Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 E - Essence

Essence: Something that belongs to a thing such that without it the thing cannot be the thing it is; necessary characteristic or property of a thing.

Whether there really are essences of things is a moot question, but it is certainly true that there are at least verbally necessary characteristics that are involved in the definition of a term. Thus, something cannot be a crow without being a bird, and in that sense it belongs to a crow's essence to be a bird, and this is shown by a proper definition of the term 'crow' that should include that anything correctly called a crow also is correctly called a bird. 

Often far more is meant, implied or suggested by the term 'essence', and usually the problem is that this involves problems of modal logic, such as in what sense the supposed necessary features of something are necessary.


See also:


Bochenski, Carnap, Chellas, Copi, Quine

 Original: Jul 5, 2005                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top