|Source: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106, Number 1, January 2006, pp. 131-166(36)|
|Paper - Abstract|
- The Aristotelian notion of a First Substance (like Fido the dog), an enduring thing with perhaps changing properties, became ridiculed and rejected in the period from Locke to Hume.
- I clarify the idea and explain how, when separated from some unnecessary accretions, it emerges as a notion to which we are all committed, perhaps, indeed, innocently.
- One standard objection (that the substance ends up, absurdly, having 'no properties') involves the misconception that the Aristotelian subject of Fido's properties needs to be some extra item, other than, literally, Fido.
- The main rival view treats things as 'bundles' of properties or 'tropes'; I explore some difficulties in conceiving the components of the bundles.
- The root of the trouble, I think, lies in the Humean view that if two things are non-identical, they must also be capable of existing separately: this immediately, and disastrously, makes it impossible to recognize ontological dependence between non-identical objects.
- I end by replying to two special worries: that if substances existed at all, they would be imperceptible and unknowable.
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