Individual Forms in Aristotle

Dissertation, Cornell University (1984)
Authors
Jennifer Whiting
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
Against the traditional view that Aristotle recognizes only one form--a universal--for each infima species, I argue that Aristotle recognizes a plurality of numerically distinct individual forms for each. Chapter One argues that the Metaphysics' criteria for being a substance show that individual forms are substances. Chapter Three argues that individual forms are the principles of individuation for cospecific individuals. ;My main argument is that Aristotle's defense of the distinction between generation simpliciter and mere alteration requires the existence of intrinsic unities of form and matter, neither of which can survive apart from the other--the form of this matter and the matter of this form. For if matter simply comes to embody universal species forms, these forms will be accidents of that matter and all change, mere alteration. The intrinsic unity requirement leaves Aristotle two tasks--one to show that some forms are essentially enmattered, the other to show that some matter is essentially enformed. ;Chapter Four argues that Metaphysics vii performs the first task by arguing that the forms of natural objects are essentially enmattered; these forms themselves include the matter necessary if there is to be a plurality of cospecific forms and if these are principles of individuation. Chapter Six argues that Aristotle's defense of a pluralistic account of eudaimonia identifies men with essentially embodied practical intellects and so supports this account of essentially enmattered individual forms. ;Chapter Five argues that the De Anima performs the second task by arguing for the existence of functionally defined bodies which are essentially ensouled. These bodies are distinguished from the non-proximate matter which constitutes them at different times and which is only accidentally ensouled . Aristotle's account of abstraction shows how individual forms, proximate matter and compounds taken formally are the very same things considered or described in different ways
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