Non-existence  

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"Imaginary gardens with real toads in them" --Marianne Moore

"In educated opinion it is commonly reputed as true that Sherlock Holmes lived in London. (see David Lewis 'Truth in Fiction') It is also considered true that Samuel Pepys lived in London. Yet Sherlock Holmes never lived anywhere at all; he is a fictional character. Samuel Pepys, contrarily, is judged to have been a real person". --Sholem Stein, see the truth of fiction

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Common sense suggests the non-existence of such things as fictional characters or fictional places. However, human beings seem to process information about fictional characters in much the same way that they process information about real people. For example, it is the common experience of actresses who play the villain in a soap opera being accosted in public as if they are to blame for the actions of the characters they play.

A scientist might make a clear distinction about objects that exist, and assert that all objects that exist are made up of either matter or energy. But in the layperson's worldview, existence includes real, fictional, and even contradictory objects. Thus if we reason from the statement "Pegasus flies" to the statement "Pegasus exists", we are not asserting that Pegasus is made up of atoms, but rather that Pegasus exists in a particular worldview, the worldview of classical myth. When a mathematician reasons from the statement "ABC is a triangle" to the statement "triangles exist", she is not asserting that triangles are made up of atoms but rather that triangles exist within a particular mathematical model.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Non-existence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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