Being (or 'is'?) is said in many ways (pollachôs legetai). [This might mean: many different kinds of things are called beings. Or it might mean: 'being' is ambiguous, i.e., has many different senses.] 'Being' is said in a different way in each of the categories. But it used primarily of substances (ousiai), and the being of everything else (quantities, qualities, etc.) is dependent on the being of substances. For a quality (or quantity) to exist is for it to be a quality (or quantity) of some substance.
Substance is primary in every sense of the word 'primary': (a) in formula, (b) in order of knowledge, and (c) in time. For (c) only substances can exist in their own right - nothing in any of the other categories can do this; (b) the formula (= definition?) of each thing must contain the formula of a substance; (a) we know a thing most fully when we know what it is (i.e., when we know its substance, not its quantity or quality or location).
So the ancient and perennial question "What is being?" becomes, for us, the question "what is substance?"
There have been various opinions on our question:
We must deal with various questions about these views. First: what is the nature of substance?
There are four candidate criteria for substance-hood:
The remainder of this chapter considers candidate (D). Three different things might be counted as hupokeimenon (and hence as substance according to the subject-criterion):
Pushing hard on the subject-criterion (interpreted now as demanding that a substance must be an ultimate subject of predication) seems to yield the result that matter is substance. But this can't be right, for matter lacks separability and this-ness. So much for (1).
(3) is also rejected: "The compound may be dismissed, for it is posterior and its nature is obvious."
This leaves us with (2), form, as the only remaining candidate for substance according to the subject-criterion. This will require further inquiry, "for this is the most perplexing kind of substance."
We'll start with the case of sensible substances; these are generally counted as substances, and they're the simplest cases (= "more knowable to us"). We can then proceed [as recommended in An. Post.] to the cases that are more knowable by nature.
A second candidate: essence (to ti ên einai, lit., "the what
it was to be").
[Lines 1029bl6-19 show that the sense of 'per se predication' Aristotle
has in mind is the first (but not the second) of the two that he distinguishes
at An. Post. 73a35ff, viz.:
[A definition thus seems to be a formula which states an essence: The definition
of x is the formula which states the essence of x.]
[Gloss: 'x = ABC' is a definition only if x is primary, i.e.,
if the relation of A, B, and C to one another (or, perhaps, to x)
is not that of two distinct items which happen to coincide. Thus, 'pale man'
(to choose one of Aristotle's favorite examples) cannot state the essence
of anything (i.e., 'x = pale man' can't be a definition) because the
entity pale man is not primary; rather, two items - pale and man - happen
to coincide. On this reading, an entity will not be primary if it is an
accidental unity. Cf. Z.12, where Aristotle directly confronts the problem
of the "unity of definition," i.e., the problem of what makes the referent
of a (complex) definiendum a unitary thing in a way in which the referent
of other complex formulae (e.g., 'pale man') is not a genuine unity.]
A problem: if, in general, the coupling of two terms is not a definition
(and so not a formula of an essence), how can entities like snub be defined?
For snubness is not just concavity - a quality - but concavity in a nose.
But if 'pale man' has no essence, why should 'snub' - i.e., 'concave nose'
- have one? For in both cases, we have:
[Why is this a problem for Aristotle? If 'pale man' does not have an essence (in the primary sense) it would seem that 'snub' also lacks one. In both cases, we have an accidental unity: the man only happens to be pale, the nose only happens to be concave. But 'snub nose' has some important logical features in common with formulae that Aristotle is willing to count as definientia, e.g., 'rational animal' or 'two-footed animal': noses aren't all snub, but nothing but a nose can be snub; animals aren't all two-legged, but nothing but an animal can be two-legged. Cf. also Z.11 for more on 'snub', Z.12 on the unity of definition.]
Is it the case that
[Puzzle: what relation is Aristotle asserting among (a), (b), and (c)? If he is asserting (b) and (c), he already has the answer to his question, since (a) follows from (b) and (c). A more plausible suggestion: Aristotle puts (b) forward as uncontroversial, and suggests that we inquire into the truth of (a). This will be relevant to our inquiry ("What is [the] substance [of x]?"), since (a) and (b) entail (c). If (a) is true, then, the answer to our question is: [the] substance [of x] = [the] essence [of x].] The answer seems to be: for entities that are primary (prôta) and spoken of per se (kath' hauta legomena), (a) is true. For other entities (e.g., accidental unities such as 'pale man') (a) is false.
[No additional detail in the present draft on the rest of this very difficult chapter. Its topic is taken up again at Z.10.]
[Z.7-9 are generally thought to be an interpolation: a connected sequence of genuine Aristotelian text put (by a later hand) out of context here. These three chapters have a topical unity but are not closely linked to the surrounding discussion (Z.4-6, 10-12). They will be treated only very sketchily in this outline.]
The generation of substances. Among the topics discussed: the difference between natural and artificial production; the roles of form and matter in these productions; the ways in which form and matter of what is generated exist prior to its generation; whether there is reference to matter in formulae (logoi).
What is produced in the generation of substances? Matter? Form? The compound of matter and form?
We do not produce the matter (to suppose that we do leads to an infinite regress) nor do we produce the form (we put it into something, but we don't produce it - what could we make it out of?). We put the form into the matter, and produce the compound.
Platonic Forms, as separate "this-es," are useless in describing generation; the man you need to produce a man is not the Platonic Form autoanthrôpos. What you need is just another matter/form compound of the same kind, for "man begets man."
An individual is a form in matter. Different individuals (of the same species) differ in matter, but not in form.
Kinds of Generation
[This is a long and complex chapter. What follows is only a capsule summary.]
Every definition (horismos) is a formula, and every formula (logos) has parts. As the logos of x is to x, so any part of the logos of x is to some part of x. [Call this "the correspondence thesis."]
The question thus arises: if y is a part of x, is the logos of y a part of the logos of x?
We seem to get different answers in different cases. A semi-circle is part of a circle, but the logos of a circle does not include that of a semi-circle. [In defining circle, you don't mention semi-circle; to suppose so would threaten an infinite regress.] On the other hand, the formula for a syllable would include the formulae of its component letters.
Perhaps 'part' is said in many ways. But never mind: let's raise our question for the case where x is a substance: if x is a substance and y is a part of x, is the logos of y a part of the logos of x?
The answer is this: if y is the matter (or part of the matter) of x, then the logos of y is not a part of the logos of x. But if y is the form (or part of the form) of x, then the logos of y is a part of the logos of x.
The idea seems to be that the parts of a logos are somehow prior to the logos itself, whereas a whole (physical) substance seems to be prior to its parts. And this asymmetry threatens the parallel between a thing and its definition that Aristotle is eager to establish.]
The compound of matter and form, the individual, has no definition. This is because it contains matter, which is in itself unknowable. (Matter may be either perceptible or intelligible.)
This leads naturally to our next question: when is a part of x a part
of the form of x, and when a part of the compound of matter and
[This is an important, but inconclusive, passage with respect to the issue
of whether Aristotle countenances particular or individual
forms or essences. Literally, he says that some things are a "this in that"
(tod' en tôide) or "these being thus" (hodi tadi
echonta). But what he doesn't make clear is whether "some things" means,
e.g., Socrates, Callias, et al. or man, horse, et al. If he means the latter,
his point is that some kinds, such as man, require certain kinds
of matter, such as flesh-and-bones. From this nothing follows about a
form or essence that is peculiar to an individual man that is not shared
by other men.]
Answer: there is matter even in mathematical circles. "For there is matter
in everything that is not an essence and a bare form but a 'this'." It is,
however, intelligible (not perceptible) matter. [Thus, the two
semi-circles composing a circle can be considered its intelligible matter.]
[I.e., as the universal man is a compound of soul (form) and body (matter), so the particular man (e.g., Socrates) is a compound of this soul and this body. This is an important passage for those who hold that there are particular (i.e., non-universal) forms in Aristotle's Metaph. But it is important to note that the assertion of a particularized form (e.g., Socrates' soul) is contained in an 'if' clause. Given that Aristotle holds that there is matter in every 'this' (1037a2), he would have the problem, on this line, of saying what the matter in this soul is. (He would presumably say that it is intelligible matter.) The alternative interpretation would take Aristotle's view to be this:
This line fits in better with the view - often attributed to Aristotle - that it is matter that individuates.]
[The text for (b) is difficult. The outline above is based on Ross's text,
which contains an emendation not found in any MSS. Without this emendation,
the text would most plausibly be construed as follows:]
What follows is a preliminary and incomplete draft of an outline of chapters 12-17:
The Unity of Definition
What does the unity of a substance consist in? Look at the definition of a substance, e.g.:
Why does 'two-footed animal' pick out a unity in a way that 'pale man' does not? Pale man is an accidental unity; why isn't two-footed animal like that?
[Aristotle presents the problem as one involving the definiens (two-footed
animal): what makes this compound a unity? But another way of putting what's
at issue here is this: what makes the definiendum (man) a substance?
What makes the formula above a definition, a statement of something's
Recall the discussion of pale man in Z.4: suppose the word 'cloak' (himation) meant pale man. Then would the formulae
be on equal footing? Why is (ii), but not (i), a definition? We'd like to say that man is a unity in a way that pale man is not. But the fact that we use a simple expression in one case and a compound one in the other makes our task seem easier than it is. For (ii) licenses the replacement of 'man' with 'two-footed animal'; and although there is no simple expression that stands to 'pale man' in the way that 'man' stands to 'two-footed animal', we can always suppose that there were such a word, in the manner of (i). Now the two cases seem much more difficult to pry apart.
Aristotle's solution does not emerge until H6: the relation between matter and form is not like that between substance and accident. Whereas a pale man may be considered an "accidental unity" of substance and accident, a two-footed animal (or a rational animal, or whatever is the correct definition of man) is not an accidental unity of matter and form. The form is the actuality of which the matter is the potentiality. In some such way, matter and form are supposed to be one in a way that substance and accident are not. But Aristotle's solution is less than crystal-clear.]
Universals are not Substances
[This chapter returns to the four candidate criteria for substance-hood set out in Z.4, mentions that essence and subject have been discussed, and proceeds to universal. What happened to genus, the fourth candidate from Z.4?
One possibility: genus, for Aristotle, can be treated either as matter or as universal. Matter was discussed in Z.3, and the present chapter will take care of universals. So genus is, in effect, covered.]
Universals are common, i.e., belong to more than one thing. But the substance of a thing is supposed to be peculiar to it, not common to many. So no universal can be a substance.
Substances are not predicable of a subject, but universals are predicable. So, again, universals aren't substances.
But even if a universal can't be the whole essence of a thing, it may be part of an essence. Thus, animal is part of the essence of man and part of the essence of horse, but it is not the essence of anything all by itself.
This is presumably because there's no such thing as being an animal without being a particular kind of animal (cf. 1038b33). Every animal belongs to some species or other
If x is a substance and y is a part of the essence of x, then y is not the substance of anything (1038b31-32).
A universal is a such, but not a this.
But this leaves us with a problem: if a universal is a such, and not a this, how can a substance be composed of universals? How can a bunch of suches add up to a this?] If a substance isn't composed of universals, and isn't composed of substances either (as has just been shown), "every substance would be incomposite, so that there would not even be a formula of any substance." But if substances can't be defined, nothing can be; so we get the result that nothing is definable.
[The inference to the incompositeness of substances seems a non-sequitur: why should universals and substances exhaust the field of possible candidates for being parts of substances? But the second inference seems secure: if something is incomposite, then it cannot have a definition, given that the definiens will always be a complex formula, and that there is always a one-to-one correspondence between the parts of the formula and the parts of the thing.]
An argument against the Platonists
They make universals (their Forms or Ideas) substances, and allow them to be "separate" [and presumably what Aristotle would call "thises"]. From this, Aristotle attempts to draw absurd consequences. The argument is complex, but the drift is this: if the Platonic form animal is a this, then what kind of animal is it? A horse? A man? Is it both two-legged and four-legged? It can't be both; and if it were just two-legged, say, then horses wouldn't be animals (since they aren't two-legged). So it is neither: presumably it has no definite number of legs. Then how can it be a this?
There are two kinds of substance:
(A) are generated and destroyed; (B) are not.
Sensible individual substances are not definable, nor do they figure in demonstrations, because they have matter. No individual can be defined, not even [presumably immaterial] Platonic Forms. A definition is general and applies in principle to more than one thing.
An individual which is eternal and unique, e.g. the sun, may seem to be definable, but it isn't. Its formula is general. [I.e., what is defined is a kind that has only one member. But it is the kind, not the individual that happens to be its only member, that is defined.]
Most so-called substances are really only potencies: e.g., the parts of animals, or earth, air, and fire.
A substance must be one, i.e., have unity, and not just be a heap.
Still, the parts of living things may seem more than potencies, but have complete actuality: they have a source of movement within them. Thus, some animals can live when divided. [Lines 1040bl4-16 seem to suggest that even if, say, the front half of an earthworm is capable of growing into a complete earthworm if it should be severed from the rear half, it doesn't count as an actual substance while it's still just a part of the whole.]
'One', like 'being', is said in many ways. So neither is the substance of anything. Both may seem more substantial than 'principle', 'element', or 'cause', but none of them is substance, because nothing that is common is substance.
What about [Platonic] Forms? Their proponents say that a Form is (1) separate and (2) a One over Many [i.e., a universal]. If Forms are substances, they are separate; but if they are universals, they aren't separate. [Clearly, Aristotle thinks that the Platonists are placing incompatible requirements on the Forms.]
A new beginning [a very brief summary of this important chapter]
Substance is a principle (archê) and a cause (aitia). We appeal to substance when we explain why something is thus-and-so.
'Why' questions always ask why one thing attaches to another [i.e., why some predicate belongs to some subject].
Our answer mentions the essence; we state "the cause, i.e., the form, by reason of which the matter is some definite thing." (E.g., why are these bricks and boards a house? Why are these flesh and bones a man?)
Essence, or form - which is what we have finally discovered substance to be - is not one of the elements in a compound (of matter and form). Rather, it is a cause of the elements combining in the way that they are combined in the compound. [I.e., form or essence is a principle of organization.]
"Substances are formed
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