Routledge – 2007 – 318 pages
Real Essentialism presents a comprehensive defence of neo-Aristotelian essentialism. Do objects have essences? Must they be the kinds of things they are in spite of the changes they undergo? Can we know what things are really like – can we define and classify reality? Many, if not most, philosophers doubt this, influenced by centuries of empiricism, and by the anti-essentialism of Wittgenstein, Quine, Popper, and other thinkers. Real Essentialism reinvigorates the tradition of realist, essentialist metaphysics, defending the reality and knowability of essence, the possibility of objective, immutable definition, and its relevance to contemporary scientific and metaphysical issues such as whether essence transcends physics and chemistry, the essence of life, the nature of biological species, and the nature of the person.
'[Real Essentialism] presents vigorous and wide-ranging arguments in defense of an Aristotelian metaphysical scheme … This book puts forward many unfashionable views. But it argues for them with vigor and erudition.' – Crawford L. Elder, Analysis Reviews
'Oderberg … exemplifies the unfortunately rare combination in analytical philosophy of rigorous and historically informed argumentation …This book places hylomorphism squarely on the table for discussion.' – Sebastian Rehnman, Review of Metaphysics
'a major intellectual achievement….I can particularly recommend, for those interested in such matters--as many metaphysicians presently are--his very well informed discussion of powers and laws of nature, which raises important objections to many current accounts of these.' -E.J. Lowe, The Philosophical Quarterly
"…there can be no doubt that this learned and rigorous work deserves a wide readership."--Edward Feser, Faith and Philosophy
1. Contemporary Essentialism and Real Essentialism 2. Some Varieties of Anti-Essentialism 3. The Reality and Knowability of Essence 4. The Structure of Essence 5. Essence and Identity 6. Essence and Existence 7. Aspects of Essence 8. Life 9. Species, Biological and Metaphysical 10. The Person
David S. Oderberg is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading. He has published many books and articles in metaphysics, philosophical logic, ethics, philosophy of religion, and other subjects.