Substantial Form as a Universal in the Central Books of Aristotle's "Metaphysics"

Dissertation, University of Virginia (1990)
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The purpose of this dissertation is to show that in the central books of the Metaphysics, Aristotle thinks that the substantial form of a particular composite substance is a universal. This view is part of the traditional interpretation of substantial form in Aristotle's metaphysics, which is that composite substances of the same kind share a universal form and are individuated by their matter. I do not discuss in detail the problem of individuation. In recent literature there have been many objections raised against the view that substantial form is a universal. I discuss these objections and defend my interpretation against them. ;I begin by showing that there are a number of obvious inconsistencies inherent in the metaphysical theory presented in the Categories and that they are the same as some of the problems to be found in the aporiai of Metaphysics Book B. Turning to the Metaphysics, I show that Aristotle's definition of the universal is broad enough to cover a wide range of different things, among which are the eide . A close analysis of the central books demonstrates that Aristotle does not use the term 'eidos' ambiguously to mean form as opposed to species and vice versa. Next I take up the arguments of Metaphysics Z 13, and show that, contrary to many recent interpretations which take Z13 to argue that no universal is a substance, what Z13 really demonstrates is that no genus is a substance. This means that Z13 does not run afoul of Aristotle's claim that the eidos is a substance. Then an analysis of chapter 10 of Metaphysics M along the same lines shows that Aristotle has not departed from his ubiquitous dictum that knowledge is of the universal. I discuss a couple of recent versions of the view that substantial form is particular, and show that they fail. Finally, I argue that only on the universal view of eidos does the Metaphysics provide a solution to the difficulties of the Categories and Metaphysics B, which provides additional support for the universal view of substantial form



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