Manual Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics

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  1. Doctrine Being Aristotelian Metaphysics
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  3. | Aristotle | Medieval Philosophy

In any interpretation of Aristotle, Entity ousia has to remain the primary instance of Being. If the nature of Being is left in sensible substance, as it is introduced in the opening chapters of Book F, the primary instance, namely all the sensible substances in the universe, is obviously a plurality. A refusal to throw the primary instance further back to supersensible Entity, in consequence, does not eliminate the difficulty. Quite understandably the Neoplatonists were brought to seek the ultimate principle of unity beyond the order of Being, and Aquinas beyond the order of definite form.

The plurality of the Aristotelian primary instance of Being has in point of historical fact proven unsatisfactory. But it cannot be excluded, at least as a possibility, in a doctrine maintaining that the primary instance of Being is definite form as act. Likewise, this doctrine of form as its own ultimate actuality leaves no room for further actuation when the form is functioning as efficient cause. All that Aristotle requires for the exercise of efficient causality, once the thing has been generated, is contact with the patient and removal of impediments. The explanation leaves intact the activity and efficiency of the cause while allowing the cause to exhibit the universal feature that constitutes it a subject for scientific treatment, as in medicine.

Doctrine Being Aristotelian Metaphysics

Form as act, moreover, when pluralized in entirely potential matter, remains formally the same in all its instances, since the matter adds no new actuality and so no new formality whatsoever. This sameness is a sameness neither of universality nor of singularity. It is a sameness that, as the form itself, is prior to both universality and singularity. It is the form considered in priority to singularization by matter and to the still subsequent universalization by the human mind.

The order of logic, however, gets along perfectly with the twofold division of singular and universal. Accordingly, if the starting point of 1 E. Hence mention of it has the "character of parenthetical remarks" p. On the difficulty, see Walton, p.

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The approach from the logical order is naturally indicated for anyone who does not agree that the primary instances of the Aristotelian equivocals are things. It is given in the cross-references. There is no reason to suppose that this didactic order corresponds with the order of discovery. In this last respect, the situation has now changed considerably.

A refusal to accept a chronological system as a prerequisite for the study of Being in the Metaphysics is easier today. That a sensible thing's nature is of itself neither universal nor singular, was a commonplace in the middle ages from Avicenna on. This does not mean, however, as suggested by H. The Aristotelian doctrine here is too radically different in basis to allow the mediaeval views to be of any help in understanding it.

Richard Hope translates "or are some things happening eternally"; but like Ross, he sees the forward reference to A, In this section Aristotle is speaking of things, like the carpenter-physician, or the man who is both a musician and pale E 2,al , things of which matter is a cause a! More pronounced is the viewpoint, expressed in interpretation of Dirlmeier's non-evolutionary approach to the Aristotelian ethical works, that the evolutionary interest "distorts the true meaning of Aristotle's philosophy and leads to misinterpretations.

Merlan, From Platonism to Neoplatonism 2nd ed. | Aristotle | Medieval Philosophy

L'inconvenient de cette reconstruction est qu'elle n'est pas ncessairement fidele After being carried to a fantastic extreme by Ziircher,9 this trend has recently shown signs of an inclination to go into reverse. At present there should not be any need to labor one's inability to see indications of an essential evolution of thought in the treatises, or to apologize for not using such theories. From another angle, however, the problem of a unitary conception of metaphysics in the Aristotelian treatises has become more complicated.

The systematic dismembering of the traditional metaphysics into different sciences, familiar enough from Francis Bacon and Christian Wolff, has during the past few years been carried back to Aristotle himself. Instead of dealing with a philosopher who had one science of a proposed contradictory object, or who at successive stages of his career developed different conceptions of the science that upon close scrutiny turn out to be contradictory, one has now to meet also an Aristotle who himself developed and held simultaneously two distinct metaphysical sciences, each having a different object.

The other is the science of Being qua Being, and is described as metaphysics or science philosophique supreme A. Mansion , or science supreme Mansion, Dhondt , or ontology Aubenque.

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

The confusion may then be traced to failure to keep the two sciences distinct, at least partially, from each other. This divisory interpretation requires inevitably that Book K of the Metaphysics be rejected as unauthentic, 12 and that the tradition of the 9 Aristoteles' Werk und Geist, pp.

Joseph Owens

Wundt, Untersuchungen zur Metaphysik des Aristoteles, pp. Decarie, L'Objet de la Metaphysique selon Aristote, p. With regard to the object of metaphysics, Decarie himself, after thorough investigation, concludes that the Aristotelian Corpus "n'offre pas les variations qui permettrait de parler devolution Aubenque, Le Probleme de l'tre, pp. Except for the unitary conception of metaphysics, however, Aubenque p.

Greek commentators be set aside as mistaken because of Neoplatonic bias. One of its implications, expressly admitted,13 can hardly be emphasized too strongly in regard to its bearing on the present study. It means that the general interpretation 14 of the Aristotelian doctrine as presented in this study is frankly accepted as the only interpretation familiar to the fifteen centuries of Greek tradition from Book K down to mediaeval times. That admission in itself is a distinct and worthwhile gain. It shields this overall interpretation from accusations of novelty or of arbitrariness. It still leaves open the possibility, however, that all the Greeks were mistaken in their understanding of a famous countryman.

But it does narrow the problem considerably. It concedes a point of departure that is very close to Aristotle both in time and in linguistic expression, namely Book K of the Metaphysics. In the formulation of Book K, the one science of supersensible Entity is admittedly the science of Being qua Being.

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A single science, and not two sciences, treats of the one subject. With this point conceded, the problem becomes focused on the question whether the formulation of Book E gives substantially the same conception or a radically different conception of Being qua Being. The wording of Book E l,a runs: ". Mansion, in Melanges Mgr. Dies, p. Yet Alexander's conception of the science that treats of Being insofar as it is Being, Being, namely, by which particular Beings are Beings, is universal because it treats of the primary Entities.

These are things immobile and divine.


See text infra at Chapter One, n. The conception is the same as that of Book K and the later commentators. Merlan, From Platonism to Neoplatonism, pp. In a short article unknown to me at the time of the first edition, G. Muskens, however, found a different conception in Book.

The conception admitted for Book. K was never completely absent in the 19th and 20th centuries, as can be seen from the excerpts quoted infra, Chapter One, nn. Muskens, art. Yet there seems no difference in meaning between studying things from the formal viewpoint of ousia and studying them qua Beings. La denomination 'en tant qu'etre' vient done simplement souligner le point de vue formel sous lequel la metaphysique etudiera son objet. In the Greek the one conjunction xai occurs five times : Can the xai 3 before be taken in the sense of "also"?

The immediately preceding xai 2 cannot be read in that sense, because it explains the primacy as involving universality. It is clearly explicative. Likewise the two following instances of xat 4, 5 explain the one scientific subject Being qua Being as including what Being is and what pertains to it qua Being. Similarly the first xai 1 is without doubt explicative. To read the other xai 3 in the sense of "also," and therefore as introducing a different scientific subject, requires considerable goodwill.

Against the background of Book F, however, this way of reading the text becomes incongruous. Book F had shown that Being qua Being, as the subject of a science, possessed its universality through reference to a primary nature ngog ev xal fiiav nva yvaiv 2,a The primary nature is Entity b The science that treats of the definite nature Entity is accordingly the science that treats universally of all Beings.

Later 3,abl , Book F states that the philosopher "whose inquiry is universal16 and deals with primary Entity" treats of the axioms that apply universally to all Beings. According to Book E, if there is an Entity that is immobile and apart from sensible Entity, the science treating of it will be universal in scope because of the priority. In this way the science of Being qua Being, universally, is the science that 15 " For Aubenque himself, p.

On the equivalence here and at E l,a of Being qua Being, primary Entity, and universal, see P. Elders, Revue Philosophique de Louvain, LX , , objects that "universal" and "primary Entity," if not mutually exclusive, are not guaranteed by what precedes. This objection neglects the character already established for the science of Being qua Being. Jaeger's reconstruction of the text at a35 leaves the meaning unchanged.