Aristotle frequently describes essence as a “cause” or “explanation”, thus ascribing to essence some sort of causal or explanatory role. This explanatory role is often explicated by scholars in terms of essence “making the thing be what it is” or “making it the very thing that it is”. I argue that this is problematic, at least on the assumption that “making” expresses an explanatory relation, since it violates certain formal features of explanation. I then consider whether Aristotle is vulnerable to (...) this problem by examining the explanatory role of essence in Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics Z 17. (shrink)
One of the issues that deeply interested the philosophers of late antiquity, the Ancient Greek Commentators, concerns the priority of substances. While questions concerning ontological priority have recently attracted attention in Aristotelian scholarship and contemporary metaphysics, the Commentators’ discussions have not yet received the attention they deserve. My aim is to start to fill in this gap, by focusing on John Philoponus’s account of the priority of substances in his commentary on Aristotle’s "Categories". In particular, I aim to show how (...) Philoponus develops and defends the view that, while particular substances enjoy priority over accidents and concepts (“universals after the many”), they do not enjoy priority over all other things. Rather, a certain type of universal substance (“universals prior to the many”) enjoys priority over particulars. (shrink)
The philosophical problem of universals is traditionally framed as the problem about the ontological status of universals. It is often said that the ontological status of universals is a post-Aristotelian problem that was bequeathed to the Middle Ages by a famous sentence in Porphyry's Isagoge. 1 Porphyry raises but then refuses to answer three questions about the ontological status of genera and species, saying that they are too "deep" for the present investigation. 2 Although Porphyry is the first to announce (...) the problem, it was Boethius's commentary on Porphyry, rather than the Isagoge itself, that made this sentence famous and that is therefore responsible for the problem of universals in .. (shrink)
This special issue centers around Aristotelian metaphysics, construed broadly to cover both scholarly research on Aristotle’s metaphysics, as well as work by contemporary metaphysicians on Aristotelian themes. It focuses on two themes in Aristotelian metaphysics, namely essence and grounding, and their connections. A variety of related questions regarding dependence, priority, fundamentality, explanation, causation, substance, and modality also receive attention.