SUBSTANCE

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SUBSTANCE [substantia), in a philosophical sense, is contradistinguished to accident, and signifies that which exists incle pendently and unchangeably; whilst accident denotes the changeable phenomena in substance, whether these phenomena are necessary or casual, in which latter case they are called accidents, in a narrower sense. The relation of accident to substance is called the relation of inherence, and corresponds to the logical relation of subject and predicate ; because the substance is the subject, to which are assigned the qualities, states and relations as predicates: substance itself is the essence, which is capable of these phenomena, and, in spite of these changes, remains the same. Some schoolmen gave the name of substance to that in which exists our ideal of perfection ; others to a thing which exists through itself and for itself Leibnitz calls substance that which contains in itself the cause of its changes. In natural science and in common life, substance is used to designate material beings, especially simple, inorganic bodies, and the fundamental constituents of organic bodies; e. g. a liquid substance. But every substance which falls within the scope of our observation, if we understand by substance that which is unchangeable in its phenomena, is onl\ a relative one ; i. e. is such only in respect to some others, and is not unconditionally independent, but must be conceived dependent upon one original cause of things. In contradistinction to the relative substance, therefore, we speak of absolute substance, as the one origina essence of all things ; and the relation of the latter to the former has been variously considered. Spinoza has treated particularly of the one absolute substance, and given to it infinite thought and infinite extension as inseparable attributes.