Definitional and Ontological Priority [PIB]

Michail Peramatzis

in Priority in Aristotle's Metaphysics

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588350
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728877 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

Definitional and Ontological Priority [PIB]

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Chapter 12 addresses two objections to the proposed view of Aristotelian ontological priority. (1) There is no genuine distinction between Aristotle's notion of definitional priority and ontological priority as [PIB]: for definitional priority is priority in ‘real’ definition, in which one entity defines another (but not conversely) precisely in that the first makes the second what it is, or is part of the second's essence. (2) While Aristotle's substantial forms are definitionally prior to the types of matter and the compounds they enform, they fail to be ontologically prior to these items in any way whatever: for they are abstractions in thought, just as mathematical objects are. The reply is that [PIB] is separate from definitional priority as it supports the distinction between real and nominal definitional priority. More importantly, [PIB] is distinct from, and more fundamental than, real definitional priority. For it underwrites this last notion as it sets the chief constraints on what it is for an item to be the ‘correct definition’ of another.

Keywords: definitional priority; ontological priority; real definition; nominal definition; making something what it is; essence; matter; compound; abstraction in thought; mathematical objects; correct definition

Chapter.  8450 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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