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Title: The grounds of unity : substantial and sub-substantial being in Aristotle
Author: Ainsworth, Thomas Ross
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
Strawson famously classified Aristotle as a descriptive metaphysician, alongside himself, and in contrast to more revisionary philosophers like Plato. The extent to which Aristotle was merely concerned to describe our conceptual scheme has, however, been over-estimated by some. Although common-sense beliefs are among the starting-points from which Aristotle pursues his metaphysical inquiries, the conclusions of those inquiries are in fact quite radical. In chapter one, we identify three interpretative questions about Aristotle's notion of substance: (1) does Aristotle change his mind about what things are the substances between writing the Categories and the Metaphysics? (2) are matter, form and the compound of the two all substances, albeit to different extents, or are only forms substances? (3) however we resolve these questions about hylomorphism, what range of forms count as substantial, and why? In chapter two, we examine the criteria of being a substance. These provide evidence for Aristotle's changing his mind between the Categories and Metaphysics. An examination of the 'χωρıστóv' criterion also supports the view that only forms are substances: Aristotle claims that compounds are separate simpliciter, since they can exist without items in other categories, and not vice versa, but this claim cannot be supported. Only forms are separate in definition, and so, on the assumption that being separate is necessary for being a substance, only forms are substances. If we are to understand the claim that only forms are substances, we should acquire a better understanding of what is meant by 'form', and why Aristotle thinks there are such things. Chapters three to five undertake this task. Chapter three discusses Aristotle's introduction of matter and form in the Physics to account for substantial generation, and his argument in Z.17 that form is substance, since it is what makes some matter one thing. In chapter four, this unificatory role is distinguished from the role of a principle of individuation, and it is argued that only individual forms are suitable to play the latter role. In chapter five, we examine some recent attempts to blur the distinction between matter and form, by maintaining that form is essentially matter-involving. We argue that the view according to which form is defined independently of matter is preferable. In chapters six and seven, we address the third interpretative question. Chapter six argues that artefacts are not substances (and not merely substances to a lesser degree than organisms) because they are not separate, since they depend on the intentional activity of their creators or users. Chapter seven considers Aristotle's views about mixtures. These are also compounds of matter and form, but fail to be substances because, like matter, they depend on a higher form to make them one thing.
Supervisor: Shields, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.748638  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Metaphysics (Aristotle) ; form ; matter ; hylomorphism ; Aristotle ; metaphysics
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