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See also: hæcceity



Philosopher-theologian John Duns Scotus (c. 1266 – 1308), who coined the Latin term haecceitas, illustrated in an illuminated capital from a 14th- to 15th-century manuscript of his Quaestiones

From Medieval Latin haecceitas (thisness) coined by Duns Scotus (from haec (this, these)) +‎ -ity.



haecceity (countable and uncountable, plural haecceities)

  1. (philosophy) The essence of a particular thing that gives it its unique particularity; those qualities that make an individual this specific individual and not some other.
    • 1681, Richard Baxter, Church-history of the Government of Bishops and their Councils Abbreviated. Including the Chief Part of the Government of Christian Princes and Popes, and a True Account of the most Troubling Controversies and Heresies till the Reformation [], London: Printed for Thomas Simmons at the Princes Arms in Ludgate-Street, OCLC 15383771, page 21:
      He [Ignatius of Loyola] ſaith not this of ſome one Church, but of all; nor yet as of an accident proper to thoſe times of the Churches minority; but as of the Notes of every Churches Individuation or Hæcceity as they ſpeak. The Unity of the Church is characteriſed by One Altar, and One Biſhop with the Presbytery and Deacons.
    • [1731, N[athan] Bailey, “HÆCCEITY”, in An Universal Etymological English Dictionary: Comprehending the Derivations of the Generality of Words in the English Tongue, Either Ancient or Modern [], 5th edition, London: Printed for J. and J. Knapton [et al.], OCLC 745237003:
      HÆCCEITY [with Chymiſis] the ſame ſpecifick Eſſence or active Principle, by which a Medicine operates.]
    • 1879, Thomas [Norton] Harper, The Metaphysics of the School, London: Macmillan and Co., OCLC 612842059, page 221:
      But then, precisely the same distinction is applicable to the Hæcceity itself. For it, too, has its notes of similarity with other Hæcceities, as well as its distinctive notes which add something conceptually distinct from the common Hæcceity.
    • 1986, Gary Rosenkrantz, “On Objects Totally Out of this World”, in Rudolf Haller, editor, Non-existence and Predication (Grazer philosophische Studien; 25/26), Amsterdam: Rodopi, ISBN 978-90-6203-768-1, page 205:
      The haecceitist's claim that there exist unexemplified haecceities of disjoint objects is an extremely controversial one. Indeed, many of those who accept an ontology which includes properties vehemently deny the existence of even exemplified haecceities.
    • 1993, Studia Leibnitiana, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, OCLC 607201184, page 51:
      What is there in the nature of individual substance which accounts for its unity and activity? As has been argued, [Gottfried Wilhelm] Leibniz did not regard haecceity as able to play this role, but frequently mentioned substantial form as a principle both of unity and activity. This makes it impossible to identify substantial form with haecceity. The strongest remaining possibility seems to be a composition of substantial form and haecceity within the nature of substance.
    • 2005, John Duns Scotus, Allan B. Wolter, editor, Early Oxford Lecture on Individuation, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: Franciscan Institute, ISBN 978-1-57659-283-0, page xii:
      Since haec is the Latin term for "this," Scotus and his disciples came to refer to this positive additive that individuates an individual's nature or distinctive qualities as that individual's unique or proper "haecceity" (haecceitas). Haecceity or "thisness" has a twofold function: (1) it makes each individual unique and incapable of duplication, even by an omnipotent God; and (2) it differentiates it radically and ultimately from each and every other individual, whether it be of the same or a specially different type.
    • 2007, Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-518981-0, page 11:
      The late-twentieth-century philosopher Roderick Chisholm, in his Person and Object, suggested such a view: that each of us has an inner self-nature, a "haecceity," which is available to introspective experience. This suggestion (which Chisholm later appeared to drop) had the appeal of having it both ways, preserving individuality (everyone's haecceity is different from everyone else's) while insisting on changelessness.
    • 2008, Mark Goulthorpe, The Possibility of (an) Architecture …: Collected Essays, Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-77494-9, page 75:
      Being asked to present our work in terms of 'technology' seems to somehow imply it as haecceity – as a graspable essence or entity, a 'this-ness'.
    • 2009, Fred Evans, The Multivoiced Body: Society and Communication in the Age of Diversity, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-14500-8, page 39:
      [Gilles] Deleuze and [Félix] Guattari often refer to the Individuals composed from elements as haecceities. Haecceities can be characterized by linguistic phrases involving one or more of the following: an indefinite article, a proper name, or an infinitive verb, for example, "the heat of the day" ("What heat!") as opposed to an exact temperature; "a long day" ("What a long day!") as opposed to the day as a set number of hours; [] Depending on the relations of speed and slowness between the unformed elements that make them up, these haecceities have specific "affects," that is, capacities to affect or be affected by other haecceities.
    • 2011, James F[ranklin] Harris, The Ascent of Man: A Philosophy of Human Nature, New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, ISBN 978-1-4128-1421-8, page 93:
      Following Charles Peirce, I argued that it is the particular haecceity (the thisness), the come-up-againstness, presented by the natural world provides human beings with a particular physical environment within which actions can be fitted to circumstances in certain ways in order to attempt to bring about certain desired results. Therein lies the most fundamental basis for will, choice, and rationality.
    • 2013, Anne Sauvagnargues; Samantha Bankston, transl., Deleuze and Art, London; New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-0-8264-3563-7, page 43:
      This is because [Gilles] Deleuze uses the concept of haecceity in order to advise us to think about a mode of individuation that is "very different" from what we generally consider a form or a subject. A haecceity does not cut out a class of beings, but captures becomings in action.

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