[hist-analytic] sub specie

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Feb 1 15:15:15 EST 2009

In a message dated 1/31/2009 4:41:28 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
baynesrb at yahoo.com writes in "Davidson's 'Under a Description' trick:

All this talk about descriptions in connection with action
theory is  what happens when you dispense with "ideas"
in action.

---- For the  historical record, perhaps he was trying (with Anscombe) to 
reproduce some  'scholastic' terminology. 

It would be as 

"under a ..." would be  the Latin "sub ..."

Now the phrase I found in the OED is Spinoza's "sub  specie" which are of two 
types, 'eternity' and 'temporality' (There is a third  use, 'under the ... 
[species] of 'death'').

I would think that 'specie'  here as the OED notes is related to 'spec-', to 
see. To it's under a "guide", to  use Hector Neri Castaneda's jargon, which S. 
R. Bayne has elsewhere used.
sub specie æternitatis, ‘under the aspect of eternity’, i.e. viewed in  
relation to the eternal; in a universal perspective. [Cf. Spinoza Ethices (a  
1677), in Opera Posthuma, 1677, v. xxix. 254.] Hence sub specie temporis, viewed  
in relation to time rather than eternity.  1896 W. CALDWELL Schopenhauer's  
System v. 268 Art enables us somehow to see things sub specie aeternitatis.  

Ultimately, it must be lawyers' talk. The death of Caesar, the crossing by  
Caesar of the Rubicon, the killing of Polonius, the tying of my shoes. It's  
_one_ action 'sub' many different 'specie'. Which one is _basic_? It seems like  
a not too obdurate or obtuse point for a philosopher to consider!
Of course the question is opened as to whether all you can _view_  ('specie') 
you can _describe ("under a description"), and more importantly, even  as an 
Since it's difficult to find a genitive form ('aeternitatis', 'mortis',  
etc.) for all we mean, I would think that 'sub specie S1', under one  description, 
'sub specie S2', under another, should do. Not that illuminates  anything, 
but perhaps brings a link to an earlier stage of philosophy, should we  wanted 
J. L. 

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