Stuff, Universals, and Things: some themes from metaphysics

  • Author / Creator
    Islam, Shaheen
  • The problem which spurred this thesis has three components. First, there are entities which we may call stuff – alluded to by uncountable nouns; these entities seem to have a duality for behaving like both (i) an object or a discrete middle size substance – which are supposed to be non-repetitive and independent, and as well as (ii) a concept or a universal – which are repetitive but dependent (on some independent substances). Second, a dichotomy persists between the two aspects of the duality: what is non-repeatable cannot be repeatable and, conversely what is repeatable cannot be non-repeatable. Third, there is a background of how we conventionally do logic, and our present trend of doing – or rather, doing away with – metaphysics. The thesis then came up with four chapters. Chapter 1 deals with the question – how can, or how do we deal with stuff predication following the conventional guidelines? – where by stuff predication I mean any predication involving stuff. I also tried there to find out some clues from Frege’s works. Chapter 2 dives into some related issues pertaining to language, grammar and the notion of constitution. Chapter 3 examines critically two types of theories or views (one of them has been recently championed by Michael Dummett and P.F. Strawson; the other by David Armstrong) arguing how repetitive entities differ from the non-repetitive ones. My counter argument is that those arguments are either fallacious or not even complete. Chapter 4 takes an Aristotelian perspective following the lead of E.J. Lowe. The thesis has a pessimistic tone at the end: the conventional method is quite inadequate as it misses some subtleties pertaining to stuff, nor could Lowe’s Aristotle take us too far. Nevertheless, one cannot – I hope – miss some deeper insights glimpsing into this work. Particularly, Chapter 3 opens up some new venues to think about: our thoughts about our own arguments and proofs may need some revamping.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2009
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Morton, Adam (Philosophy)
    • Linsky, Bernard (Philosophy)
    • Newman, John (Linguistics)
    • Gillon, Brendan (Linguistics, McGill University)
    • Rueger, Alexander (Philosophy)