Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 5: On the Categories and the General Properties of Being - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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CHAPTER 5: On the Categories and the General Properties of Being - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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On the Categories and the General Properties of Being
We shall survey the chief general properties of beings by going briefly through the ten categories that Archytas2 is said to have first discovered and Aristotle certainly confirmed, whatever the division of things may actually be. The ten categories are: substance, quantity, quality, relation, action, passion, place, time, position, and state.
Substance is a thing subsisting in itself, and which does not inhere in another thing as modes or accidents do, which are much better known than substances themselves. For the nature of substances is unknown, except that we draw from our own selves a sort of dim idea of a thing bereft of its qualities.3 The other things said about substances in the scholastics are not useful. Here are the definitions of the technical terms.
Subsistence is the completeness of a substance and is lacking in parts of a natural thing which have been separated from the rest of it. A subsistent is defined as an underlying subject (suppositum) or individual nature (hypostasis). A person is a suppositum endowed with reason.
The kinds of quantity
Quantity is an ambiguous word; and the various kinds of quantities cannot be defined because they are represented by simple ideas. These [are] the simple kinds [of quantity]. [First,] magnitude, which is appropriate to body or space. [Magnitude is threefold.] It is itself threefold: linear, surface, and solid; of all three, there is a real nature and a distinct knowledge, though the first two are never found apart from the last.
The second kind of quantity is time, whose space or extension is completely different from the previous kind, and is called diuturnity or duration; it accompanies the actions and passions of the mind and all the motions of which the mind is conscious. For every thought carries with it a sense of a certain time, and every man is as conscious of that as he is aware of himself thinking. Hence it discerns order and sequence among the various operations of the understanding or the will; and it knows which things come first and which come after, and whether it has spent a long or a little time on a thing. Things are said to coexist with this series of thoughts, because they occupy the same portion of time. This coexistence, therefore, of time by no means fully describes the notion, since a third something has to be clearly recognized which equally measures both the sequence of thought and other things or events. And the notion of time should not necessarily be related to motion, even though we find in movements convenient measures of it.4 A good deal has been said about this before.5
True quantities uncertain
Here we mention in passing that we cannot know by any sure indicator whether the true quantities of magnitudes and times equal, surpass or are surpassed by our ideas of them. It will, however, be readily agreed that the same relation among them is preserved in our ideas. It is bodies that excite the first ideas of figures; but the mind itself can variously compound them and can perfect and complete them more than the figures that are found anywhere in bodies themselves. Physics and geometry tell us that these two classes of quantities are infinitely divisible, and by their help so too are movements, angles (inclinationes), and ratios (rationes).
The third kind of quantity, which is widely different from the other kinds, is found in numbers. Though our first notions of numbers are aroused by the bodies perceived by our senses, yet all things can equally be numbered, including some that are very different from bodies. In fact, ideas of numbers can be absolutely perfect without ideas of bodies at all. Ideas of numbers or their relations (rationes ) are not therefore to be necessarily related to magnitudes, since things which are superior in number are often inferior in magnitude, and things which have no magnitude at all can be compared with each other by means of number.6 Indeed, numerical relations, when they can be used, are the most convenient measures of other relations, because they are easier to handle.7
There is no number outside the mind separate from the actual things numbered, and nothing corresponds to the idea of [number] except the things numbered. The power of numbering is most useful, however, in measuring things themselves and their relations (rationes). These three kinds of quantity can achieve nothing by themselves in the absence of bodies, and space and time are not liable to any alteration. Time and space indeed seem to most people to be actually infinite, and clearly number can be increased without end. We cannot, however, understand an infinite number, because the concept of multiplicity (multitudo) is defined by number itself.
There are other notions of quantities in a variety of different things. The quantity which is attributed to motion or moving forces may be related to space and time. A wholly different quantity is ascribed to powers and qualities, e.g., to sharpness of mind and intelligence, the movements and drives of the will, love, hate, virtue, vice, joy, sorrow, and the sensible qualities themselves; but they are rarely counted as quantities.
Two kinds of qualities: motion and thought
There are several types of quality (which also refuses to be defined), and they are different from each other. The most important of those which are really in things are strength, power, active habits, talents, and propensities, all of which are primarily qualities of minds. As for the sensible qualities which are called sensitive, which are perceived by one sense alone, they are senses or states or modifications of the mind itself, although external things often seem to be endowed with them or affected by them. Figure, motion, rest, and position are accessible by several senses (the last pertains to the ninth category). There are, therefore, only two kinds of true qualities or accidents: thoughts and propensities ( propensiones) on the one hand, which belong to spirits, and on the other hand, motion, rest, and figure, which belong to bodies.
Rest and figure
Some learned men8 doubt whether rest is something real, distinct from the inertia by which bodies keep their state or motion by means of a force which is real but perhaps not their own or is derived originally from elsewhere. Likewise some9 hold that figure is the mere denomination of a mass which is derived from the relation of its parts to certain parts of space, and that the parts themselves do not otherwise change when the figure changes. And indeed figure by itself can effect nothing, although a certain configuration of a solid physical mass offers no resistance to gravity and other forces imposed upon it, while solid masses in other shapes do. Hence logs may be split by impacted wedges but cannot be split by objects of other shapes, and spheres and cylinders will roll when a cube would stay still.
Gravity, cohesion, etc.
It is also disputed whether gravity itself, elasticity, cohesion, and some other things of that sort are powers of bodies themselves and essentially involved in physical nature; or whether on the other hand they are powers which are continuously exerted on them by a superior nature in accordance with fixed laws or at least implanted by it in the beginning.10 The latter is more likely; the reason is that, although innumerable laws or systems (rationes) could seemingly be devised, we see that only one is in fact in force, even though it is not a bit more necessary in its own nature than the others. The only qualities, therefore, which clearly add something real to their substances are thoughts and motions; about the rest there is no agreement among the learned.
Quality appropriate to the subject
It is certain of every true quality that the quality of one thing cannot at the same time be a quality of another thing, even though the latter may have a quality of its own which is very like the other. Qualities appropriate to physical mass are divided and diffused through the parts of a body, so that each part has its own portion of a divided quality. If, therefore, there are any individual qualities, they inhere in a simple and individual thing.
There are many disputes among the scholastics about relations. We will briefly expound the more useful points.
When we look at two or more things which are not completely different from each other, and a property is apparent which is common to both or all of them, a relative idea arises which exhibits the connection or relationship between them. In every relation three things (or virtually three) exist: a related thing or subject, a correlate or term, and a ground.11 The first two are the things compared; the last is the property in which they are compared or the action which affords a reason for comparison. Thus the relations among magnitudes of the same kind are defined in terms of magnitude itself, the relations among times in terms of duration, and among numbers in terms of how many. Bodies and spirits may be compared with each other with respect to any other properties or qualities whatsoever. There are innumerable names for relations, according as the related things are similar, dissimilar, equal, greater, smaller, double, triple, etc., and swifter, slower, longer, shorter, more, less, tighter, looser, heavier, lighter, and we could add six hundred others. Moral relations are principally grounded in the actions, duties, agreements, and injuries of the related subjects.
Relation not an external thing
Apart from the related things themselves and the cause of comparison or ground, which is sometimes no different from the nature or essence of the related things, there is nothing more in the things themselves which corresponds to a relative idea; otherwise there would be innumerable other things attached to just about every thing. For there is no part of matter which does not bear some relation to every other part, no spirit which will not be found to be either similar or dissimilar, equal or unequal, to every other. Whenever, therefore, a relation is ascribed to things themselves, reference is always being made, albeit vaguely and obscurely, to a relative idea which either is or may be in a mind.12
Ideas of relations not useless
Relative ideas are not, however, for this reason artificial or useless. For not any and every relative idea arises at random from the known properties of related things, but only the idea which corresponds to the natures and properties of both. And when one of the related things and its relationship to the other are both known, knowledge of the other itself will also be gained. For in all inquiries we are chiefly asking what things lead to other things? what things will help us to carry out our intentions? what things are more fit or suitable to which, for the purpose of being useful to us? All the sciences, therefore, are concerned with investigating connections (rationes) and relations.
The clearest relations are those of numbers
The relations of numbers are clearer and more distinct than all others. And in investigating relations no one can desire anything further than to reduce them to relations of numbers. Hence it is surprising that certain learned men13 have taken the position that almost all knowledge of connections (rationes) has been taken from the connections (rationes) of magnitudes and should be reduced to them, and that there is no relationship among numbers, except so far as they exhibit certain degrees of magnitude which are equal to each other. To the contrary, things which are smaller in number are often greater in magnitude, and relations of numbers may obtain between things which are devoid of all magnitude. We grant that measurements of time and motion in particular have to be drawn from magnitudes, yet the connections between them are most easily measured by numbers when this is possible. But both kinds of measurement are almost wholly rejected not only by the so-called secondary sensible qualities, but also by almost all the properties of spirits.
Every relation is mutual and reciprocal, and [there is] the same foundation in the things themselves when the relation is converted, even though it will have a very different or contrary name.
Action and passion
Action and passion are related, and the relation between them is obvious: they are not two different things distinct from the actual objects of which the one acts and the other is acted upon. For a single thing supervenes, namely, the action as a result of which the state of the passive thing changes. We have previously explained,14 so far as we could, the simple notion of power and action.
One last point remains, which we touched upon before, about any action attributed to bodies: the bodies themselves which are said to act are also acted upon, or are moved at that time by another force, equally with the things which they impact. [Laws of Nature] And since a corporeal nature can neither understand a law properly so called nor obey it of its own accord, everything which is said to happen by the law of nature (as some learned men believe)15 is brought about in a determinate order and uniform manner in response to specific surrounding conditions by the first cause of all things, which sustains all things by its own continuous force as it permeates them all; the qualities, motions, contacts, and collisions of matter merely afford it the occasion. The inertia which is thought to be always necessary to matter does not seem to be consistent with certain actions which are attributed to matter. But no mortal man has adequate knowledge and expertise in these things.
The remaining categories
We have discussed the main points about space,time, and position in chapter 3.16 Concerning state we need say no more than that the powers of neither body nor mind are located in this category. It includes only those things which are substances in themselves but are normally found in union and combination with other things.
THE END OF ONTOLOGY
On the Human Mind
[1 ]This chapter was added in 1744.
[2 ]Archytas, a Pythagorean who influenced Plato, is credited with the authorship of a work on categories by Simplicius in his commentaries on the categories of Aristotle. See Simplicius, On Aristotle’s “Categories 1-4,” p. 18.
[3 ]In the third edition (1749) this note was added: “See the Essay of Locke, cited above, on ideas of substances.” (Locke, Essay, II, chaps. 23-24.)
[4 ]In the third edition (1749) there is the following note: “See Locke, as above, on the modes of time.” (Locke, Essay, II, chaps. 14-15.)
[5 ]The subject of time was examined in Part I, chap. 3, sec. 4, pp. 82-86, where Hutcheson argued that space and time are indeed ideas as Locke contended, not properties inherent in objects. But Hutcheson also held that we would be incapable of understanding things, their position and motion, “unless something real outside the mind corresponds to those ideas.” See the introduction for Hutcheson’s response to Edmund Law, p. xxiv, who considered it a consequence of Locke’s way of ideas that space and time had no real existence.
[6 ]In his letter to William Mace, 6 September 1727, Hutcheson observed that “Numbers are the clearest ideas we have, and their relations are the most distinct, but often have nothing to do with wholes or parts, and are alike applicable to heterogeneous or homogeneous qualities” (European Magazine, September 1788, p. 159).
[7 ]In the third edition (1749) there is a note: “Here we should note in passing the doctrine of the man who is by far the best and most intelligent: Isaac Barrow (Barovius), Lectures on Mathematics (Lectiones Mathematicae ).” It may be significant that it was Barrow’s attempt to apply geometry to optics that prompted Berkeley’s extended critique of “optic axes” in An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, a theory which was in turn countered by Hutcheson in his letter to William Mace, 6 September 1727: see the introduction, p. xiv and n. 19.
[8 ]In this reference to “learned men” and in the two following references, Hutcheson appears to have had in mind certain physicists whose writings served as introductions to the philosophy of Newton at Scottish universities and dissenting academies: W. J. ’s Gravesande, Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy; or, An Introduction to Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy, and Henry Pemberton, A View of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy. On the idea of rest or inertia, see ’s Gravesande, bk. 1, chap. 2, pp. 4-5, and Pemberton, p. 28: “The real and absolute motion of any body is not visible to us: for we are ourselves in constant motion along with the earth on which we dwell; insomuch that we perceive bodies to move so far only as their motion is different from our own. When a body appears to us to lie at rest, in reality it only continues the motion it has received, without putting forth any power to change that motion.” Francis Hutcheson is listed as one of the subscribers to the Dublin edition of Pemberton’s work.
[9 ]On the idea of figure, see ’s Gravesande, bk. 1, chap. 2, p. 5, and bk. 1, chap. 14, pp. 43-44, on the application of the idea of figure to wedges and cylinders.
[10 ]Andrew Baxter, in Enquiry, sec. 1, note K, pp. 33-49, appealed to the authority of the same Newtonians against Newton himself, who had proposed that “a subtle elastic fluid … might be the cause of gravity and the cause of many other phenomena” (cited by Baxter, p. 34). Baxter was determined to vindicate “the universality of Providence, or the immediate presence of God … in all the operations of nature,” p. 39, a project endorsed by Hutcheson. See above, Part I, chap. 5, p. 92, and below, this chapter, n. 14; Part II, chap. 4, p. 145; and Part III, chap. 5, p. 180.
[11 ]See chap. 1, sec. 4, p. 70 on relations.
[12 ]In the course of his argument against Samuel Clarke’s theory that moral distinctions are grounded in the relations of things, Hutcheson affirmed that “Relations are not real Qualities inherent in external Natures, but only Ideas necessarily accompanying our Perception of two objects and comparing them.” Illustrations on the Moral Sense, sec. 2, p. 156.
[13 ]The reference may be to Berkeley, who had argued that mathematicians were in error when they substituted calculations based on fluxions or infinitesimals for magnitudes or quantities; he described fluxions as “the ghosts of departed quantities” (The Analyst , sec. 35; Works, vol. 4, p. 89). Hutcheson was impatient to have this work answered: see letter to Colin Maclaurin, 21 April 1737, in which Berkeley is described as “a man bursting almost with vanity long ago,” Aberdeen University Library MS 206/11.
[14 ]In the third edition (1749), there is the following note: “See above, Chapter IV, Section 5,” pp. 92-93.
[15 ]In the third edition (1749): “namely Malebranche, Baxter and some Newtonians.”
[16 ]See above, pp. 78-86.