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Existence: Two Dogmas of Analysis

Analytic philosophy of existence in the 20 th century and beyond has been dominated by two central claims. One is that existence is instantiation. The other is that there are no modes of existence. The second is a logical consequence of the fi rst. The widespread and in some cases uncritical acceptance of these two theses justifi es labelling them “dogmas”. Willard Van Orman Quine famously rejected two dogmas of empiricism in his article “ Two Dogmas of Empiricism”. 3 I will provide reasons for rejecting the two dogmas of analytic philosophy lately mentioned, two dogmas that Quine embraced. Taken together, the two make up what has been called the “thin” conception of being or existence. 4 There is much to be said against the “thin” conception, however, and something to be said in favour of the “thick” conception. The thick conception can also be called the classical conception, since metaphysicians from Parmenides onwards have taken a “thick” line. Of the classical doctrines, the thickest of the thick is that of Thomas Aquinas, for whom existence itself exists and exemplifi es divine attributes.