De Essentia

Alvin Plantinga

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Modality

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195103762
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833573 | DOI:
De Essentia

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In this essay, I raise three topics with regards to Roderick Chisholm's account of the idea of an individual essence. First, I give an argument for the claim that objects have more than one essence. Second, I defend the view that someone can know a proposition entailing someone else's essence. Third, I argue that existentialism (a view committed to the claim that a proposition or state of affairs P directly about an object is ontologically dependent upon x in that it is not possible that P exist and x fail to exist) is false. I demonstrate this by pointing out that existentialism's central claim – that the proposition E exists and the object x does not (where E is a state of affairs or proposition which is dependent on x) is impossible – is false; this proposition turns out to be possible after all on the existentialist account of possibility.

Keywords: Chisholm; essence; existence; existentialism; proposition; state of affairs

Chapter.  8593 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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