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Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.[1] The corresponding concept in Eastern philosophy is svabhava.

Substance is a key concept in ontology and metaphysics, which may be classified into monist, dualist, or pluralist varieties according to how many substances or individuals are said to populate, furnish, or exist in the world. According to monistic views, there is only one substance. Stoicism and Spinoza, for example, hold monistic views, that pneuma or God, respectively, is the one substance in the world. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of immanence. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances (for example, the Cartesian substance dualism of mind and matter). Pluralist philosophies include Plato's Theory of Forms and Aristotle's hylomorphic categories.

## Ancient Greek philosophy

### Aristotle

Aristotle used the term "substance" (Greek: οὐσία ousia) in a secondary sense for genera and species understood as hylomorphic forms. Primarily, however, he used

Substance is a key concept in ontology and metaphysics, which may be classified into monist, dualist, or pluralist varieties according to how many substances or individuals are said to populate, furnish, or exist in the world. According to monistic views, there is only one substance. Stoicism and Spinoza, for example, hold monistic views, that pneuma or God, respectively, is the one substance in the world. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of immanence. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances (for example, the Cartesian substance dualism of mind and matter). Pluralist philosophies include Plato's Theory of Forms and Aristotle's hylomorphic categories.

Aristotle used the term "substance" (Greek: οὐσία ousia) in a secondary sense for genera and species understood as hylomorphic forms. Primarily, however, he used it with regard to his category of substance, the specimen ("this person" or "this horse") or individual, qua individual, who survives accidental change and in whom the essential properties inhere that define those universals.

A substance—that which is called a substance most strictly, primarily, and most of all—is that which is neither said of a subject nor in a subject, e.g. the individual man or the individual horse. The species in which the things primarily called substances are, are called secondary substances, as also are the genera of these species. For example, the individual man belongs in a species, man, and animal is a genus of the species; so these—both man and animal—are called secondary substances.[2]

— Aristotle, Categories 2a13 (trans. J. L. Ackrill)

In chapter 6 of book I the Physics Aristotle argues that any change must be analysed in reference to the property of an invariant subject: as it was before the change and thereafter. Thus, in his hylomorphic account of change, matter serves as a relative substratum of transformation, i.e., of changing (substantial) form. In the Categories, properties are predicated only of substance, but in chapter 7 of book I of the Physics, Aristotle discusses substances coming to be and passing away in the "unqualified sense" wherein primary substances (πρῶται οὐσίαι; Categories 2a35) are generated from (or perish into) a material substratum by having gained (or lost) the essential property that formally defines substances of that kind (in the secondary sense). Examples of such a substantial change include not only conception and dying, but also metabolism, e.g., the bread a man eats becomes the man. On the other hand, in accidental change, because the essential property remains unchanged, by identifying the substance with its formal essence, substance may thereby serve as the relative subject matter or property-bearer of change in a qualified sense (i.e., barring matters of life or death). An example of this sort of accidental change is a change of color or size: a tomato becomes red, or a juvenile horse grows.

Aristotle thinks that in addition to primary substances (which are particulars), there are secondary substances (δεύτεραι οὐσίαι), which are universals (Categories 2a11–a18).[3]

Neither the "bare particulars" nor "property bundles" of modern theory have their antecedent in Aristotle, according to whom all matter exists in some form. There is no prime matter or pure elements, there is always a mixture: a ratio weighing the four potential combinations of primary and secondary properties and analysed into discrete one-step and two-step abstract transmutations between the elements.[citation needed]

However, according to Aristotle's theology, a form of invariant form exists without matter, beyond the cosmos, powerless and oblivious, in the eternal substance of the unmoved movers.

### Pyrrhonism

Early Pyrrhonism rejected the idea that substances exist. Pyrrho put this as:

"Whoever wants to live well (eudaimonia) must consider these three questions: First, how are pragmata (ethical matters, affairs, topics) by nature? Secondly, what atti

A substance—that which is called a substance most strictly, primarily, and most of all—is that which is neither said of a subject nor in a subject, e.g. the individual man or the individual horse. The species in which the things primarily called substances are, are called secondary substances, as also are the genera of these species. For example, the individual man belongs in a species, man, and animal is a genus of the species; so these—both man and animal—are called secondary substances.[2]

In chapter 6 of book I the Physics Aristotle argues that any change must be analysed in reference to the property of an invariant subject: as it was before the change and thereafter. Thus, in his hylomorphic account of change, matter serves as a relative substratum of transformation, i.e., of changing (substantial) form. In the Categories, properties are predicated only of substance, but in chapter 7 of book I of the Physics, Aristotle discusses substances coming to be and passing away in the "unqualified sense" wherein primary substances (πρῶται οὐσίαι; Categories 2a35) are generated from (or perish into) a material substratum by having gained (or lost) the essential property that formally defines substances of that kind (in the secondary sense). Examples of such a substantial change include not only conception and dying, but also metabolism, e.g., the bread a man eats becomes the man. On the other hand, in accidental change, because the essential property remains unchanged, by identifying the substance with its formal essence, substance may thereby serve as the relative subject matter or property-bearer of change in a qualified sense (i.e., barring matters of life or death). An example of this sort of accidental change is a change of color or size: a tomato becomes red, or a juvenile horse grows.

Aristotle thinks that in addition to primary substances (which are particulars), there are secondary substances (δεύτεραι οὐσίαι), which are universals (Categories 2a11–a18).[3]

Neither the "bare particulars" nor "property bundles" of modern theory have their antecedent in Aristotle, according to whom all matter exists in some form. There is no prime matter or pure elements, there is always a mixture: a ratio weighing the four potential combinations of primary and secondary properties and analysed into discrete one-step and two-step abstract transmutations between the elements.[citation needed]

However, according to Aristotle's theology, a form of invariant form exists without matter, beyond the cosmos, powerless and oblivious, in the eternal substance of the unmoved movers.

Early Pyrrhonism rejected the idea that substances exist. Pyrrho put this as:

"Whoever wants to live well (eudaimonia) must consider these three questions: First, how are pragmata (ethical matters, affairs, topics) by nature? Secondly, what attitude should we adopt towards them? Thirdly, what will be the outcome for

"Whoever wants to live well (eudaimonia) must consider these three questions: First, how are pragmata (ethical matters, affairs, topics) by nature? Secondly, what attitude should we adopt towards them? Thirdly, what will be the outcome for those who have this attitude?" Pyrrho's answer is that "As for pragmata they are all adiaphora (undifferentiated by a logical differentia), astathmēta (unstable, unbalanced, not measurable), and anepikrita (unjudged, unfixed, undecidable). Therefore, neither our sense-perceptions nor our doxai (views, theories, beliefs) tell us the truth or lie; so we certainly should not rely on them. Rather, we should be adoxastoi (without views), aklineis (uninclined toward this side or that), and akradantoi (unwavering in our refusal to choose), saying about every single one that it no more is than it is not or it both is and is not or it neither is nor is not.[4]

The Stoics rejected the idea that incorporeal beings inhere in matter, as taught by Plato. They believed that all being is corporeal infused with a creative fire called pneuma. Thus they developed a scheme of categories different from Aristotle's based on the ideas of Anaxagoras and Timaeus.

### Neoplatonism

Neoplatonists argue that beneath the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles or hypostases, each one more sublime than the preceding. For Plotinus, these are the soul or world-soul, being/intellect or divine mind (nous), and "the one".[5]

## Religious philosophy

### Christianity

The Christian writers of antiquity adhered to the Aristotelian conception of substance. Their peculiarity was the use of this idea for the discernment of theological nuances. Clement of Alexandria considered both material and spiritual substances: blood and milk; mind and soul, respectively.[6] Neoplatonists argue that beneath the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles or hypostases, each one more sublime than the preceding. For Plotinus, these are the soul or world-soul, being/intellect or divine mind (nous), and "the one".[5]

## Religious philosophy

René Descartes means

René Descartes means by a substance an entity which exists in such a way that it needs no other entity in order to exist. Therefore, only God is a substance in this strict sense. However, he extends the term to created things, which need only the concurrence of God to exist. He maintained that two of these are mind and body, each being distinct from the other in their attributes and therefore in their essence, and neither needing the other in order to exist. This is Descartes' substance dualism.

Baruch Spinoza denied Descartes' "real distinction" between mind and matter. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple "attributes". He regards an attribute, though, as "what we conceive as constituting the [single] essence of substance". The single essence o

Baruch Spinoza denied Descartes' "real distinction" between mind and matter. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple "attributes". He regards an attribute, though, as "what we conceive as constituting the [single] essence of substance". The single essence of one substance can be conceived of as material and also, consistently, as mental. What is ordinarily called the natural world, together with all the individuals in it, is immanent in God: hence his famous phrase deus sive natura ("God or Nature").

John Locke views substance through a corpuscularian lens where it exhibits two types of qualities which both stem from a source. He believes that humans are born tabula rasa or “blank slate” – without innate knowledge. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke writes that “first essence may be taken for the very being of anything, whereby it is, what it is.” If humans are born without any knowledge, the way to receive knowledge is through perception of a certain object. But, according to Locke, an object exists in its primary qualities, no matter whether the human perceives it or not; it just exists. For example, an apple has qualities or properties that determine its existence apart from human perception of it, such as its mass or texture. The apple itself is also “pure substance in which is supposed to provide some sort of ‘unknown support’ to the observable qualities of things”[vague] that the human mind perceives.[17] The foundational or support qualities are called primary essences which “in the case of physical substances, are the underlying physical causes of the object's observable qualities”.[18] But then what is an object except “the owner or support of other properties”? Locke rejects Aristotle's category of the forms, and develops mixed ideas about what substance or “first essence” means. Locke's solution to confusion about first essence is to argue that objects simply are what they are – made up of microscopic particles existing because they exist. According to Locke, the mind cannot completely grasp the idea of a substance as it “always falls beyond knowledge”.[19] There is a gap between what first essence truly means and the mind's perception of it that Locke believes the mind cannot bridge, objects in their primary qualities must exist apart from human perception.

The molecular combination of atoms in first essence then forms the solid base that humans can perceive and add qualities to describe - the only way humans can possibly begin to perceive an object. The way to perceive the qualities of an apple is from the combination of the primary qualities to form the secondary qualities. These qualities are then used to group the substances into different categories that “depend on the properties [humans] happen to be able to perceive”.[19] The taste of an apple or the feeling of its smoothness are not traits inherent to the fruit but are the power of the primary qualities to produce an idea about that object in the mind.[20] The reason that humans can't sense the actual primary qualities is the mental distance from the object; thus, Locke argues, objects remain nominal for humans.[21] Therefore, the argument then returns to how “a philosopher has no other idea of those substances than what is framed by a collection of those simple ideas which are found in them.”[22] The mind's conception of substances “[is] complex rather than simple” and “has no (supposedly innate) clear and distinct idea of matter that can be revealed through intellectual abstraction away from sensory qualities”.[17]

The last quality of substance is the way the perceived qualities seem to begin to change – such as a candle melting; this quality is called the tertiary quality. Tertiary qualities “of a body are those powers in it that, by virtue of its primary qualities, give it the power to produce observable changes in the primary qualities of other bodies”; “the power of the sun to melt wax is a tertiary quality of the sun”.[18] They are “mere powers; qualities such as flexibility, ductility; and the power of sun to melt wax”. This goes along with[vague] “passive power: the capacity a thing has for being changed by another thing”.[23] In any object, at the core are the primary qualities (unknowable by the human mind), the secondary quality (how primary qualities are perceived), and tertiary qualities (the power of the combined qualities to make a change to the object itself or to other objects).

Robert Boyle's corpuscularian hypothesis states that "all material bodies are composites of ultimately small[vague] particles of matter" that "have the same material qualities[vague] as the larger composite bodies do".[24] Using this basis, Locke defines his first group, primary qualities, as "the ones that a body doesn't lose, however much it alters."[25] The materials retain their primary qualities even if they are broken down because of the unchanging nature of their atomic particles.[24] If someone i

Robert Boyle's corpuscularian hypothesis states that "all material bodies are composites of ultimately small[vague] particles of matter" that "have the same material qualities[vague] as the larger composite bodies do".[24] Using this basis, Locke defines his first group, primary qualities, as "the ones that a body doesn't lose, however much it alters."[25] The materials retain their primary qualities even if they are broken down because of the unchanging nature of their atomic particles.[24] If someone is curious about an object and they[who?] say it is solid and extended, these two descriptors are primary qualities.[26] The second group consists of secondary qualities which are "really nothing but the powers to produce various sensations in us by their primary qualities."[27] Locke argues that the impressions our senses perceive from the objects (i.e. taste, sounds, colors, etc.) are not natural properties of the object itself, but things they induce in us by means of the "size, shape, texture, and motion of their imperceptible parts."[27] The bodies send insensible particles to our senses which let us perceive the object through different faculties; what we perceive is based on the object's composition. With these qualities, people can achieve the object through bringing "co-existing powers and sensible qualities to a common ground for explanation".[28] Locke supposes that one wants to know what "binds these qualities" into an object, and argues that a "substratum" or "substance" has this effect, defining "substance" as follows:

[T]he idea of ours to which we give the general name substance, being nothing but the supposed but unknown support of those qualities we find existing and which we imagine can’t exist sine re substante — that is, without some thing to support them — we call that support substantia; which, according to the true meaning of the word, is in plain English standing under or upholding.

— John Locke, This substratum is a construct of the mind in an attempt to bind all the qualities seen together; it is only "a supposition of an unknown support of qualities that are able to cause simple ideas in us."[29] Without making a substratum, people would be at a loss as to how different qualities relate. Locke does, however, mention that this substratum is an unknown, relating it to the story of the world on the turtle's back and how the believers eventually had to concede that the turtle just rested on "something he knew not what".[29] This is how the mind perceives all things and from which it can make ideas about them; it is entirely relative, but it does provide a "regularity and consistency to our ideas".[26] Substance, overall, has two sets of qualities — those that define it, and those related to how we perceive it. These qualities rush to our minds, which must organize them. As a result, our mind creates a substratum (or substance) for these objects, into which it groups related qualities.

## Criticism of soul as substance

Kant observed that the assertion of a spiritual soul as substance could be a synthetic proposition which, however, was unproved and completely arbitrary.[30] Introspection does not reveal any diachronic substrate remaining unchanged throughout life. The temporal structure of consciousness is retentive-perceptive-prognostic. The selfhood arises as result of several informative flows: (1) signals from our own body; (2) retrieved memories and forecasts; (3) the affective load: dispositions and aversions; (4) reflections in other minds.[31] Mental acts have the feature of appropriation: they are always attached to some pre-reflective consciousness.[32] As visual perception is only possible from a definite point of view, so inner experience is given together with self-consciousness. The latter is not an autonomous mental act, but a formal way how the first person has her experience. From the pre-reflective consciousness, the person gains conviction of her existence. This conviction is immune to false reference.[33] The concept of person is prior to the concepts of subject and body.[34] The reflective self-consciousness is a conceptual and elaborate cognition. Selfhood is a self-constituting effigy, a task to be accomplished.[35] Humans are incapable of comprising all their experience within the current state of consciousness; overlapping memories are critical for personal integrity. Appropriated experience can be recollected. At stage B, we remember the experience of stage A; at stage C, we may be aware of the mental acts of stage B. The idea of self-identity is enforced by the relatively slow changes of our body and social situation.[36] Personal identity may be explained without accepting a spiritual agent as subject of mental activity.[37] Associative connection between life episodes is necessary and sufficient for the maintenance of a united selfhood. Personal character and memories can persist after radical mutation of the body.[38]

## Irreducible concepts

Bare particular

In substance theory, a bare particular of an object is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which

In substance theory, a bare particular of an object is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independently from its properties, even if it is impossible for it to lack properties entirely. It is "bare" because it is considered without its properties and "particular" because it is not abstract. The properties that the substance has are said to inhere in the substance.

### Inherence

Another primiti

Another primitive concept in substance theory is the inherence of properties within a substance. For example, in the sentence, "The apple is red" substance theory says that red inheres in the apple. Substance theory takes the meaning of an apple having the property of redness to be understood, and likewise that of a property's inherence in substance, which is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance.

The inverse relation is participation. Thus in the example above, just as red inheres in the apple, so the apple participates in red.