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Single Idea 16633

[catalogued under 9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 9. Essence and Properties]

Full Idea

Each substance has one principal property that constitutes its nature and essence, to which all its other properties are referred. Extension in length, breadth, and depth constitutes the nature of corporeal substance; and thought of thinking substances.

Gist of Idea

A substance has one principal property which is its nature and essence


René Descartes (Principles of Philosophy [1646], I.53), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 08.3

Book Reference

Pasnau,Robert: 'Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671' [OUP 2011], p.145

A Reaction

Property is likely to be 'propria', which is a property distinctive of some thing, not just any old modern property. This is quite a strikingly original view of the nature of essence. Descartes despised 'substantial forms'.