Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics

By P. F. Strawson | Go to book overview

1
BODIES

1. THE IDENTIFICATION OF PARTICULARS

[1] We think of the world as containing particular things some of which are independent of ourselves; we think of the world's history as made up of particular episodes in which we may or may not have a part; and we think of these particular things and events as included in the topics of our common discourse, as things about which we can talk to each other. These are remarks about the way we think of the world, about our conceptual scheme. A more recognizably philosophical, though no clearer, way of expressing them would be to say that our ontology comprises objective particulars. It may comprise much else besides.

Part of my aim is to exhibit some general and structural features of the conceptual scheme in terms of which we think about particular things. I shall speak, to begin with, of the identification of particulars. I shall not, at the moment, try to give a general explanation of my use of the word 'identify' and associated words, nor of my use of the word 'particular'. This latter word certainly has a familiar core, or central area, of philosophical use, even if the outer boundaries of its application are vague. So all I need say for the moment is that my use of it is in no way eccentric. For instance, in mine, as in most familiar philosophical uses, historical occurrences, material objects, people and their shadows are all particulars; whereas qualities and properties, numbers and species are not. As for the words 'identify', 'identification', &c., these I shall use in a number of different, but closely connected, ways and I shall try to explain each of these uses as I introduce it.

The application of the phrase 'identification of particulars' which I shall first be concerned with is this. Very often, when two

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Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 9
  • Part One - Particulars 13
  • 1 - Bodies 15
  • 2 - Sounds 59
  • 3 - Persons 87
  • 4 - Monads 117
  • Part Two - Logical Subjects 135
  • 5 - Subject and Predicate (1): Two Criteria 137
  • 6 - Subject and Predicate (2): Logical Subjects and Particular Objects 180
  • 7 - Language Without Particulars 214
  • 8 - Logical Subjects and Existence 226
  • Conclusion 246
  • Index 251
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