Graduate studies at Western
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):1–36 (2004)
|Abstract||The topic of homonymy, especially the variety of homonymy that has gone under the title, “focal meaning,” is of fundamental importance to large portions of Aristotle’s work-not to mention its central place in the ongoing controversies between Aristotle and Plato. It is quite astonishing, therefore, that the topic should have gone so long without a book-length treatment. And it is all the more gratifying that the new book on homonymy by Christopher Shields should be so comprehensive, and of such uniformly high quality.’ Everyone who cares about Aristotle will be in his debt. Shields’s book falls into two parts. In the first, he is concerned to lay out the basic structure of Aristotle’s views about homonymy; in the second part, we are led through the various applications of the idea, to the analysis of friendship, for example, the homonymy of the body, the account of goodness and, not least, the homonymy of being. Shields’s book brings out well how the topic of homonymy weaves in and out of the fabric of Aristotle’s thinking in a variety of areas. I will resist the temptation to follow Shields through these various subject-matters, and instead take up essentially two topics. First, (I), the basic outline of Aristotle’s notion of homonymy, more or less independently of its different applications (here, I follow Shields’s example in the first half of his book). Thereafter, I discuss a single application: the homonymy of being (this is the subject of Shields’s last and longest chapter). Here, I will be interested (II) in how homonymy relates to the theory of the categories; and (III) in the application of homonymy to the analysis of substance in the Metaphysics|
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