Minor Entities

Surfaces, holes and shadows

Authored by: Roberto Casati

The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics

Print publication date:  April  2009
Online publication date:  April  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415396318
eBook ISBN: 9780203879306
Adobe ISBN: 9781134155866


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Some entities have traditionally been considered major, relative to other, minor entities. Arguably, material objects are core or major ingredients of the content of our pre-reflective thought about the world; objects themselves, or other entities, such as subatomic particles or spatiotemporal worms, are core elements of reflective ontologies, here taken to include scientific ontologies. Still other entities are not so central. But the major/minor division is, of course, a disputable issue. That some entities are deemed metaphysically minor can be traced back to a matter of historical or psychological accident, given that entities such as material bodies and events, say, are labeled “major” purely because of their conceptual centrality, reflecting perhaps biological significance, or intrinsic complexity and interest. Some other criteria for minority may be invoked: surfaces, for instance, are lower dimensional entities, relative to material bodies; holes are characterized by their immateriality. Here we choose to stay with tradition and consider as minor some entities that are typically considered parasitic upon material bodies; from this viewpoint, key examples are surfaces, holes and shadows; other examples include waves and knots; from slightly different points of view, events and regions of space may as well be counted in.

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