Any discussion of Concept #3 must include, believe it or not, Aristotle. We are indebted to this man for the idea of the “whatness” and the “thisness” of everything we see and experience in the world; the matter and the form of literally everything. These two ideas were part of a VERY complex and heated argument about the nature of change that was taking place in 384 BC. Plato who, to be fair, was really only concerned with the “isness” of things maintained that “isness” NEVER changed and the “isness” was all that was real anyway. Fascinating right?
Aristotle wanted to establish a theory of reality that would allow values as well as sense objects to be real AND he wanted to be able to explain that real things really DO change.. They stop being what they were and become something they weren’t. So what you might say? Well … what if you stopped being what you are and became a lobster! I’m pretty sure you, or your husband or children would be looking for some explanation for why the whatness and thisness of you became such a radically different thing. Well this, I think is where Aristotle had to make room for the teaching of Plato, something he was not too happy to do. He had to eventually acknowledge, to use Holmes’ language, there had to the something back of the whatness and the thisness of you, that which was responsible for the change taking place in you. That something was “isness.” Though in the case of you turning into a lobster something went dreadfully wrong with the “isness” of you and … well frankly … that just isn’t possible. Isness is the cause of all change an even more importantly the orderly force for that change.
Even if you were to change into lobster you would not go from human to lobster in one leap. That would be nothing more than the substitution of one physical shape for another. That’s plain old magic and there is no room for that in reasonable discourse and rational thought. That’s the stuff of superstition. No if that change were to occur it would take place by degrees like the growth of an acorn into an oak tree; a succession of smaller changes, in each of which matter loses and gains form. There is purpose behind this change that is in fact part of the isness of the thing and which unifies all of the steps as a means to fulfillment of purpose, allowing each step to follow a pattern to the end result. In my considered opinion it is not in your best interest to move from being a mammal homo sapiens to a Homarus americanus of the order decapoda. Alexander Pope was correct when he declared “order is Heaven’s first law.” There is something significantly disordered in you moving into the same phylum to which cockroaches belong.
This exploration of change and the orderly development of things lead Aristotle to develop his theory of causation and the 4 Aristotelian causes. “knowing the purpose of a thing or the function of a thing is to know the cause of the thing.” Aristotle maintained that we can only know a thing in terms of its causes; that out of which it has come and that into which it is going. Plato and Ernest Holmes’ Universe is one of relational structure within which every element can only be known by transcending that element and seeing it in relation to ALL other elements in the universe, in short by perieving even dimly the isness back of all things, the cause out of which they come and to which they are returning