Quiddity  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In philosophy, quiddity is identity or "whatness," i.e., something's "what it is." The term derives from the Latin word "quidditas," which was used by the medieval Scholastics to refer to a concept of substance they encountered while translating the works of Aristotle.

The (Greek equivalent) term was used by Aristotle in reference to an entity's aspects of "matter" and "form."

It describes properties a particular substance (e.g. a person) shares with others of its kind. The question "what (quid) is it?" asks for a general description by way of commonailty. This is quiddity or "whatness" (i.e., its "what it is"). Quiddity is often contrasted with the haecceity or "thisness" of an item, which, in turn, describes the particular properties of an object or substance (e.g. a particular person).

Other senses

  • In law, the term is used to refer to a quibble or academic point. An example can be seen in Hamlet's graveside speech found in Hamlet by William Shakespeare. "Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures" says Hamlet referring to a lawyer's quiddities.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Quiddity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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