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Metaphysics   


essence, we must investigate this. And first let us make some
linguistic remarks about it. The essence of each thing is what it is
said to be propter se. For being you is not being musical, since you
are not by your very nature musical. What, then, you are by your
very nature is your essence.
Nor yet is the whole of this the essence of a thing; not that
which is propter se as white is to a surface, because being a
surface is not identical with being white. But again the combination
of both-'being a white surface'-is not the essence of surface, because
'surface' itself is added. The formula, therefore, in which the term
itself is not present but its meaning is expressed, this is the
formula of the essence of each thing. Therefore if to be a white
surface is to be a smooth surface, to be white and to be smooth are
one and the same.
But since there are also compounds answering to the other
categories (for there is a substratum for each category, e.g. for
quality, quantity, time, place, and motion), we must inquire whether
there is a formula of the essence of each of them, i.e. whether to
these compounds also there belongs an essence, e.g. 'white man'. Let
the compound be denoted by 'cloak'. What is the essence of cloak? But,
it may be said, this also is not a propter se expression. We reply
that there are just two ways in which a predicate may fail to be
true of a subject propter se, and one of these results from the
addition, and the other from the omission, of a determinant. One
kind of predicate is not propter se because the term that is being
defined is combined with another determinant, e.g. if in defining
the essence of white one were to state the formula of white man; the
other because in the subject another determinant is combined with that
which is expressed in the formula, e.g. if 'cloak' meant 'white
man', and one were to define cloak as white; white man is white
indeed, but its essence is not to be white.
But is being-a-cloak an essence at all? Probably not. For the
essence is precisely what something is; but when an attribute is
asserted of a subject other than itself, the complex is not
precisely what some 'this' is, e.g. white man is not precisely what
some 'this' is, since thisness belongs only to substances. Therefore
there is an essence only of those things whose formula is a
definition. But we have a definition not where we have a word and a
formula identical in meaning (for in that case all formulae or sets of
words would be definitions; for there will be some name for any set of
words whatever, so that even the Iliad will be a definition), but
where there is a formula of something primary; and primary things
are those which do not imply the predication of one element in them of
another element. Nothing, then, which is not a species of a genus will
have an essence-only species will have it, for these are thought to
imply not merely that the subject participates in the attribute and
has it as an affection, or has it by accident; but for ever thing else
as well, if it has a name, there be a formula of its meaning-viz. that
this attribute belongs to this subject; or instead of a simple formula
we shall be able to give a more accurate one; but there will be no
definition nor essence.
Or has 'definition', like 'what a thing is', several meanings?
'What a thing is' in one sense means substance and the 'this', in
another one or other of the predicates, quantity, quality, and the
like. For as 'is' belongs to all things, not however in the same
sense, but to one sort of thing primarily and to others in a secondary
way, so too 'what a thing is' belongs in the simple sense to
substance, but in a limited sense to the other categories. For even of
a quality we might ask what it is, so that quality also is a 'what a
thing is',-not in the simple sense, however, but just as, in the
case of that which is not, some say, emphasizing the linguistic
form, that that is which is not is-not is simply, but is non-existent;
so too with quality.
We must no doubt inquire how we should express ourselves on each

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