Concept of essence, main difference between new, classic philosophies
10 Jun 2012 10:36
Reza Mahouzi, author of ‘The Concept of Essence in Contemporary Analytical Metaphysics’ said the differences between the philosophers’ view of the concept of ‘essence’ is one of the basic differences between new and classic philosophies.
IBNA: Mahouzi said: “The ‘essence’ is a basic concept in philosophy that is discussed in almost all philosophical traditions from Plato and Aristotle to Muslim scholars.”
The concept of essence in new philosophies after the 16th century underwent a fundamental change and this shift of approach made one of the basic differences between the new and the classic philosophy, he added.
“This difference was pioneered by Descartes and John Locke and analyses of Kant and Hegel from epistemological structure of external concretes and this altered the human perception of the external entities and the external world in general.”
Mahouzi went on to explain that analytical philosophers had different holds of the epistemological and metaphysical structure of external objects because of the bondage between contemporary analytical philosophy and the experimental movement as well as the common treatment of the concept of ‘essence’ in philosophy and physics. Therefore studying the concept of essence in the light of the last theories became a must.
Studying this book familiarizes us with the findings of contemporary analytical philosophers for better understanding of ‘essence’ in Islamic philosophical traditions and pre-modern philosophies in general.
He continued: “There are various aspects to mention on the functions of essence in contemporary analytical philosophy. One use of the study is to correctly introduce as well as criticize what has been done so far on the human share and perception of external world in the western philosophical tradition, and the philosophers’ view of epistemological structure of the universe. In other words, the book is a fundamental occidentalism.”
Mahouzi added: “from another point of view, the discussions in the book will lead to a common or critical discourse, the common points be Islamic philosophers and new western philosophers on the issue of essence. It could also survey the interaction of different sciences, especially the philosophy and physics and how they make use of each other’s findings to learn more about the world’s secrets. This could give a hint for Iranian scholars for interdisciplinary studies.”
Then drawing on the similarities between both philosophies, he said: “New and contemporary western philosophies mainly rely on quality analysis or manifestations of objects. Therefore, all schools in this tradition tend to determine the foundation and epistemological foundation of objects resulting from the given qualitative analyses.”
“This means that by neglecting the essence, they tend to offer a phenomenological or experimental analysis of the objects and here they distance themselves from Islamic philosophers. While in Islamic tradition, the manifestations are mere subordinates of another thing that is not either qualitative or manifested. Therefore whatever is achieved by our senses is at external and phenomenal level while the essence cannot be perceived by senses.
As for the current state of essence in contemporary analytical philosophy, he stated that the concept of essence is now discussed under the heading of metaphysics in books of analytical philosophy. The categorization in itself reveals this philosophy’s view of essence whether considered as an external object or as the basis. Yet, according to him, the metaphysics makes a significant part of contemporary western philosophy.
He continued: In this book I have brought four different theories by analytical philosophers on the concept of essence. According to the first theory, an object is composed of traits and a fundamental existence that carries those traits and yet is unrecognizable, but is criticized as it is discordant with experimentalism. Therefore the criticizing theory has omitted the existence and introduced the structure of external objects in the name of classical theory.
He went to mention the third theory only to explain that is was also replaced by a fourth theory under the title of the New-Aristotelian theory of Essential Types.
The first print of “The Concept of Essence in Contemporary Analytical Metaphysics” is published in 2000 copies and 232 pages by Socio-cultural Research Institute Press of Science Ministry.