Are facts about matter primitive?

In David Ebrey (ed.), Theory and Practice in Aristotle's Natural Science. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Recently scholars have been claiming that Aristotle’s biological explanations treat “facts about matter”—facts such as the degree of heat or amount of fluidity in an organism’s material constitution—as explanatorily basic or “primitive.” That is, these facts about matter are taken to be unexplained, brute facts about organisms, rather than ones that are explained by the organism’s form or essence, as we would have expected from Aristotle’s general commitment to the causal and explanatory priority of form over matter. In this paper, I present three considerations for rejecting the view that facts about matter are primitive. First, there is evidence that those putative unexplained facts about degrees of heat, dryness, fluidity, etc. are, in fact, explained. Second, there are certain cases, such as human intelligence, where it would be quite implausible to consider the explanation in terms of degrees of heat to be starting from what Aristotle considers primitive facts. Third, the idea that facts about matter are as explanatorily primitive as facts about form requires a particular conception of the causal processes that the explanations mirror. But this conception of the causal processes conflicts with the way Aristotle characterizes them in Generation of Animals. There, heat is not treated as a causal factor that works “independently” of soul. In my view, these three considerations provide compelling reason to reject the claim that Aristotle’s biology treats facts about matter as primitive.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Supervenience and (non-modal) reductionism in Leibniz's philosophy of time.J. M. - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (4):793-810.
Supervenience and reductionism in Leibniz’s philosophy of time.Michael J. Futch - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (4):793-810.
Brute Facts.Elly Vintiadis & Constantinos Mekios (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
On not worshipping facts.J. R. Lucas - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (31):144-156.
John Searle on Institutional Facts.M. Abdullahi & M. Janmohammadi - 2010 - Metaphysics (University of Isfahan) 2 (5&6):1-22.
The Causal Priority of Form in Aristotle.Kathrin Koslicki - 2014 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 7 (2):113.
Theories of Meaning and Truth Conditions.Kathrin Glüer - 2012 - In Manuel García-Carpintero & Max Kölbel (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Continuum International.
The Naming of Facts.Achille C. Varzi - 2012 - Analysis 72 (2):322-323.
Soul's Tools.Jessica Gelber - 2020 - In Colin Guthrie King & Hynek Bartoš (eds.), Heat, pneuma and soul in ancient philosophy and science,. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 243-259.
Institutional Facts.Karol Chrobak - 2011 - Diametros:20-31.
Two Kinds of Soft Facts.Ciro De Florio & Aldo Frigerio - 2018 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 95 (1):34-53.
Causes as events and facts.Max Kistler - 1999 - Dialectica 53 (1):25–46.
Can there be brute, contingent moral facts.John H. Dreher - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):23 - 30.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-03-16

Downloads
423 (#47,476)

6 months
88 (#54,663)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jessica Gelber
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Citations of this work

Comprehension, Demonstration, and Accuracy in Aristotle.Breno Zuppolini - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (1):29-48.
What is Matter in Aristotle's Hylomorphism?Christian Pfeiffer - 2021 - Ancient Philosophy Today 3 (2):148-171.
Elements of Biology in Aristotle’s Political Science.Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi - 2021 - In Sophia M. Connell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Biology. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. pp. 211-227.
Enmattered Virtues.Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi - 2018 - Metaphysics 1 (1):63-74.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references