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Unformatted text preview: something’s substance is said to be its essence.”
• Z.11, 1037a6: “it is also clear that the soul is the primary substance, the body
is matter, and man or animal is composed of the two as universal. As for
Socrates or Coriscus, if <Socrates’> soul is also Socrates, he is spoken of in
two ways; for some speak of him as soul, some as the compound.”
• Z.17, 1041a9: “substance is some sort of principle and cause …” Copyright © 2004, S. Marc Cohen 4 Last modified 12/4/2004 10:49 PM It thus appears that in rejecting the claim that matter is substance, Aristotle is
rejecting the subject criterion as the basis for deciding what a primary substance is.
To be a substance is not to be an ultimate subject, for the ultimate subject of change
seems to be matter (perhaps even a featureless and unknowable prime matter?).
Metaphysics Z. 6-17: form as substance
Aristotle concludes Z.3 by considering three possible candidates for substance:
matter, form, and the compound of matter and form. He has already rejected matter
(1029a28), and at 1029a31 he says that the compound “should be set aside, since it
is posterior to the other two, and clear.” Instead, he suggests that we consider the
third candidate—form—for the title of substance.
This seems very odd, since we’d expect Aristotle to be rejecting both materialist and
Platonist answers to the question of which things are the substances (i.e., ultimate
realities). That would suggest rejecting both matter and form, and opting instead for
What may be going here is that Aristotle has shifted away from the population
question (which things are substances?) and toward the explanatory question
(what is it that makes something a substance?). Evidence of this is the frequent
occurrence beginning in Z...
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