Numerical Identity: Process and Substance Metaphysics

Sahana Rajan
University of Delhi
Numerical identity is the non-relational sameness of an object to itself. It is concerned with understanding how entities undergo change and maintain their identity. In substance metaphysics, an entity is considered a substance with an essence and such an essence is the source of its power. However, such a framework fails to explain the sense in which an entity is still the entity it was, amidst changes. Those who claim that essence is unaffected by existence are faced with challenge of exploring the epistemic access to such an essence, which is questionable at best. Process metaphysics is a strong candidate for a theory that can ontologically explain regularity and change without appeal to essence. Process and its interactions is the main category. Every process is an emergent organization of constitutive interactions and is individuated on the basis of its interactive powers, that is, the ways in which it interacts with the world around it. Interactions are situated adaptation to changes. In this way, changes are crucial within process metaphysics and are included in the starting point of its investigation. What seems to the naked eyes as one-ness/singularity is a complex process where an organization of interactions is emerging from moment to moment by continually adapting to the changes around and within it. The question of numerical identity over time becomes valid only within substance metaphysics which has no space to accommodate change, due to its allegiance to essence.
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Word and Object.W. V. Quine - 1960 - MIT Press.
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