Capacity: What an entity may be
- its potential, ability, power, talents etc.
The other nouns
given in the definition are approximate synonyms, and the idea is basic
and rather subtle. The fundamental problem with it, however it is
called, is that what a thing is capable of may be much more than it, so
far, has empirically shown, and this involves modal
considerations, as also indicated by the 'may be'.
A fairly standard example of a capacity is that of an acorn to
turn into an oak, in suitable conditions, but not into a butterfly or
mermaid. This example indicates another strength or subtlety of
capacities: That something may have the capacity to turn into another
kind of thing, as also illustrated by the caterpillar and the butterfly.
Aristotle made much of capacities, though the term used in English
translations tends to be 'potential'.
There is a related term, disposition, with which capacity must be
contrasted: A capacity is something that a thing can do, in suitable
conditions; a disposition is an organization of capacities,