Is there really such a thing as having the essence of a cat?


I don’t usually give this question much thought as i do not think that a proof for God’s existence requires this question to be answered.

I think, in general, on some level there is such a thing as what things are in comparison to other things. Otherwise there couldn’t possibly be any diversity; everything would be the same. There could be no true distinctions. That’s a common sense argument.

Also, while it is true that putting bricks together to build a wall does not actually result in an actual nature that is a wall, i think it is self evident that there are beings where the whole is dependent on it’s composition but nevertheless the whole possesses a nature that is greater than and cannot be reduced to its parts, insomuch as none of the parts possesses what the whole has. I think this is real and a reasonable conclusion based on our experiences.

For the sake of moving Thomism forward into today’s world with all the scientific advances in physics, I would like someone to provide some proofs for the existence of essences.

Is there really such a thing as having the essence of a cat?


I would say , @IWantGod , the essence of a cat is - - - - - - – - - –


But existence is not the same as essence. Unless you’re saying something else?


Simply that there is such a thing as essences. Or like the OP asks Is there really such a thing as having the essence of a cat?


Essence is the answer to the question ‘what is it?’

Essence is equivocal and is a concept which exists separate to existence in our minds.

I don’t understand your question about the essence of a cat.


There’s a cat sitting beside me right now,purring.I think I can smell essence of cat,just very vaguely …could be his paws.


I can tell whether or not an animal is a cat. There must be some things that are required to be a cat. I don’t even know what they are but I intuit catness. That I don’t know what is essential to be a cat but I do.


This old man wanted his dead cat - buried from a Catholic church.
Priest refused -
The old man said it was a shame, because he was going to
contribute - to the church - $100,000 dollars…
The Priest eyes opened wide and he smiled wonderfully, " I didn’t know your cat was Catholic "


I believe I have absorbed my cat’s essence. I prowl around the house, check each room before bed at night, and have strongly considered rolling in catnip.


On all fours and have your eyes changed to yellow?


Thinking out aloud here…

If a cat has the ‘essence’ of a cat, then it would have the ‘form’ of a cat in the Platonic sense.

Cats vary (Persian, Manx etc) but one would assume that the ideal form would not. But when did the ideal form occur? Because if you follow the lineage of cats backwards, each generation looks exactly as the one that preceded it. But go back far enough and we have something from which cats evolved which was mosr definately not a cat.

So what was the essence of this precursor to cats? And what was the ideal form from which is is meant to have been modelled.

I think that Plato would have insisted that his forms were unchanging. That you could only get slight variations in what was modelled from the ideal form (Persian, Manx etc). And he would have believed that cats had always been cats. Modelled on his unchanging form.

What would he have said had he known that cats started out as something a very long way away indeed from his ideal form?

I think that our knowledge of the evolutionary process disconnects essence from forms. And essence simply becomes a description of the object in question. ‘If it walk like a duck and squawks like a duck…’


No one is cooler than my cat -
I trust my cat - were best of pals - ect !


But if we go back far enough then what we started with was not a cat. They evolved from maiacoids. Was there a ‘form’ for them? And if so did that form evolve into carnivores and then into cats?


I’m thinking the question, “Is there really such a thing as having the essence of a cat?” is an expression of the essence of a thing called mankind. It’s in our nature to try to make sense of all this, and thinking about “essences” is part of that. I know I exist and that my cat exists as something other than me. We are engaged in a relationship that differs from that which I have with this phone, or my wife. I relate to and have thoughts and feelings about what they are in themselves. It seems to me that the three of us, as intricately complex collections, pretty much infinitely I would say, of atoms and molecules, themselves having their own essence, are organized according to our own essence. We as whole beings are manifestations of a type of soul that had a beginning in time with the coming into existence of the first of its kind.


We cannot observe an essence; only infer essential properties from the accidents we can observe.

A unique and essential property of a cat is that non-accidental property that all cats possess and no dogs possess. Retractable claws?


Aristotle’s theory of essence is in Metaphysics vii 4. See also the earlier Part 4 comments:

"And in general those who say this do away with substance and essence. For they must say that all attributes are accidents, and that there is no such thing as ‘being essentially a man’ or ‘an animal’. For if there is to be any such thing as ‘being essentially a man’ this will not be ‘being a not-man’ or ‘not being a man’ (yet these are negations of it); for there was one thing which it meant, and this was the substance of something. And denoting the substance of a thing means that the essence of the thing is nothing else. But if its being essentially a man is to be the same as either being essentially a not-man or essentially not being a man, then its essence will be something else. Therefore our opponents must say that there cannot be such a definition of anything, but that all attributes are accidental; for this is the distinction between substance and accident-‘white’ is accidental to man, because though he is white, whiteness is not his essence. But if all statements are accidental, there will be nothing primary about which they are made, if the accidental always implies predication about a subject. The predication, then, must go on ad infinitum. But this is impossible; for not even more than two terms can be combined in accidental predication. For (1) an accident is not an accident of an accident, unless it be because both are accidents of the same subject. I mean, for instance, that the white is musical and the latter is white, only because both are accidental to man. But (2) Socrates is musical, not in this sense, that both terms are accidental to something else. Since then some predicates are accidental in this and some in that sense, (a) those which are accidental in the latter sense, in which white is accidental to Socrates, cannot form an infinite series in the upward direction; e.g. Socrates the white has not yet another accident; for no unity can be got out of such a sum. Nor again (b) will ‘white’ have another term accidental to it, e.g. ‘musical’. For this is no more accidental to that than that is to this; and at the same time we have drawn the distinction, that while some predicates are accidental in this sense, others are so in the sense in which ‘musical’ is accidental to Socrates; and the accident is an accident of an accident not in cases of the latter kind, but only in cases of the other kind, so that not all terms will be accidental. There must, then, even so be something which denotes substance. And if this is so, it has been shown that contradictories cannot be predicated at the same time.



As empirical data changes, empirical-philosophical (hybrid) propositions and premises with their conclusions would naturally have to be modified.

Perhaps in this case, we should go with Aristotle’s theory of potentiality and actuality, and his theory of teleology in nature. If cat is indeed the ideal form, then whatever species cat started out as was potentially a cat and not actually a cat, and cat is the end (purpose) of whatever species cat started out as.


But cats have a common ancestor with other species that are not cats. There never was a time when you could say that this creature is going to evolve into a cat. It wasn’t potentially a cat. It was potentially anything that the environment dictated it could evolve into. And cats are not necessarily the end product. Just as the ancestors of cats were not the end product.


If it is actually a cat now, then it was potentially a cat to begin with. If you are saying that it was potentially something else, then either that potential has yet to be actualised, or that potential has failed to be actualised in which case the species should have perished.

If they are the end product now, then they are necessarily (extrinsically, not intrinsically) the end product.


I don’t think you can prove a metaphysic, aren’t they axiomatic?

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