Aristotle's distinction between change and activity

Axiomathes 14:3-22 (2004)
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Aristotle's conception of being is dynamic. He believes that a thing is most itself when engaged in its proper activities, governed by its nature. This paper explores this idea by focusing on Metaphysics , a text that continues the investigation of substantial being initiated inMetaphysics Z. Q.1 claims that there are two potentiality-actuality distinctions, one concerned with potentiality in the strict sense, which is involved in change, the other concerned with potentiality in another sense, which he says is more useful for the present project. His present project is the investigation of substantial being, and the relevant potentiality is the potentiality for activity, the full manifestation of what a thing is. I explore Aristotle's two potentiality-actuality distinctions AND argue that the second distinction is modeled on the first, with one crucial modification. Whereas a change is brought about by something other than the object or by the object itself considered as other (as when a doctor cures himself), an activity is brought about byte object itself considered as itself. This single modification yields an important difference: whereas a change leads to a state other than the one an object was previously in, an activity maintains or develops what an object already is.


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