Monday, April 14, 2008

Ipseity Himself


I’ll give classical philosophy the benefit of the doubt: it probably does set out to clarify reality. But in the process, at times it also mangles the language. I’m mulling on this because while I was driving today, the word ipseity came slamming into my consciousness. As far as I remember, I haven’t used that word since my ontology class back in the 60s.

Ipseity comes from the decisive Latin pronoun ipse, translated as “he himself.” It refers to selfhood, personal identity, individuality.

Then there’s haecceity, a word brought to us by the maligned Duns Scotus. Formed from the Latin haec, this one, it means “thisness,” the quality that makes an individual an individual.

Ecceity [L. ecce, rendered as “here I am!”] is the quality of being present. It is countered by nihiliety, which we might define as absencehood.

Seity is selfhood, perseity is self-subsistence (the quality of existing independently), and inseity is defined as “in-itselfness.”

Finally, there’s omneity--allness--something that only God can lay claim to. Along the way, there were a lot of nonce words, but no one took them seriously: aqueity (waterness), aureity (goldness), carneity (fleshness), colteity (ponyness), momentaneity (momentariness), terreity (earthness), and so on.

SIDEBAR: NARRATIVE IDENTITY AND IPSEITY BY PAUL RICOEUR

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