Form as Essence

Michael V. Wedin

in Aristotle's Theory of Substance

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253081
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598647 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies

Form as Essence

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Wedin argues that Aristotle makes form the substance of c‐substances because it is the essence of the c‐substance. Much of this chapter consists of a careful examination of a passage in Metaphysics Zeta 4, which Wedin calls the ‘New Primacy Passage’ (Z.4, 1030a2–17), that is crucial to Wedin's overall thesis, because here Aristotle appeals to a notion of definitional primacy, as opposed to the ontological primacy of the Categories. Z.4 focuses on this claim that form must be essence: Wedin argues that essence is a certain kind of form, a form of a genus (genous eidos); this does not mean ‘species’, as some commentators have thought. This is because the species is a combination of form and matter, whereas the genous eidos, Wedin argues, is the formal part only (i.e. the differentiae) of the definition that applies to the thing. On Wedin's account, Aristotle introduces the notion of explanatory primacy of form in Z.4.

Keywords: definition; definitional primacy; differentiae; essence; explanatory primacy; form and matter; genous eidos; Metaphysics Zeta 4; New Primacy Passage; ontological primacy; species

Chapter.  30180 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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