The Epistemology of Essence

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The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, whereby essence plays an important theoretical role. In this chapter, our epistemic access to essence is examined in terms of the a posteriori vs. a priori distinction. The two main accounts to be contrasted are those of David S. Oderberg and E.J. Lowe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOntology, Modality, and Mind
Subtitle of host publicationThemes from the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe
EditorsAlexander Carruth, Sophie Gibb, John Heil
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780198796299
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2018


  • essence
  • a priori
  • metaphysics
  • epistemology
  • modality
  • essentialism


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