Substance: Its Nature and Existence

Substance: Its Nature and Existence

Substance: Its Nature and Existence

Substance: Its Nature and Existence

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

In this book we investigate the nature and existence of individual substances, including both living things and inanimate objects. a belief in the existence of such things is an integral part of our everyday world-view. the great philosophers of the past, of course, were profoundly interested in the concept of an individual substance. Aristotle, for instance, believed that individual substances were the basic or primary existents, as did Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, and Berkeley. Kant went so far as to maintain that human beings cannot conceive of a reality devoid of substances. All of these philosophers (and many others) spent much time and effort trying to clarify the concept of an individual substance.

In Chapter 1, we critically survey the main historical attempts to provide an analysis of the concept of an individual substance. These attempts include those of Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and Hume.

In Chapter 2, we draw upon these historical attempts, in particular those of Aristotle and Descartes, to provide what we hope is an adequate analysis of the concept of an individual substance. the main idea behind our analysis of substance is a traditional one: it is that a substance satisfies an independence condition which could not be satisfied by an insubstantial entity. Our new analysis of substance in terms of independence incorporates the insight of Aristotle that the independence of substance is to be understood in terms of the relation of the category of Substance to the other categories, and the insight of Descartes and Spinoza that there can be a substance that is independent of any other substance.

Chapters 3 and 4 include an examination of important historical views about the nature of the causal relation which unites parts that

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