8 Pages

Being and One


Sometimes it is a good way to elucidate the scope of a concept by seeing to what, if anything, it fails to apply. Of course, some concepts have universal application, such as, plausibly, the concept of self-identity: Plausibly, absolutely everything is self-identical. This does not mean that the concept of selfidentity is trivial or vacuous. Some philosophers consider that the concept of

an individual is likewise universal in its application: that absolutely everything is an individual. This likewise would not imply that the concept of an individual is trivial or vacuous. However, I do not agree with these philosophers: I think that the concept of an individual is not absolutely universal in its application. I believe that there are non-individuals and certainly that there could be nonindividuals. But this requires me to explain what I understand by an “individual”. This is a philosophical term of art, and to that extent its proper defi nition is a matter for philosophical debate and decision. It is not a matter to be settled by lexicography.