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Can a thing being distinct from something else be considered a property of that thing? (If my mind is distinct from my body can "being distinct from my body" be considered a property of my mind. It seems to me that if something is distinct from something else it is separate from it and therefore cannot somehow be considered a property of it. But I have a feeling I am missing something.

Thank you

Samantha R.

March 21, 2013

Response from Stephen Maitzen on March 21, 2013
Thanks, Samantha, for your question. You wrote, "It seems to me that if something is distinct from something else it is separate from it and therefore cannot...be considered a property of it." But notice that in the typical case -- and certainly in all concrete cases -- an object is distinct from each of its properties. Any red ball is distinct from the properties being red, being a ball (etc.) that the ball instantiates: the ball is a material object, but its properties are abstract objects rather than material objects, so they must be distinct from the ball.

So if being distinct from your body is a property of your mind, it will be distinct from your mind. As I see it, the properties of an object are never parts of the object, so they can be (as you say) separate from the object while still being properties of the object.
Response from Gabriel Segal on April 3, 2013
It depends what you mean by ‘property’. If a property of a thing cannot be separate from it, and ‘being distinct from a thing’ is not itself separate from the thing, then ‘being distinct from my body’ would not count as a property of my mind. But why use the term ‘property’ so restrictively? One might try to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic properties. An intrinsic property of a thing would be one that is not separate from the thing – whatever that might mean. An extrinsic property of a thing would be one that is separate from the thing – whatever that might mean. Examples of extrinsic properties might be ‘being a daughter’, ‘being the daughter of a queen’, ‘being a princess’, ‘being outside France’, ‘being smaller than the garden of my uncle’. ‘Being distinct from my body’ could then be an extrinsic and not an intrinsic property of my mind. There is nothing wrong with extrinsic properties.


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