Aristotle on Substance, Matter, and Form
Metaphysics : the study of being qua being
Aristotle often describes the topic of the Metaphysics as first philosophy. In Book
IV.1 (.1) he calls it a science that studies being in so far as it is being (1003a21).
This is causal determinism.
a. An individual atom has no choice concerning its movements. If pushed, it moves. Its
motivational forces are all external.
b. The compounds of atoms dont have any choice, either. For their movements are all a
function of the
1. Atomism was devised by Leucippus and his student Democritus. Democritus was born
about 460 B.C., which makes him about 40 years younger than Anaxagoras, and about 10 years younger than Socrates.
Atomism is the final, and most successful, attemp
But this still leaves us with a puzzle: how can L, our lump of gold, have other things (e.g., silver, lead, sugar) in it, when all of its parts are gold? If no part of L is silver, how can there be silver in the gold? Or flesh in the corn? To answer this
That is, every piece of gold contains portions of wood, flesh, hair, water, silver, etc. Anaxagorass principle (UM) is designed to enable him to allow for the existence of real change without allowing for real generation and destruction. , (UM) is certain
Forms As Objects Of Knowledge: Rep. 476-480 1. Overview a. Plato begins with two simple premises: K nowledge is of what is. K nowledge is infallible. b. He then moves on to conclusions about what is, or being. c. Thus Plato bases metaphysical (ontological
Soul and Body 1. A key question for the ancient Greeks (as it still is for many people today) is whether the soul can exist independently of the body. (Anyone who believes in personal immortality is committed to the independent existence of the soul.) Pla
A ristotle on the Soul M atter and Form 1. Ar istotle uses his familiar matter/form distinction to answer the question What is soul? At the beginning of De Anima I I.1, he says that there are three sorts of substance: a. Mat ter (potentiality) b. Form (ac
The answer to all three questions is the same: a tiger. It is in this sense that these three causes coincide.
2. Aristotles account of animal reproduction makes use of just these points (cf. GA I.21,
II.9 and Metaph. Z.7-9):
a. The basic idea (as in al
T his makes i t hard for us to get clear on what Aristotle was up to, since neither cause nor explanation is ambiguous in the way Aristotle claims a ition is. There is no English t ranslation of a ition t hat is ambiguous in the way (Aristotle claims) a i
The Four Causes What are there four of? 1. Aristotles doctrine of the four causes is crucial, but easily misunderstood. It is natural for us (post-Humeans) to think of (what Aristotle calls) causes in terms of our latter-day notion of cause-and-effect. Th
Accidental vs. Substantia l Change Ar istotle notes (190b11) an important feature of change: t hat which comes to be is a lways composite . For example, what comes to be is the m usical man . But what about A r istotles other case? What is the statue a co
Response to Parmenides Ar istotle gives his response to Parmenides in chapter 8. He begins (191a28-29) by summarizing the Parmenidean argument against coming to be that we mentioned above: What is cannot come to be (since it already is), whi le nothing ca
Aristotle on Change The Physics The Physics is a study of nature (ta phusika), as opposed to the Metaphysics (ta meta ta phusikalit., the stuff that comes after the stuff on nature) which studies beings in general, not just natural objects. What is the di
1. Notice the following facts about these relations: 1. x is SAID OF something x i s a universal. 2. x is not SAID OF anything x i s a particular. 3. x is PRESENT I N y x i s a non-substance and y i s a substance. 4. x is not PRESENT I N anything x is a s
A reas of disagreement with Parmenides a. Plu ralism - t he four elements: Hear first the four roots of all things: Shining Zeus [ fire] a nd l ife-bringing Hera [air] a nd Aidoneus [earth] a nd Nestis [ water] w ho with her tears moistens mortal Springs.
PRESENT IN a subject
This is a relation of fundamental ontological dependence. What is PRESENT IN a subject, Aristotle says, belongs to it not as a part, and cannot exist separately from what it is in (1a24). This is a cross-categorial relation; th
P redication and Ontology: T he Categories A t heory of o ntology a ttempts to answer, in the most general possible terms, the question w hat is there? A t heory of p redication a ttempts to answer the question w hat is it to say something about something
1. Larger and smaller particles Since equilateral t r iangles can be constructed out of as (and squares out of bs) in more than one way, i t is possible to have molecules of each of the elements that have different numbers of atomic t r iangles (as and bs
T he detai ls 1. The two atomic t r iangles P lato notes (54a1) that there is only one kind of isosceles r ight t r iangle-namely, the 45/45/90 t r iangle-whereas there are infini tely many kinds of scalene. But of t hese, he tells us, we posit one as the
The Heavenly Bodies Platos account includes the origin of the stars and planets - to set limits to and stand guard over the numbers of time (38c) - which we will skip over here. Human Beings: Souls, Bodies, and their Parts Four kinds of living creature (3
Features of the Cosmos A living being Because it is based on the Form of living being (= Animal) Unique Because it is based on a unique model (the Form of living being), and the Demiurge makes it as much like its model as he can (subject, of course, to th
Platos Cosmology: The Timaeus The Forms vs. the Cosmos The world of Forms 1. The world of being; everything in this world always is, has no becoming, and does not change(28a). 2. It is apprehended by the understanding, not by the senses. The physical worl
I . Conclusion A . The upshot of the TMA is that the Theory of Forms cannot provide a complete account of predication by means of the notion of participation. B. But since all three assumptions work together to yield the regress, why single out O M? So lo
Forms and Standards A. Platos Forms as Paradigms SP (and along with it Platos paradigmatism) have proved to be the hardest of the aspects of TF to make sense of. It helps if we compare paradigmatic Forms to standards of weight and measure. Forms are less
Reconstructed, Platos argument looks like this (with the justification for each step p rovided): p remis e
1. a, b, and c a re all large.
There is a Form of Largeness (Largeness1) that they all share in.
3. a, b, c and Largeness1 a re all large.
The premises of the TMA A. Plato is not explicit about the premises of the TMA. We will have to reconstruct the argument and tease out the implicit premises. B. To start, lets try to see how the argument goes, and what features (or alleged features) of th
The Setting of the Parmenides A. A discussion involving the young Socrates and the two Eleatics, Zeno and his teacher Parmenides. B. The Eleatics argued for monism, the view that reality is one: a permanent and unchanging unity. In their view, pluralism,
Criticism of Theory of Forms I. A review of the essential points of the middle period Theory of Forms A. A Two-Worlds theory B. A Form is a one-over-many: Theres a Form whenever two or more things have something in common. Cf. Rep. 596a: We are in the hab
T he Allegory of the Cave
1. Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think, and speak, etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of Forms. 2. The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain this. 3. In the allegory