Being Qua Being

Christopher Shields

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Being Qua Being

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According to Aristotle, there is a science (epistêmê) that studies being qua being, and the attributes belonging to it in its own right. This claim, which opens Metaphysics IV 1, is both surprising and unsettling—surprising because Aristotle seems elsewhere to deny the existence of any such science, and unsettling because his denial seems very plausibly grounded. He claims that each science studies a unified genus, but denies that there is a single genus for all beings; claims which evidently conspire against the science. Aristotle announces: “[I]f there is no genus of being and every science requires its own genus, then there is no science of being.” This seems, moreover, to be precisely the conclusion he draws in his Eudemian Ethics, where Aristotle maintains that we should no more look for a general science of being than we should look for a general science of goodness. This article looks at three problems about the science of being qua being: The Possibility Problem, the Extension Problem, and the Intension Problem.

Keywords: Aristotle; Metaphysics; being qua being; science; genus; Possibility Problem; Extension Problem; Intension Problem

Article.  14878 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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