Needless to say, talk of finality is just another way of talking about ‘final causes’, and we all know that these were banished from both philosophy and natural science many centuries ago.Footnote 28 This is not the place to enter into general debate about whether the abolition of finality from modern science and philosophy resulted from the triumph of argument or of ideology, but as far as powers go I submit that the concept of finality both replaces metaphor with philosophical content and explains most of what needs explaining, to the extent it can be explained at all. To show this, I intend to explain finality in terms of the concept of specific indifference. Finality as specific indifference involves two components: (i) a specific range of possible manifestations of a power, and hence a specific range of possible kinds of behaviour by the object having that power; (ii) indifference with respect to the circumstances of manifestation within that range.
Specific indifference can easily be illustrated by several simple and unavoidably jejune examples, parts of which are so obvious as to seem absurd to mention—yet the obviousness pales beside the depth of the truth involved. (i) Sodium chloride has the power of dissolution in certain liquids, but in no liquid does it grow leaves or change into gold. It is specifically limited in what it can do or does in certain liquids; yet it is indifferent to the circumstances of dissolution, since this will depend on the circumstances of its introduction into the liquid. By circumstances I mean whatever is inessential, i.e. accidental, to the manifestation for which the power is specifically limited. Salt is indifferent to when and where it dissolves, whether the liquid is in a glass or a bucket, naturally occurring or artificially produced, and so on. The details, of course, depend on the kinds of entity involved and will be an empirical matter. Importantly, the difference between what is merely circumstantial and what is not can seem very fine indeed, even though the metaphysical distinction is wide. The temperature of a liquid L may be circumstantial to a substance S’s dissolution in L whereas the amount of L’s viscosity may be essential. Further, temperature may be essential for one substance as far as its solubility is concerned but merely circumstantial for another. Again, it is an a posteriori matter as to what counts as circumstantial. Note that specific indifference applies whether or not the power we are considering is relatively generic or specific; in other words, the specificity in specific indifference does not require a highly specific power. The solubility of salt is relatively generic compared to the more specific power of dissolving in water. That it dissolves in water rather than remains in its crystal state is a matter of specificity—the limited behaviour to which the power is directed. But the circumstances of its dissolution in water are a matter of indifference—when, where, how much water, how much salt, and so on.
(ii) Female mammals have the power of feeding their young, but in no such young does the feeding endow them with the power of defying gravity. Mammals are specifically limited in what they can do in nurturing their young; yet the power of nurturing is itself indifferent to when, where, and other circumstances in which mammalian young are nurtured. Again, this is a highly generic degree of specific indifference. A more specific degree is that healthy mammals, when they feed healthy young, cause the bodily development of the latter, not their degradation. But when, where, and how a given mammalian offspring develops depends on the kind of mammal and when, where, and how it is fed.
(iii) Human beings can shape their future but they cannot change their past. They are specifically limited in how they can act with respect to time but indifferent as to how they shape their future; this depends on where they are, what point of their future they envisage, and how they choose to act.Footnote 29
The examples may be trite but the metaphysical point is not: all powers, by their very nature, are governed by specific indifference: there is a range of manifestations to which the power is restricted, but indifference within the range as to the circumstances of manifestation.Footnote 30 Using slightly different terminology—to which I will return later—we can say that powers have a certain indeterminacy in the sense of being determinable with respect to determinate modes of manifestation. The determinate manifestations of a single, determinable power demonstrate the indifference of the power to the circumstantial aspects of its manifestation, and the restriction of the manifestations to a range show the specificity of the power, in virtue of which the power’s very identity is a matter of the specific range of its manifestations.
If we accept that even an omnipotent being cannot do the logically impossible, its omnipotence will also be specifically indifferent—restricted to the logically possible, but indifferent to what it actually does, where this will be dependent on free choice if the being is a free agent. To put it another way, a power to do anything whatsoever is not a power at all. All powers are circumscribed but at the same time carry a range of freedom that makes them, to a certain degree, indeterminate (a term that must be handled with care, as later discussion will show). At the risk of some distortion, it is the circumscription that is the mark of directedness; it is the indeterminacy that is the mark of potentiality.Footnote 31
The concept of specific indifference focuses on a ubiquitous phenomenon found in both physical and mental powers, but as we shall see there are vital differences between these kinds of power that make it highly misleading to use specific indifference simpliciter as a foundation for the intentionality that physical intentionalists allege to be common to both the mental and the physical. First, however, we need to give some deeper metaphysical content to specific indifference: how, in concreto, is it realised in bearers of powers? Can we avoid lapsing into the sort of obscure metaphysical talk that—however much of it there may or may not really have been in late scholasticism—led to the discrediting of final causality?
The scholastic philosophers took the ‘principle of finality’ to be central to the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical edifice. The most common formulation is that every agent, insofar as it acts, acts for an end. Variations include the proposition that every nature is ordered to an end; that nature does not act in vain; that the end is the first principle of activity; and that the end is the reason for all movement.Footnote 32 The idea these formulations seek to capture is that final causes—ends of action—are built into all agents, whether the agents be conscious or not. Centuries-old yet still-recycled canards about scholastics’ holding that everything ‘tries’ to achieve some end, ‘strives’ for it or ‘seeks’ it (cf. the wilful distortion of Aristotle on objects’ falling to the centre of the earth) have achieved nothing beyond the misrepresentation of intellectual history and the retardation of philosophical progress. Key for the scholastics is the idea that all activity is ordered toward ends, whether the ends be freely chosen or else built into agents in virtue of their essential constitutions. In the case of mental powers belonging to rational beings such as ourselves, this fundamental finality is mediated by the process of abstraction, as I will later explain. We will see that this fact about rational thinkers does not entail that the same, or even a similar, notion can in any way be applicable to bearers of mere physical powers. Even if we frame the distinction in terms of the much-abused word ‘representation’, we are hard pressed to see why intentionality as a representational notion implies anything representational in physical powers.Footnote 33 We can, if we like, speak of powers as having ‘representations’ of their manifestations, but nothing is to be gained by this Procrustean use of already-fuzzy terminology. Let us then define what a power represents as precisely the end built into it in virtue of its essence—Martin’s ‘what-forness’. This is the final cause of the power; better, a final cause of the power bearer.
Yet what is this final cause? In what sense is it a cause at all? Is it something that exists? It is enough for present purposes to clarify some misconceptions in order to bring final causes into focus. First, a final cause most certainly is a cause—only not an efficient cause. There is no ‘fininculus’Footnote 34 residing within a power bearer, somehow activated by a stimulus and thereby making the power bearer manifest its power. The idea is not only absurd, but on the theory of final causes it would generate a vicious regress. Final causes are the precondition of the very possibility of any efficient causality. If fire burns wood but not pure water, if beta particles can penetrate a sheet of paper but not a sheet of lead, this can only be because the agents are ordered to some effects rather than others: they each have their own finality, which restricts the range of their effects (while still having various kinds and degrees of indifference within the range). Remove the finality and you remove efficient causation altogether. But if this is the case, there could be no fininculi acting as efficient causes of power manifestation since they too would require a higher-order finality ordering their own efficient causal behaviour. We would then have to postulate further, higher-order fininculi, themselves explained in terms of yet more efficient causation, and so on ad infinitum. We would never arrive at an explanation of all efficient causality in terms of final causality, contra the scholastic theory. In any case, that the idea of fininculi is as unscientific as that of homunculi should be sufficient to dispel it as no more than a pejorative irrelevance.
Secondly, puzzlement over whether final causes ‘exist’ is generated by the very woolliness of the question. Final causes are real causes, only not efficient. So we should not expect them to be events, states, processes, or substances of any kind. If that’s what existence requires, then they do not exist. But why should existence require this? Plenty of things exist that are neither events, states, processes, or substances. What about properties, or maybe property instances, which the scholastics usually called modes?Footnote 35 Final causes cannot be first-order properties, since these are the ones whose very finality scholastics take final causes to explain. Although an exploration of all the options is beyond the space available here, one plausible line of speculation is that final causes are higher-order properties of agents; we might say, for instance, that the finality of salt with respect to solubility in water is explained by a higher-order property governing salt’s first-order structural and compositional properties such that salt interacts with water in a certain way. If we think of final causes in this fashion then we must not conceive of them as in any way producing the first-order properties or doing anything to salt to make it behave in the relevant way. We thus avoid the sort of regress problem generated by a finincular view of finality.
Still, we need also to think of the final cause as something like a scholastic causal principle, a metaphysical ‘spring of action’ from which an agent’s first-order behaviour derives. The final cause governs the way the first-order properties of agents interact, whether within an agent or between agents. The first-order structural and compositional properties of salt are governed—as we are speculating—by the higher-order property of salt’s being directed to dissolution in water. If we decide to step on eggshells by saying that a final cause is a reason for action, then the final cause governing salt’s behaviour in water is the reason for its dissolving. This does not imply that salt has a reason for dissolving in the way that Fred has a reason for putting salt on his salad. In rational agents, reasons for action are mediated by concepts—better, by abstraction (worse, by ‘representations’). The reason for salt’s dissolution in water is the final cause of its behaviour: salt is governed by a higher-order property in virtue of which it behaves in water in a certain way. That higher-order property is part of the essence of salt, what scholastics—following Aristotle’s fourfold theory of causation—called the ‘formal cause’ of salt. In other words, it just is part of the essence of salt to be soluble in water: when we isolate any power or cluster of powers in virtue of which a substance behaves in a certain way, we are thereby isolating one or more final causes of the substance’s behaviour.
Before considering the higher-order account further, I should allay the concern that the theory I am developing here requires natural kind essentialism, a position toward which even the most robust defenders of powers are sometimes diffident.Footnote 36 On the face of it, although natural kind essentialism is not entailed by the phenomenon of specific indifference (whether understood as a higher-order property or not), it would be strange to try to combine specific indifference with an anti-essentialist position on natural kinds (or species, to use the more traditional scholastic term). For a start, if all material objects must have some power or other (which is highly plausible), then specific indifference would appear reasonably to be what we can call a generically essential feature of all material objects, given that they belong to the genus material object. Even on the higher-order view, if specific indifference is partly constitutive of certain first-order structural and compositional properties (part of their essence as the first-order properties they are), then if all material objects must have some power or other, they must have some or other of the structural and compositional properties in virtue of which the higher-order property of specific indifference is true of those objects. And we might argue by transitivity—albeit put rather loosely—that if specific indifference is of the essence (since partly constitutive) of these generic first-order properties, and if they are of the essence of material objects, then specific indifference is of the essence of the kind material object.
Mightn’t one, however, still be sceptical about whether any more specific kind of directedness was essential to any more specific kind of material object? Even if one thought that salt, qua material object, had to have some powers, one might still deny that solubility in water was essential to it; and this is a well-known matter of continued debate between dispositional essentialists and their opponents.Footnote 37 I accept that my account of directedness does not conclusively settle this question: one might hold both that particular kinds of directedness were real phenomena of particular kinds of object and that they were merely accidental to those kinds. We know this to be the case for the accidental powers that even an essentialist must acknowledge (unless they espouse hyperessentialism), such as the power of sight or to lift a certain weight. Why might it not be the case for all powers? Of course, this takes us into a whole new area of analysis that goes well beyond the position I am defending here; I do not pretend that my position advances that debate significantly, a debate that is a concern for all power theorists who are natural kind essentialists. But my position at the very least lends itself to natural kind essentialism, since specific indifference, whether a higher-level property or not, looks like a feature of kinds of object that runs about as deep as any feature can, entering into the very identity of the kind—how it behaves, not merely how it is structured or composed, in other words the very kind of causal contribution its members make to the natural order. Indeed, if the real directedness of objects with powers does not go to the very identity of the kinds to which they belong, one begins to wonder what interest the structural and compositional properties even have, whether in terms of theory or of scientific and everyday practice. In short, a robustly realist account of directedness in terms of specific indifference cannot refute the anti-essentialists, but then it is not supposed to. If, on the other hand, one wishes selectively to maintain some form of natural kind essentialism without admitting directedness, then one must show why properties with directedness do not play the sort of role in constituting the identity of a given kind that other, principally structural and compositional, properties do. That seems to me a tall order.
In a recent discussion of some of the ways a dispositionalist/power theorist might explain directedness, Matthew Tugby considers the higher-order property view but is rather dismissive.Footnote 38 He accepts one of its advantages, however: like the Platonism he espouses, but with less metaphysical extravagance, the view underwrites the possibility of unmanifested powers, something all power theorists accept. On Tugby’s Platonism, the unmanifested fragility of a glass—to make the point clearer, the only piece of glass that ever has been or will be—is a reality underwritten by the second-order, internal manifestation relation between the transcendent universals of (to put it very loosely) fragility and breaking.Footnote 39 I will examine Tugby’s Platonist theory shortly. On the higher-order view I am tentatively suggesting, by contrast, no such transcendent relation is necessary: every agent has dispositional properties that are themselves governed by a higher-order property securing the invariable, essential behaviour of the agent possessing the first-order properties. It is in virtue of the higher-order property that the first-order dispositional properties are not mere bits of accidental behaviour that agents display on occasion, but rather manifest in the way they do as an essential feature of the agent itself. Without some such specificatory and organisational principle, what we know to be necessitated, non-accidental, highly regular and predictable behaviour would not, I venture to suggest, have an explanation.
So what are Tubgy’s objections to the higher-order view? The first is that ‘each and every disposition has a further property: the property of having some manifestation M. ...these second-order properties are taken on this proposal to exist in addition to the manifestation properties themselves. Positing these extra second-order properties as well as the manifestation properties themselves is clearly an increase in ontological commitment.’Footnote 40 I will not spend too long on this objection since Tugby himself realises it ‘may not strike many as conclusive’,Footnote 41 particularly when the quantitative metaphysical expansion on the higher-order view is compared to the relative lack of qualitative parsimony on the Platonist position. Parsimony aside, I take issue with Tugby’s characterisation of the higher-order properties themselves. He thinks that the property of having manifestation M is all there is to such properties, with appropriate variance in the manifestation type for each disposition. This jejune way of looking at what I am considering to be final causes is calculated to make them look otiose—an ontological spare wheel. If final causes are higher-order properties, their content is not the mere specification of a manifestation type. Rather, it is the specification of a substantial principle of operation that is part of the essence of the agent. The solubility of salt itself is governed by a substantial principle of operation according to which salt, by virtue of its essence as a certain kind of compound, behaves in a specific way in water, albeit within a range of indifference as to the contingent circumstances of its dissolution. Such a property—what we might call a finality property—might not be the direct object of a natural scientist’s investigation, but for the scholastic metaphysician it is the substantial precondition of the scientist’s investigation of any first-order dispositional properties at all.
Tugby’s second objection, on which he places greater weight, is as followsFootnote 42: ‘how, we may ask, are we to understand a disposition’s second-order property of having manifestation M? Since this property is distinct from the manifestation property itself, and since this property somehow enfolds within itself reference to the manifestation property, which may not itself exist if Platonism is rejected, then these second-order properties seem to display precisely the kind of Meinongian, quasi-intentional characteristics we were worried about in the first place.’ What the advocate of the higher-order proposal needs, he claims, is a ‘transparent account of how these second-order properties can, as non-mental entities, embody a directedness to something which may not exist.’Footnote 43 This objection, I submit, rather than adding a new substantive point is more a statement of incredulity coupled with an implied insistence that directedness must be a relational affair involving existing relata (on Tugby’s view, Platonic universals). As against this, the higher-order theorist needs to stand their ground. The idea of specific indifference, cashed out in terms of a higher-order property governing the first-order behaviour of a power, bypasses Meinongian worries by placing directedness to a manifestation within the very essence of the power bearer. It is the anxious insistenceFootnote 44 that directedness must be a relation, if it is to be anything comprehensible at all, that prevents acceptance of it as constitutive of the nature of what has it. Like all critics of ‘physical intentionality’, Tugby worries about how non-mental power bearers can have a directedness that is supposed to be the hallmark of the mental. My contention, however, is that the supposition itself is a mistake, leading to an ontological panic that is avoidable by focusing instead on finality itself and the different ways in which it is manifested in both mental and purely physical beings. Directedness is not a relation; it is constitutive of the way in which power bearers behave in virtue of their powers. Unless the power bearer has a relational essence—in other words, is such that to be the kind of thing it is it must be in an actual relation to some other thing—then the power bearer’s directedness is a wholly intrinsic affair, a matter of how it is built to operate.
Let’s explore this idea a little further, examining Tugby’s worries about Aristotelian dispositionalism generally, as against the Platonism he supports and to which Bird also is sympathetic.Footnote 45 For Tugby, directedness is a higher-order (type-level) relation between Platonic universals. The solubility of salt, then, consists in—is identical to—a relation between the universal solubility and the universal dissolution in water.
Footnote 46 The advantage of Platonism, he claims, is that it explains two non-negotiable platitudes about powers: (1) they can exist unmanifested; (2) they (or at least some) are intrinsic to their possessors. As to (1), even if some or all samples of salt never dissolved in water because they were never immersed in it or even because no water existed, they would all still possess solubility in water due to the guaranteed existence of the Platonic universal dissolution in water. By contrast, on an Aristotelian (immanentist) view of universals, such as I support, if no actual dissolution of salt in water ever takes place, the Aristotelian universal dissolution in water does not exist, so the higher-order relation between the solubility and dissolution universals does not exist, so salt’s directedness, and hence its very power, does not exist.Footnote 47 Platonism respects unmanifested powers, so the argument goes; Aristotelianism does not.
Tugby thinks, however, that the Aristotelian could bite the bullet and simply deny the existence of unmanifested powers, that is, powers that an entity of kind K can possess yet which have never been manifested by any Ks.Footnote 48 So much for what Tugby took to be a platitude; in any case, it is a bullet that an Aristotelian should respectfully decline. For the problem lies not with Aristotelian dispositionalism as such, but with the idea that it should be explained as a relation between universals. All dispositionalists should want to say that in the envisaged (admittedly extreme) thought experiment, salt is as soluble in water as it ever was and also is when the manifestation universal does exist. If positing a higher-order relation does away with this platitude then so much for the relation, not the platitude. For Tugby, however, more important is platitude (2)—that at least some powers are intrinsic—as far as refuting Aristotelian universals dispositionalism is concerned. For the theory entails that if external circumstances were to change—again, were there to be no dissolution in water, maybe no water at all, in the history of the world—then salt would not possess solubility in water. So salt’s actual solubility in water could not be intrinsic, whereas it looks about as central an example of the platitude as any. So much, concludes Tugby, for Aristotelian universals dispositionalism.
So much, I conclude, for the higher-order relation interpretation of Aristotelian universals dispositionalism. Here I side with HeilFootnote 49 and other trope theorists, for whom the directedness of powers is in no way relational. On my theory, specific indifference is a wholly intrinsic affair, being the way in which to understand the directed behaviour of power bearers. That salt needs water in order to dissolve in it does not entail that there must be any water for salt to be soluble, any more than my needing sounds in order to hear entails that there must be sounds for me to have the power of hearing. So it is not the Aristotelian part of Aristotelian universals dispositionalism that Tugby’s argument undermines, but the universals part understood as importing a higher-order relation into the analysis of dispositionality. To see definitively that this is so, consider what he says about intrinsicness on his preferred Platonic universals dispositionalism. The answer is—not much. He assents to Bird’s rather gnomic remarksFootnote 50 about not confusing the first level with the second level: directedness consists of a second-order relation between universals, which is consistent with the intrinsic first-order possession, by an object, of a power essentially characterised by that second-order relation. In other words, it is possible for an object intrinsically to possess a property that is essentially relational. Yet if salt intrinsically possesses solubility in water, and solubility in water, as a Platonic universal, is essentially in the ‘directedness’ relation to the Platonic manifestation universal dissolution in water, then so is salt, at the first level, essentially in relation to the manifestation universal. So how is its possession of solubility intrinsic after all?
Well, Tugby’s ‘rough definition’ of x’s having a property intrinsically only includes ‘independence of the existence of distinct particulars and x’s relation to them’,Footnote 51 so by that definition salt will still possess solubility intrinsically. Yet this seems to me a gerrymandered definition: why exclude relations to Platonic universals themselves, if only to avoid the undesirable extrinsicness result? The Platonist could respond: salt’s relation to solubility is merely instantiation, which is a formal relation; the relation of solubility to dissolution is merely an internal relation; so salt’s relation to dissolution cannot, however we characterise it, be in any way a threat to salt’s intrinsic possession of solubility. This reply strikes me as suspiciously ad hoc: what kind of relation is it, then, between salt and the Platonic universal dissolution? It looks like an internal relation, to be sure, since salt necessarily has it to dissolution as long as salt is soluble (whether or not salt is necessarily soluble, moreover); but why should this internal relation not entail salt’s possessing solubility extrinsically? Moreover, it is rather difficult to come up with any non-dispositional example of an object’s possessing intrinsically a property that is itself relationally defined. (Consider typical examples such as parent or tall.) Maybe this is something special about dispositions, but Tugby gives us no independent reason for thinking it so.
Finally, suppose this sort of objection fails. There is another problem for Platonic universals dispositionalism, one that looks fatal. For consider: on the one hand, for salt to be soluble it must instantiate a universal that is related to the distinct universal dissolution. But when salt actually dissolves, it also must instantiate the universal solubility that is related to the distinct universal dissolution. So how are we to distinguish, as dispositionalists must, between manifestability and actual manifestation, i.e. between the very actuality and potentiality that mark out the dispositionalist position? The answer, of course, is for the Platonist to point out that the relation holding between the universals, whether or not any salt is actually dissolving, is the internal ‘directedness’ relation; but when some salt actually dissolves, the universals take on an extra, external relation, say the relation of co-instantiation. The worry, then, is that the Platonist is appealing to the very concept of directedness that he was trying to define in terms of a relation between universals. Instead of defining it in terms of the relevant relation, however, he ends up defining the relation in terms of it. How is this progress? He can say that the directedness relation is just the relation of definability, or some identity-involving relation; but so does the non-relationalist. After all, on my position, solubility is of course partly defined in terms of dissolution! But I do not appeal to necessarily existing universals to explain directedness, and treat it as a wholly non-relational affair. So how has the Platonist made any advance? On the contrary, they have violated the razor that Ockham should have proposed: do not multiply mysteries beyond necessity. Directedness is, to be sure, something of a mystery, one I seek partially to clarify. But why take on this mystery as well as the mystery of Platonism given that the Platonist position does nothing at all to clarify the first mystery but instead relies on it? On my account, directedness is a first-order, intrinsic feature of the concrete world, the irreducible finality without which we can explain very little. On the Platonist account, indeed on any relational account, we still have irreducible directedness, albeit at the second level, and now it becomes a more mysterious, relational affair. And for the Platonist in particular, the second-order mystery of directedness detaches itself from the world of the concrete altogether. We should try to minimise our mysteries.
So how does directedness fit into the broad picture of potentiality as specific indifference? I have said nothing about ‘pointing’, ‘aiming at’, and the like. Bird, following Mumford, worries that we should have to attribute intentionality to vectors, or to falling rocks that are ‘directed’ to the road below. Yet this is a confusion born of the woolliness of the term ‘directed’. The direction of a falling rock is purely a spatio-temporal notion; that of a vector may be spatio-temporal, otherwise physical, or purely logical or mathematical. All of these are ways in which powers can be manifested, but the directedness of the power itself is always a matter of specific indifference, a concept that carries no essentially spatio-temporal, physical, or other connotation. Rocks have specific indifference: the power to resist an imposed force is essential to inertial mass. Rocks resist imposed forces, they do not vanish; but the way in which a particular rock resists a particular force depends on the rock, the force, and the circumstances. Similarly, falling to the centre of the Earth is essential to an object, such as a rock, with gravitational mass and within the Earth’s gravitational field. But whether it falls in the spatio-temporal direction of a road or a stream is a matter of indifference, not specificity. Its particular direction is not its directedness but a manifestation of its directedness, that is, a manifestation of its specific indifference. Again, it is superfluous to metaphysical requirements that there be any ‘aiming’, ‘striving’, ‘planning’, or any concept of that to which the object with a given power is specifically indifferent. This was never the right way to read either Aristotle or for that matter Aquinas, but it remains the distorting Galilean–Cartesian–Spinozistic lens through which the history of ideas was—and continues to be—misread.
Two further points should be made before concluding this section. To recap the general point first: a good way of understanding directedness is in terms of finality; and a good way of understanding finality is in terms of specific indifference. Specific indifference is always a way of understanding the essence of an object. The first additional point, then, is that this is so whether directedness involves the essence more or less generically. Mammals have mass, and as such can shatter windows, but if poor Bessie the cow is launched at a pane of glass the power she manifests involves her essence more generically (no consolation to her) than the power she manifests when feeding her young. The more completely an essence is involved in the manifestation of an object’s power, the less generic (more specific) is the involvement of the essence. The second point is that directedness can involve powers that are either essential or contingent. Mellor’s example of water is one illustrationFootnote 52: hot water dissolves more compounds more rapidly than cold water, though the temperature of the water is contingent; still, in both cases the specific indifference displayed by its solvent power derives from its essence, which is given in part by its molecular structure. Again, an object that is only contingently red has the contingent power of reflecting light of a certain wavelength; but the directedness of that power derives from the object’s power of reflecting whatever wavelength corresponds to the colour it actually has—and this is essential. This second case is one of remote and proximate involvement of essence. The contingent red-involving power derives more remotely from the essence of the coloured object than the necessary light-reflecting power.
Having sought to remove some of the spookiness surrounding ‘directedness’, I now turn to the equally dark notion of ‘inexistence’.