Essence, Necessity, and Explanation

In Tuomas E. Tahko (ed.), Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 187--206 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


It is common to think of essence along modal lines: the essential truths, on this approach, are a subset of the necessary truths. But Aristotle conceives of the necessary truths as being distinct and derivative from the essential truths. Such a non-modal conception of essence also constitutes a central component of the neo-Aristotelian approach to metaphysics defended over the last several decades by Kit Fine. Both Aristotle and Fine rely on a distinction between what belongs to the essence proper of an object and what merely follows from the essence proper of an object. In order for this type of approach to essence and modality to be successful, we must be able to identify an appropriate consequence relation which in fact generates the result that the necessary truths about objects follow from the essential truths. I discuss some proposals put forward by Fine and then turn to Aristotle’s account: Aristotle’s central idea, to trace the explanatory power of definitions to the causal power of essences has the potential to open the door to a philosophically satisfying response to the question of why certain things are relevant, while others are irrelevant, to the nature or essence of entities. If at all possible, it would be desirable for example to have something further to say by way of explanation to such questions as ‘Why is the number 2 completely irrelevant to the nature of camels?’



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

On the Reduction of Necessity to Essence.Fabrice Correia - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):639-653.
Understanding and Essence.Anand Jayprakash Vaidya - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (4):811-833.
Aristotle on meaning and essence.David Charles - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Essence and modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
The Grounds of Necessity.Ross P. Cameron - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (4):348-358.
Metaphysics as the First Philosophy.Tuomas Tahko - 2013 - In Edward Feser (ed.), Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 49-67.
The Epistemology of Essence.Tuomas Tahko - 2018 - In Alexander Carruth, S. C. Gibb & John Heil (eds.), Ontology, Modality, Mind: Themes from the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 93-110.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Moore, Morality, Supervenience, Essence, Epistemology.Nick Zangwill - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (2):125 - 130.
Individual and Essence in Aristotle's Metaphysics.S. Marc Cohen - 1978 - Paideia (Special Aristotle Edition):75-85.
Aquinas' transcendences to Aristotle in the doctrine of essence.Dezhi Duan - 2007 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 2 (4):572-582.


Added to PP

966 (#13,380)

6 months
89 (#43,057)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kathrin Koslicki
Université de Neuchâtel

Citations of this work

Form, Matter, Substance.Kathrin Koslicki - 2021 - Chroniques Universitaires 2020:99-119.
Metaphysical Rationalism.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):379-418.
The Coarse-Grainedness of Grounding.Kathrin Koslicki - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 9:306-344.
Essentialist Explanation.Martin Glazier - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2871-2889.
Aristotle’s Definition of Scientific Knowledge.Lucas Angioni - 2016 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 19 (1):79-104.

View all 35 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references