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Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an
ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...

ontological
theory positing that objects are constituted each by a ''substance'' and
properties Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this article, it is one or more components (rather than attributes), whether phys ...
borne by the substance but distinct from it. In this role, a substance can be referred to as a ''substratum'' or a ''
thing-in-itself The thing-in-itself (german: Ding an sich) is a concept introduced by Immanuel Kant. Things-in-themselves would be objects as they are, independent of observation. The concept led to much controversy among philosophers. It is closely related to Kan ...
''. ''Substances'' are particulars that are ontologically independent: they are able to exist all by themselves. Another defining feature often attributed to substances is their ability to ''undergo changes''. Changes involve something existing ''before'', ''during'' and ''after'' the change. They can be described in terms of a persisting substance gaining or losing properties. ''Attributes'' or ''properties'', on the other hand, are entities that can be exemplified by substances. Properties characterize their bearers, they express what their bearer is like. ''Substance'' is a key concept in
ontology Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum o ...

ontology
and
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
, which may be classified into
monist Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: wikt:μόνος, μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished: * Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct fr ...
, dualist, or pluralist varieties according to how many substances or individuals are said to populate, furnish, or exist in the world. According to monistic views, there is only one substance.
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of founded by in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal eudemonic informed by its system of and its views on the natural world, asserting that the practice of virtue is both necessary and suf ...
and
Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Port ...

Spinoza
, for example, hold monistic views, that
pneuma ''Pneuma'' () is an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...
or
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...

God
, respectively, is the one substance in the world. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of
immanence The doctrine or theory of immanence holds that the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ph ...
. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances (for example, the Cartesian
substance dualism Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and takes up space * Substance th ...
of mind and matter). Pluralist philosophies include
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

Plato
's
Theory of Forms#REDIRECT Theory of forms {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect unprintworthy ...
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
's
hylomorphic Hylomorphism (or hylemorphism) is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of s ...
categories Category, plural categories, may refer to: Philosophy and general uses *Categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such ...
.


Ancient Greek philosophy


Aristotle

Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
used the term "substance" ( el, οὐσία ''
ousia ''Ousia'' (; grc, οὐσία) is an important philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental ...
'') in a secondary sense for
genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
and
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
understood as hylomorphic forms. Primarily, however, he used it with regard to his
category Category, plural categories, may refer to: Philosophy and general uses *Categorization Categorization is the ability and activity to recognize shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as O ...
of substance, the specimen ("this person" or "this horse") or
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity Entity may refer to: Computing * Character entity reference, replacement text for a character in HTML or XML * Entity class, a thing of interest within an entity–relationship model or d ...
, ''qua'' individual, who survives accidental change and in whom the essential properties inhere that define those
universals In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example ...
. In chapter 6 of book I the ''
Physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ...
'' Aristotle argues that any change must be analysed in reference to the property of an invariant subject: as it was before the change and thereafter. Thus, in his hylomorphic account of change, ''matter'' serves as a relative substratum of transformation, i.e., of changing (substantial) form. In the ''Categories'', properties are predicated only of substance, but in chapter 7 of book I of the ''Physics'', Aristotle discusses substances coming to be and passing away in the "unqualified sense" wherein primary substances (πρῶται οὐσίαι; ''Categories'' 2a35) are generated from (or perish into) a material substratum by having gained (or lost) the essential property that formally defines substances of that kind (in the secondary sense). Examples of such a substantial change include not only conception and dying, but also metabolism, e.g., the bread a man eats becomes the man. On the other hand, in accidental change, because the essential property remains unchanged, by identifying the substance with its formal essence, substance may thereby serve as the relative subject matter or property-bearer of change in a qualified sense (i.e., barring matters of life or death). An example of this sort of accidental change is a change of color or size: a tomato becomes red, or a juvenile horse grows. Aristotle thinks that in addition to primary substances (which are particulars), there are secondary substances (δεύτεραι οὐσίαι), which are universals (''Categories'' 2a11–a18). Neither the "bare particulars" nor "property bundles" of modern theory have their antecedent in Aristotle, according to whom all matter exists in some form. There is no ''prime matter'' or pure elements, there is always a mixture: a ratio weighing the four potential combinations of primary and secondary properties and analysed into discrete one-step and two-step abstract transmutations between the elements. However, according to Aristotle's theology, a form of invariant form exists without matter, beyond the
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prev ...

cosmos
, powerless and oblivious, in the eternal substance of the
unmoved movers The unmoved mover ( grc, ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ, ho ou kinoúmenon kineî, that which moves without being moved) or prime mover ( la, primum movens) is a concept advanced by Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτ ...
.


Pyrrhonism

Early
Pyrrhonism Pyrrhonism is a school of philosophical skepticism Philosophical skepticism (American and British English spelling differences, UK spelling: scepticism; from Ancient Greek, Greek σκέψις ''skepsis'', "inquiry") is a family of Philosophy, p ...
rejected the idea that substances exist.
Pyrrho Pyrrho of Elis (; grc, Πύρρων ὁ Ἠλεῖος, Pyrrhо̄n ho Ēleios; ), born in , , was a Greek of , credited as being the first Greek and founder of . Life Pyrrho of Elis is estimated to have lived from around 365/360 until 275 ...
put this as:
"Whoever wants to live well (
eudaimonia Eudaimonia (Ancient Greek, Greek: :Wiktionary:εὐδαιμονία, εὐδαιμονία ; sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia, ) is a Greek word literally translating to the state or condition of 'good spirit', and which is commonl ...
) must consider these three questions: First, how are ''pragmata'' (ethical matters, affairs, topics) by nature? Secondly, what attitude should we adopt towards them? Thirdly, what will be the outcome for those who have this attitude?" Pyrrho's answer is that "As for ''pragmata'' they are all
adiaphora Adiaphoron (, plural: adiaphora from the Greek language, Greek ἀδιάφορα (pl. of ἀδιάφορον), is the negation of διάφορα, meaning "not different or differentiable". In Cynicism (philosophy), Cynicism, adiaphora represents ...
(undifferentiated by a logical differentia), ''astathmēta'' (unstable, unbalanced, not measurable), and ''anepikrita'' (unjudged, unfixed, undecidable). Therefore, neither our sense-perceptions nor our ''doxai'' (views, theories, beliefs) tell us the truth or lie; so we certainly should not rely on them. Rather, we should be ''adoxastoi'' (without views), ''aklineis'' (uninclined toward this side or that), and ''akradantoi'' (unwavering in our refusal to choose), saying about every single one that it no more is than it is not or it both is and is not or it neither is nor is not.


Stoicism

The
Stoics Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophyHellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the ph ...
rejected the idea that
incorporealIncorporeality is "the state or quality of being incorporeal or bodiless; immateriality; incorporealism." Incorporeal (Greek: ασώματος) means "Not composed of matter; having no material existence." Incorporeality is a quality of souls In ...
beings inhere in matter, as taught by
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

Plato
. They believed that all being is
corporeal Corporeal may refer to: *Matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made u ...
infused with a creative fire called
pneuma ''Pneuma'' () is an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...
. Thus they developed a scheme of
categories Category, plural categories, may refer to: Philosophy and general uses *Categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such ...
different from Aristotle's based on the ideas of
Anaxagoras Anaxagoras (; grc-gre, Ἀναξαγόρας, ''Anaxagoras'', "lord of the assembly";  BC) was a Pre-Socratic Pre-Socratic philosophy is ancient Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the i ...

Anaxagoras
and Timaeus. The fundamental basis of Stoicism in this context was a universally consistent
ethical Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, al ...
and moral
code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...

code
that should be maintained at all time, the physical belief of beings as matter is an important philosophical
footnote A note is a string of text placed at the bottom of a page (paper), page in a book or document or at the end of a chapter, volume or the whole text. The note can provide an author's comments on the main text or citations of a reference work in su ...

footnote
, as it marked the start of thinking as beings as inherently linked to
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

reality
, instead of to some abstract heaven.


Neoplatonism

Neoplatonists Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonic Plato's influence on Western culture was so profound that several different concepts are linked by being called Platonic or Platonist, for accepting some assumptions of Platonism, but which do not imply accep ...
argue that beneath the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles or hypostases, each one more sublime than the preceding. For
Plotinus Plotinus (; grc-gre, Πλωτῖνος, ''Plōtînos'';  – 270 CE) was a major Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean history The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surround ...

Plotinus
, these are the soul or , being/intellect or divine mind (''
nous ''Nous'' (, ), sometimes equated to intellect In the study of the human mind, intellect refers to, describes, and identifies the ability of the human mind to reach correct conclusions about what is true True most commonly refers to truth ...

nous
''), and "the one".''Neoplatonism (Ancient Philosophies)'' by Pauliina Remes (2008), University of California Press , pages 48–52.


Religious philosophy


Christianity

The Christian writers of antiquity adhered to the Aristotelian conception of substance. Their peculiarity was the use of this idea for the discernment of theological nuances.
Clement of Alexandria Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria ( grc, Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; – ), was a and philosopher who taught at the . Among his pupils were and . A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was ...
considered both material and spiritual substances: blood and milk; mind and soul, respectively.
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
may be the first theologian expressing Christ's similarity with the Father as
consubstantiality Consubstantiality, a term derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
.
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Ch ...

Tertullian
professed the same view in the West. The ecclesiastics of the Cappadocian group (
Basil of Caesarea Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great ( grc, Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας, ''Hágios Basíleios ho Mégas''; cop, Ⲡⲓⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ; 330 – January 1 or 2, 379), was an East Roman ...

Basil of Caesarea
,
Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen ( grc-gre, Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Gregory of Nyssa
) taught that the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
had a single substance in three hypostases individualized by the relations among them. In later ages, the meaning of "substance" became more important because of the dogma of the
Eucharist The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a that is considered a in most churches, and as an in others. According to the , the r ...

Eucharist
.
Hildebert of Lavardin Hildebert (c. 105518 December 1133) was a France, French ecclesiastic, hagiographer and theologian. From 1096–97 he was bishop of Le Mans, then from 1125 until his death archbishop of Tours. Sometimes called Hildebert of Lavardin, his name may als ...
,
archbishop of Tours The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tours (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
, introduced the term ''
transubstantiation Transubstantiation (Latin language, Latin: ''transsubstantiatio''; Greek language, Greek: μετουσίωσις ''metousiosis'') is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, "the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance ...
'' about 1080; its use spread after the
Fourth Council of the Lateran The Fourth Council of the Lateran or Lateran IV was convoked by Pope Innocent III in April 1213 and opened at the Lateran Palace in Rome on 11 November 1215. Due to the great length of time between the Council's convocation and meeting, many bi ...
in 1215. According to
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
, beings may possess substance in three different modes. Together with other Medieval philosophers, he interpreted God's epithet "
El Shaddai El Shaddai ( he, אֵל שַׁדַּי, ''ʾēl šaday''; ) or just Shaddai is one of the names of the God of Israel. ''El Shaddai'' is conventionally translated into English as ''God Almighty'' (''Deus Omnipotens'' in Latin), but its original ...

El Shaddai
" (
Genesis 17 Lech-Lecha, Lekh-Lekha, or Lech-L'cha ( ''leḵ-ləḵā'' — Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as t ...
:1) as self-sufficient and concluded that God's essence was identical with existence. Aquinas also deemed the substance of spiritual creatures identical with their essence (or form); therefore he considered each
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
to belong to its own distinct species. In Aquinas' view, composite substances consist of form and matter. Human substantial form, i.e. soul, receives its individuality from body.


Buddhism

Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
rejects the concept of substance. Complex structures are comprehended as an aggregate of components without any essence. Just as the junction of parts is called cart, so the collections of elements are called things. All formations are unstable (''aniccā'') and lacking any constant core or “self” (''anattā''). Physical objects have no metaphysical substrate. Arising entities hang on previous ones conditionally: in the notable teaching on interdependent origination, effects arise not as caused by agents but conditioned by former situations. Our senses, perception, feelings, wishes and consciousness are flowing, the view ''satkāya-dṛṣṭi'' of their permanent carrier is rejected as fallacious. The school of
Madhyamaka Madhyamaka ("middle way" or "centrism"; ; Tibetic languages, Tibetan: ''dbu ma pa'') also known as ''śūnyavāda'' (the Śūnyatā, emptiness doctrine) and ''niḥsvabhāvavāda'' (the no Svabhava, ''svabhāva'' doctrine) refers to a tradition o ...
, namely
Nāgārjuna Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE; zh, t=龍樹, p=Lóngshù; bo, mGon-po Klu-grub) was an Indian Mahāyāna Buddhist thinker, scholar-saint and philosopher. He is widely considered as one of the most important Buddhist philosophers.Garfield ...
, introduced the idea of the ontological void (''śūnyatā''). The Buddhist metaphysics
Abhidharma Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia aft ...
presumes particular forces which determine the origin, persistence, aging and decay of everything in the world.
Vasubandhu Vasubandhu ( sa, वसुबन्धु; ; Tibetan: དབྱིག་གཉེན་ ; fl. 4th to 5th century CE) was an influential Buddhist monk and scholar from Gandhara Gandhāra ( sa, गन्धार, link=no) was an ancient re ...

Vasubandhu
added a special force making a human, called "''aprāpti''" or "''pṛthagjanatvam''". Because of the absence of a substantial soul, the belief in personal immortality loses foundation. Instead of deceased beings, new ones emerge whose fate is destined by the karmic law. The
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle ...

Buddha
admitted the empirical identity of persons testified by their birth, name, and age. He approved the authorship of deeds and responsibility of performers. The disciplinary practice in the
Sangha Sangha is a Sanskrit word used in many Indian languages, including Pali (saṅgha) meaning "association", "assembly", "company" or "community". It was historically used in a political context to denote a governing assembly in a republic or ...

Sangha
including reproaches, confession and expiation of transgressions, requires continuing personalities as its justification.


Early modern philosophy

René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ...

René Descartes
means by a substance an entity which exists in such a way that it needs no other entity in order to exist. Therefore, only God is a substance in this strict sense. However, he extends the term to created things, which need only the concurrence of God to exist. He maintained that two of these are mind and body, each being distinct from the other in their attributes and therefore in their essence, and neither needing the other in order to exist. This is Descartes'
substance dualism Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, anything that has mass and takes up space * Substance th ...
.
Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Baruch Spinoza
denied Descartes' "real distinction" between mind and matter. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple "attributes". He regards an attribute, though, as "what we conceive as constituting the
ingle Ingle may refer to: People * Ingle (name), a surname, and a list of people with the name Places ;United States * Ingle, California, community * Ingle, Florida, town * Ingle, Wisconsin, unincorporated community See also

* Ingles * Ingleby (d ...
essence of substance". The single essence of one substance can be conceived of as material and also, consistently, as mental. What is ordinarily called the natural world, together with all the individuals in it, is immanent in God: hence his famous phrase ''deus sive natura'' (" God or Nature").
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
views substance through a corpuscularian lens where it exhibits two types of qualities which both stem from a source. He believes that humans are born ''tabula rasa'' or “blank slate” – without innate knowledge. In ''An Essay Concerning Human Understanding'' Locke writes that “first essence may be taken for the very being of anything, whereby it is, what it is.” If humans are born without any knowledge, the way to receive knowledge is through perception of a certain object. But, according to Locke, an object exists in its primary qualities, no matter whether the human perceives it or not; it just exists. For example, an apple has qualities or properties that determine its existence apart from human perception of it, such as its mass or texture. The apple itself is also “pure substance in which is supposed to provide some sort of ‘unknown support’ to the observable qualities of things” that the human mind perceives. The foundational or support qualities are called primary essences which “in the case of physical substances, are the underlying physical causes of the object's observable qualities”. But then what is an object except “the owner or support of other properties”? Locke rejects Aristotle's category of the forms, and develops mixed ideas about what substance or “first essence” means. Locke's solution to confusion about first essence is to argue that objects simply are what they are – made up of microscopic particles existing because they exist. According to Locke, the mind cannot completely grasp the idea of a substance as it “always falls beyond knowledge”. There is a gap between what first essence truly means and the mind's perception of it that Locke believes the mind cannot bridge, objects in their primary qualities must exist apart from human perception. The molecular combination of atoms in first essence then forms the solid base that humans can perceive and add qualities to describe - the only way humans can possibly begin to perceive an object. The way to perceive the qualities of an apple is from the combination of the primary qualities to form the secondary qualities. These qualities are then used to group the substances into different categories that “depend on the properties umanshappen to be able to perceive”. The taste of an apple or the feeling of its smoothness are not traits inherent to the fruit but are the power of the primary qualities to produce an idea about that object in the mind. The reason that humans can't sense the actual primary qualities is the mental distance from the object; thus, Locke argues, objects remain nominal for humans. Therefore, the argument then returns to how “a philosopher has no other idea of those substances than what is framed by a collection of those simple ideas which are found in them.” The mind's conception of substances “complex rather than simple” and “has no (supposedly innate) clear and distinct idea of matter that can be revealed through intellectual abstraction away from sensory qualities”. The last quality of substance is the way the perceived qualities seem to begin to change – such as a candle melting; this quality is called the tertiary quality. Tertiary qualities “of a body are those powers in it that, by virtue of its primary qualities, give it the power to produce observable changes in the primary qualities of other bodies”; “the power of the sun to melt wax is a tertiary quality of the sun”. They are “mere powers; qualities such as flexibility, ductility; and the power of sun to melt wax”. This goes along with “passive power: the capacity a thing has for being changed by another thing”. In any object, at the core are the primary qualities (unknowable by the human mind), the secondary quality (how primary qualities are perceived), and tertiary qualities (the power of the combined qualities to make a change to the object itself or to other objects).
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a group ...

Robert Boyle
's corpuscularian hypothesis states that "all material bodies are composites of ultimately small particles of matter" that "have the same material qualities as the larger composite bodies do".Sheridan, P. (2010). Locke: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum. pp. 34, 38. Using this basis, Locke defines his first group, primary qualities, as "the ones that a body doesn't lose, however much it alters." The materials retain their primary qualities even if they are broken down because of the unchanging nature of their atomic particles. If someone is curious about an object and they say it is solid and extended, these two descriptors are primary qualities.Stumpf, S. E. (1999). ''Socrates to Sartre: a history of philosophy''. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. p. 260. The second group consists of secondary qualities which are "really nothing but the powers to produce various sensations in us by their primary qualities." Locke argues that the impressions our senses perceive from the objects (i.e. taste, sounds, colors, etc.) are not natural properties of the object itself, but things they induce in us by means of the "size, shape, texture, and motion of their imperceptible parts." The bodies send insensible particles to our senses which let us perceive the object through different faculties; what we perceive is based on the object's composition. With these qualities, people can achieve the object through bringing "co-existing powers and sensible qualities to a common ground for explanation". Locke supposes that one wants to know what "binds these qualities" into an object, and argues that a "
substratum In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the m ...
" or "substance" has this effect, defining "substance" as follows: This substratum is a construct of the mind in an attempt to bind all the qualities seen together; it is only "a supposition of an unknown support of qualities that are able to cause simple ideas in us." Without making a substratum, people would be at a loss as to how different qualities relate. Locke does, however, mention that this substratum is an unknown, relating it to the story of the world on the turtle's back and how the believers eventually had to concede that the turtle just rested on "something he knew not what". This is how the mind perceives all things and from which it can make ideas about them; it is entirely relative, but it does provide a "regularity and consistency to our ideas". Substance, overall, has two sets of qualities — those that define it, and those related to how we perceive it. These qualities rush to our minds, which must organize them. As a result, our mind creates a substratum (or ''substance'') for these objects, into which it groups related qualities.


Criticism of soul as substance

Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Kant
observed that the assertion of a spiritual soul as substance could be a synthetic proposition which, however, was unproved and completely arbitrary. Introspection does not reveal any diachronic substrate remaining unchanged throughout life. The temporal structure of consciousness is retentive-perceptive-prognostic. The selfhood arises as result of several informative flows: (1) signals from our own body; (2) retrieved memories and forecasts; (3) the affective load: dispositions and aversions; (4) reflections in other minds. Mental acts have the feature of appropriation: they are always attached to some pre-reflective consciousness. As visual perception is only possible from a definite point of view, so inner experience is given together with self-consciousness. The latter is not an autonomous mental act, but a formal way how the first person has their experience. From the pre-reflective consciousness, the person gains conviction of their existence. This conviction is immune to false reference. The concept of person is prior to the concepts of subject and body. The reflective self-consciousness is a conceptual and elaborate cognition. Selfhood is a self-constituting effigy, a task to be accomplished. Humans are incapable of comprising all their experience within the current state of consciousness; overlapping memories are critical for personal integrity. Appropriated experience can be recollected. At stage B, we remember the experience of stage A; at stage C, we may be aware of the mental acts of stage B. The idea of self-identity is enforced by the relatively slow changes of our body and social situation. Personal identity may be explained without accepting a spiritual agent as subject of mental activity. Associative connection between life episodes is necessary and sufficient for the maintenance of a united selfhood. Personal character and memories can persist after radical mutation of the body.


Irreducible concepts

Two irreducible concepts encountered in substance theory are the ''bare particular'' and ''inherence''.


Bare particular

In substance theory, a bare particular of an
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** Entity, something that is tangible and within the grasp of the senses ** Object (abstract), an object which does not exist at any particular time or pl ...
is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independently from its properties, even if it is impossible for it to lack properties entirely. It is "bare" because it is considered without its properties and "particular" because it is not . The properties that the substance has are said to inhere in the substance.


Inherence

Another primitive concept in substance theory is the
inherence Inherence refers to Empedocles, Empedocles' idea that the Quality (philosophy), qualities of Matter (philosophy), matter come from the relative Proportionality (mathematics), proportions of each of the Classical element, four elements entering int ...
of properties within a substance. For example, in the sentence, "The apple is red" substance theory says that red inheres in the apple. Substance theory takes the meaning of an apple having the property of redness to be understood, and likewise that of a property's inherence in substance, which is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance. The inverse relation is
participation Participation or Participant may refer to: Politics *Participation (decision making), mechanisms for people to participate in social decisions *Civic participation, engagement by the citizens in government *e-participation, citizen participation ...
. Thus in the example above, just as red inheres in the apple, so the apple participates in red.


Arguments supporting the theory

Two common
argument In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, la ...
s supporting substance theory are the argument from grammar and the argument from conception.


Argument from grammar

The argument from grammar uses
traditional grammar A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious ...
to support substance theory. For example, the sentence "Snow is white" contains a grammatical subject "snow" and the predicate "is white", thereby asserting ''snow is white''. The argument holds that it makes no grammatical sense to speak of "whiteness" disembodied, without asserting that snow or something else ''is'' white. Meaningful assertions are formed by virtue of a grammatical subject, of which properties may be predicated, and in substance theory, such assertions are made with regard to a substance.
Bundle theory Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontology, ontological theory about Object (philosophy), objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection (''bundle'') of properties, relations or trope ...
rejects the argument from grammar on the basis that a grammatical subject does not necessarily refer to a metaphysical subject. Bundle theory, for example, maintains that the grammatical subject of statement refers to its properties. For example, a bundle theorist understands the grammatical subject of the sentence, "Snow is white", to be a bundle of properties such as white. Accordingly, one can make meaningful statements about bodies without referring to substances.


Argument from conception

Another argument for the substance theory is the argument from conception. The argument claims that in order to conceive of an object's properties, like the redness of an apple, one must conceive of the object that has those properties. According to the argument, one cannot conceive of redness, or any other property, distinct from the substance that has that property.


Criticism

The idea of substance was famously critiqued by
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
, who held that since substance cannot be perceived, it should not be assumed to exist.
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, me ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
, and after him
Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...
,
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas Intellectual history (also the history of ideas) is the study of the history of human thought and of intellectual An intellectual is a ...

Michel Foucault
and
Gilles Deleuze Gilles Deleuze (; ; 18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such a ...

Gilles Deleuze
also rejected the notion of "substance", and in the same movement the concept of subject - seeing both concepts as holdovers from
Platonic idealism Platonic realism is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or ...
. For this reason,
Althusser Louis Pierre Althusser (, ; ; 16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital ...
's "anti-humanism" and Foucault's statements were criticized, by
Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (, ; ; born 18 June 1929) is a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, e ...
and others, for misunderstanding that this led to a fatalist conception of
social determinism Social determinism is the theory that social interactions and constructs alone determine individual behavior (as opposed to biological or objective factors). Consider certain human behaviors, such as committing murder, or writing poetry. A social ...
. For Habermas, only a subjective form of
liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change withou ...

liberty
could be conceived, to the contrary of Deleuze who talks about "''a'' life", as an impersonal and immanent form of liberty. For Heidegger, Descartes means by "substance" that by which "we can understand nothing else than an entity which ''is'' in such a way that it need no other entity in order to ''be''." Therefore, only God is a substance as ''Ens perfectissimus'' (most perfect being). Heidegger showed the inextricable relationship between the concept of substance and of subject, which explains why, instead of talking about "man" or "humankind", he speaks about the ''
Dasein ''Dasein'' () (sometimes spelled as Da-sein) is a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also Germ ...
'', which is not a simple subject, nor a substance.
Alfred North Whitehead Alfred North Whitehead (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of ...
has argued that the concept of substance has only a limited applicability in everyday life and that metaphysics should rely upon the concept of process.See, e.g., Ronny Desmet and Michel Weber (edited by),
Whitehead. The Algebra of Metaphysics. Applied Process Metaphysics Summer Institute Memorandum
', Louvain-la-Neuve, Éditions Chromatika, 2010 ().
Roman Catholic theologian
Karl Rahner Karl Rahner, (5 March 1904 – 30 March 1984) was a German people, German Jesuit Catholic priest, priest and theologian who, alongside Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Yves Congar, is considered to be one of the most influentia ...

Karl Rahner
, as part of his critique of
transubstantiation Transubstantiation (Latin language, Latin: ''transsubstantiatio''; Greek language, Greek: μετουσίωσις ''metousiosis'') is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, "the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance ...
, rejected substance theory and instead proposed the doctrine of ''transfinalization'', which he felt was more attuned to modern philosophy. However, this doctrine was rejected by
Pope Paul VI Pope Paul VI ( la, Paulus VI; it, Paolo VI; born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, ; 26 September 18976 August 1978) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the ...
in his encyclical '' Mysterium fidei''.


Bundle theory

In direct opposition to substance theory is bundle theory, whose most basic premise is that all concrete particulars are merely constructions or 'bundles' of attributes or qualitative properties: :Necessarily, for any concrete entity, a, if for any entity, b, b is a constituent of a, then b is an attribute. The bundle theorist's principal objections to substance theory concern the bare particulars of a substance, which substance theory considers independently of the substance's properties. The bundle theorist objects to the notion of a thing with no properties, claiming that such a thing is inconceivable and citing John Locke, who described a substance as "a something, I know not what." To the bundle theorist, as soon as one has any notion of a substance in mind, a property accompanies that notion.


Identity of indiscernibles counterargument

The indiscernibility argument from the substance theorist targets those bundle theorists who are also metaphysical realists. Metaphysical realism uses the identity of ''universals'' to compare and identify particulars. Substance theorists say that bundle theory is incompatible with metaphysical realism due to the identity of indiscernibles: particulars may differ from one another only with respect to their attributes or relations. The substance theorist's indiscernibility argument against the metaphysically realistic bundle theorist states that numerically different concrete particulars are discernible from the self-same concrete particular only by virtue of qualitatively different attributes. :Necessarily, for any complex objects, a and b, if for any entity, c, c is a constituent of a if and only if c is a constituent of b, then a is numerically identical with b. The indiscernibility argument points out that if bundle theory and discernible concrete particulars theory explain the relationship between attributes, then the identity of indiscernibles theory must also be true: :Necessarily, for any concrete objects, a and b, if for any attribute, Φ, Φ is an attribute of a if and only if Φ is an attribute of b, then a is numerically identical with b. The indiscernibles argument then asserts that the identity of indiscernibles is violated, for example, by identical sheets of paper. All of their qualitative properties are the same (e.g. white, rectangular, 9 x 11 inches...) and thus, the argument claims, bundle theory and metaphysical realism cannot both be correct. However, bundle theory combined with Trope (philosophy)#Trope theory in philosophy (metaphysics), trope theory (as opposed to metaphysical realism) avoids the indiscernibles argument because each attribute is a trope if can only be held by only one concrete particular. The argument does not consider whether "position" should be considered an attribute or relation. It is after all through the differing positions that we in practice differentiate between otherwise identical pieces of paper.


See also

*History of chemistry *History of molecular theory *Hypokeimenon *Inherence *Materialism *Sortal *Transcendentals


References


External links

* *
Friesian School on Substance and Essence
{{DEFAULTSORT:Substance Theory Ontology Philosophy of Aristotle Metaphysical theories Spinoza studies