Haecceitism

Literally: ‘thisnessism’.

Theory deriving from Johannes Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308), with roots in Aristotle, that as well as ordinary general properties there are special properties (haec-ceitie or thisnesses) necessarily associated each with just one individual.

Socrates has the property of Socrateity and Plato that of Platonity.

Traditional Aristotelianism individuated objects by their matter, which as such (abstracted from all form) was unknowable.

Properties, however, count as form rather than matter, and so Socrates and Plato could now – at least in principle – be distinguished by reason, not just by the senses. Recently, ‘anti-haecceitism’ has been used for the rejection either of primitive (that is unanalyzable) thisnesses or of primitive transworld identity.

Also see: counterpart theory

Source:
A B Wolter, The Philosophical Theology of John Duns Scotus, M McC Adams, ed. (1990), ch. 4

In metaphysics, haecceitism is the perspective implied by the belief that entities can have haecceity or individual essence, “a set of principles which are essential to it and distinguish it from everything else.”[1] James Ladyman characterizes haecceitism as “the claim that worlds can differ solo numero, that worlds can differ de re whilst not differing de dicto, sometimes said, that worlds can differ solely by the permutation of individuals.”[2]

 

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