By Joseph J. Kockelmans (Editor)
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Extra resources for A Companion to Martin Heidegger's "Being and time"
The physical essence of a thing, however, is its nature as concretely existing, containing real constituent principles or parts. In the case of humans, then, when we observe a particular human’s rationality – rationality as exemplified in the mode of a particular human’s existence – we observe a real, constituent part of the human; the same for his animality. Put more concretely, we can say that a human being is a composite of mind and body, the mind exemplifying rationality and the body exemplifying animality; and the human exemplifies both by virtue of his mind and body exemplifying each universal respectively.
Yet it is difficult to see how there could be a necessary relation between substrata and features that was not at least in Some varieties of anti-essentialism 23 part grounded in some intrinsic feature of the former, just as is the case for all necessary relations. The substrata, then, would still have intrinsic features. If, on the other hand, the bare substrata are essentially featureless, then what is to stop switches, not just between kinds but between particulars? Why couldn’t the bare substratum of Fido, say, swap with that of Rover?
The misconceptions here arguably go back also to Locke, since sometimes he equates real essence with substance, and this with a bare substratum or featureless support of observable qualities. On other occasions real essence is equated simply with the hidden, inner constitution of things – something ‘unknown to us’ rather than in principle unknowable (by observation). (Compare Locke 1975: 295ff. with 443ff. ; and see the discussion in Mackie 1976: ch. ) If the essentialist were to identify real essences with bare substrata, the empiricist complaint would have some bite.