Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics (Cambridge Elements in Metaphysics)


Neo-Aristotelian metaphysics comprises the topics in contemporary metaphysics which bear similarity to the interests, commitments, positions and general approaches found in Aristotle. Despite the current interest in these topics, there is no monograph length general introduction to the methodology and themes of neo-Aristotelian metaphysics. One underdiscussed question concerns demarcation: what unifies the topics that fall under the heading of neo-Aristotelianism? Contemporary metaphysicians who might be classified as ‘neo-Aristotelians’ tend towards positions reminiscent of Aristotle’s metaphysics—such as sympathy with grounding, substance ontology, non-modal construals of essence, hylomorphism, causal powers, presentism, endurantism and agent causation. However, prima facie it seems that one might hold any one of these positions while rejecting the others. What perhaps unifies a neo-Aristotelian approach in metaphysics, then, is not a shared collection of positions so much as a willingness to engage with Aristotle and to view this historical figure as providing a fruitful way of initially framing certain philosophical issues. However, also missing in the literature is a sustained methodological discussion on the contribution historical scholarship on Aristotle might make to contemporary metaphysics, and the contribution contemporary metaphysics might make to historical scholarship. Little hinges on whether what gets labelled neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is or isn’t Aristotle’s metaphysics. But historical scholarship is useful within contemporary metaphysics not merely to to apply historically accurate labels to positions. There are topics where the historical and contemporary issues dovetail in mutually rewarding ways: serious engagement with the history of philosophy can yield living philosophical rewards for today’s metaphysician; and serious engagement with contemporary philosophy can yield exegetical rewards for the historian. The monograph will introduce these methodological issues, and then turn to case studies on ontological dependence, substance ontology, category theory and hylomorphism. These are all topics where there is robust debate within both Aristotle studies and contemporary metaphysics, and topics where historians and metaphysicians are working somewhat in isolation from each other. The aim of the monograph is to make the relevant exegetical questions accessible to contemporary metaphysicians, and the corresponding contemporary topics accessible to historians. The target audience includes researchers, graduate students and advanced undergraduates, in both metaphysics and Aristotle studies.



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