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In Defense of de re Identity: Kripke’s Revival of Aristotelian Essence

As we know, metaphysics deals with the identity of things, what they are. Here I am in search of that identity which makes the thing what it is, by which we can single out or pick out an object and distinguish the object from other possible objects. There are two types of identity, self-identity i.e. trivial and contingent identity. We know, every object is necessarily self-identical. Contingent identity is that essential property of an object that an object must have if it lacks this property it could not be what it is. Whereas there are some other properties called accidental properties that an object just happens to have. Socrates has self-identity essentially but is accidentally snubnosed. Because he could not have been selfdiverse but he could have been non-snubnosed. Here I am in search of that essence that is very stable, basic, unique, and intrinsic to that object and the object cannot lack that property. That is de re identity. In Kripke’s theory de re essential properties are not required to be analytic, i.e., they do not require to be conceptually connected with each other. They are meaningful, not by virtue of their conceptual content; they are meaningful in so far as they underlie the varying properties of an object in different conceivable universes. The natural extension of the possible worlds interpretation to de re is known as ‘identity across possible world’ or ‘trans-world identity’. ForKripke de re modality comprises essentialism by introducing the concept of trans-world identity. As already noted, Kripke holds that proper names refer rigidly and non-descriptionally to the same object in all possible worlds; so proper names are ‘rigid designators’. According to him, even if the object does not exist in the actual world, that particular object, if there be any, will designate the same object in all other possible world and not via any properties. Thus Kripke made a wide range of utilization of the idea of a possible world in defending the eloquence of modality - both de re and de dicto.

de re, de dicto, Referential Opacity, Rigid, Non-Rigid Designators, Transworld Identity

Sagarika Datta. (2023). In Defense of de re Identity: Kripke’s Revival of Aristotelian Essence. Advances in Sciences and Humanities, 9(3), 97-104.

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