Talk:Substance theory

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Property and quality[edit]

Quality is the substance that makes an object/entity what it is. A quality is inherent, a property is relative. A quality is typical of the whole, a property is typical of a part.

Property is relative. Quality is absolute. An object can survive without some properties, but not without its quality.

A property is comon in all members of a class. Properties are of two kinds. Group 1 property shows the limits (contains constraints). If they disappear, the object itself disappears.

They are substantial (not substance) properties. The constraints here are not the same as the specifics of an object, though.

Group 2 properties are simple properties. They do not delimit objects. It is the quality that makes a difference among objects.

The number of qualities of an object is endless.

A particular quality may be the property of different objects, and vice versa.

A quality itself is a propetry, it is relative as any other property, i.e. it does not depend on the object that it is a quality of, but on other objects associated with that object.

Or: what is a quality for one object is a property only for another. (Example: an ability to do something – with an amateur and a professional).

A quality is not complete specifics. Therefore we have a separate sense for it (quality). If two substantial properties make up a quality, then combined, they are again a substantial property. The complete set of qualities is what you call the specifics.

Apogr 20:16, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

What is meant by concrete objects being "numerically different" (or equal), if they are not numbers? (Indeed, a number is abstract, not concrete.) See "The bundle theory" section and later. Does it means something like its "state" (like a card or computer word whose physical state may be interpretted as the reification of some (abstract) value, e.g. a number, and, in any case, can be compared with that of another object that is of the same type)? But then, would not the symbols on the card or bits in the word be mere properties of the object? John Newbury 2005-07-30

Substance theory in praxis[edit]

There are very few names given in the article - who are the current (20thC+) proponents of substance theory - and do their ideas converge? Who are the current opponents to substance theory, and are all of them proponents of bundle theory? To me the article appears to dichotomise all thinkers into bundlists and substantists - is that fair or correct? (excuse the neologisms) (20040302 00:22, 31 October 2005 (UTC))

Help with accidents[edit]

Could someone who understands this stuff take a look at Accident (philosophy)? Is the term accident used in substance theory, and is it used differently than in modern theories about essence? I'm coming at this issue from transubstantiation. The explanation of accidents on Wikipedia doesn't seem to exactly correspond to the usage of this term in the transubstantiation doctrine. This causes unnecessary confusion.--Srleffler 01:59, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Substance, "what stands under" - Spinoza & Heidegger[edit]

Someone wrote that for Spinoza, substance meant "what stands under". Actually, Heidegger showed that the concept of "subject" came from the Greek "Hypokeimenon", which meant "what stands under". Henceforth, Heidegger demonstrated that any criticism of the substance, as in Nietzsche's philosophy, was necesarily a criticism of the subject (i.e. something like a historical subject can't exist, it is an oxymoron). In other words: the subject was thought by classic philosophy as the core of a "personality", i.e. the substance of personality. Any criticism of permanency is therefore a criticism on the unity of the subject. Henceforth, it may be a good idea to generalize Spinoza's understanding of substance, as it is the real signification of substance - backing it with Heidegger's etymology (this last being important, as Heidegger also loved obscure etymologies...). Lapaz 03:28, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

It sounds like you have good information to add to this article, Lapaz. Please be bold and improve the article's explanation of Spinoza's understanding and add Heidegger's etymology and criticism. (And, if possible, cite Heidegger and Spinoza.) The Rod 17:32, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

"what stands under" may be "understood" as "understanding", and that may be all that "substance" really is. [(User: Anders|Anders)] 13:40, 15 October 2009 (UTC) (talk) 18:45, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

That which stands beneath in Greek is hypostasis, substance or essence in Greek is ousia.LoveMonkey (talk) 00:04, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Lapaz wrote: "Heidegger showed that the concept of 'subject' came from the Greek 'Hypokeimenon,' which meant 'what stands under.'" Heidegger's definitions and word origins were very idiosyncratic. He tried to out–Hegel Hegel in the employment of neologisms and deliberately confusing terminology (depth = obscurity). It must be obvious that "subject" comes from the Latin for "thrown under" and has nothing to do with "standing." [sub = under; jacere (or iacere) = throw]Lestrade (talk) 14:10, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

What does 'ens perfectissimus' mean?[edit]

QUOTE: "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..."

I was just wondering, what does 'ens perfectissimus' mean? DonkeyKong the mathematician (in training) 15:18, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

"Most perfect entity." Usually means "God."Lestrade (talk) 14:14, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

why the masculine termination? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:59, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Incomprehensible Continental[edit]

I can't make any sense of the following.

For this reason, Althusser's "anti-humanism" and Foucault's statements were criticized, by Jürgen Habermas and others, for misunderstanding that this led to a fatalist conception of social determinism. For Habermas, only a subjective form of liberty could be conceived, to the contrary of Deleuze who talks about "a life", as an impersonal and immanent form of liberty.

What has the existence or otherwise of "stuff" got to do with "social determinism"? 1Z 19:19, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree, this still exists, and its still confusing. Someone should get around to clarifying this more. Shaded0 (talk) 07:30, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Missing argument[edit]

The article needs a section on the Argument from Change and Endurance.1Z 19:34, 17 January 2007 (UTC)


Defining Quality[edit]

 Everyone has a (different)definition for Quality. 

If American cars have so much Quality built into them as the big 3 advertise , than why do they lose so much money. Quality is in the eyes of the customer, perception is everything. Even though these cars are made to high standards and are made with ' quality components ' they are not perceived as a Quality product as compared to other cars , which are made , basically, to the same standards.

 I work in a sector where our products are perceived to be better than our American competitors products and maybe the best in the world.

Even though in some ways our products are indeed inferior to some competitors models and more expensive , but made to the same DOT-Dept of Transportation- standards.

 Customers are the highest boss and will always be , if they are taken care of - Quality-wise.

6 sigma head —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:19, 26 February 2007 (UTC).

Like many other words, "quality" is ambiguous because it is used to designate more than one concept. Do not make the mistake that Robert Pirsig made. Philosophically, "quality" means "characteristic," "property," or "attribute." It does not mean "high grade" or "superior excellence."Lestrade (talk) 14:19, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

8 1/2 by 11[edit]

not to be picky, but 8 1/2 by 11. nora 15:42, 20 March 2007 (UTC)icountyoureyelashes


I've heard of the term anti-substantialism being applied when talking about opposition to substance theory. Perhaps this term could be mentioned if adequate sources were gfound. [1] ADM (talk) 14:11, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Please clarify. Do you mean anti-substance theory as the philosophy that opposes ousia or the theory that opposes that there is a singular substance that all things reduce to (metaphysics, ontology) or nihilism which is Reductio ad absurdum. Do you mean the absences of objective substantialism or subjective substantialism or the Essentialism of (Anaxagoras). Or strictly anti as against, rather then the abscences there of? Or are you going to either dodge an answer or do as you have already done so often in the past and just ignore me? I mean since Roman Catholicism denies the sumbebekos and anomalism of the being of God as being incomprehesible[2] won't that kinda make Roman Catholicism what your looking to address? Abit of Anaxagoras goes a long way.[3]LoveMonkey (talk) 18:20, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
I meant a bit of all those things. There are various post-modern philosophical currents of relativism that are arguably anti-substantial because they reject any kind of moral reference point, which may be called substance. ADM (talk) 07:36, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Fantastic! You responded this time. The link you posted has a constructivist --Pragmatist-- approach if you will. As for anti-substance it is always down the rabbit hole of Reductio ad absurdum. You must be Greek (actually Christian, Greek in the East means Pagan) about it. A more Pragmatic way in lose conformaty to your link you posted would be that Particle physicists are "pro Substance theory" where those in opposition as part of the Wave tradition of Quantum physics would be more inclined to be anti- or absences of substance theorists (saying that that way is so general though it is almost a misnomor). It will however get you to the city but not the house your looking for. I say theorist to mean one must have knowledge created, validated by experience. That experience can be external or internal. A priori - A posteriori. I (and for that matter Dostoevsky too) am not existentialist because knowledge is a component of substance. It is sentient. The Christian God in Father is uncreated in essence but sentient in hypostasis, where as the Platonic One or Monad is a force without form a non-sentient uncreated motion that is good but without mind or consciousness. Plotinus' One or source as metaphysic (or more correctly) Ontology is an indeteminate infinite vitality. It is the One the Monad that is the essence or substance of all things. God to Plotinus is a second manifestation of the source the force without form (power without sentitence). Therefore man has instinctual knowledge that also directs and shapes or influences (if you will) their essence (substance). Meaning it is of a changing or dynamic character. The issue here for science is, is consciousness a substance? Is the nous a substance? IS it a particle or is it a wave. If physics are true what can account for electron clusters? It goes back to Godel. Noesis is the scope of conscious activites. Pure consciousness with no distortion. Pure nous. Again the nous made of a substance. What is mankinds organic connection to the objective world. LoveMonkey (talk) 12:53, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Roman Catholicisms' strange is strange the substance, yes! Nominalism is but a wacky bird! The number one is a conscious constructed concept that reflects noesis! Wacky Wacky Wacky. For nominialism the number one is all in the mind. But the Arabs created their numbering convention not from one, BUT FROM ZERO. Zero is a validatiable (epistemological) experience, aka you can experience nothing and live to talk about it. Nominalism denys the validity and or value and existence of noesis (it is down the rabbit hole to reduce it to the absurd. So love though not a material or external world substance is nothing but a construct of the mind. If love is an energy then it is a substance. So if something is experienciable is it substantive? Here we are again at the tired old debate that is the limits of philosophy. Our noesis is created or finite and various philosophies like to play of that incompleteness (Godel again) in order to abuse Socrates' famous dialectical method to invalidate the position they oppose. It would be better to approach the topic of anti-substanstive as one from the position of a validatible (epistemelogical) experience of zero-Ex nihilo, Ex nihilo nihil fit.

LoveMonkey (talk) 13:23, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Did you take some caffeine, are you hyper-active today ? You should also consult a dictionary, to make sure that your English doesn't get mixed in with some of that Russian. ADM (talk) 13:39, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Stop with the insults it is unbecoming of a Christian. Besides we are Russian Orthodox we hate noboby least of all other Christians. So just discuss, pretty please. You are Catholic we all agree on sobornost.

LoveMonkey (talk) 13:41, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't mean that as an offense, I just thought that from a purely grammatical point of view, it is difficult to follow what you are saying. ADM (talk) 13:48, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Well yes, it is bloody difficult to articulate. Noesis is to take large arrays of data (experiences) and calculate with them. How can one balance specific with general? Can I truly speak of a forest if I deny it's trees? This is the stupidity of philosophy.

LoveMonkey (talk) 13:53, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
N.O. Lossky took the Nominal and Nietzchian (yes the pseudo history creator himself Mr N is Senior~ Duplicity) position of relativism and refutes it using the standard dialectial method. His apology is called Value and existence. It is also a position of sobornost to the German culture and philosophy while explicity rejecting Nietzche. Or as Dostoevsky might say Everything is Good and nothingness is dead. [5] LoveMonkey (talk) 14:00, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

RfC: Is the following subsection a useful contribution to the article: Substance theory?[edit]

Is the following example a useful contribution as a subsection for the article: Substance theory?

Objections have been raised regarding a subsection intended to show that substance theory, that is, the proposition that a substance is distinct from its properties, plays a role in today's physical sciences. The subsection is provided at this link. Please comment upon its suitability and, if possible, provide suggestions for its improvement. Brews ohare (talk) 04:35, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

  • Here is the subsection:
Usage in physical science
The use of the term substance in the physical sciences can be seen in the definition of the unit mole by the international standards organization Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. To quote the brochure on the International System of Units:[1]

"Amount of substance is defined to be proportional to the number of specified elementary entities in a sample, the proportionality constant being a universal constant which is the same for all samples. The unit of amount of substance is called the mole, symbol mol, and the mole is defined by specifying the mass of carbon 12 that constitutes one mole of carbon 12 atoms. By international agreement this was fixed at 0.012 kg, i.e. 12 g.

  • 1. The mole is the amount of substance of a system which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon 12; its symbol is "mol".
  • 2. When the mole is used, the elementary entities must be specified and may be atoms, molecules, ions, electrons, other particles, or specified groups of such particles."
This usage of the notion of substance coincides with the posit of substance theory stated at the beginning of this article that ‘a substance is distinct from its properties’; here, the term substance is divorced from direct definition in terms of the properties of the substance, and instead directed at its constituents (its “elementary entities”), a form of the idea that matter is built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, as first put forward by the Greek philosophers Leucippus (~490 BC) and Democritus (~470–380 BC).[2][3][4] The properties of a substance must then be deduced from the laws governing the behavior of its constituents, as done in various scientific disciplines such as condensed matter physics and chemistry. Thus, substance theory finds expression in current physical sciences involved in determining the properties of matter.
  1. ^ "SI brochure, Section – Mole". BIPM. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  2. ^ J. Olmsted, G.M. Williams (1996). Chemistry: The Molecular Science (2nd ed.). Jones & Bartlett. p. 40. ISBN 0815184506. 
  3. ^ P. Davies (1992). The New Physics: A Synthesis. Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0521438314. 
  4. ^ G. 't Hooft (1997). In search of the ultimate building blocks. Cambridge University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0521578833. 

Please add your comments below with a leading asterisk *

  • Comment: The term substance is used in exactly the sense of this article in areas such as the definition of the unit mole and in the arenas of condensed matter theory and chemistry. I believe it of interest that substance theory has not only a long past, but continues to be an idea active to this very day. Brews ohare (talk) 23:26, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
  • Do any of the references directly assert that a measurement in moles is to be identified with the philosophical understanding of "substance"? If so, please quote the passage(s) because I'm not seeing it. SpinningSpark 23:43, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
The measurement in moles is a very particular example, and not the whole enchilada. Regarding the mole, the quote, says: “Amount of substance is defined to be proportional to the number of specified elementary entities”.
The cited references also all refer to substance. The Williams reference explains how, going back to the early Greeks, the idea was that a substance sufficiently divided resulted in its "atoms" which were themselves rather indistinguishable, that is, the properties of substance are to be deduced from the behavior of the constituents, which are themselves rather indistinguishable. The Davies reference says “Ever since the atomic theory of Leuccipus and Democritus in the fifth century BC, the idea that all material substance is composed of a small number of truly elementary particles bound together has been a compelling one.” Davies goes on to trace the modern developments of this idea. The 't Hooft reference says: “Substances consisting of one species of atoms are called the chemical elements... the word "element" suggests that we have arrived at the fundamental building blocks of matter.” He goes on to say that the indivisibility of atoms has not survived, but has been pushed to finer and finer scales. The on-line dictionary relates substance and matter as: “ That which has mass and occupies space; matter” suggesting "substance" and "matter" are largely synonyms, at least in common parlance.
If you read the scientific literature you will find substance used often in the sense of something that underlies the physically apparent objects of everyday life, and also will find the notion that the properties of substance are determined from its constituents and the physical laws governing their interactions is everywhere.
I hope I have addressed your questions. Brews ohare (talk) 00:32, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
As an example of the use of the idea of substance today, consider this excerpt (underscores are mine): “If we continuously heat a solid, ... [e]ventually the intermolecular bonds break, and the molecules slide over one another (the process called melting) to form a liquid. The next change of state occurs when the substance turns into a gas... In a plasma, individual atoms are literally ripped apart into charged ions and electrons, and the subsequent electrical interactions drastically change the resulting substance's behavior.” Here a chemist clearly views a "substance" as something with properties that are determined by the interactions of its "elementary entities". Brews ohare (talk) 01:22, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I can't say that has really answered my question. Certainly, the literature uses the word "substance", but as you say, largely as a synonym for matter, or a particular species of matter. The question asked is do any of these sources explicitly link this idea to substance theory. You may well have a case that there is a link, but without sources directly making that assertion it is WP:OR and can't go in the article. SpinningSpark 08:16, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't see any requirement that the word "theory" be tacked onto the word substance to make the point that the word substance is used to mean exactly what it means in this article. Brews ohare (talk) 13:48, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
No, but there is a requirement that the source in some way makes the link between science and philosophy explicitly. If it does not, then it is not verifying the claim being made. SpinningSpark 14:07, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps you would find satisfactory the addition of historical material tracing the evolution of the particulate theory of matter and its connection to substance over the centuries, for example, in the era when chemistry was getting on its feet and becoming a quantitative science as the concept of the atom began to take a modern form? Brews ohare (talk) 14:29, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
The material is based on material recently removed from Matter, as described here. It is a definition for the very narrow purposes of defining units, i.e. is more about units than matter or substance, so is misplaced at matter and even more misplaced here.
There could perhaps be better links to the physical definition(s) of substance: the one that's there, to atomic theory is a bit odd as it's only one aspect of the physical definition. A link to matter would be better, as would a link to chemical substance, or a link to the DAB page Substance which links to both could be added in a hat note.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 09:45, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
The use of the word substance in physical science by no means is limited to the definition of the unit mole, as pointed out above. The unit mole example is interesting however, because it spells out the meaning of substance as seen by an international body, which carries its own peculiar authority. It's also interesting that it amounts to an official statement of the particulate theory of matter, which has millennia of history. Brews ohare (talk) 13:59, 22 August 2010 (UTC)


It is disturbing that the introduction of this article links to Ousia, which article begins by apparently stating the usage here in Substance theory is incorrect: “Ousia is often translated (sometimes incorrectly) to Latin as substantia and essentia, and to English as substance and essence” It is arguable that the introduction of the word ousia in the introduction to this article is an unfortunate injection of theology into the subject before the subject has gotten properly laid out. Brews ohare (talk) 16:18, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

This distraction is continued in the introduction by raising the topic of Substantialism, a subject better left to a later subsection. See this discussion. Brews ohare (talk) 16:57, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

how do editors of this article see it contrasting with essence?[edit]

Seems worth asking. There is also an article called Accident (philosophy).--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:36, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

In a declarative sentence there is a subject (substance), a copula (the verb "to be" or "to have"), and a predicate (attribute). The one predicate that is indispensably necessary for the definition of the subject is called the essential predicate or essence. Other predicates are called accidents.Lestrade (talk) 16:46, 17 November 2010 (UTC)Lestrade
Presently, the intros of all three articles I mentioned appear to me to make it clear that they are about the Aristotelian approach to "being", and nothing to do with what you've just said? Note, we are on the talkpage of Substance theory.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 17:58, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Add ousia to the list of what appear to be over-lapping articles. Can someone give any good reason not to merge them?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:44, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

Substance is ...[edit]

The section entitled "The concept of substance in Western philosophy" contains the following words: "Essentially, matter does not disappear, it only changes form." This implies that the essence of substance is matter, that is, substance is matter. This may be true but is usually kept secret and unspoken. "Matter" is a physical concept. "Substance," on the other hand, is a metaphysical concept.Lestrade (talk) 19:13, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Lestrade