more from Samuel Alexander

Single Idea 3534

[catalogued under 7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 6. Criterion for Existence]

Full Idea

To be is to have causal powers.

Gist of Idea

To be is to have causal powers


Samuel Alexander (works [1927], 4), quoted by Jaegwon Kim - Nonreductivist troubles with ment.causation

Book Reference

Kim,Jaegwon: 'Supervenience and Mind' [CUP 1993], p.348

A Reaction

This is sometimes called Alexander's Principle. It is first found in Plato, and is popular with physicalists, but there are problem cases... A thing needs to exist in order to have causal powers. To exist is more than to be perceived.

Related Ideas

Idea 7022 To be is to have a capacity, to act on other things, or to receive actions [Plato]

Idea 4215 It seems proper to say that only substances (rather than events) have causal powers [Lowe]

Idea 4237 Concrete and abstract objects are distinct because the former have causal powers and relations [Lowe]

Idea 12447 That all existents have causal powers is unknowable; the claim is simply an epistemic one [Azzouni]

Idea 14562 A process is unified as an expression of a collection of causal powers [Mumford/Anjum]

Idea 18398 Space, time, and some other basics, are not causal powers [Ellis]