On Some Ontological and Linguistic Aspects of the Matter-Form Distinction

Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1985)
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Some material object ontologists advance the thesis that given a material object, two entities are present: the object and an entity which is the object's matter. The motivation for entifying the matter of material objects is to counter a current materialistic, reductionist ontology. According to the reductionist, the divisions in the material world are due not to the existence of medium-sized entities such as material objects, but are due to the microscopic components of a substratum which is formed out of the matter of objects. By positing the thesis that the matter of a given material object occurs in entity form, the material object ontologist pluralizes the substratum, and thereby counters the reductionist view: since each material object contains its matter in entity form , material objects do, in effect, segment material reality. ;I outline the views of two material object ontologists, Helen Cartwright and V. C. Chappell, who hold that the matter of a material object is itself an entity. It is my contention that a key term, i.e., "thing", used in a formula employed by Cartwright and Chappell to derive the matter of an object in entity form, has a stipulative or non-ordinary meaning. I maintain that "thing" is stipulative because it designates items of two different kinds simultaneously. Granted that "thing" has a broad range of meanings, it is, like any other term in the language, not normally used to denote phenomena of two different classes at the same time. If my thesis is correct, the derivation by Cartwright and Chappell of the matter of an object in entity form becomes true merely by way of a stipulative definition of one of its terms. To establish that the formula used by Cartwright and Chappell employs a dual use of "thing", I offer syntactical evidence concerning the use of the pronoun "one"



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