Substance

A substance is a fundamental component of the world as it is represented in some theory.

History

The Atomists held that the only substances were atoms, Pythagorus thought everything was numbers, but according to Aristotle, there are three kinds of substance: (1) sensible matter, manifested as appearance, composed of Elements, and which form a unitary material substratum; (2) the “Nature” towards which the movement of the thing takes place, that is, natural kinds (e.g., dogs and water); and (3) the individual substances (e.g. Barak Obama), which is composed of these two.

These are the various things which are irreducibly what they are and which have contingent and changing attributes.

Explanation

Activity is the substance of Activity Theory. The concept of substance differs from unit of analysis however, because “unit of analysis” answer to a specific problem and allows a complex process to be conceived as a whole, whereas “substance” is a more general conception. For example, if we say “the universe is made up of particles and radiation,” particles and radiation would be elements rather than units. Also such a definition of substance tells us nothing about how the universe works.

References

Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Substance http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/substance/

Aristotle. Metaphysics. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-metaphysics/

-- AndyBlunden - 11 Oct 2014

Commentary

Topic revision: r1 - 11 Oct 2014, AndyBlunden
 

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