Essentialism in Aristotle

Review of Metaphysics 31 (3):387-405 (1978)
Quine, in an influential passage, characterizes a certain kind of metaphysical view as "Aristotelian essentialism." Recent work on Aristotle suggests that he may not have been an essentialist in Quine's sense. This paper examines the question whether, and to what extent, Aristotle is committed to the kind of essentialism Quine discusses. Various promising areas of Aristotle's thought (alteration vs. coming-to-be and passing-away, kath' hauto predication) are examined and found wanting as sources of essentialism. Instead, Aristotle is found to be committed to essentialism in the hylomorphic conception of substance featured in the late books of the Metaphysics, despite the superficially anti-essentialistic appearance of the conception of matter as the ultimate subject of predication. Essentialism is part and parcel of Aristotle's conception of substances as the basic individuals.
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    Daryn Lehoux (2006). Laws of Nature and Natural Laws. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (4):527-549.
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