Book

Aristotle’s Theory of Material Substance

Gad Freudenthal

Published in print February 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238645
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679704 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198238645.001.0001
Aristotle’s Theory of Material
Substance

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This book discusses one of Aristotle's central doctrines, his theory of material substance. The book argues that Aristotle's concept of heat is a crucial but hitherto ignored part of this account. Aristotle's ‘canonical’, four-element theory of matter fails to explain the coming-to-be of material substances (the way matter becomes organized) and their persistence (why substances do not disintegrate into their components). Interpreters have highlighted Aristotle's claim that soul is the active cause of the coming-to-be and persistence of living beings. On the basis of dispersed remarks in Aristotle's writings, the book argues that Aristotle in parallel also draws on a comprehensive ‘naturalistic’ theory, which accounts for material persistence through the concepts of heat, specifically vital heat, and connate pneuma. This theory, which bears also on the higher soul-functions, is central in Aristotle's understanding of the relationship between matter and form, body and soul. The book aims not only to recover this theory and to highlight its explanatory roles, but also to make suggestions concerning its origin in Presocratic thought and in Aristotle's own early theology. It further offers a brief review of how later ages came to grips with the difficulties inherent in the received version of Aristotle's matter theory.

Keywords: Aristotle; material substance; heat; matter; material persistence; vital heat; connate pneuma; form; body; soul

Book.  248 pages. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Aristotle’s Theory of Material Substance

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Soul, Vital Heat, and Connate <i>Pneuma</i> in Aristotle’s Theory of Material Substance

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The Chemistry of Cohesion and Decay in Aristotle’s Theory of Material Substance

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Conclusion in Aristotle’s Theory of Material Substance

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