hypostatic abstraction


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Hypostatic abstraction is a formal operationMathworldPlanetmath that takes an element of information, as expressed in a propositionPlanetmathPlanetmathPlanetmath XisY, and conceives its information to consist in the relationMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath between that subject and another subject, as expressed in the proposition XhasY-ness. The existence of the abstract subject Y-ness consists solely in the truth of those propositions that contain the concrete predicateMathworldPlanetmath Y. Hypostatic abstraction is known under many names, for example, hypostasis, objectification, reification, and subjectal abstraction. The object of discussion or thought thus introduced is termed a hypostatic object.

The above definition is adapted from one given by Charles Sanders Peirce (CP 4.235). The main thing about the formal operation of hypostatic abstraction, insofar as it can be observed to operate on formal linguistic expressions, is that it converts an adjective or some part of a predicate into an extra subject, upping the arity of the main predicate in the process.

For example, a typical case of hypostatic abstraction occurs in the transformationPlanetmathPlanetmath from “honey is sweet” to “honey possesses sweetness”, which transformation can be viewed in the following variety of ways:

The grammatical trace of this hypostatic transformation tells of a process that abstracts the adjective “sweet” from the predicate “is sweet”, decants the higher-arity predicate “possesses”, and precipitates the substantive “sweetness” in the role of its correlative subject.

1 References and further reading

  • Peirce, Charles Sanders (1902), “The Simplest Mathematics”, CP 4.227–323 in Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vols. 1–6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (eds.), vols. 7–8, Arthur W. Burks (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1931–1935, 1958. Cited as (CP volume.paragraph).

  • Zeman, J. Jay (1982), “Peirce on Abstraction”, The Monist, 65 (1982), 211–229. Reprinted, pp. 293–311 in The Relevance of Charles Peirce, Eugene Freeman (ed.), Monist Library of Philosophy, La Salle, IL, 1983. http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/jzeman/peirce_on_abstraction.htmOnline.

Title hypostatic abstraction
Canonical name HypostaticAbstraction
Date of creation 2013-03-22 17:54:01
Last modified on 2013-03-22 17:54:01
Owner Jon Awbrey (15246)
Last modified by Jon Awbrey (15246)
Numerical id 18
Author Jon Awbrey (15246)
Entry type Definition
Classification msc 03B42
Classification msc 03B30
Classification msc 03B22
Classification msc 03B15
Classification msc 03A05
Classification msc 00A30
Synonym hypostasis
Synonym objectification
Synonym reification
Synonym subjectal abstraction
Related topic PrescisiveAbstraction
Related topic ContinuousPredicate
Defines abstract object
Defines formal object
Defines hypostatic object