Substance theory  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. This is part of essentialism in that ousia as a substance can also be a descriptor of an object's being (ontology) and/or nature. As substance or ousia is a permanent property of an object without which the object no longer remains itself and therefore becomes some other object. Adherence to the philosophical doctrine of substance theory is known as substantialism.

Substance is a key concept in ontology and metaphysics. Philosophies may be divided into Monist, Dualist, or Pluralist varieties according to the number of substances they consider the world to comprise. According to Monistic views, such as those of stoicism and Spinoza, there is only one substance, often identified as God or Being. These modes of thinking are sometimes associated with the idea of immanence. Dualism sees the world as being composed of two fundamental substances, while Pluralism, a feature of Platonism , for example, and Aristotelianism, states that more substances exist, and often that these substances can be placed into an ontological hierarchy.

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