Neo-Aristotelian metaphysics comprises the topics in contemporary metaphysics which bear similarity to the interests, commitments, positions and general approaches found in Aristotle. Despite the current interest in these topics, there is no monograph length general introduction to the methodology and themes of neo-Aristotelian metaphysics. One underdiscussed question concerns demarcation: what unifies the topics that fall under the heading of neo-Aristotelianism? Contemporary metaphysicians who might be classified as ‘neo-Aristotelians’ tend towards positions reminiscent of Aristotle’s metaphysics—such as sympathy with grounding, substance ontology, (...) non-modal construals of essence, hylomorphism, causal powers, presentism, endurantism and agent causation. However, prima facie it seems that one might hold any one of these positions while rejecting the others. What perhaps unifies a neo-Aristotelian approach in metaphysics, then, is not a shared collection of positions so much as a willingness to engage with Aristotle and to view this historical figure as providing a fruitful way of initially framing certain philosophical issues. However, also missing in the literature is a sustained methodological discussion on the contribution historical scholarship on Aristotle might make to contemporary metaphysics, and the contribution contemporary metaphysics might make to historical scholarship. Little hinges on whether what gets labelled neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is or isn’t Aristotle’s metaphysics. But historical scholarship is useful within contemporary metaphysics not merely to to apply historically accurate labels to positions. There are topics where the historical and contemporary issues dovetail in mutually rewarding ways: serious engagement with the history of philosophy can yield living philosophical rewards for today’s metaphysician; and serious engagement with contemporary philosophy can yield exegetical rewards for the historian. The monograph will introduce these methodological issues, and then turn to case studies on ontological dependence, substance ontology, category theory and hylomorphism. These are all topics where there is robust debate within both Aristotle studies and contemporary metaphysics, and topics where historians and metaphysicians are working somewhat in isolation from each other. The aim of the monograph is to make the relevant exegetical questions accessible to contemporary metaphysicians, and the corresponding contemporary topics accessible to historians. The target audience includes researchers, graduate students and advanced undergraduates, in both metaphysics and Aristotle studies. (shrink)
Unser alltägliches Wissen und das Wissen der Wissenschaften beruhen auf Voraussetzungen unterschiedlicher Fundamentalität. Zum gleichsam untersten Fundament gehören die Meinungen über das Sein, die Art und Weise, wie eine jeweilige Sprache die Wirklichkeit sortiert, Gebote der Logik, das, was Husserl die natürliche Einstellung genannt hat. Im Weiteren sind in den einzelnen Wissenschaften spezifische inhaltliche Voraussetzungen und Überzeugungen massgeblich. Auch moderne Leser Aristotelischer Texte teilen einige solche Überzeugungen. Von zweien davon möchte ich hier sprechen, da sie leicht ersichtlich falsch sind und (...) das Verständnis der Texte erheblich behindern. Die erste Überzeugung besteht darin, dass Aristoteles eine Substanzmetaphysik entwickelt habe, die zweite, dass er damit eine Theologie begründet habe mit einem ‚unbewegten Beweger‘ als Zentrum, der mit Gott identifiziert werden kann. Da es sich bei diesem Text um eine Art Pamphlet handelt, habe ich die Anmerkungen in Endnoten zusammengefasst. (shrink)
In questa nota storico-critica, anche contestualmente alla nozione di cambio concettuale toulmiano, si vuol riflettere sull'opportunità metodologica di un ritorno, in senso heideggeriano, all'autenticità dell'originario pensiero filosoco greco sia per meglio chiarire i termini dei rapporti fra pensiero scientifico e teologia sistematica sia per inquadrare, in maniera più coerente e maggiormente comprensiva, le principali concezioni della dottrina eucaristica della teologia cattolica che, ripensate entro l'impianto ontoteologico heideggeriano, avvaloreranno e giusticheranno le teorie transustanziali rispetto a quelle consustanziali.
In questa nota storico-critica, anche contestualmente alla nozione di cambio concettuale toulmiano, si vuol riflettere sull'opportunità metodologica di un ritorno, in senso heideggeriano, all'autenticità dell'originario pensiero filosoco greco sia per meglio chiarire i termini dei rapporti fra pensiero scientico e teologia sistematica sia per inquadrare, in maniera più coerente e maggiormente comprensiva, le principali concezioni della dottrina eucaristica della teologia cattolica che, ripensate entro l'impianto ontoteologico heideggeriano, avvaloreranno e giusticheranno le teorie transustanziali rispetto a quelle consustanziali.
Does Aristotle offer a definition of the soul? In fact, he rejects the possibility of defining the soul univocally. Because “life” is a homonymous concept, so too is “soul”. Given the specific causal role that Aristotle envisages for form and essence, the soul requires multiple different definitions to capture how it functions as a cause in each form of life. Aristotle suggests demonstrations can be given which express these causal definitions; I reconstruct these demonstrations in the paper.
It is standardly held that Aristotle denies that artifacts are substances. There is no consensus on why this is so, and proposals include taking artifacts to lack autonomy, to be merely accidental unities, and to be impermanent. In this paper, I argue that Aristotle holds that artifacts are substances. However, where natural substances are absolutely fundamental, artifacts are merely relatively fundamental—like any substance, an artifact can ground such nonsubstances as its qualities; but artifacts are themselves partly grounded in natural substances. (...) Many contemporary metaphysicians view authorial intentions or communal recognition as an essential feature of most artifactual kinds. Drawing on Aristotle’s own examples of artifactual definitions, I note that there is little reason to ascribe this view to Aristotle. So Aristotle has the resources to hold that it is possible that there are kinds with both artifactual and non-artifactual members. (shrink)
Discussions of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z tend to treat it either as an independent treatise on substance and essence or as preliminary to the main conclusions of the Metaphysics. I argue instead that Z is central to Aristotle’s project of first philosophy in the Metaphysics: the first philosopher seeks the first causes of being qua being, especially substances, and in Z, Aristotle establishes that essences or forms are the first causes of being of perceptible substances. I also argue that the centrality (...) of Z to first philosophy is compatible with its status as theology. (shrink)
This article expands our knowledge of the historical-philosophical process by which the dominant metaphysical account of the Christian God became ascendant. It demonstrates that Marius Victorinus proposed a peculiar model of ‘consubstantiality’ that utilised a notion of ‘existence’ indebted to the Aristotelian concept of ‘prime matter’. Victorinus employed this to argue that God is a unity composed of Father and Son. The article critically evaluates this model. It then argues that Augustine noticed one of the model's philosophical liabilities but did (...) not publicly name Victorinus when he rejected it in De Trinitate, thereby exemplifying the practice of private ‘rebuke’ (ἐλέγχɛιν). (shrink)
This paper investigates two related aspects of Aristotle’s conception of primary substances in the Categories. In Section 1 I distinguish different interpretations of the relation between a primary substance and its accidental attributes: one (A) according to which a primary substance encompasses all of its attributes, including the accidental ones; another (B) according to which a primary substance encompasses only its essential attributes, whereas the accidental attributes are extrinsic to the substance, though related to it; and a third, intermediate one (...) (C) according to which a primary substance encompasses neither all of its attributes nor only the essential ones, but all the necessary ones. I trace the history of all three interpretations and argue in favour of (B). In Section 2 I defend the view that a particular human being, their soul, and their body all count as primary substances, and that the relation between these three substances is that soul and body are parts of the substance. I show that this hypothesis harmonizes both with some views advanced in the Categories and with some passages from other Aristotelian works. I conclude by drawing a comparison between this view and Aristotle’s mature hylomorphic doctrine. (shrink)
This paper concerns the classification of the process of mixture, for Aristotle, and the related issue of the manner in which the ingredients remain present once mixed. I argue that mixture is best viewed as a kind of substantial generation in the context of the GC and, accordingly, that the ingredients do not enjoy the kind of strong presence within a mixture usually attributed to them. To do this, I critically examine the most promising versions of the standard view and (...) offer a new interpretation of Aristotle’s treatment of a puzzle about mixture in GC 1.10. (shrink)
This inaugural lecture, delivered on 17 November 2021 at the University of Neuchâtel, addresses the question: Are material objects analyzable into more basic constituents and, if so, what are they? It might appear that this question is more appropriately settled by empirical means as utilized in the natural sciences. For example, we learn from physics and chemistry that water is composed of H2O-molecules and that hydrogen and oxygen atoms themselves are composed of smaller parts, such as protons, which are in (...) turn composed of yet smaller parts, such as quarks, and so on. While the question at the center of this lecture might thus appear to fall more appropriately into the empirical domain of natural science, I argue that metaphysics in fact has an important role to play in determining how best to answer the question before us. More concretely, I propose that the Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism, when appropriately interpreted, provides the best metaphysical answer to the question of whether and how material objects are analyzable into more basic constituents. Hylomorphism holds that those entities to which this doctrine applies are, in some sense, compounds of matter (“hylē”) and form (“morphē” or “eidos”). Thus, the title of this lecture, “Form, Matter, Substance”, refers to the claim that lies at the center of the doctrine of hylomorphism, as applied to the domain of material objects, namely that sensible substances are the result of combining matter and form in the right sort of way; or, for short, “form + matter = substance”. I begin in Section II by providing some historical background which brings out Aristotle’s motivations for proposing the doctrine of hylomorphism in the context of his analysis of change. Section III turns to some of the main features of the contemporary hylomorphic theory I have defended especially in Koslicki (2008) and Koslicki (2018). Section IV discusses some challenging questions concerning artifacts which arise for both hylomorphic and other approaches to the metaphysics of concrete particular objects. Section V concludes by summarizing why, as contemporary metaphysicians, we should prefer a hylomorphic theory over its competitors as an analysis of concrete particular objects that is compatible with our current scientific understanding of the world. (shrink)
In Metaphysics Z.6, Aristotle argues that each substance is the same as its essence. In this paper, I defend an identity reading of that claim. First, I provide a general argument for the identity reading, based on Aristotle’s account of sameness in number and identity. Second, I respond to the recent charge that the identity reading is incoherent, by arguing that the claim in Z.6 is restricted to primary substances and hence to forms.
This paper addresses a difficult passage from Aristotle’s Metaphysics (V. 4, 1015a11-13) in which he identifies a metaphorical use of the term “nature” (phusis) to refer to the entities which he calls “substances” (ousiai). I claim that the passage at stake deploys the very notion of metaphor on the basis of an analogy (as defined in the Poetics and in the Rhetorics), which is grounded on a weak (and, sometimes, very weak) similarity between two relations (each involving two relata). The (...) sentences found in 1015a11-13 belong to those kind of metalinguistic sentences which we usually employ to shed some light on the metaphorical use of a term. The similarity Aristotle is presupposing is this: both nature and substance are, in their respective fields, some kind of principle that guarantees (besides other things) certain persistence conditions for what they are the principles of. And this weak similarity is enough for the term “nature” to refer metaphorically to substances. (shrink)
As there is currently a neo-Aristotelian revival currently taking place within contemporary metaphysics and dispositions, or causal powers are now being routinely utilised in theories of causality and modality, more attention is beginning to be paid to a central Aristotelian concern: the metaphysics of substantial unity, and the doctrine of hylomorphism. In this paper, I distinguish two strands of hylomorphism present in the contemporary literature and argue that not only does each engender unique conceptual difficulties, but neither adequately captures the (...) metaphysics of Aristotelian hylomorphism. Thus both strands of contemporary hylomorphism, I argue, fundamentally misunderstand what substantial unity amounts to in the hylomorphic framework – namely, the metaphysical inseparability of matter and form. (shrink)
In this reply, I respond to points raised by Uwe Meixner in “Koslicki on Matter and Form” in connection with a book symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
In this reply, I respond to points raised in Christian Kanzian's „Kommentar zu Kathrin Koslickis Form, Matter, Substance” in connection with a book-symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
In this reply, I respond to points raised in Winfried Löffler's „Koslickis Metaontologie“ in connection with a book-symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
There are several passages in the Metaphysics where Aristotle explains ontological priority in terms of ontological dependence, but there are others where he seems to adopt a teleological conception of ontological priority. It is sometimes maintained that the latter priority too must be construed in terms of the former, or that the priorities in question are not both endorsed (or simultaneously endorsed) by Aristotle. The goal of this paper is to show otherwise; I argue that what is at issue are (...) two distinct priorities that Aristotle simultaneously endorses. (shrink)
This aims to discuss the separation of the substance presented by Aristotle in Book Z of Metaphysics. In Z 1 the substance is prior in three aspects, namely as to the definition, the knowledge and the time. Aristotle's justification that substance is first in time is because it is the only category that is separate. Based on contemporary interpreters, we will discuss the separation as ontological separation associated with the definitional separation.
In this article, I present in a systematic way Aristotle’s understanding of movement (kinêsis) as efficient cause in the Generation of Animals. This aspect of movement is not disclosed in the approach to movement as an incomplete activity in contrast to energeia, which has been extensively discussed in the literature. I explain in which sense movement is the efficient cause of generation and how this movement is related to the other factors, in particular the source of movement, the seminal fluid, (...) pneuma, and the vital heat, as well as to the form and the soul. The role of movement as efficient cause of generation shows how, for Aristotle, form and soul are inseparable from matter and movement in nature. Explaining the role of movement as efficient cause of generation also helps to make sense of the multiplicity of factors involved in the efficient causality of generation. The key to articulating these factors with one another is the identity of form of the generative movement, which is specifically the same in the source, in the tools, and in the substance that is coming into being. (shrink)
This article faces the classic problem of the interpretation of what Aristotle calls in de An. III, 5 “the intellect that produces all things”, which is commonly named agent intellect. Historically, there have been two approaches: one that goes back to Alexander of Aphrodisias, who associates the agent intellect with the unmoved mover and the divinity, and another one, associated with Theophrastus but whose major representatives are Philoponus and St. Thomas of Aquinas, who consider that agent intellect is an exclusively (...) human faculty. This last interpretation has been the most accepted historically. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interpretations of the agent intellect as divine (Caston, Frede, Burnyeat, and others). What we want to demonstrate in this article is that this revival, more than responding to a reinterpretation of the agent intellect, is due to a different understanding of the divinity in Aristotle’s philosophy, which supposes immanent characteristics closer to the human intellect. (shrink)
This essay is the first part of an analysis on the form and matter in the works of Aristotle. Within the whole analysis, I shall examine passages taken from different works of Aristotle that are relevant to the investigation on form and matter. In this essay, I shall focus exclusively on the chapter Metaphysics Zeta 3. The concepts of substance, matter, ontological subject, form, composite substance, this something and separated, which are consistently used by Aristotle within the development of the (...) mentioned chapter, will be part of my survey of the contents of the chapter. The central argument of Metaphysics Zeta 3, which maintains the equivalence between substance and the feature represented by ontological subject, and which leads, through this first equivalence and through the equivalence between matter and ontological subject, to the result that matter is (the only) substance, will be investigated step by step so that all presuppositions, entailments, and consequences of the argument itself can be clearly shown. The problems which are caused by the mentioned equivalence of substance and ontological subject will be pointed out during my look at the chapter’s contents. In particular, Aristotle cannot accept that, in spite of the ontological subject being a correct feature of substance qua substance, substance is therewith reduced to matter. Being the ontological subject does not represent the only ontological feature of substance qua substance; the ontological features too of substance qua substance that are represented by being a this something and being separated belong to the concept of substance: they can never be forgotten within a right interpretation of substance. The identification of substance only with matter can never be accepted. Only the ontological values of substance represented by the form and by the composite substance possess the ontological features “being a this something” and “being separated”. Therefore, the ontological values of substance as form and as a composite substance must always be reckoned with in a correctly interpreted ontology. Neither of these values can be forgotten within an accurate inquiry of ontology. Hence, regardless of whether matter is substance and is correctly interpreted as substance, the values of substance as form and as composite substance must belong, in Aristotle’s view, to any right ontological system whatsoever. The plurality of values for substance, which I personally advocate, finds confirmation thanks to chapter Metaphysics Zeta 3: Matter, form, and composite substance all represent values for substance, despite the differences which they have as regards their own ontological features. (shrink)
This paper clarifies the way Aristotle uses generation to establish the priority of activity in time and in being. It opens by examining the concept of genetic priority. The argument for priority in beinghood has two parts. The first part is a synthetic argument that accomplishment is the primary kind of source, an argument based on the structure of generation. The second part engages three critical objections to the claim that activity could be an accomplishment: activity appears to lack its (...) own structure; activity is different in kind from the object it accomplishes; and activity is external to its accomplishment. Aristotle responds to these objections by analyzing the structure of generation. In the course of the argument, Aristotle establishes that beinghood and form are activity. (shrink)
The article considers one of the most significant concepts in Aristotelian philosophy: the concept of substance and its interpretation in the works of existential Thomists. The emphasis is placed on the fact that the doctrine of substance is first and foremost to be considered in the context of the identification of the subject of scientific knowledge and in the context of the way of knowing this subject. In order to illustrate the epistemological realism, which, according to Thomists, inheres in Aristotle’s (...) philosophy the article analyzes the previous philosophers’ views on the true subject of scientific knowledge. This subject is individual being, which forms the basis of philosophical understanding of things, as a subject of scientific knowledge. It should be noted that the method of constructing of Aristotle’s science general theory is finding reasons why something is just what it is from the viewpoint of necessity. Krąpiec believes that the way Aristotle comes to the formation of the four causes is related to the specificity of the question διὰ τί (why? because of what?). This analysis through causes allows us to understand that each single entity has a composite structure. Furthermore, Aristotle considers substance as a logical and grammatical category and as a main category in the ontological sense, as the mode of the initial being of things. Therefore, categories reflect the actual structure of things, namely the way of its existence on the essential and accidental levels. The very substance itself is recognizable only through the accidents associated with it and represents itself through them. However, the substance precedes its accidents in three meanings: ontological, definitive, and epistemological. (shrink)
The essay studies Aristotle’s critique of Parmenides in the light of the Heideggerian account of Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics as an approach to being in terms of beings. Aristotle’s critique focuses on the presuppositions of the Parmenidean thesis of the unity of being. It is argued that a close study of the presuppositions of Aristotle’s own critique reveals an important difference between the Aristotelian metaphysical framework and the Parmenidean “protometaphysical” approach. The Parmenides fragments indicate being as such in the sense of the (...) pure, undifferentiated “is there” —as the intelligible accessibility of meaningful reality to thinking, prior to its articulation into determinate beings. For Aristotle, by contrast, “being itself” has no other plausible meaning than “being-something-determinate as such”, which itself remains equivocal. In this sense, Aristotle can indeed be said to conceive being in terms of beings, as the being-ness of determinate beings. (shrink)
Aristóteles comparte con Platón la concepción de la forma como causa del ser y del conocimiento de las cosas. Sin embargo, un análisis de sus críticas a las Ideas muestra que encuentra en la separación de las Ideas y las cosas sensibles la aporía fundamental de la teoría platónica. Con el propósito de circunscribir el significado de “separación” aplicable a las Ideas, concentraremos nuestro estudio en dos objeciones: 1) el argumento que conduce al tercer hombre y 2) la inutilidad de (...) las Ideas como causas. En el primer caso, creemos que la separación entraña homonimia, por lo que la solución aristotélica implicará la comunidad de naturaleza entre el individuo y su esencia. En el segundo, la separación implica trascendencia o falta de contacto entre generante y generado, por lo que la solución aristotélica apuntará a concebir la forma de las entidades naturales como un principio inmanente, inseparable de la materia y del movimiento, pero a la vez eterno a través de su reproducción en otros individuos de la misma especie. Creemos que en ambas soluciones opera un principio de sinonimia, que constituye su propia contribución al problema de la separación. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to reconstruct Aristotle’s distinction between primary substances and their homonyms. It is shown that the Stagirite regards both body parts and artefacts as mere homonyms of primary substances when they are no longer capable of performing their function (ergon) and actualizing their end (telos). In the course of the present discussion, Aristotle’s approach is confronted with his famous doctrine of the four causes, whilst an analysis of the examples given by the Stagirite serves the (...) purpose of determining the ontic status of homonyms. Subsequently, this paper argues that Aristotle’s hylomorphism not only defies the functionalist assumption of the irrelevance of matter but also precludes the possibility of equating artefacts with living organisms. The discussion concludes with an observation that primary substances which are truly (alēthōs) and things which are only homonymously (plēn homōnymōs) require different definitions. (shrink)
The central claim of this paper is that the Aristotelian metaphysics of objects is incompatible with physicalism. This includes the contemporary variant of Aristotelianism I call ‘sortalism’. The core reason is that an object’s identity as an instance of a (natural) kind, as well as its consequent persistence conditions, is neither physically fundamental nor determined by what is physically fundamental. The argument for the latter appeals to what is commonly known as ‘the grounding problem’; in particular I argue that the (...) physicalist has no solution, and this requires that the physicalist jettison the traditional concept of objects having kind-specific identity and persistence conditions. (shrink)
The theory of frames has recently been proposed as a universal format for knowledge representation in language, cognition and science. Frames represent categories as well as individual objects and events in terms of recursive attribute-value structures. In this paper, we would like to explore the potential ontological commitments of frame-based knowledge representations, with particular emphasis on the ontological status of the possessors of quality attributes in individual object frames. While not strictly incompatible with nominalistic, bundle- or substratum-theoretic approaches to the (...) metaphysics of particular objects, it will be argued that representing objects in terms of attribute-value structures is more in accordance with a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle’s doctrine of physical substances. Attributes appear to describe primary potentialities of objects, which, in the Aristotelian view, are the unchangeable nature or essence, hence substance, of any separate object. (shrink)
The present essay is the first part of an analysis regarding aspects of Aristotle’s ontology. Aristotle’s ontology is, in my opinion, a formal ontology that examines the fundamental structures of reality and that investigates the features belonging to entities such as substance, quantity, quality, universals. Aristotle’s ontology investigates, moreover, the reciprocal relations existing between these entities. Aristotle’s interpretation of universals is not, in my opinion, a nominalist interpretation of universals: I do not think Aristotle regards universals as being only mental (...) entities. Aristotle, rather, aims at the differentiation between the realms of reality to which individuals and universals belong. In this part of my investigation, I first expose my interpretation of the fundaments of Aristotle’s ontology. Thereafter, I concentrate my attention on chapter Metaphysics Zeta 13: I comment on Aristotle’s investigation regarding the ontological features belonging to the universal qua universal and to the substance qua substance. I analyse the ontological laws that Aristotle finds about universal and substance: substance and universals are considered by Aristotle as mutually incompatible entities. The analysis shows that a false interpretation of the features of the universals endangers the whole ontology. Moreover, the Third-Man-Regress, which is one of the consequences of the misunderstanding of the position of universals in the reality, is regarded as the key to the interpretation of one of Aristotle’s aims: Aristotle aims at the foundation of a typological ontology putting individual entities and universal entities on different levels of reality. The danger of the Third-Man-Regress is avoided through the introduction of a new ontology, that is, through the introduction of the typological ontology of the entities. (shrink)
Can the neo-Aristotelian uphold a pluralist substance ontology while taking seriously the recent arguments in favour of monism based on quantum holism and other arguments from quantum mechanics? In this article, Jonathan Schaffer’s priority monism will be the main target. It will be argued that the case from quantum mechanics in favour of priority monism does face some challenges. Moreover, if the neo-Aristotelian is willing to consider alternative ways to understand ‘substance’, there may yet be hope for a pluralist substance (...) ontology. A speculative case for such an ontology will be constructed based on primitive incompatibility. (shrink)
The first major work in the history of philosophy to bear the title "Metaphysics" was the treatise by Aristotle that we have come to know by that name. But Aristotle himself did not use that title or even describe his field of study as 'metaphysics'; the name was evidently coined by the first century C.E. editor who assembled the treatise we know as Aristotle's Metaphysics out of various smaller selections of Aristotle's works. The title 'metaphysics' -- literally, 'after the Physics' (...) -- very likely indicated the place the topics discussed therein were intended to occupy in the philosophical curriculum. They were to be studied after the treatises dealing with nature (ta phusika). In this entry, we discuss the ideas that are developed in Aristotle's treatise. (shrink)
Y a-t-il des Idées et peut-on démontrer qu’elles existent ? Parmi les protagonistes anciens de la controverse qui a opposé partisans et adversaires des Idées, Aristote mérite une attention toute particulière. De fait, si – au moment où Aristote intervient dans le débat autour de l’hypothèse des Idées – ce débat a déjà une histoire, c’est avec lui que cette histoire atteint une maturité qui est à la fois d’ordre doctrinal et doxographique. De fait, non seulement Aristote est le premier (...) à avoir défini certaines au moins des propriétés de ce qui est et se dit en commun de plusieurs, mais encore a-t-il pris soin d’inscrire ces définitions dans la continuité de l’héritage socratique dont il s’est explicitement revendiqué tout en dénonçant sa dérive aux mains des successeurs de Socrate. L’objectif principal du cycle de conférences a été d’étudier les objections qu’Aristote a formulées à l’encontre des partisans des Idées en prenant comme fil conducteur la notion de substance que sa discussion des Formes platoniciennes tantôt présuppose, tantôt mobilise explicitement. Pour ce faire, nous avons procédé à une lecture détaillée d’un certain nombre de documents, tirés aussi bien de ses écrits d’école que des vestiges de ses traités perdus, où Aristote rejette la notion d’un universel substantiel (autant dire, en l’occurrence, séparé) et s’efforce de mettre à mal les arguments que ses partisans avançaient pour prouver son existence. (shrink)
Is life a simple result of a conjunction of physico-chemical processes? Can be reduced to a mere juxtaposition of spatially determined events? What epistemology or world-view allows us to comprehend it? Aristotle built a novel philosophical system in which nature is a dynamical totality which is in constant movement. Life is a manifestation of it, and is formed and governed by the psyche. Psyche is the organizational principle of the different biological levels: nutritive, perceptive and intelective. Driesch's crucial experiment provided (...) empirical proof of the principle of life, which he called entelechy. Entelechy is an intensive manifoldness and cannot be comprehended by the usual extensive parameters. The entelechian's own ambiance is duration. This allows the reintroduction of the concept of teleology in the sphere of the living, understood not as a final cause, but as an order born from desire and leading to action. (shrink)
My topic is the fundamental Aristotelian division between the animate and the inanimate. In particular, I discuss the transformation that occurs when an inanimate body comes to be ensouled. When nutriment is transformed into flesh it is first changed into blood. I argue that blood is unique in being, at one and the same time, both animate and inanimate; it is inanimate nutriment in actuality (or in activity) and animate flesh in potentiality (or in capacity). I provide a detailed exposition (...) of these manners of being (covering individual substances, artifacts, and mixtures), apply these insights to the case of blood, and then argue that blood's curious status is central to understanding hylomorphism in living organisms. (shrink)
Aristotle outlines two methods in De Anima that one can employ when one investigates the soul. The first focuses on the exercises of a living organism’s vital capacities and the proper objects upon which these activities are directed. The second focuses on a living organism’s nature, its internal principle of movement and rest, and the single end for the sake of which this principle is exercised. I argue that these two methods yield importantly different, and prima facie incompatible, views about (...) what souls are. According to the first, the soul is a set of independently specifiable capacities that are related to one another in a manner that effects a unity of soul over and above the multiplicity. According to the second, the soul is a single, unitary nature that has a living organism’s form as its end. I bring the differences between these two conceptions of soul into relief and then attempt to reconcile the opposing views in a way privileges the conception according to which the soul is a unitary nature. In doing so, I discuss the following interrelated topics: (a) what makes a capacity a part of soul, (b) the relationship between the parts of soul within a given organism, (c) how a soul can be a unity while comprising various parts, (d) whether it is possible to give an adequate definition of life or soul, (e) what unity obtains among the various ways life is said that would allow for a proper, scientific investigation of life, and (f) the principle that grounds the hierarchy of souls—the nutritive, the perceptual, and the rational. (shrink)