Haecceity (from the Latin "haecceitas", which translates as "thisness") is a term from medieval philosophy first coined by Duns Scotus which denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a "particular" thing. Haecceity is a person or object's "thisness".

Charles Peirce later used the term as a non-descriptive reference to an individual.

Haecceity and Quiddity

Haecceity may be defined in some dictionaries as simply the "essence" of a thing, or as a simple synonym for quiddity or hypokeimenon. However, such a definition deprives the term of its subtle distinctiveness and utility. Whereas haecceity refers to aspects of a thing which make it a "particular" thing, quiddity refers to the universal qualities of a thing, its "whatness", or the aspects of a thing which it may share with other things and by which it may form part of a genus of things. Duns Scotus makes the following distinction:

It is important to note that while terms such as haecceity, quiddity, noumenon and hypokeimenon all evoke the essence of a thing, they each have subtle differences and refer to different aspects of the thing's essence.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari repopularized the term in the late 20th century, as in the following quotation: "There is no general prescription. We have done with all globalizing concepts. Even concepts are haecceities, events."


* Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1980. "A Thousand Plateaus". Trans. Brian Massumi. London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 2 of "Capitalism and Schizophrenia". 2 vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of "Mille Plateaux". Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. ISBN 0826476945.

See also

* Duns Scotus
* Principle of individuation

External links

* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/medieval-haecceity/"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy" article — "Medieval Theories of Haecceity"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Haecceity — H[ae]c*ce i*ty (h[e^]k*s[=e] [i^]*t[y^]), [L. h[ae]cce this.] (Logic) Literally, this ness. A scholastic term to express individuality or singleness; as, this book …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • haecceity — [hek sē′ə tē] n. 〚ML haecceitas < L haec, fem. of hic, this + itas, ity〛 the condition of being a uniquely particular person or thing; individuality * * * …   Universalium

  • haecceity — [hek sē′ə tē] n. [ML haecceitas < L haec, fem. of hic, this + itas, ity] the condition of being a uniquely particular person or thing; individuality …   English World dictionary

  • haecceity — noun /hɛkˈsiːətiː,hiːkˈsiːətiː/ The essence of a particular thing; those qualities that define it and make it unique …   Wiktionary

  • haecceity — Term used by Duns Scotus for that in virtue of which an individual is the individual that it is: its individuating essence making it this object or person. Haecceitism is the doctrine that there are such individual concepts. In modern discussion… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • haecceity — [hɛk si:ɪti, hi:k ] noun Philosophy 1》 the quality of a thing that makes it unique or describable as ‘this (one)’. 2》 individuality. Origin C17: from med. L. haecceitas, from L. haec, feminine of hic this …   English new terms dictionary

  • haecceity — haec·ce·i·ty …   English syllables

  • haecceity — /haɪˈkeɪəti/ (say huy kayuhtee) noun Philosophy (in the philosophy of Duns Scotus) the discrete properties or characteristics of a thing which determine its individuality. Compare quiddity (def. 1). {Latin haeccitas this ness} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • haecceity —   n. thisness ; quality of being here at present …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • haecceity —    refer to the entries on experience , individuation , percept + literature , phenomenology + Husserl and post structuralism + politics …   The Deleuze dictionary

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