Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

On individual essence

with 2 comments

In ‘Advice on Modal Logic’ Dana Scott presents truth conditions for indexical sentences like this:

for all persons p, s is true for p if and only if S.

This raises the question which instantiations of this schema will present truth conditions for particular persons p. For example,

‘I am wise’ is true for SV if and only if the only philosopher in Tarabya is wise

seems somehow to miss the mark.

Perhaps what we need to complete Scott’s theory is a way of specifying SV’s individual essence or (in Latin) haecceitas.

It turns out that just such a theory was proposed by the late medieval philosopher Duns Scotus, who must surely have felt he had much more philosophy to give the world when he passed away prematurely at age 43.

Dana Scott modestly takes no credit for the theory of haecceitas. But how could we have missed the evidence – supplied not only by the serendipitous completion of one man’s theory 680 years earlier by the other’s, but also by the fact that one man’s name is the anglicized form of the other’s – that in fact Dana Scott is the reincarnation of Duns Scotus?

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Written by shvoss

April 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. How did I never realize this!? Awesome 🙂

    Colin Caret

    April 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself Colin. There are certain deep truths that can only be grasped on April 1.

      shvoss

      April 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm


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