Aristotle’s theory of physical objects, hylomorphism, has resurfaced in contemporary metaphysics. In its current version, hylomorphism is proposed as a general theory of mereology, its purview extending beyond material objects to chemical composites, events, and non-physical mathematical, linguistic, and musical objects. While I agree that hylomorphism works well in all of the newly proposed applications, it fails as a theory of properties and their parts. I show that this is the case and then theorize about why this (...) is so. (shrink)
The paper investigates the propriety of applying the form versus matter distinction to arguments and to logic in general. Its main point is that many of the currently pervasive views on form and matter with respect to logic rest on several substantive and even contentious assumptions which are nevertheless uncritically accepted. Indeed, many of the issues raised by the application of this distinction to arguments seem to be related to a questionable combination of different presuppositions and expectations; this holds in (...) particular of the vexed issue of demarcating the class of logical constants. I begin with a characterization of currently widespread views on form and matter in logic, which I refer to as 'logical hylomorphism as we know it'—LHAWKI, for short—and argue that the hylomorphism underlying LHAWKI is mereological. Next, I sketch an overview of the historical developments leading from Aristotelian, non-mereological metaphysical hylomorphism to mereological logical hylomorphism (LHAWKI). I conclude with a reassessment of the prospects for the combination of hylomorphism and logic, arguing in particular that LHAWKI is not the only and certainly not the most suitable version of logical hylomorphism. In particular, this implies that the project of demarcating the class of logical constants as a means to define the scope and nature of logic rests on highly problematic assumptions. (shrink)
My goal in this paper is to provide characterizations of matter, form and constituency in a way that avoids what I take to be the three main drawbacks of other hylomorphic theories: (i) commitment to the universal-particular distinction; (ii) commitment to a primitive or problematic notion of inherence or constituency; (iii) inability to identify viable candidates for matter and form in nature, or to characterize them in terms of primitives widely regarded to be intelligible.
The paper investigates the propriety of applying the form versus matter distinction to arguments and to logic in general. Its main point is that many of the currently pervasive views on form and matter with respect to logic rest on several substantive and even contentious assumptions which are nevertheless uncritically accepted. Indeed, many of the issues raised by the application of this distinction to arguments seem to be related to a questionable combination of different presuppositions and expectations; this holds in (...) particular of the vexed issue of demarcating the class of logical constants. I begin with a characterization of currently widespread views on form and matter in logic, which I refer to as ‘logical hylomorphism as we know it’—LHAWKI, for short—and argue that the hylomorphism underlying LHAWKI is mereological. Next, I sketch an overview of the historical developments leading from Aristotelian, non-mereological metaphysical hylomorphism to mereological logical hylomorphism (LHAWKI). I conclude with a reassessment of the prospects for the combination of hylomorphism and logic, arguing in particular that LHAWKI is not the only and certainly not the most suitable version of logical hylomorphism. In particular, this implies that the project of demarcating the class of logical constants as a means to define the scope and nature of logic rests on highly problematic assumptions. (shrink)
In these comments on Bernard Williams's probing and provocative paper, I shall first try to develop a line of response to the pair of problems Williams poses concerning Aristotle's account of soul. I shall then offer some reactions, of a more general sort, to his discussion of hylomorphism (henceforth "HMism"). In particular, I want to suggest that, though HMism is in part a form of inoffensive materialism, it is more than just that. And I want to urge also that (...) HMism need not be tempted towards the quasi-dualist position that Williams describes. (shrink)
Descartes developed a compelling characterization of mental and physical phenomena which has remained more or less canonical for Western philosophy ever since. The greatest testament to the power of Cartesian thinking is its ubiquity. Even philosophers who are critical of post-Cartesian anthropology (philosophers,for instance, who are self-professed exponents of one or another form of hylomorphism) nevertheless tacitly endorse Cartesian assumptions. Part of what leads to this strange inconsistency is that by and large philosophers no longer know what a non-Cartesian (...) anthropology looks like. I discuss some commitments characteristic of post-Cartesian philosophy of mind, and present an alternative conception of psychological phenomena more consistent with a hylomorphic framework. (shrink)
The dualist-materialist dichotomy can be understood in terms of an apparently inconsistent triad of claims: materialism, mental realism, and antireductionism.At one time, functionalism seemed capable of resolving the apparent inconsistency, but recent work in the philosophy of mind suggests it cannot. Functionalism’sfailure invites exploration into alternative strategies for resolution, one of which is suggested by Aristotle’s hylomorphism. The latter rejects PostulationalRealism, a semantic model for psychological discourse endorsed by regnant forms of dualism and materialism, as well as by functionalism. (...) Several considerations indicate that Postulational Realism is an implausible model for psychological discourse at best, and therefore suggest its rejection might pave the way to resolving the dualist-materialist dichotomy in the manner of hylomorphism. (shrink)
“Hylomorphism” has recently become a buzzword in metaphysics. Kit Fine, Kathryn Koslicki, and Mark Johnston, among others, have argued that hylomorphism provides an account of parthood and material constitution that has certain advantages over its competitors. But what exactly is it, and what are its implications for an account of what we are? Hylomorphism, I argue, is fundamentally a claim about structure. It says that structure is a basic ontological and explanatory principle. I argue that hylomorphism (...) is compatible with physicalism, and also with substance dualism, and epiphenomenalism. The most interesting kinds of hylomorphism nevertheless reject these views. I describe one such hylomorphic theory. It is an empirically well-warranted theory, I argue, one based on work in biology and biological subdisciplines such as neuroscience. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers of mind tend to accept either some version of dualism or physicalism when considering the mind–body problem. Likewise, recent philosophers of religion typically assume that we must work within these two categories when considering problems related to the possibility of bodily resurrection. Recently, some philosophers have reintroduced the Thomistic version of hylomorphism. In this article, we will consider the distinctive doctrines of Thomistic hylomorphism and how they can be used to address concerns about both the mind–body (...) problem and the possibility of resurrection. We will see that hylomorphism allows for a novel version of emergent property dualism that is both metaphysically plausible and allows us to recognize the irreducibility of mental states and the possibility of resurrection without ignoring the fact of human embodiment. We will also discuss the currently lively debate among Thomistic hylomorphists who advocate opposed corruptionist and survivalist versions of the afterlife. (shrink)
Aquinas’s Fifth Way is usually taken to be an adumbration of Paley-like design arguments. Paley-like design arguments have fallen on hard times over the past few centuries, and most contemporary defenders of design arguments in support of theism favor some version of the fine-tuning argument. But fine-tuning designarguments, like Paley’s design argument, are consistent with atomism. And all such arguments are vulnerable to the objection that, given a long enough stretch of time and a sufficient number of universes, there would (...) be no need to posit a designer. In this paper we argue that a deep understanding of Aquinas’s Fifth Way depends upon understanding his hylomorphic account of the nature of composite substance, an account that is inconsistent with atomism. We argue that if one grants hylomorphism, Aquinas’s Fifth Way is difficult to resist. And we defend Aquinas’s hylomorphism against several common objections. (shrink)
Secundum Petrum Bieri dualismus ontologicus hoc trilemma generat: 1) Status mentis non sunt status physici. 2) Status mentis causalitatem exerceunt in regionem statuum physicorum. 3) Regio statuum physicorum est causaliter clausa. Haec tertia propositio a Bieri “physicalismum methodologicum” exprimere dicitur. Ut hoc trilemma solvat, Bieri unum eius membrorum reicere suadet. Hylemorphismus causalitatem mentis ut causalitetem formalem explicat, relationem vero hominis ad mundum ut causalitatem efficientem. Unde clausura causalis mundi de causalitate efficiente intelligi potest, quae in physica investigatur. Liberum arbitrium ab (...) intentione mentis originem trahit. Etiam possibilitas libertatis humanae ex intentionalitate mentis explicari potest. Libertas adhuc hominis ut electio unae duarum optionum intelligi potest. Homo eligens rationes ponderat, quae sunt abstractae et distinctae a causis efficientibus rerum materialium, quae sunt concretae. Doctrina hylemorfica insuper fundamenum sufficiens ad problema identitatis personae per tempus solvendum praebere potest. Quoniam omnia elementa materialia in homine per tempus mutantur – imo DNA mutari potest –, principium identitatis immateriale esse debet. Pro principio identitatis igitur forma substantialis personae accipi potest, quae est metaphysica explicatio naturae mentis, quae actionem liberam electione deliberata per intentionalitatem libertatemque arbitrii inchoare potest)Peter Bieri formulates the assumptions of the ontological dualism via a trilemma: 1) Mental states are not physical states. 2) Mental states have causal effects in the realm of physical states. 3) The realm of physical states is causally closed. Bieri labels the third sentence of this trilemma as methodological physicalism. In order to solve this trilemma Bieri proposes to abandon one of the three premises. Hylomorphism explains mental causality as formal causality, and the relation between human beings and the world as efficient causality. Thus, the causal closure of the world can be understood as closure of the efficient causes, which are studied by physics. Free decision begins with the intentionality of the mind. The possibility of human freedom can also be explained through the intentionality of the mind. Human freedom can be understood as a choice between two alternatives. When choosing, human beings weigh reasons which are abstract and distinct from the efficient causes of material objects that are concrete. Hylomorphism can, further, provide sufficient grounds for solving the issue of personal identity through time. Since all the material elements in a human being change through time – even the DNA can change – the principle of identity cannot be material in character. Thus, it is the substantial form of a person (i.e. the metaphysical explanation of the mind, which is capable of initiating free action through its intentionality and freedom of choice in deliberate decision making) that can be accepted as the principle of identity. (shrink)
For later medieval philosophers, writing under the influence of Aristotle’s natural philosophy and metaphysics, the human soul plays two quite different roles, serving as both a substantial form and a mind. To ask the natural question of why we need a soul at all – why we might not instead simply be a body, a material thing – therefore requires considering two very different sets of issues. The first set of issues is metaphysical, and revolves around the central question of (...) why a human being needs a substantial form. The second set of issues is psychological, and turns on the question of why we should suppose that our mind is aptly characterized as a soul. This chapter takes up these two questions in turn, and then turns to whether we should suppose that one and the same thing – a soul – is both substantial form and mind. This dual-function thesis is the most distinctive feature of later medieval psychology, and is one reason that work from this era remains well-worth reading today. Whereas modern thought furnishes many sophisticated discussions of the immateriality of mind, and the metaphysics of body, philosophers since Descartes have rarely considered that it might be one thing, the soul, that accounts for both thought and substantial unity. (shrink)
Mind-body problems are predicated on two things: a distinction between the mental and the physical, and premises that make it difficult to see how the two are related. Before Descartes there were no mind-body problems of the sort now forming the stock in trade of philosophy of mind. One possible explanation for this is that pre-Cartesian philosophers working in the Aristotelian tradition had a different way of understanding the mental-physical distinction, the nature of causation, and the character of psychological discourse, (...) which was not liable to generating problems of a post-Cartesian sort. If so, it might be possible to recover and redeploy parts of that pre-Modern conceptual apparatus to resolve contemporary mind-body problems. I will argue that at least one such problem can be solved in this way. (shrink)
My paper raises the question whether there are any tenable hylomorphic theories of post-mortem survival and resurrection compatible with Catholic Churchdoctrine. After considering what it would mean for such a theory to be compatible with Church doctrine, I raise three objections to which a hylomorphic theory would need to successfully respond in order to be considered tenable. In the final section of the paper, I argue affirmatively, that there are tenable hylomorphic theories. I then consider two contemporary theories and offer (...) reasons to prefer an alternative, non-reassemblist theory to others that are currently equally or more popular. (shrink)
This paper presents a Thomistic analysis of addiction that incorporates scientific, philosophical, and theological features of addiction. I will argue first, that a Thomistic hylomorphic anthropology provides a cogent explanation of the causal interactions between human action and neuroplasticity. I will employ Karol Wojtyła’s account of self-determination to further clarify the kind of neuroplasticity involved in addiction. Next, I will elucidate how a Thomistic anthropology can accommodate, without reductionism, both the neurophysiological and psychological elements of addiction, and finally, I will (...) make clear how Thomism can provide an ethics and a theology of grace that can be integrated with these ontological and scientific considerations into a holistic theory of addiction. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in property dualism—the view that some mental properties are neither identical with, nor strongly supervenient on, physical properties. One of the principal objections to this view is that, according to natural science, the physical world is a causally closed system. So if mental properties are really distinct from physical properties, then it would seem that mental properties never really cause anything that happens in the physical world. Thus, dualism threatens to (...) lead inexorably to epiphenomenalism. In this paper, I will argue that the only way for a property dualist to avoid epiphenomenalism is to deny that the human body is strictly identical with the sum of its microphysical parts. I will go on to argue that the only way to sustain such anti-reductionism about the human body is to embrace some sort of substance-hylomorphism. (shrink)
Plenitude, roughly, the thesis that for any non-empty region of spacetime there is a material object that is exactly located at that region, is often thought to be part and parcel of the standard Lewisian package in the metaphysics of persistence. While the wedding of plentitude and Lewisian four-dimensionalism is a natural one indeed, there are a hand-full of dissenters who argue against the notion that Lewisian four-dimensionalism has exclusive rights to plentitude. These ‘promiscuous’ three-dimensionalists argue that a temporalized version (...) of plenitude is entirely compatible with a three-dimensional ontology of enduring entities. While few would deny the coherence of such a position, and much work has been done by its proponents to appease critics, there has been surprisingly little by way of exploring the various forms such an ontology might take as well as the potential advantages of one plenitudinous three-dimensional ontology over another. Here I develop a novel form of plenitudinous three-dimensionalism, what John Hawthorne (Metaphysical essays, 2006a, b) has called “Neo-Aristotelian Plenitude,” and argue that if one is inclined to endorse an abundant three-dimensional ontology, one is wise to opt for a plenitude of accidental unities. (shrink)
I discuss in this paper Aristotle’s definition of nature in Physics 192b 20-23. I intend to prove that this definition has to taken as a set of three (not only two) conditions: the first condition just establishes that nature is a sort of cause; the second condition concerns the relationship between nature and the natural thing that has it as a cause; the third condition concerns the relationship between nature and the properties that natural things have from nature’s causality.
Bringing together an international team of historians of science and philosophy to discuss the fate of matter and form, this volume shows how disputes about matter and form spurred innovation as well as conservatism in early modern science ...
Hylomorphism offers a third way between animalist approaches to personal identity that maintain psychology is irrelevant to our persistence and neo-Lockean accounts that deny we are animals. A Thomistic-inspired account is provided that explains the intuitive responses to thought experiments involving brain transplants and the transformation of organic bodies into inorganic ones without having to follow the animalist in abandoning the claim that it is our identity that matters in survival nor countenance the puzzles of spatially coincident entities that (...) plague the neo-Lockean. The key is to understand the human being as only contingently an animal. This approach to our animality is one that Catholics have additional reason to hold given certain views about Purgatory, our uniqueness as free and rational creatures, and our having once existed as zygotes. (shrink)
Earl Conee has argued that the metaphysics of personal identity is irrelevant to the morality of abortion. He claims that doing all the substantial work in abortion arguments are moral principles and they garner no support from rival metaphysics theories. Conee argues that not only can both immaterialist and materialist theories of the self posit our origins at fertilization, but positing such a beginning doesn’t even have any significant impact on the permissibility of abortion. We argue that this thesis is (...) wrong on both accounts. We do so, in part, by relying on a hylomorphic rather than a Cartesian conception of the soul. There are good reasons for believing such a soul theory can favor an earlier origin than the leading materialist accounts. We also show that the theological metaphysics of hylomorphism provide greater support for a pro-life position than the Cartesian position Conee discusses. However, we argue that even on a materialistic account of personal identity, metaphysics has substantial bearing upon the morality of early abortions. (shrink)
The relationship between self-consciousness, Aristotelian ontology, and Cartesian duality is far closer than it has been thought to be. There is no valid inference either from considerations of Aristotle's hylomorphism or from the phenomenological distinction between body and living body, to the undermining of Cartesian dualism. Descartes' conception of the self as both a reasoning and willing being informs his conception of personhood; a person for Descartes is an unanalysable, integrated, self-conscious and autonomous human being. The claims that Descartes (...) introspectively encounters the self and that the Cartesian extent of inner space is self-contained are profound errors, distortions through the lenses of modern theories. (shrink)
We provide a critique of the usual functionalist, cognition-first reading of Aristotle’s theory of emotion and then offer an alternative understanding of Aristotle's theory of cognition and emotion that brings to bear certain biological considerations evidenced in his arguments on the integration of form and matter (hylomorphism) and the hierarchical organization of the biological world. This, of course, does not suggest that we are critical of all varieties of functionalism, but only those which fail to utilize and incorporate findings (...) in neuroscience. One way to help bridge the gap between mind and the physical world is through empirical findings. Based upon our new reading of Aristotle, we identify affinities with contemporary research in the cognitive neuroscience of emotion and developmental research on emotion. (shrink)