Your belief that Obama is a Democrat wouldn’t be the belief that it is if it didn't represent Obama, nor would the pain in your ankle be the state that is if, say, it felt like an itch. Accordingly, it is tempting to hold that phenomenal and representational properties are essential to the mental states that have them. But, as several theorists have forcefully argued (including Kripke (1980) and Burge (1979, 1982)) this attractive idea is seemingly in tension with another (...) equally attractive thesis, namely, the token-identity thesis; the thesis according to which every mental state token is identical with some or other token physical state. In this paper, we show that these seemingly incontrovertible essentialist intuitions are in fact compatible with ‘token physicalism’ regarding the mental.1 Given a suitably plentitudinous ontology of objects, we argue that there are physical things with which our token mental states can be identified. This is preferable to existing views that give up the essentiality claims or simply reject the token-identity thesis. (shrink)
La somme d’Humbrecht fait preuve d’une érudition peu commune et d’un réel amour de Thomas d’Aquin (mais au détriment d’Aristote, comme c’est de mode). Sa réflexion s’allonge au fil de la plume, en des méandres et des reflux quelquefois difficiles à suivre. Mais donne aussi le sentiment heureux d’une libre méditation de l’auteur voguant au gré de ses pensées, méditation à laquelle il nous invite avec amitié, pourvu que nous acceptions de nous laisser guider. Hélas, si nous branchons un GPS, (...) nous réalisons que nous nous promenons benoîtement au milieu de sables mouvants prêts à nous engloutir tout entiers à chaque pas. (shrink)
Thomas Aquinas embraces a controversial claim about the way in which parts of a substance depend on the substance’s substantial form. On his metaphysics, a ‘substantial form’ is not merely a relation among already existing things, in virtue of which (for example) the arrangement or configuration of those things would count as a substance. The substantial form is rather responsible for the identity or nature of the parts of the substance such a form constitutes. Aquinas’ controversial claim can be roughly (...) put as the view that things are members of their kind in virtue of their substantial form. To put it simply, Aquinas’ claim results in the implication that, every time the xs come to compose a y, those xs have to undergo a change in kind membership. -/- This has been called the “homonymy principle,” and it follows from Aquinas’ view of substantial forms, and specifically from the position that substantial forms inform prime matter, rather than substance-parts. The aim of this paper will be to defend that the Thomistic claim that substantial forms account for the determinate actuality of every part of a substance is plausible and coherent. After defending the Thomistic account, I propose that approaching problems of material composition as a Thomist has a significant, oft-overlooked advantage of involving a thorough-going naturalistic methodology that resolves such problems by appeal to empirical considerations. (shrink)
We examine Sophie Gibb’s emergent property-dualist theory of mental causation as double-prevention. Her account builds on a commitment to a version of causal realism based on a powers metaphysic. We consider three objections to her account. We show, by drawing out the implications of the ontological commitments of Gibb’s theory of mental causation, that the first two objections fail. But, we argue, owing to worries about cases where there is no double-preventive role to be played by mental properties, her account, (...) which solely affords mental properties a double-preventive role, is incomplete and vulnerable to a causal exclusion objection. We propose a friendly modification to her theory of mental causation that is consistent with her theory’s ontological commitments. Specifically, we sketch an account on which mental properties have a more pronounced causal-structuring role that is not exhausted by the role Gibb assigns them as double-preventers. The result is a novel emergentist theory of mental causation. (shrink)
The Monster Objection has often been considered one of the main reasons to explore non-standard mereological views, such as hylomorphism. Still, it has been rarely discussed and then only in a cursory fashion. This paper fills this gap by offering the first thorough assessment of the objection. It argues that different metaphysical stances, such as presentism and three- and four-dimensionalism, provide different ways of undermining the objection.
It is usually agreed that reality is temporal in the sense of containing entities that exist in time, but some philosophers, roughly those who have been traditionally called A-theorists, hold that reality is temporal in a far more profound sense than what is implied by the mere existence of such entities. This hypothesis of deep temporality typically involves two ideas: that reality is temporally compartmentalised into distinct present, past, and future ‘realms’, and that this compartmentalisation is temporally dynamic in the (...) sense that the boundaries of those temporal realms change from one moment to the next. The truth of something like this hypothesis is commonly thought to require that at least some of the facts that fundamentally constitute reality be tensed. While this seems plausible, realism about fundamental tensed facts does not seem to entail deep temporality. Nor is it clear exactly what realism about tense amounts to, given that no informative answer has been given to the question of what it is for a fact to be tensed. In this paper, I introduce a novel approach, perspectivalism about temporal reality, that seeks to vindicate the hypothesis of deep temporality by ascribing to reality a certain kind of temporally perspectival structure, which also provides a straightforward answer to the question of what the tensedness of facts consists in as well as to the question of what it is for reality to be constituted by such facts. (shrink)
The paper investigates the distinction between form and matter in Kant’s theoretical philosophy – his adoption of an Aristotelian hylomorphism. This connection to Aristotle is sometimes recognized in Kant scholarship, though most proponents claim that against the backdrop of a structural analogy, Kant and Aristotle also differ in an important respect: according to them, while Aristotle puts forth a hylomorphic conception of being, Kant merely offers a hylomorphic conception of cognition in which sensibility provides the matter and understanding the form. (...) Against this, the paper claims that this “interiorization” of form cannot be squared with Kant’s actual views. Form is not internal for Kant, but neither is it external. Rather, it is “original form”. This interpretation ascribes a “hylomorphism all the way down” to Kant, meaning that the form and the matter of cognition are jointly actualized in virtue of each other. The understanding cannot be understood apart from its part in a hylomorphic unity with sensibility. Therefore, a proper appreciation of this unity enables us to see that it is impossible to distinguish the form that objects have as objects of cognition from the form they have in themselves. (shrink)
Tim Ingold draws a sharp line between animism and hylomorphism, that is, between his relational ontology and a rival genealogical ontology. He argues that genealogical hylomorphism collapses under a fallacy of circularity, while his relationism does not. Yet Ingold fails to distinguish between vicious or fallacious circles, on the one hand, and virtuous or hermeneutic circles, on the other. I demonstrate that hylomorphism and Ingold’s relational animism are both virtuously circular. Hence, there is no difference between them on this count. (...) A path thus opens for what I call hylomorphic animism. While Ingold’s relational animism leads into obscurity, hylomorphic animism is able to explain the differences in power between material things. (shrink)
Can sensibility, as our capacity to be sensibly presented with objects, be understood independently of the understanding, as the capacity to form judgments about those objects? It is a truism that for judgments to be empirical knowledge they must agree with what sensibility presents. Moreover, it is a familiar thought that objectivity involves absolute independence from intellectual acts. The author argues that together these thoughts motivate a common reading of Kant on which operations of sensibility are conceived as intelligible independently (...) of acts of the understanding, so that their supposed objectivity can validate judgments as empirical knowledge. He contends that there are two reasons why this epistemic compositionalism is implausible both as a reading of Kant and in itself. First, read compositionally, Kant’s Transcendental Deduction is unable to fulfill its stated aim of showing that the categories are objectively valid, that is, exemplified by the objects that sensibility presents. Second, Kant sees that sensibility by itself cannot be understood to even purport to present objects, thus undermining the very intelligibility of compositionalism. The author argues that, given these challenges, Kant’s Deduction develops an alternative account, on which operations of sensibility and acts of the understanding can be understood only together. He contends that this epistemic hylomorphism transforms the familiar thought underlying compositionalism: objectivity simultaneously involves formal agreement with intellectual acts in general and material independence from any specific such act. He thus shows how Kant reconceives our conception of objectivity by overcoming compositionalism in favor of hylomorphism. (shrink)
I present Dean Zimmerman’s conceptualization of the varieties of substance dualism. I then focus attention on a form of dualism that he has discussed briefly in a few places, Thomistic dualism as he calls it, or hylomorphic dualism, as I call it. After explicating hylomorphic dualism, I consider the two places where Zimmerman says the most about it, finding, in one case, a way to alleviate a worry he raises using the resources internal to hylomorphism, and, in the other case, (...) a general agreement with his categorizing hylomorphic dualism as an intermediary position between substance dualism and materialism. Since hylomorphic dualism is something of an intermediary position between substance dualism and materialism, it stands to reason that it could be susceptible to attack from both sides. Thus, in the last portions of this article I consider the arguments Zimmerman answers against dualism and levels against materialism. I argue that the hylomorphic theorist can answer the charges against dualism at least as well as the other dualists can. I find that the main argument against materialism that Zimmerman provides, if sound, would also show any composite form of dualism to be false, too. Happily, the hylomorphic thinker has a method of denying the truth of the first premise of that argument, and so, of denying the soundness of the argument. (shrink)
This inaugural lecture, delivered on 17 November 2021 at the University of Neuchâtel, addresses the question: Are material objects analyzable into more basic constituents and, if so, what are they? It might appear that this question is more appropriately settled by empirical means as utilized in the natural sciences. For example, we learn from physics and chemistry that water is composed of H2O-molecules and that hydrogen and oxygen atoms themselves are composed of smaller parts, such as protons, which are in (...) turn composed of yet smaller parts, such as quarks, and so on. While the question at the center of this lecture might thus appear to fall more appropriately into the empirical domain of natural science, I argue that metaphysics in fact has an important role to play in determining how best to answer the question before us. More concretely, I propose that the Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism, when appropriately interpreted, provides the best metaphysical answer to the question of whether and how material objects are analyzable into more basic constituents. Hylomorphism holds that those entities to which this doctrine applies are, in some sense, compounds of matter (“hylē”) and form (“morphē” or “eidos”). Thus, the title of this lecture, “Form, Matter, Substance”, refers to the claim that lies at the center of the doctrine of hylomorphism, as applied to the domain of material objects, namely that sensible substances are the result of combining matter and form in the right sort of way; or, for short, “form + matter = substance”. I begin in Section II by providing some historical background which brings out Aristotle’s motivations for proposing the doctrine of hylomorphism in the context of his analysis of change. Section III turns to some of the main features of the contemporary hylomorphic theory I have defended especially in Koslicki (2008) and Koslicki (2018). Section IV discusses some challenging questions concerning artifacts which arise for both hylomorphic and other approaches to the metaphysics of concrete particular objects. Section V concludes by summarizing why, as contemporary metaphysicians, we should prefer a hylomorphic theory over its competitors as an analysis of concrete particular objects that is compatible with our current scientific understanding of the world. (shrink)
This paper is an investigation into the metaphysics of social objects such as political borders, states, and organizations. I articulate a metaphysical puzzle concerning such objects and then propose a novel account of social objects that provides a solution to the puzzle. The basic idea behind the puzzle is that under appropriate circumstances, seemingly concrete social objects can apparently be created by acts of agreement, decree, declaration, or the like. Yet there is reason to believe that no concrete object can (...) be created in this way. The central idea of my positive account is that social objects have a normative component to them, and seemingly concrete social objects have both normative and material components. I develop this idea more rigorously using resources from the Aristotelian hylomorphic tradition. The resulting normative hylomorphic account, I argue, solves the puzzle by providing a satisfying explanation of creation-by-agreement and the like, while also avoiding the difficulties facing extant accounts of social objects. (shrink)
In this chapter, I argue that Aristotle’s doctrine of hylomorphism, which conceived the natural world as consisting of substances which are metaphysically composed of matter and form, is ripe for rehabilitation in the light of quantum physics. I begin by discussing Aristotle’s conception of matter and form, as it was understood by Aquinas, and how Aristotle’s doctrine of hylomorphism was ‘physicalised’ and eventually abandoned with the rise of microphysicalism. I argue that the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, and the emergence of (...) irreducibly macroscopic phenomena in finite temperature quantum systems, have given us good reasons to doubt the truth of microphysicalism. In support of my argument, I show how to construct a hylomorphic interpretation of the de Broglie-Bohm theory that posits a single Cosmic Substance. I then show how to construct a hylomorphic interpretation of an alternative ‘contextual’ wave function collapse theory (recently proposed by the physicists Barbara Drossel and George Ellis) which posits a plurality of thermal substances. Both of these neo-Aristotelian ontologies reject the microphysicalist dogma that nature consists solely of some set of microscopic constituents. (shrink)
In this reply, I respond to points raised in Christian Kanzian's „Kommentar zu Kathrin Koslickis Form, Matter, Substance” in connection with a book-symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
In this reply, I respond to points raised in Winfried Löffler's „Koslickis Metaontologie“ in connection with a book-symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
In this reply, I respond to points raised by Uwe Meixner in “Koslicki on Matter and Form” in connection with a book symposium on _Form, Matter, Substance_ held at the University of Innsbruck in May 2019.
A lean hylomorphism stands as a metaphysical holy grail. An embarrassing feature of traditional hylomorphic ontologies is prime matter. Prime matter is both so basic that it cannot be examined (in principle) and its engagement with the other hylomorphic elements is far from clear. One particular problem posed by prime matter is how it is to be understood both as a principle of individuation for material substances and as pure potency. I present Thomas Aquinas’s way of squeezing some intelligibility out (...) of prime matter by modeling it on the idea of logical genus. Such a modeling provides insight into understanding prime matter as substratum, as maximally indeterminate, and as ontologically vague. One of the unusual but exciting things that fall out from this analysis of prime matter is the Entirety Thesis: “For any substance x, if x has prime matter then the prime matter of x is the same* as x,” where ‘same*’ is understood as “indeterminately identical.”. (shrink)
Working within the Aristotelian tradition, I argue that relation is not a category but a transcendental property of being. By this I mean that all substances are actualized, and hence defined, relationally: all actuality is interactuality. Interactuality is the locus for the relational categories of substance, action, being-affected, number, and most types of quality. The interactuality of corporeal beings is further conditioned by relations of setting; here we find the relational categories of place (where), quantity in the sense of size, (...) quality in the sense of shape, and time (when). In offering a relational account of substance, I distinguish between external relata (physical environment, objects of sensation and knowledge as external) and internal relata (one’s body, objects of sensation and knowledge as internal. This distinction between external and internal relata is transcended in the case of the Trinity, insofar as the divine persons are both perfectly distinct and perfectly united. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue against a view that I call foundationalism about persistence-conditions. The core of this view is that composite physical objects have their specific persistence-conditions in virtue of these conditions being fulfilled by the object’s physical constituents at various times. I will provide two arguments – the argument from the possibility of instantaneous objects and the argument from the presence of persistence-conditions – which show that this view is untenable. These arguments will also point towards a (...) more adequate understanding of what it means for an object to have certain persistence-conditions. I will expound this understanding and suggest, on its basis, an unorthodox, hylomorphist account of the persistence-conditions of objects. (shrink)
Concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms) figure saliently in our everyday experience as well as our in our scientific theorizing about the world. A hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects holds that these entities are, in some sense, compounds of matter (hūlē) and form (morphē or eidos). The Grounding Problem asks why an object and its matter (e.g., a statue and the clay that constitutes it) can apparently differ with respect to certain of their properties (e.g., the clay’s ability to (...) survive being squashed, as compared to the statue’s inability to do so), even though they are otherwise so much alike. In this paper, I argue that a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects, in conjunction with a non-modal conception of essence of the type encountered for example in the works of Aristotle and Kit Fine, has the resources to yield a solution to the Grounding Problem. (shrink)
Arius maintains that the Father must produce the Son without any pre-existing ingredients (ex nihilo) because no such ingredients are available to the Father. Athanasius denies this, insisting not only that the Father himself becomes an ingredient in the Son, but also that the Son inherits his divine properties from that ingredient. I argue, however, that it is difficult to explain exactly how the Son could inherit certain properties but not others from something he is not identical to, just as (...) it is difficult to explain the precise way that a statue inherits certain properties but not others from the lump of bronze it is made from. (shrink)
Aristotle has qualms about the movement of the soul. He contends directly, indeed, that ‘it is impossible that motion should belong to the soul’ (DA 406a2). This is surprising in both large and small ways. Still, when we appreciate the explanatory framework set by his hylomorphic analysis of change, we can see why Aristotle should think of the soul's motion as involving a kind of category mistake-not the putative Rylean mistake, but rather the mistake of treating a change as itself (...) capable of changing. (shrink)
By way of engagement with the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Heidegger, Lonergan, and neo-Thomism more broadly, Michael Baur and Gadamer discuss historicity, the Enlightenment and scientism, the epistemic implications of hylomorphism, and the nature of human finitude and death.