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Friday, April 22, 2016


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That was a succinctly informative post – a pleasure to profit from.

Regarding numerical distinction, some commentators disagree with your claim: “But prime matter does not account for numerical difference.” I also refer to this issue in point #8 of my second response to your earlier post on prime matter.

Consider first Joseph Owens: “Analysis shows that the form is most immediately known. Through it the different singulars are known. An explanation has to be given of how that same form is found in a plurality of singulars, without the least addition to its knowability. From this situation the presence of unknowable matter is deduced. By means of that matter the singulars are the same in form, but different in matter, specifically the same but numerically different, and the same form can be in different things” (1963, 392-93).

Next, Thomas Ainesworth: “It is perfectly consistent to say that Socrates is one man because of his form, which unifies his matter into a single whole, and he is a numerically distinct individual from Callias because his matter is numerically distinct from Callias’ matter” (“Form Vs. Matter,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2016).

Finally, Michael J. Loux, who cites instantiation as guaranteeing numerical distinction: “According to Aristotle, although the property, whiteness, is equally exhibited by white objects, a, b,…n, the instantiations of whiteness in a, b,…n (i.e., the whiteness of a, the whiteness of b,…, the whiteness of n) are all numerically different entities" (1978, 159).

In my preceding post, I should have omitted the reference to Loux, as he is not talking about prime matter. Instead, he is discussing instantiation of the universal in primary substance - that is, the composite of form and matter.

>>Bare particulars in themselves are property-less<<

Do bare particulars exist? If so, then you would have this aporetic triad, right?

1. Bare particulars exist (by definition).
2. "Exists" is a first-level property.
3. Bare particulars are barren of all first-level properties.

To put it more exactly:
1. Bare particulars exist.
2. Existence is a first-level property.
3. Bare particulars are bare of all first-level properties.

Sorry for the pedantry, but 'exists' is not a property but a predicate.

The triad is inconsistent, but not a strict aporia since (2) is eminently deniable. And I would deny it. Individuals do not exist by exemplifying/instatiating existence. One reason is that an individual's existence is a necessary condition of its standing in the instantiation relation. I go over this in painful detail in my existence book.

That is very agile and cogent logic - as long as existence is considered to be a predicate. But does the argument stand up to Kant's claim that existence is not a property? I know that Anselm would agree with your reasoning.

You are far more deeply aware than I that there are many ways to construe the relation between existence and essence. Spinoza, for example, as Gilson interprets him, posits “the real identity of essence and existence in finite beings, since the being of actual existence is the being of essence as found outside God, namely in things after they have been created by God” (1952, 111). To Aquinas, again according to Gilson, existence and essence are distinct, though with this qualification: “Existence is not distinct from essence as one being from another; yet, in any given being, that whereby a being both is and actually subsists is really ‘other than’ that whereby it is definable as such a being in the order of substantiality” (1952, 172).

>>Sorry for the pedantry, but 'exists' is not a property but a predicate.<<

Right, thanks for the correction.

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