Aristotle's Theory of Substance

Aristotle's Theory of Substance : The Categories and Metaphysics Zeta

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Aristotle's views on the fundamental nature of reality are usually taken to be inconsistent. The two main sources for these views are the Categories and the central books of the Metaphysics, particularly book Zeta. In the early theory of the Categories the basic entities of the world are concrete objects such as Socrates: Aristotle calls them 'primary substances'. But the later theory awards this title to the forms of concrete
objects. Michael Wedin proposes a compatibilist solution to this long-standing puzzle, arguing that Aristotle is engaged in quite different projects in the two works. The theory of Metaphysics Zeta is meant to explain central features of the standing doctrine of the Categories, and so presupposes the essential truth of the early theory.
The Categories offers a theory of underlying ontological configurations, while book Zeta gives form the status of primary substance because it is primarily the form of a concrete object that explains its nature, and this form is the substance of the object. So when the late theory identifies primary substance with form, it appeals to an explanatory primacy that is quite distinct from the ontological primacy that dominates the Categories. Wedin's new interpretation thus allows
us to see the two treatises as complementing each other: they are parts of a unified history of substance.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 157 x 234 x 26mm | 711g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199253080
  • 9780199253081
  • 1,310,744

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Plan of the Categories ; 2. Nonsubstantial Individuals ; 3. Commitment and Configuration in the Categories ; 4. Tales of the Two Treatises ; 5. The Structure and Substance of Substance ; 6. Form as Essence ; 7. Zeta 6 on the Immediacy of Form ; 8. The Purification of Form ; 9. Generality and Compositionality: Z. 13's Worries about Form ; 10. Form and Explanation ; Bibliography, Index Locorum, General Index
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Review quote

Aristotle scholars have declared irreconcilable ... Both the magisterial scope of this fine book and its rich detail are worthy of the great treatises it examines. Since Wedin works out his own positions with explicit and detailed reference to some of the most careful recent scholarship on these works, his book will no doubt be subjected to intense scrutiny and thorough debate. It deserves nothing less.' * Gareth B. Matthews, Journal of the History of Philosophy *
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About Michael V. Wedin

Michael Wedin is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Davis.
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