Does a hidden object exist?

Xavier asked:

I’m trying to explain to my friends about things existing. I gave them this question: if you place a pencil in an opaque box and close the box, does the pencil exist? They say yes and I ask how do they know and why. All they come up with is “because I put the pencil in there”. I’m having a tough time explaining why the pencil ceases to exist once you close the box.

Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz

I’m not surprised that you’re having a “tough time”. You’ve done nothing other than hide the object. Meanwhile everyone of your interlocutors is in a position to demonstrate that your assertion of non-existence is nonsense.

All I can say by way of slight remedy is this: That someone coming into the room later and seeing the box, would not know there is a pencil in it. But again this says nothing about existence or non-existence. I think you’ve muddled up a dictum you might have read somewhere, that certifying existence is a privilege of living creatures. This has no relevance to your context, and especially so when plain concealment is your only argument. In short, you have to do better than this!

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