Via this page I have the opportunity to demonstrate a fundamental difference among metaphysicians - more profound than the realist/antirealist distinction, more divisive than the dispute between those who believe in unrestricted mereology and those who do not, and with more at stake for the well-being of the human race than even the question of modal realism - lo! It is the split between "cat-people" and "dog-people"*.

*First formulated by Howard Sankey of Melbourne University.

Whereas dog people love their dogs for their properties - brash enthusiasm, affectionate salivation, a certain endearing floppiness, rendering any dog which displays those particular properties equally acceptable, cat people love each of their cats for the unique and utterly individual "catness" which underlies any mere property their cat may choose to display at any given moment. In other words, cat people understand haecceities, dog people have not yet grasped that they exist.

I defy any non-dog-inculcated, thoughtful mind to explore this page and not to conclude that the images herein display unique catnesses the reducibility of which to a mere set of properties would be out of the question.

[Click here for (weak inductive) evidence that Duns Scotus, being a man of the cloth, was himself a cat-owner and appreciator.]



Charley and Dave.

Any pro-dog woofings may be directed here.

To pounce on Cathy's homepage click here.


14/8/96, New evidence to hand provided by one Daniel Nolan:

* Jack Wright of Kingston, Ontario, the Guinness Book record holder for the owner of the most cats at one time (689), quoted in the Toronto Star in April: "You can visualize a hundred cats. Beyond that, you can't. Two hundred, five hundred, it all looks the same." [Sault Star-Toronto Star-CP, 4-28-94]

Clearly there are limits to the heaccaeties of cats!


However, is this an argument for the non-existence of catly haecceities, or for the cognitive incapacities of Jack Wright of Kingston Ontario, whose intelligence seems at least called into question by the fact, already noted, that he owns *689* of these unique and demanding creatures?

Watch this space for any further evidence which may come to light on this issue.

18/8/96. Not entirely related but not entirely unrelated either (also helpfully provided by Mr Nolan, Philosophy Program, RSSS, from his indefatigable Web explorations)

* In January, Robert Williams, a University of Tennessee neurobiologist, reported that the brains of successive generations of housecats are getting smaller, probably attributable to their association with humans. [Journal of Neuroscience-Baltimore Sun, 1-12-93]

29/9/96. The Dog Camp Bites Back!!!

Having given careful thought to the serious metaphysical issues raised by this page (indeed, seemingly having gnawed on them for some time), one of "the dog side"'s foremost philosophers has prepared an opposing manifesto. It is well worth reading, and may be accessed here.

The same thinker has also included on his homepage the tale of his own personal encounter with the small, furry, enlightened beings pictured above (and named 'Dave' and 'Charley'). He raises a number of criticisms of their behaviour. When I first read his account I was inclined to dismiss it as the dialectic equivalent of an all-night barking session. Yet, after I thought it over, I was touched by his honesty in relating so poignant an instance of cat-dog culture clash, and its associated misunderstandings. The metaphysical gulf looms large in his account! (Which only confirms the argument of this page). The passage in question may be accessed by clicking here, and scrolling down a few screens.


16/10/96. A Breakthrough! Extension of These Important Metaphysical Findings to Logic.

Mr James Chase, an outstanding logician and self-professed "cat person", while batting around these issues in a spare moment, has managed to give them that rigor, and impressive air of formality that only logic can provide. He writes:

"For the record, I strongly agree with the haecceity claim you maintain about cats. Cats also have interesting views on necessity. That it is now dinner time is necessarily true, as well as a priori, but on some views is not analytic. Most cats resolve this problem by making it analytic.

Cats and dogs also differ logically. There is a claim in the literature (in Anderson and Belnap's _Entailment_ vol. 1, but it goes back to the Stoics) that dogs act in accordance with the disjunctive syllogism (A v B, -B, therefore A), which strongly suggests they adhere to classical logic in general. This makes dogs "explosive", rather than "paraconsistent", which cats surely are. Cats can take in all sorts of information, contradictory or not, without blinking an eye, and still act rationally all the time. Dogs get far too excited any time -p follows p, deduce everything, and run around a lot barking. They remind me of computers in bad 50's sci fi stories which, when fed the liar paradox, tend to say "this does not compute" and either go up in flames or set off alarm bells in the alien capital."


A year has now passed, which admittedly is a short time-period with respect to the resolution of metaphysical questions. Nonetheless it appears that this particular issue is of such importance that significant progress has been made on it already by the philosophical community. Two more talented thinkers within the RSSS's own ranks have applied themselves to the problem, with impressive results.

Deborah Russell has applied her profound knowledge of political philosophy to the question of the cat's vital role in the ideal civic republic.

Josh Parsons attempts an ambitious and award-winning synthesis of the best of cathood and doghood in a third alternative nobody had yet suspected. Hegel would have been proud of this truly Canberra-inspired "Cockatoo of Minerva" - flying (and squawking) at dusk.

But this is now no longer an purely antipodean debate. The renowned Princeton philosopher Bas Van Fraassen seems to have come upon the same results as the author of these pages independently! Such often happens when fundamental strides forward are taken within a discipline - for the new ideas are "in the air".

Last but not least - a lovely manx cat owned by a philosopher who lives on Lake Michigan. This fine example of the feline species seems to have been pondering the problem of individuation in a profound manner and, once again and not surprisingly, haecceities are the order of the day.


Another Australian contribution! May I be so bold as to suggest that as a nation we may be proud of the great metaphysical strides which are being made within our shores? I feel moved to point out that as a debate matures, so do contributions to it become ever more refined. Gone are the days when someone could whack up a few pet photos and a poem or two that they had been reading lately and be taken seriously as a "zoo-metaphysician". Click here for a most intriguing document. The creator of this page has seen fit to bestow a whimsical award of his own creation on the page you are now reading, as follows:

It seems that certain Web pages have a certain all-over...for want of a better word...thisness. Click here for the full story.

Another philosophical cat - the unflappable and highly adventurous Cougar!

Chapter Two (August 1998). The Paradox of Omnipotence (a difficult problem stewed and fought over by philosophers of a scholastic bent) may be evoked as follows: Could an all-powerful God create a kitten so cute that he could not help but admire it? This problem has now been solved in the person ("animal") of Bruce (a.k.a, Benedict). Behold!!

How refreshing to see such solid, irrefutable results reached in metaphysics, this most refractory of disciplines. Maybe Bruce should have a personal chair (Hmmm...I think he already does, actually.).

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Last updated: August, 1998.