Bergmann's Hidden Essences

Review of Metaphysics 22 (4):660 - 675 (1969)
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Abstract

To borrow a by now worn out example from Bergmann, take a pair of colored spots in a visual field. Call them and. Suppose that is green while is red. According to Bergmann, we are presented with no less than ten entities in this perceptual occurrence, four of which are existents and six of which are subsistents. The existents break down into two kinds, i.e., simple properties and simple particulars. Green and red make up the properties, while the two things that have these same qualities comprise the bare individuals. The subsistents include: two instances of the "relation" of exemplification, two instances of the "property" of universality, and two instances of the "property" of individuality. The quotes around 'property' and 'relation' indicate that the entities referred to in each case are not ordinary properties or relations. More positively, though perhaps roughly, universality and individuality are formal as opposed to material properties, while exemplification is a formal as opposed to a material relation. Notice just in passing that Bergmann's assay of this perceptual situation accords some kind of ontological status to at least some aspects of the world's form. Taking Wittgenstein's celebrated metaphor "Im Sachverhalt hangen die Gegenstande ineinander, wie die Glieder einer Kette" to mean that the world's form has no ontological status of any sort, Bergmann outspokenly puts himself in opposition to the author of Tractatus.

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