mpp

Essence always of concept or also of existent?

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mpp    0

Does the term essence always pertain to a concept, hence implying a fundamental, distinguishing characterizing that is similar among many units?

Or can we have an essence of a single existent?

e.g. What's the essence of man? Rational animal. What's the essence of that person? We wouldn't say rational animal, maybe we would say something about his beliefs, or gene distribution or upbringing...?

Can we even speak of essences of existents or is essence reserved for concepts only? How does the essence of man and the essence of that person relate? Essence makes the thing that which it is. But the concept "man" doesn't exist, so essence cannot make the concept what it is. Essence can only make man, as in that person, what he is. But how could we then say what makes him him is his rationality? 

I am confused between the relationship of essence, what is the essence of, when we speak of an essence of a concept and can there be an essence of something that isn't a concept?

Thank you. 

 

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Wolf DeVoon    0
9 hours ago, mpp said:

(1) Does the term essence always pertain to a concept, hence implying a fundamental, distinguishing characterizing that is similar among many units?

(2) can we have an essence of a single existent?

(3) What's the essence of that person? ... we would say something about his beliefs, or gene distribution or upbringing...?

(4) is essence reserved for concepts only?

(5) How does the essence of man and the essence of that person relate?

(6) the concept "man" doesn't exist, so essence cannot make the concept what it is.

(7) Essence can only make man, as in that person, what he is.

(8) can there be an essence of something that isn't a concept?

Not speaking for Rand or anyone else. My view, in answer to your questions:

(1) only proper to speak of essential, an adjective, as in "essential and defining characteristic(s)" which pertains to defining a concept

(2) an existent what? -- if you mean a physical object or process, what kind? defined how?

(3) persons do not have fixed "essence"; they have qualities, skills, abilities, sexuality, etc, subject to change by development and decline

(4) drop the idea that "essence" is something real, apart from the adjective essential which aims at identifying a crucial and often unique characteristic to formulate a useful, appropriate definition of a concept, predicating A of B, where A is the most illuminating, least ambiguous characteristic of B

(5) no relation of the concept Man to any individual man, except as a predicate: Joe is a man (as opposed to wrongly believing Joe is a fungus).

(6) you have to drop this notion that "essence" is a permanent factual reality

(7) ditto, just drop the Platonic Realism -- nothing evinces or possesses an inherent "essence"

(8) no -- unless you mean "essential oil" distilled from a flowering plant, an entirely different use of the term

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Peter    0

From Carl Poppers, “The Problem of Induction (1953, 1974): . . . . Aristotle followed Plato in distinguishing between knowledge and opinion. 2 Knowledge, or science, according to Aristotle, may be of two kinds - either demonstrative or intuitive. Demonstrative knowledge is also a knowledge of 'causes'. It consists of statements that can be demonstrated - the conclusions - together with their syllogistic demonstrations (which exhibit the 'causes' in their 'middle terms'). Intuitive knowledge consists in grasping the 'indivisible form' or essence or essential nature of a thing (if it is 'immediate', i.e. if its 'cause' is identical with its essential nature); it is the originative source of all science since it grasps the original basic premisses of all demonstrations.

Undoubtedly, Aristotle was right when he insisted that we must not attempt to prove or demonstrate all our knowledge. Every proof must proceed from premisses; the proof as such, that is to say, the derivation from the premisses, can therefore never finally settle the truth of any conclusion, but only show that the conclusion must be true provided the premisses are true . If we were to demand that the premisses should be proved in their turn, the question of truth would only be shifted back by another step to a new set of premisses, and so on, to infinity. It was in order to avoid such an infinite regress (as the logicians say) that Aristotle taught that we must assume that there are premisses which are indubitably true, and which do not need any proof; and these he called 'basic premisses'. If we take for granted the methods by which we derive conclusions from these basic premisses, then we could say that, according to Aristotle, the whole of scientific knowledge is contained in the basic premisses, and that it would all be ours if only we could obtain an encyclopaedic list of the basic premisses. But how to obtain these basic premisses? Like Plato, Aristotle believed that we obtain all knowledge ultimately by an intuitive grasp of the essences of things. 'We can know a thing only by knowing its essence', Aristotle writes, and 'to know a thing is to know its essence'. A 'basic premiss' is, according to him, nothing but a statement describing the essence of a thing. But such a statement is just what he calls 3 a definition. Thus all 'basic premisses of proofs' are definitions.

What does a definition look like? An example of a definition would be: 'A puppy is a young dog.' The subject of such a definition sentence, the term 'puppy', is called the term to be defined (or defined term); the words 'young dog' are called the defining formula. As a rule, the defining formula is longer and more complicated than the defined term, and sometimes very much so. Aristotle considers 4 the term to be defined as a name of the essence Of a thing, and the defining formula as the description of that essence. And he insists that the defining formula must give an exhaustive description of the essence or the essential properties of the thing in question; thus a statement like 'A puppy has four legs', although true, is not a satisfactory definition, since it does not exhaust what may be called the essence of puppiness, but holds true of a horse also; and similarly the statement 'A puppy is brown', although it may be true of some, is not true of all puppies; and it describes what is not an essential but merely an accidental property of the defined term.

But the most difficult question is how we can get hold of definitions or basic premisses, and make sure that they are correct - that we have not erred, not grasped the wrong essence. Although Aristotle is not very clear on this point, there can be little doubt that, in the main, he again follows Plato. Plato taught 5 that we can grasp the Ideas with the help of some kind of unerring intellectual intuition; that is to say, we visualise or look at them with our 'mental eye', a process which he conceived as analogous to seeing, but dependent purely upon our intellect, and excluding any element that depends upon our senses. Aristotle's view is less radical and less inspired than Plato's, but in the end it amounts to the same. 6 For although he teaches that we arrive at the definition only after we have made many observations, he admits that sense experience does not in itself grasp the universal essence, and that it cannot, therefore, fully determine a definition. Eventually he simply postulates that we possess an intellectual intuition, a mental or intellectual faculty which enables us unerringly to grasp the essences of things, and to know them. And he further assumes that if we know an essence intuitively, we must be capable of describing it and therefore of defining it. (His arguments in the Posterior Analytics in favour of this theory are surprisingly weak. They consist merely in pointing out that our knowledge of the basic premisses cannot be demonstrative, since this would lead to an infinite regress, and that the basic premisses must be at least as true and as certain as the conclusions based upon them. 'It follows from this', he writes, 'that there cannot be demonstrative knowledge of the primary premisses; and since nothing but intellectual intuition can be more true than demonstrative knowledge, it follows that it must be intellectual intuition that grasps the basic premisses.' In the De Anima, and in the theological part of the Metaphysics, we find more of an argument; for here we have a theory of intellectual intuition - that it comes into contact with its object, the essence, and that it even becomes one with its object. 'Actual knowledge is identical with its object.')

Summing up this brief analysis, we can give, I believe, a fair description of the Aristotelian ideal of perfect and complete knowledge if we say that he saw the ultimate aim of all inquiry in the compilation of an encyclopaedia containing the intuitive definitions of all essences, that is to say, their names together with their defining formulae; and that he considered the progress of knowledge as consisting in the gradual accumulation of such an encyclopaedia, in expanding it as well as in filling up the gaps in it and, of course, in the syllogistic derivation from it of 'the whole body of facts' which constitute demonstrative knowledge.

Now there can be little doubt that all these essentialist views stand in the strongest possible contrast to the methods of modern science. (I have the empirical sciences in mind, not perhaps pure mathematics.) First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it. We have learnt in the past, from many disappointments, that we must not expect finality. And we have learnt not to be disappointed any longer if our scientific theories are overthrown; for we can, in most cases, determine with great confidence which of any two theories is the better one. We can therefore know that we are making progress; and it is this knowledge that to most of us atones for the loss of the illusion of finality and certainty. In other words, we know that our scientific theories must always remain hypotheses, but that, in many important cases, we can find out whether or not a new hypothesis is superior to an old one. For if they are different, then they will lead to different predictions, which can often be tested experimentally; and on the basis of such a crucial experiment, we can sometimes find out that the new theory leads to satisfactory results where the old one breaks down. Thus we can say that in our search for truth, we have replaced scientific certainty by scientific progress. And this view of scientific method is corroborated by the development of science. For science does not develop by a gradual encyclopaedic accumulation of essential information, as Aristotle thought) but by a much more revolutionary method; it progresses by bold ideas, by the advancement of new and very strange theories (such as the theory that the earth is not flat, or that 'metrical space' is not flat), and by the overthrow of the old ones.

But this view of scientific method [developed in selections 9-14 below] means that in science there is no 'knowledge', in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. What we usually call 'scientific knowledge' is, as a rule, not knowledge in this sense, but rather information regarding the various competing hypotheses and the way in which they have stood up to various tests; it is, using the language of Plato and Aristotle, information concerning the latest, and the best tested, scientific 'opinion'. This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by 'proof' an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory. (What may occur, however, are refutations of scientific theories.) On the other hand, pure mathematics and logic, which permit of proofs, give us no information about the world, but only develop the means of describing it. Thus we could say (as I have pointed out elsewhere 7 ): 'In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.' But although proof does not play any part in the empirical sciences, argument still does; indeed, its part is at least as important as that played by observation and experiment.

The role of definitions in science, especially, is also very different from what Aristotle had in mind. Aristotle taught that in a definition we have first pointed to the essence - perhaps by naming it - and that we then describe it with the help of the defining formula; just as in an ordinary sentence like 'This puppy is brown', we first point to a certain thing by saying 'this puppy', and then describe it as 'brown'. And he taught that by thus describing the essence to which the term points which is to be defined, we determine or explain the meaning 8 of the term also.

Accordingly, the definition may at one time answer two very closely related questions. The one is 'What is it?', for example 'What is a puppy?'; it asks what the essence is which is denoted by the defined term. The other is 'What does it mean?', for example, 'What does "puppy" mean?'; it asks for the meaning of a term (namely, of the term that denotes the essence). In the present context, it is not necessary to distinguish between these two questions; rather, it is important to see what they have in common; and I wish, especially, to draw attention to the fact that both questions are raised by the term that stands, in the definition, on the left side and answered by the defining formula which stands on the right side. This fact characterizes the essentialist view, from which the scientific method of definition radically differs . . . . .

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BaalChatzaf    0
7 hours ago, Peter said:

From Carl Poppers, “The Problem of Induction (1953, 1974): . . . . Aristotle followed Plato in distinguishing between knowledge and opinion. 2 Knowledge, or science, according to Aristotle, may be of two kinds - either demonstrative or intuitive. Demonstrative knowledge is also a knowledge of 'causes'. It consists of statements that can be demonstrated - the conclusions - together with their syllogistic demonstrations (which exhibit the 'causes' in their 'middle terms'). Intuitive knowledge consists in grasping the 'indivisible form' or essence or essential nature of a thing (if it is 'immediate', i.e. if its 'cause' is identical with its essential nature); it is the originative source of all science since it grasps the original basic premisses of all demonstrations.

Undoubtedly, Aristotle was right when he insisted that we must not attempt to prove or demonstrate all our knowledge. Every proof must proceed from premisses; the proof as such, that is to say, the derivation from the premisses, can therefore never finally settle the truth of any conclusion, but only show that the conclusion must be true provided the premisses are true . If we were to demand that the premisses should be proved in their turn, the question of truth would only be shifted back by another step to a new set of premisses, and so on, to infinity. It was in order to avoid such an infinite regress (as the logicians say) that Aristotle taught that we must assume that there are premisses which are indubitably true, and which do not need any proof; and these he called 'basic premisses'. If we take for granted the methods by which we derive conclusions from these basic premisses, then we could say that, according to Aristotle, the whole of scientific knowledge is contained in the basic premisses, and that it would all be ours if only we could obtain an encyclopaedic list of the basic premisses. But how to obtain these basic premisses? Like Plato, Aristotle believed that we obtain all knowledge ultimately by an intuitive grasp of the essences of things. 'We can know a thing only by knowing its essence', Aristotle writes, and 'to know a thing is to know its essence'. A 'basic premiss' is, according to him, nothing but a statement describing the essence of a thing. But such a statement is just what he calls 3 a definition. Thus all 'basic premisses of proofs' are definitions.

What does a definition look like? An example of a definition would be: 'A puppy is a young dog.' The subject of such a definition sentence, the term 'puppy', is called the term to be defined (or defined term); the words 'young dog' are called the defining formula. As a rule, the defining formula is longer and more complicated than the defined term, and sometimes very much so. Aristotle considers 4 the term to be defined as a name of the essence Of a thing, and the defining formula as the description of that essence. And he insists that the defining formula must give an exhaustive description of the essence or the essential properties of the thing in question; thus a statement like 'A puppy has four legs', although true, is not a satisfactory definition, since it does not exhaust what may be called the essence of puppiness, but holds true of a horse also; and similarly the statement 'A puppy is brown', although it may be true of some, is not true of all puppies; and it describes what is not an essential but merely an accidental property of the defined term.

But the most difficult question is how we can get hold of definitions or basic premisses, and make sure that they are correct - that we have not erred, not grasped the wrong essence. Although Aristotle is not very clear on this point, there can be little doubt that, in the main, he again follows Plato. Plato taught 5 that we can grasp the Ideas with the help of some kind of unerring intellectual intuition; that is to say, we visualise or look at them with our 'mental eye', a process which he conceived as analogous to seeing, but dependent purely upon our intellect, and excluding any element that depends upon our senses. Aristotle's view is less radical and less inspired than Plato's, but in the end it amounts to the same. 6 For although he teaches that we arrive at the definition only after we have made many observations, he admits that sense experience does not in itself grasp the universal essence, and that it cannot, therefore, fully determine a definition. Eventually he simply postulates that we possess an intellectual intuition, a mental or intellectual faculty which enables us unerringly to grasp the essences of things, and to know them. And he further assumes that if we know an essence intuitively, we must be capable of describing it and therefore of defining it. (His arguments in the Posterior Analytics in favour of this theory are surprisingly weak. They consist merely in pointing out that our knowledge of the basic premisses cannot be demonstrative, since this would lead to an infinite regress, and that the basic premisses must be at least as true and as certain as the conclusions based upon them. 'It follows from this', he writes, 'that there cannot be demonstrative knowledge of the primary premisses; and since nothing but intellectual intuition can be more true than demonstrative knowledge, it follows that it must be intellectual intuition that grasps the basic premisses.' In the De Anima, and in the theological part of the Metaphysics, we find more of an argument; for here we have a theory of intellectual intuition - that it comes into contact with its object, the essence, and that it even becomes one with its object. 'Actual knowledge is identical with its object.')

Summing up this brief analysis, we can give, I believe, a fair description of the Aristotelian ideal of perfect and complete knowledge if we say that he saw the ultimate aim of all inquiry in the compilation of an encyclopaedia containing the intuitive definitions of all essences, that is to say, their names together with their defining formulae; and that he considered the progress of knowledge as consisting in the gradual accumulation of such an encyclopaedia, in expanding it as well as in filling up the gaps in it and, of course, in the syllogistic derivation from it of 'the whole body of facts' which constitute demonstrative knowledge.

Now there can be little doubt that all these essentialist views stand in the strongest possible contrast to the methods of modern science. (I have the empirical sciences in mind, not perhaps pure mathematics.) First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it. We have learnt in the past, from many disappointments, that we must not expect finality. And we have learnt not to be disappointed any longer if our scientific theories are overthrown; for we can, in most cases, determine with great confidence which of any two theories is the better one. We can therefore know that we are making progress; and it is this knowledge that to most of us atones for the loss of the illusion of finality and certainty. In other words, we know that our scientific theories must always remain hypotheses, but that, in many important cases, we can find out whether or not a new hypothesis is superior to an old one. For if they are different, then they will lead to different predictions, which can often be tested experimentally; and on the basis of such a crucial experiment, we can sometimes find out that the new theory leads to satisfactory results where the old one breaks down. Thus we can say that in our search for truth, we have replaced scientific certainty by scientific progress. And this view of scientific method is corroborated by the development of science. For science does not develop by a gradual encyclopaedic accumulation of essential information, as Aristotle thought) but by a much more revolutionary method; it progresses by bold ideas, by the advancement of new and very strange theories (such as the theory that the earth is not flat, or that 'metrical space' is not flat), and by the overthrow of the old ones.

But this view of scientific method [developed in selections 9-14 below] means that in science there is no 'knowledge', in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. What we usually call 'scientific knowledge' is, as a rule, not knowledge in this sense, but rather information regarding the various competing hypotheses and the way in which they have stood up to various tests; it is, using the language of Plato and Aristotle, information concerning the latest, and the best tested, scientific 'opinion'. This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by 'proof' an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory. (What may occur, however, are refutations of scientific theories.) On the other hand, pure mathematics and logic, which permit of proofs, give us no information about the world, but only develop the means of describing it. Thus we could say (as I have pointed out elsewhere 7 ): 'In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.' But although proof does not play any part in the empirical sciences, argument still does; indeed, its part is at least as important as that played by observation and experiment.

The role of definitions in science, especially, is also very different from what Aristotle had in mind. Aristotle taught that in a definition we have first pointed to the essence - perhaps by naming it - and that we then describe it with the help of the defining formula; just as in an ordinary sentence like 'This puppy is brown', we first point to a certain thing by saying 'this puppy', and then describe it as 'brown'. And he taught that by thus describing the essence to which the term points which is to be defined, we determine or explain the meaning 8 of the term also.

Accordingly, the definition may at one time answer two very closely related questions. The one is 'What is it?', for example 'What is a puppy?'; it asks what the essence is which is denoted by the defined term. The other is 'What does it mean?', for example, 'What does "puppy" mean?'; it asks for the meaning of a term (namely, of the term that denotes the essence). In the present context, it is not necessary to distinguish between these two questions; rather, it is important to see what they have in common; and I wish, especially, to draw attention to the fact that both questions are raised by the term that stands, in the definition, on the left side and answered by the defining formula which stands on the right side. This fact characterizes the essentialist view, from which the scientific method of definition radically differs . . . . .

Once again,  an excellent essay.  

The Athenian philosophers made one great error.  They believed they could home in on what was necessarily true  in a finite number of steps.  We now know that in an open ended category  a finite set of true statements  cannot yield a true universally quantified statement.  However, all it takes is -one- counterexample to blow up a universally  quantify statement. That is why, in the physical sciences,  we can disprove a theory or hypothesis with a verified contrary  instance.   But we cannot prove any theory generally true,  no matter how many corroborating instances we have. 

Alas,  empiricism will not give us  necessary  truth or absolute proof of any general statement. 

There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in our philosophies.  (Thank you William S.)

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Wolf DeVoon    0

Aristotle made a mistake, segregating and distinguishing "essence" from "accident" -- believing that there was a Universal "breadness" despite the ostensible differences in rye, wheat, pumpernickel, stale, moldy, sliced, and unleavened. Terrible mistake because it opened the door for Thomas Aquinas to assert that when a priest said magic words about the bread, Almighty God switched its essence to the Body of Christ while leaving all the "accidental" characteristics of the bread unchanged. Terrible mess that bamboozled hundreds of millions of dumbbells throughout history (and still does to this day). Accident entered the language to explain anything that was unintended or contrary to our "essence" as purposeful automobile drivers, for instance -- fantastic hooey that excuses anything and explains nothing.

Empiricism ought to be renamed bug splatter inventorying, each separate datum noted, no conclusions drawn, even though empiricists have to use Aristotelean forms like shape and color (etc) which Rand called the Conceptual Common Denominator of concept formation. If you twist an empiricist's arm hard enough to cause pain, he will be forced to concede that pain means something specific, that it's susceptible to definition as a concept.

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BaalChatzaf    0
2 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Aristotle made a mistake, segregating and distinguishing "essence" from "accident" -- believing that there was a Universal "breadness" despite the ostensible differences in rye, wheat, pumpernickel, stale, moldy, sliced, and unleavened. Terrible mistake because it opened the door for Thomas Aquinas to assert that when a priest said magic words about the bread, Almighty God switched its essence to the Body of Christ while leaving all the "accidental" characteristics of the bread unchanged. Terrible mess that bamboozled hundreds of millions of dumbbells throughout history (and still does to this day). Accident entered the language to explain anything that was unintended or contrary to our "essence" as purposeful automobile drivers, for instance -- fantastic hooey that excuses anything and explains nothing.

Empiricism ought to be renamed bug splatter inventorying, each separate datum noted, no conclusions drawn, even though empiricists have to use Aristotelean forms like shape and color (etc) which Rand called the Conceptual Common Denominator of concept formation. If you twist an empiricist's arm hard enough to cause pain, he will be forced to concede that pain means something specific, that it's susceptible to definition as a concept.

The priest turned his flock of sheep into cannibals 

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Peter    0
12 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The priest turned his flock of sheep into cannibals 

The really bad ones manage to convince hundreds of people to kill each other and then themselves. Remember that space aliens on an asteroid cult, and Jim Jones? They were mini-me Stalin/Hitler/Mao's. Good riddance to bad rubbish.    

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regi    0
On 7/1/2017 at 0:26 PM, mpp said:

Does the term essence always pertain to a concept, hence implying a fundamental, distinguishing characterizing that is similar among many units?

Or can we have an essence of a single existent?

If by "essence" is meant the identity of a particular existent or class of existents, then both concepts of particulars (individuals) and classes (universals) have an essence.

An existent is identified by it's qualities (characteristics or attributes). The, "essence," of an individual is all those qulaities by which it is identified that remain the same as long as that existent exists. For example, an individual human being's identifying characteristics will change with time, but that individuals essence (his consciousness self or ego, his history and relationships) remain the same as long as he exists.

For universals, the identifying qualities (essence) are all those attributes existents of the same kind must have to be the kind of existent they are, and excludes all those characteristics that differentiate individual existents of the same kind from each other.

I'm afraid most of the answers you've received are both epistmological and ontological disasters. If you are interested in a clear explanation of these please see:

"Concepts" http://usabig.com/hwk/6_hwk_concepts.html

"Ontology—A Brief Introduction" http://usabig.com/iindv/articles_stand/incidental/ontology.html

At The Moral Individual http://usabig.com/home.html

Regi

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BaalChatzaf    0
12 hours ago, regi said:

If by "essence" is meant the identity of a particular existent or class of existents, then both concepts of particulars (individuals) and classes (universals) have an essence.

An existent is identified by it's qualities (characteristics or attributes). The, "essence," of an individual is all those qulaities by which it is identified that remain the same as long as that existent exists. For example, an individual human being's identifying characteristics will change with time, but that individuals essence (his consciousness self or ego, his history and relationships) remain the same as long as he exists.

For universals, the identifying qualities (essence) are all those attributes existents of the same kind must have to be the kind of existent they are, and excludes all those characteristics that differentiate individual existents of the same kind from each other.

I'm afraid most of the answers you've received are both epistmological and ontological disasters. If you are interested in a clear explanation of these please see:

"Concepts" http://usabig.com/hwk/6_hwk_concepts.html

"Ontology—A Brief Introduction" http://usabig.com/iindv/articles_stand/incidental/ontology.html

At The Moral Individual http://usabig.com/home.html

Regi

Here is a puzzle for you:  is Exists a predicate?   This means if x exists then the proposition  "x  Exists"  is true.  Warning --- this is a trick question.

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Wolf DeVoon    0
23 hours ago, regi said:

an individual human being's identifying characteristics will change with time, but that individuals essence (his consciousness self or ego, his history and relationships) remain the same as long as he exists.

rubbish

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regi    0
1 hour ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

rubbish

So  Wolf DeVoon is someone else today than he was yesterday, or yesteryear, or fifty years ago?

Or are you still the same person?

What do you think?

Randy

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On 7/1/2017 at 12:26 PM, mpp said:

Does the term essence always pertain to a concept, hence implying a fundamental, distinguishing characterizing that is similar among many units?

Or can we have an essence of a single existent?

e.g. What's the essence of man? Rational animal. What's the essence of that person? We wouldn't say rational animal, maybe we would say something about his beliefs, or gene distribution or upbringing...?

Can we even speak of essences of existents or is essence reserved for concepts only? How does the essence of man and the essence of that person relate? Essence makes the thing that which it is. But the concept "man" doesn't exist, so essence cannot make the concept what it is. Essence can only make man, as in that person, what he is. But how could we then say what makes him him is his rationality? 

I am confused between the relationship of essence, what is the essence of, when we speak of an essence of a concept and can there be an essence of something that isn't a concept?

Thank you. 

 

There is the essence of a person, so there is a "concept" of a person to say it that way.   If we're talking about a particular man you should also consider that this particular man is more fundamentally a rational animal, so hierarchically he exists first as a rational animal, and then you can ask the question "what kind of man is he?"  So to rephrase, "what kind of (rational animal) is he?"  Now talking about Ayn Rand, her essence might be 'renegade philosopher', and the concept of being a philosopher is only possible because man's unique trait of rationality.  So still preserving hierarchy.

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Wolf DeVoon    0
2 hours ago, regi said:

So  Wolf DeVoon is someone else today than he was yesterday, or yesteryear, or fifty years ago?

Or are you still the same person?

What do you think?

Randy

I'm sorry I was blunt. The notion that a child is born with an "essence" is a crap proposition that misdirects and abuses the necessary, exact meaning of essential and defining characteristics, which is an issue of organized thought. Has nothing to do with fate or personal constitution at birth or later in life. I certify that people change so profoundly that it's plain mysticism to assert an eternal "essence" of personhood, akin to the Calvinist folly of the elect and the contradiction in terms of "life after death." Don't go there.

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Brant Gaede    1
5 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

I'm sorry I was blunt. The notion that a child is born with an "essence" is a crap proposition that misdirects and abuses the necessary, exact meaning of essential and defining characteristics, which is an issue of organized thought. Has nothing to do with fate or personal constitution at birth or later in life. I certify that people change so profoundly that it's plain mysticism to assert an eternal "essence" of personhood, akin to the Calvinist folly of the elect and the contradiction in terms of "life after death." Don't go there.

Profoundly I am the same person I was when my cognitive brain kicked in at 2 1/2. On that level not one thing has changed for there is only one thing--me, and me is a moral and seeking agent. When I sometimes do things that contradict that, it hurts.

--Brant

masochist?--naw, just joshing

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BaalChatzaf    0
2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Profoundly I am the same person I was when my cognitive brain kicked in at 2 1/2. On that level not one thing has changed for there is only one thing--me, and me is a moral and seeking agent. When I sometimes do things that contradict that, it hurts.

--Brant

masochist?--naw, just joshing

Not so.  Barely an original atom of the prior you remains in your body.  In addition your body has undergone growth,  part replacement, repair.  In addition you have acquired data since your were an infant and the data is encoded and encapsulate in your brain by molecular structures.  Your "sameness" is an illusion.   

Here is a hint.  Pay attention to the microstates. 

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Not so.  Barely an original atom of the prior you remains in your body.  In addition your body has undergone growth,  part replacement, repair.  In addition you have acquired data since your were an infant and the data is encoded and encapsulate in your brain by molecular structures.  Your "sameness" is an illusion.   

Here is a hint.  Pay attention to the microstates. 

"You could not step twice into the same river."  --Heraclitus

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anthony    0
2 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Not so.  Barely an original atom of the prior you remains in your body.  In addition your body has undergone growth,  part replacement, repair.  In addition you have acquired data since your were an infant and the data is encoded and encapsulate in your brain by molecular structures.  Your "sameness" is an illusion.   

Here is a hint.  Pay attention to the microstates. 

Sameness is an illusion, all right. Except, more than the physical way you mean, in this molecular/biological determinism . You know about emergent properties? Well then, imo they 'worked' one-way and cannot be reduced backwards to the atoms.

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BaalChatzaf    0
2 hours ago, anthony said:

Sameness is an illusion, all right. Except, more than the physical way you mean, in this molecular/biological determinism . You know about emergent properties? Well then, imo they 'worked' one-way and cannot be reduced backwards to the atoms.

Emergence is a fancy respectable way of saying "I do not know all the details..."

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regi    0
17 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

I'm sorry I was blunt. The notion that a child is born with an "essence" is a crap proposition that misdirects and abuses the necessary, exact meaning of essential and defining characteristics, which is an issue of organized thought. Has nothing to do with fate or personal constitution at birth or later in life. I certify that people change so profoundly that it's plain mysticism to assert an eternal "essence" of personhood, akin to the Calvinist folly of the elect and the contradiction in terms of "life after death." Don't go there.

No reason to be sorry. I like blunt.

I wasn't referring to any mystic idea of personhood, nor was I referring to some mystic "something" within anything, I was referring the epistemological fact of an existent's identity. Every existent's identity is whatever attributes identify it. In the case of an individual human being each has those attributes that identify them as members of the class of exitents (universal) called human (e.g living, conscious, rational, mammal, etc.) plus whatever attributes differentiate the individual from all other human beings, (specific parents, unique history and relationships, unique psychological characteristics, etc.) which is there "identity" as an individual existent. I'm not fond of the term essence, but if it has a meaning it must be the same as identity.

Is that better? I'd be more blunt if I could be.

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regi    0
On 9/13/2017 at 11:37 AM, BaalChatzaf said:

Here is a puzzle for you:  is Exists a predicate?   This means if x exists then the proposition  "x  Exists"  is true.  Warning --- this is a trick question.

Yes, unless you lied when you said, "x exists." Did you?

"Exists," means "is."

If the relationship between existence and reality are a problem for you, please see:

<a href="http://www.usabig.com/iindv/articles_stand/metap_1.html"><b>"Introduction to Metaphysics"</b></a>

Randy

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regi    0
10 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Your "sameness" is an illusion.

What, exactly, is suffering from that illusion?

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regi    0
5 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Emergence is a fancy respectable way of saying "I do not know all the details..."

Or more precisely, "I'm just guessing because it's how I'd like it to be."

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BaalChatzaf    0
6 minutes ago, regi said:

Yes, unless you lied when you said, "x exists." Did you?

"Exists," means "is."

If the relationship between existence and reality are a problem for you, please see:


<a href="http://www.usabig.com/iindv/articles_stand/metap_1.html"><b>"Introduction to Metaphysics"</b></a>

Randy

That is not the point.  Existence as a quantifier works just dandy.  Existence as a predicate  has problems.  Let us assume there is a predicate  e  such that e(x)  says x exists and asserts no further properties for x.  A very reasonable assumption then  is  -Ex[-e(x)].  which means there does not exist x  such that the predict e(x)  is false for x.  Unfortunate if we apply de Morgans law we get (x)e(x)  which translated means everything exists (has the property e).   This is not reasonable.  if x is a four sided triangle then x does not exist.   That is what happens when we treat existence as a predicate.

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BaalChatzaf    0
5 minutes ago, regi said:

Or more precisely, "I'm just guessing because it's how I'd like it to be."

Yeah.  Something like that.   Two cheers for Reductionism.  It may not be perfect but it is the most successful program undertaken in science.

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