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December 28, 2011


Nick Smyth

Hi Justin! You might be aware of this, but P.F. Strawson made a lot of this distinction. We normally think that "Features" like gold, water, etc. are distinct from sortals like "cat" and "ball". However, Strawson thought that the former category formed a kind of transcendental basis for the latter: conceptual schemes begin only with features, treating even "cat" as an unidfferentiated blob or shape, and then building on these concepts towards sortal ones.

So, one interesting way of drawing the distinction is to say that stuff is (in some odd sense) more primitive than things, that more basic forms of conceptual development do not include the concept of an object.

Nick Smyth

Aaaand you already mentioned Strawson in the post and I somehow missed it. Neeever mind.


Don't forget that for Aristotle the wet/moist is defined by its ability to take on any shape (or form?), but which is not determinable by its own limit; the dry is that which is determinable by limits of its own, but does not (easily?) take on shape. There's your stuff/thing right there, arguably in a more fundamental form, injected straight into the principles of tangible reality.

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