Eric Rubenstein (IUP) will give a talk entitled “The Basic Furniture of Reality?” on Friday, October 10, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. in Johnson Hall, room 247.
When it comes to questions about the fundamental nature of reality, we are all
arguably Aristotle's heirs. In particular, we think of individual things,
particular chairs, tables, cows, and the like as fundamental. All
qualities of those individual substances are given a dependent, secondary
This paper seeks an alternative to Aristotle’s metaphysics.
In particular, it turns to the PreSocratic philosophers, looking to make
them relevant to contemporary debates. To that end I sketch a position
where what is basic and fundamental are the familiar stuffs of our world—earth, air, mud, blood, etc. The goal is to make these general entities most
basic, instead of seeing them as also derivative, in the way the properties of
individual substances are. A world of stuffs would be a world where what is
concrete and basic is radically different from what Aristotle thought. But
it would also require a radical reconceiving of the individuals we seem to
encounter in our everyday lives. Perhaps, in the end, there are no
individuals, not even particular human beings. There is just a world of
concrete, general stuffs. That would truly break Aristotle's enduring grip on
how to think about our world.
Department of Philosophy