RE: Epistemology

From: Jerry Mitchell (
Date: Wed Aug 29 2001 - 11:19:44 MDT

> Jerry writes
> > I wasnt familiar with the term so I did some searching.
> Heres what I got:
> >
> >
> >
> > <snip>
> > Essentialism, in philosophy, is the doctrine that things
> have essential
> > properties, properties without which they would not be the
> things that they
> > are. Many philosophers hold that the essence of water is
> its real essence;
> > the essence of water is H2O. So the stuff in my glass has
> an essential
> > property, a property without which it would not be the
> stuff that it is; if
> > the stuff in my glass did not have the property of being
> H2O, then it would
> > not be water.
> That example doesn't seem to work! I can just imagine you going
> off to planet Y in a very distant galaxy, crashlanding, swimming
> across a large river, drinking the water, using it to water your
> plants, and then having the first officer come yelling to you,
> "Chief! This stuff isn't H20!". You'd then probably conclude
> that not all water in the universe has the same chemical
> composition.
> Only in mathematics can I think of examples of things that have
> essential properties, e.g., even numbers are divisible by two,
> and even then our terms may be misleading.
> So what is needed are some better examples by those who believe
> in the existence of essential properties. At least that might
> help me follow what is going on.
> Lee

I dont follow this, what do you mean the officer runs over and says its not
H2O? If its a compound similar to water and acts in the same way, it still
is what it is. What else could it be? If its compound X, then its molecular
structure might be different. My use of it doesnt change its identity or the

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