Substances, Coincidentals, and Aristotle's Constituent Ontology

Michael J. Loux

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Substances, Coincidentals, and Aristotle's Constituent Ontology

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As Aristotle sees it, familiar sensible particulars give rise to a certain philosophical project, one common to his materialist predecessors, Parmenides, Plato, and Aristotle himself. The project gets variously labeled: We are to identify the “elements and principles of beings,” the “elements of beings,” and “the principles of beings.” What Aristotle is calling elements and principles are obviously explanatory items, but the project is not concerned with just any explanatory items—only those explanatory of the being of familiar sensibles. This idea comes out in another of his characterizations of the project. Aristotle speaks of identifying the substance of a familiar particular, and argues that the substance of a thing is the cause of its being, so the project is one of identifying the principles and causes of the being of familiar objects. This article, which deals with substances, coincidentals, and Aristotle's constituent ontology, examines the roots of Aristotle's constituent approach to questions of character and discusses his treatment of efficient causality.

Keywords: Aristotle; particulars; beings; principles; elements; character; substances; coincidentals; constituent ontology; causality

Article.  15262 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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