This chapter sets out Aquinas’s thought on the true nature of essence (the essence of essence, so to speak). Aquinas’s thinking on essence is compared and contrasted with other, more contemporary, accounts. The chapter opens with Aquinas’s presentation of essence as the definitional content of a thing, and proceeds to contrast this conception of essence with contemporary modal essentialism. It is argued here that contemporary modal essentialism is not a viable essentialism without some prior commitment to real essentialism. Indeed, some of the commitments of modal essentialism are posited to be rather unpalatable.
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