Substantiality

The unmoved mover is a philosophical concept described by Aristotle as the first cause that sets the universe into motion. In his book Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: itself contemplating.

Aristotle begins by describing substance, of which he says there are three types: the sensible, which is subdivided into the perishable (which belongs to physics) and the eternal (which belongs to “another science”). He notes that sensible substance is changeable and that there are several types of change, including quality and quantity, generation and destruction, increase and diminution, alteration, and motion.

Change occurs when one given state becomes something contrary to it: that is to say, what exists potentially comes to exist actually. Therefore, a thing can come to be out of that which is not, and also all things come to be out of that which is, but is potentially. That by which something is changed is the mover, that which is changed is the matter, and that into which it is changed is the form.

Being

Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident, a property that the object or substance has contingently without which the substance can still retain its identity.

Essence has often served as a vehicle for doctrines that tend to individuate different forms of existence as well as different identity conditions for objects and properties. In this eminently logical meaning, the concept has given a strong theoretical and common sense basis to the whole family of logical theories.

In existentialist discourse, essence can refer to physical aspect or attribute, to the ongoing being of a person (the character or internally determined goals), or to the infinite inbound within the human (which can be lost, can atrophy, or can be developed into an equal part with the finite), depending upon the type of existentialist discourse.

In metaphysics, essence is often synonymous with the soul, and some existentialists argue that individuals gain their souls and spirits after they exist, and that they develop their souls and spirits during their lifetimes.

The English word “essence” comes from the Latin essentia, which was coined from the Latin esse, “to be” by ancient Roman scholars in order to translate the Ancient Greek phrase “to ti en einai” (literally, “what it is for a thing to be”), coined by Aristotle to denote a thing’s essence.

Quantification

In the philosophy of metaphysics, an ontological commitment is said to be necessary in order to make a proposition in which the existence of one thing is presupposed or implied by asserting the existence of another. We are committed to the existence of the second thing, even though we may not have expected it, and may have intended to assert only the existence of the first. The kind of secondary entities in question are typically abstract objects such as universals, sets, classes, or fictional objects.

The sentence “Napoleon is one of my ancestors” asserts only the existence of two individuals and a line of ancestry between them. The fact that no other people or objects are mentioned seems to limit the commitment of the sentence. However, it is well known that sentences of this kind cannot be interpreted in first order logic, where individual variables stand for individual things. Instead, they must be represented in some second-order form.

For example, the sentence can be rewritten as “any group of people that includes me and the parents of each person in the group must also include Napoleon” which is easily interpreted as a statement in second order logic. Since these variables do not stand for individual objects, it seems we are ontologically committed to entities other than individuals, sets, classes, and so on.

Many philosophers dispute whether we are committed to such associated entities at all. They argue that all assertions are committed only to the existence of the entities which they actually assert. There is a considerable and growing body of literature on plural reference and plural quantification, and it seems counter-intuitive that a sentence commits us to the existence of anything other than what it states. Some see in the grammatical plural simply another way to refer to exactly the same things that the singular form commits us to.

Content

Eternity often means existence for a limitless amount of time, and may be used to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside of time. There are a number of arguments for eternity, by which proponents of the concept, principally Aristotle, purported to prove that matter, motion, and time must have existed eternally.

The metaphysics of eternity might be summarized by asking if anything can be said to exist outside of or independent of time, and if so how and why? Some consequential metaphysical questions of some importance relate to whether information can be said to exist independently of the human mind, and if so, what would be the content and purpose of such information?

It is an understatement to say that humans cannot fully understand eternity, since it is either an infinite amount of time as we know it or something other than the time and space we know. For the infinite definition, there are parallels that give some notion of a potential infinity, or a series that begins and has not ended. A series of moments that has begun and not ended is, however, not potentially eternal by that definition. A series of moments that has begun and not ended cannot be eternal, because even if it were to continue for the rest of infinite time, there would still be time prior to the initial moment in the series.

Augustine of Hippo wrote that time exists only within the created universe, so that God exists outside of time. For God there is no past or future, but only an eternal present. One need not believe in God in order to hold this concept of eternity. For example, an atheist mathematician can maintain the philosophical tenet that numbers and the relationships among them exist outside of time, and so are in that sense eternal.

Conduct

In philosophy, metaethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, and ethical statements, attitudes, and judgments. It is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being ethical theory and applied ethics. Metaethics has received considerable attention from academic philosophers in the last few decades.

While normative ethics addresses such questions as “What should one do?”, thus endorsing some ethical evaluations and rejecting others, metaethics addresses questions such as “What is goodness?” and “How can we tell what is good from what is bad?”, seeking to understand the nature of ethical properties and evaluations.

Some theorists argue that a metaphysical account of morality is necessary for the proper evaluation of actual moral theories and for making practical moral decisions, however others make the reverse claim that only by importing ideas of moral intuition on how to act can we arrive at an accurate account of the metaphysics of morals.

A second area of metaethics involves the psychological basis of our moral judgments and conduct, particularly understanding what motivates us to be moral. We might explore this subject by asking the simple question, “Why be moral?” Even if one is aware of basic moral standards, this does not necessarily mean that one will be psychologically compelled to act on them. Some answers to the question “Why be moral?” are to avoid punishment, to gain praise, to attain happiness, to be dignified, or to fit in with society.

Properties

Philosophy of mind is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body. The mind-body problem, or the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body.

Dualism and monism are the two major schools of thought that attempt to resolve the mind-body problem. Dualism is the position that mind and body are in some way separate from each other. It can be traced back to Plato, Aristotle, and the Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy, but it was most precisely formulated by René Descartes in the 17th century. Substance dualists argue that the mind is an independently existing substance, whereas Property dualists maintain that the mind is a group of independent properties that emerge from and cannot be reduced to the brain, but that it is not a distinct substance.

Many modern philosophers of mind adopt either a reductive or non-reductive physicalist position, maintaining in their different ways that the mind is not something separate from the body. These approaches have been particularly influential in the sciences, particularly in the fields of sociobiology, computer science, evolutionary psychology and the various neurosciences. Other philosophers, however, adopt a non-physicalist position which challenges the notion that the mind is a purely physical construct.

Reductive physicalists assert that all mental states and properties will eventually be explained by scientific accounts of physiological processes and states. Non-reductive physicalists argue that although the brain is all there is to the mind, the predicates and vocabulary used in mental descriptions and explanations are indispensable, and cannot be reduced to the language and lower-level explanations of physical science. Continued neuroscientific progress has helped to clarify some of these issues. However, they are far from having been resolved, and modern philosophers of mind continue to ask how the subjective qualities and the intentionality of mental states and properties can be explained in naturalistic terms.

Multiplicity

Anekantavada is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.

This is to contrast attempts to proclaim absolute truth with the parable of the “blind men and an elephant”. In this story, each blind man felt a different part of an elephant (trunk, leg, ear, etc.). All the men claimed to understand and explain the true appearance of the elephant, but could only partly succeed, due to their limited perspectives. This principle is more formally stated by observing that objects are infinite in their qualities and modes of existence, so they cannot be completely grasped in all aspects and manifestations by finite human perception. Consequently, no single, specific, human view can claim to represent absolute truth.

Anekantavada encourages its adherents to consider the views and beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. Proponents of anekantavada apply this principle to religion and philosophy, reminding themselves that any religion or philosophy, even Jainism, which clings too dogmatically to its own tenets, is committing an error based on its limited point of view. The principle of anekantavada also influenced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to adopt principles of religious tolerance and satyagraha.

Some modern authors believe that Jain philosophy in general and anekantavada in particular can provide a solution to many problems facing the world. They claim that even the mounting ecological crisis is linked to adversarialism, because it arises from a false division between humanity and the rest of nature. Modern judicial systems, democracy, freedom of speech, and secularism all implicitly reflect an attitude of anekantavada.

It is believed that the Jain tradition with its emphasis on anekantavada is capable of solving religious intolerance, terrorism, wars, the depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation and many other problems. Referring to the 9/11 tragedy, John Koller believes that violence in society mainly exists due to faulty epistemology and metaphysics as well as faulty ethics. A failure to respect the life and views of others, rooted in dogmatic and mistaken knowledge and refusal to acknowledge the legitimate claims of different perspectives, leads to violent and destructive behavior.

Koller suggests that anekantavada has a larger role to play in the world peace. According to Koller, because anekantavada is designed to avoid one-sided errors, reconcile contradictory viewpoints, and accept the multiplicity and relativity of truth, the Jain philosophy is in a unique position to support dialogue and negotiations amongst various nations and peoples.

Some have cautioned against giving undue importance to non-violence as the basis of anekantavada. It is pointed out that Jain monks have used anekantavada as a debating weapon to silence critics and prove the validity of the Jain doctrine over others. This method of analysis becomes a fearsome weapon of philosophical polemic with which the doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism can be pared down to their ideological bases of simple permanence and impermanence, respectively, and thus can be shown to be one-pointed and inadequate as the overall interpretations of reality which they purport to be. On the other hand, the many-sided approach is claimed by the Jains to be immune from criticism since it does not present itself as a philosophical or dogmatic view.

Doctrine

Organicism is a philosophical orientation that asserts reality is best understood as an organic whole. It is also a biological doctrine that stresses the organization rather than the composition of organisms.

As a doctrine it rejects mechanism and reductionism, the doctrines that claim the smallest parts by themselves explain the behavior of larger organized systems of which they are a part. However, organicism also rejects vitalism, the doctrine that there is a vital force different from physical forces that accounts for living things.

A number of biologists in the early to mid-twentieth century embraced organicism. They wished to reject earlier vitalisms but to stress that whole organism biology was not fully explainable by atomic mechanism. The larger organization of an organic system has features that must be taken into account to explain its behavior.

Organicism is distinguished from holism to avoid what is seen as the vitalistic of spritualistic connotations of holism. Holism contains a continuum of degrees of top-down control of an organization. With holism there is monism, the doctrine that the only complete object is the whole universe, or that there is only one entity, the universe. Organicism allows relatively more independence of the parts from the whole, despite the whole being more than the sum of the parts, or the whole exerting some control on the behavior of the parts.

More independence is present in relational holism. This doctrine does not assert top-down control of the whole over its parts, but does claim that the relations of the parts are essential to explanation of behavior of the system. Aristotle and early modern philosophers and scientists tended to describe reality as made of substances and their qualities, and to neglect relations. Twentieth century philosophy has been characterized by the introduction of and emphasis on the importance of relations,whether in symbolic logic or in metaphysics.

Organicism has some intellectually and politically controversial associations. Holism, the doctrine that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, is often used synonymously with organicism or as a broader category under which organicism falls, and has been coopted in recent decades by holistic medicine and by New Age Thought.

It has also been used to characterize notions put forth by various late 19th-century social scientists who considered human society to be analogous to an organism, and individual humans to be analogous to the cells of an organism.

Pataphors

Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 was a name intended for a Swedish child who was born in 1991. Parents Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding had planned to never legally name their child as a protest against the naming law of Sweden which reads, “First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.”

Because the parents failed to register a name by the boy’s fifth birthday, a district court in Halmstad, southern Sweden, fined them 5,000 kronor. Responding to the fine, the parents submitted the 43 character name in May 1996, claiming that it was “a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.” The parents suggested the name be understood in the spirit of pataphysics. The court rejected the name and upheld the fine.

Pataphysics is a philosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. It is a parody of the theory and methods of modern science and is often expressed in nonsensical language. It is the science of imaginary solutions, as defined by Alfred Jarry, the first thinker to explore its foundations. It is an extension of metaphysics, the same way metaphysics is an extension of physics. The central concept is to take an idea, assume its veracity, and see where that gets you.

In essense, pataphysics is a degree of separation from reality. So, for example, if we see someone we know on the street and believe they are ignoring us even if it is not true, and then begin to imagine a reason they are doing so, we are essentially thinking pataphorically. So pataphors and pataphysics may also be said to describe the world of our fears, mistaken assumptions and belief systems run amok. They are worlds built of assumptions based on assumptions.

As an example, the neutral interpretation of an event might be “Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.” A metaphorical interpretation would be “Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces on a chessboard.” A pataphorical interpretation would “Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating. Rudy was furious at losing to Margaret so easily and dumped the board on the rose colored quilt, stomping downstairs.” Thus, the pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context.

A pataphor attempts to create a figure of speech that exists as far from metaphor as metaphor exists from non figurative language. Whereas a metaphor is the comparison of a real object or event with a seemingly unrelated subject in order to emphasize the similarities between the two, the pataphor uses the newly created metaphorical similarity as a reality with which to base itself. In going beyond mere ornamentation of the original idea, the pataphor seeks to describe a new and separate world, in which an idea or aspect of a concept has taken on a life of its own.

Like pataphysics itself, pataphors essentially describe two degrees of separation from reality, rather than merely one degree of separation, which is the world of metaphors and metaphysics. The pataphor may also be said to function as a critical tool, describing the world of assumptions based on assumptions, such as belief systems or rhetoric run amok.

In the 1960s pataphysics was used as a conceptual principle within various fine art forms, especially pop art and popular culture. Actual works within the pataphysical tradition tend to focus on the processes of their creation, and elements of chance or arbitrary choices are frequently key in those processes. Select pieces from Marcel Duchamp and John Cage characterize this.