This book explores a fundamental tension in Aristotle's metaphysics: how can an entity such as a living organisma composite generated through the imposition of form on preexisting matterhave the conceptual unity that Aristotle demands of ...
Forms in question -- A philosophical exercise -- The contest between Heraclitus and Parmenides -- Knowledge as expertise -- Appearances of the Sophist -- Refining the statesman -- The philosopher's object.
This book explores a fundamental tension in Aristotle's metaphysics: how can an entity such as a living organisma composite generated through the imposition of form on preexisting matterhave the conceptual unity that Aristotle demands of primary substances? Mary Louise Gill bases her treatment of the problem of unity, and of Aristotle's solution, on a fresh interpretation of the relation between matter and form. Challenging the traditional understanding of Aristotelian matter, she argues that material substances are subverted by matter and maintained (...) by form that controls the matter to serve a positive end. The unity of material substances thus involves a dynamic relation between resistant materials and directive ends. Aristotle on Substance offers both a general account of matter, form, and substantial unity and a specific assessment of particular Aristotelian arguments. At every point, Gill engages Aristotle on his own philosophical ground through the detailed analysis of central, and often controversial, texts from the Metaphysics, Physics, On Generation and Corruption, De Anima, De Caelo, and the biological works. The result is a coherent, firmly grounded rethinking of Aristotle's central metaphysical concepts and of his struggle toward a fully consistent theory of material substances. (shrink)
Aristotle's metaphysics has stimulated intense renewed debate in the past twenty years. Much of the discussion has focused on Metaphysics Z, Aristotle's fascinating and difficult investigation of substance , and to a lesser extent on H and Θ. The place of the central books within the larger project of First Philosophy in the Metaphysics has engaged scholars since antiquity, and that relationship has also been reexamined. In addition, scholars have been exploring the Metaphysics from various broader perspectives—first, in relation to (...) Aristotle's natural philosophy, his physics, biology, and psychology, and to the Organon, his so-called "logical" works, which include the Categories, Topics, and Posterior Analytics; and second, in relation to the broader philosophical tradition, both Plato before him and the ancient commentary tradition in late antiquity. (shrink)
"Gill's and Ryan's Parmenides is, simply, superb: the Introduction, more than a hundred pages long, is transparently clear, takes the reader meticulously through the arguments, avoids perverseness, and still manages to make sense of the dialogue as a whole; there is a fine selective bibliography; and those parts of the translation I have looked at in detail suggest that it too is very good indeed." --Christopher Rowe, _Phronesis_.
This volume presents fourteen essays by leading figures in the fields of ancient philosophy and contemporary metaphysics, discussing Aristotle's theory of the unity and identity of substances, a topic that remains at the center of metaphysical enquiry. The contributors examine the nature of essences, how they differ from other components of substance, and how they are related to these other components. The central questions discussed are: What does Aristotle mean by "potentiality" and "actuality?" How do these concepts explicate matter and (...) form, and how are they related to the actuality of a substance? What is the role of actuality in accounting for the unity and identity of substance? These questions are crucial to an understanding of the unity of composite substances and their identity over time. The aim of the volume is both exegetical and philosophical: to give answers to central problems in Aristotle's metaphysics, and also to stimulate further investigation of the problems defined and the controversies embodied. (shrink)
Aristotle's conception of being is dynamic. He believes that a thing is most itself when engaged in its proper activities, governed by its nature. This paper explores this idea by focusing on Metaphysics , a text that continues the investigation of substantial being initiated inMetaphysics Z. Q.1 claims that there are two potentiality-actuality distinctions, one concerned with potentiality in the strict sense, which is involved in change, the other concerned with potentiality in another sense, which he says is more useful (...) for the present project. His present project is the investigation of substantial being, and the relevant potentiality is the potentiality for activity, the full manifestation of what a thing is. I explore Aristotle's two potentiality-actuality distinctions AND argue that the second distinction is modeled on the first, with one crucial modification. Whereas a change is brought about by something other than the object or by the object itself considered as other (as when a doctor cures himself), an activity is brought about byte object itself considered as itself. This single modification yields an important difference: whereas a change leads to a state other than the one an object was previously in, an activity maintains or develops what an object already is. (shrink)
In Part I ofParmenides, Socrates introduces a Theory of Forms to explain opposites compresent in ordinary things, and claims that Forms cannot have opposite features. In Part II, Parmenides relies on Socrates’ claim and derives unacceptable consequences—that the Form of Oneness does not exist, and if that is so, then nothing exists: a clearly false conclusion. To avoid it, Socrates must give up his thesis in Part I and find a way to preserve the explanatory role of Forms. This paper (...) aims to articulate the structure of the exercise in Part II.Dans la première partie duParménide, Socrate présente une théorie des Formes qui explique la comprésence d’opposés dans les choses ordinaires et soutient que les Formes ne peuvent avoir des caractéristiques opposées. Dans la deuxième partie, Parménide s’appuie sur les propos de Socrate; il en dérive des conséquences inacceptables — que la Forme de l’Un n’existe pas, et ainsi, que rien n’existe. Cette conclusion est indéniablement fausse. Pour éviter ceci, Socrate doit abandonner la thèse exposée dans la première partie et trouver une manière de préserver la fonction explicative des Formes. Cet article expose la structure de l’exercice qui occupe la deuxième partie du dialogue. (shrink)
Meteorology IV.12, the final chapter of Aristotle’s “chemical” treatise, is a major text for the traditional view that Aristotle believed in universal teleology, the idea that everything in the cosmos—including the elements, earth, water, air, and fire—is what it is because of the goal or good it serves. But in the context of the rest of Meteorology IV, a different picture emerges. Meteorology IV.1–11 analyze the dispositional properties of material compounds (malleability, elasticity, etc.), examine the behavior of stuffs when heated (...) and cooled, and provide the resources to classify kinds in terms of their material composition and dispositional properties. Meteorology IV.12 places itself within that larger investigation but takes a different approach, examining those same materials from the perspective of their functions in bodies of greater complexity (e.g., the function of flesh in an organism). I argue that the teleological account of, say, the elements is limited to their function in the composition of complex kinds, such as living organisms, and that outside such a complex the elements behave as they do, not for the sake of some good they serve but “of necessity,” according to their material natures and interactions with other materials. (shrink)
The Sophist and Statesman are late Platonic dialogues, whose relative dates are established by their stylistic similarity to the Laws, a work that was apparently still “on the wax” at the time of Plato's death (Diogenes Laertius III.37). These dialogues are important in exhibiting Plato'sviews on method and metaphysics after he criticized his own most famous contribution to the history of philosophy, the theory of separate, immaterial forms, in the Parmenides. The Statesman also offers a transitional statement of Plato's political (...) philosophy between the Republic and the Laws. The Sophist and Statesman show the author's increasing interest in mundane and practical knowledge. In this respect they seem more down-to-earth and Aristotelian in tone than dialogues dated to Plato's middle period like the Phaedo and the Republic. This essay will focus on method and metaphysics. (shrink)
A central exegetical problem in Aristotelian studies is deciding how best to deal with apparent inconsistencies in his writings. Early this century, Werner Jaeger, challenging unitarian approaches of the previous century, argued that conflicting views could be reconciled by relegating them to different stages of Aristotle's philosophical career. Although scholars have questioned some of Jaeger's specific proposals, genetic explanations of inconsistencies are still widely adopted.