Substance theory

Substance theory

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Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 theory about objecthood
Object (philosophy)
An object in philosophy is a technical term often used in contrast to the term subject. Consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject, which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts, and some object or objects that may or may not have real existence without...

, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties
Property (philosophy)
In modern philosophy, logic, and mathematics a property is an attribute of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property however differs from individual objects in that...

. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

Substance is a key concept in ontology and metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

. Philosophies may be divided into monist, dualist, or pluralist
Pluralism (philosophy)
Pluralism is a term used in philosophy, meaning "doctrine of multiplicity", often used in opposition to monism and dualism . The term has different connotations in metaphysics and epistemology...

 varieties according to the number of substances they consider the world to comprise. According to Monistic views, such as those of stoicism
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 and Spinoza, there is only one substance, often identified as God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or Being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of immanence
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances, while Pluralism, a feature of Platonism
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

, for example, and Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

, states that more substances exist, and often that these substances can be placed into an ontological hierarchy
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

.

The concept of substance in Western philosophy


In the millennia-old Aristotelian tradition
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

, as well as early modern
17th-century philosophy
17th-century philosophy in the Western world is generally regarded as being the start of modern philosophy, and a departure from the medieval approach, especially Scholasticism....

 traditions that follow it, substances or ousia
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

are treated as having attributes and modes or things
Object (philosophy)
An object in philosophy is a technical term often used in contrast to the term subject. Consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject, which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts, and some object or objects that may or may not have real existence without...

.

This concept helps to explain, for instance, state transitions. Let us take a quantity of water and freeze it into ice. Substance theory maintains that there is a "substance" which is unchanged through this transition, which is both the liquid water and also the frozen ice. It maintains that the water is not replaced by the ice – it is the same "stuff," or substance. If this is true, then it must be the case that the wetness of water, the hardness of ice, are not essential to the underlying substance. (Essentially, matter does not disappear, it only changes form.)

The Aristotelian view of God
Aristotelian view of God
The Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian views of God have been influential in Western intellectual history.-The Metaphysics:In his book on first philosophy, which most now call the Metaphysics, Aristotle discussed the meaning of "being as being". Aristotle concluded that "being" primarily refers to...

 considered God as both ontologically and causally prior to all other substance; others, including Spinoza, argued that God is the only substance. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple modes; what we ordinarily call the natural world, together with all the individuals in it, is immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 in God: hence the famous phrase Deus sive Natura ("God, or Nature"). Aristotle was creating his theory of substance in response and counter to Plato's theory of framework or structures called the theory of forms
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

.

The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 has adopted substance theory as part of its theology of transsubstantiation.

Criticisms of the concept of substance



The idea of substance was famously critiqued by David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

, who held that since substance is not able to be perceived, it should not be assumed to exist. Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 and, after him, Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

, Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 and Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze , was a French philosopher who, from the early 1960s until his death, wrote influentially on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus , both co-written with Félix...

 also rejected the notion of "substance", and in the same movement the concept of subject
Subject (philosophy)
In philosophy, a subject is a being that has subjective experiences, subjective consciousness or a relationship with another entity . A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed...

 contained with the framework of Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

. For this reason, Althusser's "anti-humanism" and Foucault's statements were criticized, by Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 and others, for misunderstanding that this led to a fatalist conception of social determinism
Social determinism
Social determinism is the hypothesis that social interactions and constructs alone determine individual behavior ....

. For Habermas, only a subjective form of liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 could be conceived, to the contrary of Deleuze who talks about "a life", as an impersonal and immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 form of liberty.

For Heidegger, Descartes means by "substance" that by which "we can understand nothing else than an entity which is in such a way that it need no other entity in order to be." Therefore, only God is a substance as ens perfectissimus (most perfect being). Heidegger showed the inextricable relationship between the concept of substance and of subject, which explains why, instead of talking about "man" or "humankind", he speaks about the Dasein
Dasein
Dasein is a German word famously used by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time, which generally translates to being in its ontological and philosophical sense Dasein is a German word famously used by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time, which generally translates to...

, which is not a simple subject, nor a substance. http://www20.uludag.edu.tr/~kadir/Roma.pdf

Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

, as part of his critique of transsubstantiation, rejected substance theory and instead proposed the doctrine of transfinalization, which he felt was more attuned to modern philosophy. However, this doctrine was rejected by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei
Mysterium Fidei (Encyclical)
Mysterium Fidei is an encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI on the Eucharist, published in September 1965.Mysterium Fidei was issued just as the closing session of the Second Vatican Council was beginning. Written in a stern and troubled tone, its purpose was to counter certain theological movements...

.

Primitive concepts of substance theory



Two primitive concepts (i.e., genuine notions that cannot be explained in terms of something else) in substance theory are the bare particular and the inherence relation.

Bare particular


In substance theory, a bare particular of an object
Object (philosophy)
An object in philosophy is a technical term often used in contrast to the term subject. Consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject, which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts, and some object or objects that may or may not have real existence without...

 is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independent from its properties, even if it is physically impossible for it to lack properties entirely. It is "bare" because it is considered without its properties and "particular" because it is not abstract
Abstraction
Abstraction is a process by which higher concepts are derived from the usage and classification of literal concepts, first principles, or other methods....

. The properties that the substance has are said to inhere in the substance.

In substance theory of the mind, the objects are minds.

Inherence relation


Another primitive concept in substance theory is the inherence relation
Inherence
Inherence refers to Empedocles' idea that the qualities of matter come from the relative proportions of each of the four elements entering into a thing. The idea was further developed by Plato and Aristotle....

 between a substance and its properties. For example, in the sentence, "The apple is red," substance theory says that red inheres in the apple. Substance theory considers to be clear the meaning of the apple having the property of redness or the property of being juicy, and that a property's inherence in a substance is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance. Thus, Aristotle wrote:

"By being 'present in a subject' I do not mean present as parts are present in a whole, but being incapable of existence apart from the said subject." (The Categories
Categories (Aristotle)
The Categories is a text from Aristotle's Organon that enumerates all the possible kinds of thing that can be the subject or the predicate of a proposition...

 1a 24-26)


The inverse relation is participation
Participation (philosophy)
In Philosophy participation is the inverse of inherence.Accidents are said to inhere in substance. Substances, in turn, participate in their accidents. For example, the color red is said to inhere in the red apple. Conversely, the red apple participates in the color red.Participation also is...

. Thus in the example above, just as red inheres in the apple, so the apple participates in red.

Arguments supporting the theory


Two common argument
Argument
In philosophy and logic, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, or give evidence or reasons for accepting a particular conclusion.Argument may also refer to:-Mathematics and computer science:...

s supporting substance theory are the argument from grammar and the argument from conception.

Argument from grammar


The argument from grammar uses traditional grammar
Traditional grammar
In linguistics, a traditional grammar is a framework for the description of the structure of language. Traditional grammars are commonly used in language education.Concepts treated in traditional grammars include:* subject* predicate* object...

 to support substance theory. For example, the sentence, "Snow is white," contains a grammatical subject, "snow", and the assertion that the grammatical subject is white. The argument holds that it makes no grammatical sense to speak of "whiteness" disembodied, without snow or some other grammatical subject that is white. That is, the only way to make a meaningful claim is to speak of a grammatical subject and to predicate various properties of it. Substance theory calls this grammatical subject of predication a substance. Thus, in order to make claims about physical objects, one must refer to substances, which must exist in order for those claims to be meaningful.

Many ontologies, including bundle theory
Bundle theory
Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontological theory about objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection of properties, relations or tropes....

, reject the argument from grammar on the basis that a grammatical subject does not necessarily refer to a metaphysical subject. Bundle theory, for example, maintains that the grammatical subject of statement refers to its properties. For example, a bundle theorist understands the grammatical subject of the sentence, "Snow is white", as a referent to a bundle of properties, including perhaps the containing of ice crystals, being cold, and being a few feet deep. To the bundle theorist, the sentence then modifies that bundle of properties to include the property of being white. The bundle theorist, then, maintains that one can make meaningful statements about bodies without referring to substances that lack properties.

Argument from conception


Another argument for the substance theory is the argument from conception. The argument claims that in order to conceive of an object's properties, like the redness of an apple, one must conceive of the object that has those properties. According to the argument, one cannot conceive of redness, or any other property, distinct from the thing that has that property. The thing that has the property, the argument maintains, is a substance. The argument from conception holds that properties (e.g. redness or being four inches wide) are inconceivable by themselves and therefore it is always a substance that has the properties. Thus, it asserts, substances exist.

A criticism of the argument from conception is that properties' being of substances does not follow from inability to think of isolated properties. The bundle theorist, for example, says that properties need only be associated with a bundle of other properties, which bundle is called an object. The critic maintains that the inability for an individual property to exist in isolation does not imply that substances exist. Instead, he argues, bodies may be bundles of properties, and an individual property may simply be unable to exist separately from such a bundle.

Bundle theory


In direct opposition to substance theory is bundle theory, whose most basic premise is that all concrete particulars are merely constructions or 'bundles' of attributes, or qualitive properties:
Necessarily, for any concrete entity, , if for any entity, , is a constituent of , then is an attribute.


The bundle theorist's
Bundle theory
Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontological theory about objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection of properties, relations or tropes....

 principal objections to substance theory concern the bare particulars of a substance, which substance theory considers independently of the substance's properties. The bundle theorist objects to the notion of a thing with no properties, claiming that one cannot conceive of such a thing and citing John Locke, who described a substance as "a something, I know not what." To the critic, as soon as one has any notion of a substance in mind, a property accompanies that notion. That is, to the critic it is not only physically impossible to encounter a bare particular without properties, but the very notion of a thing without properties is so strange that he cannot even form such a notion.

Indiscernibility


The indiscernibility argument from the substance theorist targets those bundle theorists who are also metaphysical realists. Metaphysical realism uses repeatable entities known as universals exemplified by concrete particulars to explain the phenomenon of attribute agreement. Substance theorists then say that bundle theory and metaphysical realism can only coexist by introducing an identity of indiscernibles
Identity of indiscernibles
The identity of indiscernibles is an ontological principle which states that two or more objects or entities are identical if they have all their properties in common. That is, entities x and y are identical if any predicate possessed by x is also possessed by y and vice versa...

 creed, which substance theorists suggest is incoherent. The identity of indiscernibles says that any concrete particular that is numerically different from another must have its own qualitive properties, or attributes.

Since bundle theory states that all concrete particulars are merely constructions or 'bundles' of attributes, or qualitive properties, the substance theorist's indiscernibility argument claims that the ability to recognize numerically different concrete particulars, such as concrete objects, requires those particulars to have discernible qualitative differences in their attributes and that the metaphysical realist who is also a bundle theorist must therefore concede to the existence of 'discernible (numerically different) concrete particulars', the 'identity of indiscernibles', and a 'principle of constituent identity'.

Discernible concrete particulars

Necessarily, for any complex objects, and , if for any entity, , is a constituent of if and only if is a constituent of , then is numerically identical with .


The indiscernibility argument points out that if bundle theory and discernible concrete particulars theory explain the relationship between attributes, then the identity of indiscernibles theory must also be true:

Identity of indiscernibles

Necessarily, for any concrete objects, and , if for any attribute, Φ, Φ is an attribute of a if and only if Φ is an attribute of b, then a is numerically identical with b.


The indiscernibles argument then asserts that the identity of indiscernibles is false. For example, two different pieces of printer paper can be side by side, numerically different from each other. However, the argument says, all of their qualitive properties can be the same (e.g. both can be white, rectangular-shaped, 9 x 11 inches...). Thus, the argument claims, bundle theory and metaphysical realism cannot both be correct.

However, bundle theory combined with trope theory (as opposed to metaphysical realism) is immune to the indiscernibles argument. The immunity stems from the fact that each trope (attribute) can only be held by one concrete particular, thus qualitively indiscernible objects can exist while being numerically identical and the identity of indiscernibles therefore does not hold.

The argument also becomes more complex when it is considered whether "position" should be considered an attribute. It is after all through the differing positions that we in practice differentiate between otherwise identical pieces of paper.

Stoicism


The Stoics
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 rejected the idea that incorporeal
Incorporeal
Incorporeal or uncarnate means without the nature of a body or substance . The idea of incorporeality refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or "place", that is distinct from the corporeal or material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made out of matter...

 beings inhere in matter, as taught by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle. They believed that all being is corporeal
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

. Thus they developed a scheme of categories
Categories (Stoic)
The term Stoic Categories refers to Stoic ideas regarding Categories: the most fundamental classes of being for all things. The Stoics believed there were four categories which were the ultimate divisions...

 different from Aristotle's
Categories (Aristotle)
The Categories is a text from Aristotle's Organon that enumerates all the possible kinds of thing that can be the subject or the predicate of a proposition...

 based on the ideas of Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras
Anaxagoras was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor, Anaxagoras was the first philosopher to bring philosophy from Ionia to Athens. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a fiery mass larger than...

 and Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

.

See also


  • Bundle theory
    Bundle theory
    Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontological theory about objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection of properties, relations or tropes....

  • Categories (Stoic)
    Categories (Stoic)
    The term Stoic Categories refers to Stoic ideas regarding Categories: the most fundamental classes of being for all things. The Stoics believed there were four categories which were the ultimate divisions...

  • Dualism
    Dualism
    Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...

  • History of chemistry
    History of chemistry
    By 1000 BC, ancient civilizations used technologies that would eventually form the basis of the various branches of chemistry. Examples include extracting metals from ores, making pottery and glazes, fermenting beer and wine, making pigments for cosmetics and painting, extracting chemicals from...

  • History of molecular theory
  • Hyle
    Hyle
    In philosophy, hyle refers to matter or stuff. It can also be the material cause underlying a change in Aristotelian philosophy. The Greeks originally had no word for matter in general, as opposed to raw material suitable for some specific purpose or other, so Aristotle adapted the word for...


  • Hypokeimenon
    Hypokeimenon
    Hypokeimenon , later often material substratum, is a term in metaphysics which literally means the "underlying thing" ....

  • Hypostasis
    Hypostasis
    Hypostasis may refer to:* Hypostatic abstraction * Hypostasis , personification of entities* Hypostatic gene* Hypostasis , an Australian-based not-for-profit organization...

  • Inherence
    Inherence
    Inherence refers to Empedocles' idea that the qualities of matter come from the relative proportions of each of the four elements entering into a thing. The idea was further developed by Plato and Aristotle....

  • Materialism
    Materialism
    In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

  • Matter
    Matter
    Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

  • Metaphysics
    Metaphysics
    Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...


  • Monism
    Monism
    Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

  • Ontology
    Ontology
    Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

  • Ousia
    Ousia
    Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

  • Physical ontology
  • Trope (philosophy)
    Trope (philosophy)
    The term "trope" is both a term which denotes figurative and metaphorical language and one which has been used in various technical senses. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος , "a turn, a change", related to the root of the verb τρέπειν , "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change"; this...

  • Universals


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