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Encyclopedia > Substance theory

Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. Shortcut: WP:CU Marking articles for cleanup This page is undergoing a transition to an easier-to-maintain format. ... This Manual of Style has the simple purpose of making things easy to read by following a consistent format — it is a style guide. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ... One of the more vexed topics of metaphysics and ontology concerns what might be called objects, or objecthood: what general claims can we make about the meaning of talk of objects--bodies such as rocks, trees, as well as (arguably) minds? The leading theories on this admittedly vague question have... The word property, in philosophy, mathematics, and logic, refers to an attribute of an object; thus a red object is said to have the property of redness. ...


Substance is a core concept of ontology and metaphysics. Indeed, philosophies may be divided into monist philosophies, and dualist or pluralist philosophies. Monistic views, often associated with immanence, hold that there is only one substance, sometimes called God or Being. Dualist and pluralist views hold that various types of substances do exist, and that these can be placed in an ontological hierarchy. Platonism or Aristotelianism considers that there are various substances, while stoicism and Spinoza hold that there is only one substance. Plato and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome). ... Monism is the metaphysical position that all is of one essential essence, substance or energy. ... The term dualism is the state of being dual, or having a twofold division. ... In the social sciences, pluralism is a framework of interaction in which groups show sufficient respect and tolerance of each other, that they fruitfully coexist and interact without conflict or assimilation. ... Immanence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... In ontology, a being is anything that can be said to be, either transcendantly or immanently. ... A hierarchy (in Greek: , it is derived from -hieros, sacred, and -arkho, rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is subordinate to a single other element. ... Platonic idealism is the theory that the substantive reality around us is only a reflection of a higher truth. ... Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. ... A restored Stoa in Athens. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 - February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ...

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The concept of substance in Western philosophy

In the millennia-old Aristotelian tradition, as well as early modern traditions that follow it, substances are treated as having attributes and modes. The Aristotelian view of God considered God as both ontologically and causally prior to all other substance; others, including Spinoza, argued that God is the only substance. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple modes; what we ordinarily call the natural world, together with all the individuals in it, is immanent in God: hence the famous phrase Deus sive Natura ("God is Nature"). Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. ... 17th-century philosophy in the West is generally regarded as seeing the start of modern philosophy, and the shaking off of the mediæval approach, especially scholasticism. ... This article is on Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian definitions of God. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 - February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ... Immanence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ...


Criticisms of the concept of substance

Friedrich Nietzsche and, after him, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze rejected the notion of "substance", and in the same movement the concept of subject. For this reason, Althusser's "anti-humanism" and Foucault's statements were criticized, by Jürgen Habermas and others, for misunderstanding that this led to a fatalist conception of social determinism. For Habermas, only a subjective form of liberty could be conceived, to the contrary of Deleuze who talks about "a life", as an impersonal and immanent form of liberty. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philologist and philosopher. ... Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was an influential German philosopher, best known as the author of Being and Time (1927). ... Michel Foucault (IPA pronunciation: ; English-speakers pronunciation varies) (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) was a French philosopher. ... Gilles Deleuze (IPA: ), (January 18, 1925 – November 4, 1995) was a French philosopher of the late 20th century. ... Subject (philosophy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Louis Althusser (October 19, 1918 _ October 23, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. ... Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (born June 18, 1929 in Düsseldorf) is a German philosopher, political scientist and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory, best known for his concept of the public sphere. ... Liberty is generally considered a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority. ... Immanence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ...


For Heidegger, Descartes means by "substance" that by which "we can understand nothing else than an entity which is in such a way that it need no other entity in order to be." Therefore, only God is a substance as ens perfectissimus. Heidegger showed the inextricable relationship between the concept of substance and of subject, which explains why, instead of talking about "man" or "humankind", he speaks about the Dasein, which is not a simple subject, nor a substance. [1] René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... Dasein is a concept forged by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time . ...


Primitive concepts of substance theory

Two primitive concepts (i.e. genuine notions that cannot be explained in terms of something else) in substance theory are the bare particular and the inherence relation.


Bare particular

In substance theory, a bare particular of an object is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independent from its properties, even if it is physically impossible for it to lack properties entirely. It is "bare" because it is considered without its properties and "particular" because it is not abstract. The properties that the substance has are said to inhere in the substance. In substance theory of the mind, the objects are minds. In philosophy, an object is a thing, an entity, or a being. ... Abstraction is the process of reducing the information content of a concept, typically in order to retain only information which is relevant for a particular purpose. ...


Inherence relation

Another primitive concept in substance theory is the inherence relation between a substance and its properties. For example, in the sentence, "That the apple is red," substance theory says that redness inheres in the apple. Substance theory considers to be clear the meaning of the apple having the property of redness or the property of being juicy, and that a property's inherence in a substance is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance. The theory thus grants inherence the status of a primitive concept and requires no further definition of the word "inhere". One difficult and commonly-raised problem for the Platonic realism as well as the substance theory is the problem of specifying what the so-called inherence relation is between a substance and its properties. ...


Arguments supporting the theory

Two common arguments supporting substance theory are the argument from grammar and the argument from conception.


Argument from grammar

The argument from grammar uses traditional grammar to support substance theory. For example, the sentence, "Snow is white," contains a subject, snow, and the assertion that the subject is white. The argument holds that it makes no grammatical sense to speak of "whiteness" disembodied, without snow or some other subject that is white. That is, the only way to make a meaningful claim is to speak of a subject and to predicate various properties of it. Substance theory calls this subject of predication a substance. Thus, in order to make claims about physical objects, one must refer to substances, which must exist in order for those claims to be meaningful. In linguistics, traditional grammar is a cover name for the collection of concepts and ideas about the structure of language that Western societies have received from ancient Greek and Roman sources. ...


Many ontologies, including bundle theory, rejects the argument from grammar on the basis that a grammatical subject does not necessarily refer to a metaphysical subject. Bundle theory, for example, maintains that the grammatical subject of statement refers to its properties. For example, a bundle theorist understands the grammatical subject of the sentence, "Snow is white", as a referent to a bundle of properties, including perhaps the containing of ice crystals, being cold, and being a few feet deep. To the bundle theorist, the sentence then modifies that bundle of properties to include the property of being white. The bundle theorist, then, maintains that one can make meaningful statements about bodies without referring to substances that lack properties. This article contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ...


Argument from conception

Another argument for the substance theory is the argument from conception. The argument claims that in order to conceive of an object's properties, like the redness of an apple, one must conceive of the object that has those properties. According to the argument, one cannot conceive of redness, or any other property, distinct from the thing that has that property. The thing that has the property, the argument maintains, is a substance. The argument from conception holds that properties (e.g. redness or being four inches wide) are inconceivable by themselves and therefore it is always a substance that has the properties. Thus, it asserts, substances exist.


A criticism of the argument from conception is that properties' being of substances does not follow from inability to think of isolated properties. The bundle theorist, for example, says that properties need only be associated with a bundle of other properties, which bundle is called an object. The critic maintains that the inability for an individual property to exist in isolation does not imply that substances exist. Instead, he argues, bodies may be bundles of properties, and an individual property may simply be unable to exist separately from such a bundle.


Bundle theory

In direct opposition to substance theory is bundle theory, whose most basic premise is that all concrete particulars are merely constructions or 'bundles' of attributes, or qualitive properties:

Necessarily, for any concrete entity, a, if for any entity, b, b is a constituent of a, then b is an attribute.

The bundle theorist's principal objections to substance theory concern the bare particulars of a substance, which substance theory considers independently of the substance's properties. The bundle theorist objects to the notion of a thing with no properties, claiming that one cannot conceive of such a thing and citing John Locke, who described a substance as "a something, I know not what." To the critic, as soon as one has any notion of a substance in mind, a property accompanies that notion. That is, to the critic it is not only physically impossible to encounter a bare particular without properties, but the very notion of a thing without properties is so strange that he cannot even form such a notion. This article contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... In metaphysics, Bare particular is what a substance is called when considered independently of its properties. ...


Indiscernibility

The indiscernibility argument from the substance theorist targets those bundle theorists who are also metaphysical realists. Metaphysical realism uses repeatable entities known as universals exemplified by concrete particulars to explain the phenomenon of attribute agreement. Substance theorists then say that bundle theory and metaphysical realism can only coexist by introducing an identity of indiscernibles creed, which substance theorists suggest is incoherent. The identity of indiscernibles says that any concrete particular that is numerically different from another must have its own qualitive properties, or attributes. In mathematical logic, indiscernibles are objects which cannot be distinguished by any property or relation defined by a formula. ... The identity of indiscernibles is an ontological principle that states that if there is no way of telling two entities apart then they are one and the same entity. ...


Since bundle theory states that all concrete particulars are merely constructions or 'bundles' of attributes, or qualitive properties, the substance theorist's indiscernibility argument claims that the ability to recognize numerically different concrete particulars, such as concrete objects, requires those particulars to have discernable qualitative differences in their attributes and that the metaphysical realist who is also a bundle theorist must therefore concede to the existence of discernable (numerically different) concrete particulars, the identity of indiscernibles, and a principle of constituent identity.


Discernible concrete particulars

Necessarily, for any complex objects, a and b, if for any entity, c, c is a constituent of a if and only if c is a constituent of b, then a is numerically identical with b.

The indiscernibility argument points out that if bundle theory and discernible concrete particulars theory explain the relationship between attributes, then the identity of indiscernibles theory must also be true:


Identity of indiscernibles

Necessarily, for any concrete objects,a and b, if for any attribute, Φ, Φ is an attribute of a if and only if Φ is an attribute of b, then a is numerically identical with b.

The indiscernibles argument then asserts that the identity of indiscernibles is false. For example, two different pieces of printer paper can be side by side, numerically different from each other. However, the argument says, all of their qualitive properties can be the same (e.g. both can be white, rectangular-shaped, 9 x 11 inches...). Thus, the argument claims, bundle theory and metaphysical realism cannot both be correct.


However, bundle theory combined with trope theory (as opposed to metaphysical realism) is immune to the indiscernibles argument. The immunity stems from the fact that each trope (attribute) can only be held by one concrete particular, thus qualitive indiscernible objects can exist while being numerically identical and the identity of indiscernibles therefore does not hold.


See also

In metaphysics, Bare particular is what a substance is called when considered independently of its properties. ... This article contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... One difficult and commonly-raised problem for the Platonic realism as well as the substance theory is the problem of specifying what the so-called inherence relation is between a substance and its properties. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
substance theory: Information from Answers.com (1536 words)
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties.
In substance theory, a bare particular of an object is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independent from its properties, even if it is physically impossible for it to lack properties entirely.
Substance theory considers to be clear the meaning of the apple having the property of redness or the property of being juicy, and that a property's inherence in a substance is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance.
Mind (447 words)
The view of common sense, it seems, is opposed to a bundle theory of the mind.
Philosophers have not infrequently bandied the phrase "mental substance," and indeed, it has been made central to the ontologies of several philosophers, including most notably Gottfried Leibniz; according to Leibniz, the monad, a "simple soul," is that in terms of which everything else in the universe was to be explained.
David Hume was very famous for advocating a bundle theory of mind (though the interpretation of Hume on this point is often one of some controversy) and for arguing forcefully against the idea of mental substance.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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