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Unformatted text preview: ual (“this something”). This view is usually supported by appeal to
Aristotle’s claim in Z.4 that essence belongs only to species of a genus, and to
his argument in Z.15 that no individual is definable (together with his account
of a definition as a formula that tells us the essence of something).
Metaphysics Z.17: Forms as causes
Z.17 seems to chart a course about substance that is anti-Platonic but does not (so far
as I can tell) decide between the individual-form and species-form interpretations of
Aristotle’s doctrine. The main ideas:
The individual substances of the Categories are, indeed, compounds of matter
and form, but they are not just heaps, or piles, of components. Rather, they’re
That is, they’re not just unstructured collections of elements, but have a
structure that is essential to their being what they are. The syllables BA and AB
are different, but they are the same collection of components—they have the
Structure or form is not just an ingredient (or what Aristotle here calls an
“element”) in the compound. Here’s a useful analogy. A recipe is more than just
a list of ingredients. It also includes instructions on how to put the ingredients
together. But it would be a mistake to think that the instructions are just another
ingredient. Copyright © 2004, S. Marc Cohen 6 Last modified 12/4/2004 10:49 PM Aristotle offers an infinite regress argument for this: if the structure of a
compound (e.g., a syllable) were just another component (along with the letters)
then the whole compound would just be a heap. (E.g., the syllable BA would be
a collection consisting of two letters and one structure. Bu...
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PHYSICS 110 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '09 term at UC Davis.
- Spring '09