Someone on Quora asks, Are nature and characteristics are same? Here’s my answer.
IMO, the nature of something is the sum of its characteristics. Others may disagree, particularly people who see the identity of something and its properties as different things, which seems to be a closely related issue. I see the essence or identity of something as simply the category you put it in due to its most crucial properties. Seeing it any other way is an unnecessary, unparsimonious dualism.
Except, perhaps, when it comes to the “essences” of sentient beings. Then “essence” takes on a new meaning. Living beings are holistic, mysterious and divine. Their essences are simple to understand intuitively but transcend any conceptualization or attempts to analyze.
On another related subject, I believe form is function. You can’t possibly know anything about the form of something without interacting with it, and any behavior or response it has to your prodding it is necessarily part of its functionality. And everything is a process anyway: you can’t point to anything in the universe that’s static upon closer analysis, and if science shows us anything it’s that apparently static characteristics are actually emergent from physics operating over time on processes. Basically a process can be seen as a function of change over time. If there were some immutable and inscrutable aspect to the object that’s the source of its functionality (which there isn’t), then that would be its essence or identity while its functionality would be able to be se said to be a property, and as with the subject of identity versus properties, that would be an unnecessary and unparsimonious dualism.