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Definition And Its Object In The Metaphysics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the reasons Aristotle gives us for excluding various kinds of complex objects as possible objects of definition proper in Metaphysics 7.4–5. It clarifies the precise sense in which the objects of immediate definition are simple; for while they cannot be complex in certain specified ways, they do have parts, more than that, their simplicity depends on them having parts. The chapter considers a problem that arises from the claim that the matter/form composite provides a model of unity: if this is the case we might expect the definitions and essences in question to be individuals, and yet Aristotle is emphatic that they are in fact universal. The question about the object of definition is particularly necessary since in the Posterior Analytics Aristotle entertains definitions of compounds of substance and some attribute and compounds of matter and form.

Keywords: Aristotle; Metaphysis; Posterior Analytics

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