One and Many in Aristotles Metaphysics: The Central Books

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And this from within the Peripatos! If we look beyond the Lyceum to the tradition of Aristotelian commentaries, beginning with Alexander of Aphrodisias, we do indeed find something more like reverence for the words of the founder, but hardly any awareness at all of the problematic and crucial connection between the specific theological arguments in the Metaphysics and the science of being qua being.

Though the extant corpus of Aristotelian commentaries includes four works on the Metaphysics , there exists not a single commentary by one hand on the entire work as preserved and edited by Andronicus of Rhodes in the first century B.

Metaphysics (Aristotle) - Wikipedia

Alexander's commentary ends at book five and is completed by an anonymous continuator; Themistius has a commentary, or more accurately a paraphrase, of book twelve alone; Syrianus comments on books three, four, thirteen, and fourteen; Asclepius halts his commentary at book seven. In the face of this modest harvest, one might well conceive the notion that the Metaphysics was doomed from the beginning to bear meager fruit.

A central principle of Stoic theoretical philosophy is the refusal -- perhaps for methodological reasons as much as anything else -- to countenance the existence of immaterial entities. Accordingly, physics becomes Stoic first philosophy, and theology becomes a branch of physics cf. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta 2. Within such a system there is little conceptual space for isolating being as a subject for investigation, and, especially, for raising Aristotelian aporiai regarding its nature.

The evidence for this claim is to be found in the corpus of Stoic fragments, where a science of being qua being makes no appearance at all, not even as a dragon to be slain. It is as if it had never existed. The first principles are apparently reducible to a unique first principle, i.

But apart from these and some less convincing parallels from Metaphysics 2, there is little awareness shown by Theophrastus of any connection between theology and a science of being qua being. O'Meara, ed. Verbeke concludes that there is a consistent interpretation among the commentaries that may be aptly termed "Neoplatonic. The Stoic position was perhaps taken to follow immediately from the principle that immaterial entities cannot exist; hence, argument indicating the contrary can be safely ignored.

Sandbach, Aristotle and the Stoics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , has argued the revisionary case that, for the Stoics, Aristotle was not rejected but largely unknown. But the lack of hard evidence, rightly insisted upon by Sandbach, is also explicable by the hypothesis that Aristotelian arguments, in metaphysics at least, were rendered irrelevant on the above principle.

He also suggests that conflict in doctrine between the Metaphysics and the early dialogues of Aristotle might account for diffidence or confusion on the part of his disciples: "der Zerfall der Schule hatte seine tiefste Ursache im Werke des Meisters selbst" ibid.

Aristotle, Metaphysics, bk. 1 - Plato's Metaphysics of Form - Philosophy Core Concepts

Undoubtedly, there is much in what Wehrli has to say. One may also add the instability of the Peripatetic foundation owing to political reasons. From: Lloyd P. Schrenk ed. The nature of the relation between the first principles and sensible things; II. Problems about the impulse of sensible things towards the first principle; III.

The importance of deducing the observed facts from the first principles; IV. Are the first principles definite or indefinite? The supposed immobility of the first principles; VI. From: Theophrastus Metaphysics. Oxford: Clarendon Press Reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms They are different from the world of nature, and are the objects of reason, not sense.

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Here he adopts Aristotle's standard distinction, derived from Plato. But how are these two related, and what are the objects of reason? They must either be in mathematical objects, or be something prior to these. If the latter, how many are they? They are objects of desire, and cause the rotation of the heavens.

But if the prime mover is one, why do heavenly bodies move differently? If there are more than one, how is their influence harmonized? And why does love of the unmoved cause an imitation which is movement? After an interlude about the Platonists, he continues: anyhow the heavenly bodies, having desire, must also have soul, and the movement of soul, which is thought, is better than rotary movement.

And what about the inferior parts of nature?

And is rotation essential to the existence of heavenly bodies? He then criticizes Plato, and some of his followers, including Speusippus died BO, for not carrying through their accounts to the end, but considers a possible reply, that metaphysics is only concerned with first principles. So are first principles definite, or indefinite, in the sense of shapeless and merely potential?

At this point it is difficult to be sure whether he is talking of first things in the sense in which the hot, the cold, the wet, and the dry may be seen as first things, or about the fundamental principles laws which govern what exists.

Aristotle's 'Metaphysics'

So when he asks if they are moving or motionless, it could be that the former are in motion but the latter, being abstract, are motionless. In any case, the universe is complex. Among particular first things are form and matter, one of Aristotle's basic dichotomies. What is the status of matter? Nonetheless, I am not convinced that Mariani achieves the aim "to highlight both similarities and differences between Aristotle's and the modern treatment of essence" p.

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His references to Aristotle are somewhat obscure especially for those who do not have a strong background in Aristotle's philosophy and also rather brief. For example, when discussing Quine's criticism of modal logic, according to which quantified modal logic leads inevitably to the "metaphysical jungle of Aristotelian essentialism", Mariani concludes that "Quine's Aristotelian essentialism is all in all genuinely Aristotelian" p.

Although I agree with Mariani's conclusion at least in its general form , I wish he had explained in greater detail what and why precisely is "genuinely Aristotelian" about Quine's account. This is not self-evident, especially because there have been authors e. Nicholas P. Another author who Mariani discusses is Kripke, who distinguishes between three types of essential properties: a sortal properties, b the properties of origin, and c the properties expressing the type of matter by which an object is originally constituted.

Mariani concludes that "Kripke's essentialism seems to have little in common with Aristotle's, except for the properties of type a " p. Again, I am inclined to agree with this conclusion.

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But the intriguing question is why Aristotle excludes b and c from the essence of an individual substance? This question would have deserved a more elaborate treatment, especially because Aristotle recognizes the importance of matter and "origin of the motion" or efficient cause in the causal history of the material substance. Although Mariani's discussion in general is only loosely connected to Metaphysics Z, this does not reduce the value of his account. He accomplishes his goal of giving a general outline of some of the crucial issues in contemporary metaphysics, and his short references to Aristotle provoke the reader to continue thinking about the relationship between Aristotle's and contemporary discussions, when reading the second part of the book.

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In the second part of the book which is twice as long as the first one , Gabriele Galluzzo gives an insightful overview and analysis of the scholarly disputes surrounding three major philosophical issues of Metaphysics Z. Galluzzo says that the "main point I would like to illustrate is that Aristotle's analysis of these issues in Metaphysics Z is completely incomprehensible without a detailed examination of his doctrine of matter and form" p.

I strongly sympathize with such a starting point since authors especially when discussing Aristotle's views from the contemporary perspective sometimes tend to forget or ignore that Aristotle's metaphysics relies on some peculiar assumptions, the most important of which is hylomorphism. Galluzzo reads Aristotle's Metaphysics in the most traditional way, namely, in light of the Categories. The traditional focus on Aristotle's Categories is probably one factor that is responsible for the centuries-old neglect of Aristotle's biological works, which have become the object of serious scholarly research only during the last few decades.

In fact, the recent decades have witnessed a proliferation of scholarly works on Aristotle's biological writings e. Balme, Lennox, Gotthelf, etc. Since these works have given some new and valuable insights into the issues under discussion in the present book especially the relationship of matter and form, and the nature of the universal , it is a pity that Galluzzo ignores this scholarship altogether.

One the other hand, however, his neglect is also understandable, given that Galluzzo's focus is on the recent scholarship on Metaphysics Z, which has been directed toward the Categories rather than toward Aristotle's biological writings. The first issue Galluzzo considers is the relationship between matter and form. He focuses on the question of whether "matter and form are somehow really distinct or whether their distinction is just the result of the different ways we can look at a sensible substance" p.

Galluzzo's use of the expression "real distinction" is somewhat confusing, because in its most traditional sense it means that two entities can exist apart from each other. But surely, as Galluzzo himself admits, form and matter cannot be existentially distinct — this would run counter to the whole idea of hylomorphism. Rather, Galluzzo's notion of real distinction seems to be identical with what could be called "essential" distinction, for he claims that "matter and form are really distinct if the identity of the one does not depend on the identity of the other" p.

Galluzzo begins by discussing and criticizing what he calls the "accidentalist" view according to which matter and form are two distinct entities entering into some kind of accidental relationship. He contrasts the "accidentalist" view with Sellars' "projectivist" and Scaltsas' "holistic" views according to which matter and form are not really distinct but rather really identical. For "if it should turn out that matter essentially depends on form for its own identity, then clearly matter and form would not count as really distinct" p.

I am not entirely convinced that the conclusion viz. It would follow if the essential dependency of form and matter is mutual.

But since it is asymmetrical i. The second set of problems Galluzzo discusses concern Aristotle's notion of definition. He considers the problem of the object of definition whether it is form alone, as the majority of scholars maintain, or composite substance, containing both form and matter , and the problem of the definition of the composite substance whether it contains reference to form alone, or to matter as well. Galluzzo's treatment of these problems is shorter and more textual than his treatment of two other issues.

By considering textual evidence for and against the view that the definition of a composite substance contains reference to form alone, he concludes that "the central books of the Metaphysics present different lines of thought concerning the definition of sensible substances" p.

On the one hand, Aristotle seems to be attracted to the idea that the essence and definition of the composite substance includes only form.