; V. The Enigma of the World: Negation 120: Bibliography 134; Index 137-139.

    " The nature of classification.

    Ontology asks and tries to answer two related questions. What are the categories of the world? And what are the laws that govern these categories? In chemistry, for comparison, we search for the chemical elements and the laws of chemistry; in physics, for elementary particles and their laws. Categories are for ontology what these basic building blocks of the universe are for the natural sciences. But ontology is not a science among sciences. Its scope is vastly larger than that of any science. And its point of view is totally different from that of the sciences. To see how ontology differs from science, we must first of all understand the notion of a category. Our first question therefore is: what is a category?


    The principle of the classification of the elements, however, is the same as at Empedocles's time: Things are distinguished from each other by means of the properties which they have. Let us call this 'the principle of classification'.


    Someone must have realized that the foundation of all classifications of individual things, namely, the distinction between these things and their properties, is itself a classification. But it is a classification, not of individual things - individual amounts of water or earth, or individual bits of gold or iron, or individual whales or carps - but of entities in general. It is a classification of any kind of existent. It divides up everything there is into two large groups of existents, namely, into individual things, on the one hand, and their properties, on the other. Every 'ordinary' classification rests on this most fundamental classification of things into individuals and their properties. In order to distinguish this classification from all others, we shall speak of a 'categorization'. Entities, we shall say, are categorized. The kinds of thing which the categorization distinguishes are then called 'categories'. We know that there are at least two categories, that is, two kinds of entity (existent), namely, individual things and properties of individual things." (pp. 1-3).

    Translated in German as: Die Existenz der Welt. Eine Einführung in die Ontologie, Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2004 and in Spanish as : La Existencia del Mundo. Introduccion a la Ontologia, Madrid, Tecnos, 2007.

  9. ———. 2009. Phenomenological Realism Versus Scientific Realism. Reinhardt Grossmann - David M. Armstrong Metaphysical Correspondence. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

    "We choose the title "Phenomenological Realism vs. Scientific Realism" because these two terms indicate what is common and what is different in their respective metaphysical positions. The realism common to them involves the ontological acknowledgement of concrete as well as of abstract entities such as universals and numbers which are taken as independent of mind. The attributes "phenomenological" and "scientific" which differentiate between Armstrong and Grossmann refer to the way they support their ontological realism. Armstrong uses evidences of the natural sciences, Grossmann evidences of perception and introspection. The epistemological differences explain part of the disputes between Armstrong and Grossmann, e.g., over the simplicity of universals.

    We have divided this work into four parts distributed in thirty two letters from 1976 until 1987, and three isolated commentaries on three works from 1984 until 1992. Thus, the structure of the book includes an important stretch of the intellectual development of both philosophers from the preparation of their cardinal works, Armstrong with "Universals and Scientific Realism" (Cambridge University Press, 1978) and Grossmann with "The Categorial Structure of the World" (Indiana University Press, 1983), until the publication of Grossmann's "The Existence of the World: An Introduction to Ontology" (Routledge, 1992) and Armstrong's "A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility" (Cambridge University Press, 1989)." (from the Introduction, p. 9)

  10. Twardowski, Kazimierz. 1977. On the Content and Object of Presentations. A Psychological Investigation. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    English translation and introduction (pp. VII-XXXIV) by Reinhardt Grossmann of: Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen (1894).

    "Twardowski's little book - of which I here offer a translation - is one of the most remarkable works in the history of modern philosophy. It is concise, clear, and - in Findlay's words - "amazingly rich in ideas."(1)

    It is therefore a paradigm of what some contemporary philosophers approvingly call "analytic philosophy." But Twardowski's book is also of considerable historical significance. His views reflect Brentano's earlier position and thus shed some light on this stage of Brentano's philosophy. Furthermore, they form a link between this stage, on the one hand, and those two grandiose attempts to propagate rationalism in an age of science, on the other hand, which are known as Meinong's theory of entities and Husserl's phenomenology. Twardowski's views thus point to the future and introduce many of the problems which, through the influence of Meinong, Husserl. Russell, and Moore, have become standard fare in contemporary philosophy. In this introduction, I shall call attention to the close connection between some of Twardowski's main ideas and the corresponding thoughts of these four philosophers." (from the Introduction, p. 1)

    (1) Findlay, John N., 1963, Meinong's Theory of Objects and Values, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, p. 8


  • Twardowski, Kazimierz. 1977. On the Content and Object of Presentations. A Psychological Investigation. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    English translation and introduction (pp. VII-XXXIV) by Reinhardt Grossmann of: Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen (1894).

    "Twardowski's little book - of which I here offer a translation - is one of the most remarkable works in the history of modern philosophy. It is concise, clear, and - in Findlay's words - "amazingly rich in ideas."(1)

    It is therefore a paradigm of what some contemporary philosophers approvingly call "analytic philosophy." But Twardowski's book is also of considerable historical significance. His views reflect Brentano's earlier position and thus shed some light on this stage of Brentano's philosophy. Furthermore, they form a link between this stage, on the one hand, and those two grandiose attempts to propagate rationalism in an age of science, on the other hand, which are known as Meinong's theory of entities and Husserl's phenomenology. Twardowski's views thus point to the future and introduce many of the problems which, through the influence of Meinong, Husserl. Russell, and Moore, have become standard fare in contemporary philosophy. In this introduction, I shall call attention to the close connection between some of Twardowski's main ideas and the corresponding thoughts of these four philosophers." (from the Introduction, p. 1)

    (1) Findlay, John N., 1963, Meinong's Theory of Objects and Values, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, p. 8

A Selection of Papers

  1. Grossmann, Reinhardt. 1960. "Acts and Relations in Brentano." Analysis no. 21:1-5.

  2. ———. 1960. "Conceptualism." Review of Metaphysics no. 14:243-254.

    Reprinted in: Edwin B. Allaire [and others], Essays in Ontology, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1963, pp. 40-49.

    "There can be no doubt that one is acquainted in perception with red things rather than redness alone. Nor can there be any doubt that one can name things with which one is acquainted. Each of these two facts forms the commonsensical background for an ontological criterion. According to the first criterion, what exists is what can be presented in perception independently of other things. Call this the independence-criterion.(1) According to the second, what exists is what can be named. Call this the naming-criterion. (p. 40 of the reprint)


    Let us ask, finally, what, if anything, the conceptualist has committed himself to with regard to the "existence" of concepts. It seems that he still has a number of alternatives.

    First. The conceptualist could adopt the naming-criterion. Since concepts are named, they would then be said to exist along with the referents of "this" and "that."

    Second. He could reject the naming-criterion and instead accept the independence-criterion. From the fact that concepts are named, it would then not follow that they exist. But notice that the independence-criterion was originally tailored to perception alone, not to thought. This shows that there is a third possibility.

    Third. The conceptualist could introduce a new criterion of existence which replaces the old independence-criterion for perception. According to this new criterion, what exists is what can be presented either in perception or in thought independently of other things. To grasp that this is a real alternative, consider that according to many philosophers, although one cannot perceive red (or redness) in isolation, one can so think (of) it. If this be true, then upon the new criterion, concepts exist -- not because they are named, but because they can be thought (of) independently.

    In the history of philosophy, conceptualism is closely linked with nominalism. More often than not, conceptualists held that concepts subsist rather than exist. Nor is this surprising. Remember the so-called localization-criterion: what exists is what is localized in space and time. This criterion and the conceptualist doctrine that one can in perception be presented only with a particular this are just two sides of the same coin. More precisely, the things that are localized upon the one criterion are often held to be exactly those with which one can be presented upon the other. (Time and space have been called " Formen der Anschauung.") This makes it plausible, to say the least, that the conceptualist, however unwittingly, may also be guided by the localization-criterion. If so, he will deny that concepts exist.

    Comparing all three, realist, nominalist, and conceptualist, we note these similarities. All three admit that there are two ontological modes, namely, existents and subsistents. All three are forced to make this distinction because they accept one of several criteria, naming, independence, or localization, as the most significant criterion of existence. The conceptualist, however, stands with the nominalist when it comes to separating existents from subsistents. To one who explicates different ontological uses of "exist" rather than adopting one himself, this is of little consequence. The deepest issue, I submit, is not whether universals are called "properties," or "concepts"; whether, perhaps, they are "parts" of something else; or whether, finally, they should be said to exist rather than merely being called subsistents. What then is this deepest issue? To state it, I avail myself of a metaphor I used a while ago. According to the conceptualist we have,.as it were, two eyes; the eye of perception and the eye of the mind. With the latter we "see" the universal. This fundamental dualism both realist and nominalist reject." (pp. 48-49 of the reprint).

    (1) For an excellent analysis of the independence-criterion and its importance for the realism- nominalism issue see Edwin B. Allaire, "Existence, Independence, and Universals," The Philosophical Review, 69,1960, 485-496 and also pp. 3-53 of this book.

  3. ———. 1961. "Frege's Ontology." Philosophical Review no. 70:23-40.

    Reprinted in: Edwin B. Allaire [and others], Essays in Ontology, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1963, pp. 106-120; reprinted also in: D. E. Klemke (ed.), Essays on Frege, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1974, pp. 79-98.

    "Frege's system has two rather puzzling parts: (1) he insists on the sense-denotation distinction for names but makes no such distinction for concept words; (2) he describes concepts and concept words as being unsaturated. (1) raises the problem whether concept words either denote or express concepts. This problem has been discussed by W. Marshall Dummett.(a) (2) raises a number of different problems, for it led Frege to introduce so-called value ranges and concept correlates. These problems have been discussed by Peter Geach, R. S. Wells, and Gustav Bergmann.(b) Since both kinds of problems arise from Frege's notion of concept, it is plausible, as Bergmann tries to show, that they have their roots in a hidden nominalism. E. D. Klemke, however, has recently argued against Bergmann that Frege was clearly not a nominalist.(c)

    In this paper I shall first suggest the structural reasons for Frege's insistence on (1) and (2). Then I shall make some comments about the issue whether or not Frege was a nominalist. But of course a complete discussion of Frege's philosophy must not be expected in this paper."

    (a) W. Marshall, "Frege's Theory of Functions and Objects," Philosophical Review, LXII (1953), 374-390; and M. Dummett, "Frege on Functions, a Reply," ibid., LXIV (1955), 96-107.

    (b) P. T. Geach, "Class and Concept," Philosophical Review, LXIV (1955), 561-570; R. S. Wells, "Frege's Ontology," Review of Metaphysics, IV (1951), 537-573; and G. Bergmann, "Frege's Hidden Nominalism," Philosophical Review, LXVII (1958), 437-459 (reprinted in Bergmann's Meaning and Existence, Madison, Wis., 1960).

    (c) E.D. Klemke, "Professor Bergmann and Frege's 'Hidden Nominalism'," Philosophical Review, LXVIII (1959), 507-514.

  4. ———. 1962. "Brentano's Ontology: A Reply to Mr. Kamitz." Analysis no. 23:20-24.

    Reply to Reinhard Kamitz, A reply to Professor Grossman's "Acts and Relations in Brentano", Analysis, 22, 1962, pp. 73-78; followed by: R. Kamitz, Acts and Relations in Brentano: A Second Reply to Professor Grossmann, Analysis, 23, 1963, pp. 36-41.

  5. ———. 1962. "Sensory Intuition and the Dogma of Localization." Inquiry no. 5:238-251.

    Reprinted in: Edwin B. Allaire [and others], Essays in Ontology, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1963, pp. 50-63.

    "Conceptualism, like any other philosophical doctrine of comparable scope, has both ontological and epistemological aspects. Ontologically, however, conceptualism does not differ significantly from certain forms of nominalism.(1) At its root lies an epistemological thesis: All objects of sensory intuition are localized in space and time.(2) In this paper, I wish to explore some of the consequences of this thesis. (p. 50 of the reprint).


    To sum up. The problem of predication forces the conceptualist to part with the dogma of isolation and the dogma of localization. It forces him to admit that there is at least one way in which one is acquainted with things in connection rather than in isolation. And it forces him also to admit that there is at least one way in which one is acquainted with the localized together with the unlocalized. Being aware of these consequences, the conceptualist could retreat to a simplified form of conceptualism." (p. 61 of the reprint).

    (1) I have discussed the ontological ramifications and possibilities of conceptualism elsewhere. See "Conceptualism," The Review of Metaphysics, 14,1960,243-54 and also pp. 40-49 of this book.

    (2) I shall distinguish between sensory intuition and presentation as two distinct ways in which one might be acquainted with particular things and universals, respectively.

  6. ———. 1963. "Particulars and Time." In Essays in Ontology, edited by Allaire, Edwin B., 30-39. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    "Some philosophers agree that there is a connection between particularity and time: Particulars are in time; universals are not. However, they disagree among themselves about the precise nature of this connection. I wish to discuss some of the problems which give rise to their disagreement.

    Perceptual objects are continuants. Phenomenal objects, e.g. sensa, mental acts, and the like, are momentary entities. A certain perceptual object A, being a continuant, may change its color from green to red and hence be green at one time and not green at another. Obviously, this situation cannot be described by the sentence 'A is green and A is not green.' The only satisfactory description introduces time in the form of moments: 'A is green at t1 and A is not green at t2'.(1) If one starts the philosophical analysis with continuants, one must introduce moments in order to describe a changing thing. Put differently, a philosopher who starts out with continuants, commits himself to absolute time. But time is relational. It follows that one must start not with perceptual objects (continuants), but rather with phenomenal objects, that is, with momentary things.(2)

    This argument for phenomenalism is not sound. The ontological analysis of things shows quite conclusively and on its own ground that (logically) proper names must name particulars, rather than things,(3) According to this analysis, a perceptual object A, say, a colored disk, consists of a particular a which exemplifies certain universals. The same holds for a so-called phenomenal object, say, a colored spot in a visual field. What we ordinarily call a (perceptual or phenomenal) thing, turns out to be a complex entity, only part of which is named by the proper name 'a'. Irregardless, therefore, of whether or not perceptual and phenomenal objects are continuants, philosophical analysis starts with neither. The argument could therefore not possibly establish that it must start with phenomenal rather than perceptual objects.4 Our criticism shows, though, that we need not consider the distinction between perceptual and phenomenal objects, in order to discuss the connection between particulars and time.

    But even though it fails, the argument contains a very important point. It seems to prove conclusively that particulars must be momentary entities, if time is relational rather than absolute. To be momentary means in this connection to be changeless. Hence there is a connection between particularity and change: If time is relational, then particulars must be changeless. Yet, a perceptual or phenomenal object may change, even though it consists of nothing else but a particular which exemplifies certain universals. We confront here an apparent inconsistency which ontological analysis must resolve."

    (1) Of course, time may be introduced through tenses. But this creates ontological problems of a different sort.

    (2) Compare, for example, G. Bergmann: Meaning and Existence (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1960), pp. 182-188 and pp. 230-239.

    (3) Compare Essays II [ Bare Particulars by Edwin B. Allaire] and V [ Conceptualism by R. Grossmann] of this book.

  7. ———. 1963. "Common Names." In Essays in Ontology, edited by Allaire, Edwin B., 64-75. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

    "The doctrine of common names has a long history. It always finds proponents who think that it is a way out of the classical nominalistic difficulties. I wish to show that this doctrine does not even make sense when considered apart from the nominalism which it supposedly vindicates, and that it could be of no help to the nominalist, even if it made sense. (p. 64)


    To sum up. Even if the common name doctrine were acceptable, it could be of no help to a nominalist. For, even if he could explain what it means for a word to name commonly, he cannot explain what there is in or about individual things that collects them under one common name. It is indeed one of the most curious facts in the history of philosophy that a certain type of nominalism should derive from the doctrine of common names. Perhaps the only explanation is that the spurious doctrine of particularized essences and the spurious doctrine of common names tended to reinforce each other." (pp. 74-75).

  8. ———. 1969. "Non-Existent Objects: Recent Work on Brentano and Meinong." American Philosophical Quarterly no. 6:17-32.

  9. ———. 1972. "Russell's Paradox and Complex Predicates." Noûs no. 6:153-164.

  10. ———. 1974. "Bergmann's Ontology and the Principle of Acquaintance." In The Ontological Turn. Studies in the Philosophy of Gustav Bergmann, edited by Graham, Moltke S. and Klemke, Elmer D., 89-113. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

    Contents of the Volume: Preface VII; I. Ontological alternatives. The limits of ontological analysis by Panayot Butchvarov 3; Bergmann's ontologies by Edwin Allaire 38; To Gustav Bergmann: a humble petition and advice by Henry B. Veatch 65; II: Ontological problems. Bergmann's ontology and the Principle of Acquaintance by Reinhardt Grossmann 89; Consciousness by Timothy L. Sprigge 114; Time, substance, and analysis by Laird Addis 148; Intentions, facts, and propositions by Hebert Hochberg 168; III. Language, logic, and the philosophy of science. Seeing, seeming, and sensing by Wilfrid Sellars 195; Belief and error by Keith Lehrer 216; Bergmann on the analytic-synthetic distinction by Alan Hausman 230; The problem of color incompatibility by Erik Stenius 245; Perspicuous languages by Robert Ackermann 264; Why I am not aware of your pain by Fred Wilson 276;

    Bibliography: Works by Gustav Bergmann 301; Index 311-314.

  11. ———. 1974. "Meinong's Doctrine of the "Aussersein" of the Pure Object." Noûs no. 8:67-82.

    "Meinong's doctrine of the Aussersein of the pure object consists, in my view, of the following four main theses: (1) Nonexistent entities, like the golden mountain and the round square, have no form of being whatsoever. (2) Such entities are, nevertheless, constituents of certain states of affairs. (3) They even have a number of quite ordinary properties-the golden mountain, for example, is golden. (4) Being is not a part of any object. I shall try to explain and evaluate these four theses, and I shall claim that only the first one is true. However, even if my arguments fail to convince, they may at least show that Meinong's doctrine is neither too obscure to be understood nor too wrongheaded to be enlightening."

  12. ———. 1975. "Definite Descriptions." Philosophical Studies no. 27:127-144.

  13. ———. 1975. "Perceptual Objects, Elementary Particles, and Emergent Properties." In Action, Knowledge, and Reality. Critical Studies in Honour of Wilfrid Sellars, edited by Castañeda, Hector-Neri, 129-146. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

  14. ———. 1976. "The Factuality of Facts." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 2:85-103.

  15. ———. 1976. "Structures, Functions and Forms." In Studien Zu Frege Ii. Logik Und Sprachphilosophie / Studies on Frege Ii. Logic and Philosophy of Language, edited by Schirn, Matthias, 11-32. Stuttgart: Fromman-Holzboog.

    Contents of the volume: 14. Reinhardt Grossmann. Structures, functions and forms 11; 15. Wolfgang Carl. Freges Unterscheidung von Gegenstand und Begriff 33; 16. Eike-Henner W. Kluge. Freges Begriff des Logischeinfachen 51; 17. Gottfried Gabriel. Einige Eiseitigkeiten des Fregeschen Logiksbegriffs 67; 18. Hans-Ulrich Hoche. Vom 'Inhaltsstrich' zum 'Waagerechten'. Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklung der Fregeschen Uteilslehre 87;19. Leslie Stevenson. Frege zwei Definitionen der Quantifikation 103; 20. Robert Sternfeld. The mathematization of logic: quantified sentences 125; 21. Ignacio Angelellli. Friends and opponents of the substitutivity of Identical in the history of logic 141; 22. Charles E. Caton. 'The idea of sameness challenges reflection' 167; 23. Matthias Schirn. Identität und Identitätsaussage bei Frege 181; 24. Bertram Kienzle. Notiz zu Freges Theorien der Identität 217; 25. David Wiggins. Frege's problem of the Morning Star and the Evening Star 221; 26. Ronald Suter. Frege und Russell über das 'Paradox der Identität' 257; 27. Haig Khatchadourian. Kripke and Frege on identity statements 271; Abkürzungsverzeichnis 299; Mitarbeiter dieses Bandes 301.

  16. ———. 1984. "Non-Existent Objects Vs. Definite Descriptions." Australasian Journal of Philosophy no. 62:363-377.

    "Some years ago, I published an article about Meinong's theory of objects. (1) I listed there four main theses of Meinong's view:

    (1) The golden mountain (and other nonexistents) has no being at all.

    (2) Nevertheless, it is a constituent of the fact that the golden mountain does not exist.

    (3) Furthermore, it has such ordinary properties as being made from gold.

    (4) Existence is not a constituent of any object.

    And I argued in that paper that only thesis (1) is true. In particular, I insisted that (3), which I consider to be the most characteristic feature of Meinong's view, is false.

    Since then, there have been quite a few discussions of Meinong's view. I would like, in response to some of these works, to reiterate my earlier criticism of Meinong. My purpose is threefold. Firstly, I would like to state once more my own view, which is a version of Russell's theory of definite descriptions, as clearly as possible. Secondly, I shall defend my past contention that the golden mountain is not golden against some recent objections. And thirdly and most importantly, I want to describe the dialectic of the philosophical problem as I perceive it. It seems to me to be an exasperating shortcoming of the discussion that most participants do not clearly state the basic options and their reasons for preferring some to others."

    (1) 'Meinong's Doctrine of the Aussersein of the Pure Object', Noüs, 8 (1974, pp. 67-81. See also my Meinong (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1974).

  17. ———. 1995. "Frege's Fundamental Philosophical Mistakes." In Logik Und Mathematik. Frege-Kolloquium Jena 1993, edited by Ingolf, Max and Stelzner, Werner, 226-231. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    "It is one of the most surprising features of Frege's philosophy that he, who correctly analyzed the structures of quantified states of affairs, insisted on treating definite description expressions ('the birthplace of Mozart') like names ('Salzburg') and names like definite description expressions.' I shall argue that Frege's original mistake leads to a string of further mistakes. It leads him to hold that names, like definite description expressions, have both a sense and a reference and, eventually, to the view that sentences name truth-values. In short, it results in his much admired sense-reference theory of meaning." (p. 226).

  18. ———. 1995. "Thoughts, Objectives and States of Affairs." Grazer Philosophische Studien no. 49:163-169.

    "The notion of state of affairs was introduced as the complexly signifiable in the Late Scholasticism and rediscovered by Logicians like Bolzano and Frege. While Bolzano and Frege were primarily interested in the nature of objective truths students of Brentano, among others Meinong, Twardowski and Husserl, developed similar concepts starting out with an interest in the nature of mental acts and judgement. Both Frege's and Meinong's conceptions face similar problems concerning complex referents which are diagnosed to stem from confusions of complexes of properties with complex properties."

  19. ———. 1996. "Logic and Ontology." In Logica '95. Proceedings of the 9th Symposium, edited by Childers, Timothy, Kolåi, Petr and Svoboda, Vladimir, 77-83. Prague: Filosofia.

  20. ———. 1998. "Wittgenstein and the Problem of Non-Existent States of Affairs." In The Logica Yearbook 1997, 139-146. Prague: Filosofia.

    Reprinted in Acta Analytica, 23, 1998, pp. 139/146.

  21. ———. 2000. "Reid, Meinong and the Argument from Physics." Metaphysica.International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics no. 1:69-82.

  22. ———. 2001. "Meinong's Main Mistake." In The School of Alexius Meinong, edited by Albertazzi, Liliana, Jacquette, Dale and Poli, Roberto, 477-488. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    "Seldom has a modern philosopher become as famous for a view which he does not hold as Alexius Meinong. One generally attributes to him the belief that there are, not just such ordinary things as mountains and relations, but even such things as the golden mountain and the round square. He is therefore often viewed as a spendthrift ontologist who delighted in multiplying entities continuously and needlessly. But this conception, I shall try to show, is mistaken. Anyone who has studied Meinong's philosophy carefully will come to the conclusion that he is not the 'supreme entity-multiplier in the history of philosophy' as Gilbert Ryle claims.(1)

    But even though Meinong never embraced the rather extreme view that there are, in addition to existing things in space and time and subsisting things (ideal things) outside of space and time, also such things as the golden mountain, and even such contradictory things as the round square, he nevertheless insisted on another ontological principle not any less mistaken than what I just called the 'extreme' view. It is this insistence, and not his ontological inventory, which I consider to be Meinong's main mistake. I shall, therefore, first defend Meinong against the kind of accusation implied in Ryle's description of Meinong. And then I shall, secondly, show where Meinong really went wrong in his ontology." (p. 477)

    (1) See Ryle's article in the Oxford Magazine 26 October 1933.


  1. Armstrong, David Malet. 1984. "Reinhardt Grossmann's Ontology." Critical Philosophy:63-76.

    Critical notice of The Categorial Structure of the World, by Reinhardt Grossmann.

    Reprinted as Chapter 3 in: J. Cumpa, Studies in the Ontology of Reinhardt Grossmann, pp. 29-43.

  2. Butchvarov, Panayot. 1987. "Review of the Categorial Structure of the World by R. Grossmann." International Studies in Philosophy no. 19:81-82.

  3. Cumpa, Javier, ed. 2009. Studies in the Ontology of Reinhardt Grossmann. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

    Table of Contents: Acknowledgements 1; Erwin Tegtmeier: Foreword 3; Javier Cumpa: Introduction 5; Abbreviations of Grossmann's Works 8; GROSSMANN STUDIES. 1. Laird Addis: Grossmann on Relations and Intentionality 11; 2. Edwin B. Allaire: It is about Time 27; 3. David M. Armstrong: Reinhardt Grossmann's Ontology 29; 4. Guido Bonino: One- and Two-Level Acts: Bergmann and Grossmann on Realism 45; 5. Panayot Butchvarov: Facts 71; 6. Javier Cumpa: What is a Universal? Main Problems of Property Theory 95; 7. Volker Gadenne: Dualism and The Mind-Body Trilemma 119;

    8. J. J. E. Gracia and P. Symington: Grossmann and the Ontological Status of Categories 133; 9. Greg Jesson: The Intersection of the Mind and the World: Reinhardt Grossmann's Ontology of Knowledge 155; 10. J. P. Moreland: Grossmann on Existence and Property-Instances: Suárez's Way Out 177;

    11. Peter Simons: Why Categories Matter: Grossmann and Beyond 191; 12. Erwin Tegtmeier: Three Ontologies of the Iowa School: Categories and Composition 211; 13. Fred Wilson: Some Reflections on Grossmann on the Entity Existence 229; APPENDIXES. Appendix I: An Unpublished Manuscript on Philosophy of Mind (1993): Reinhardt Grossmann: Materialism and the New Folk Philosophy 269; Appendix II: A List of the Published Works of R. Grossmann 284; Appendix III: A Bibliography on R. Grossmann's Philosophy 288; Bibliography 291-297.

  4. Moreland, James Porter. 1993. "Review of the Existence of the World: An Introduction to Ontology by R. Grossmann." Mind no. 102:407-410.

  5. Sprigge, Timothy L.S. 1975. "Review of Reinhard Grossmann's Ontological Reduction." Noûs no. 9:429-445.

  6. Tegtmeier, Erwin. 1991. "Review of the Categorial Structure of the World by R. Grossmann." Noûs no. 25:726-728.

  7. Wilson, Fred. 1986. "Critical Notice of Reinhardt Grossmann's the Categorial Structure of the World." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 16:163-180.

    Reprinted with the title: Grossmann on the Categorial Structure of the World in: F. Wilson, Acquaintance, Ontology and Knowledge. Collected Essays in Ontology, Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2007, pp. 413-442.



Table of Contents of The Categorial Structure of the World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.