Substance has been a leading idea in the history of Western philosophy. _Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz_ explain the nature and existence of individual substances, including both living things and inanimate objects. Specifically written for students new to this important and often complex subject, _Substance_ provides both the historical and contemporary overview of the debate. Great Philosophers of the past, such as Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Locke, and Berkeley were profoundly interested in the concept of substance. And, the authors (...) argue, a belief in the existence of substances is an integral part of our everyday world view. But what constitutes substance? Was Aristotle right to suggest that artefacts like tables and ships don't really exist? _Substance: Its Nature and Existence_ is one of the first non-technical, accessible guides to this central problem and will be of great use to students of metaphysics and philosophy. (shrink)
This book revives a neglected but important topic in philosophy: the nature of substance. The belief that there are individual substances, for example, material objects and persons, is at the core of our common-sense view of the world yet many metaphysicians deny the very coherence of the concept of substance. The authors develop an account of what an individual substance is in terms of independence from other beings. In the process many other important ontological categories are explored: property, event, space, (...) time. The authors show why alternative theories of substance fail, and go on to defend the intelligibility of interacting spiritual and material substances. (shrink)
I am happy to report that serious metaphysics is alive and well in the work of Jonathan Lowe. His recent book The Possibility of Metaphysics: Substance, Identity, and Time is a major contribution to analytical metaphysics; it confirms Lowe’s standing as a leading figure in the field.
This book addresses two basic questions: What is the proper philosophical analysis of the concept of substance? and What kinds of compound substances are there? The second question is mainly addressed by asking what relations among objects are necessary and sufficient for their coming to compose a larger whole. The first 72 pages of the book contain a short history of attempts to answer the first question, and a brief presentation of the analysis the authors defend at length in their (...) earlier book, Substance Among Other Categories. In the remaining 119 pages, the authors take up the second question. This order of presentation makes sense; but it may help to create a false impression in those who only glance at the first few pages—that this book is just a simplified version of the earlier one, with a little bit of history thrown in. It would be quite unfortunate, however, if very many potential readers get this impression; for it might discourage them from looking closely at the bulk of the book, which is new. The issues discussed in the later chapters are at the center of one of the most lively debates in contemporary metaphysics; and the position Hoffman and Rosenkrantz stake out is appealing and carefully articulated. Their views deserve careful attention from philosophers working on the metaphysics of persistence through time, personal identity, artifact identity, and mereology. (shrink)
Drawing inspiration from Aristotle's biological writings, I attempt to elucidate what it is for something to be alive by providing illuminating logically necessary and sufficient conditions for something's being a living thing in the broadest sense. I then propose a related account of identity conditions for carbon‐based living organisms.
There appear to be at least two kinds of compound physical substances: compound pieces of matter, which have their parts essentially, and living organisms, which do not. Examples of the former are carbon atoms, salt molecules, and pieces of gold; and examples of the latter are protozoa, trees, and cats. Given that there are compound entities of these two kinds, and given that they can be created or destroyed by assembly or disassembly, questions naturally arise about the nature of the (...) causal relations which unite their parts. In answer to these questions, we first argue that the parts of a compound piece of matter are connected via a relation of dynamic equilibrium of attractive and repulsive forces. We then argue that the parts of an organic living thing are united in a different way: they are functionally connected in a broadly Aristotelian sense which is compatible with an ultimately non‐teleological, naturalistic biology. (shrink)
A typical human person has privileged epistemic access to its identity over time in virtue of having a first-person point of view. In explaining this phenomenon in terms of an intimate relation of self-attribution or the like, I infer that a typical human person has direct consciousness of itself through inner awareness or personal memory. Direct consciousness of oneself is consciousness of oneself, but not by consciousness of something else. Yet, a perduring human person, $S_p$, i.e., a human person with (...) temporal parts, is identical with the complete series of its temporal parts. I argue that because $S_p$ is diverse from any incomplete series of its temporal parts, and because $S_p$ cannot be conscious of all of its temporal parts through inner awareness or personal memory, $S_p$ cannot have direct consciousness of itself. I conclude that a human person endures, i.e., wholly exists at each of the times it exists. (shrink)
Drawing inspiration from Aristotle's biological writings, I attempt to elucidate what it is for something to be alive by providing illuminating logically necessary and sufficient conditions for something'sbeing a living thing in the broadest sense. I then propose a related account of identity conditions for carbon‐based living organisms.
I attempt to define the concept of ‘living organism’. Intuitively, a living organism is a substantial entity with a capacity for certain relevant activities. But biology has discovered that living organisms have a particular compositional or microstructural nature. This nature includes carbon-based macromolecules and water molecules. I argue that such living organisms belong to a natural kind of compound physical object, viz., carbon-based living organism. My definition of a living organism encompasses both the intuitively relevant activities and the empirically discovered (...) compositional nature. The definition is designed to deal with a variety of problem cases, e.g., viruses, proteinoid microspheres, sterile organisms, suspended animation cases, and living parts of organisms. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper examines the ontological status of individual substances; intuitive examples of such entities include particles and living organisms. My aim is to assess the ontological status of individual substances in the light of arguments for an ontology of [concrete] facts, often called states of affairs. Advocates of a fact ontology have argued that these factive entities are the ontologically fundamental beings. I will address the salient question of whether individual substances are reducible to, or eliminable in favor of, facts. (...) I will further address the question of whether individual substances, even if not reducible to facts, are nonetheless ontologically dependent upon facts in a way that undercuts the claim that some individual substances are ontologically fundamental. Finally, I will argue that a persuasive case for the claim that facts are what is ontologically fundamental has yet to be made. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: What Omnipotence Signifies The Riddle of the Stone Further Limitations on the Power of an Omnipotent Agent Are Divine Omnipotence and Moral Perfection Compatible? Works cited.
The view that a possible world is an existing abstract object implies that all nonexistent possible individuals have a principle of individuation in terms of existing objects, properties, and relations. However, some individuals of this kind are totally out of this world both in the subjective sense that nobody in this world can pick them out, and in the ontological sense that they would neither be created by assembling or arranging existing bits of matter nor otherwise be generated by existing (...) items. The only acceptable principle of individuation for such nonexistent possibles is that they are individuated by their unexemplified haecceities. (shrink)
Roderick Chisholm is a seminal figure in contemporary analytical metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. The current healthy state of metaphysics and epistemology is in no small measure due to his influence and positive example. Chisholm has defended realism in metaphysics, foundationalism in epistemology, and the primacy of intentionality in the philosophy of mind. Throughout his long career at Brown, Chisholm was absorbed in the technical philosophical problems internal to this program. For example, his Socratic quests for the required definitions (...) are deservedly legendary. Still, this book is Chisholm's first attempt to provide a systematic exposition of his philosophical views, and it may be regarded as the definitive statement of the mature Chisholmian weltanschauung. The book is characterized by the virtues we have come to expect from this master of analytical philosophy: erudition, clarity, ingenuity, subtlety, technical virtuosity, and great depth. It covers a very large range of topics, in a small number of pages, in a style that is notably laconic. Such a book can be profitably read by those who are not advanced students of philosophy, but can be fully appreciated only by the most philosophically sophisticated. This important book should be read by all those who have a serious interest in metaphysics, epistemology, or philosophy of mind. (shrink)