It is my aim in this paper to show that the contemporary assimilation of essence to modality is fundamentally misguided and that, as a consequence, the corresponding conception of metaphysics should be given up. It is not my view that the modal account fails to capture anything which might reasonably be called a concept of essence. My point, rather, is that the notion of essence which is of central importance to the metaphysics of identity is not to (...) be understood in modal terms or even to be regarded as extensionally equivalent to a modal notion. The one notion is, if I am right, a highly refined version of the other; it is like a sieve which performs a similar function but with a much finer mesh. (shrink)
This paper first argues that we can bring out a tension between the following three popular doctrines: (i) the canonical reduction of metaphysical modality to essence, due to Fine, (ii) contingentism, which says that possibly something could have failed to be something, and (iii) the doctrine that metaphysical modality obeys the modal logic S5. After presenting two such arguments (one from the theorems of S4 and another from the theorems of B), I turn to exploring various conclusions we might (...) draw in light of these results, and argue that none comes cost free. In the course of laying out possible responses to my arguments, we'll have a chance to evaluate various doctrines about the interplay between contingency and essence, as well as develop some alternative reductions of metaphysical modality to essence. I don't decisively come down in favor of one response over the others, though I say some things that point towards the conclusion that essence has no role to play in reducing metaphysical modality. (shrink)
This paper investigates Kant’s account of “real essence” and of a thing’s “nature”. Notwithstanding their wide negligence in the literature, these concepts belong to the central ones of Kant’s metaphysics. I argue that, on the one hand, Kant is in continuity with the Aristotelian-Scholastic tradition of essence. But, on the other hand, he also follows Locke in distinguishing between “logical” and “real” essence. Contrary to recent attempts of aligning real essence with contemporary approaches to essence, (...) I will defend the thesis that Kant equates real essence and (formal) nature, and that real essence has a causal, but no constitutive role. I shall also respond to potential objections and discuss some developments of Kant’s views. (shrink)
In `Essence and Modality', Kit Fine proposes that for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all objects whatsoever. Call this view Fine's Thesis. This paper is a study of Fine's Thesis in the context of Fine's logic of essence (LE). Fine himself has offered his most elaborate defense of the thesis in the context of LE. His defense rests on the widely shared assumption that metaphysical necessity (...) obeys the laws of the modal logic S5. In order to get S5 for metaphysical necessity, he assumes a controversial principle about the nature of all objects. I will show that the addition of this principle to his original system E5 leads to inconsistency with an independently plausible principle about essence. In response, I develop a theory that avoids this inconsistency while allowing us to maintain S5 for meta- physical necessity. However, I conclude that our investigation of Fine's Thesis in the context of LE motivates the revisionary conclusion that metaphysical necessity obeys the principles of the modal logic S4, but not those of S5. I argue that this constitutes a distinctively essentialist challenge to the received view that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. (shrink)
It is common to think of essence along modal lines: the essential truths, on this approach, are a subset of the necessary truths. But Aristotle conceives of the necessary truths as being distinct and derivative from the essential truths. Such a non-modal conception of essence also constitutes a central component of the neo-Aristotelian approach to metaphysics defended over the last several decades by Kit Fine. Both Aristotle and Fine rely on a distinction between what belongs to the (...) class='Hi'>essence proper of an object and what merely follows from the essence proper of an object. In order for this type of approach to essence and modality to be successful, we must be able to identify an appropriate consequence relation which in fact generates the result that the necessary truths about objects follow from the essential truths. I discuss some proposals put forward by Fine and then turn to Aristotle’s account: Aristotle’s central idea, to trace the explanatory power of definitions to the causal power of essences has the potential to open the door to a philosophically satisfying response to the question of why certain things are relevant, while others are irrelevant, to the nature or essence of entities. If at all possible, it would be desirable for example to have something further to say by way of explanation to such questions as ‘Why is the number 2 completely irrelevant to the nature of camels?’. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialists argue that physical properties have their causal roles essentially. This is typically taken to mean that physical properties are identical to dispositions. I argue that this is untenable, and that we must instead say that properties bestow dispositions. I explore what it is for a property to have such a role essentially. Dispositional essentialists argue for their view by citing certain epistemological and metaphysical implications, and I appeal to these implications to place desiderata on the concept of (...) class='Hi'>essence involved. I argue that the traditional modal theory of essence meets these desiderata, but that the resulting theory wrongly implies that certain dispositions essential to mass are essential to charge, thereby offering a new argument against modal theories of essence. I argue that dispositional essentialism requires a primitive notion of essence, and develop a primitivist theory based on Kit Fine's views. I show that the primitivist theory has all the virtues of the modal alternative, and none of the vices. I develop a novel way of thinking about the relationship between properties, laws and dispositions, and argue that it has distinct advantages over standard dispositional essentialist formulations. (shrink)
According to the modal view, essence admits of reductive analysis in exclusively modal terms. Fine (1994) argues that modal view delivers an inadequate analysis of essence. This paper defends the modal view from Fine's challenge. This defense proceeds by examining the disagreement between Finean primitivists and Quinean eliminativists about essence. In order to model this disagreement, a distinction between essence and a separable concept, nature, is required. This distinction is then used to show that Fine's challenge (...) is misdirected and therefore unsuccessful. (shrink)
Kit Fine famously objected against the idea that essence can be successfully analyzed in terms of de re necessity. In response, I want to explore a novel, interesting, but controversial modal account of essence in terms of intrinsicality and grounding. In the first section, I will single out two theoretical requirements that any essentialist theory should meet—the essentialist desideratum and the essentialist challenge—in order to clarify Fine’s objections. In the second section, I will assess Denby’s improved modal account, (...) which appeals to the notion of intrinsicality, and argue that it is untenable. In the third section, I will explain how, when combined with a modal-existential criterion, a hyperintensional account of intrinsicality—in the same vein as Bader (J Philos 110(10): 525–563, 2013) and Rosen (in: Hale and Hoffman (eds) Modality: Metaphysics, logic, and epistemology, Oxford, OUP, 2010)—can help successfully address Fine’s counterexamples. In the fourth section, I will evaluate how this novel analysis of essence stands with respect to sortal, origin, and natural kinds essentialism and discuss potential objections and difficulties. (shrink)
In the first half of this paper, I argue that essential properties are intrinsic and that this permits a modal analysis of essence that is immune the sort of objections raised by Fine. In the second half, I argue that intrinsic properties collectively have a certain structure and that this accounts for some observations about essences: that things are essentially determinate; that things often have properties within a certain range essentially; and that the essential properties of things are their (...) core properties. (shrink)
Fine is widely thought to have refuted the simple modal account of essence, which takes the essential properties of a thing to be those it cannot exist without exemplifying. Yet, a number of philosophers have suggested resuscitating the simple modal account by appealing to distinctions akin to the distinction Lewis draws between sparse and abundant properties, treating only those in the former class as candidates for essentiality. I argue that ‘sparse modalism’ succumbs to counterexamples similar to those originally posed (...) by Fine, and fails to capture paradigmatic instances of essence involving abundant properties and relations. (shrink)
When thinking about the notion of essence or of an essential feature, philosophers typically focus on what I will call the notion of objectual essence. The main aim of this paper is to argue that beside this familiar notion stands another one, the notion of generic essence, which contrary to appearance cannot be understood in terms of the familiar notion, and which also fails to be correctly characterized by certain other accounts which naturally come to mind as (...) well. Some of my objections to these accounts are similar to some of Kit Fine’s compelling objections to the standard modal account of (objectual) essence (Fine 1994). In the light of these objections, Fine advances the view that it is metaphysical necessity which has to be understood in terms of essence, rather than the other way around, and takes essence to be unanalyzable. When formulatinghis view, Fine had only objectual essence in mind (or had both concepts in mind, but assumed that the generic is a special case of the objectual), and for that reason, I will argue, his account fails. I will suggest that Fineans should modify their view, and take it that metaphysical necessity is to be understood in terms of the two notions of essence—a view I myself find appealing. Finally, I will end by suggesting a further move which reduces the objectual to the generic, making metaphysical necessity reducible to generic essence alone—a move with which I myself have some sympathy. (shrink)
This paper discusses Aristotle’s notions of essence and definition as they are developed in Metaphysics Z-4, a chapter in which Aristotle seems to hesitate or even to contradict himself about criteria for determining what an essence is. This paper offers a full discussion of Aristotle’s argument and try to show that there is no inconsistency nor hesitation in Aristotle’s approach. Aristotle begins with a more general account of essence and definitions, which is based on merely logical-epistemic requirements, (...) but at 1030a2-17 he introduces a stricter account, which rests on additional criteria concerned with explanatory power of essences and definitions. The two accounts are far from being incompatible with each other. The hierarchy of essences and definitions which Aristotle presents at 1030a17-32 shows that both accounts can be squared with each other. Aristotle’s strategy can be satisfactorily understood from his broader concerns at Metaphysics Z as a whole. (shrink)
Rather infamously, Kit Fine provided a series of counter-examples which purport to show that the modalist program of analysing essence in terms of metaphysical necessity is fundamentally misguided. Several would-be modalists have since responded, attempting to save the position from this Finean Challenge. This paper evaluates and rejects a trio of such responses, from Della Rocca, Zalta, and Gorman. But I’m not here arguing for Fine’s conclusion – ultimately, this is a fight amongst friends, with Della Rocca, Zalta, Gorman, (...) and I all wanting to be modalists, but disagreeing on the details. As such, while my primary aim is to show what’s wrong with this trio, the secondary aim is demonstrating how what’s right about them in fact pushes one towards my own sparse modalist account. So while the primary conclusion of this paper is negative, the secondary, positive, conclusion is that modalists shouldn’t give up hope – plausible responses to Fine are still out there. (shrink)
In his influential article ‘Essence and Modality’, Fine proposes a definition of necessity in terms of the primitive essentialist notion ‘true in virtue of the nature of’. Fine’s proposal is suggestive, but it admits of different interpretations, leaving it unsettled what the precise formulation of an Essentialist definition of necessity should be. In this paper, four different versions of the definition are discussed: a singular, a plural reading, and an existential variant of Fine’s original suggestion and an alternative version (...) proposed by Correia which is not based on Fine’s primitive essentialist notion. The first main point of the paper is that the singular reading is untenable. The second that given plausible background assumptions, the remaining three definitions are extensionally equivalent. The third is that, this equivalence notwithstanding, Essentialists should adopt Correia’s version of the definition, since both the existential variant, which has de facto been adopted as the standard version of the definition in the literature, and the plural reading suffer from problems connected to Fine’s primitive essentialist notion. (shrink)
The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of (...) class='Hi'>essence, whereby essence plays an important theoretical role. In this chapter, our epistemic access to essence is examined in terms of the a posteriori vs. a priori distinction. The two main accounts to be contrasted are those of David S. Oderberg and E.J. Lowe. (shrink)
This paper provides a possible worlds semantics for the system of the author's previous paper 'The Logic of Essence '. The basic idea behind the semantics is that a statement should be taken to be true in virtue of the nature of certain objects just in case it is true in any possible world compatible with the nature of those objects. It is shown that a slight variant of the original system is sound and complete under the proposed semantics.
This paper is about the so-called meta-grounding question, i.e. the question of what grounds grounding facts of the sort 'φ is grounded in Γ '. An answer to this question is pressing since some plausible assumptions about grounding and fundamentality entail that grounding facts must be grounded. There are three different accounts on the market which each answer the meta-grounding question differently: Bennett's and deRosset's "Straight Forward Account" (SFA), Litland's "Zero-Grounding Account" (ZGA), and "Grounding Essentialism" (GE). I argue that if (...) grounding is to be regarded as metaphysical explanation (i.e. if unionism is true), (GE) is to be preferred over (ZGA) and (SFA) as only (GE) is compatible with a crucial consequence of the thought that grounding is metaphysical explanation. In this manner the paper contributes not only to discussions about the ground of ground but also to the ongoing debate concerning the relationship between ground, essence, and explanation. (shrink)
This special issue centers around Aristotelian metaphysics, construed broadly to cover both scholarly research on Aristotle’s metaphysics, as well as work by contemporary metaphysicians on Aristotelian themes. It focuses on two themes in Aristotelian metaphysics, namely essence and grounding, and their connections. A variety of related questions regarding dependence, priority, fundamentality, explanation, causation, substance, and modality also receive attention.
In a recent article, Fabrice Correia explores the project of reducing the notion of grounding to that of essence. He then goes on to provide several candidate definitions and test each of them against a number of objections. His final take on the situation is, roughly, that two of the definitions can handle all of the considered objections. The aim of this paper is to re-evaluate Correia's conclusions in the light of two sources of insights: Firstly, I will argue (...) that one of the objections treated by Correia has been somewhat underestimated, and that it still constitutes a threat against definitions of grounding in terms of essence. Secondly, there are at least two further objections that should be considered by the advocate of such definitions. As I will show, one of them can be neutralized; but the other one is more serious and suggests a clear dialectical edge to an operationalist definition. (shrink)
This paper offers an interpretation of the later Wittgenstein's handling of the idea of an "essence of human language", and examines in particular his treatment of the 'Augustinean' vision of reference as constituting this "essence". A central theme of the interpretation is the perennial philosophical desire to impose upon linguistic meaning conceptual templates drawn from outside the forms of thought about meaning in which we engage when we exercise our capacity to speak and understand a language. The paper (...) closes with a consideration of ways in which Donald Davidson's generally congenial work on interpretation may diverge from Wittgenstein's thinking in this vicinity. (shrink)
The purpose of the present paper is to provide a way of understanding systems of logic of essence by introducing a new semantic framework for them. Three central results are achieved: first, the now standard Fitting semantics for the propositional logic of evidence is adapted in order to provide a new, simplified semantics for the propositional logic of essence; secondly, we show how it is possible to construe the concept of necessary truth explicitly by using the concept of (...) essential truth; finally, Fitting semantics is adapted in order to present a simplified semantics for the quantified logic of essence. (shrink)
Few these days dispute that the knowledge argument demonstrates an epistemic gap between the physical facts and the facts about experience. It is much more contentious whether that epistemic gap can be used to demonstrate a metaphysical gap of a kind that is inconsistent with physicalism. In this paper I will explore two attempts to block the inference from an epistemic gap to a metaphysical gap – the first from the phenomenal concept strategy, the second from Russellian monism – and (...) suggest how the proponent of the knowledge argument might respond to each of these challenges. In doing so, I will draw on recent discussions of grounding and essence in the metaphysics literature. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger devotes extensive discussion to medieval philosophers, particularly to their treatment of Truth and Being. On both these topics, Heidegger accuses them of forgetting the question of Being and of being responsible for subjugating truth to the modern crusade for certainty: ‘truth is denied its own mode of being’ and is subordinated ‘to an intellect that judges correctly’. Though there are some studies that discuss Heidegger’s debt to and criticism of medieval thought, particularly that of Thomas Aquinas, there is (...) no constructive reply to his assertions. As a result, Heidegger’s critique had an unprecedented effect on the credibility of medieval philosophy, whereby great portions of the philosophical community dismiss it altogether as an illegitimate Onto‐Theology. It is the aim of this study to offer a constructive reply that will fundamentally grapple with these allegations. By constructive reply we mean not only a reply that avoids the problems Heidegger raises regarding existence, essence and truth, but more importantly, one that uses Heidegger’s criticism in order to present a more insightful account of these notions. The present study is composed of two parts where the second serves as a sort of addendum. The first part, the core of this study, is an attempt to develop an understanding of the distinction between essence and existence that, on the one hand, accords with Heidegger’s criticism while on the other hand advances our understanding of how we think and understand reality. After presenting Heidegger’s depiction of Aquinas’s distinction between essence and existence (esse) as a real distinction, the study will present several views propounded by scholars of Aquinas regarding the status of this distinction. It will be argued that it is not clear whether the distinction is real, formal or conceptual, and that different types of distinction are applied in different places, particularly in regard to the phantasm that Aquinas considers essential to the human act of thinking. The second part diverges from the first part and focuses on Heidegger’s criticism of Aquinas’s conception of truth as adequation, i.e., what it is that grounds the possibility of truth as adequation. This divergence is necessary in order to present a full metaphysical response to Heidegger’s criticism. Since the aim of the present study is to argue that Aquinas’s philosophical system can contend with Heidegger’s criticism, a partial reply would greatly diminish its effectiveness. (shrink)
It is usually agreed that the Revelation Thesis about experience – the idea that the knowledge we gain by having an experience somehow “reveals” the essence, or nature, of this experience – only requires that we know the essence of the experience, not that we know, of this essence, that it is the essence of the experience. I contest this agreement. In the light of what I call the “Essentiality of Essence Principle”– the principle that (...) whatever is in the essence of something is also essentially so – I argue that the Revelation Thesis does require that we know, of the essence of an experience, that it is the essence of the experience, and draw some conclusions about the plausibility of that thesis. (shrink)
I formulate an account, in terms of essence and ground, that explains why atomic Russellian propositions have the truth conditions they do. The key ideas are that (i) atomic propositions are just 0-adic relations, (ii) truth is just the 1-adic version of the instantiation (or, as I will say, holding) relation (Menzel 1993: 86, note 27), and (iii) atomic propositions have the truth conditions they do for basically the same reasons that partially plugged relations, like being an x and (...) a y such that Philip gave x to y, have the holding conditions they do. The account is meant to be mainly of intrinsic interest, but I hope that it goes some distance toward answering an objection to classical theories of propositions put forward by King (2014), who writes that ‘since the classical conception of propositions as things that have truth conditions by their very natures and independently of minds and languages is incapable of explaining how or why propositions have truth conditions, it is unacceptable’ (2014: 47). Propositions do have their truth conditions ‘by their very natures’ and ‘independently of minds and languages’. But a fact about a given entity can hold by the very nature of that entity without being a fundamental fact. I argue that this is plausibly the case for atomic Russellian propositions and the facts about their truth conditions. A fact about the truth conditions of such a proposition holds by the very nature of the given proposition but is metaphysically grounded in facts about that proposition’s parts and their essences. If my account is correct, then the supposedly intractable problem of explaining why the given propositions have the truth conditions they do reduces to the problem of explaining why relations have the holding essences they do, which few seem to have found worrisome . (shrink)
Since Kit Fine presented his counter-examples to the standard versions of the modal view, many have been convinced that the standard versions of the modal view are not adequate. However, the scope of Fine's argument has not been fully appreciated. In this paper, I aim to carry Fine’s argument to its logical conclusion and argue that once we embrace the intuition underlying his counter-examples, we have to hold that properties obtained, totally or partially, by application of logical operations are not (...) essential to non-logical entities. I also demonstrate that most of the post-Finean versions of the modal view, which were developed to accommodate Fine’s counter-examples, entail that such properties are essential to the entities, and so fail to capture the notion of essence at issue in Fine's counter-examples. Additionally, I explore the consequence of my argument for Fine’s proposed logic of essence. The logic turns out to be inadequate in its present shape as it represents such properties to be essential to the entities. I conclude by developing a modification to the logic to overcome the shortcoming. (shrink)
I first discuss Kit Fine's distinctive 'schema-based' approach to metaphysical theorizing, which aims to identify general principles accommodating any intelligible application of the notion(s), by attention to his accounts of essence and dependence. I then raise some specific concerns about the general principles Fine takes to schematically characterize these notions. In particular, I present various counterexamples to Fine's essence-based account of ontological dependence. The problem, roughly speaking, is that Fine supposes that an object's essence makes reference to (...) just what it ontologically depends on, but various cases suggest that an object's essence can also make reference to what ontologically depends on it. As such, Fine's account of ontological dependence is subject to the same objection he raises against modal accounts of essence and dependence---that is, of being insufficiently ecumenical. (shrink)
Early in the Logic of Essence, the second main part of Hegelian Logic, Hegel identifies a logical structure, seeming (Schein), with “the phenomenon of scepticism.” The present paper has two aims: first, to flesh this identification out by describing the argument that leads up to it; and, second, to argue that it is mistaken. I will proceed as follows. Section 1 deciphers the opening statement of the Logic of Essence, “the truth of being is essence,” by specifying (...) the meaning of each of its composing terms. The discussion opens the way for deliberation on the meaning of the notion of seeming, since seeming proves to be what remains of being in the structure of essence. This is done in section 2. It is also shown therein that seeming takes two logical forms, dualistic seeming and monistic seeming. Section 3 argues that Hegel identifies scepticism only with dualistic seeming, and that the scepticism he has in mind is what one may call “subjective scepticism,” namely a scepticism grounded in the subject of cognition. The section concludes that Hegel, judged by his own standards, is mistaken in this identification. Finally, section 4 considers Robert Pippin’s objection to the above conclusion and offers a rejoinder. (shrink)
Aristotle frequently describes essence as a “cause” or “explanation”, thus ascribing to essence some sort of causal or explanatory role. This explanatory role is often explicated by scholars in terms of essence “making the thing be what it is” or “making it the very thing that it is”. I argue that this is problematic, at least on the assumption that “making” expresses an explanatory relation, since it violates certain formal features of explanation. I then consider whether Aristotle (...) is vulnerable to this problem by examining the explanatory role of essence in Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics Z 17. (shrink)
Modal epistemology has been dominated by a focus on establishing an account either of how we have modal knowledge or how we have justified beliefs about modality. One component of this focus has been that necessity and possibility are basic access points for modal reasoning. For example, knowing that P is necessary plays a role in deducing that P is essential, and knowing that both P and ¬P are possible plays a role in knowing that P is accidental. Chalmers (2002) (...) and Williamson (2007) provide two good examples of contrasting views in modal epistemology that focus on providing an account of modal knowledge where necessity and possibility are basic access points for modal knowledge, and Yablo (1993) provides a good account of how we have justified beliefs about modality. In contrast to this tradition I argue for and outline a modal epistemology based on objectual understanding and essence, rather than knowledge or justification and necessity and possibility. The account employs a non-modal conception of essence and takes objectual understanding of essence, rather than knowledge of essence to be basic in modal reasoning. I begin by articulating Kvanvig’s (2003) account of objectual understanding, on which objectual understanding of Φ is not equivalent to propositional knowledge of Φ. I then argue that an epistemology of essence that uses property variation-in-imagination is better construed as a model that delivers objectual understanding of essence rather than knowledge of essence. I argue that this is so, since the latter and not the former runs into a version of the Meno paradox. I show how this account can be applied to two issues in modal epistemology: the Benacerraf problem for modality, and the architecture of modal knowledge. (shrink)
Ground, essence, and modality seem to have something to do with each other. Can we provide unified foundations for ground and essence, or should we treat each as primitives? Can modality be grounded in essence, or should essence be expressed in terms of modality? Does grounding entail necessitation? Are the notions of ground and essence univocal? This volume focuses on the links—or lack thereof—between these three notions, as well as the foundations of ground, essence, (...) and modality more generally, bringing together work on the metaphysics, epistemology, and logic of these three notions by some of the leading figures in the field as well as emerging young scholars. -/- The invited contributors to this volume presented their work at a conference on Ground, Essence, and Modality at the University of Helsinki in June 2016, funded by the Academy of Finland Project The Epistemology of Metaphysics: From Rationalism to Nominalism. This conference is just one of many recent high-profile events and publications on these themes (e.g., the edited volumes Correia and Schnieder 2012a; Sirkel and Tahko 2014; Jago 2016). -/- After providing a brief historical summary of the (re)emergence of modality, essence and ground as central notions in metaphysics (Sect. 1), we shall outline some of the main themes in recent work on these notions and on the links between them (Sect. 2). In Sect. 3 we briefly introduce the papers in this volume. (shrink)
We say that things happen accidentally when they do indeed happen, but only by chance. In the opposite situation, an essential happening is inescapable, its inevitability being the sine qua non for its very occurrence. This paper will investigate modal logics on a language tailored to talk about essential and accidental statements. Completeness of some among the weakest and the strongest such systems is attained. The weak expressibility of the classical propositional language enriched with the non-normal modal operators of (...) class='Hi'>essence and accident is highlighted and illustrated, both with respect to the definability of the more usual modal operators as well as with respect to the characterizability of classes of frames. Several interesting problems and directions are left open for exploration. (shrink)
I argue against a prevailing view that the essence of God is identical with the attributes. I show that given what Spinoza says in 2d2 -- Spinoza's purported definition of the essence of a thing -- the attributes cannot be identical with the essence of God. I argue that while the attributes do not satisfy the stipulations of 2d2 relative to God, absolutely infinite and eternal power does satisfy those stipulations. Hence, I conclude that absolutely infinite and (...) eternal power is God's essence and that the attributes are expressions of that power. (shrink)
Since Kit Fine published his famous counter-examples to the modal account of essence, numerous modalists have proposed to avoid the counter-examples by revising the modal account. A sophisticated revision has been put forward by Fabrice Correia. Drawing on themes from Prior’s modality, Correia has introduced a nonstandard conception of metaphysical modality and has proposed to analyze essence in its terms. He has claimed that the analysis is immune to Fine’s counter-examples. In this paper, I argue that there are (...) counter-examples supported by the very intuition underlying Fine’s counter-examples, which are not accommodated by Correia’s account. If my argument is sound, then Correia has not been successful in his defense of modalism. An important corollary of my argument will be that Fine’s consequential conception of essence needs to be modified if it is to capture his own intuitive notion of essence. (shrink)
In this paper I show that a novel ontic reading of explanation, intending to capture the de re essential features of individuals, can support the qualitative view of individual essences. It is argued further that the putative harmful consequences of the Leibniz Principle and its converse for the qualitative view can be avoided, provided that individual essences are not construed in the style of the naïve bundle theory with set-theoretical identity- conditions. Adopting either the more sophisticated two-tier BT or, alternatively, (...) the neo-Aristotelian position of taking essences as natures in the Aristotelian sense, can help to evade these main charges against the qualitative view. The functional parallels with the alternative haecceitistic view of individuation and individual essence will also be considered. (shrink)
We offer tableaux systems for logics of essence and accident and logics of non-contingency, showing their soundness and completeness for Kripke semantics. We also show an interesting parallel between these logics based on the semantic insensitivity of the two non-normal operators by which these logics are expressed.
Essentialists claim that at least some individuals or kinds have essences. This raises an important but little-discussed question: how do we come to know what the essence of something is? This paper examines Aristotle’s answer to this question. One influential interpretation (viz., the Explanationist Interpretation) is carefully expounded, criticized, and then refined. Particular attention is given to what Aristotle says about this issue in DA I.1, APo II.2, and APo II.8. It is argued that the epistemological claim put forward (...) in DA I.1 differs from that put forward in APo II.2 and II.8, contrary to what has been claimed by Explanationists, and that each of these distinct epistemological claims rests on a distinct non-epistemological thesis about essence. Consequently, an ‘Enriched Explanationist Interpretation’ is developed which takes into account both of the aforementioned elements in Aristotle’s epistemology of essence. The paper concludes by highlighting an insight the preceding exegetical discussion offers to contemporary essentialists seeking to explain how we come to know what something’s essence is. (shrink)
Discussions about the nature of essence and about the inference problem for non-Humean theories of nomic modality have largely proceeded independently of each other. In this article I argue that the right conclusions to draw about the inference problem actually depend significantly on how best to understand the nature of essence. In particular, I argue that this conclusion holds for the version of the inference problem developed and defended by Alexander Bird. I argue that Bird’s own argument that (...) this problem is fatal for David Armstrong’s influential theory of the laws of nature but not for dispositional essentialism is seriously flawed. In place of this argument, I develop an argument that whether Bird’s inference problem raises serious difficulties for Armstrong’s theory depends on the answers to substantial questions about how best to understand essence. The key consequence is that considerations about the nature of essence have significant, underappreciated implications for Armstrong’s theory. (shrink)
According to David Charles, in the Meno Socrates fleetingly distinguishes the signification from the essence question, but, in the end, he conflates them. Doing so, Charles thinks, both leads to Meno's paradox and prevents Socrates from answering it satisfactorily. I argue that Socrates doesn't conflate the two questions, and that his reply to Meno's paradox is more satisfactory than Charles allows.
In the 1680s, Gottfried Leibniz and Antoine Arnauld engaged in a philosophically rich correspondence. One issue they discuss is modal metaphysics – questions concerning necessity, possibility, and essence. While Arnauld's contributions to the correspondence are considered generally astute, his contributions on this issue have not always received a warm treatment. I argue that Arnauld's criticisms of Leibniz are sophisticated and that Arnauld offers his own Cartesian account in its place. In particular, I argue that Arnauld offers an account of (...) possibility that is actualist, modal actualist and essence-based. (shrink)
This paper reviews the concept of ‘essence’ in Edmund Husserl and Thomas Aquinas as found presented by Edith Stein in her Festschrift article, ‘Husserl’s Phenomenology and the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas: Attempt at a Comparison,’ in the Jahrbuch für Philosophie und Phänomenologische Forschung (1929, 370). The aim of the paper is to perform an analysis of Stein’s understanding of the principal similarities and differences in the understandings of essence found in the writings of Husserl and Aquinas, and (...) primarily in terms of the immediacy of the intuition or cognition of essences. I begin by a basic analysis of this commonality and difference with a focus on the interweaving of the following themes: essence and existence; essence and sensual knowledge; essence and its objective ground; essence as intuited, as actively acquired and as passively received; insight into essence, immediate and mediate knowledge. Despite certain misunderstanding arising between the phenomenological movement and the scholastic tradition in this sphere, Stein recognises a number of points of agreement, namely, 1) the beginnings of all knowledge in sense experience, 2) the intellectual ‘work’ (erarbeiten) that is required to achieve a clear vision of essences, and 3) the finally passive nature of the act of understanding. I critically analyse each of these enumerated points of agreement towards clarifying how Stein conceives of the possibility of using the phenomenological method for achieving an understanding of essences coherent with a Thomistic metaphysical worldview, and how she parses and explains the further disagreements over the question of the mediacy or immediacy of human knowledge of essences of different kinds. (shrink)
I argue that three different notions of essence—temporal, definitional, and modal—are all distinct notions, and are all philosophically useful. After defining the different notions, I discuss the philosophical problems each addresses.
Classical theories of truth are monistic, since they fundamentally search for the essence of truth. The correspondence theory of truth is the most representative in this regard. There are several difficulties with the essentialist theories of truth, which led to the emergence of several alternatives. The purpose of this article is to critically evaluate three of them: the pragmatic theory of truth, the deflationary theory and the pluralistic approach. I argue for overcoming monism and for accepting pluralism in our (...) understanding of truth. At the same time, I argue – from a wittgensteinian point of view – for abandoning the attempt to build a general philosophical theory of truth. I plead for limiting the philosopher’s role to the clarification of the specific ways in which the concept of truth is used in various forms of life and areas of scientific investigation. Multiple uses of the concept of truth in different thematic areas cannot be synthesized, properly speaking, through a particular philosophical theory. (shrink)
I formulate an apparent inconsistency between some claims Aristotle makes in his Metaphysics about the sameness and non-sameness relations which obtain between an object and its essence: while a object is not the same as its essence, an essence is thought as being the same as its essence. I discuss different ways in which one may propose to overcome this apparent inconsistency and show that they are problematic. My diagnosis of the problem is that all these (...) putative solutions share the assumption that Aristotle is operating exclusively with the notion of strict numerical identity between an object and its essence, or between definiendum and definiens. I introduce the notion of sameness in nature which holds between an object and its essence, understood as the metaphysical counterpart to the relation of 'being defined as': two items are the same in nature just in case the answer to the 'what is it?' or 'what is its nature/essence?' question is common to both. I argue that the notions of sameness in nature and 'being defined as' need not entail strict identity. Further, they are compatible with, indeed require, the idea that an essence is prior to its essence-bearer, or that a definiens is prior to the relevant definiendum. I conclude that the twin notions of sameness in nature and 'being defined as' successfully defuse the apparent inconsistency formulated at the outset. (shrink)
Educational reforms in developed countries are not successful, because we do not have a clear understanding of what is education. The essence of education is the limits of its improvement. Education is understood as the artificial extension of human ability to learn, as the product of learner's own efforts, and finally, as a series of historic forms of labor arrangements.
The classificatory Kripkean notion of essence is narrowed down until it matches an explanatory Aristotelian notion of essence. The difference between classificatory and explanatory notions of essence is clarified, and each step of the narrowing process is justified on grounds related to the philosophy of science.