[lit-ideas] Re: Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 21:46:09 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 6/25/2013 2:27:37 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
"Karl Popper might have used penguins  instead of swans for his standard 
example of a scientific law, and  representatives of the penguin community 
have written several papers complaining  about his choice in this regard, but 
penguins' simultaneous black and white  colouring would have led to all sorts 
of unnecessary complications. Given the  difficulties someone as eminent as 
A.J. Ayer had in grasping the logic of the  assymetry between the 
falsifiability and the verifiability of "All swans are  white", one shudders to 
contemplate the synaptic damage Freddie might have  endured trying to 
the assymetry in terms of a statement like "All  penguins are [unique]""
Indeed, note that indeed, each of the ten eggs laid by the female penguin  
was 'unique' -- yet, paradoxically "just like every other egg".
In this case, the preface of the dictum, "Always remember..." becomes  
otiose, seeing that an egg cannot possibly remember (let alone forget).
So, now rephrasing McEvoy's earlier claim in terms of penguins:
"what might be paradoxical or problematic would be to say that we each are  
unique in every different aspect of ourselves: for that might imply that 
the  aspect of our 'uniqueness' is both unique and yet shared, for everyone 
else is  unique. Yet if it is shared it is not unique. But when we make a 
claim as to  something being unique we do not normally imply that it is unique 
in every  aspect, only that it is unique in certain aspects - and that latter 
claim gives  rise to no logical paradox or problem."
Replacing the anthropocentric 'we' by "penguin" we get:
"What might be paradoxical is that each of Popper's ten penguins
is UNIQUE. For that might implicate that the aspect of each
penguin's "uniqueness" is SHARED -- for each penguin is, by
definition, unique."
Duns Scotus saw this, when he coined "haecceity" (haecceitas) which  
translates as "thisness".
Haecceity denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of  
a thing (say, one of Popper's ten discernible penguins) which make it  a 
particular thing (or penguin).
Haecceity is a thing's "thisness", the individualising difference between,  
for example, one penguin and another (penguin).
Popper would remind his penguins thus: Remember that each of you is unique, 
 just like the rest of you". 
Charles Sanders Peirce used the term 'haecceity' as a non-descriptive  
reference to an individual (penguin).
Haecceity may be, wrongly, defined in some dictionaries as simply the  
"essence" of a thing (or penguin) or as a simple synonym for quiddity or  
However, such a definition deprives the term of its subtle distinctiveness  
and utility. 
Whereas haecceity refers to aspects of a thing (or penguin) which make it a 
 particular thing (or penguin), quiddity refers to the universal qualities 
of a  thing, its "whatness", or the aspects of a thing which it may share 
with other  things and by which it may form part of a genus of things.
Duns Scotus makes the distinction very obvious.
He writes:
"Because there is among beings something indivisible into subjective parts  
-- that is, such that it is formally incompatible for it to be divided into 
 several parts each of which is it -- the question is not what it is by 
which  such a division is formally incompatible with it (because it is formally 
 incompatible by incompatibility), but rather what it is by which, as by a  
proximate and intrinsic foundation, this incompatibility is in it."
"Therefore," he concludes, "the sense of the questions on this topic [viz.  
of individuation] is: What is it in [e.g.] this stone [or penguin], by 
which as  by a proximate foundation it is absolutely incompatible with the 
]or  penguin] for it to be divided into several parts each of which is this 
stone [or  penguin], the kind of division that is proper to a universal 
whole as divided  into its subjective parts?"
While terms such as haecceity, quiddity, noumenon and hypokeimenon all  
evoke the essence of a thing, they each have subtle differences and refer to  
different aspects of the thing's (or penguin's) essence.
Haecceity thus enabled Scotus to find a middle ground in the debate over  
universals between Nominalism and Realism.[
Garfinkel, a follower of Scotus, used the word haecceity in his seminal  
Studies in Ethnomethodology (1963), to enhance the indexical inevitable  
character of any expression, situation, behavior or situation -- or  penguin.
According to Garfinkel, the members display the social order they refer to  
within the settings of the situation they contribute to define. 
The study of particular situations in their "haecceity" - aimed at  
disclosing the ordinary, ongoing social order that is constructed by the 
and their practices - is the object of ethnomethodology.
In his famous paper generally referred to as "Parson's Plenum" (1988),  
Garfinkel used the term Haecceities to indicate the importance of the infinite  
contingencies in both situations and practices -- if not penguins.
Garfinkel was drawing on phenomenology and Edmund Husserl, logic and  
Bertrand Russell, and perception theory and Nelson Goodman. 
Phenomenology is the field of studying the phenomena as such, and can thus  
be seen as a contemporary philosophical version of the medieval concept of  
haecceity, though it does not focus on the quiddity of phenomenon or their  
essence, but rather on the practices and perceptions that construct the  
Gerald Manley Hopkins also drew on Scotus – who he described as “Of realty 
 the rarest-veined unraveller” - to construct his  theory of the inscape,  
which can be aptly applied to penguins.
James Joyce made similar use of the concept of haecceitas to develop his  
idea of the secular epiphany (of penguins).
See also: 
Principle of individuation
Rigid  designation
Cf. Sanskrit tathata,  "thus-ness"
1.^ W. H. Gardner, Gerald Manley Hopkins (1975) p. xxiii
2.^ M. A.  Bertman, Humanities Insights (2007) p. 39
3.^ Peter Hicks, The Journey So Far  (2003) p. 218
4.^ Hicks, p. 218
5.^ G. Button ed., Ethnomethodology and  the Human Sciences (1991) p. 10
6.^ Ann Rawls, The Blackwell Companion to  major contemporary social 
theorists (2003) ed. Georges Ritzer
7.^ Duns  Scotus's Oxford quoted in Gardner, p. xxiv
8.^ R. Kearney, Navigations (2007)  p. 133-4
Further reading
Popper's Penguins.
E. Gilson, The Philosophy of the Middle Ages  (1955)
A. Heuser, The Shaping Vision of Gerald Manley Hopkins (OUP  1955)
E. Longpre, La Philosophie du B. Duns Scotus (Paris 1924)
Gilles  Deleuze and Félix Guattari. 1980. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian 
Massumi.  London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 2 of Capitalism and 
Schizophrenia. 2  vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of Mille Plateaux. Paris: Les 
Editions de Minuit.  ISBN
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. 1991/1994. "What is Philosophy?".  
Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Gregory Burchell. New York: Columbia University 
Harold Garfinkel, 'Evidence for Locally Produced, Naturally Accountable  
Phenomena of Order, Logic, Meaning, Method, etc., in and as of the Essentially 
 Unavoidable and Irremediable Haecceity of Immortal Ordinary Society',  
Sociological Theory Spring 1988, (6)1:103-109
External links[edit]
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  article — "Medieval Theories of 
Gilles Deleuze – Félix Guattari

Categories: Essentialism

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