- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Essentialism1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Summary" above.
Write-up2 (as at 11/02/2018 13:33:36): Essentialism
- The topics of relevance to my Thesis to cover under this head will include:-
- Mereological essentialism4 essentialism; the doctrine that wholes have all their parts essentially – that is, that a whole ceases to exist at the moment it loses or gains a particle, however small; mutatis mutandis for abstract objects.
- A second topic will be essential properties5; those whose loss causes their owner to cease to exist.
- Mereological essentialism
- Whether we have any essential parts depends on what we are6.
- If we are fundamentally psychological beings, then it’s unclear whether we have proper parts – particularly if we are souls7 – at least Descartes thought we didn’t, given that the mind is not extended. However, we would not survive the loss of our psychology8, but – and this is a problem for any psychological view9 – it is vague10 just how much psychology is enough to ensure our survival11.
- If we are organisms12, then we can lose – indeed do lose – all our parts over time, and provided change is gradual, and enough of them are replaced, we persist. There is an argument within the animalist13 camp whether our brains are “just another organ” or whether their regulatory function means they are essential to our survival.
- If we are brains14 – or proper parts thereof – then our brains would seem to be essential parts, though there might be some quibbling about whether they might be chiselled down a bit.
- Roderick Chisholm seemed to think we are mereological atoms, though the identity of the atom is obscure. If there is such a thing, it would be our only essential part.
- Property essentialism
- If “being a person” is a property that we have, and we are human animals, then – the animalists claim – we would survive even when we no longer qualify as persons15 (and also existed before we became persons).
- Most philosophers who aren’t animalists16 say that we are essentially persons, so can’t survive if we are no longer persons, or even if our personality17 has changed too radically. Some of our mind18’s properties may be essential.
- I’m not sure whether Lynne Rudder Baker treats the First Person Perspective19 as a property of the person, or the person itself. But, if it is a property, it will be an essential one.
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Bottani (Andrea C.), Carrara (Massimiliano) & Giaretta (Pierdaniele), Eds. - Individuals, Essence And Identity: Themes of Analytic Metaphysics", Bottani
- "Brody (Baruch) - A Theory of Essentialism", Brody
- "Brody (Baruch) - Identity and Essence", Brody
- "Brody (Baruch) - Why Settle for Anything Less than Good Old-Fashioned Aristotelian Essentialism", Brody
- "Copi (Irving M.) - Essence and Accident", Copi
- "Gupta (Anil) - Essentialism and Trans-World Identity", Gupta
- "Hull (David L.) - The Effect of Essentialism on Taxonomy - Two Thousand Years of Stasis (I)", Hull
- "Hull (David L.) - The Effect of Essentialism on Taxonomy - Two Thousand Years of Stasis (II)", Hull
- "Jubien (Michael) - Necessity and Essentialism", Jubien
- "Lowe (E.J.) - Essentialism", Lowe
- "Melia (Joseph) - Quinian Scepticism", Melia
- "Salmon (Nathan) - Reference and Essence", Salmon
- "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity: Part 3: Summary of First Two Parts, and Essentialist Postscript", Wiggins
- This is mostly a place-holder20.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (11/02/2018 13:33:36).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018