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Thursday, May 28, 2020


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My Lowe is rusty:

12) The view that all change is existential change commits Lowe to the view that properties of things in time are not universals but tropes or modes (particularized properties).

But by the time of these papers Lowe holds that properties are unities of modes and universals. (This, if I recall, is a shift from his earlier work.)

I assume that you're not just using "tropes or modes" for this unity in virtue of the "victory of particularity", or an Armstrong-like argument against them.

More once I figure out which box my copies of Lowe are in. . .


Lowe, p. 141, "I used not to believe in tropes but conceived all properties to be universals."

The change in view, I take it, is that Lowe went from thinking that all properties are universals to the view that some are universals and some are tropes. I'd have to check, but his view might be one according to which Socrates exemplifies the universal and abstract property, humanity, and that this exemplifying gives rise to a property-instance or trope, Socrates' humanity, which inheres in S. but is not a state of affairs or an event, but a particularized property.


I finally found my Lowe copies.

Something else to watch out for is that Lowe uses characterize, instantiate, and exemplify in distinct ways. He has modes instantiating universals, modes characterizing particular substances, and universals characterizing kind universals.

I need to verify this, but I have a note in the margin of margin that suggests Lowe holds that particular substances are kind instances.

See section 6.4 (Instantiation Versus Characterization) of The Four-Category Ontology for more on the latter distinction.


More later, but here is some support for the particular substances as kind-instance thesis:

The first category and in a certain sense the most fundamental—even though in another sense all four of our categories are equally 'basic'—is the category of individual substance or particular object, which I have already mentioned. Corresponding to this category of particular, there is a basic category of universal, namely, the category of substantial universal or substantial kind, the correspondence consisting in the fact that each individual substance necessary instantiates—is a particular instance of—some substantial kind. The natural kinds tiger and gold, cited earlier, are examples of substantial universals. . .

E. J. Lowe, The Four-Category Ontology, 21.

Lowe explicitly states that substantial particulars instantiate substantial kinds in his ontological square. He has modes instantiating property-universals in the same square.


Here it is explicitly:

We need to be clear about exactly how items in these four categories are related to one another. I have already remarked that the relationship between an individual substance and its kind is one of instantiation, as is the relationship between a property- or relation-instance—a trope—and the corresponding non-substantial universal. A particular tiger is an instance of the kind tiger, and a particular redness—say of a certain individual flower—is an instance of the non-substantial universal or property redness.

E. J. Lowe, The Four-Category Ontology, 21.

Lowe continues, distinguishing instantiation, characterization, and exemplification:

But this still leaves certain other crucial relationships between members of the different basic categories undescribed. Most importantly, there is the relationship between a property- or relation-instance and the individual substance or substances to which that instance belongs or which that instance relates. I call this the relationship of characterization. A particular betweenness characterizes the three individual substances (taken in a certain order) which it relates. (Here I leave aside the question of whether points of space exist as relata of betweenness relations and, if so, whether they qualify as 'individual substances'.) Paralleling this relationship at the level of particulars is a corresponding relationship at the level of universals. For, just as we say that a particular redness characterizes a certain individual substance, such as a particular flower, so we may say that the property or non-substantial universal redness characterizes a certain substantial universal or kind, such as the natural kind tomato. Speaking quite generally, then, and prescinding from the distinction between universals and particulars, we may say that characterization is a relationship between property- or relation-like entities on the one hand and substantial entities on the other. We may summarize our proposals so far in the form of the diagram in Fig. 2.1 which—as I mentioned in the previous chapter—I like to call 'the Ontological Square'.

It will be clear from this diagram that one important species of relationship between entities of different basic categories has yet to be given a name by us. This is the relationship between an individual substance and some non-substantial universal to which it is indirectly related either via one of its property or relation-instances or via its substantial kind. I propose to call this sort of relationship exemplification. Thus, in the present system of ontology, it is vital to distinguish clearly between instantiation, characterization, and exemplification. An individual ripe tomato instantiates the kind tomato, is characterized by a particular redness, and exemplifies the non-substantial universal or property redness. The tomato's particular redness, by contrast, instantiates the property redness. And the kind tomato is characterized by the property redness.

ibid., 21–23.

It's worth noting that he also states that modes or properties that characterize substantial particulars or universals don't constitute them in (I believe) the later, aforementioned section on the instantiation versus characterization.

It's also worth noting that even though Lowe talks about “relation-instances” in these paragraphs, he thinks that there are probably no relations, and makes a good show of reducing or eliminating them in There Are (Probably) No Relations. I've emailed you a copy in case you're interested.

One last, even clearer quote on individual objects as kind-instances (I don't want to belabour):

The topmost category is the category of entities or beings, to which anything whatever uncontentiously belongs. At the next immediate level, there is an exhaustive and exclusive division between universals and particulars. Universals then divide into two sub-categories: properties and relations on the one hand and kinds on the other. The particular instances of kinds are individual objects, whereas the particular instances of properties and relations are, respectively, monadic and relational modes

ibid., 38.

The bolding is mine.

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