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Unformatted text preview: .3 of the locution “substance of”—as in 1028a35
For the essence, the universal and the genus seem to be the substance of a given thing … The idea is this: when you ask what the substance of x is, you are asking what it is
that makes x a substance. So the reason form gets the nod over the compound is that
we are trying to explain what makes a given hylomorphic compound a substance. In
this case, it is pointless and circular to cite the compound. Our choices seem to be:
matter or form. Since matter has been rejected, form is the default candidate.
Aristotle and Platonism
Does Aristotle’s view that substance is form or essence make him a Platonist? Most
commentators think not, but for different reasons. Copyright © 2004, S. Marc Cohen 5 Last modified 12/4/2004 10:49 PM • Some think that the kind of essence or form that Aristotle counts as primary
substance is one that is not in any way universal; a form that is as individual
as the compound whose form it is. (Thus, Socrates and Callias would each
have his own distinct individual form—there would be as many individual
human forms as there are humans.) This view is usually supported by appeal
to Aristotle’s use of expressions like “your essence” (“your essence is what
you are in your own right,” 1029b17), and “being Socrates” (1032a8), and to
his argument in Z.13 that universals are not substances.
• Others think that the “individual forms” solution is not to be found in
Aristotle, and is anyway unavailable to him. On their view, the primary
substance of the Metaphysics is species form—something that is common to
different members of the same species, but is still, in some plausible sense, an
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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