16 Dec 2008

Extrinsic/Intrinsic Distinction according to Brian Garrett

According to Brian Garrett's description of a standard way to distinguish extrinsic from intrinsic properties,

F is an extrinsic property (of an object, state, event, process, etc.) just if to possess F is to stand in some relation to other wholly distinct or non-overlapping, contingent things. Any property which is not extrinsic is intrinsic.

Garrett offers some clear examples of extrinsic properties:
  • being an uncle of Joe
  • being 100 km west of Sydney
  • being a war widow
  • once having met Barry Humphries
  • being Fred's favourite number
His examples of intrinsic properties are:
  • weighing 90 kg
  • being 6 ft tall
  • being identical to Nixon
  • being self-identical
[Hence we see why according to Deleuze, something that is contained in something else for Spinoza is not extrinsically different, because to take it as extrinsically different would mean to consider it as being apart from it.]


Garrett, Brian. "extrinsic/intrinsic." in A Companion to Metaphysics. Ed. Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa. Blackwell Publishing, 1995.

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