Unity in Aristotle's "Metaphysics"

Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada) (1980)

Authors
Edward Halper
University of Georgia
Abstract
Since unity is always explained through something else, it is not primary; it is not the highest cause. Further, secondary unities are not understood through a primary "one"; rather, all ones are understood through being, actuality, etc. Hence, unlike being, unity is not a . In order that "one" function as it does in the Metaphysics it cannot be a . In the second part of the fourth chapter, I discuss Aristotle's definition of "one", and I argue that "one" is analogically defined. ;The final three chapters consist of a philosophical experiment. By emphasizing Aristotle's remarks about "one" and by tracing other issues to them, I construe Books , Z-H and I as treatments of unit and one-many problems. ;This analysis shows the subordinate status of "one" rather than its primacy. In each section a similar picture emerges. Aristotle's initial problematic involves unity, but the issue is ultimately resolved with the introduction of a peculiarly Aristotelian doctrine that does not involve unity. For example, the problem of how can be one is explained by identifying form as actuality. The motivation for this doctrine is precisely that it solves the problem. This analysis shows that Aristotle is using problems involving unity in order to argue for his own doctrines, and that unity is subsidiary to actuality, being, and because it is always explained through them. ;This thesis explains the role of unity in Aristotle's Metaphysics. In particular, it addresses the question of why metaphysics is not a treatment of "one". According to Aristotle, metaphysics is the science of highest causes, and the Platonists and some Presocratics regard "one" as the highest cause. Aristotle includes "one" among the subjects treated by metaphysics, but why does he instead regard being and as the proper subject matter of this science? ;The first chapter sets the stage for the analysis. It shows the importance of unity in Aristotle's criticism of his predecessors and in his , and the importance it should have had for his commentators. In addition, this chapter considers the various ways that things are said to be one
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