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Substance: Its Nature and Existence (Problems of Philosophy)

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415140324
ISBN-10: 0415140323
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Editorial Reviews


"The issues discussed...are at the center of one of the most lively debates in contemporary metaphysics; and the position Hoffman and Rosenkrantz stake out is appealing and carefully articulated. Their views deserve careful attention from philosophers working on the metaphysics of persistence through time, personal identity, artifact identity, and mereology."
-"The Philosophical Review
"H&R's book is a challenging read whose definitions are explicated with great rigour and exactness."
-"International Philosophical Quarterly, March 1998 Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1 Issue No. 149
"Extremely well organised and written in a clear, uncluttered and economical style."
-E. J. Lowe, University of Durham

From the Back Cover

Substance: Its Nature and Existence is one of the first accessible introductions to the history and contemporary debates surrounding the idea of substance. An important and often complex issue, substance is at the heart of Western philosophy. Substances are distinguished from other kinds of entities such as properties, events, times, and places. This book investigates the very nature and existence of individual substances, including both living things and inanimate objects. Taking as their starting point the major philosophers in the historical debate - Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and Hume - Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz move on to a novel analysis of substance in terms of a kind of independence which insubstantial entities do not possess. The authors explore causal theories of the unity of the parts of inanimate objects and organisms; contemporary views about substance; the idea that the only existing physical substances are inanimate pieces of matter and living organisms, and that artifacts such as clocks, and natural formations like stars, do not really exist. Substance: Its Nature and Existence provides students of philosophy and metaphysics with an introduction to and critical engagement with a key philosophical issue.

Product Details

  • Series: Problems of Philosophy
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (February 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415140323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415140324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,391,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Reader on February 9, 2016
Format: Paperback
Written by Hoffman and Rosenkranz and published in 1997, ‘Substance: Its Nature and Existence’ is an installment in Routledge’s ‘The Problems of Philosophy’ series. As a philosophical subject ‘substance’ falls within the domain of metaphysics; the branch of philosophy that is concerned with first principles, such as; being, cause, space, time and so forth. After having fallen by the wayside of Anglo-American philosophy in the early twentieth century metaphysics, as attested by works such as this, has experienced something of a revival in recent decades.

What exactly is a substance? While belief in particular enduring entities appears both intuitive and necessary, it is difficult to say precisely how the notion of substance should be understood, prime matter, bare particulars, form matter composites, property bundles or something else? In the present text the authors implement the two-pronged approach that is characteristic of this series, a survey and critical assessment of leading historic approaches to the subject followed by their own solution to the problem. From a content perspective the text is solid if unremarkable. The historic analysis is largely uncontentious while the authors’ own proposal though feeling somewhat ad hoc is no worse than many others. And, while it is important to acknowledge that this is an informed and thorough analysis by reputable scholars I was somewhat disappointed by the text. First and foremost, it is a tedious and difficult read. Now to be fair, part of this difficulty is due to the nature of the topic – metaphysical discussions such as this are inherently abstruse. That said, the book suffers from the plodding and awkward prose that unfortunately characterize much contemporary academic philosophy.
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It provides a good review of the concept of susbtance.
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