, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 85–111

Essence and Properties

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10670-011-9276-0

Cite this article as:
Oderberg, D.S. Erkenn (2011) 75: 85. doi:10.1007/s10670-011-9276-0


The distinction between the essence of an object and its properties has been obscured in contemporary discussion of essentialism. Locke held that the properties of an object are exclusively those features that ‘flow’ from its essence. Here he follows the Aristotelian theory, leaving aside Locke’s own scepticism about the knowability of essence. I defend the need to distinguish sharply between essence and properties, arguing that essence must be given by form and that properties flow from form. I give a precise definition of what the term of art ‘flow’ amounts to, and apply the distinction to various kinds of taxonomic issues.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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