James Skemp presents ...

I say, "Do Not Deny My Unicorn!"

Back in college, near the end of my undergraduate education, I was told that unicorns do not exist. No amount of verbal dialogue could sway those that denied the existence of unicorns. Perhaps I am one of the few, but I ask that unicorns not be denied, for they do in fact exist.

How can I claim that unicorns exist? How can I, with a straight face, insist that unicorns exist like rocks and children?

While I will argue that unicorns exist, I'm not sure that I must argue that they exist like rocks and children. Yet, I'm not going to use the argument that unicorns are like love. However, while I'm not going to use this argument, it's necessary to make the argument that I speak of clear.

According to one argument, that which exists is that which has physical presence - something with corporeality, or material presence. Since I can pick up and hold a rock, it exists. Since I can hug the child, the child exists. One cannot touch love, nor can one hold it. Yet, does love not exist?

If we are willing to accept that love does in fact exist, we must be able to explain how it is that something that is not material in nature can exist. In other words, we must be able to prove the existence of ideas, or feelings. Perhaps we argue that love exists because we can perceive it's manifestations within people. When two individuals are in love, we can perceive this by the way they look at each other, by the way they hold hands and rest their heads upon each other. We can do the same for other ideas. Fear exists for we can see an individual shaking and sweating from fright.

But the unicorn is not an idea, so proving love will not allow us to replace 'love' with 'unicorn' in some magical formula. The unicorn appears to have material presence - save for the horn, it is a horse. But, unlike a horse, we can not simply go to a stable to find a unicorn. Rather, we'd be fairly hard pressed to find a unicorn, captive or free.

However, while the unicorn is not, per se, an idea, there are some similarities. So, as I can say I have an idea of what love is, I can also say that I have an idea of what a unicorn is. As I said before, a unicorn is like a horse, save with a single horn on the top of it's head. We can, of course, do the same thing for something material, like a rock - I can have an idea of what a rock is. I would argue that I cannot, on the other hand, have an idea of something that does not exist [1].

So, if an idea can be had of an object, that object exists, according to the broad sense of 'existence' that I use here. Yet, that does not mean that if an idea is not had of an object, that the object does not exist. For example, if Jessica has never had the idea of me before, that does not mean that I do not exist, and vice versa. But, if Jessica has the idea that a man is in her closet, waiting for her to sleep, that does not mean that there is in fact a man in her closet.

What's important here is that she may have the idea that a man is in her closet. This idea could evoke certain feelings from her, either fear if she's afraid of her idea's man, or happy if she is joyous of her idea's man. While the man may not exist for me, for Jessica he has existence, albeit not material existence.

We do see one major point from this. Since Jessica's man exists for her, but not for me, one might argue that the man both exists and does not exist. Yet, pulling over what was stated before, not having an idea of some thing does not mean that the thing has no existence, for we see that in this case it does have some existence. Yet, that does not imply material existence, which is what some people call 'actual' existence.

For these reasons, I believe it is acceptable to argue that unicorns do in fact exist. In addition, the existence of unicorns is fairly solid. That is to say, the unicorn has more existence than Jessica's man. While Jessica's man is known only to her, the unicorn is known to an extremely large amount of people. One may argue that the number of people that believe in the existence of a thing does not make the thing any more existent. However, I'd be willing, with the use of my definition of existence, to argue against such a claim. I can make my claim simply because we are not talking solely of the existence of material objects, but rather of ideas. The more people that say that that some thing exists, the more likely I am to find someone who will know what it is that I mean when I talk about a thing.

Keeping with our unicorn, the more people who know about unicorns, from one of the many sources, the more 'existence' it has. Moving to Jessica's man, the more people she tells, the more people know about this man. While they may say things about Jessica in reference to her man, they still allow the man's existence, albeit as an idea of Jessica.

With this, I believe I can rest my case. The unicorn cannot be denied, for it does in fact exist. With the greatest paradox, in fact, by denying the unicorn, one in fact presumes that the unicorn can be denied. However, since it is simply an idea, and an idea does not necessarily make a thing physical or material, we are quite safe.

So I close with this roar, "Do not deny my unicorn."


1. Of course, then we have the question of what of the idea of a colour that does not exist? Does the colour that does not exist exist, or does the colour that does not exist not exist? To answer this question, we must determine what it is that we're talking about. We are not talking about the colour, but rather any non-existent colour. Do non-existent colours exist, or not? One must first realize that this is not the same as asking if a living corpse exists (in the strictest sense, for in the broadest sense a corpse can be alive). Rather, it's like asking whether the idea of a living corpse exists. To this question, we can safely answer yes, for we have just read a manifestation of the idea. Breaking up our initial question, we see that it is really asking whether or not there is an idea of a colour that does not exist. There is in fact such an idea, and therefore the idea of a colour that does not exist does in fact exist. The colour itself may not exist, but the idea of one does.


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