Forms Are Not Emergent Powers

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Hylomorphism is the Aristotelian theory according to which substances are composites of matter and form. If my house is a substance, then its matter would be a collection of bricks and timbers and its form something like a structure that unites those bricks and timbers into a single substance. Contemporary hylomorphists are divided on how to understand forms best, but a prominent group of theorists argue that forms are emergent powers. According to such views, when material components are arranged appropriately, a novel substance emerges with the power to impose unity on its components through time. I argue that these accounts of form fall prey to a bootstrapping problem, and so, suffer from issues of redundancy, given plausible assumptions about inherence. In their place, I suggest an ontologically minimalist conception of forms as collective manifestations of the powers of matter.

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Graham Renz
Marian University

Citations of this work

Whence the Form?Graham Renz - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Things and Their Parts.Kit Fine - 1999 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):61-74.
Hylomorphism.Mark Johnston - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (12):652-698.
Aristotle's hylomorphism without reconditioning.Anna Marmodoro - 2013 - Philosophical Inquiry 37 (1-2):5-22.

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