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Aristotle on Ontological Dependence

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Aristotle holds that individual substances are ontologically independent from non-substances and universal substances but that non-substances and universal substances are ontologically dependent on substances. There is then an asymmetry between individual substances and other kinds of beings with respect to ontological dependence. Under what could plausibly be called the standard interpretation, the ontological independence ascribed to individual substances and denied of non-substances and universal substances is a capacity for independent existence. There is, however, a tension between this interpretation and the asymmetry between individual substances and the other kinds of entities with respect to ontological independence. I will propose an alternative interpretation: to weaken the relevant notion of ontological independence from a capacity for independent existence to the independent possession of a certain ontological status.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy Department, 4-81 Humanities Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E5 Canada;, Email:


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