One of the greatest novels of the 20th century is Robert Musil's, The Man Without Qualities. It's full of philosophically mesmerizing discussions. But let's focus merely on its title. Is that possible? Can someone, a man exist without having any properties? Or in terms of a thought experiment, if you would peel off all of a man's properties one by one, his shape, his mass, etc. would there be anything left? A substratum? Welcome to Week 3, in which we will carefully consider some opposing metaphysical conceptions of substance. Now that we have considered the properties of the ingredients, we need to look at them from a different angle. What is keeping these properties together? What can explain that a shade of yellow, a shape with a specific curvature, a specific mass, that all these different properties stick so happily together in a specific banana? You may think asking the question is answering it. It's the banana itself that is bringing and keeping all these properties together. But what is the banana itself when you take its color, shape, mass, etc. out of the equation? What is left of the banana itself if you think away all its properties? What is the banana without qualities? An empty property less container. But then again, how can a property less container contain anything? Before considering possible solutions to the problem and inviting you to assess the respective powers and limits, we need to define the problem itself. It's a bit of an unconventional approach, but I like to think of the problem at hand as the metaphysical counterpart of what is known in cognitive science as the binding problem. The cognitive binding problem is the question, how our minds or brains, integrate or reassemble this parrot experiential inputs. For instance, the experience yellow color, curved shape, and specific size of a banana into one unified experience as of a discrete object so the experience of the banana. The metaphysical binding problem by contrast, has nothing to do with our cognitive operators, rather it's about how the object in the mind-independent world integrates or assembles its properties. How the banana, even when nobody or nothing is experiencing it, brings and keeps together, among other properties, its yellow color, curved shape, and specific size. According to substance attributes theories, an object is constituted by, on the one hand, attributes by these properties and on the other hand, substances, here that are all the bears of properties. As a substance the banana has, or as we have learned to put it last week, instantiates the attributes of yellowness, curviness and so on. But let us now pay close attention to substances themselves. According to substance attribute theories, an object can have properties because if one would strip away all of its properties, its shape, mass, every single property, there would still be a constituent of the object left, a substratum or substrata in plural, the bearers of the properties. According to substance attributes theories, substances are substrata. In principle, it's possible to go on and to suggest that substrata have a number of properties by virtue of which they bear the other properties of the object. But that would generate an infinite regress because it would require the substance attribute theorists to postulate sub substrata, sub sub substrata and so on. To avoid to regress substance attribute theorists usually conceive of substrata as bare particulars, entities that do not have any properties whatsoever. Sometimes substance attribute theorists also speak about naked substrata in this particular sense. But is such a bare particular or naked substratum intelligible in the first place? The substratum has to play a pivotal role. Like the pan in which we put and cook all the ingredients for a curry sauce, it has to be bare to contain all of the objects properties. It's easy to think of an empty pan, in fact, here is one. But can we really think of an empty pan without a mass, without a shape, without a size? If we can strip away in the laboratory of our mind all of the pan's properties, can the remaining massless, shapeless, sizeless pan still fulfill its all important function as a container? A further fundamental problem for substance attribute theories is another regress; the regress we already considered last week, Bradley's regress. That persistent problem arises as soon as a metaphysical theory somehow distinguishes between two different kinds of entities, substances and attributes, and subsequently has to explain how in objects these entities are not only related to one another, the substratum of the banana bears the property of yellowness, but even united, since both the substratum of the banana and the yellowness are constituents of our banana. Perhaps the metaphysical binding problem is too complex. Perhaps there are too many explanatory substrata. Perhaps in metaphysics, we can only explain one thing at a time, even if that's at the expense of other explanans. In any case in the next clip, we'll consider another conception of substance, one that pushes for a simpler solution to the metaphysical binding problem altogether.