John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism


In John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism, Thomas M. Ward examines Scotus's arguments for his distinctive version of hylomorphism, the view that at least some material objects are composites of matter and form. It considers Scotus's reasons for adopting hylomorphism, and his accounts of how matter and form compose a substance, how extended parts, such as the organs of an organism, compose a substance, and how other sorts of things, such as the four chemical elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and all the things in the world, fail to compose a substance. It highlights the extent to which Scotus draws on his metaphysics of essential order to explain why some things can compose substance and why others cannot. Throughout the book, contemporary versions of hylomorphism are discussed in ways that both illumine Scotus's own views and suggest ways to advance contemporary debates.
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Biographical Note

Thomas M. Ward, M.Phil (2006), Oxford, Ph.D (2011), UCLA, is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He has published several articles on medieval and early modern philosophy.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix
Abbreviations x

1 The Purpose of Prime Matter 6
i Distinguishing Matter from Form 6
ii Motivating Matter: The Argument from Change 8
iii Why Must Matter Persist through Change?...12
iv Matter as Passive Power...18
v Obediential Potency and the Subject of Passive Power...23
2 The Ontology of Prime Matter...27
i Matter as Subjective Potency...27
ii A Shifting Opinion about Matter’s Separability from Form ...30
iii Particular and Total Separability ...34
3 How Matter and Form Compose a Substance—Part I ...41
i Forms as Parts ...43
ii Matter and Form as Essential Parts ...47
iii Degrees of Unity ...48
iv Existence is not Enough ...51
v Making a Diffference ...52
4 How Matter and Form Compose a Substance—Part II ...60
i Producing Substance from Matter and Form ...60
i Causal and Co-Causal Relations ...62
iii Innovating Aristotle’s Principle about Relational Change ...66
iv The Identifijication of Parthood Relations with Causal Relations ...68
v The Causality of Matter and Form ...70
vi Dispensing with Total Separability? ...72
vii Conclusions: Composing, and Composing ...73
5 Scotistic Pluralism about Substantial Form—Part I ...76
i Unitarianism and Pluralism about Substantial Form ...78
ii Scotus against Unitarianism ...81
iii Scotus against Standard Pluralism ...84
iv An Inconsistent Position about the Form of Corporeity? ...90
6 Scotistic Pluralism about Substantial Form—Part II ...94
i The Special Potency Question ...97
ii Essential Orders ...98
iii Essentially Ordered Unity...103
iv The Role of Soul in Scotus and Two Unitarians...106
7 Contingent Supposits and Contingent Substances...110
i Three Modes of per se Being...112
ii Ockham on the Distinction between Substance and Supposit...115
iii What’s Special about Supposits?...118
iv Arbitrary Part-Substances?...121
8 The Mereological Status of the Elements in a Mixture...125
i Mixed Opinions about Mixtures...127
ii The Argument from Quantitative Forms...132
iii The Generation and Corruption Argument...137
iv The Violence Argument...139
v Generation from the Elements...140
vi Mixtures and Organic Parts...142
9 Why the World is not a Substance...145
i Motivating Monism...148
ii The Argument from the Distinguishing of Forms...151
iii The World/Organism Analogy...158
iv Properties of the Whole that are not Properties of the Parts...161
10 Scotistic Hylomorphism and the Problem of Homonymy...165
i Scotistic Hylomorphism Among Other Varieties...165
ii Ackrill’s Problem...169
iii Aquinas’s Response...171
iv The Standard Pluralistic Response...173
v Scotus’s Response...177
vi Scotus, Aquinas, and the Ultimate Subject of Substantial Change...178
vii Faulty Metaphysics or Faulty Chemistry? Scotistic Hylomorphism and the Four Elements...179

General Index...189


Those interested in Duns Scotus's thought, the history of metaphysics and science in the Middle Ages, and in hylomorphism as an approach to perennial issues in metaphysics.