If A is more general than B, and B more so than C, is A more general than C? I would be tempted to think so strictly, but:

Supposing that a haecceity is something real, where does it fit into the range of things that there are? Is it, for example, a form, or something else? According to Scotus, it is something like a form, and sometimes, indeed, he calls it such (while elsewhere denying the same claim: on these insignificant terminological shifts, see Dumont [1995]). The reason is that a haecceity is clearly something like a property of a thing – hence like a form – but is at the same time wholly devoid of any correspondence to any conceptual contents. It is not at all a qualitative feature of a thing – not at all a “quidditative” feature, in the technical vocabulary. As irreducibly particular, it shares no real feature in common with any other thing. This does not mean that haecceities cannot fall under the extension of a concept. Being an individuating feature is not a real property of a haecceity (it cannot be, since any haecceity is wholly simple, and shares no real features with any other thing); but any concept of what a haecceity is certainly includes among its components being an individuating feature. A concept of a haecceity includes representations merely of logical, not real, features of any haecceity.

So a general form F of a given particular f is perforce more general than the particular as such. But the haecceity h of f seems (A) as particular as f (being exactly indexed to f only) but also (B) maybe not as general as F but more general than f-under-F. This is somewhat similar to the question of schematism in the Transcendental Analytic of Kant's first Critique, and perhaps in that Kant incorporated a condition of numerical individuation and distinction (the particularity, but formality, of space/time) into that picture, he represented schema as haecceitic in some sense. So then it might be more like {F, h, f}, which seems to abide by transitivity, rather than {F, f, h}, which wouldn't. Or otherwise then a haecceity, being a transitivity-breaker here, might allow a yin-yang moment for generality and particularity themselves, as if there were an individual trope (abstract particular) at the heart of the world.

More on the side of {F, f, h}: to emphasize the part of the above quote that reads: "A concept of a haecceity includes representations merely of logical, not real, features of any haecceity." Considered in such abstraction, the "phenomenological content" of the state of mind evoked by the word "haecceity" doesn't seem overly different from the "content" of terms like existence, reality, being, thingness, etc. Thinking of any of them is like looking into a crystal-clear emptiness, so to say. Or, then, "the existence of things" is hard to distinguish from "the haecceity of things," or various like juxtapositions. Yet so a haecceity might be "logically" very general but its "real" predicativity is very particular; and so again, it is not clear(!) to me that a haecceity obeys transitivity vs. generality and particularity, by the by.

Alternative formulation of the problem. The following argument seems informally valid to me:

  1. All immortals love rabid hedgehogs.
  2. Mary the immortal loves hummus milkshakes.
  3. Therefore, Mary loves rabid hedgehogs and hummus milkshakes.

(1) seems general, (2) particular. But how does the logical juxtaposition of (1) and (2) generate a conjunction in (3)? I suppose that a conjunction being true only if all its conjuncts are true, plays into the picture. Is (3) a "haecceificiation" over Mary, then? Or, is (3) more or less general/particular than (1) or (2), and howeverso, does it sustain the transitivity of {F, f}?

Set-theoretic example of the problem. Or take the singleton of any given X. On the one hand, a singleton, when it exists, is extremely individual, being the carrier of the concept of unitary individuation in set theory (i.e. the Zermelo/von Neumann ordinal 1 is both {0} in particular and {X} in general). Indeed, there is at least one analyst, John Bigelow, who has made a statement of the form "sets are haecceities." However, the principle of singleton formation is quite general, as it is a function (growing a mustache, so to say) that can take any possible input (any possible element can grow a mustache). So take ℕ vs. {ℕ}: both generalize over all the n, and perhaps {ℕ} = ω + 1, or {ω} anyway, so then {0, 1, 2, ...} = ω and {0, 1, 2, ... ω} = ω + 1; but so anyway, for all that, is {ℕ} more particular than, less particular than, or just as particular as, ℕ?

I am also reminded of something John Rawls wrote (A Theory of Justice, 1999 ed., pg. 113-14):

First of all, principles should be general. That is, it must be possible to formulate them without the use of what would be intuitively recognized as proper names, or rigged definite descriptions. Thus the predicates used in their statement should express general properties and relations. ... Next, principles are to be universal in application. ... As defined, generality and universality are distinct conditions... general principles may not be universal.

So on top of that, I'm also wondering what "generic generalization" has to do with this issue.

  • I do not see what the problem is beyond the standard ambiguity. Haecceity is meant to pick out the non-general in a thing, but when it is used as a label for such picking out it is used, of course, as a general label. (2) and (3) are at the same level of generality, but not all inferences are cases of particularization. The conjunction introduction that you skipped between (2) and (3) is not, neither is disjunction introduction, and conjunctions/disjunctions can be very heterogeneous in terms of generality, e.g. "everything changes and Mary loves milkshakes".
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 19:30
  • 1
    As James claimed there's an important difference between a sequence of feelings and a feeling of sequence, which one is haecceity? Indeed, there's no iota of generality difference btw this haecceity and that haecceity as ostensive haecceities so that my feeling of a sequence is no more concrete or abstract than your feeling of a same sequence even the propositional contents and attitudes of our such feelings may be entirely different since per Wittgenstein the above ostensive private haecceities like beetles in a box may not be meaningful at all except a few simple cases to subsist life... Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 22:00


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