What is it to which properties attach themselves? What is a thing absent its properties? What is “essence”? What is the IS of a thing? What is a thing without its roundness, or its blueness, or its coarseness or smoothness; its weight or shape, position, location, or speed for example? And where is the distinction between a thing and its properties…the abstract, you might say, and the material? Take away properties and what is left? And if there is no distinction then how do you describe a thing at all? And what and where is the distinction between the properties? Where does a thing’s texture end and its color begin, for example?
Is a thing merely a sum of its parts? Is there a distinction between its parts and itself? If so, then where does the thing end and the parts begin? And if there is no distinction then by what means can we say the thing or its parts exist at all? Parts that are not part of anything are not actually parts. And a thing without parts cannot be distinct because it has no distinctions within itself, and therefore not being distinct it isn’t really a thing. But if it’s not a thing how can we define it? And if it’s not distinct how can we give it a location so that we can compare it to something else in order to say what it is not, as corollary to what it is? In other words, comparison is essential to definition, is it not?
Comparison is essential to definition.
If we give a thing a location…for example, if we say that A exists HERE and B exists THERE and so can compare A to B and thus define A, do we not then admit that A must be A ALREADY and intrinsically and thus is independent of B, and therefore doesn’t need to be compared to B in order for it to be A? And how can this paradox be resolved unless we relegate the objects in question to the realm of pure abstraction, which is the realm of the observer and his concepts? That is, if the paradox can be resolved by making things and their distinctions a function of the observer and his powers of conceptualization, should we not reference all truth and efficacy and meaning to the observer? And if we do that then we cannot obligate the observer to the concepts he uses to describe reality, can we? But then how do we determine any absolute truth FOR the observer if truth is a function of reality which is a function of the observer’s ability to conceptualize? The observer is the source of truth so then can he not decide for himself arbitrarily what is true or not? How can objective truth be both FROM him and TO him?
If the observer defines all things conceptually then he must define HIMSELF conceptually. So is the observer just another concept? What is materialism and is there any such thing? What is matter? Are these merely concepts, too, or are they outside of conceptualization somehow? But if we accept that we as humans sense, then conceptualize, and therefore are observers and conceptualize all of reality, how would we know?
Are there perhaps answers to be found at the level of quantum physics? But does this not beg the question: Where do a thing’s quantum properties end and its Newtonian properties begin? And if one is a function of the other how can there be any distinction, and thus how can each one actually exist? And if a thing has distinct quantum properties and distinct Newtonian properties then are we dealing with one thing or two?
And are the edges of a thing its beginning or end? Or both, or neither? And if neither then where is it? And if both, and the beginning and end of a thing are constantly folding back in on themselves, then isn’t the thing infinite? And if it’s infinite then it cannot have a location and thus cannot exist anywhere. And if it doesn’t exist anywhere then it doesn’t exist at all, right?
And this, my friends? Is the difference between science and philosophy.