Essentialism: Aristotle and the Contemporary Approach

Dissertation, Georgetown University (1980)

The third chapter consists of a comparison between Aristotle's theory of essences and contemporary essentialism. I take Kripke's views as paradigmatic . My procedure in the third chapter is to elucidate two basic differences between Aristotle and the contemporary view with the goal of clarifying and extending the interpretation developed in the first two chapters. ;My interpretation of Aristotle's essentialism is devoted primarily to an examination of the concept of essence 11) and related terms as they appear in the central books of the Metaphysics . I argue in the first two chapters that Aristotle held a doctrine of individual essences, i.e., that his essences are numerically distinct principles such as the essence for Callias and the essence for Socrates. The second chaper shows that the chief difficulty with the individual essence interpretation, i.e., that Aristotle held that all knowledge is of the universal, is mistaken. ;Essence is an elusive concept in Aristotle's metaphysics. In recent years the attempt to understand Aristotle's essentialism has become enriched, and naturally, even more complex as a result of the emergence of essentialism as a contemporary metaphysical position
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