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Review of Nie Minli’s Being and Substance: On Aristotle’s Metaphysics Ζ1–9

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In his new book Being and Substance: A Study of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Ζ1–9, Nie Minli, taking a holistic perspective, argues that the primary substance—that is, the individual in Categories—is identical to form, which is the primary substance in Metaphysics Ζ, and that Ζ3 has finished arguing what the real candidate of substance is and the inserted Ζ7–9 texts are the “core and key” of the entire book. In spite of his excellent scholarship and masterful interpretation of Metaphysics Ζ4–6, Ζ7, Categories 1–5 and Physics Α, Nie offers insufficient textual support for his interpretation of the primary substance in Metaphysics Ζ and the content of Ζ3. Although substance is the subject (hypokeimenon) and a “this” (tode ti) in Categories, it is the ultimate subject (hypokeimenon eschaton) and a “this” (tode ti) and separable (choriston) in Metaphysics. As the ultimate subject, substance is form and matter but not the individual. As a “this” (tode ti) and separable (choriston), substance is form; moreover, the primary substance is form. In my view, that form is substance in Ζ3 serves more as a plan or outline needed to prove in the following than as a definite conclusion. This article also points out that tode ti in Ζ8, 1033b21 refers to the individual but not the form. Homōnuma in Ζ9 cannot be understood as “sharing the same name but with different meaning,” but, rather, simply as “having the same name.”


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