The metaphysics of the Porphyrian tree

(A meditation on Being and essence c. 1-4)

1.) Whatever is, either is

a.) in truth, or only because a true proposition can be formed of it. This is true of privations, impossibilities, fictions.

b.) in essence, or, because it is in some category or transcends a category.

Being “in a category” or “said categorically” includes both a categorical individual substance and the species and genera of which it is a part. 

2.) Beings in categories are the first sort of beings we know and should be studied first.

3.) Categorical being is the totality of what is said of it categorically.

4.) The totality of what can be said of something categorically arranges itself on a Porpyrian tree.

5.) A categorical being is the whole of its PT.

6.) Given #5, the PT as such cannot be divided into a part that exists and a part that does not. Said another way, the PT is a single reality described at greater and lesser degrees of designation or specification, and so “existent” and “non-existent” cannot describe different parts of it. Nevertheless, this single reality is categorical being as it is in itself. 

7.) The PT therefore provides no information about whether an object on it exists, and so all objects on PT’s are existentially contingent. Even if we include “being” at the highest node of a PT, we must mean being with an essence (from 1b) distinct from its existence.

8.) To consider a PT apart from existence is called the absolute consideration. So taken, nothing on a PT exists or does not or is one or many. Nevertheless, the absolute consideration truly is the thing as it is in itself (cf. #5).

9.) If we choose to add existence to the PT, then things at the lowest level exist in reality while things above it exist (only) in mind.

10.) All ideas, or the mind thinking of itself, exist in reality and in the mind. Since “ideas” are just the mind being mind in the same way that writing is a writer being a writer, we can shift to speaking of mind.

11.) Therefore mind does not exist on a PT.

12.) Mind is not a categorical being.

13.) Mind is not categorical by simply being other but by transcending, i.e. it contains all the perfections of things on a PT without being on one. Mind exists while being intelligible – not because I can define my mind qua mine but because the act of my mind is whatever I think, even if it is some general idea or set of ideas, like Biology.

14.) What transcends the PT is either existentially contingent or not.

15.) What is existentially contingent by having matter is on a PT.

16.) What transcends the PT is not existentially contingent by having matter, must be created without matter.

17.) If mind is existentially contingent, it is created ex nihilo; if it is not existentially contingent, it is uncreated.





%d bloggers like this: