When viewing objects we find that on the one hand they resemble one another, while on the other hand they are distinct. The way in which one group of objects of the same kind agree is at the same time a criterion of distinction from objects of another kind. We also have experience with a plurality of objects in the context of a certain kind. We can therefore appeal to a principle of identity and a principle of plurality. The principle of identity of individual objects is, according to Duns Scotus, a common nature which, however, when understood in itself is neither individual nor general. This indifferent nature is, according to the order of nature, indifferent with regard to individuality and universality: it really exists both in individual objects and in concepts. The individualised becomes general by means of another principle, because of the activity of reason in the process of abstraction. The individualising principle is, according to Scotus, nothing positive. It belongs to the individual in an inner way, not by negation, accident, actual existence or matter. The principle of individuation is not something quidditive: between it and a common nature there is a formal distinction. As, however, emerges from textual analysis and from an examination of the history of Scotist thinking, we can, with certain reservations, interpret the principle of individuation as an inner modus, and the distinction between it and a common nature we may interpret as modal.
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