Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?



11/30/2018 4:11 pm  #1


Essentialism versus Structuralism

Argument in favor of structuralism:

Every electron is indistinguishable from every other electron. Therefore no individual electron has any essence. This makes it more likely that "essence" is not a fundamental metaphysical feature but rather an illusion.

Argument in favor of essentialism:

The idea of essence has been reinvented many times, like Quine's idea of natural kinds. This probably is a sign that attempts to replace essentialism with structuralism are not going to succeed.

 

11/30/2018 9:45 pm  #2


Re: Essentialism versus Structuralism

Due_Kindheartedness wrote:

Argument in favor of structuralism:

Every electron is indistinguishable from every other electron. Therefore no individual electron has any essence. This makes it more likely that "essence" is not a fundamental metaphysical feature but rather an illusion.

Argument in favor of essentialism:

The idea of essence has been reinvented many times, like Quine's idea of natural kinds. This probably is a sign that attempts to replace essentialism with structuralism are not going to succeed.

What is the relationship between essence and distinguishability?  Isn't matter, and its distorting affects, the cause of individuation, and not the essence itself?

 

11/30/2018 11:24 pm  #3


Re: Essentialism versus Structuralism

I would not think that indistinguishability would tend to disqualify some kind of entity from the honor of having an essence. On the contrary, if there is some one that we can say about each electron by virtue of nothing other than its being electrons, then we seem to have put our finger on its essence.

However, taking indistinguishability in its most straightforward sense, I am not sure it's what we want to say here. Electrons are not indistinguishable from each other. If they were, we should be in confusion as to whether there were more than one electron. Electrons rather seem to be, as Aristotle might put it, "one in being but different in number."

 

12/01/2018 1:36 am  #4


Re: Essentialism versus Structuralism

Greg wrote:

However, taking indistinguishability in its most straightforward sense, I am not sure it's what we want to say here. Electrons are not indistinguishable from each other. If they were, we should be in confusion as to whether there were more than one electron. Electrons rather seem to be, as Aristotle might put it, "one in being but different in number."

There was a debate in physics of whether there really was only one electron in the universe (and that positrons were electrons traveling backward in time). But currently most physicists feel that this idea is "stupid," so you might be correct.

     Thread Starter
 

12/02/2018 7:57 am  #5


Re: Essentialism versus Structuralism

Structuralism would deny essence? This is not the kind of structuralism I ever heard of. Poststructuralism maybe.

Very abstractly, structuralism would methodically employ distinctions, both analytical, conceptual, and ontological. This is also the method of philosophy in general.

Further, structuralism would affirm that the distinctions (concepts, entities, processes, whatever) would form or be part of an overarching whole - they would be distinctions of something.

The tricky question is: What is that overarching whole? As far as I have been able to glean, in classical structuralism (linguists like Saussure and Hjelmslev who actually did not have much pretension to a thorough philosophy) the whole would be something like pleroma, full of essence so that every part of it, subdivision or distinction within it would be vitally dependent upon the whole (except that the focus was not on the whole, but on the structure apparent upon analysis).

Poststructuralists (Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Baudrillard, with very much pretension to having an actual philosophy with answers to life's big questions), on the other hand, would revel in the sense of relativity that the structuralist analysis gave. They lost much or all sense of purpose, hierarchy, and priority, happily heading towards irrelevant overanalysis.

Neither necessarily denies essence. The latter, being akin to postmodernism where there are no heads and tails, could make little sense of essence - not necessarily a denial of essence, but inability to employ the concept.

The statement "no individual electron has any essence" sounds more like atomism and "essence is not a fundamental metaphysical feature but rather an illusion" sounds more like nominalism.

Last edited by seigneur (12/02/2018 8:00 am)

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum