Categories and the Real Order: Sellar’s Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

The Monist 66 (3):438-449 (1983)
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The central problem about the relationship between categories and the real order can be stated very simply: the purpose of categorial predication is to yield a set of necessary truths about things within the world, but the universality of these same truths sometimes seems to subordinate the particularity of the real order to the generality of conceptual understanding. As a result, an apparent conflict arises between the real and the logical orders which quite naturally raises a question about how these two separate realms are to be related. In this paper I will examine this question in typically Aristotelian terms, first by discussing a small cluster of passages in Wilfrid Sellars’s challenging paper about Aristotle’s metaphysics, and then by offering my own interpretation of Aristotle’s position about the issue in question. My fundamental purpose in doing this is to establish an intelligible relationship between categories and the real order and to do so by exploring the logical space between an individual thing and the question “What is it?” I am convinced that within this space form and content meet and that we can at least begin to answer our original question about the real and the logical orders by exploring their interconnection.



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