Discussions of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z tend to treat it either as an independent treatise on substance and essence or as preliminary to the main conclusions of the Metaphysics. I argue instead that Z is central to Aristotle’s project of first philosophy in the Metaphysics: the first philosopher seeks the first causes of being qua being, especially substances, and in Z, Aristotle establishes that essences or forms are the first causes of being of perceptible substances. I also argue that the centrality (...) of Z to first philosophy is compatible with its status as theology. (shrink)
Aristotle analyses a large range of objects as composites of matter and form. But how exactly should we understand the relation between the matter and form of a composite? Some commentators have argued that forms themselves are somehow material, that is, forms are impure. Others have denied that claim and argued for the purity of forms. In this paper, I develop a new purist interpretation of Metaphysics Z.10-11, a text central to the debate, which I call 'hierarchical purism'. I argue (...) that hierarchical purism can overcome the difficulties faced by previous versions of purism as well as by impurism. Roughly, on hierarchical purism, each composite can be considered and defined in two different ways: From the perspective of metaphysics, composites are considered only insofar as they have forms and defined purely formally. From the perspective of physics, composites are considered insofar as they have forms and matter and defined with reference to both. Moreover, while the metaphysical definition is a definition in the strict sense of 'definition', the physical definition is a definition in a loose sense. Analogous points hold for intelligible composites and geometry. Finally, neither sort of definitional practice implies that, for Aristotle, forms are impure. (shrink)
In Metaphysics Z.6, Aristotle argues that each substance is the same as its essence. In this paper, I defend an identity reading of that claim. First, I provide a general argument for the identity reading, based on Aristotle’s account of sameness in number and identity. Second, I respond to the recent charge that the identity reading is incoherent, by arguing that the claim in Z.6 is restricted to primary substances and hence to forms.
In the Timaeus, Plato’s Timaeus offers an account of the sensible world in terms of “images” of forms. Often, images are taken to be particulars: either objects or particular property instances (tropes). Contrary to this trend, I argue that images are general characteristics which are immanent in the receptacle, or bundles of such characteristics. Thus, the entire sensible world can be analysed in terms of immanent general characteristics, the receptacle, and forms. Hence, for Timaeus, fundamentally, there are no sensible particulars. (...) I end by arguing that my interpretation is compatible with Timaeus’ construction of sensible entities from triangles. (shrink)
The third deduction in Plato’s Parmenides is often given a constructive reading on which Plato’s Parmenides, or even Plato himself, presents us with a positive account of the relation between parts and wholes. However, I argue that there is a hitch in the third deduction which threatens to undermine the mereology of the third deduction by the lights of the dialogue. Roughly, even if the Others partake of the One, the account of the third deduction leads to an ontology of (...) gunk, that is, an ontology on which there are no mereological atoms (except for the One). Hence, it is unclear whether the participation relation between the Others and the One is sufficient to impose the sort of structure on the Others which, in the context of this deduction, Parmenides (or Plato) seems to hope for. Instead of the constructive reading of the third deduction, I therefore offer an aporetic reading on which the third deduction raises further difficulties for the participation relation at the heart of young Socrates’ theory of Forms. (shrink)
I discuss the volume edited by Andrea Falcon and Stasinos Stavrianeas which includes a new Greek text of Aristotle's De incessu animalium (On the Progression of Animals) by Pantelis Golitsis and nine interpretative essays. Since the De incessu is largely uncharted territory, my main goal is to introduce some of the exegetical debates initiated in this volume and to hint at points of departure for further discussion. I pay particular attention to the famous principle that nature does nothing in vain.
Devin Henry offers a comprehensive study of Aristotle’s hylomorphic account of substantial generation. In particular, he argues that, in Generation of Animals, Aristotle defends a view that Henry calls “reproductive hylomorphism” : an application of the hylomorphic model of substantial generation to the central case of the generation of animals. In this review, I explain Henry's view and offer some criticisms of his two-stage model of reproductive hylomorphism that distinguishes embryogenesis from morphogenesis.