, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 65-77

Stuff versus individuals

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Abstract

The general question to be considered in this paper points to the nature of the world described by chemistry: what is macro-chemical ontology like? In particular, we want to identify the ontological categories that underlie chemical discourse and chemical practice. This is not an easy task, because modern Western metaphysics was strongly modeled by theoretical physics. For this reason, we attempt to answer our question by contrasting macro-chemical ontology with the mainstream ontology of physics and of traditional metaphysics. In particular, we introduce the distinction between stuff-ontology, proper of chemistry, and individual-ontology, proper of physics. These two ontologies differ from each other in the basic categories of their own structures. On this basis, we characterize individual-ontology in such a way that the features of stuff-ontology will arise by contrast with it.