The word substance (of Latin substantia , of substare , being below) means:
- the Matter of which something is formed (hard, soft substance);
- what there is Essentiel in a work, an act, etc: substance of a maintenance; “substantial marrow” (F. Rabelais);
- what there is the best, of more nutritive: the plants draw their substance from the ground.
In Philosophy, the word substance indicates what there is the permanent one in the things which change.
In the language running, the word substance took a generally material significance. For example, it is often employed to indicate chemical substances (in the chemical direction of Composé).
The word substance has also a philosophical significance: the substance is indeed an essential concept of the Métaphysique and Ontologie. In this direction, interpretations vary between those which recognize only one substance (Moniste S) and those which recognize two of them (dualistic Philosophie) or several (pluralist philosophy).
This article treats initially substance with the philosophical direction. It approaches general information on chemical substance. For more details on chemical substance, one will consult the chemical article Composé.
From the philosophical point of view of or Metaphysical, the substance is the permanent reality which is used as substrate with the changing attributes. The substance is what exists in oneself, in lower part of the accidents, without changes; what makes of it a concept synonymous with the gasoline. She is opposed to the variable accidents, which do not exist in themselves, but only in the substance and by the substance. The term comes from Latin substare , to be held upright; of substantia , which is below, the support.
In its direction first, the substance is conceived like existing by oneself, because, in the contrary case, it would be attribute of another being and substance only in one relative direction
That raises the question to know which are the beings which are without the help of any other, which is thus substance in a direction first and absolute.
Traditional design in Western philosophy
See also: Substance (Aristote)
In the traditional design of Western philosophy, the substance corresponds to the ousia of the philosophy of Aristote. It is necessary to pay attention which the term ousia can take several directions. The ousia is the first of the ten categories defined by Aristote in the Categories .
Modes and attributes of the substance
In the thousand-year-old tradition of Aristote, as in the traditions of the beginning of modern times (16th century) which followed it, the substances are treated like having attributes and modes.
These concepts help to explain, for example, the transitions between states. If one takes a quantity of Eau and that one makes it freeze to transform it into Glace. The theory of the substance affirms that there is a " substance" unchanged through this transition, which is at the same time liquid water and also the ice. She affirms that water is not replaced by the ice - it is the same matter. If it is true, then the moisture of water, the hardness of the ice, are not essential with the subjacent matter.
The aristotelician point of view of on God regarded God as at the same time ontologiquement and causalement former to all the other substances. Others, among which Spinoza, affirmed that God is the only substance. The substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple modes. What we usually call the natural world, with all the individuals which compose it, east immanent as a God: from where the famous expression Deus sive Natura (" God, or Nature").
Questions around the substance at the 17th century
Following the Controversy ptolemeo-copernician, the question of the direction arose to give to the word substance.
Descartes started to tackle this question in the Méditations about philosophy first (1641). It raises the question of the substance in the meditation third. Until in the fifth part, it deals with the man like thinking substance. It approaches the other aspects of the substance only in the sixth part, making a rather clear distinction between body substance and intelligent substance:
- “I also admit in me some other faculties like those to change place, to put myself in several postures, and other similar, which cannot be conceived, either that the preceding ones, without some substance to which they are attached, nor consequently to exist without them; but it is very obvious that these faculties if it is true that they exist, must to be attached to some substance body or extended, and not with substance intelligent, since, in their concept clear and distinct, there is well some kind of extension which is contained, but not of the whole of intelligence. ”
Descartes, which was reticent to approach this topic of philosophy Scolastique, much at greater length extended on the substance in the Principles from philosophy (1644). It preserved nevertheless the belief in the transsubstantiation.
Descartes thus opposed the body and the Esprit, the body being a substance material, extended, and the Esprit a thinking substance, nonwide. It is about an typical example of Dualisme of substance.
One finds designs different from the substance between Descartes and Leibniz, this last having remained in the design Scolastique of the substance.
On the question of knowing which are the beings which are without the help of any other, i.e. without interdependence, Descartes and Spinoza answers that God alone is this independent substance.
In the religions
The substance is a concept employed in the Christianisme about the Eucharistie.
The substance is one of the concepts Métaphysique S key employed in philosophy Scolastique. This philosophy results from the réconcilition between the philosophy of Aristote and Christian philosophy, with. The design of the substance developed in Antiquity was taken again by Thomas d' Aquin (1225 - 1274), then developed by metaphysicians such as the Jésuite Francisco Suárez (1548 - 1617).
- “a big challenge which arises to us at the end of this millenium is to know to achieve the passage, as necessary as urgent, of the phenomenon to the base. It is not possible to stop with the only experiment; even when this one expresses and proclamation the interiority of the man and his spirituality, it is necessary that the speculative reflection reaches the spiritual substance and the base on which it rests. A philosophical thought which would refuse any opening Métaphysique would be thus radically inadequate to fulfill a function of mediation in the intelligence of the Révélation. ”
- Encyclical Fides and ratio (1998)
Within the traditional framework of the Veda, the substance was retained like the first of the seven Catégorie S in the theory of the categories worked out by the systems Nyâya and Vaiseshika; the latter being an atomic philosophy of nature. On its side, the Buddhism substituent the idea of an evolution to that of a to be stable rejects the concept of substance . For him, the world rests on " dharmas ", of the factors making the existences transitory possible in the form of Phenomenon S.
Gaston Bachelard placed this concept among the elementary concepts of which it is necessary to exceed the attractions to make it in conformity with the scientific spirit: Actually, there are no simple phenomena; the phenomenon is a fabric of relations. There is no simple nature, of simple substance: the substance is a texture of attributes.
Substance in the relationship between the man, nature, and God
Substance and nature in Christianity
Concerning the Human nature , the Church, following Saint Paul (chapter 12 of the epistle in Thessaloniciens) considers that it has there unicity of the Nature between the Esprit, the heart and the Corps:
- “That God of peace itself sanctifies you any entireties, and that all that is in you, the Esprit, the heart and the body, is preserved without reproach until the day of the advent of our Lord Jesus-Christ! ”
The Church expresses it still in the following way:
- “the unit of the heart and the body is so deep that one must consider the heart as the shape of the body; i.e., it is thanks to the spiritual heart that the matter constitutional body is an human body and alive; the Spirit and the matter, in the man, are not two Nature S not linked, but their union forms single a Nature. ”
The man like substance
There exist several manners of conceiving the Homme:
- the man is substance with regard to the Nature, but not compared to God;
- the man is not a substance, but a mode of the divine substance or Nature.
On the other hand, in the second case, the man as a modification of a total substance is determined by the laws of this one (which it is about a god Immanent, Transcendant, or Nature).
Substances and knowledge
Substances in nature
The Nature usually presents identifiable forms to us: a sheet, a cobweb, an egg. But, one meets also less familiar elements: resin, ash, clay, as well as various the Matière S that the produced body. Deprived of clean form, these matters escape to us materially as well as certain way conceptually. They are substances.
Let us consider thus an egg, so naturally beautiful and promising; if it has suddenly slipped to us of the fingers, the burst egg loses its natural cohesion. This was a future bird, now one is in the presence of two unexpected substances; substances quite different and which interpenetrate without mixing, by circumventing the fragments from the shell: what is this? What became this so volatile bird?
Scientifically, one thus speaks naturally about substance in a context of ignorance.
The first role of the Chimiste - assisted sometimes of the physicist - is to push back ignorance while carrying out the identification, or characterization, of any substance of some origin. Its methods and tools make it possible to push back or circumvent the limits of the directions and the common experiment: it proceeds to a analyzes. In the second time, its knowledge will enable him to proceed to syntheses, even of nonnatural substances which it will name produced artificial or of synthesis , or chemical Composés.
The Chimie thus makes generally call at the end substance when no other characteristic can usefully indicate or define the body in question. To thus start in time preceding the operations by analysis, for example, various substances are brought in the poisons centres, which it is of powders, solutions, etc
If the analysis, the identification, are profitable, the chemist has resorts in the term representative of the knowledge of the Matière: this is Fer, this is a Métal, a Cristal, a Polymère… But, if the analysis reveals a mixture, it is still constrained to use the substance term: the Radium is a radioactive element, but a radium ore is a radioactive substance , or milk is a food substance of animal origin, etc the egg appears thus made up to him of two bodies - an organics and a mineral - (the Albumine of the white and the Calcaire of the shell) and of a complex substance (yellow), whose inventory is entrusted to the biochemist…
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