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jorge j. e. gracia

Subject Philosophy » Metaphysics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631199991.1995.x


Translation of the Latin individuum , introduced by Boethius in philosophical discourse as a translation of the Greek atomon in his commentaries on Porphyry's Isagoge . It is opposed to ‘universal’ and is frequently considered synonymous with ‘singular’ and ‘particular’. Some philosophers use it as a synonym of ‘person’. There are four metaphysical issues related to this notion: (1) the intension of ‘individual’; (2) the extension of the term; (3)the ontological status of individuality in the individual and its relation to the individual's nature; and (4) the principle of individuation. The intensional issue involves determining the necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be individual. These conditions are usually understood to involve one or more of the following: indivisibility, distinction, division, identity , impredicability and non-instantiability. The first is most often under stood as indivisibility into entities specifically the same as the original ( see Suárez ). The second is understood in terms of distinction or difference from other things ( see Ayer ). Division is taken to refer to the capacity of individuals to divide the species ( see Ockham ; Sellars ). By identity is meant the capacity of individuals to remain the same through time and changes. Impredicability may be understood metaphysically or logically, giving rise to two different ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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