Archive for July 18th, 2014

July 18, 2014

Haecceity

coraline

ding an sich

Haecceity [hek-see-i-tee] (from the Latin ‘haecceitas’: ‘thisness’) is a term from medieval philosophy first coined by thirteenth century Scottish theologian Duns Scotus which denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person or object’s ‘thisness,’ the individualizing difference between, for example, the concept ‘a man’ and the concept ‘Socrates’ (a specific person).

American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce later used the term as a non-descriptive reference to an individual. It may also be defined in some dictionaries as simply the ‘essence’ of a thing, or as a simple synonym for quiddity (‘whatness’) or hypokeimenon (‘underlying thing’). However, such a definition deprives the term of its subtle distinctiveness and utility. Whereas haecceity refers to aspects of a thing which make it a particular thing, quiddity refers to the universal qualities of a thing, or the aspects shares with other things (which is relevant to taxonomy, the science of classification).

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