Single Idea 9787

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / d. Knowing essences]

Full Idea

It would be strange for a natural scientist to know what the sun and the moon are, but to be completely ignorant about their necessary attributes.

Gist of Idea

Scientists must know the essential attributes of the things they study


Aristotle (Physics [c.337 BCE], 193b27)

Book Reference

Aristotle: 'Physics', ed/tr. Waterfield,Robin [OUP 1996], p.36

A Reaction

This nicely captures the common sense idea of essentialism - that we must know the essential features of things, and ignore the incidental ones (like sunspots, or phases of the moon).