You are on page 1of 235

THE ETHICS OF

ONTOLOGY
Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy

C H R I S T O P H E R P. L O N G

The Ethics of Ontology

SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy Anthony Preus, editor

The Ethics of Ontology


Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy

Christopher P. Long

State University of New York Press

Published by State University of New York Press, Albany 2004 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, address State University of New York Press, 90 State Street, Suite 700, Albany, NY 12207 Production by Michael Haggett Marketing by Susan M. Petrie Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Long, Christopher Philip, 1969 The ethics of ontology : rethinking an Aristotelian legacy / Christopher P. Long. p. cm. (SUNY series in ancient Greek philosophy) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7914-6119-X 1. Aristotle. 2. Ethics. 3. Ontology. I. Title. II. Series. B491.E7L66 2004 111'.092dc22 2004006851 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

With friendship, respect, and, above all, love: For Valerie, in whom grace and will converge.

Refuse the life of anarchy; Refuse the life devoted to One master. The in-between has the power By Gods grant always, though His ordinances vary. Aeschylus, Eumenides

The concentration and fusion into the whole being can never happen through me nor can it happen without me. I become in relation to the Thou, becoming I, I say Thou. All actual life is encounter. Martin Buber, Ich und Du

Contents

Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 The Legacy of Ousia Foundational Thinking and the Categories Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form Prelude to a Safe PassageTwo Aporiae Toward a Dynamic Ontology The Dynamic Economy of Principles Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics The Ethics of Ontology

xi 1 19 31 49 59 85 111 131 153 167 209 217

Notes References Index

ix

Preface

This book calls into question the privilege that ontology has historically enjoyed over ethics. Ontology, the search for the ultimate principles of reality, has traditionally been said to precede ethics, which concerns itself with the contingency of human character and action. This tradition begins with Aristotle, whose attempt to establish a rigorous science of being seems to sequester the contingent concerns of finite existence from the search for the necessary principles of being. Yet this Aristotelian legacy fails to recognize the contingent nature of all ontological investigation and so unwittingly covers over its own collusion in the alleged discovery of the ultimate principles of order. This obfuscation lends an aura of objectivity to these principles that serves to legitimate the manner in which they function. Although this seems harmless and abstract, such principles have historically animated the various structures of oppression operating at the very heart of Western civilization. The codification of such structures of oppression may be traced to the Physics and Metaphysics of Aristotle, and specifically to the tendency to seek ultimate order in the domination of form over matter. The tremendous power of the Aristotelian distinction between form and matter lies in its universal applicability: anything can be thematized as a composite of these two principles. Testimony to its enormous success lies in the way it operates unnoticed: we no longer see the distinction as anything other than the description of the objective structure of reality. Aristotles conception of ousia, traditionally rendered substance, but more literally, simply being, functions both in Aristotle and throughout the history of Western thinking as a parameter according to which the totality of beings is quite literally set in order.1 As a parameter, ousia operates both conceptually and practically. Conceptually, ousia names the tendency not only to divide that which exists into an active formal and a passive material component but also to posit the domination of form as the ordering principle of being. Practically, however, ousia translates the hegemony of form into the concrete contingent world by identifying it as objectively given and thus as unquestionably valid. The parameter of ousia lurks just beneath the surface of Western civilization, legitimating its various structures xi

xii

Preface

of oppression, from misogyny, racism, and slavery to colonialism, imperialism, and genocide. If, as Theodor Adorno suggests, we speak Aristotle all our lives and dont even know it,2 then this is of no minor consequence, for it informs the very manner in which we set our world into order. Yet there is more to the legacy of ousia than the history of domination, for ousia points already in Aristotle to the perplexing presence of the concrete individual, itself irreducible to the hegemony of form. Thus if we speak Aristotle, as we surely do, it is the dialect of domination and not the more nuanced dialect, discernable already in Aristotle, of doing justice to the phenomena. To recover this other dialect and so to relearn the very language through which we determine not merely the meaning of being, but more significantly, the world of beings is the main purpose here. Recovering this other dialect in Aristotle involves stepping back behind the long and codified tradition of Aristotle scholarship. I have sought to do this in three ways. First, in order to destabilize our sense of familiarity with basic concepts that no longer strike us as thought provoking, I have left Greek terms largely untranslated. For ousia is not simply substance, nor praxis merely action; energeia is more than actuality, and to ti en einai is surely more complicated than essence. These terms, and others, most notably tode ti, which shows itself here to be far more than merely that which is particular, are meant to stand out rather awkwardly, to cause the reader to pause and perhaps even to reconsider the calcified meaning that they have taken on over the centuries. Second, the methodological approach of this book is unconventional: although it follows the paths of Aristotles thinking, it does not aim to reconstruct the system of Aristotelian thought. The detailed investigation into the various paths of Aristotles thinking that constitutes the greater part of the book is necessitated by the recognition that these paths themselves suggest a way of thinking about principles that is eclipsed by traditional interpretations. The traditional approach, concerned as it is to reconstruct the system of Aristotles thought, naively embraces the dialect of domination. In so doing, it remains loyal to Aristotles own deep concern to establish order and stability in a dynamic world. Yet this reconstructive approach tends to obscure another, more open dimension of Aristotelian thinking: his intense loyalty to that which appears and his deep willingness to modify and revise theoretical positions when they fail to do justice to concrete experience. Rather than seeking to secure the ultimate order of the Aristotelian system, this book is, quite literally, peripatetic, for it attempts to walk with Aristotle as he thinks his way into the complexities of finite being. The third way this book seeks to step back behind the orthodox Aristotle is by calling into question the presumed destination of these various paths of thinking. At least since the ancient editor, Andronicus, set the books of the Metaphysics in order, it has been assumed that the ultimate culmination of the

Preface

xiii

work is to be found in Book XII with its account of God, pure thought thinking itself, who serves as the ultimate principle of order. Yet however enticing this theoretical abstraction may be, however intoxicating may be the language Aristotle uses to describe it, it is by no means clear that all of the paths of Aristotelian thinking lead to God. Rather, this book suggests that the various paths of Aristotles thinking concerning finite ousia lead in a different direction, one that is less concerned with establishing the ultimate principle of order than it is with doing justice to the phenomenon of the finite individual itself. To anticipate the itinerary of this book, the path of Aristotles ontological engagement with finite being leads from the Categories through the Physics to the middle books of the Metaphysics, where a dynamic conception of ousia is developed. Insofar as this dynamic ontology thinks ousia as finite and contingent, it disrupts the attempt to establish ontology as a rigorous science and points to the Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle introduces an ethical form of knowledge, phronesis, \ that is capable of doing justice to the finite, contingent individual. To put the point boldly, the Metaphysics culminates in the Nicomachean Ethics. Ontology is ethical. In following this path of Aristotles thinking, it becomes increasingly clear that the ontological investigation into the meaning of finite being cannot remain merely theoretical but must descend into the practical realm, for the very appearance of the finite composite is itself never merely abstract and theoretical but always already concrete and personal. By tracing the trajectory of Aristotles thinking concerning finite ousia, we come to recognize that being does not appear to us in isolation, that we ourselves collude in the construction of the individual, and, finally, that we must become vigilantly responsible for and constantly cognizant of this collusion. This ability to respond to the otherness of the Othercomplex, ambiguous, but necessary is the ethics of ontology.

This book was born of many long hours of thoughtful discussion and nourished by many cherished relationships. I owe a debt of gratitude to my family, who has remained ever supportive and willing to lend me confidence when my own was on the wane; to my teachers and friends at the New School for Social Research, who encouraged me to trust my philosophical instincts; and to my colleagues and students at Stockton College, who work each day to ensure that philosophy never becomes an abstract, disengaged discipline. The book itself would not have been possible without the generous support of institutional research and professional development grants awarded to me by the Richard Stockton College. Finally, this book is dedicated to my wife, Valerie Winnicki, who teaches me each day the meaning of justice in relation, that there is freedom in it and infinite joy.

The Legacy of Ousia

To speak once again, and at this late date, of ousia is surely anachronistic. To once again take up this ancient concept, this foundational principle, here, now, in the wake of the twentieth century, when so many have suffered in the name of ultimates, when the seductive aura of the Archimedean dream has finally begun to wane, this is surely perverse. Yet the decay of the aura of the modern project to seek security in absolute principles gives rise to a new and an equally dangerous delusion: that an epoch of anarchy has dawned in which all appeals to principle are indicted as hegemonic, totalizing, and violent. If the modern mind-set succumbs to the alluring aura of apodeictic absolutes, then the postmodern mood attempts to disrupt the violence allegedly endemic to the very deployment of principles by positing a radical rupture in history itself, a rupture after which every appeal to principles, particularly one so heavily laden as ousia, is deemed nave, outdated, and perilous. The recognition that principles always already include a dangerous dimension of domination emerges only as the legitimacy of a certain economy of principles begins to wither. At such times, it becomes possible to rethink the meaning and function of principles themselves. The appeal to ousia here recalls the long history of efficacy determined by the unification of the two basic meanings of the Greek word arche,\ principle. Prior to Plato and Aristotle, two distinct senses of arche \ remained separate: on the one hand, arche \ designated the beginning, the first, incipience; on the other hand, it designated the supreme commander, that which holds dominion and power.1 Aristotle seems to have brought these two determinations of arche \ together into a single philosophical concept, and in his ontological engagement with finite sensible beingousiainception and domination continually compete with one another for preeminence. The interplay between these two dimensions of arche \ is the legacy of ousia. 1

The Ethics of Ontology

Although the dimension of domination, which finds a powerful expression in the modern obsession with absolute ultimates, has dominated (from) the beginning, the attempt to think through the legacy of ousia cannot simply posit a rupture in history on the far side of which principles no longer function violently. There is no stepping back behind the determination of arche \ established by Aristotle: principles function hegemonically, but the hegemonic functioning of principles cannot be permitted to eclipse the equally important dimension of incipience. The appeal again to ousia, here, now, is an intentional provocationit at once calls forth this other, eclipsed dimension of arche \ and challenges the attempt to leave history behind. If, however, we do not join in the rush toward rupture, neither do we attempt to rejuvenate the self-deception of modernity by appealing, once again, to the aura of absolute ultimates. No, it is too late for that, and we too wise. Yet even at this late hour, the promise of an ultimate, authoritative arche \ remains seductive. The Archimedean dream still haunts us, for there remains the desire for an ultimate measure, for an end to the questioning, for a last court of appeal where disputes are once and for all decidedit is the desire for security in an uncertain world. Although Descartes situates the Archimedean ideal at the center of the modern philosophical project,2 the obsession with certainty and order does not begin with him. It is as ancient as philosophy itself. In fact, Aristotle suggests that something similar was already at stake when the Platonists, convinced by the Heraclitean contention that all sensible things are in a state of flux, posited Forms existing in separation from the sensible things, which themselves were not subject to change.3 Thus the Platonists and the Cartesians,4 like the rest of us, immediately respond to the experience of flux, instability, and uncertainty in the same manner: by grasping for something fixed, by positing a principle according to which order may once again be secured. As long as this immediate reflex in the face of uncertainty motivates the deployment of principles, then the dimension of domination will continue to eclipse that of incipience and an ever-new ultimate arche \ will seek to subvert all that dares to challenge its authority. However, at least since Kant, this impulse toward foundational ultimates and the assumptions underlying it have been increasingly called into question. If the uncritical affirmation of the Archimedean ideal is recognized as one dimension of modernism, then a profound skepticism about the feasibility of this ideal may be identified as one dimension of what has come to be loosely called postmodernism.5 Yet there is also a discernable postmodern tendency not only to call into question the legitimacy of foundational ultimates but also to be suspicious of all appeals to principles. In order to segregate itself from the modern obsession with foundational ultimates, the postmodern mood posits a radical rupture in history. The impetus behind this is a heightened sensitivity to the very real dangers of what may be called totalizing thinking. Thinking becomes totalizing when it convinces itself that the

The Legacy of Ousia

concepts with which it necessarily operates are capable of comprehending all it encounters without remainder; it becomes totalitarian when this self-deception turns dogmatic and loses the capacity to critically consider the contingency of the principles it deploys. In one sense, the entire history of Western philosophy has been haunted by a totalizing tendency that all too frequently runs the risk of turning genuinely totalitarian. The postmodern rejection of hegemonic principles, when seen against the backdrop of the totalizing tendencies of Western philosophy, is as understandable as it is laudable. However, because the outright rejection of principles also involves the renunciation of the possibility of responsibility, the price that postmodernism pays for its critique is too high, for it runs the risk of trading the totalizing tendencies of modernity for an equally dangerous sort of anarchism. There is a twofold irony in this situation. First, arising out of a genuine ethical concern to do justice to that which escapes determination by the concept and to reconsider the manner in which we think and act as finite beings in a contingent world, the outright rejection of principles in fact undermines the very possibility of ethics. The postmodern renunciation of absolute ultimates affirms both the situated finitude of worldly existence that philosophy has for so long sought to escape and the inherent limitations of conceptual thinking. The affirmation of anarchy, however, annihilates the possibility of ethics by undermining the legitimacy of the very deployment of principles that serves as the condition for the possibility of justice. Without principles, justice is impossible, for justice requires judgment, and judgment, the deployment of principles. The ethical impulse to do justice to otherness by rejecting principles destroys the only context within which justice is possible. The second irony of the postmodern critique is that the rupture of history that serves to segregate it from the modern epoch is nothing more than a repetition of the Cartesian abandonment of the study of letters, though the impetus is different.6 Whereas Descartes abandons the history of philosophy because its indefinite pluralism undermines his quest for certainty, postmodernism rejects the same history because it seeks to secure certainty and order by positing ultimate principles as absolute. Surely at this late date a return to the philosophy of ultimates would be misguided. Yet it remains possible to recover Descartes recognition of the diversity of the history of philosophy without endorsing his thematization of this diversity as a detriment. Despite the radical indictment of philosophy leveled by such great twentieth-century thinkers as Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, and Emmanuel Levinas, the diversity of the tradition still stands as its greatest resource. This diversity can be of great assistance in the attempt to think a way between the totalizing tendencies of modernism and the anarchy of postmodernism, the delusional dream of objectivism and the cynical affirmation of relativism. Rethinking the legacy of ousia allows us to retrieve the meaning of arche \ as incipience that has remained obscured by philosophys obsession with ultimate absolutes.

The Ethics of Ontology

The term ousiawhich is often translated as substance, but which will remain untranslated here and throughout to undermine the foundational connotations associated with that termnames the first principle of Western philosophy. Aristotle himself set the framework for any future ontology: And indeed, in early times, now and always, the inquiry, indeed always the perplexity concerning what being is (ti to on) is just this: what is ousia?7 By shifting the focus of the question of being from to on to he \ ousia, Aristotle determines the trajectory of Western ontology. However, the significance of this determination remains, 2,400 years later, a matter still in need of questioning. To think being in terms of ousia, it has been said, is to reify being, to understand it as an entity rather than as a dynamic process. Heidegger has suggested that this determination of being is a result of the general Greek infatuation with poiesis, \ the capacity to make or produce, and betrays what he calls a productive comportment toward beings.8 If such a productive comportment determines the so-called history of metaphysics, then perhaps the very beginning of metaphysics may be traced to this sentence in Aristotle. Aristotle himself would then be responsible for the forgetfulness of being.9 However, Aristotles insistence that the general, and far too abstract, question What is being? must always be guided by the question What is ousia? may not have the negative impact that Heidegger ascribes to it. Perhaps it is the result of Aristotles deep conviction that the question concerning the meaning of being must always be directed toward some definite, determinate being, a being that is eclipsed each time ontology allows itself to be directed toward to on itself. If this is the caseand the extent to which Aristotles conception of sensible ousia remains assiduously directed toward the concrete individual will occupy a good portion of this workthere then emerges another possibility lurking in the very beginnings of the history of metaphysics. Precisely such a possibility emerges in the wake of the radical critiques of this history leveled by Theodor Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas.

CRITIQUE AS RESOURCE: ADORNO AND LEVINAS


In response to the horrendous atrocities of the twentieth century, both Adorno and Levinas denounce the totalizing tendencies of Western philosophy. In his Negative Dialectics, Adorno writes: The proposition common to all emphatic philosophyas opposed to skeptical philosophy, which refuses such emphasiswas that it could only be possible as system. . . . The system, a form of representation of a totality to which nothing remains external, absolutely sets thought over each of its contents and vaporizes the content in thoughts: idealistic before all argumentation for idealism.10 With the possible exception of Hegelwith respect to whom Adorno develops this line of critiquethere is perhaps no better model for the sort of emphatic philosophy

The Legacy of Ousia

of which Adorno speaks than Aristotle, or so traditional interpretations of Aristotles thought would have us believe. At least since Aquinas, Aristotle has been held up as the Philosopher par excellence. His is thought to be an emphatic philosophy that forms a coherent and cohesive system designed to offer a rational account of all that exists. The widely held belief that the Metaphysics is a unified whole culminating in the speculative heights of Book XII in which Aristotle posits God as pure act, the ultimate principle of being, embraces this vision of Aristotle as emphatic philosopher.11 However, every attempt to render Aristotles thought consistent and complete fails to do justice to the dynamic nature of his thinking, to the elasticity of his mind, and to his willingness to risk failure rather than to establish certainty by stealth.12 There is more to Aristotle than emphatic philosophy. To reject his thinking as one more philosophy of totality is not much better than joining in with the traditional praise it has so often received as the greatest example of systematic philosophical thought. Adorno is surely right to be suspicious of all systems of identity, and if the traditional interpretation of Aristotles thought is correct in reading it as the highest expression of such a system, then he is justified in calling it to account along with the rest of the history of Western philosophy. Yet Adorno too recognizes in Aristotle the tension that undermines his tendency toward totality; it is the tension actualized by Aristotles attention to the individual. Adorno anticipates much of what we will have to say about this tension when he writes: no plea for the blessings of order removes the difficulties that the relationship between tode ti and prote \ \ ousia in the Aristotelian metaphysics prepares.13 If, as will be argued later, the term tode ti, in its most straightforward sense, designates the concrete individual, and prote \ \ ousia names the ultimate, hegemonic principle of being, then the difficulties to which Adorno refers already point to the tension that animates this investigationthe tension between the individual and the principle according to which it first becomes accessible. This tension, endemic to all ontological encounter, is the site from which ontology first becomes possible and to which it must remain ultimately accountable. Traditional ontology has sought to resolve this tension by seeking refuge in hegemonic principles. Hypnotized by the plea for the blessings of order and confident in the certainty of the principles that it already possesses, traditional ontology attempts to secure stability by determining the being of the individual according to principles firmly established prior to the encounter with the individual itself. Thus the being of the individual is reduced to the concepts according to which emphatic ontology seeks to establish order; justice is exchanged for the illusion, at least, of freedom and stability. Yet however confident emphatic ontology may be in the certainty of its principles, the tension remains, for the individual never goes cleanly into the concepts according to which it is determined. This remainder, which ironically emerges only as principles are deployed, undermines the quest for absolute order and reveals the

The Ethics of Ontology

conceit of emphatic ontologys confidence in the capacity of its concepts to completely capture the being of the individual. To do justice to this remainder, and thus to the being of the individual itself, the deployment of principles must be infused with an openness that refuses to succumb to the delusional desire for absolute certainty. This need not involve the renunciation of principles altogether; indeed, it cannot, for it is only through the deployment of principles that the individual emerges as a being for whom a claim to justice may be recognized. Required, rather, is a retrieval of the dimension of incipience latent in the original meaning of the word arche,\ an incipience that remains riveted to the direct encounter with the individual. To emphasize direct ontological encounter as first principle in this sense, however, is to shift the focus of ontology away from a purely theoretical obsession with Truth toward an ethical concern for justice. Aristotles insistence that the question concerning the meaning of beingontologycan only be properly posed when it is directed not toward the abstract to on but to the concrete ousia opens up another possibility for ontology. This other ontology is neither guided by the quest for certainty and order nor deluded by the false belief in the capacity of its concepts to comprehend the being of the individual; rather, it is directed toward the concrete encounter with the individual itself, dedicated to doing justice to the being of that with which it is concerned. This other ontology is the ontology of the Other. As such, it is inherently ethical. If Adornos critique anticipates the ethics of ontology by insisting on both the need for and the limitations of principles, then it is Emmanuel Levinas who in emphasizing the priority of the encounter with the Other gives the ethics of ontology its concrete determination. For the most part, Levinas situates Aristotle within what he thematizes as the totalizing tradition of Western philosophy.14 This tradition, which Levinas often simply names ontology but which might more appropriately be dubbed emphatic ontology, is understood in the following terms: Western philosophy has most often been an ontology: a reduction of the other to the same by interposition of a middle and neutral term that ensures the comprehension of being.15 Although this conception of Western philosophy in general and ontology in particular emerges out of Levinass intense critical engagement with Heideggerian thinking, it could just as easily be developed out of a traditional reading of Aristotles onto-theology. From this perspective, it would not be hyperbolic to say that Aristotle is the arche \ of Western philosophy as emphatic ontology. Again, one need look no further than Metaphysics XII to find precisely the neutral term that ensures the comprehension of all being: God as unmoved mover, thought thinking itself. This is the ultimate principle of order in Aristotle, the foundation upon which the entire universe rests. When this idea is maximized and the entirety of Aristotles thinking is interpreted in its shadow, then Aristotle emerges clearly

The Legacy of Ousia

as the father of totalizing ontology, one of the earliest and most successful thinkers to reduce all otherness to the hegemony of the Same. It is no accident that Hegel, probing the history of philosophy for a model by which to develop a conception of free subjectivity suited to his own idealism, came to recognize Aristotles thematization of God as thought thinking itself as the highest expression of pure subjectivity.16 While it is perhaps an inexcusable misreading of Hegel to characterize his thinking as dedicated to a reduction of all otherness to the Sameas Levinas himself sometimes seems to suggestit is nevertheless true that subjective idealisms preoccupation with the freedom of the subject, its tendency to see a neutral Spirit behind all historical happenings, and its bold presumption that the concepts of the thinking subject are capable of completely comprehending the world are elements of the modern mind-set that may fairly be characterized as totalizing. Given this genealogy, it is possible to trace this tradition of totalizing back to the heart of Aristotles Metaphysics. But this is only one possible story that might be told. Indeed, Levinass powerful critique of Western thinking and his insistence that ethics precedes ontology together serve as an invitation not to abandon the entire history of philosophy but to rethink it as something other than a history of totalizing ontologies, searching all the while for the trace of that ethical impulse that is eclipsed by the traditional preoccupation with systematic totality. The ethical impulse sought here is decidedly not grounded in yet another foundational ultimate. It does not seek to establish a set of eternal precepts that would serve as an infallible guide to action. There is a difference between morality and ethics. Morality seeks security in firm foundational principles, and in so doing it annihilates the very possibility of ethics; for ethics always involves more than the simple imposition of predetermined principles upon each new situation. Levinas suggests the more complex vision of ethics that guides this investigation when he writes: critique does not reduce the other to the same as does ontology, but calls into question the exercise of the same. A calling into question of the samewhich cannot occur within the egoist spontaneity of the sameis brought about by the other. We name this calling into question of my spontaneity by the presence of the Other ethics.17 Ethics and critique are intertwined: the condition for the possibility of critique is the presence of the Other; ethics is the attempt to do justice to the claim concomitant with this presence. The otherness of the Other always escapes conceptualization. Its irreducibility calls into question the authority of the spontaneity of the Same. To assert that ethics precedes ontology, as Levinas does, is to call into question the self-indulgent assumption on which emphatic ontology is based: the thinking subject has absolute access to the Other; what exists is capable of being completely captured by the free exercise of thought. Yet however radical Levinass suggestion may be, it has in fact always been the case that ethics precedes ontology, though ontology has forever sought to deny this

The Ethics of Ontology

its ethical heritage.18 Ethics always already precedes ontology because, at its core, ontology is grounded in the actual encounter with an Other. Prior to all claims of knowledge, to all systems of totality according to which the world is set in order, to all appeals to some neutral term that comprehends being, ontology finds itself faced with the Other. This is where ontology begins; this is its arche \ and the telos toward which it must always be directed. This is what renders ontology ethical, and ethics ontological. Levinass indictment of the history of Western philosophy as ontology opens up the possibility of rethinking the traditional understanding of ontology itself. Such a project, however, is historically conditioned and cannot proceed without engaging the tradition in which it is embedded. Levinas himself recognizes that certain dimensions of the history of philosophy cannot be characterized as totalizing. Infinity seeps through the fissures in the totality that is the history of Western philosophy. In Descartes perception of God in the Third Meditation, in Platos conception of the Good beyond being, and even in Aristotles conception of the active intellect, Levinas finds traces of non-totalizing thinking.19 Thus Levinas seems to endorse what has already been suggested: the very history of philosophy can be a resource for attempts to undermine and move beyond the tradition of totalizing thinking. Aristotle occupies a unique position in this tradition. On the one hand, he may be understood as the father of the totalizing tendencies that have haunted the history of Western philosophy for millennia. On the other hand, one of the deepest convictions of his ontologythe insistence that the question of being, to on, must always be asked as the question of ousiaseems to suggest a concern for the concrete being that disrupts the consolidation of being into a totality. Indeed, one way to read the difficult middle books of the Metaphysics, in which Aristotle diligently pursues the being of finite ousia, is as an attempt to do justice to the individual even as a general account of the order of being is developed. Aristotles unwillingness to sacrifice the individual to the universal generates, as he himself recognizes, the greatest difficulties for his attempt to establish ontology as a science. These difficulties themselves serve as heuristic devices for the present attempt to develop a non-totalizing ontology grounded in the relation to the concrete individual. Central to this investigation will be a reconsideration of the meaning of the Aristotelian tode ti, an equivocal term used most often to designate the concrete ousia with which ontology must be concerned. The term will, for the most part, remain untranslated, for all translations are doomed to be just as awkward as the insertion of the Greek term itself. For Levinas, and for many Aristotle scholars, the term designates the concrete particular as an instantiation of some universal essence. Levinas writes: The particularity of the tode ti does not prevent the singular beings from being integrated into a whole, from existing in function of the totality, in which this singularity vanishes.20 Here the tode ti is already situated on the side of totalityit names one way, per-

The Legacy of Ousia

haps the first way, in which the singular is integrated into the totality, reduced to the concepts of the Same. There is, however, a more subtle gradation here, one that will prove to be of great significance for the reinterpretation of Aristotles ontology offered later. We may follow Levinas in his affirmation of the singularity of the Other and in his insistence that the Other, as singular, is unknowable for it escapes the concept. However, Levinass move from singularity directly to particularityfrom the Other as completely recalcitrant to the concept, to the completely conceptualized Otherblurs an important moment that must be maintained. Before the singular is integrated into the totality, before it becomes particular, it manifests itself as individual. The individual is encountered on the frontier between the utter darkness of its own singularity and the pure light of particularity; it hovers in the shadows, so to speak, both accessible to the concepts of the Same and never completely captured by them. The individual, like Adornos Gegenstand, does not go into its concept without remainder.21 The term tode ti designates this individual emerging out of its isolated singularity, prior to its being reduced to particularity, the mere instantiation of a dominating concept. For Levinas, the tode ti is already an expression of the concept.22 This is, in part, correct, for as individual, the Other has already entered into the conceptual framework of the Same. The singularity of the Other is sacrificed as it enters the sphere of meaningful relation, for there is no meaning for humanbeings without concepts. To the extent, however, that the Same is so duped by an infatuation with its own concepts that it believes itself to be in full possession of the Other through them, the individuality of the Other dissolves into particularity, its singularity completely eclipsed by the hegemony of the concept. The Same consolidates the delusion of its own absolute authority by rendering the singular particular; whatever knowledge it convinces itself it has gained is nothing more than a narcissistic confirmation of its own prejudice. Genuine knowledge is possible only where the deployment of concepts necessary to establish an encounter with the Other as individual is tempered by the conscientious recognition of and respect for the singularity of the Other that escapes all conceptualization. If the Other sacrifices its singularity for the sake of relation, then the Same must relinquish its delusions and be prepared to be taught. Only then, when grace and will converge, is genuine ontological knowledge possible. If one side of the legacy of ousia is to reduce the singularity of the individual to particularity by appealing to absolute principles, then the other side of this legacy is the attempt to do justice to the individual as such. This latter side of the legacy has always lurked just under the surface of the totalizing tradition, though it finds itself being obfuscated each time the ambiguities endemic to the encounter with the individual are sacrificed for security.23 Levinas and Adorno, each in his own way, retrieve this lost legacy of ousia and offer the conceptual apparatus according to which another sort of ontology can be

10

The Ethics of Ontology

developed, one that conscientiously confirms the singularity of the Other by seeking to do justice to individuality. To further develop this other, ethical ontology is the impetus behind the following interpretation of Aristotle and the rather bold suggestion that the ontology developed in the Metaphysics ultimately culminates not in Book XII, where Aristotle affirms the grand purity of Gods self-thinking, but in Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, where he develops a conception of contingent knowledge, phronesis, \ capable of doing justice to the finite individual.

THE HERMENEUTIC APPROACH


The claim that the Metaphysics culminates in the Nicomachean Ethics undercuts the orthodox reading of Aristotle. The orthodox Aristotle is the emphatic philosopher wedded to a stable vision of the universe teleologically guided by God as the ultimate principle of order. The orthodox Aristotle is the systematic thinker par excellence, a philosopher of totality. This Aristotle is no chimera; indeed, he has dominated the history of Western ontology from its inception. This book does not intend to reject the orthodox Aristotle outright; rather, it seeks to delineate other, less totalizing dimensions of Aristotles thinking in order to develop a conception of ontology that is neither totalizing nor anarchic. Aristotles thinking offers a unique site from which to develop such a conception of ontology. His intense interest in order and his firm belief in the efficacy and necessity of principles situate him in direct opposition to the postmodern tendency to eschew principles altogether. In this, Aristotle serves as a bastion against anarchism. On the other hand, Aristotle is equally concerned to save the phenomena, to do justice to the appearance of the individual. This dimension of his thinking, when set against the former recognition of the importance of principles, generates a fundamental tension in Aristotles thinking. This tension, never fully reconciled, renders Aristotles thinking recalcitrant to unequivocal interpretation. This recalcitrance is itself, however, fecund, for it forces each new generation to come to grips on its own terms with the thinking expressed in the inherited writing. Here, of course, a distinction is made between Aristotles thinking and his thought. We will be concerned exclusively with his thinking, resisting the temptation to reify it by attempting to explain away all contradictions in order to render it complete, systematic, and consistent. The hermeneutics of modernity has taught us to value systematic completeness over all else, to presume that genius lies in clarity and consistency; it has perpetuated the illusion that thinkers, if they are great, give birth spontaneously to complete, robust philosophical systems, as Athena, in full armor, leaps from the head of Zeus. Yet great thinkers are engaged with the world, and their thinking reflects the

The Legacy of Ousia

11

uncertainty of this engagement. What makes Aristotle so difficult to read is also what makes his thinking inexhaustibly abundant: the elasticity of his mind and his willingness to constantly reconsider and revise his previous positions. What we encounter in the writing that we have inherited from Aristotle is a thinking on the way, a dynamic thinking, not a complete system of thought. All hermeneutic approaches guided by the attempt to delineate the systematic completeness of Aristotles thought run the risk of missing the fecund surplus of his thinking. Because this book is animated by the tensions of Aristotles thinking, its hermeneutic intention differs from the many excellent classical studies of Aristotle that remain intent on offering an immanently consistent reconstruction of his thought. The present work has benefited greatly from the many insights to be found in such excellent studies, but its interest lies elsewhere. We return to Aristotle not as an exercise in philology, though philological techniques are often used, but as a resource for the attempt to rethink the meaning of principles in the face of the failure of modernism and the inadequacy of the postmodern critique. Here we are guided not by the modern hermeneutics of reconstruction but by the Gademerian hermeneutics of application. The basic insight of Gademers hermeneutics is that understanding and interpretation are intimately bound up with application, that the interpreter, historically situated, can only properly understand the truth of the historical text by bringing a concrete question to bear upon it, a question determined by the present situation in which the interpreter is embedded. Gadamer writes: Now, our reflections have led us to the insight that in understanding there always involves something like an application of the text to be understood to the interpreters present situation.24 For Gadamer, understanding is part of a unified process that always includes interpretation and application. In delineating the importance of application as a guide for understanding, Gadamer looks to Aristotles conception of phrones\ is, for in phrones\ is, Gadamer recognizes a conception of knowledge that takes seriously the radical embeddedness of the knower: Ethical knowledge, as Aristotle describes it, is obviously not objective knowledge. The knower does not stand over against a situation that he merely establishes, rather he is directly confronted by what he perceives.25 There is no abstract neutral position, no Gods eye view, from which the true meaning of the text may be divined. Rather, the text and the interpreter are always involved in a historically conditioned relationship in which new meaning emerges as a result of their direct encounter. For Gadamer, this takes the form of a sort of questioning. He writes: He who desires to think must himself question. . . . This is the reason why understanding is always more than the mere reconstruction of anothers meaning. Questioning lays open possibilities of meaning and thus what is meaningful passes into ones own thinking.26 The truth of any text only emerges in the dialogical relation

12

The Ethics of Ontology

between it and its interpreter. This relationship, however, is always historically conditioned; indeed, history itself is the unfolding of the process set in motion by such questioning encounters. Application is an integral dimension of understanding and interpretation, because it highlights the fact that each interpretation of the text is set forth from within a particular context that serves as the very condition for the possibility of understanding itself. Here, then, we take up the Aristotelian text not as something to be reconstructed and rendered consistent and complete but as a genuine Thou, a partneralbeit impersonalfrom which there is much to learn about the issues with which we are concerned. The orthodox objection, of course, will be that we are reading too much of ourselves back into the text, that the text has an objective independence and an authority that thwarts every attempt to render it relevant to the present situation. The response to this is twofold. First, despite the modern prejudice against prejudice, there is no way to segregate ourselves from the prejudgments that condition us and through which understanding first becomes possible. Gadamer has recognized this in his attempts to delineate the conditions for the possibility of understanding. Understanding always involves prejudice. This is no endorsement of the sort of blind prejudice that is so often the source of great violence. Rather, it is the recognition of a basic fact of human finitude, to be neither forgotten nor denied, that all understanding involves some prejudice, because not only are we always already situated in the world, but our thinking is necessarily discursive, requiring concepts to produce meaning.27 This sort of prejudice, following Richard Bernsteins elucidation of Gadamers text, may be called enabling to distinguish it from the sort of blind prejudice that always serves to limit the possibility of genuine understanding.28 The only way to ensure that enabling prejudices do not calcify into blind prejudices is to risk our prejudices by entering into a dialogical encounter with that which we seek to understand; for it is here, in the encounter with the Other, that genuine understanding first becomes possible. The second response to the orthodox objection is that the text itself is always already relevant to the present situation, because it is by nature historically effective. This is particularly true of the Aristotelian texts whose historical impact can hardly be overrated. Here again, Gadamers hermeneutics is germane. He writes: we should learn to understand ourselves more properly and recognize that in all understanding, whether one is conscious of it or not, the efficacy of effective history is at work.29 He continues: In fact the horizon of the present is constantly in the process of being formed because we must continually test our own prejudices. To this sort of testing belongs not least the encounter with the past and the understanding of the tradition from which we come. Thus, the horizon of the present does not form itself without the past.

The Legacy of Ousia

13

There is no more [a] horizon of the present in itself than there are historical horizons that have to be acquired. Rather, understanding is always the process of the fusion of such horizons allegedly existing for themselves.30 This conception of history, as a constant mediation between past and present manifesting itself as a fusion of horizons, recognizes the efficacy of the past and its impact on the present. It thus implicitly justifies every attempt to reconsider, requestion, and rethink the texts that have determined the thinking of the present. Gadamers appeal to a fusion of horizons, however, must be handled with care, for there is in the term fusion the connotation of an ultimate reconciliation, a consolidation of the horizons into something stable, reified, and closed. This, however, is anathema to the very conception of horizon in Gadamer, which is fundamentally distorted whenever it is rendered closed and self-contained. For Gadamer, a horizon names the fluid and situated standpoint within which beings are encountered. A horizon both sets the framework within which this relation happensis the condition for its possibilityand remains always open to new encounters.31 The fusion of horizons gives rise to new horizons, which themselves both frame and open new possibilities of encounter. In taking up Aristotles texts again, in approaching them as a Thou from which we can learn, we need not infuse them with an aura of authority that they do not have. Rather, they must be approached with respect, as one would approach any Other from whom one hopes to learn, recognizing that this very process of questioning accomplishes the fusion of horizons that constitutes the present and opens us up to new possibilities for the future. This is the approach to Aristotle taken here.

THE ITINERARY
To trace the trajectory of Aristotles engagement with finite, sensible ousia in order to develop a conception of ontology that is fundamentally ethical is to follow Aristotle in two ways. First, it is to follow the spirit of Aristotles own approach to his predecessors. Aristotle was the first to explicitly engage his predecessors in such a way as to situate his own thinking in relation to theirs. However, he rarely addresses his predecessors with the intent of merely reconstructing their original ideas. Rather, he brings their thinking to bear on the philosophical questions with which he himself was most concerned. His own thinking is therefore both indebted to them and something creatively new. To put this in Gadamerian terms, Aristotles thinking is itself the expression of a fusion of horizons that emerges as he applies the thinking of his philosophical ancestors to the concrete question toward which he is directed. Aristotle has often been criticized for not having done justice to the

14

The Ethics of Ontology

thought of his predecessors; indeed, his readings are often so closely connected to his own philosophical insights that it is difficult to determine the original thinking behind the interpretation. This difficulty is, however, attenuated by Aristotles precision. As Guthrie has convincingly argued, Aristotle is careful to modulate his explicit verbal expressions to distinguish his own interpretive insertions from what his predecessors wrote or were said to have held.32 In dealing with Empedocles, for example, Aristotle explicitly alerts readers that he does not follow Empedocles indistinct expressions but rather the direction of his thought.33 Similarly with Thales, Aristotle is careful to distinguish what Thales is thought to have saidthat the arche \ is waterfrom his own conjecture as to why he might have held such a viewgetting his idea perhaps (isos) \ from seeing that the nourishment of all things is moist.34 If there is any doubt here that this is Aristotles own conjecture, the isos, \ or perhaps, renders it unambiguous. Such signifiers suggest that Aristotle responsibly distinguishes attempted reconstruction from interpretive conjecture. The interpretation of Aristotle offered here will attempt to be at least as careful to delineate where it diverges from anything that might reasonably be ascribed to Aristotle as Aristotle himself is with respect to his predecessors. Second, to trace the trajectory of Aristotles engagement with finite sensible ousia is to become genuinely peripatetic: it is to follow the paths of Aristotles ontological thinking itself.35 These paths of thinking ought not be confused with the development of Aristotles thought. Although the so-called developmentalist readings of Aristotle are surely correct in approaching him as a dynamic thinker whose thought changed and matured as he aged, such approaches are inadequate insofar as they remain, first, directed ultimately to the thought, not the thinking, and second, guided by an almost obsessive concern to dissolve contradiction. By speaking of the paths of Aristotles thinking and not the development of his thought, the suggestive possibilities latent in Aristotles thinking may be traced without endorsing either a specific story about his biography or the modern hermeneutic obsession with internal consistency. There are three discernible, though intimately intertwined, paths in Aristotles thinking concerning finite ousia. Each path is governed by its own economy of principles, that is, by a distinct set of concepts designed to capture the being of finite, sensible ousia. Although the three paths of Aristotles thinking often merge into one another and proceed for a distance in the same directionfor Aristotle himself seems unwilling to unequivocally reject any of them because each answers some deep concern regarding finite ousia itself they remain nevertheless clearly identifiable. As long as they are not reified and posited as mutually exclusive, the distinction between them is heuristically helpful, for it elucidates the limitations of each economy of principles and brings the underlying concerns of Aristotles ontological engagement with finite ousia into sharp relief.

The Legacy of Ousia

15

The first path, found primarily in the Categories, is governed by what may be designated as a foundational economy of principles. This economy, which is the focus of the next chapter, posits an identifiable individual like this horse or this human-being as the foundation of accidental alteration. By establishing ousia as the hypokeimenon, or subject, that underlies and remains constantly present through change, Aristotle objectifies being by determining it, perhaps for the first time in the history of Western thinking, as a thing. The foundational economy of principles is governed by what may be called a logic of things that generates a number of difficulties for the ontology of finite ousia. The most pressing of these is the incapacity of the logic of things to account for generation. This forces a deepening of the theory and points in the direction of the economy of ontological principles introduced in Physics I.7. There, the foundational economy, which cannot account for substantial generation, merges with a second economy of principles, one decisively determined by both the distinction between form and matter and the model of motion. Delineating the dimensions of this the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles is the focus of chapter 3. However, even here the foundational economy is not simply rejected; rather, it remains effective on a number of different levels. First, the basic intuition that individual natural beings, like this horse or this human-being, deserve to be called ousiai because they have their principle of being in themselves and not in some separate entity remains decisive for Aristotle throughout. Second, as the meaning of the hypokeimenon is transformed in the hylomorphic economy, its functionto secure order through changeis transferred to the substantial form. Thus there is not only a retention of vocabulary in the transition from the foundational to the hylomorphic economy, there is also a commonality of concern, namely, how to account for order in a world of change. The hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles addresses this concern for continuity by ascribing a powerful new ontological role to the form, which emerges as the dominating principle of being. This economy, with its penchant for causal analysis and its tendency to think being in terms of production, has had a long history of efficacy in the Western philosophical tradition. Finally, however, the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles itself gives rise to a number of intractable ontological puzzles that require the introduction of yet another economy designed to account for the being of finite sensible ousia. Chief among these puzzles is the so-called universal/singular aporia, which concerns the nature of the ontological principles themselves. Briefly stated, in order to account for both the continuity of substantial change and the possibility of knowledge, it seems necessary to posit the principle as being in some sense permanent and universal, applying to a plurality of beings in the same way. On the other hand, because each individual has its principle of being in itself, it seems that the principle must itself be singular, unique in each individual. In order to address this problem, the path of Aristotles ontological

16

The Ethics of Ontology

thinking wends its way toward another economy of principles that finds its full expression at the end of the middle books of the Metaphysics, specifically in Books VIII and IX.36 This will be called the dynamic economy of ontological principles in order to highlight the important role that the concepts of energeia, activity, and dunamis, potency, play in it. Thus chapter 4 sets the framework for the introduction of this new dynamic economy of principles by clarifying the precise nature of the aporiae that animate Aristotles engagement with finite, sensible ousia in the middle books of the Metaphysics. Chapter 5 traces the rather difficult path leading to the dynamic economy by elucidating the failure of the attempt in Metaphysics VII to account for ousia purely in terms of form. This failureintimated already in Aristotles biological writingsis not merely negative; it is also pregnant with suggestions that are taken up and developed in Metaphysics VIII and IX. In chapter 6, the dynamic economy of principles is shown to be a natural outgrowth of the suggestive limitations of the investigation of Metaphysics VII. Here Aristotles response to the ontological implications of the universal/singular aporia culminates: ousia is itself the activity that expresses the identity of energeia and dunamis. The model according to which this is thought is neither that of kinesis, \ motion, nor of poiesis, \ production, but of praxis, or action. With the introduction of praxis in Metaphysics IX, Aristotle reaffirms the dimension of incipience in his conception of the arche \ of being that had been eclipsed by the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles predicated as it is on the domination of form. In so doing, Aristotle suggests the possibility of developing an economy of ontological principles dynamic enough to do justice to individuality yet firm enough to account for order and stability. The dynamic economy of principles thematizes ousia in terms of praxis. This opens up the possibility of reading a more intimate link between ontology and ethics into Aristotle than Aristotles explicit statements would seem to allow. Here, however, Montaignes suggestion that no powerful mind stops within itself: it is always stretching out and exceeding its capacities may be taken to heart.37 Aristotles thinking exceeds itself; we have inherited from him a surplus of thinking. The final three chapters take up this surplus and develop it in a direction that Aristotle himself would not likely have endorsed. Nevertheless, the text that he has left us offers significant signposts leading in the direction that will be suggested. In the Metaphysics, Aristotle seems to affirm individuality over universality, so that the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia remains undischarged. The problem that then emerges is, how is ontological knowledge at all possible? If, as the middle books of the Metaphysics suggest, finite, sensible ousia is understood as praxis, then perhaps the nature of ontological knowledge lies not in episteme \ \ but in phronesis, \ the sort of practical knowledge that Aristotle develops in the Nicomachean Ethics to cope with the more dynamic and contingent principles endemic to human praxis. Taking up this suggestion

The Legacy of Ousia

17

in chapter 7, we turn to the discussion of actual knowledge in Metaphysics XIII.10, where Aristotle seems to suggest the possibility that there may be a sort of knowledge directed toward the individual itself. The discussion of the Metaphysics is then linked to the Nicomachean Ethics by drawing out the similarities in vocabulary between the Metaphysics and Ethics and by emphasizing the parallel distinctions they establish between praxis and motion and praxis and production, respectively. This is designed to support the bold suggestion that the Ethics may be read as the natural, albeit unrecognized, culmination of the ontological analysis of sensible ousia found in the Metaphysics. Once this is accomplished, chapter 8 develops and further draws out the implications of this reading for ontology by outlining the basic structure of Aristotles conception of phronesis \ as developed in the Nicomachean Ethics. Here a detailed discussion of the specifically ethical significance of phronesis \ is presented within the framework of Aristotles own ethical theory. The analysis is guided by the suggestion that in this text Aristotle points to a form of knowledge that is neither totalizing nor anarchic. The ontological significance of Aristotles understanding of phronesis \ is developed in the final chapter, which again moves beyond what is explicitly found in Aristotle. The significance of phronesis \ as an ontological form of knowledge is its recognition that any account of the being of an individual must take into consideration the rich nexus of relations in which that being appears, including the relation between the individual and the one making the ontological judgment. Once the central importance of the ontological encounter is appreciated, the intimate connection between ontology and ethics may be discerned, and an economy of ontological principles will emerge that is capable of critically considering the conditions of its own deployment.

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

Martin Heidegger identifies Aristotles Physics as the hidden and therefore never adequately thought through foundational book of Western philosophy, because here, for the first time, being-moved (kinesis) \ is understood and questioned as a basic mode of being.1 According to Heidegger, by approaching being from the perspective of motion, Aristotle inaugurates a long history of metaphysical thinking obsessed with causal accounts. While it is difficult to underestimate the impact of the concept of causality on the history of Western thinking, the conceptual apparatus introduced in the Physics is itself a response to and expansion upon the limitations of the bold theory offered in the Categories. This theory embraces the thesis that the ordinary objects of everyday experience are ontologically primary. Wolfgang-Rainer Mann has suggested that the unparalleled success of this thesis is indicated by the extent to which it no longer seems distinctly philosophical. Rather, it has come to be seen as the most commonsense way to understand things.2 Without indulging in the overly romantic, though enticing, vocabulary of hidden foundational books, the attempt to rethink the legacy of ousia must begin not with the account of motion and the conception of causality developed in the Physics, but with the theory of ousia as an underlying subject introduced in the Categories. Ironically, despite its success, Aristotle himself came to see the theory offered in the Categories as inadequate, and so he developed a rather different view in the Physics and Metaphysics. Yet however different the position developed in these latter texts may be, Aristotle never seems to give up on the basic intuition that ordinary beings of everyday experience contain their principle of being in themselves and thus deserve to be treated as ontologically primary

19

20

The Ethics of Ontology

in some sense. Throughout his ontological peregrinations, Aristotle insists upon what may be called the autarchy of beings.3 Indeed, this intuition, operating already in the Categories, opens up another possibility for ontology, for by insisting upon the basic autarchy of beings, Aristotle implicitly recognizes singularity, the unassailable unicity of each being. This recognition is the first step in shifting ontology away from its tendency to totalize and toward a concern for justice in which the fundamental autarchy of each being is recognized as the very principle to which ontology is ultimately accountable. However, in the Categories, although the autarchy of beings is affirmed, their finitude is denied, for the principle according to which these beings are understood is fundamentally static. The primary ousiai of the Categories are things. Each is understood as a hypokeimenonan underlying subjectthat serves as the foundation for a set of ontological distinctions that has become exceedingly familiar. On the one hand, the hypokeimenon establishes the distinction between the primary beings and their accidental properties. On the other hand, it serves as the ultimate foundation for a hierarchy of more generic concepts known as secondary ousiai that serve to delineate the more universal nature of the primary things. Let us call the mode of thought that deploys such an economy of principles foundational, designating by this term a thinking that seeks stability and order in the constant presence of ultimate underlying principles. Let us further designate the logic according to which this economy operates, the logic of things, and the sort of thinking it embodies entitative. If it is recognized, as Michael Frede suggests,4 that Aristotle was the first to take the notion of an object seriously, and thus was able to establish, for the first time, the distinction, now taken for granted, between objects, their accidental properties, and the more generic categories to which they are said to belong, then it is not difficult to see how the Categories inaugurates a mode of thinking, decisive for the history of Western philosophy, that objectifies beings by treating them as immediately existing things.5

THE LOGIC OF THINGS


Although the logic of things that operates in the Categories is exceedingly familiar, this familiarity must not be permitted to obfuscate its fundamental inadequacy. Thus as a first step in the process of rethinking the legacy of ousia, we would do well to rehearse the basic features of this logic in order to understand both its appeal and its limitations. In what follows, therefore, we are concerned neither to give a complete account of the Categories nor to identify the impetus behind the innovations Aristotle introduces there but rather to identify the nature and function of the economy of principles operating in the text. To this end, we will focus almost exclu-

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

21

sively on the foundational principle according to which this economy operates: primary ousia conceptualized as hypokeimenon. In Categories 5, Aristotle turns his attention to primary ousiai: Primary ousiai are called ousiai in the strictest sense because they underlie all other things.6 Their capacity to lie underhypokeisthaiall things allows concrete, atomic things to play a foundational role in the ontology of the Categories.7 Aristotle writes: Thus, if primary ousiai did not exist, it would be impossible for any of the others [the secondary ousiai and the accidents] to exist.8 This statement expresses the core assumption of the logic of things, namely, that all being depends upon unanalyzable atomic individual things. What permits these primary entities to play such a founding role, and how does Aristotle arrive at them? The answer to the second part of this question lends insight into the first, for Aristotles method itself determines the four basic characteristics of primary ousiai established in the Categories. It is one of Aristotles most fundamental intuitions that all philosophical inquiry should begin from that which is most familiar to us and proceed to that which is first by nature.9 The name for this direction of investigation is induction (epagoge \ ) \ . However, induction in Aristotle always has a preparatory character: it provides us with a methodological principle, a place to begin.10 In the Categories this manifests itself in Aristotles appeal to common language in order to gain access to the nature of those things that are to act as the founding entities. His procedure is to analyze the manner in which words are commonly used to gain insight into the nature of how things are in reality. Mann recognizes this when he writes: Aristotle sets out to use facts about language and its use, not to ground metaphysical claims directly, but for heuristic purposes. . . . In other words, the ontology does not stand or fall with the linguistic tests, they rather provide a route into the ontology.11 The analysis of language found in the Categories is not, then, an end in itself; rather, it is undertaken for heuristic purposes, to lend insight into the nature of reality.12 The terminology of the Categories reflects this methodological strategy quite clearly. Two sorts of predication are distinguished by Aristotle. The first, for lack of a better formulation, may be designated as said-of predication, the second as inherence-in predication.13 These two types of predication, we are told,14 are capable of being applied to everything that is, save for one basic sort of entity that falls outside of their purview: primary ousia.15 This linguistic peculiarity begins the investigation into the nature of primary beings. Taking his clue from the common manner in which people speak, Aristotle first locates the ontologically primary entities themselves and turns then to what may be considered a sort of descriptive analysis of them. This analysis involves the thematization of these entities according to four basic characteristics: (1) a primary ousia is an atomic individual and numerically one, designated here by the term tode ti, this; (2) a primary ousia has no contrary; (3) it admits of no variation of degree; and (4) while remaining

22

The Ethics of Ontology

numerically one and the same, it may come to possess contrary qualities.16 Of these, the first and last are the most significant insofar as they elucidate the manner in which Aristotle accounts for synchronic and diachronic identity in the Categories. However, the middle two characterizations must not be overlooked, because they indicate the extent to which Aristotle apprehends the primary entities of the Categories as always already determined, and thus how he is able to skirt the more difficult question of the ontological ground of this very determination.

THE DETERMINATENESS OF PRIMARY OUSIAI


The twin characterizations that primary ousiai neither have contraries nor admit of a variation of degree elucidate what it means to be a completely determinate object in the Categories. However, the significance of this determinateness itself varies slightly according to the perspective of each characterization. On the one hand, the fact that primary ousiai do not have contraries emphasizes the difference between Aristotles own conception of the relationship between the universal and the individual and the Platonic conception of participation of which he is critical. On the other hand, the fact that primary ousiai do not admit of a variation of degree underscores the fundamental distinction that Aristotle establishes between the primary things and their properties. With these two characterizations of primary ousiai, Aristotle at once distances himself from his teacher and develops a philosophical innovation all his own. In this respect, these characterizations mirror the general tone of the Categories as a whole: they give voice to what might be considered Aristotles declaration of independence from Platonic philosophy.17 As will be seen, however, a Platonic legacy haunts this text at certain decisive points and forces Aristotle himself, in the Physics and Metaphysics, to deepen his position, taking into consideration those elements of the Platonic conception of form that he deems necessary to retain without relinquishing his dedication to the autarchy of beings. Let us now turn to the first characterization that affirms the determinateness of ousiai in order to begin to see how Aristotle at once remains loyal to and distances himself from the Platonic vision of the universal/individual relation. An ousia, Aristotle tells us, has no contrary.18 Contraries are thought to be the things most different falling under a universal kindas black and white fall under the category color. Primary ousiai do not allow themselves to be categorized in this manner: For what would be the contrary of a primary ousia? For example, nothing is contrary to an individual human-being or an individual animal.19 However, Aristotle does not limit this characterization to primary ousiai; rather, he explicitly extends it to include not only secondary ousiai, that is, human or animal, for example, but also other things,

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

23

such as determinate quantities.20 The appeal to examples of determinate quantitiesthree cubits long, the number 10suggests that determinateness is really Aristotles central concern here. By extending this characterization to secondary ousiai as well, Aristotle reveals the extent to which he remains dedicated to the Platonic notion that such generic terms are determinate in and of themselves and so have a certain ontological independence. It is significant that he opts to elucidate the no contraries characteristic of primary ousia with explicit examples not of secondary ousiai but of determinate quantities, for if he had focused his attention on secondary ousiai, the question as to how such beings come to be fully determinate would have asserted itself. As will be seen, the logic of things operating in the Categories is in no position to address this issue for either secondary or primary ousiai. Indeed, to elucidate the meaning of determinateness by focusing on examples of determinate quantities is to subtly avoid the very difficult problems that arise when the question concerning how ousiai themselves come to be determined is considered. Given the nature of inherence-in predication, the existence of a determinate quantity already presupposes the presence of some underlying subject in which it inheres. The fact that primary ousiai do not allow for a variation of degree further underscores the extent to which primary ousiai are understood straight away as fully determinate atomic individuals. In contrast to the characterization of ousiai as having no contraries, however, Aristotle limits the no variation of degree characteristic to primary ousiai: It seems that ousia does not admit of more and less. By this I mean not that one ousia cannot be more of an ousia or less of an ousia than another (for it has already been stated that this is the case),21 but that each ousia, as such (hoper), is not said to admit of more and less.22 Although Aristotle is not as explicit about restricting this characteristic to primary ousiai as we might wish,23 his appeal to the earlier statement that secondary ousiai vary in degreethat is, for example, the genus animal may be said to be less of an ousia than the species humanmakes it clear that he means to designate a characteristic peculiar to primary ousiai. However, the main aim of this aspect of the analysis of primary ousiai does not seem to be to further develop the distinction between primary and secondary ousiai but rather to bring into focus the distinction between fully determinate individual objects and their properties. Aristotle was perhaps the first philosopher to take the notion of the individual object seriously enough to situate the object/property distinction at the center of his ontological theory.24 By emphasizing the ontological importance of this distinction, Aristotle distances himself from the Platonic conception of participation which ascribes primary ontological significance to the universal/individual relationship. The claim that ousiai do not admit of a variation of degree underscores the distinction between objects and their properties. This is clear from the examples he employs in this context:

24

The Ethics of Ontology

For example, if that ousia is a human-being, it cannot be more or less of a human-being, whether it is compared with itself or with another human-being; for one human-being is not more of a human-being than another as one white thing is more white than another, and one beautiful thing is more beautiful than another.25 Unlike properties (i.e. qualities, quantities, etc.), a primary ousia has a certain stability insofar as it does not admit of a variation of degree.26 This stability accounts for the privileged position that determinate objects taken as unchanging underlying subjects attain in the Categories, for it allows them to play the foundational role that the logic of things requires of them. Implicit in the notion that primary ousiai do not admit of a variation of degree is the assumption that it is the nature of such beings to remain the same through change; that is, they function as hypokeimena, underlying subjects, and serve as the static foundation of being. The tendency to seek that secure something, that ultimate foundational principle upon which all else can rest, is a fundamental dimension of the logic of things operating in the Categories. By positing things as the foundational principle of being and establishing the distinction between these ontologically primary objects and the nonessential properties that inhere in them, Aristotle is able to account for the manner in which ousiai undergo change while remaining one and the same.27 By affirming the autarchy of such beings, Aristotle is able to account for stability in change. However, the arche \ he posits for such beings is fundamentally static and thus remains incapable of accounting for anything other than accidental alteration. This already suggests the inadequacy of the logic of things operating in the Categories, for it cannot account for the finitude of its own primary things, namely, the fact that they themselves come into being and pass away.28

THE STRATEGY OF EVASION


The limitations of the position developed in the Categories gain further focus when the first and the fourth of the above-mentioned characterizations are consideredthat is, that primary ousiai are thisses, and that, while remaining one and the same, they admit of contraries. A close analysis of these two characterizations, however, finds Aristotle engaged in a strategy of evasion. As will become clear, Aristotle demonstrates his own deep dissatisfaction with the account offered in the Categories not by what he says but by what he leaves unsaid. This can be seen quite clearly by analyzing the two kinds of identity that primary ousiai display: identity at any given time (synchronic identity) and identity over time (diachronic identity).

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

25

Synchronic Identity
The question of synchronic identity is introduced in the Categories by a phrase that here seems to have a popular or at least nontechnical sense: tode ti. Aristotle writes: It seems that every ousia signifies a this (tode ti). In the case of primary ousiai, it is most undisputed and true that they signify a this; for the thing being pointed out is indivisible (atomon) and one in number.29 The rather strange vocabulary of tode ti here seems to refer to something that is a whole of some sort, obviously separate and capable of being demonstratively designated.30 Aristotle is clearly at no pains to define this term, and he simply employs it without further clarification. His silence concerning its true significance is itself quite significant. It could, rather prosaically, indicate that he has not, as yet, developed the technical sense the term will receive in the Metaphysics.31 However, in the sentence immediately following the one just cited, Aristotle is intent on ruling out the possibility that secondary ousiai deserve the designation tode ti: But in the case of a secondary ousia, though it appears to similarly signify a this with respect to the way of speaking about it, as when one says [a] human or [an] animal, this is indeed not true, but rather it signifies some quality (poion ti); for the subject is not just one, as in the case of a primary ousia, but the human or the animal is said of many things.32 This passage suggests both that Aristotle saw a potential problem here and that he was, for whatever reason, concerned to avoid it. Aristotle proposes the possibility that a species or genus may in fact deserve to be called a this in a certain sense, only to rule it out. The first hint of evasion is here manifest. Aristotle seems to have recognized that the Categories is in no position to deal with the possibility that secondary ousiai could be themselves considered thisses, because this would have given them an ontological status that the conceptual apparatus of the Categories is ill equipped to handle. In the absence of the form/matter distinction that plays such a vital role in the ontology of the Physics and Metaphysics, the Categories cannot entertain the possibility that secondary ousiai may be able, of themselves, to account for their own synchronic identity.33 In the Categories, all being is borrowed from primary ousiai. Only as the hegemony of the logic of things in Aristotle breaks down does the necessity for a distinction between form and matter gain in urgency. The presentiment of such a breakdown is inherent in the very suggestion that the species or genus may, in a certain sense, be called a this, for if secondary ousiai were given the ontological authority to account for their own synchronic identity, then the absolute ontological dependence upon the atomic individual would be called into question, and Aristotle would be forced to reconsider the precise nature of the primary/secondary ousia relationship. Such a reconsideration would call into question the synchronic identity of the primary ousiai themselves, for they would seem to be ontologically dependent to some degree on

26

The Ethics of Ontology

secondary ousiai. In fact, the introduction of the form/matter distinction, which occurs in Physics I.7, when Aristotle fully faces the problem of substantial generation, is the result of precisely such a reconsideration of the primary/secondary ousia relationship. Here in the Categories, however, the possibility that a secondary ousia may be called a tode ti must be ruled out specifically, because Aristotles thinking is fundamentally governed by a logic of things that founds all ontological identity upon primary ousiai which, in order to retain their ontological priority, must be made independently responsible for their own synchronic identity. This sort of nave notion of independence in which objects are taken as immediately self-grounded is symptomatic of a continuing loyalty to the logic of things. Aristotles faith in the immediate ontological independence and priority of primary ousiai is affirmed in the passage quoted earlier:34 The reason, Aristotle tells us, that secondary ousiai are not thisses is that they are general terms said of many things, whereas it is most undisputed that a primary ousia indicates a this straight away. Nevertheless, Aristotle does not want to reduce secondary ousiai to mere qualities, and he hints at his own ambivalence concerning his account of the ontological status of secondary ousiai in the following statement: But [human or animalthat is, a secondary ousia] does not simply signify some quality, as does white, for white signifies nothing other than a quality, whereas a species or a genus determines the quality of an ousia, for it signifies an ousia qualified in some way.35 This sentence is haunted by Aristotles loyalty to Platonic theory. On the one hand, the foundational strategy that affirms the primacy of atomic individuals makes it quite clear that the Categories cannot grant synchronic identityand with it ontological preeminenceto secondary ousiai; on the other handperhaps because he does not want to completely reject the Platonic affirmation of the ontological efficacy of universalsAristotle refuses to reduce secondary ousiai to mere qualities for this would pervert the universal/individual relation into just another instance of the object/property dichotomy. Thus even here in the Categories, the relation between primary and secondary ousiai seems to be ontologically significant in a manner in which the relation between primary ousiai and their accidental properties is not: secondary ousiai determine the nature of primary ousiai in some ontologically important way. This emphasis on the determining function of secondary ousiai anticipates the discussion of the determining nature of form in the Physics and Metaphysics.36 However, in the Categories, Aristotle avoids considering the nature of the primary/secondary ousia relation, and finding himself up against the limits of his own foundational thinking, he simply asserts that it is just not the case that secondary ousiai are to be considered individual and numerically onea secondary ousia is not a tode ti. Secondary ousiai do not have synchronic identity in and of themselves, whereas primary ousiai, being quite

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

27

obviously individual and numerically one, are independently and immediately responsible for their own synchronic identity. This, then, is one fundamental reason atomic individuals like this human-being and this horse emerge as the entities capable of founding the ontology established in the Categories.

Diachronic Identity
These primary entities not only establish their own synchronic identity, they are capable of accounting for their own diachronic identity as well. Aristotle claims that this is the fundamental characteristic of an ousia: It seems that the most proper mark of an ousia is that, while remaining numerically one and the same, it admits of contraries.37 Here a dynamic element is introduced into a discussion which to this point has focused almost exclusively on the static nature of primary ousiai. However, Aristotle is quite careful to reign in and limit this dynamic dimension of ousia, perhaps because he recognized the threat it posed to the entire foundational strategy of the Categories. The manner in which he thinks the nature of the change unique to primary ousiai is important. The basic intuition is that all change requires some underlying subject, which, while being the foundation for change, itself does not alter. Aristotle develops the notion that primary ousiai are able to admit of contraries while remaining one and the same by setting up the dichotomy between primary ousiai and accidents: A color, for example, which is one and the same in number, will not be black and white; nor will an action, which is one in number, be both vicious and virtuous; and similarly also concerning other things which are not ousiai. But an ousia, being numerically one and the same, admits of contraries. For example, an individual human-being, being one and the same, becomes at one time light but at another dark in color, at one time warm but at another cold, at one time vicious but at another virtuous.38 It is no surprise that Aristotle establishes his position concerning diachronic identity in the Categories by considering accidental change: the theoretical framework of the Categories is in no position to account for more radical kinds of change such as the generation and corruption of substances themselves. As will become increasingly clear, this is due to the Categories tenacious loyalty to a logic of things that refuses to ascribe any significant ontological efficacy to secondary ousiai. Thus the entire question of change in the Categories is treated on what may be considered the horizontal level. As opposed to the vertical level that points to the universal/individual relationship, the horizontal level points to the object/accident relationship. The vertical perspective

28

The Ethics of Ontology

accounts for what a thing is, while the horizontal level thematizes what a thing has.39 The examples that Aristotle employs in his discussion of change in the Categories refer to changing qualities and confirm that, in this treatise, diachronic identity is considered exclusively from the horizontal perspective. Given Aristotles intense interest in becoming without qualification (haplos\ gignesthai) in Physics I.7 and his deep concern to do justice to substantial generation and corruption in his biological works, it is remarkable that diachronic identity is only addressed from the perspective of accidental change in the Categories. Although perhaps surprising, it is understandable if we recognize Aristotle as engaged in a strategy of evasion that is driven by the limitations of the logic of things. Chief among these limitations is the static manner in which Aristotle conceives of primary ousia as a hypokeimenon. This conception is static, because it seeks to establish diachronic identity by identifying a principle that remains constantly present through change. The impulse behind this appeal to the static is not difficult to appreciate: it is the result of an attempt to do justice to the order of a changing world, to its regularity. Indeed, Aristotles concern to account for this order informs his entire ontological theoryfrom the Categories through and including the Metaphysics. Thus in the Categories, when Aristotle claims that primary ousiai remain one and the same while admitting of contraries, there is little doubt that he wants to locate in it the static principle capable of accounting for order in change. Yet this account cannot suffice, for the manner in which the hypokeimenon is thematized is not up to the task. Any account of regularity, of order, must account for the remarkable consistency demonstrated in the coming to be and passing away of beings. The Categories ignores this issue altogether. Rather, it presupposes the synchronic identity of primary ousiai in order then to ascribe to them a certain sort of diachronic identity, albeit a diachronic identity limited to the ability to remain the same through accidental changes. The assumption that these entities are immediately identifiable, that their synchronic identity is self-evident without further ado, allows them to play the foundational role ascribed to them in the Categories. The priority of synchronic identity determines the meaning of the hypokeimenon in the Categories, for it is only through the synchronic identity of the hypokeimonon that primary ousia wins its diachronic identity through change. Thus the most decisive limitation of the economy of principles operating in the Categories lies in its need to posit the synchronic identity of atomic individuals in order to secure firm ontological footing. Due to this limitation, Aristotle employs a strategy of evasion on two levels. First, he denies the possibility that secondary ousiai can be considered thisses in order to secure the primary ontological status of common objects of experience. Thus although the possibility that there may be a mutually determining relationship between primary and secondary ousiai is suggested, it is mentioned only to be explic-

Foundational Thinking and the Categories

29

itly denied. On the other hand, the entire question as to the manner in which primary ousiai themselves come to attain their synchronic identity in the first place is never asked. Instead, Aristotle simply argues that one of the main reasons primary ousiai are in fact primary is that they remain the same through accidental change. But the discussion of the nature of primary ousiai ends here without ever addressing the generation and corruption of the primary beings themselves. This strategy of evasion, however, is not employed without good reason. Indeed, the evasion of the first issue necessitates the evasion of the second. As long as the synchronic identity of primary ousiai is merely assumed and never explicitly problematized, the entire question of diachronic identity can only be addressed on the horizontal, accidental level. However, once the immediate synchronic identity of primary ousiai is called into question, an entirely new theoretical apparatus is required, for without this assumption, the logic of things begins to lose its explanatory power.

THE LIMITS OF THE CATEGORIES


Here we are in a position to truly appreciate the limitations of the foundational economy of principles operating in the Categories. This economy secures a firm foundation for its ontology in immediately present, fully determinate things. The term things is here deployed because, although Aristotles examples of primary ousiai in the Categories always point to individual living beingsthis human-being, this horsethese beings are objectified. Thus we have spoken of a logic of things not in order to argue that the primary ousiai of the Categories are in fact inanimate objects but rather to suggest how the economy of principles with which the Categories operates perverts the dynamic nature of these beings by emphasizing precisely those characteristics that belong to such beings not qua living but qua objects. This means, in short, that these beings are thematized as radically ahistoricaltheir finitude is systematically obfuscated. Because the hypokeimenon is posited as a static foundational principle that itself does not undergo substantial change, it is possible to thematize primary ousia as a self-grounded, independent thing whose synchronic identity is unproblematic.40 Although we have suggested that the positive dimension of such an assertion lies in its recognition of the autarchy of beings, of their irreducible singularity, the arche \ ascribed to the primary beings is fundamentally static and thus incapable of doing justice to their contingent finitude. The path of thinking traversed in the Categories has led to a dead end that forces a change of direction. We must turn then to the Physics, which introduces a new economy of principles designed to account for the generation and corruption of ousiai themselves.

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

In her book Grund Und Allgemeinheit, Ute Guzzoni captures the importance of Physics I.7: [H]ere we have the chance to attend to Aristotles teaching concerning the principles of becoming as such in the process of its coming into being.1 The impetus behind the development of this new teaching is the inability of the foundational economy of principles to account for substantial generation. The strategy of evasion at work in the Categories is no longer possible in the Physics, where the being of natural beings (ta phusika) is at issue. Although the paradigmatic primary beings of the Categories had always been living beings, the economy of principles deployed there was only capable of thematizing them as mere things, identifiable, ahistorical objects. In the Physics, this sort of objectification is impossible, for Aristotle is intent on giving an account of natural beings in terms of their becoming. This requires, as will be seen, a new economy of principles capable of capturing both the being and the becoming of ta phusika. Yet this new economy is no mere rejection of the position put forth in the Categories. Although, to be sure, the new economy develops the distinction between form and matter and ascribes a powerful new ontological role to form, it remains loyal to the fundamental intuition that however we account for the being and becoming of finite contingent individuals, justice must be done to their fundamental autarchy. Indeed, this intuition ultimately causes the collapse of the economy of principles introduced in the Physics. In order to apprehend this, however, we must attend closely the birth of this new economy in Physics I.7, delineate the structure of its operation, and trace its ultimate failure in the heart of Aristotles biological account of generation. The intent, then, is not to give a full

31

32

The Ethics of Ontology

account of the Physics but to follow the path of Aristotles ontological engagement with contingent beings as it wends its way deeper into the enigma of finite existence.

TOWARD A HYLOMORPHIC ECONOMY OF KINETIC PRINCIPLES


In Physics I.7, we find Aristotle somewhat at odds with himself. On the one hand, he remains committed to the basic notion, discovered in the Categories, that an account of continuity through change requires some underlying thing that remains the same throughout the changethe hypokeimenon. On the other hand, Aristotle seems to have recognized the inability of the logic of things to account for the generation and corruption of living beings. The position offered in the Categories must be revised, for it is unable to negotiate a way between the concern for continuity and the recognition of the dynamic nature of life. Aristotles great insight in the chapters leading up to Physics I.7 is that a third principle must be added to the two contraries (enantia) that all of his predecessors had recognized as principles of change.2 Consistent with the Categories, this third principle is called the hypokeimenon, for it admits of contraries without itself undergoing change. In the discussion of change in Physics I.7, however, Aristotle comes to recognize the limitations of this three-principle position when it comes to accounting for substantial changefor in substantial changes, the hypokeimenon does not remain the same throughout. This recognition leads Aristotle to formulate the possibility that substantial change might involve not three principles but two: the form and the hypokeimenon. The shift opens up the possibility of disposing with one of the two determinate contraries and replacing it with the concepts of form and its privation (steresis), \ the latter of which is simply understood as the absence of the formal principle. This strategic move allows Aristotle to establish a single economy of principles capable of accounting not only for the being of finite individuals but also for their becoming, for the number of principles involved in both will be the samenamely, two: form and matter. This new economy of principles may be called hylomorphic, because it is based on the distinction between matter (hyle) and form (morphe) \ . However, it must also be designated as kinetic, because it thinks beings on the model of a specific conception of motion (kinesis) \ namely, one governed by the framework of technological production. This framework lends itself to a hylomorphic conception of being in which form takes on ontological primacy and artifacts emerge as paradigmatic ousiai. Such artifactsthe statue, the bronze sphereare heuristically helpful insofar as their form and matter are readily distinguishable.3 Yet this distinction, so clear in the case of artifacts, runs the

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

33

risk not only of minimizing the role of matter in generation but also of obscuring the intimate and complex ontological relationship between form and matter that characterizes the being of ta phusika, natural beings. However, because the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles thematizes primary ousia more dynamically in terms of motion, it is far better suited to account for the finitude of ousia than is the foundational economy. In fact, with the introduction of the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles, Aristotles ontological project is both deepened and radicalized. It is deepened insofar as the primary ousiai of the Categories are shown themselves to be internally complexthey are now thematized as composites (suntheta) of form and matter. It is radicalized insofar as Aristotle is able to establish a single economy of principles capable of accounting for both being and becoming. However, what makes Physics I.7 so difficult to interpret is the reluctance of the logic of things to give way to the new economy of principles. On the other hand, what makes this text so philosophically fecund is that, as Guzzoni intimates, in the confrontation between the two economies of principles, we are given the opportunity to directly experience the very coming into being of Aristotles teaching concerning the being of beings that become.

PHYSICS I.7
Chapter 7 of the first book of the Physics may be divided into two parts. The first section (189b30190b5) offers an account of the nature of qualified or accidental becoming. Here, as will be seen, Aristotle displays his deep concern for continuity through change by positing the hypokeimenon as that principle which secures the diachronic identity of that which undergoes change. In this, the three-principle model of change is uncritically endorsed. In the second section (190b6191a24), Aristotle begins to call this threeprinciple model into questionfor he recognizes that it is incapable of accounting for more radical forms of change. In attempting to universalize the model of accidental change to change in general, Aristotle comes up against the limitations of the economy of principles operating in the Categories. The second half of chapter 7 is concerned to account for substantial generation. To do this, however, the hypokeimenon must itself be thematized as undergoing change. In the process, so to speak, the hypokeimenon is forced to relinquish its authority as the ultimate principle, the foundation of synchronic and diachronic identity. This gives rise to a new economy of principles in which the hypokeimenon is reconceptualized as the matter that takes on form (morphe,\ eidos) which, because it is in some ontologically significant sense permanent and universal, secures continuity through both accidental and substantial change.

34

The Ethics of Ontology

Part One: Qualified Becoming


In the first part of Physics I.7, Aristotle, echoing a distinction made at the beginning of Categories 2,4 differentiates between the simple and the composite. In the example of a not-musical human-being who becomes a musical human-being, Aristotle points to three simple terms: the unmusical, the musical, and the human-being. From this perspective, during the process of becoming, the human-being persists while the contrary terms, the unmusical and the musical, do not.5 From another perspective, however, Aristotle suggests that the unmusical human-being and the musical human-being can be understood as two distinct composite things existing in their own right. In this case, the process by which the unmusical human-being becomes a musical human-being is somewhat more complicated, for the thing generated seems to be distinct from that from which it is generated. This lack of continuity through change is something Aristotle is concerned to avoid. Interestingly, in the first part of Physics I.7, he focuses exclusively on the simple perspective, arguing: Of things that become in the way we say that simple things become, some persist [through the process of becoming], others do not persist; for on one hand, the human-being persists and is when becoming a musical human-being, but on the other hand, the not-musical or the unmusical does not persist either as simple or as combined [with a hypokeimenon].6 This passage indicates the extent to which Aristotles position here depends on the reification of both the underlying subject and the contraries. By focusing on the perspective of the simple, Aristotle establishes the conceptual and perhaps even the ontological independence of the underlying subject and each of the contraries. This allows him to clearly distinguish that which persists through change from that which does not. He then extends what was discovered at the level of the simple to the perspective of combined things. To do this, he suggests that the underlying subject persists through change, even when the contraries are considered combined with a subject. The guiding principle at work here is that something must remain constantly present through change if the changing being is to retain its identity. Aristotles expresses it this way: . . . with respect to all generated beings one may take the following, if one attends carefully to what we saythat it is necessary for something always to underlie that which comes into being. . . . And part [of that which is generated] persists but another part does not persist; what is not an opposite persists (for the human-being persists), but the musical or the unmusical does not persist, and neither does that which is composed from both persist, i.e., the unmusical human-being.7

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

35

The sweeping scope of this passage is remarkable. Although it seems simply to be a reformulation of the view set forth in the Categories in which the hypokeimenon, itself capable of admitting contraries while remaining one and the same,8 serves as the foundation for accidental change, this passage seems to impose the structure of accidental change upon all change, including generation itself. This is made explicit in the paragraphs that follow. After mentioning a few peculiarities about the way we speak about certain kinds of change, Aristotle considers two senses of the term becoming.9 The first may be designated qualified becoming and the second becoming without qualification, or substantial becoming. In qualified becoming, there is some underlying subject that accounts for the identity of the thing through change. The reason Aristotle gives for this again echoes the Categories, because only an ousia is not said of some other underlying subject, whereas all others are said of the ousia.10 He then goes on to suggest the possibility of expanding the structure of accidental becoming to include substantial becoming: However, it may become (genoito an) evident on further examination that also substances and all other unqualified beings are generated from some underlying subject, for there is always some underlying subject from which the thing generated comes to be, e.g., plants and animals from the seed.11 In Greek, the optative mood may be used potentially to indicate future possibility or likelihood as an opinion of the speaker; its force, however, ranges from possibility to fixed resolve.12 Here, however, we may take the use of the potential optative (genoito an) to indicate a certain hesitancy on Aristotles part; it points to what may be a presentiment of the inability of the model of accidental change to explain the structure of substantial becoming. Aristotles uneasiness is implicitly expressed both by the use of the potential optative and by the introduction of the new example of the seed. Here there is a fundamental shift in Aristotles thinking. The seed does not seem to underlie change in the same way as, in the Categories, an individual human-being is understood to underlie the alteration of accidental qualities. The seed is not something constantly present through the change; rather, it itself develops and is transformed as it is in-formed.13 Thus the sentence at 190b15 marks the transition from the first to the second part of Physics I.7 insofar as it suggests a shift in thinking that, by the end of the chapter, enjoins a shift in vocabulary away from talk about determinate contraries toward talk about form and its privation, steresis \ . This new economy of principles is introduced in the second part of the chapter. The point here, however, is that the model of accidental becoming is incapable of accounting for substantial generation. The inadequacy of this model may be traced to the static manner in which it conceives the hypokeimenon. The hypokeimenon, as that which remains constantly present through change, is incapable of doing justice to the seed, which itself develops and is transformed

36

The Ethics of Ontology

in the process of generation. The hesitancy that Aristotle betrays when he employs the potential optative in suggesting that all becoming follows the model of accidental change is a harbinger of what is to come in the second half of the chapter: a break with the static model of the Categories and the introduction of a new economy of principles designed to account as much for the becoming of a being as for its being.

Part Two: Substantial Becoming


The second part of chapter 7 continues the discussion of becoming without qualification found at the end of the first part, but with a vital difference: now the three-principle schema of accidental becoming is called into question by the introduction of the vocabulary of steresis, \ privation.14 No longer is primary ousia conceived simply as an immediately and unproblematically present hypokeimenon; rather, it has become a suntheton, a composite of form and matter: Thus, it is clear from what has been said that every being in generation is always a composite (suntheton), and there is something that is becoming, and something which that becomes, and this [latter] in two senses, either the underlying subject (hypokeimenon) or the opposite (antikeimenon). By the opposite I mean, for example, the unmusical; but by the underlying subject I mean the human-being; and the shapelessness and the formlessness and the disorder are opposites, whereas the bronze and the stone and the gold are underlying subjects.15 This passage manifests both Aristotles dissatisfaction with and his ongoing dedication to the economy of principles developed in the Categories. In calling that which is in generation a suntheton, Aristotle takes the decisive step back behind the notion that primary ousia is an atomic hypokeimenon. This step back marks a fundamental deepening of the theory of the Categories, though not its outright rejection, for Aristotle remains concerned to account for determinate individual beings even as he develops a vocabulary by which to think the grounds for their determination as such. Although it is difficult to interpret precisely what Aristotle is up to in the passage just cited,16 it is reasonable to suggest that he is on the cusp of introducing the distinction between form and matter. Such an interpretation gains in credibility when, in the next sentence, Aristotle qualifies precisely what he means by antikeimenon and hypokeimenon. Formlessness is an antikeimenon, he tells us, and bronze, stone, and gold are examples of hypokeimena. If this is the case, then the economy of principles operating in the Categories and part one of Physics I.7 undergoes an important transformation here.

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

37

The three-term model of accidental change is replaced by a two-term model in which the hypokeimenon, here reconceptualized as matter, and the form emerge as determining moments of the composite.17 By giving the antikeimenon a strictly privative determinationformless, shapelessAristotle is able to do away with one of the determinate contraries that had to be somehow replaced on the model of accidental change. This shift in vocabulary is made necessary by the shift in the focus of the ontological investigation, which now concentrates not on the immediate presence of things but on the process by which the beings themselves come into being. Such beings are no longer encountered as atomic individual objects but as finite beings that becomethey are not merely ta onta, actually existing things, but also ta gignomena, generated beings. This shift enjoins a reformulation of the meaning of the hypokeimenon, because the constant, static presence of the hypokeimenon through change is itself called into question once being is thought in terms of becoming. The introduction of the example of the seed already announces this shift, for if the hypokeimenon is indeed like the seed, then it itself must be understood to develop. However, a recalcitrant dedication to the model outlined in the Categories and expanded upon in the first section of Physics I.7 displays itself in the aforementioned passage as well.18 The confusion of examples that explicate the meanings of the hypokeimenon and the antikeimenon betrays Aristotles reluctance to dispose of the three-principle model of change. At first, and consistent with both the Categories and the first part of Physics I.7, Aristotle uses the unmusical as his example of an opposite and human-being as the example of the underlying subject. This is familiar from the previous discussion, and the only peculiarity is that Aristotle now calls the unmusical an antikeimenon (opposite) and not an enantion (contrary).19 However, without the slightest hesitation, Aristotle goes on to say that shapelessness, formlessness, and disorder are opposites, while bronze, stone, and gold are underlying subjects. Here the use of the term antikeimenon gains in significance; for it allows Aristotle to step behind the tripartite account of principles. Whereas enantia always indicated two determinate contraries falling under the same genus, for example, the black versus the white, the term antikeimenon shifts the perspective by juxtaposing not determinate contraries but rather the form and its privation. This is precisely why the question as to the number of principles proves so puzzling.20 The shift in vocabulary from contraries to opposites along with the introduction of a new conception of the hypokeimenon suggest that Aristotle has implicitly recognized the limits of the theory of qualified becoming. Yet he is not quite willing to completely abandon it, for he continues to conflate two distinct understandings of the hypokeimenon. The first is fundamentally static, positing this individual human-being as that which is capable of receiving contraries, and thus as that which establishes continuity through change. The second, however, is more dynamic, for the seed points to a hypokeimenon that is transformed in the process of its own generation.

38

The Ethics of Ontology

Despite Aristotles continuing dedication to the logic of things, the introduction of the vocabulary of antikeimenon and the dynamic conception of the hypokeimenon mark a fundamental shift in his thinking about becoming and being. This shift is threefold: first, there is an attempt to step back behind the ontological priority of the immediate presence of things. This involves the recognitionalready implicit in the use of the term sunthetonthat primary ousiai are themselves complex composites of form and matter. Second, to do justice to the finitude of these ousiai, the question of generation and corruption is placed at the center of the ontological investigation. This requires an account of the being of ousia in terms of its becoming. Third, a single economy of principles capable of accounting for both the being and the becoming of ousiai is developed. Only with this third step can form and matter be understood to fulfill the function of what Aristotle means by a principle. Fritsche puts it this way: . . . for [Aristotle] the alternative is that either all moments of becoming are also principles of becoming and being, or none are; for the moments of becoming and correspondingly, the moments of being can only be named principles when all moments of becoming and only these are moments of being, of the being having become.21 The necessity of establishing a single economy of principles that can account for both the being and becoming of ousiai drives Aristotle to replace the threeprinciple model of change with a two-principle model in which form emerges as primary. The core of chapter 7 of the Physics, 190b1723, introduces this new economy. Turning to this passage, we find Aristotle pointing to the concept of form (morphe) \ in order to account for substantial as opposed to accidental becoming: Thus if there are causes and principles of beings by nature, from which those beings are composed primarily and from which they come to be not accidentally, but come to be what each of them is called according to its ousia, then everything that is generated is generated from (ek) a hypokeimenon and a form (morphes); \ for the musical human-being is composed, in a sense, of a human-being and the musical, since you would be analyzing [the musical human-being] into accounts of each of these two. Clearly, then, beings in generation would come to be from these.22 Although the use of the example of the musical human-being rather than, for example, that of the seed receiving form suggests that Aristotle still conflates two distinct understandings of the hypokeimenon, this passage subtly introduces a single economy of principles capable of accounting for the being and

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

39

becoming of ousiai. The two principles that emerge here are the hypokeimenon and the form. Yet it remains unclear precisely how these two principles can fulfill the new ontological roles ascribed to them, for there no longer seems to be something constantly present to serve as the foundation of change. In fact, however, Aristotle has already intimated how this new economy of principles might function when he clarified the meaning of antikeimenon as formlessness, shapelessness, and disorder in the previous paragraph (190b1116). This determination suggests that the presence of form will establish and maintain order through substantial generation in the new economy of principles. This is confirmed at the end of Physics I.7, when Aristotle writes: Therefore, how many principles [there are] concerning the generation of natural beings and how they are so many has been stated; and it is clear that it is necessary for something to underlie the contraries and that the contraries are two. But in another way this is not necessary, for one of the contraries is sufficient to produce the change by its absence (apousia) or presence (parousia).23 The first part of the passage responds to a historical problem that Aristotle had confronted in Physics I.6. There he had argued that all of his predecessors had posited contraries as the principles of change, but that this alone was insufficient. It was insufficient because contraries cannot act on one another but rather require some third thing on which to act.24 Aristotle introduces the concept of the hypokeimenon precisely as this third thing, and in so doing he moves beyond the various theories of his predecessors and establishes the three-principle model of change. In the aforementioned passage, Aristotle remembers this innovation and in what is perhaps the most important sentence of the entire chapter suggests that this view itself may be incorrectly formulated, that, in fact, there is a sense in which the principles may indeed be spoken of as twofor the presence or absence (apousia) of one of the contraries alone is sufficient to produce the change. Here the term apousia corresponds to the term steresis, \ privation, which Aristotle also introduces in this chapter to further clarify the determination of the antikeimenon as formless and shapeless. Thus the use of the term apousia suggests that when Aristotle introduces another way in which one can speak of the principles of change, he does not have the conception of determinate contraries in mind but rather the notion of the presence or absence of form.25 The ontological power of the hypokeimenon is thus transferred to the eidos. The hypokeimenon is no longer responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the identity of the being undergoing change; rather, the eidos is the principle by which each being achieves and maintains its identity. Here being and becoming are determined by the presence of the form. Once the hypokeimenon is understood dynamically, it must relinquish its position as a foundational principle and give

40

The Ethics of Ontology

way to form. The hypokeimenon no longer remains one and the same through change, but it itself changes when the form comes to presence in itindeed, it becomes then for the first time what it is to be.

OF THE

DOMINATION, FORM, AND THE LIMITS HYLOMORPHIC ECONOMY OF PRINCIPLES

The move from the three-principle to the two-principle model of becoming completes the turn away from the static theory of the Categories. With this turn, Aristotles ontology is set in motion, so to speak, and his conception of nature is born. While this notion of phusis is not explicitly developed until Physics II.1, the decisive move has already been made in Physics I.7 with the implicit establishment of the priority of the form over the hypokeimenon.26 This priority is affirmed in Physics II.1, when Aristotle criticizes the position of Antiphon, the Eleatic sophist who held that phusis is essentially earth, water, air, and firethat is, the material elements. That Antiphons materialist position should be criticized here is no surprise, for it bears a striking resemblance to the position that Aristotle himself had developed in the Categories and the first part of Physics I.7. Like Antiphons understanding of matter, the hypokeimenon was thought to persist while being continuously acted upon. Both Antiphons matter and Aristotles early understanding of the hypokeimenon are thought to account for continuity through change. However, with the introduction of the more powerful conception of form, the role of the hypokeimenon shifts. It is no longer responsible for the diachronic identity of ousia. Rather, the form itself fulfills this role, a role for which it is particularly well suited, given that form is thought to be intransient, permanent, and immune from the vagaries of the process of becoming.27 Aristotles critique of Antiphon in Physics II.1 is part self-critique as well. His insistence that form is phusis to a higher degree than matter accentuates the distance that his ontological theory has traversed.28 As Fritsche points out, however, this critique of Antiphon and the establishment of the priority of form is double-edged: On the one hand, the individual is saved, on the other hand it is cheated. It is saved because as a single being, it belongs to [a] universal species, which is embodied in it and in which it has its identity with itself and with others, an identity unlike that of hyle which merely negates all differences. Further, the single being is saved as an individual because it is essentially for the sake of the process of the continuation of the unmoved species. It is, however, cheated because it should only be taken seriously as an individual insofar as it is an instance of the transportation of the universal, which has no being outside of the individual.29

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

41

The ramifications of the shift in the economy of principles previously outlined are therefore twofold. On the one hand, the individual wins its identity as a finite being as a result of the presence of the form in it. By thematizing the singular as determined by form, Aristotle recognizes it as an individual, identifiable being. When this form is established as one of the irreducible and immanent grounding moments of the being of the individual, then the autarchy of the individual is recognized as itself mediated. However, this autarchy is called into question as soon as ontological primacy is ascribed to form, for the individual is then rendered nothing more than a particular instance of the expression of the universal species. As such, it is thought to exist not for the sake of itself but for the sake of the species. Here the singularity of the individual is sacrificed for the sake of the preservation of the species. The individual is rendered a mere particular. Adorno suggests both the significance of understanding form and matter as mediating moments of the composite and the dangers of positing the priority of the one over the other: However, if one takes seriously the idea of mediation, which is sketched but not fully worked out in Aristotle, the idea that form and matter are really moments which can only be conceived in relation to each other, the question as to which of them comes absolutely first or is ranked absolutely higher becomes transparent as a false abstraction. And one will trace the forms of the concrete mediation of these moments, instead of treating the product of abstraction which keeps them apart, as the only rightful source of truth.30 When seen from this perspective, there is something rather pernicious at work in Aristotles attempt to establish the priority of form over matter in the first books of the Physics. By ranking form as absolutely higher, the hylomorphic economy cuts off its capacity to trace the moments of mediation that constitute the very identity of the composite individual. The domination of form subverts the individual, reducing it to a mere vehicle for the continuing development of the eidos, the species. Here the relationship between Aristotles ontology and his biology is quite intimate. Aristotles biology, concerned as it is to account for the rigorous continuity and order manifest in generation, seems to systematically subvert the autarchy of the individual by reducing it to the movement of the species. A brief sketch of Aristotles account of generation will accentuate the extent to which the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles is founded on the dimension of domination, specifically, the hegemony of form. It will also, however, suggest the limitations of this unidimensional understanding of arche \ and point us in the direction of yet another economy of ontological principles, one that recognizes the ongoing efficacy of the dimension of domination without eclipsing that of incipience.

42

The Ethics of Ontology

CAUSALITY, KINE\SIS, AND BIOLOGY


In Book II of the Physics, Aristotle develops a theory of causality that has had a decisive impact on Western thinking. Although he clearly differentiates between natural beings, which have their principle of movement in themselves, and artifacts, which have their principle of movement only in an other,31 his theory of causes seems to be a projection of the experience of production onto the totality of finite beings. By suggesting that the four causes material, formal, efficient, and finalare capable of accounting for generation, destruction, and all physical change, Aristotle sets forth the framework from which the totality of finite beings is to be conceptualized.32 However, because the experience of human fabrication determines this conceptual framework, all causal accounts are inevitably entangled in an understanding of being native to the region of technical production.33 As Schrmann points out, with the exception of the example of the formal cause that appeals to the 2:1 ratio of the octave, the examples that Aristotle uses to delineate the causes are all taken from the sphere of human fabrication or action: bronze is the material cause of the statue, silver of the cup; the advisor is a first cause, as is the father of a baby, and health is the final cause of walking.34 As early as Physics I.7, this framework of production conditions the text, for when Aristotle asserts that the presence or absence of form is enough to produce (poiein) the change,35 the model of human technical production in which form is imposed upon matter seems to be at work. The major difference for Aristotle between technical production and the movement of nature concerns the location of the principle, not the causal structure of the motion itself.36 Indeed, the fourfold distinction between the causes is in fact reducible to the two principles of form and matter that emerge as decisive at the end of Physics I.7. After insisting that the physicist must understand all four causes, Aristotle says in Physics II.7: But three often come to one, for both the whatit-is and the for-the-sake-of-which are one, and the first motion is the same in kind as these.37 Thus the familiar distinction between form and matter may be seen already to contain in itself the basic fourfold framework of Aristotles theory of causality. However, although the ontological priority of form is here reaffirmed, this consolidation of causes is incomplete, for matter remains irreducibly necessary as a determining moment of finite being. We have suggested that what drives the shift in priority from the hypokeimenon in the Categories to the eidos in the Physics is a concern to account for continuity through substantial generation. The hylomorphic economy of principles, which posits form and matter as the two constitutive grounds of finite beings, sees the material principle not as the static foundation of change but rather as a determinable heap that comes to be what it isthat is, a fully differentiated individualonly once it has received concrete determination from the form.38 The manner in which this economy of principles operates is

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

43

made perspicuous by a brief adumbration of Aristotles account of biological generation, for here the extent to which Aristotle relies on the domination of form to account for continuity through substantial change becomes obvious. Here too, however, the limitations of the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles suggest themselves, for not only is this economy overly determined by the model of production, but also it seems incapable of capturing the full complexity of an individuals genetically inherited characteristics. The preponderant vision of generation found in the first three books of the Generation of Animals is clearly determined by the conceptual framework of production. Here Aristotle maps the relationship established in Physics I.7 between form and hypokeimenon onto that between the male semen and the female catamenia. The relationship between the semen and the catamenia is thought in explicitly technological terms: One may also take from these considerations the manner in which the male contributes to generation. For not every male emits semen, but of those that do emit [it], this [semen] is no part of the generated foetus, just as nothing comes away from the carpenter to the matter of the wood, but the shape and the form are generated from the carpenter through the movement in the matter; and his soul, in which is the form, and his knowledge [of carpentry] move his hands . . . but his hands move the tools and the tools the matter. Similarly, the nature of the male, in those that emit semen, also uses the semen as a tool in which there are actual movements, just as in things generated according to craft (kata technen) \ the tools move, for in these [tools] there is somehow the movement of craft (techne) \ .39 Although Aristotle sometimes compares the activity of the form on the matter to the action of rennet on milk such that the milk curdles and solidifies,40 this model does not reinforce the particular point that Aristotle attempts to establish in the passage just cited, for the material of the rennet itself remains as the milk solidifies, whereas the semen acts on the catamenia in such a manner that no part of its own material makeup remains in the completed product.41 It is the logos of the eidos that quite literally informs the matter presented by the female: the male contributes form alone, here understood both as genetic informer and first mover, but it does not contribute matter; this is the role of the female.42 Thus according to the preponderant view of generation, the form functions both as hegemonic and incipient principle and operates according to the model of human fabrication. Just as the carpenter imposes the eidos onto the matter by setting to work on and manipulating it, so too the male semen dominates and moves the female catamenia. However, the story of generation is not as simple as the preponderant, technological model would have us believe. For Aristotle, males are capable of

44

The Ethics of Ontology

concocting, forming, and discharging semen, which carries with it the principle of the eidos or species.43 This semen, which Aristotle is careful to insist is the moving cause with the power to produce (poiein) in itself or in another, seeks to master the female catamenia, which receives [the semen], but is not able to form or discharge it.44 The ideal case would be that the semen is hot enough to fully dominate the matter and produce a male specimen as similar as possible to the father. On the technological model of generation, it is difficult to see why this does not simply happen each time the semen comes into contact with the catamenia. The fact that it manifestly does not leads Aristotle to reconsider the preponderant model. This is done primarily in GA IV.13, where a far more complex picture of generation emerges that is designed to account for (1) how male and female beings are generated, (2) how family resemblance comes about, and (3) how deformed beings and monstrosities are born.45 A basic summary of the explanation may be given as follows: the semen carries with it genetic information or capacities (dunameis) corresponding to the particular male from whom it comes. This information is not only peculiar to the individual male, for example, Socrates, but it also includes more generic genetic information, for example, maleness, human-being, animal, and so on. Furthermore, there is also contained in the semen capacities related to the genetic makeup of more distant ancestors, for example, Socrates father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and the like. These genetic capacitiesthe most forceful of which are associated with the peculiar individual progenitor himselfseek to determine the catamenia with which they come into contact. Aristotle claims that there are two basic ways that these capacities inherent in the semen can fail. First, they can relapse or slacken (luontai); for example, the capacity associated with Socrates might relapse into that of his father such that there will be a male resembling the grandfather. Second, these capacities can be mastered (krateisthai) in such a way that they depart from their type and shift over to their opposite. In this manner, females can be generated from males, this being already a sort of monstrosity (teras), according to Aristotle, for it marks the first departure from type. Aristotle writes: For even he who does not resemble his parents is a monstrosity in some sense, for in this case nature has departed in some way from the type. But the first principle [departure] is to become female and not male.46 Distasteful as it is, Aristotles biology considers the generation of a female specimen as itself a deviation from the ideal, that is, as a deformity. However, the way this process of departing from the type occurs is itself orderly, predicated ultimately on the ontological power of the individual male progenitor himself. Here we find an echo of Aristotles basic intuition to grant ontological primacy to concrete, determinate individuals that emerged for the first time in the economy of principles deployed in the Categories. Yet what was called secondary ousia in the Categories, that is, the genus, is here given

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

45

ontological efficacy: But both the individual (to kath hekaston) and the genus (genos) generate, but more the individual; for this is ousia. And that which is generated indeed comes to be a being of some sort (poion ti), but at the same time a this (tode ti) and this is ousia.47 In this passage, the Categories insistence that concrete individuals are substances to a higher degree than secondary ousiai is affirmed even as the ontological efficacy of the genos is endorsed. What emerges is a picture of generation that combines dimensions of the foundational and hylomorphic economies.48 Yet even here the more generic principles are not permitted to eclipse the ontological primacy of the concrete individual. In fact, the order according to which the so-called relapses and failures of mastery occur is determined by the hierarchy that posits the individual male progenitor as most ontologically efficacious. The first failure of mastery is from the male to the female, and the first relapse is from the features peculiar to Socrates to those of his more remote ancestors. To this point, however, we have not said much about precisely how such relapses and failures of mastery occur. This is because there lies in this issue a major problem for the preponderant view, based as it is on the model of technological production. If only the transformation from male to female or from features peculiar to the sire to those of more distant paternal ancestors is considered, there seems to be little for which the technological model of generation could not account. Surely the carpenter encounters a resistance in matter that enjoins the alteration of the original eidos. Such modifications might even be significant enough to substantially change the eidos itself in a manner similar to the way in which the capacities operating in the semen are mastered so as to depart from the type. Indeed, as long as we see all of these changes as being ultimately determined by the knowledge and movement of the carpenter, there seems no need to revise the technological model of generation. What complicates matters with regard to generation, however, is that there are both males and females who resemble the mother and her ancestors as well. In order to account for this obvious phenomenon, Aristotle is forced to recognize movements on the part of the female as well. The first inkling of this comes at GA IV.3 768a18, after Aristotle states that demiurgic motions from the father relapse into those nearest to themthe motion of the male progenitor shifting first to his father, then to his grandfather, and so onhe claims, and in fact in this way also among females, the [motion] of the female progenitor [relapses] into that of her mother, but if not into that, then into that of her grandmother, and so on up.49 That the motions from the female progenitor are crucial to the entire account of generation in Aristotle, and not only the account of matrilineal resemblances, can be seen from the following passage in which such relapsing is explained: The cause of the relapsing of the motions is that what acts also is acted upon by that which is being acted upon; as that which cuts is blunted

46

The Ethics of Ontology

by that which is being cut and that which heats is cooled by that which is being heated, and generally that which movesexcept for the first moveris in some way moved in return; as that which pushes is pushed back in some way and as that which squeezes is squeezed back; but sometimes, it is even acted upon more than it acts.50 This passage, as C. D. C. Reeve suggests, is unintelligible if the menses are understood as purely passive, natureless material. Rather, they are very much like Socrates seed; they are seed that is not pure but needs working on (728a2627).51 The matter provided by the female progenitor is itself worked up to some degree and as such has in itself certain capacities that actively contribute to the generation of a new being.52 In fact, Aristotle even calls the catamenia sperma that has not been fully worked up and so requires further concoction by the male semen. Already in Physics I.7 with the introduction of the example of the hypokeimenon as sperma, seed, Aristotle indicates a tendency to ascribe a certain active force to matter.53 The final indication of this active dimension of the female contribution lies in the explicit vocabulary that Aristotle deploys. Variations on the verb krateinto rule, hold sway, master, conquer, orderin the active voice describe the manner in which the male semen overcomes the female catamenia. However, Aristotle also speaks of the semens being conquered (krateisthai) in the passive voice, which suggests that something is being done to it.54 Elsewhere, like 767b23, he uses a different construction, the negative (ou) along with the active voice of kratein, to characterize what happens to the male principle. We might translate this negative construction as not conquer, thus indicating that although Aristotle had the capacity to distinguish between being conquered and simply not conquering, he often speaks of the male principle as being conquered, thus suggesting once again a certain activity on the part of the female principle.55 The fact that the conception of the material principle in the account of generation in GA IV.13 involves a certain dimension of activity causes problems both for the preponderant, purely technological vision of generation offered in the earlier books of the GA and the rather rudimentary hylomorphic account it receives in Physics I.7. The hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles is already beginning to show its limitations, for it seems to be predicated on a rather simple dichotomy between form and matter in which the form secures order hegemonically. What has emerged in our investigation of the GA is a more complex conception of the relationship between form and matter, one that in fact requires not only the presence of matter, but its active engagement with form as a determining moment of the being of the offspring. This already calls into question the ability of form, on its own, to account for continuity through substantial change. More significantly, however, it also suggests that a model

Kinetic Principles and the Hegemony of Form

47

of generation predicated primarily on the hegemony of form cannot do justice to the individuality of the individual that manifests itself as a complex constellation of both paternal and maternal characteristics. If it is the case that the material principle itself is a necessary moment of becoming and being, if the continuation and preservation of the species itself depend in significant part on matter, then it makes sense to investigate the degree to which Aristotle himself denies the material principle in order to establish the ontological hegemony of form.56 To the extent that he eschews the necessity of matter, Aristotle undermines the dynamic nature of his ontology and opts, despite the rhetoric of the activity of form, for a fundamentally static conception of the universe. To the extent that he affirms the irreducibility of matter and attempts to think the finite individual as itself the dynamic relation between form and matter, he points to yet another economy of principles, one that, it will be argued, is of great ontological and ethical significance. In the following three chapters, an attempt is made to flesh such a dynamic conception of being out of Aristotles discussion of sensible ousia in the Metaphysics, for there Aristotle suggests a profound way to understand the finite individual as the active identity of form and matter without necessitating the reduction of the latter to the former.

Prelude to a Safe Passage Two Aporiae

The foundational economy of principles gives way, in the Physics, to a hylomorphic economy in which form (morphe,\ eidos) takes on new ontological significance. We have already suggested some of the limitations of ascribing such ontological authority to form. Not only does it fail to account for the complex phenomena surrounding the genetic inheritance of specific traits, it also undermines Aristotles ongoing dedication to the autarchy of beings. By thinking the identity of the individual in terms of the hegemony of form, Aristotle renders the individual particular: the individual wins its identity only as an instance of the universal species. When, in GA IV.13, Aristotle turns his attention to the unicity of the individual itselfthat is, to the complex constellation of inherited characteristics that makes the offspring uniquehe is forced to ascribe a certain ontological activity to matter that undermines the simplistic conception of the hegemony of form on which the hylomorphic economy is predicated. Aristotles loyalty to the autarchy of beings calls the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles into question, for it renders the precise ontological status of the form ambiguous. Thus while the path from the Categories to the Physics has led Aristotles thinking into fertile new conceptual terrain, it has not clarified the precise status of the eidos as an ontological principle, particularly as it relates to the composite individual. A more systematic approach to the entire problem of the relationship between universals and individuals is necessary, for a coherent account of generation, and thus of finite ousia itself, depends upon the clarification of this relationship. Using the vocabulary developed in the Categories, we might characterize the eidos of the Physics as a sort of secondary ousia, a general principle that is

49

50

The Ethics of Ontology

there infused with the ontological power to determine the being of the individual itself. The Platonic tendency to ascribe such ontological efficacy to general terms appears already in the Categories when Aristotle insists that secondary ousiai are more than mere qualities, for they determine primary ousiai in some fundamental way.1 Yet Aristotles dedication to the autarchy of individuals remains firm even as form is granted this new ontological role, for nowhere in the Physics is the eidos thematized as existing in separation from the individual itself. Rather, Aristotle simply asserts that the immanent presence or absence of the eidos is enough to account for the being and the becoming of the individual. By continuing to insist upon the immanence of the ontological principle, however, Aristotle seems to sacrifice the permanence and stability that the eidos needs in order to function as the principle that establishes and maintains the synchronic and diachronic identity of the individual. The tension between the Platonic tendency to grant ontological efficacy to universal forms and the Aristotelian loyalty to the autarchy of beings is not simply a by-product of the clash between Platonic and Aristotelian thinking. Rather, because Aristotle has so internalized the spirit of Platonic thinking, the tension arises immanently out of his own ontological investigations. This tension gives rise to the universal/singular and separate existence aporiae that animate much of the discussion of sensible ousia found in the middle books of the Metaphysics. Thus an itinerary for the following chapters that trace the trajectory of this discussion may be located in Metaphysics III, and specifically in the manner in which Aristotle formulates the universal/singular and separate existence aporiae.

THE UNIVERSAL/SINGULAR APORIA


If, as the Greek word suggests, an aporia signifies the intellects lack of passage,2 then the universal/singular obstacle has proven to be one of Western philosophys most intractable. Let us cite the most explicit formulation of this aporia in detail: It is necessary to raise these difficulties concerning principles and also whether [the principles] are universal or, as we say, singulars (ta kath hekasta). For on the one hand, if [they are] universal, they will not be ousiai (for none of the things that are common signify a this (tode ti) but only a such, but an ousia is a this; but if that which is predicated [of many things] in common is a this and can be exhibited, Socrates will be many things: Socrates himself and a human and an animal, if indeed each [of these] signifies a this and a unity). So if the principles are universal, these things follow. If, on the other hand, [they are] not universal, but exist as singulars, they will not be

Prelude to a Safe PassageTwo Aporiae

51

known; for knowledge of all things is universal, with the result that, if there is to be knowledge of them, there will be other principles, prior to these principles, universally predicated of them.3 Before turning to a more detailed explication of this aporia, a number of comments concerning the translation of key terms must be made.

From Individuals to Singulars


In the Categories, primary ousiai are thematized as atomathings that are not capable of being divided.4 Ancient Latin translates this term literally as individuum.5 We have therefore used the term individual interchangeably with things and hypokeimena when discussing the Categories, for its foundational economy of principles operates on the assumption that the concrete, individual objects of common experience, when recognized as underlying subjects, are ontologically primary. In discussing the Physics, although we spoke of finite individuals in a loose sense, when thematizing the transformation of the atoma of the Categories into composites of form and matter, we were careful to employ the Greek suntheton. However, in chapter 1, we developed a more rigorous distinction between singulars, particulars, and individuals. There the term singular was reserved for that which escapes determination by the concept and is thus, strictly speaking, unknowable, particular for that which is completely determined by the concept, and individual, for that which, though accessible to the concept, is not itself fully captured by it. In formulating the universal/singular aporia, Aristotle deploys the term ta kath hekasta, which, strictly speaking, has the distributive meaning the things according to each. Because Aristotle suggests that if the principles are ta kath hekasta, then they will not be knowable, it seems reasonable to follow Joseph Owens in using singulars to translate ta kath hekasta in the Metaphysics. Owens argues that this is the proper English translation, because it retains an echo of the Latin singuli, the distributive numeral meaning each one.6 Although ta kath hekasta is opposed to the katholou, universal, it will be important not to reduce singularity to particularity, that is, to succumb to the temptation to think the singular merely as an instantiation of the universal. Finally, Aristotle also introduces the term tode ti in laying out the universal/singular aporia. This term will be of decisive importance for our interpretation of Aristotles engagement with finite, sensible ousia in the Metaphysics. Although the rather awkward demonstrative this may be used to translate the (also awkward) Greek tode ti, two things about the term are important to point out in this context. First, what Aristotle ultimately means to designate with tode ti is precisely what, in the strict distinction between singular, individual, and particular, we

52

The Ethics of Ontology

would designate as individual, that is, although the tode ti is accessible to the concept such that it is clearly identifiable as a being of a certain sort, it is not reducible to the concept according to which it is known. Although Adorno often mistakenly identifies the tode ti with that which is immediately given and so remains wedded to the Categories understanding of the term, he also suggests its precise importance: This concept, too, is fundamental to the whole of western thought since all references to facticity, to that there, to that which cannot be dissolved in concepts and yet for which a conceptual name is sought, originate in this word tode ti. Tode tiand this is very interesting with regard to the whole temper of Aristotles thinkingis not really a concept at all, but a gesture; tode ti amounts to this, and points to something. And Aristotle realized that a concept for this, by its nature, non-conceptual thing could not actually be formed, that it could only be expressed by a gesture.7 While Adorno is correct here to suggest that in the tode ti there is an echo of the nonconceptual, it must also be recognized as something more than a mere gesture, for it is a concept, indeed, the very conceptualization of that which always escapes the concept. The importance of this rather paradoxical formulation will become more clear as we establish the equivocal meaning of tode ti in the middle books of the Metaphysics, but its full significance will not come into focus until we address the question of ontological knowledge by turning to the Nicomachean Ethics. The second important thing to note about the tode ti is that by introducing the term in the context of the universal/singular aporia, Aristotle already hints at the vocabulary that will allow him to negotiate a safe passage between the dichotomy itself. If ousia, as a this, is neither singular nor universal, then the aporia dissolves. To delineate how ousia is in fact a tode ti will be one of the goals of chapter 6.

The Apparent Convergence of Ontological and Epistemological Concerns


Let us return, then, to the aporia itself. On the face of it, the universal/singular aporia seems to arise out of the conflict between two competing interests, the one ontological, the other epistemological. On the ontological level, the identity of each singular being must be established by its own principle in order to affirm its unicity and its distinction from other beings, for if such principles are universal, as Aristotle says, then Socrates will be many things: Socrates himself, and a human, and an animal.8 On the epistemological level, however, if the principles of beings are singular and not universal, then there will be no possible knowledge of these beings, for knowledge is always uni-

Prelude to a Safe PassageTwo Aporiae

53

versal. Thus the aporia seems to arise out of Aristotles attempt to establish an episteme \ ,\ or science, of being, for if he gave up on the possibility that such beings are knowable, then the aporia would seem to dissolve. This appearance is in once sense correct, for Aristotle most often formulates the universal/singular aporia as a conflict between the demands of ontology and epistemology. However, it is slightly more complicated than this appearance suggests, for even if, as Aristotle never would, we sequester the epistemological from the ontological concern, a specifically ontological problem would still remain. This can be seen by recalling how the economy of principles developed in the Categories collides with that established in the Physics in a manner that generates the universal/singular aporia itself. While the Categories locates the foundational principle of being in atomic individuals and gives only secondary status to generic ousiai, the Physics seems to affirm the ontological significance of the universal, here not thematized as a secondary ousia but rather as the form. Thus if we deny the priority of what the Categories calls primary ousiai, namely, atomic individuals, now understood as singulars, and instead grant ontological significance to secondary ousiai, in the Physics thematized as form and here understood as universal, then the question naturally arises as to whether the fundamental ontological principles are themselves universal or singular. Thus even without the epistemological concern, the universal/singular aporia remains in force. This is clear from the formulation of another, related but somewhat distinct aporia, in which Aristotle asks whether there must exist a principle apart from the singular that accounts for its being.

SEPARATE EXISTENCEA SECOND APORIA


Aristotle tells us that the question as to whether there must exist a separate principle to account for the being of the singular is most difficult of all and needs investigation above all.9 As in the previous aporia, this problem seems to arise out of an epistemological concern to establish the possibility of knowledge of the principles: If there is not something apart from singulars, and there are countless singulars, how is it possible to take knowledge of singulars?10 Although the focus of this aporia differs from that of universal/singular aporia, the same either/or formulation is employed: either nothing exists apart from singulars, in which case it is impossible to attain knowledge of them, or in order to secure the possibility of knowledge, something must exist apart from singulars, in which case the identity not only of singulars but also of the genera and species is called into question. However, the interesting element of the separate existence aporia lies neither in the way it merges ontological and epistemological concerns nor in the way it attempts to establish the condition for the possibility of knowledge, but rather, in the way it is maintained, even when epistemological concerns are not considered.

54

The Ethics of Ontology

The following formulation of the separate existence aporia is posed exclusively from the perspective of the ontological question of generation and not from the perspective of the epistemological concern for knowledge. Given the previous discussion of the Physics, it comes as no surprise that this formulation not only arises out of a consideration of generation but also begins to grapple with the relationship between form and matter: But if there is nothing eternal, neither is generation possible. For it is necessary for there to be something that is being generated and from which it becomes and the last of these must be ungenerable, if there is a stop and generation from non-being is impossible. But further, since there is generation and motion, it is necessary for there to be also a limit (peras); for no motion is unlimited, but every motion has an end, and that which is not able to come into being cannot be generated, for that which has come into being must exist when it first has been generated (proton \ gegonen). But if matter exists because it cannot be generated, it is yet more reasonable for ousia, which that [matter] at any time comes to be; for if neither the latter [ousia] nor the former [matter] exist, then nothing at all will exist, but if this is impossible, it is necessary for something to exist besides (para) the composite (sunholon), namely, the shape (morphe) \ or form (eidos).11 This passage is significant for at least three reasons. First, it indicates the continuing influence of a certain form of Platonism in Aristotle. Second, it hints at a way to speak about the process of generation without positing the radical separation of the form from the generated composite. Finally, in this passage, Aristotle formulates the separate existence aporia exclusively from an ontological perspective, leaving his epistemological concerns to the side for the time being. Like Janus, this passage points in two directions simultaneously. It refers back to formulations found both in what some scholars call Platos later ontology and in Aristotles own introduction of the morphe,\ hypokeimenon, suntheton distinction in the Physics.12 On the other hand, it anticipates Aristotles own discussion of generation in Metaphysics VII.79. Aristotle here recognizes that something, namely, form, must exist besides the composite if the generation of the composite is to be possible. Clearly a Platonic impulse haunts him here. Indeed, this is confirmed by Aristotles use of the word peras, limit, in close connection with form. In the Parmenides and the Philebus, Plato employs the vocabulary of peras and apeiron, limit and unlimited, when considering a variety of questions concerning identity and generation. This vocabulary is very likely to have been translated by Aristotle into the basic distinction between form and matter, the former corresponding to the peras, the latter to the apeiron.13 What makes the use of this vocabulary interesting in

Prelude to a Safe PassageTwo Aporiae

55

this passage is the manner in which Aristotle affirms the Platonic impulse without endorsing the Platonic position. He seems at great pains to suggest that the Platonists were indeed correct in claiming that generation requires an explanation in terms of eternal principles, or at least that the ground of generation must not itself come to be or pass away.14 However, due to his dedication to what we have been calling the autarchy of beings, for Aristotle this cannot mean that these principles exist in radical separation from generated composites. Aristotle affirms the spirit of the Platonic position insofar as he is not willing to give up the conception that forms themselves are not generated and have ontological efficacy, but he also establishes his own independent position by refusing to separate forms from the generated beings of which they are the principles. Thus the aporia itself already points, albeit obliquely, to a fundamentally new way of thinking about the relationship between form and matter,15 for once Aristotle locates the principles of generated beings in the beings themselvesonce he reaffirms the autarchy of beingsthis relationship emerges as the very ontological ground of the composites themselves. The second important dimension of the aforementioned passage outlining the separate existence aporia is its strange use of the perfect tense in relation to the process of generation. By insisting that generation has a limit and indeed that we can only speak of a generated being once the process of generation has been completed, Aristotle gestures to the very moment of individuation and implicitly suggests that this moment cannot itself be completely captured by the concept. We can only ever have access to that which has already come into its form. The use of the perfect tense here (gegonen) anticipates the formulation that Aristotle deploys later in the Metaphysics when he attempts to flesh out more concretely the very process by which the individual is generated. In these later passages, Metaphysics VII.8 1033b19 and IX.7 1049a1516, Aristotle uses the adverb ede \ ,\ already, to gesture to this moment of individuation that itself escapes the grasp of the concept. Such formulations allow Aristotle to emphasize the ontological efficacy of form without positing its radical independence from the generated composite. Finally, third, the separate existence aporia is formulated in the quoted passage exclusively from an ontological perspective. This is not to say that Aristotles epistemological concerns are either unimportant or secondary. Rather, it is only to suggest that the aporia of the separate existence of principles and the question as to the universal or singular nature of these principles themselves can also be generated from a strictly ontological perspective. Although Aristotle struggles with the epistemological difficulties involved in establishing the study of being qua being throughout the Metaphysics, in the middle books, where the being of sensible ousiai is at issue, his ontological concerns tend to eclipse these epistemological considerations.16 Because of this it seems wise to follow Aristotles lead by focusing primarily on the ontological concerns that animate the discussion of the middle books of the

56

The Ethics of Ontology

Metaphysics before addressing the epistemological implications of the dynamic economy of ontological principles developed there. This is not to say that the middle books are conditioned by no epistemological considerations, nor is it to insist upon a rigid distinction between the epistemological and the ontological. Rather, as we will see in chapters 7 through 9, the safe passage that Aristotle negotiates in the middle books from the ontological perspective has important and far-reaching epistemological and, it will be argued, ethical implications. By focusing on the ontological perspective in our discussion of Metaphysics VIIIX, and specifically by tracing the manner in which yet another economy of ontological principles designed to account for the being of finite, contingent beings is introduced, we are able to negotiate a safe passage through the thicket of difficulties that these texts present. This may be accomplished by taking the two aforementioned aporiae together. The universal/singular aporia provides an appropriate backdrop for tracing the path toward this new economy of principles in the middle books, for the aporia itself emerges out of the unresolved differences between the economies developed in the Categories and Physics, respectively. But if the universal/singular aporia provides this discussion with a backdrop, then the separate existence aporia gives it a sense of urgency. As mentioned, this aporia arises out of the Platonic tendency at work in Aristotles thinking that takes forms as independently existing eternal beings. In the Physics this tendency has been shown to threaten the autarchy of ousia. In the middle books of the Metaphysics, Aristotle reasserts the independence of ousia when he claims that to be separable (choristos) \ and a tode ti are its primary characteristics.17 Thus Book VII introduces the entire question of the ontological relationship between form, matter, and the composite. But unlike in the Categories, where the autarchy of ousia is simply posited, the Metaphysics thoroughly investigates the nature of this autarchy. The result is the dense and, as will be suggested later, inconclusive discussion concerning ousia found in Metaphysics VII. Thus the itinerary is set. The next chapter will be dedicated to a nonexhaustive investigation into certain elements of Metaphysics, Book VII. It will be shown that although important conceptual paths through both the universal/singular and the separate existence aporiae are forged in Book VII, no safe passage is discernible there. Nevertheless, the text sets the stage for the dynamic account of ontological identity developed in Books VIII and IX. Thus in chapter 6, we will trace a twofold strategy by which Aristotle is able to think the being of the finite composite as the dynamic identity of form and matter. This involves, on the one hand, the reinterpretation of how form is thought to exist separately from the composite and the development of the technical meaning of the term tode ti. On the other hand, it involves the thematization of form and matter as energeia and dunamis, respectively. Finally, this conception of the active identity of dunamis and energeia will be understood in terms of the vocabulary of entelecheia, energeia, and praxis that

Prelude to a Safe PassageTwo Aporiae

57

Aristotle introduces in Metaphysics IX.6 and 8. This vocabulary is important, for three reasons: (1) It provides Aristotle with a way to think continuity and generation together without violating the autarchy of the individual; (2) It suggests a way to develop a conception of identity that is dynamic without being anarchic; and (3) It points us toward the discussion of praxis in the Nicomachean Ethics, where a peculiar sort of knowledge is developedphronesis \ that will be shown, in chapters 8 and 9, to have deep ontological significance.

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

Book VII of Aristotles Metaphysics has proven to be one of Western philosophys most controversial texts. It has occupied the attention of some of this traditions greatest thinkers, and it remains today open to a wide variety of new interpretations. Its hermeneutic fecundity is in large part due to the exploratory nature of the text itself.1 In Metaphysics, Book VII, we find Aristotle at odds with himself, caught between the economy of principles developed in the Categories and that introduced in the Physics. The tension that renders this text so recalcitrant to unequivocal interpretation results from Aristotles deep commitment to the autarchy of the finite composite, his unwillingness to think the individual exclusively in terms of the hegemony of form and yet his loyalty to the Platonic tendency, expressed in the Physics, to grant form ultimate ontological authority. It is therefore prudent not to expect definitive conclusions from this text but rather to approach it as we have approached the other paths of Aristotles ontological thinking, that is, as a thinking underway. In Book VII, Aristotle allows his thinking to follow various paths in an attempt to develop a coherent account of the being of finite sensible ousia. To impose our own desire for unequivocal solutions on this text is, to reverse the traditional metaphor, to lose the trees for the forest. Thus what follows will not be an exhaustive study of Metaphysics, Book VII, but a peripatetic one. As we walk with Aristotle along the various paths of his thinking concerning the being of finite ousia, we will turn our attention to a number of the important trees in the forest of Book VII that anticipate the dynamic account of ousia set forth in Books VIII and IX. The tendency to thematize the meaning of ousia in terms of form and matter, and further to understand these as determining moments of the very 59

60

The Ethics of Ontology

being of the composite, has already been introduced by the discussion of the Physics in chapter 3. There, however, Aristotle seems to emphasize the ontological hegemony of form over matter in order to account for the continuity of the species through the process of generation. The hylomorphic economy of principles operating in the Physics thinks generation in terms of a very specific sort of kinesis: \ that of technical production. In the Generation of Animals, the framework of fabrication proved itself incapable of doing justice to the unicity of generated beings. Here the hegemony of form gives way to an active conception of the material principle according to which a certain ontological efficacy is ascribed to matter. Thus although the Physics marked a fundamental improvement over the theory of the Categories insofar as it was able to develop a single economy of principles capable of accounting for the being and becoming of finite beings, by suggesting that the presence or absence of form alone is enough to account for the identity and generation of the individual, Aristotle grants form absolute ontological priority over matter. The domination of form seems to lead directly to the totalizing concept of God, who emerges in Metaphysics XII as the first principle of order, pure activity devoid of all potency, form without matter. However, between the Physics and Metaphysics XII stand Books VIIIX, whose investigation into the being of sensible ousia diverts this simple path toward totalization in Aristotle, for these books resist the temptation to do away with matter and develop a dynamic economy of principles that thinks form and matter together as determining moments of the composite. The process by which Aristotle begins to develop this dynamic economy of principles in Metaphysics VII lends insight into the nature of the principles themselves. Specifically, the manner in which the principle of matter resists the attempt to establish the absolute hegemony of form indicates the extent to which the dynamic economy is predicated upon the preservation of the dimension of potency. If this potency is obfuscated, the dynamic conception of the archai of finite being loses its vitality, and the dimension of incipience is once again permitted to be eclipsed by that of domination. Thus one way to read Metaphysics VII is as a struggle between the hegemony of form and the autarchy of the composite, with the principle of matter caught in between. At first, Aristotle seems to think that a full account of finite ousia can be given on the basis of form alone, but just as in GA IV, this direction of thinking leads to aporia. This failure can be seen by tracing five important moments in Book VII: (1) the development of the active conception of form in terms of to ti en \ einai in chapters 46; (2) the logical treatment of definability that attempts to exclude the role of matter; (3) the turn toward the notion of generation, and the importance of embodiment in chapters 79; (4) the ultimate affirmation of matter found in VII.10 and 11; and (5) the incipient recognition of the mutual dependence of form and matter upon one another found in VII.17. Along the way, Book VII will be seen to establish the ontological equi-origi-

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

61

nality of form and matter that leads, in Books VIII and IX, to a new economy of principles capable of accounting for their identity. Metaphysics VII draws out the complexities of the form/matter relationship to prepare the way for the safe passage through the ontological side of the universal/singular and separate existence aporiae found ultimately in Books VIII and IX.

\ EINAI THE TECHNICAL SENSE OF TO TI EN


The Physics entertained an idea that the Categories was at pains to avoid: that secondary ousiai, ta eide,\ determined the being of a primary ousia in some fundamental way. If, in the Categories, all being emanated from the individual and universals were merely secondary, then in the Physics, the idea was developed that secondary ousiai, there understood in terms of the vocabulary of morphe \ and eidos, did indeed have the ontological power to determine the being of an ousia. In fact, the Physics is so convinced of the power of form in this regard that it posits form alone as the determining ontological principle of ousia.2 Thus it is no surprise that when at the end of VII.3 Aristotle considers the meaning of the hypokeimenon, he sets aside those senses of the term that point to the composite and the matterfor he claims that these are somehow clearand turns to the sense in which it indicates the form, for this is the most difficult.3 The discussion of form begins with the introduction of what at first glance seems to be a rather odd phrase: to ti en \ einai, the what-it-was-to-be. This term, which has perplexed commentators for centuries, is highly significant and in need of some analysis before proceeding to a general account of VII.46. The phrase itself suggests at once the continuity of Aristotles thinking with that of his predecessors and its innovative divergence from them. It also marks an important transition in Aristotles thinking with regard to the role form is to play as a determining moment of the being of the composite. While the phrase to ti en \ einai determines the trajectory of Western ontology by its Latin translation essentia, in Aristotles own thinking, it indicates two significant sorts of retrieval: on the one hand, it marks a historical retrieval of two of Aristotles most influential predecessors, Plato and Socrates; on the other hand, it marks a retrieval of history insofar as it affirms the historical dimension of the ontological identity of finite ousiai themselves. Let us trace these two retrievals in the following two sections before turning to a more thorough investigation of the logical treatment of the ti en \ einai in VII.46.

A Platonic Tendency, a Socratic Vocabulary


The development of the concept of form in terms of to ti en \ einai is a gesture to Platonic thinking. When seen in contrast to the economy of principles

62

The Ethics of Ontology

operating in the Categories, this gesture amounts to a retrieval of what we have called the Platonic tendency to ascribe ontological efficacy to universals over singulars. Chapters 46 of Metaphysics, Book VII, if nothing else, indicate the extent to which Aristotle has come to give credence to what was considered from the perspective of the Categories a possibility to be avoided: that forms are in some way ontologically responsible for singularsthat being flows in a multidirectional manner, not only upward from atomic individuals but downward as well. Although Aristotle seeks to evade this possibility in the Categories, there remains even there a Platonic impulse to ascribe a certain ontological significance to universals. Michael Loux recognizes both the continuity of Metaphysics VII.46 with the project of the Categories and its fundamental divergence from it. He maintains that the basic project of the two texts is the same: to locate those beings that may be considered ontologically primary.4 However, the difference lies in the fact that in VII.46, there is a sort of essentialism that is only embryonic in the Categories and the other writings of the Organon: . . . the essentialist claim that what basic subjects are is given by their infimae species suggests that those species deserve a status the early Aristotle refused to accord them. Even if we concede that species require concrete instantiations and hence depend on basic subjects for their existence, those basic subjects, in turn, could not exist without being instances or members of those same species. So, despite the fact that the Aristotle of the Categories grants only lowest-level species secondary status as ousiai, the mutual dependence here suggests a more liberal approach to the whole business of identifying primary ousiai, one that includes in the overall inventory of ontologically basic items those universals that fully mark out basic subjects as what they are.5 Louxs claim that the mutual dependence between species and singulars marks a fundamental shift in perspective from the Categories to the Metaphysics is consistent with the story that we have told thus far. However, because Loux himself is concerned to defend the notion that, ultimately, only substantial forms are primary ousiai, his analysis situates the mutual nature of the relationship between universals and the singulars they determine on the periphery.6 Nevertheless, the recognition that Aristotle is willing to grant some ontological power to universals and to entertain the idea that there may exist a mutual dependence between universals and singulars indicates the waning influence of the Categories foundational economy of principles. Whereas the Categories posited atomic individuals as the primary beings and understood all of the other beings as ontologically dependent upon them, with the introduction of the concept to ti en \ einai and its identification with the form, to eidos, Aristotle takes the first step in thinking a more complex econ-

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

63

omy of being. In the Categories being ascends exclusively from atomic individuals. Already in Physics I.7, but more clearly here in Metaphysics VII.46, Aristotle recognizes the possibility that being may descend as well; that is, that the form, here understood as to ti en \ einai, plays a vital role as a determining moment of the being of the composite. This Platonic tendency to ascribe ontological priority to universals over singulars in VII.46 marks an important conceptual development in Aristotles thinking. Ultimately, the recognition of the mutual dependence upon one another of universals and singulars, when combined with the Aristotelian affirmation of the autarchy of beings, leads not to the notion of separately existing forms determining particulars from above, so to speak, but to a thematization of the being of the composite in terms of the two irreducible and equi-original determining moments of form and matter. Thus although the development of the conception of to ti en \ einai and its identification with form clearly marks a return to a certain dimension of Platonic thought, it remains fundamentally opposed to that component of Platonism that posits the separate existence of forms. This rejection of Platonism is made more perspicuous if a second historical retrieval indicated by the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai is brought into focus, namely, the retrieval of the legacy of Socrates. Aristotle names Socrates as the originator of the way of thinking designated by the term to ti en \ einai. Socrates, Aristotle tells us, was the first to seek universal definitions by asking, ti esti, what is it?7 Aristotle formalizes this basic Socratic question by placing the definite article to before the entire question ti esti in order to create the phrase to ti estinthe what it is, often translated as whatness. The appropriate answer to the question ti estin, what is it? is the what-it-was-for-that-thing-to-beto ti en \ einai.8 Aristotle often appends a noun, such as you or Callias, in the dative case to the phrase to ti en \ einai. The result is an expression that may be translated as the what it was for you to be (to ti en \ soi einai), or the what it was for Callias to be (to ti en \ einai Kalliai).9 One could, without doing too much violence to the phrase, reiterate the noun in the dative, as if it were ellipsed: the what it was for you to be you. It is possible, therefore, that this technical Aristotelian term arose out of a common practice among the ancient Greeks originating with Socrates to seek the definition of things by asking ti estin and pointing to a particular being, such as Callias, to a more abstract concept, such as justice, or even to a common social phenomenon, such as marriage.10 The proper response would have been given by a variation of the phrase to ti en \ einai. Thus the formulation to ti en \ einai seems to have been derived from a common way of speaking about philosophy, ethics, and politics in fourth- and fifth-century Athens. It would certainly have evoked the legacy of Socrates. If this way of speaking and thinking can be traced to the historical Socrates, then perhaps there are other specifically Socratic, as opposed to Platonic, dimensions that are retrieved by the deployment of this vocabulary.

64

The Ethics of Ontology

In the two passages in the Metaphysics that mention Socrates, Aristotle reinforces the notion that there is a difference between the philosophical position of the historical and the Platonic Socrates.11 Both passages insist that Socrates was engaged with ethical virtues, and that he was the first to seek universal definitions in ethical matters. Both passages also suggest that Socrates did not hold the opinion that forms exist in separation from singulars, and that Plato, who is named only in the first passage but clearly implied in the second,12 developed his opinions concerning the separately existing ideas or forms in response to the Heraclitean doctrine that everything is in flux.13 Although the first passage only implies it, the second passage brings one of the fundamental differences between the Platonic understanding of Forms and Socrates position into sharp focus. According to Aristotle, in seeking a universal definition, Socrates, unlike Plato, never looked beyond the thing to be defined. Thus in XIII.4, Aristotle writes: But Socrates did not make the universals separate things, nor the definitions; but these thinkers [the Platonists] separated [them] and called these sorts of things the ideas of beings.14 The Socratic position mentioned herethat the universals and definitions do not exist separately from sensible thingswould have resonated with Aristotles own intuition concerning the autarchy of beings. Aristotles critique of Platos conception of participation15 and the development of the notion that the form does not exist in separation from the composite of which it is the form16 suggest that Aristotle would have been extremely interested in retrieving and preserving this dimension of the Socratic legacy. Furthermore, the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai can be seen to carry in itself the concerns of its originatorSocrates. In both passages referring to Socrates in the Metaphysics, Aristotle emphasizes that Socrates developed the ti estin question in relation to the ethical matters. Thus the origin of this, perhaps the most important term of Western ontology, can be traced back to the Socratic discussions of matters of the utmost ethical significance.17 By emphasizing the ethical origin of to ti en \ einai, we anticipate what will be argued in chapters 79: that ontology is always already ethical, because it implies an encounter with that which is Other. Every attempt to force ontology to relinquish this its ethical arche \ risks violating the unicity of the being with which ontology is concerned by reducing it to abstract theoretical concepts. Indeed, the tension between the autarchy of beings and the domination of form that haunts Aristotles ontological engagement with finite beings is fundamentally ethical in this sense. The ethics of Aristotles ontology can be discerned by tracing the manner in which he seeks to do justice to the singularity of the composite without reducing it to particularity. In Metaphysics VII, this refusal to reduce singularity to particularity manifests itself as a refusal to do away with matter, even as the ontological significance of form is established. This unwillingness to denigrate the status of matter forces Aristotle to consider precisely how the com-

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

65

posite of form and matter is possible. The problem of the possibility of the composite is what leads him to develop the dynamic conception of ontological identity found in Books VIII and IX. Ultimately, this dynamic conception of identity allows him to find a way through the universal/singular aporia and to determine the precise manner in which forms do not exist separately from the beings they in-form. To anticipate the path of our current investigation, the ethical origins of to ti en \ einai and the dynamic conception of the finite composite to which it points suggest that the thematization of the identity of the composite in terms of praxis in Metaphysics IX.6 and 8 is no mere coincidence. The ethical connotations of ti en \ einai and praxis implicitly point to the ethics of ontology and specifically to the need for a conception of ontological knowledge capable of doing justice to the dynamic identity of the individual. Such a conception of knowledge is hinted at in Metaphysics XIII.10 but developed more fully in terms of phronesis \ in Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI.

The Retrieval of History


To insist that ontology is ethical is to affirm the contingency of ontology. Ontology is contingent in the sense that it is always already situated in a particular context through which the very appearance of the beings with which it is concerned is mediated. From this perspective, another dimension of the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai manifests itself, for the little word en \ the imperfect of the verb einai, to beembedded in the term itself gestures to the contingency of this appearance. The precise explanation of the imperfect in this phrase has been the object of much speculation, and the suggestion here that it points to the contingency of being runs counter to most of it. Frede and Patzig suggest that it should be understood as an example of the socalled philosophical imperfect, which indicates a logical priority and not a temporal distinction. Arguing that there is no use of the imperfect in German corresponding to the Greek, they translate the term in the present.18 Joseph Owens seems to agree that the term should not be rendered literally as the what-was-being. . . . the Greek imperfect cannot here be taken as denoting past time. It refers in this phrase to something still present, and applies equally well to the timeless separate Forms. It indicates timeless Being, and so implies exemption from the contingency of matter and change, upon which time follows.19 While this position does find significant justification in Aristotles discussion of supersensible ousiai, and particularly in Book XIIs discussion of the prime mover,20 it betrays a loyalty to a fundamentally static understanding of being

66

The Ethics of Ontology

here indicated by the priority given to the timeless over the temporalthat is seriously called into question by Aristotles ultimate unwillingness to do away with matter as he considers finite being in the middle books of the Metaphysics. Thus while Frede, Patzig, and Owens are correct to suggest that the imperfect indicates a certain sort of ontological priority and that it must be conceptualized as something still present in the being in which it operates, the historical dimension of the imperfect tense must not be denied, for it is precisely this historical element that gives the concept of to ti en \ einai its ontological significance. Here, however, the Greek imperfect does not indicate the simple past, nor does it refer to a dead understanding of the historical past. Tugendhat says that the ti en \ einai is not to be understood in a naively temporal way.21 He claims that the question ti esti asks after a something itself, that is, after an independent being. It expects an answer that identifies, speaks to, the being as independent. The answer, however, could just be the name. For Tugendhat, the imperfect comes from the fact that originally ti en \ einai was contrasted to sumbebekos, that which has come together, or, as it is usually interpreted, the accidental property of a being. The self-sameness of the being can only be understood as what it was before it took on these accidents, before these things that have come together were there. The perfect tense in the term sumbebekos thus corresponds to the imperfect of ti en \ einai. Tugendhat goes on to suggest that the formulation does not relate to that which is radically independent, like the Platonic form, but rather it asks after the concrete individual. Thus there emerge two sides of the ti en \ einai: (1) it points to the independence of the form in itself; and (2) it points to a new conception of independence, to which the simplicity of independently existing forms does not suffice.22 This new conception of independence is the contingent independence of the finite composite. The en \ points to no nave temporality but rather to the existential temporality of the finite being itself, that is, to its inherent historicity. Thus while Owens is indeed correct to emphasize the dimension of the present in his purposefully odd translation of what-IS-being,23 the present indicated by the phrase to ti en \ einai must be understood as itself always already saturated by the past. The term announces this other conception of temporality, one intimately tied up with contingent being.24 If one attends to the fact that the imperfect en \ has a progressive/repeated aspect, then one can hear this historical dimension built into the present. The progressive/repeated aspect of the en \ points to the mediated nature of the present; it suggests that the history of a being contributed and continues to contribute to the identity of the being itself. Such a being has a to ti en \ einai because it is a historical being; it is a being with a history. Thus part of the answer to the what is it? question is sought in the ti en \ einai, the what-it-was-(for-a-being)-to-be. If this ambiguous reference to the historical past endemic to the imperfect built into the term to ti en \ einai is permitted to be held, then the philosophical signifi-

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

67

cance of this term comes into focus: it points to the historicity of every ontological determination of the finite composite. The introduction of the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai indicates the distance we have come from the position of the Categories, which was only capable of considering primary ousia from an ahistorical, purely synchronic perspective. Yet we have also come some distance from the position developed in the Physics, for there Aristotle simply appeals to the presence or absence of form to account for diachronic identity without recognizing the important ontological role that the material principle plays in the ontological identity of composites. Although the ontological efficacy of matter is hinted at in the Generation of Animals, it does not really come clearly into focus until Metaphysics VII and the ultimate failure of Aristotles attempt to give a purely formal account of the ti en \ einai of finite composites.

THE FAILURE OF A PURELY \ EINAI LOGICAL ACCOUNT OF TO TI EN


Chapter 4 of Book VII announces that the investigation into the nature of the to ti en \ einai will begin with some logical remarks.25 However, in clarifying the meaning of the term, Aristotle uses the concrete example of the what it was for you to be you: The ti en \ einai of each thing is what the thing is said according to itself (kath auto). For the ti en \ einai for you is not to be a musician, for it is not according to yourself that you are a musician. The [ti en \ einai] then is [what you are] according to yourself.26 Although it might at first appear strange that after announcing that he will make some logical remarks on the subject, Aristotle deploys such a concrete and personal example, the genealogy of the formulation outlined earlier accounts for this: the Socratic refusal to disengage the search for definitions from the concrete world of ethical affairs continues to operate even as the ti en \ einai is given a technical and an ontological determination. Throughout the next three chapters, Aristotle does indeed offer a logical account of the meaning of to ti en \ einai by focusing on the question of definability. While all of the intricacies of this complicated argument need not concern us here, it is important to highlight one difficult and important caseAristotles favorite example of snubnessin order to elucidate the ultimate failure of a purely logical approach to the definition of concrete, finite beings. This question, in turn, illustrates the extent to which Aristotle refuses to think the nature of ousia as pure form but rather himself takes the much more difficult road of affirming both form and matter as irreducible principles of ousia. The story that Aristotle tells us about snubness indicates the first steps toward the recognition, found in VII.11, that to try to reduce all things and to do away with matter is a useless effort.27 Not surprisingly, between this

68

The Ethics of Ontology

story and its conclusion lies a discussion of the generation of natural beings, and it is here, in what Ferejohn has called Aristotles physical investigation into the meaning of to ti en \ einai, that another, more dynamic economy of ontological principles begins to come more clearly into focus.28

The Snub
It is a rare moment in the history of philosophy when wit and theoretical profundity unite in a single example. The case of the snub is such a moment. Aristotles appeal to the example of the snub is a not-so-concealed reference to Socrates, who, we are told, had a snubbed nose and was thought by some not to have been beautiful because of it.29 One is tempted to imagine the peripatetic pupils having a laugh about the oddity of it, and Aristotle along with them. And yet, the issue signified by the snub was of deep philosophical importance, a point that Aristotle, once the giggles had subsided, would surely have emphasized. This emphasis on seriousness, sequestered from all echoes of laughter, is the inherited vision of Aristotle, but with a little imagination, the humor and the vitality of the example can be retrieved.30 The case of the snub defies formal logic, and this is precisely the point. If we attend to the argument surrounding the aporia of the snub, then we will soon see that it remains intractable as long as it is approached from a purely logical, that is, exclusively formal, perspective. Ferejohn argues that the discussion of snubness found in VII.5 leads to problems that are only solved in VII.10 and 11.31 This solution, however, is only understandable when viewed through the lens of the discussion of generation found in VII.79. He argues that while the purely logical account of the attempt to define composites results in an unacceptable infinite regress, the physical account introduced in VII.7 avoids the regress by offering a way to refer to the material principle in defining the composite. Thus the path of thinking beginning in VII.5 and proceeding through VII.79 to VII.1011 leads increasingly to the recognition that finite sensible ousia cannot be ontologically determined exclusively in terms of form. VII.5 begins by reaffirming the notion established in VII.4, that the what-it-was-for-something-to-be cannot involve reference to an additional element external to the thing itself. Thus the what-it-was-for-a-human-tobe-a-human cannot be obtained by reference to any of its accidental qualities.32 The denial of this possibility, which Aristotle calls definition by addition, seems to suggest that only simple things can have a ti en \ einai. At 1030a6ff., Aristotle makes the following point: Thus, there is a ti en \ einai of however many things [there are] whose account is a definition. However, there is not a definition if the name

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

69

and the account signify the same thing . . . but whenever [the name and account] signify something primary; but these sorts of things are the ones that are said not to be predicated of some other thing. Thus, the ti en \ einai will belong to nothing that is not a species of a genus, but only to a species of a genus. The vocabulary of the Categories resonates in this passage, and yet it seems transformed. The idea that primary being is not said of something else remains in force, and so too does the vocabulary of to eidos, which, significantly, can mean either form or species. However, here, ontological priority is granted to the eidos, and the position that the atomic individual has exclusive ontological priority seems to have been relinquished. Given Aristotles trenchant commitment to the autarchy of beings, he cannot jettison completely the ontological power of the singular. Yet the precise manner in which the identification of the ti en \ einai with the eidos can be reconciled with Aristotles own earlier affirmation of the primacy of atomic individuals in the Categories is not immediately clear. At first glance, the discussion of the snub in VII.5 does not seem to offer new insights into the possibility of such a reconciliation. Rather, Aristotle argues that the attempt to define the snub exclusively in terms of form leads to an infinite regress. Whatever the specific problems of the muchdebated intricacies of this infinite regress, it appears that Aristotle concludes this chapter convinced that snubness cannot be defined and thus has no ti en \ einai.33 However, if snubness does not have a ti en \ einai, then it is a real problem, for if only a substance has a ti en \ einai, and beings like the snub are shown not to have a ti en \ einai, then beings like the snub are not substances. Again, at first glance, this conclusion does not seem particularly disturbing or profound. Who would lament the demotion of the snub to sub-ousia status? It is not as if this argument accuses Socrates himself of being less than a substance, just his nose. Or does it? The ontological implications of this position and of the example invoked by the snub become evident when it is recognized that Aristotle often employs the example of the snub as analogous to ta phusika, physical beings. Take this poignant passage from Metaphysics VI.1: If, then, all physical things are spoken of in a manner similar to the snub, as for example a nose, an eye, a face, flesh, bone, and in general an animal, a leaf, a root, a bark, and in general a plant (for the account of these is not without motion, but always has matter), it is clear how it is necessary to seek and define to ti esti (the what it is) with respect to physical things and why it is [part] of the physicists [task] to investigate also some part of the soul, namely, that which does not exist without matter.34

70

The Ethics of Ontology

The breadth of this analogy is striking. Aristotle moves from the parts of the living beings to the living beings themselves. The decisive factor, however, seems to be the role of matter, for matter must be mentioned when the ti en \ phusikois einai, the what it was for natural beings to be natural beings, is sought. However, in VII.5, this turns out to be highly problematic. In fact, it is precisely because the nose (material principle) must be mentioned in the attempt to ascertain the ti en \ einai for the snub that the pernicious infinite regress of noses results. There Aristotle suggests the ridiculous result of trying to define the snubwhich, in virtue of itself, already includes reference to the nose (its matter)in terms of concavity, that is, purely in terms of its form. Concavity and the snub are not the same, for the latter includes reference to matter, while the former does not. If we identify them and talk of a snub nose, then we will be redundant, saying the same thing twice: a concave nose nose. Aristotle concludes: so it is absurd that a ti en \ einai should inhere in these sorts of things [namely, the snub]; otherwise, it goes into infinity, for in a snub nose nose there will be yet another [nose].35 That there are too many noses may not seem too problematic at first after all, what larger significance could such a patently ridiculous logical regression have beyond the sphere of logic itself? However, if we recall the parallel that Aristotle himself draws between physical beings and the snub and further, if we recognize that throughout his writings Aristotle holds natural beings as the paradigmatic examples of ousiai, then the infinite proliferation of noses must be seen as a profound philosophical problem. Further, it must be understood as a problem that, at least in Aristotles view, could not be solved from the perspective of the logical analysis of the ti en \ einai alone. Another approach is needed. To suggest such another approach is the function of chapters 79 of Metaphysics, Book VII.

\ EINAI THE PHYSICAL TREATMENT OF TO TI EN


The origin and status of VII.79 within the context of Book VII as a whole is a matter of much conjecture.36 Without becoming mired in the controversy, we may concur with those who believe not only that Aristotle himself inserted these originally independent chapters into their present context, but also that these chapters are of fundamental importance to the argument of Book VII as a whole.37 The discussion found in Metaphysics VII.79 must not, however, be seen exclusively within the framework of Book VII but also from the larger perspective of the overall trajectory and direction of Aristotles thinking concerning finite being. The turn to the question of generation is not only a turn toward what Ferejohn calls the physical mode of analysis, although it is that tooand importantly sobut it is also the continuation of a path of thinking running from the Categories through Physics I.7 concerned to think the diachronic identity of ousiai as generated beings.

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

71

The problem of the finitude of ousia pushes Aristotles thinking toward its most profound discoveries. Ultimately, to account for the diachronic identity of generated ousiai, Aristotle must come up with a dynamic conception of the identity of form and matter that, on the one hand, is capable of accounting for the appearance of the new, and, on the other hand, is able to explain how this new being is at the same time principledthe result of a predictable, regular process. This dynamic conception of identity is not, to be sure, established in VII.79, but an important step toward it is taken: the explication of how, when attempting to locate the ti en \ einai of natural beings, the material principle may be mentioned. As can be seen, this question, rather than being disruptive, follows directly upon the discussion found in VII.46 and particularly upon the problems surrounding the snub. Here, however, a solution to the problem of the snub is discovered, because the analysis proceeds from a physical perspective in which there appears to be a way to make mention of the material principle in defining composite ousiai without falling into an infinite regress of noses.38

The That-en Example


This possibility is introduced by the question that appears to be in the background of the entire discussion of the snub: must matter be mentioned in the account of the composite? Aristotle suggests that a bronze sphere, for example, can be defined in both ways (amphoteros) \ by mentioning both (kai) its matter and (kai) its form.39 Thus he concludes that the bronze sphere has matter in its formula.40 By addressing the problem of definition from the physical rather than the purely logical perspective, Aristotle is able to develop a way of mentioning the matter in a definition without falling into the regress dilemma of the snub. This new sort of definition involves the employment of the adjective derived from the name of the matter out of which the being is generated: In some cases, once a thing has been generated, that from which, as matter, it is generated is called, not that but that-y (or that-en) [ekeininon]; for example, the statue is called not stone, but stony.41 Immediately after making this statement, Aristotle considers a complication of this position. In some cases, this peculiar linguistic phenomenon does not seem to occur. The example to which Aristotle appeals is that of the sick person who becomes healthy. In such cases, after the change has occurred, it is linguistically impossible in Greek as in English to point to the material principle by the adjectival formulation. Aristotle is clear in the following: . . . the cause [of this] is that [the sick human-being] comes to be healthy from the privation and the underlying subject (ek tes\ stereseo \ s\

72

The Ethics of Ontology

kai tou hypokeimenou), which we call matter (for example, both the human-being and the sick become healthy), but [the human-being] is called healthy more from the privation than from the underlying subject, for example, [the human-being] becomes healthy from being sick rather than from being a human-being.42 Here Aristotle seems to have in mind the model of qualified or accidental becoming, discussed in Physics I.7.43 According to this model, one determinate contrary, in this case the sick, is replaced by another, the healthy, while the hypokeimenon, the human-being, remains throughout the change. Here as there, Aristotle attempts to establish a parallel between this sort of becoming and substantial becoming, between alteration and generation. Thus he argues that because in most cases of generation there is no clear name for the privation, it makes sense that the adjectival formulation is constructed, and that the material principle comes to play the role of the that from which. In this way, the linguistic practice of employing the adjectival reference to matter when defining a composite ousia that has been generated is explained by the more familiar and perhaps heuristically more accessible example of accidental change. Thus as he had attempted and failed to do in Physics I.7,44 Aristotle again suggests that there is an analogy to be made between the sick/healthy change and the generation of composites: So, just as a healthy human-being who became so from being sick, is not called a sick human-being, so the statue is not called wood but (by varying the word) wooden, not bronze but brazen, not stone but stony, and the house [is called] not bricks but brick-en; for when one looks carefully, he would not say simply [the bronze becomes a statue or the bricks a house] for it is necessary for that which becomes to change and not remain.45 As suggested in chapter 3, this analogy is fundamentally misleading, and it points to a persistent, albeit waning, unwillingness on Aristotles part to think the fundamental difference between alteration and generation.46 As long as he remains faithful to the logic of things, that is, to the three-principle structure of alteration that was called into question already in Physics I.7, then this difference will remain eclipsed. The dynamic identity of the composite itself only comes into focus once Aristotle sheds his loyalty to the model of alteration. The attempt once again, as in Physics I.7, to give an account of finite, generated beings by an analogy with mere alteration indicates the continuing influence of the logic of things and the foundational economy of principles developed in the Categories. Aristotle seems unwilling to recognize that the model of change differs significantly from that of generation, although there are structural similarities. The difference between alteration and generation is

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

73

not made completely evident until Metaphysics, Book IX, when Aristotle finally develops the distinction between motion (kinesis) \ and activity (energeia). However, this distinction has already been suggested by the discussion of generation found in GA IV.13, where the kinetic model, founded as it is on the framework of fabrication, was shown to be limited because of its inability to account for the full range of inherited characteristics endemic to a given individual. At this point, however, one element of the difference between alteration and generation can be seen in what we may thematize as the step back behind the immediacy of things. The discussion of generation must address beings from a perspective that locates the determining moments of finite being in the beings themselves. Thus the real significance of the adjectival formulation introduced in VII.7 is that it offers a way to recognize matter as itself a determining ground of the composite. The point to which Aristotles thinking leads is that matter and form are the two irreducible determining moments of ousia; that it is, as he himself finally says in VII.11, a useless effort (periergon) to reduce all things and do away with matter.47 From this perspective, however, the impetus behind the analogy between the alteration from the sick to the healthy and the generation of the statue out of wood, though misguided, is recognizable: it is driven by a concern to maintain continuity through change. Indeed, the main reason these two examples can be seen as analogous is that they both establish continuity by appealing to a static, foundational principle. The health example appeals to the humanbeing as the hypokeimenon and the statue example to the idea in the mind of the sculptor as the persistent eidos. Aristotles reliance on the models of alteration and fabrication, for all of its drawbacks, does have the virtue of securing continuity through change. This seems to be the single greatest obstacle hindering the development of a more dynamic conception of ousia. However, the adjectival approach to defining generated composites seems to open up the possibility of affirming continuity through change while at the same time granting a definite difference or discontinuity between the first and the second state. Such a discontinuity is precisely what the models of alteration and fabrication lack and the phenomenon of generation demands. Thus in the example of the sick person becoming a healthy person, the hypokeimenon, the human-being, does not itself change. Rather, it remains constantly present throughout the change, and to this extent it can secure the identity of an object through accidental change. If, however, the phenomenon of generation is taken seriously, then this model will not do, for some account will have to be given for the fact that the hypokeimenon itself changes. In such cases, the adjectival reference to the material principle has the distinct advantage of indicating both continuity and difference. The statue does not remain constantly present through the change as the human-being does in the aforementioned example. Rather, it is generated as form and matter enter into relation. In such cases, the matter itself changes, and this change is reflected linguistically in the adjectival

74

The Ethics of Ontology

formulation: we do not say that the statue is wood but that it is wooden. The variation of the word indicates that there is both a continuity between what the composite substance was, namely, wood, and what it has become, that is, a wooden statue. Thus there is a gesture to the history of the statue itself, a gesture which, from the perspective of the material principle, mirrors what the development of the concept of to ti en \ einai established from the perspective of the formal principle. Here, as there, the concern is to locate a principle that is dynamic without being anarchic, to suggest that part of what it means for a finite being to be is to have been generated out of some identifiable matter, and this to such a degree that this matter must somehow find its way into the definition of the being itself. So just as the very notion of the ti en \ einai served to affirm the historicity of finite beings from the perspective of form, the adjectival reference to matter in the definitions of such beings affirms the same historicity from the perspective of their material principle. With this, the path back behind the static framework of the Categories is further pursued. However, an ambivalence remains. In Physics I.7, Aristotle betrays his own uncertainty about the analogy between alteration and generation by employing the potential optative when he suggests that all beings are generated from some underlying subject the way human-being underlies the alteration from being unmusical to being musical (or, as here, from being sick to being healthy).48 Here the same analogy is made once again, but its limitations are more evident. While it is true that the role of the hypokeimenon must be affirmed insofar as it secures continuity through change, the manner in which this is understood in the two cases is quite different. On the model of alteration, the hypokeimenon remains throughout the change; on the model of generation, however, the hypokeimenon must be understood dynamically, for it itself changes. In the face of this dynamism, Aristotle attempts to appeal to the hegemony of form to secure continuity. Thus in order to elucidate the nature of generation, he constantly refers to examples taken from the region of technological production, for here the manner in which the form plays this founding role is relatively obvious. With the introduction of the that-en vocabulary, Aristotle seems to recognize, as he had in GA IV.13, that matter too plays an ontologically determining role, and that a full account of the being of the individual cannot be given on the basis of the hegemony of form alone. Here again the problem of continuity through substantial change rears its head, for the form can no longer fulfill its function as the ultimate static foundational principle. To address this concern for continuity, there seems to emerge an implicit appeal to the historicity of each being. The suggestion here is not that Aristotle himself explicitly developed the ontological implications of this sort of historicity, but rather (1) that there is a notion of historicity implicit in the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai and in the introduction of the vocabulary of ekeininon that can be employed to address the problem of diachronic iden-

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

75

tity, and (2) that the appeal to the historicity of being in attempting to address the concern for continuity is fundamentally more philosophically fecund than Aristotles ultimate answer to the same concern: the positing of a single foundational, hegemonic principleGod as pure form. The notion that each being has its history, and this in the double sense that both the formal and material principles determine the being of ousia, allows for continuity through change without relying on a static, foundational conception of either the hypokeimenon or the eidos. This requires, however, the development of the more dynamic economy of principles introduced in Metaphysics, Book VIII and IX, in which the principles of matter and form, there translated into the vocabulary of dunamis and energeia, emerge as grounding moments of the composite. Here, however, it is important to follow the path of the argument for the irreducibility of matter to its conclusion, for in VII.10 and 11, Aristotle comes to recognize form and matter as equi-original grounding moments of the finite composite.

FORM AND MATTER: EQUI-ORIGINAL GROUNDING MOMENTS


In Metaphysics VII.1011, Aristotle addresses a question that he attempts to avoid in the Categories. In chapter 5 of the Categories, he warns: Let us not be confused by the thought that the parts of a substance are in the whole substance as if present in a subject and be forced to say that those parts are not substances.49 Clearly Aristotle has no desire to address the real problems that such a confusion would generate for the foundational theory of the Categories. In Metaphysics VII.1011, however, he is in a better position to address the issue because he has recourse to the form/matter distinction. Indeed, without this distinction and the equally important discussion of finite, generated substances in VII.79, the problem as to precisely how ousiai are to be understood as having parts would remain intractable. In the end, Aristotle was right to evade this issue in the Categories.50 However, with the form/matter distinction in mind, and further, by returning to the paradigm example of the snub, Aristotle is able to develop a functional analysis of ousia grounded in the mutual dependence of form and matter upon one another. He begins his discussion by drawing a distinction between two senses according to which something may be said to be a part: . . . in one sense even matter is called a part of something, while in another sense it is not, but [the only parts] are the things out of which the account of the form [consists]. For example, flesh is not a part of concavity (for flesh is the matter in which concavity comes to be), but it is a part of snubness; and of the composite statue the bronze

76

The Ethics of Ontology

is a part, but it is not a part of that which is called the form of a statue. (For what must be said is the form or the singular as having the form, but the material part should never be stated by itself ).51 The examples of concavity and snubness from VII.5 return here with a new sense of optimism: they no longer signify the ominous prospect of infinite regress; rather, they are used by Aristotle to clarify two ways of understanding matter: (1) as radically separated and independent from the form and (2) as intimately related to the form. Concavity clarifies the first, primarily logical, approach to the question of definition, for in defining what-it-was-for-concavity-to-be-concavity, one arguably does not need to mention matter at all.52 Snubness clarifies the second, primarily physical, approach to the question of definition, for snubness is used as an example of something whose ti en \ einai requires the mention of matter. The question Aristotle faces here concerns how it is possible to give an account of the formula of those sorts of beings that display the structure illustrated by snubnessthat is, of beings essentially composed of form and matter. In order to answer this question, the precise ontological role that matter plays in the being of the composite must be delineated. Aristotle begins to clarify this by developing a functional analysis of the composite: And since the soul of animals (for this is the ousia of an ensouled being) according to its account (logos) is the ousia or the form or the ti en \ einai of this sort of body, each part of the latter, when it is defined well, will not be defined without its function (ergon), and this function cannot inhere in that part without sensation; the result is that while the parts of the soul, either all or some of them, are prior to the composite animal (and similarly in other singulars), but the body and its parts are posterior to this ousia, and it is not the ousia but the composite that is divided into these parts as into its matter. On one hand these [material parts] are prior to the composite, but on the other hand, they are not. For it is not possible for them to exist having been separated [from the whole]; for the finger of an animal does not exist in any manner whatsoever, but it is only equivocally [called a finger] if it is dead.53 This passage is cited at length not only because of its significance in addressing the question of the role matter plays in the definition of a composite, but also because it elucidates what seems to be an ambiguity in Aristotles thinking concerning the precise way to think about this role. Aristotle posits two senses of parts here. The first refers to the parts of the account, that is, in this passage, to the possibility that the soulwhich is the ousia according to the account (logos) of living beingsmay itself have different parts. Let us, with

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

77

Aristotle, leave aside the difficult question of the parts of the soul.54 The second, and, in this case, more germane, sense of parts refers to what Aristotle calls parts as matter.55 The ambiguity concerning matter manifests itself in the second sense of parts, for, as the passage suggests, there is a sense in which these parts are both prior and posterior to the composite. Aristotle seems to suggest that, on the one hand, the proximate matter out of which a composite is generated has an independent existence prior to its being worked up into a composite. Thus taking the standardthat is, inappropriate but heuristically helpfulexample of the statue, the bronze of the statue has an existence independent of the composite (i.e., the statue itself ) before it is worked up into being a statue.56 So too, employing a more germane example, the female menses has an independent existence before the period of Love57 during which it encounters and is worked up by the male semen. However, on the other hand, Aristotle goes on to argue that in another sense the parts as matter are not really what they are until they have been worked up into a composite. Thus the flesh and bone that will make up the finger of a body is not truly a finger until it has been worked up by the form and has a function in the context of the organism as a whole. Conversely, the finger is not truly what it was once it has been cut off from the organism, that is, once it is no longer in its functionen-ergeia, actual. The function, ergon, of the part with respect to the whole is so fundamental that when separated, the part itself ceases to be what it was. The ontological significance of this functional analysis lies in its recognition that the composite is only what it is as long as form and matter maintain their relationship with one another, and further, that this relationship must be understood actively. Here, ousia is beginning to be thought dynamically. Thus it is no surprise that in VII.16, when Aristotle thematizes ousia in terms of dunamis, he emphasizes the relation between form and matter as that which is responsible for the working up of the composite: It also appears that most of the things that seem to be ousiai are potentialities (dunameis). These are the parts of animals (for none of them exists as having been separated, and whenever they are separated, even then, they all exist as matter), and earth, and fire, and air; for none of them exist as one, but they exist like a heap until they are worked-up (pephthe) \ and some unity is produced out of them.58 Here Aristotle seems to suggest the importance of the motion of the form. It is form that works-up or concocts the matter, rendering it something determinate, and not just a mere heap. It is the motion of form that acts as the incipient principle of the newly generated composite. However, it is equally evident here that the matter is necessary, for indeed, if there is nothing to be worked up, then there will be no composite substance in the first place. This

78

The Ethics of Ontology

fact had been recognized by Aristotle in Book VII, chapter 8, where he intimated that the form itself depends on matter, that it does not indeed exist in separation from that which it in-forms: It is clear from what has been said that, on one hand, what has been called form or ousia is not generated; on the other hand, the composite, which is spoken of according to that [ousia], is generated, and that in all generated beings there is matter, there is [one dimension] that is this [i.e., matter] but another that is that [i.e., form]. Does a sphere, then, exist apart from these [material parts], or a house apart from the bricks? Or, would [the composite] never be generated if [the form] thus existed apart as a this (tode ti) ? But [the form] signifies a such, and this is not a this and a definite thing; and what [the artist] makes and [the man] begets is a such from a this, and whenever there is generation, there exists a such this. Thus, the entire this is Callias, or Socrates, just as [in the other example, the entire this] is this bronze sphere; and generally, the human-being and the animal are like the bronze sphere. He concludes the chapter, saying: But when the whole has already (ede \ ) \ been generated, such a form in this flesh and these bones is Callias or Socrates; and this is other than [that which generated it] (for the matter is other), but it is the same in species (since the species is indivisible).59 This passage indicates the extent to which the existing finite composite, like Socrates or Callias, depends as much upon matter as upon form. In this sense, form and matter are co-determining moments of the being of the composite, for the composite only first becomes a tode tithat is, an identifiable, independently existing individualonce the form has been fully taken over into the matter. As long as the form acts on the matter from without, the process of individuation remains incomplete. As Furth has suggested, the precise moment at which this occursprecisely when the form has been taken into the mattermay be in principle indiscernible.60 However, rather than concerning himself with this precise moment, Aristotle uses the adverb ede \ ,\ already, to indicate that it has already occurred, that is, to indicate that the being there present has taken its principle into itself; it is already what it has become.61 Thus unlike Aquinas, who, pointing to this passage, posits matter as the principle of differentiation between individuals of the same species, we should read this passage as indicating that the identifiable individual first becomes what it is once the form no longer acts on the matter as something external to itself.62 It is not just the matter that renders the individual distinct

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

79

but the form having been taken over into the flesh and bones. As species, the form in some sense seems to be able to remain in existence even after the death of the composite, not as numerically one and the same thing but as one and the same in species. Yet even at this more abstract, intergenerational level, matter remains the condition for the possibility of the form as species, for there is no species without actively existing members. Thus in the end, even the intergenerational existence of the form depends on the active relation of form and matter as co-determining, grounding moments of the composite. By recognizing that form and matter constitute the generated composite as its grounding moments, Aristotle opens up the possibility of thinking the very being of the composite ousia as the dynamic relation between form and matter. In so doing, he also recognizes the important and, indeed, irreducible role that matter plays as a condition for the possibility of the composite substance itself. Book VII.11 makes this clear: And so to try to reduce all things and to do away with matter is useless effort (periergon); for surely some things exist as a this in a this [that is, a form in a matter], or as disposed in such-and-such a manner. And the comparison Socrates the younger habitually made does not hold well; for it leads away from the truth and makes the assumption that it is possible for a human-being to exist without his parts just as a circle does without the bronze. But the two cases are not similar; for an animal is something sensible and cannot be defined without motion, and so [it cannot exist] without its parts existing in some way. For a hand is not in any manner whatsoever a part of a human-being, but only when it is able to perform its function (ergon), so it must be ensouled; if it is not ensouled, it is not a part.63 Here the inadequacy of the purely logical mode of analysis is emphasized and it is recognized that to attempt to provide a definition of certain kinds of beings without mention of their matter is futile. It is not surprising that here too Aristotle recognizes the disanalogy between artifacts and living beings. The notion of ergon, function, provides Aristotle with a way to think the role that matter plays in determining the what-it-was-for-the-composite-to-be without falling into the infinite regress of the logical investigation found in VII.5. There the problem arose because Aristotle did attempt to do away with matter and to define the snub in terms of its form alone. In so doing, he missed the fundamental difference he later establishes between those beings analogous to concavity and those analogous to the snub, for the first do not seem to require any specific matter in which to exist, while the snub most certainly requires a nose.64 Here, at VII.11, on the other hand, Aristotle points to this difference and argues that human-beings are not like circles, for they are living beings that require a certain sort of matter organized in a certain manner in order to be.

80

The Ethics of Ontology

The transition from Book VII.46 to VII.1011, then, may be seen as an attempt to begin to come to terms with the notion that form and matter are co-determining moments of the finite composite. This must have been a difficult journey for Aristotle, given that the Platonists with whom he had studied for so long were concerned to posit the separate and independent existence of the forms. Indeed, one senses the difficulty of it at the end of VII.11, when Aristotle summarizes what has been discussed.65 There he suggests again that in one sense there is no formula of a composite substance, because it must include matter. He appeals to the infinite regress generated by the snub nose and suggests that things existing as matter or things that include matter are not the same as their ti en \ einai and therefore cannot count as primary ousiai. Based on this, it is difficult to understand how one could interpret Book VII to suggest that anything other than the substantial form is primary ousia. However, this summary fails to refer to chapters VII.79, which is one reason for the assumption that these chapters were inserted later. If it is true that Aristotle himself inserted them, then it is not difficult to surmise why he inserted them where he did, even if, as Frede and Patzig suggest, it seems to disrupt the flow of the argument. The discussion of generated ousiai found in VII.79 suggests the proper way to understand how to include matter in the account of generated beings. The introduction of the adjectival formulation of the material principle offers the conceptual apparatus by which to think both the continuity and difference endemic to the process of generation. This does not mean that matter and form cannot also be called ousiai, but rather that any account of the meaning of sensible ousia must recognize the profound importance of the process of generation according to which such composite ousiai come to be what they are. To do justice to the fact of generationindeed, to the fact that ousiai are not things but, rather, finite beingsform and matter must be reconceptualized. Ute Guzzoni clearly formulates the nature of this reconceptualization when she writes: That the hyle [matter] is contained in the logos of things means that these things themselves are understood differently, no longer with respect to their universal eidos alone but, rather, as the relationship of two grounding moments (Grundmomente), as the interplay (Zusammenspiel) of hyle and eidos. With this, the hyle-eidos-relationship now constitutes the actual structure of horismos [definition].66 Matter is not understood as determined by the composite but as determined to the composite by the form. However, the form itself is not the ground of the matter; rather, as Guzzoni puts it, the composite is constituted in the interplay between form and matter, the two grounding moments of the finite ousia. Here we call both matter and form grounds of the composite, because they are, together, the identifiable equioriginal determining moments of the composite itself. However, that they are equi-original by no means implies that they function in the same way, for as we have seen, the form is the principle of determination, while the matter is

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

81

that which is determinable, though not purely passive; yet we insist upon their equi-originality in order not to permit the historical infatuation with form (and its domination) to eclipse the equally important role played by matter as a ground of the composite.

RETHINKING THE FORM/MATTER RELATIONSHIP


The next chapter will trace Aristotles attempt to think the interplay of form and matter as grounding moments of the composite. For now, however, it is important to recognize how Aristotle sets the stage for this theoretical move toward a more dynamic economy of ontological principles. By inserting VII.79 into the argument of VII.411, Aristotle disrupts the progression of the purely logical approach to ousia and forces it to address the problems associated with generation. By introducing the functional analysis of ousia, he calls into question the possibility of giving an account of finite beings based exclusively on form taken in isolation from matter. Here the meaning of ti en \ einai comes further into focus, for the ti en \ einai cannot be simply identified with the form. As Guzzoni suggests, the ti en \ einai is not a ground like form and matter are; it does not name a determining, constitutive moment of the composite. Rather, it is the ground for the fact that a being is as this determinate being, it is the determinateness of the being posited as the ground of this being.67 Traditional ontology posits this determinateness as itself the objective ground of the being of the composite, thus systematically obfuscating this its own thetic maneuver. The tendency to simply identify form with to ti en \ einai and to point exclusively to it when determining the meaning of the being of the composite further obscures the extent to which the concept is incapable of completely capturing the being of that with which it is concerned. However, as D. M. Balme has suggested, form and ti en \ einai do not always coincide, for the form is structural, the essence [ti en \ einai] functional, that is, the form names a grounding, constitutive moment of the composite, the ti en \ einai, the composite as a definite, functioning being.68 This further clarifies the use of the imperfect en \ in the phrase, for a determination of the function of a being requires experience with its way(s) of being. Because of this, discerning what a being is can only be given on the basis of its what-it-was-to-be, its ti en \ einai. Being finite, ontological judgment always comes too late; it can only determine what it was for a being to be, for it only has access to that which has already, to use Aristotles formulation, been worked up into a concrete composite. The discussion of generation and the role that matter must play in establishing the ti en \ einai of generated beings not only reinforces this point but also seriously calls into question the possibility of understanding form and matter in strict separation from one another. Indeed, in Book VIII, as will be

82

The Ethics of Ontology

seen, the question of the separability of form is fundamentally qualified in order to do justice to the mutual (although perhaps not symmetrically reciprocal) dependence of form and matter upon one another as grounding moments of the composite. Increasingly, then, the discussion of Book VII has called for a thematization of the precise manner in which this ontological relationship is to be thought. The final chapter of Book VII both testifies to the inconclusive nature of Book VII as a whole and indicates the extent to which the problem of the relationship between form and matter has become an issue of vital importance to Aristotles consideration of sensible ousia. To this extent, VII.17 acts both as a summary of the preceding analysis and an introduction to the discussion that follows in Books VIII and IX. It begins this way: Let us again continue to speak from another starting-point, so to say, and [to identify] what we should call an ousia and what sort of thing it is.69 The previous discussion seems to be unsatisfactory, so another starting point is required. This other beginning turns out to be a reconsideration of precisely how the question of the meaning of ousia had been asked up until this point. Aristotle goes on to claim that the original way the question was phrased, namely, in the familiarly Socratic manner What is F? is misleading. Rather than asking, for example, ti estin anthropos?, \ What is a human-being?, Aristotle suggests that the more proper way to phrase the question is Why (dia ti) is the matter some one thing?70 This shift in perspective is of vital importance. It marks a shift away from the logic of things toward a thematization of the grounding moments of the identity of the composite itself. The clear answer to the question Why is the matter some one thing? is eidos.71 However, the clarity of this answer leads directly to a more interesting and profound question, a question that will occupy Aristotle in the next two books: how is the composite of form and matter possible? What is the nature of their interplay such that their relationship constitutes some one being? These are the questions with which we are left at the end of Aristotles discussion in Book VII. L. A. Kosman recognizes this quite clearly: The attempted accounts of substance as matter and form . . . surrender to the more obvious fact that substance is the compound of matter and form. But at the end of book Z (Met. Z.17), in one of the most elegant arguments of that book, Aristotle sets out to show that matter and form cannot be elements in the being of a substance, and the relation between them cannot be one of the joining of elements. We are therefore left with the question: In what sense is substance a compound?72 Kosman is correct to point out that the relation between form and matter is not a relation between elements, for Aristotle suggests that form is not an element (stoicheion) at all but rather a principle (arche), \ while matter is, in fact, an

Toward a Dynamic Ontology

83

element. The distinction between stoicheion and arche \ here is important, for, as Kosman suggests, the relationship between form and matter cannot be a simple material relation between elements. Aristotle makes this point by suggesting that the composite substance is not just a conglomeration of elements, that is, it is not like a heap (soros) \ but rather like a syllable which, when the relationship between the letters disintegrates, itself ceases to exist.73 That which gives the elements their structure and holds them in it is the form, the principle, as opposed to the material elements. The significance of this vocabulary is that it at once establishes the difference between the role of form and that of matter, and it also affirms their mutual dependence upon one another as grounding moments of the composite. The form may work up the matter into the composite; it may be the active principle according to which a being may be said to be what it isthus Aristotle can call the form to ti en \ einai, for the composite would never function as it should without having been so worked upbut there is no composite at all and, therefore, no form either, without the matter. Thus the final chapter of Book VII affirms the argument that in the discussion of sensible ousia Aristotle ultimately refuses to do away with matter and instead attempts to understand the identity of the composite as the interplay between form and matter. With this, the fundamental question of Books VIII and IX can be addressed: how does the relationship between form and matter ground the composite?

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

Together, Metaphysics Books VIII and IX develop a dynamic economy of principles capable of responding to the question that reveals itself at the end of Book VII concerning the ontological grounds of the composite. A passage found at the end of Book VIII suggests the contours of this new economy: each individual is something one, and that which is in potency and that which is in actuality are somehow (pos) \ one.1 These rather perplexing words point already to the investigation into the various meanings of potency and actuality, dunamis and energeia, found in Book IX. Yet the claim that dunamis and energeia somehowposexist as one appears only after Aristotle has clarified the qualified manner in which form and matter exist separately from the composite. Taken together, this clarification of the meaning of separation and the thematization of the ontological grounds of the composite in terms of energeia and dunamis constitute two stages of a unified ontological strategy. In a preliminary manner, this strategy can be seen as an attempt to negotiate a third way between the oppositions expressed in the two aporiae outlined in chapter 4. There the question arose as to whether ousia should be understood as either universal or singular and, in a related problem, whether or not it should be understood to exist in strict separation from the being of which it is the ousia. The either/or dichotomy of these two aporiae obfuscates the identification of a safe passage. Aristotle locates a path between these extremes by deploying a strategy that (1) clarifies the equivocal meaning of the tode ti and separation as they apply to form, matter, and the composite and (2) translates the grounding moments of the compositeform and matterinto the more dynamic vocabulary of energeia and dunamis, respectively. Taken together, these two strategic moves constitute Aristotles most sophisticated attempt to think the dynamic identity of the composite. Insofar as he succeeds in this, 85

86

The Ethics of Ontology

Aristotles engagement with finite ousiai lends insight into the present attempt to rethink the nature and function of ontological principles, for here Aristotle develops an economy of principles in which the dimension of domination, although always operational, never eclipses that of incipience.

THE FIRST STAGE: CLARIFYING THE MEANING OF TODE TI AND SEPARATION


In Metaphysics VII.3, Aristotle had established the two fundamental features of an ousia: for to be separable (to choriston) \ and a this (tode ti) is thought to belong most of all to an ousia.2 Although in VII.3 Aristotle had simply posited these dimensions of ousia as fundamental, in Book VIII he clarifies precisely how these terms apply to form, matter, and the composite, respectively. What emerges, however, is a vocabulary of equivocation that allows each of the three in its own way to qualify as a tode ti and separable. This sort of equivocation is typical of Aristotle. It is symptomatic of his willingness to draw out shades of meaning and multiple answers depending on the nature of the phenomenon with which he is concerned. This frustrates those who approach Aristotles thinking as a system of thought intent on establishing the definitive, univocal answer to the question of being. To relax the strict conception of to choriston \ is not, contrary to what some have suggested, to engage in an intellectual cheat or a sophistical dodge.3 Rather, it is to introduce flexibility into an approach that has proven itself too rigid to account for order while affirming the ultimate autarchy of sensible ousiai. In order to appreciate the subtlety and sophistication of this development, it is necessary first to introduce the equivocal meaning of the term tode ti, for once this term is unpacked in all of its complexity, the impetus behind the relaxing of the strict meaning of separability comes into focus. Far from being an intellectual cheat, the equivocation concerning the tode ti and to choriston \ indicates the elasticity of Aristotles thinking. It suggests the extent to which Aristotle is prepared to revise even his most basic assumptions in the face of their philosophical inadequacy.

The Equivocal Meaning of Tode ti


The precise translation of tode ti has been a topic of much debate for many years. However, the translation is, as all translations are, only meaningful when situated within the context of the thinking in which it finds expression. Frede and Patzig translate tode ti as Dieses von der Art, literally, this of the species, throughout their two-volume study of Metaphysics VII. They take tode as a demonstrative pronoun that points to a specific instance of a class

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

87

designated by ti. This translation and its corresponding interpretation, however, already assume an ontological hierarchy that the term itself may be designed to undermine. Any translation of this two-term complex that takes one or the other of the terms component parts as picking out a specific instance, or as designating a specific member, of a class indicated by the other component assumes that the being designated as a tode ti itself is nothing more than a particularthe instantiation of a universal. J. A. Smith, however, argues against any interpretation that understands the tode ti in terms of the species-particular relationship. He suggests that there are two basic traditional interpretations of tode ti in the literature. The first takes a ti as indicating a class of somewhats and tode as a term singling out a member of this class; the second takes the tode as indicating a class of thisnesses and takes ti as an indefinite article that renders the phrase itself indefinite: something like any thisness, a thisness, or some thisness. However, Smith objects to both of these translations/interpretations, because they have this in common, that either ti or tode is a highly generalized classname, and that the other word restricts it to a single instance of the class named, taken at random. Neither interpretation is satisfactory.4 Smiths conclusion here seems justifiable for two reasons. First, it challenges the assumption that Aristotle thinks finite ousia exclusively or at least primarily as an individuated instantiation of some universal, that is, as particular. Any such interpretation remains wedded to an ontological hierarchy that fails to recognize both the importance of Aristotles insistence that no universal is ousia and his loyalty to the autarchy of beings.5 Second, Smiths interpretation recognizes the possibility that the term itself might be deployed to circumvent the universal/singular aporia. He goes on to suggest what he understands to be the proper meaning of the term: anything which is both a this and a somewhat, the two characterizations being co-ordinate: x is tode ti, if it is both (a) singular and so signifiable by this and (b) possessed of a universal nature, the name of which is an answer to the question ti esti in the category of ousia; in other words, it is prote \ \ ousia.6 This interpretation has the advantage of recognizing that there is, embedded in the term tode ti itself, a certain complexity that renders an unequivocal identification of it with the universal or the singular inappropriate. At the same time, it also suggests that there is a strong sense in which the tode ti is itself singular, and thus that any designation of its universal nature must attend to the identifiable singular designated by the term. Thus Smiths interpretation does not render the tode ti a mere particular. This is possible, however, only if the universality ascribed to the nature of the being designated by tode ti is not thought to exist independently of the tode ti itselffor this would lead us back to the Platonic tendency to give priority to universals over singulars.7 The precise manner in which we may say that the nature of the tode ti is universal can only be apprehended once the Aristotelian notion of activity is clarified, and even

88

The Ethics of Ontology

then, the sort of universality we can predicate of an existing compositethe tode tiis always itself ultimately dependent on the activity of the tode ti itself. Joseph Owens offers another suggestion concerning the significance of the tode ti. For him, tode ti in Aristotle must be understood as a technical term: The interest in this term is solely to find an Aristotelian expression that will characterize a form which is neither singular nor plural.8 Owens is primarily interested in how the term applies to form, for he is dedicated to the position that ultimately form is ousia in Aristotle. For Owens, that form is in fact called a tode ti cannot be adequately explained by arguing that the form is a tode ti only in virtue of the composite, or that the form exists only for the sake of the composite: Such an interpretation would run counter to the whole development of Z in which the role played by the form is always primary, and that of the matter and the composite only secondary.9 Owens, like Loux, locates the primary meaning of ousia in the form alone. However, as has been suggested, the whole development of Book VII does not so clearly relegate matter and the composite to secondary statusthe development of the book itself suggests that an adequate conception of finite ousia cannot be sought exclusively in terms of form.10 Furthermore, the path of thinking initiated in Book VII is not fully traversed until Books VIII and IX, where the conceptual apparatus is introduced that allows the composite to take on a certain primacy as the active identity of energeia and dunamis. Ernst Tugendhat has recognized the priority of the composite in Aristotles investigation. For him, the term tode ti expresses that which is ontologically independent. The sort of ontological independence endemic to finite sensible ousia, however, is twofold, being at once determinate and indeterminate. The indeterminate character of the tode ti expresses the transitory finitude of the composite.11 Its determinate character expresses the composites concrete presence. Although either the material or the formal principle of the composite, thought independently, may be called a tode ti in a qualified sense, neither is a tode ti in the strict sense that the composite is. Tugendhat intimates that it is first on the basis of the encounter with the tode ti that the question concerning the relationship between one (universal) presence and the many singulars can be meaningfully asked.12 This already indicates the manner in which the universal/singular aporia can be circumvented by the deployment of the vocabulary of the tode ti: the aporia is misguided insofar as it assumes the independent existence of the principles prior to their manifestation in the composite. Aristotle begins with the composite and thinks his way back to its ontological grounds. These grounds, however, can only be said to be once they are recognized as having already come togetherthat is, only on the basis of the encounter with the concrete presence of the composite itself can anything like its ontological grounds become accessible.

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

89

Aristotle insists on the priority of the composite in the following passage from Metaphysics VIII.1, where he clarifies the equivocal meaning of the tode ti and separation: But an ousia is an underlying subject (hypokeimenon); and in one sense, this is matter (by matter I mean that which is not a tode ti in actuality but is potentially a tode ti ); in another sense, it is the account or the form, which, being a tode ti, is separable in notion; but in a third sense, it is the composite of these, of which alone there is generation and destruction, and which is separate without qualification.13 It is clear that Aristotle employs tode ti to indicate some sort of independence. In its strongest and strictest sense, he uses it to refer to sensible composites of form and matter. Let us now begin to call the composite that is most strictly a tode ti an individual in order to distinguish it in some way from the term kath hekaston, which we have been rendering in English as singular. We chose the term singular because it not only captures the distributive sense of the Greek kath hekaston but, more importantly, because it suggests that the beings designated by this term are not able to be grasped by episteme \ ,\ for all episteme \ \ is universal. Individuals, unlike singulars, may be knowable in a certain sense, though perhaps not in the strict sense of apodeictic episteme \ .\ A composite then is, strictly speaking, separate, and thus it embodies the strictest sense of what it is to be a tode ti, an identifiable individual with a strong sort of ontological independence. Thus it is no surprise that Aristotle uses the term tode ti to characterize the primary ousiai of the Categories, for they too were said to be ontologically independent. However, in Metaphysics VIII.1, unlike in the Categories, these beings are explicitly characterized as beings that become (and are destroyed) and to this extent are juxtaposed with form and matter. Thus there is at once a continuity and a discontinuity with the foundational economy of principles operating in the Categories. There is a continuity insofar as concrete individuals are said to most straightforwardly exhibit the fundamental characteristics of being an ousia (each is without qualification a tode ti and separable); there is a discontinuity insofar as these individuals are now understood not only as composites of form and matter but also as beings that are generated and destroyed. In fact, as we have seen in our discussion of the Physics, the reconceptualization of the ousiai of the Categories as composites of form and matter was necessitated by an attempt to account for generation. Yet even in the Physics, Aristotle remains intent on designating the finite composite as ousia. This loyalty to the concrete individual runs like Theseuss thread through the labyrinth of Aristotles ontological thinking. It is surprising, however, that Aristotle continues to speak of the tode ti when referring to matter and form. Form is called a tode ti, but only insofar as

90

The Ethics of Ontology

it is separable in logos, notion, or definition. We may gain some insight into how to understand this by turning for a moment to a parallel passage in the second book of the De Anima: Now one genus of things we call ousia, but of these, one [we regard] as matter, which is not a tode ti according to itself, another [we regard] as shape (morphe) \ and form (eidos), according to which something is called a tode ti, and a third, the composite of the above two [i.e., matter and form].14 The form is that according to which something is directly called a tode ti a being is called a tode ti by referring to its form. Caution must be used here, because there is a tendency to give this a Platonic interpretation by suggesting that the form alone renders the composite a tode ti. However, because it is separable in notion only, and not separable without qualification like the composite, the form, like matter, is itself not a tode ti without qualification. Nevertheless, the form may be called tode ti in the distinctive sense that through it an account of the individual composite can be given. Separating the form from the composite in logos allows one to highlight one dimension of the twofold nature of a tode ti strictly so-called, that is, the dimension of its determinateness. There is, however, a tendency to point to this determinateness itself as the essential and exclusive ground of the composite. This tendency, which manifested itself already in the hylomorphic economy of principles that sought to account for finite ousia in terms of the hegemony of form, must be resisted, for it is incapable of doing justice to the individuality of the concrete composite. Taken by itself, abstracted from the composite, the form may be thematized as a grounding moment of the composite, but not as its only grounding moment. Aristotle tells us that matter also may be conceptualized as an ontological ground of the composite. As such, however, it too deserves to be called a tode ti in a derivative way: it is potentially a tode ti. The full significance of the vocabulary of potency remains somewhat shrouded until the detailed discussion of energeia and dunamis found in Metaphysics IX. Here it is used to isolate the material from the formal principle to draw into relief the way matter itself functions as a grounding moment of the composite. Both form and matter can, in qualified ways, be called tode ti, because each in its own way operates as a ground of the composite. The compositea tode ti without qualificationonly exists insofar as form and matter have already come into relation with one another, and it persists only to the extent that this relationship is actively maintained. Therefore, form and matter function together as ontological grounding moments of the individual. As such, they are themselves neither universal nor singular, for this dichotomy follows only after and is, indeed, an imposition upon the actual

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

91

existence of the composite individual. Interestingly, what seems to have permitted this position to come to the fore is a loosening of the strict conception of separability.

Relaxing the Meaning of Separability


In clarifying the equivocal sense of tode ti, Aristotle amends the meaning of separability. Here a distinction emerges between strict separation and separation in logos. As mentioned, this distinction has been indicted as an intellectual cheat. Indeed, when read from the perspective of the population problem, which seeks not three but one answer to the what is ousia? question, the equivocal meaning of separability simply muddles the account. Yet there is something nave about such a judgment, for what from one perspective seems to be a cheat is from another perspective an important philosophical advance. If it is recognized that a rigid conception of separability leads to intractable knotsfor example, the separate existence and universal/singular aporiaethen it makes no philosophical sense to pull the knot tighter. Aristotle in fact loosens the knots by letting up on the tension generated by the rigid conception of tode ti and separability. Far from being an intellectual cheat, this philosophical flexibility testifies to Aristotles intellectual acumen, and more importantly, it allows his thinking to develop in new directions. Qualifying the notion of separability with regard to form opens up one such new direction. It allows him to thematize form as an ontological ground of the composite ousia without reifying it into a strictly independent-existing thing. On the other hand, by arguing that there is a sort of separability that can be ascribed to matternamely, potential separationAristotle is also able to thematize matter as an ontological ground of the composite. Here he thinks from the identity of the finite existing composite ousia back to the conditions for the possibility of this identity, and yet, he does this without reifying these conditions into fully determinate things existing independently of one another or of the composite. This already gestures toward the dynamic economy of principles developed in Book IX, for it thematizes the ground of the ousia as the interplay of the relationship between form and matter, which themselves only exist in separation from the composite in qualified ways.15 The precise manner in which such principles should be understood requires an elucidation of the second step of what we have identified as Aristotles twofold strategy: the translation of the principles of form and matter into the vocabulary of actuality and potency, energeia and dunamis. This new conceptual vocabulary allows Aristotle to develop an economy of principles that is able to think the composite dynamically as the identity of form and matter.

92

The Ethics of Ontology

Aristotle begins to focus his thinking on precisely this issue at the end of Book VIII when, grappling with the Academys tendency to posit separate forms, he turns his attention to the problem of identity: What is it, then, that makes a human-being one, and why is [a human-being] one and not many, such as an animal and also a biped, if indeed there exists, as some say, Animal Itself and Biped Itself? For why are these things themselves not a human-being, so that humanbeings might exist by participating not in Human-being nor in one [idea] but in two, Animal and Biped?16 Here Aristotle recognizes that the attempt to ground singulars in separately existing universal forms leads to absurdities: It is clear that by proceeding in the manner in which they are accustomed to define and speak, it is not possible to answer or dissolve the difficulty. But if, as we maintain, the one is matter and the other form, and the former exists in potency but the latter in actuality, that which is being sought no longer appears to be a difficulty. . . . What then causes that which exists in potency to be in actuality aside from that which produces (to poies \ an) in the case of things that are generated? Nothing else causes that which is potentially a sphere to be a sphere in actuality, but this is the ti en \ einai in each.17 This passage points to the second stage of Aristotles twofold strategy, for it suggests that by thematizing form and matter in terms of energeia and dunamis, respectively, a solution to the problem of the ontological identity of the individual may be discovered. However, the process Aristotle describes here is not the activity whereby the individual itself maintains its own identitythat is, this is not an account of the autarchy of the composite. Rather, it is the activity by which the individual receives its principle from another; it describes the efficient cause of the individual. Aristotle locates the productive cause of the individual in the ti en \ einai, a concept whose historical dimensions uniquely qualify it for this role. The ti en \ einai points to the continuing ontological efficacy of this efficient cause, to the very historicity of the composite. However, this passage also suggests the extent to which Aristotle continues to think generation from the perspective of technological fabrication, finite individuals on the model of the artifact. What the reformulation of the meaning of tode ti and the loosening of the concept of chor \ iston have made increasingly urgent is the need to locate an economy of principles according to which an account of the autarchy of ousia can be given.

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

93

THE SECOND STAGE: THINKING BEING AS ACTION


We return, then, to the little Greek word pos, \ somehow, that appeared in the perplexing passage at the end of Book VIII: The last matter and the form are the same and one, the former in potency, the latter in actuality . . . for each individual is something one, and that which is in potency and that which is in actuality are somehow (pos) \ one.18 Precisely how form and matter are to be thought as one and the same is suggested but not fully worked out. By translating form and matter into the vocabulary of energeia and dunamis, Aristotle already hints at how these latter two terms, when properly understood, account for the identity of the finite composite. As long as these two principles, form and matter, remain separateabstracted from the being whose identity they constitute as long as they are thought primarily from the perspective of their reified independence, then the question concerning the ontological identity of the composite remains mired in both the separate existence and the universal/singular aporiae. If, however, as has been suggested, form and matter, rethought in terms of energeia and dunamis, are themselves understood not entitatively as separately existing things, but rather in their essential relationship as grounding moments of the composite, then these aporiae dissolve. The discussion of the various meanings of dunamis and energeia found in Book IX of the Metaphysics is directed toward delineating precisely such a new, dynamic conception of ontological identity. Aristotle begins, just as he had in the Categories and later in the Physics, by considering the structure of accidental change. Here, however, he writes: . . . let us determine the meaning of potentiality (dunamis) and actuality (entelecheia) and first [let us determine the meaning] of that which is called dunamis in the most proper sense, although it is not most useful for what we now want. For dunamis and actuality (energeia) are said of more things than those that [exist] according to motion (kinesis) \ .19 Given that Book VIII had ended with the urgent problem of understanding the precise mannerthe pos, \ somehowin which form and matter are one and the same, it is very likely that the what we now want of which Aristotle speaks in this passage is to locate a model according to which the identity of form and matter may be thought.20 This requires an investigation into the meaning of energeia and dunamis. However, the most proper sense of the term dunamis seems to apply to those beings that are in motion. Here, finally, Aristotle recognizes that the model of motion is not most useful in the attempt to think the identity of form and matter. Thus Aristotle suggests that the structure of motion provides us with only an analogy for the primary meaning of the unity of energeia and dunamis;

94

The Ethics of Ontology

indeed, there exists an activity beyond the order of motion. Book IX as a whole, then, can be understood as proceeding in the typical Aristotelian manner of looking to what is more familiar or first for us in order to discover what is first by nature: the model of motion, that which is more known and familiar to us, is investigated in order then to uncover another, less familiar but philosophically more significant model according to which energeia and dunamis may be thought together. This second model is that of activity or action that gives expression to a dynamic economy of ontological principles capable of thinking the composite individual as the active identity of energeia and dunamis.21

The Model of Motion


The distinction between motion, on the one side, and activity, on the other side, is based on a parallel ontological distinction between artifacts and natural beings found in the Physics. Although both artifacts and natural beings may more or less adequately be described by Aristotles four causes, there is a fundamental difference: natural beings have their principle of movement (arche), \ their beginning, in themselves, while artifacts depend on an external force for their existence. There he writes: Of [natural] things, each has its principle (arche) \ of motion and of standstill in itself, whether [this be] with respect to place or increase or decrease or alteration. But a bed or a cloak or a thing in some other genus of this sort, insofar as each of them happens to be called by a similar predicate and exists in virtue of art, has no natural tendency for changing.22 Here the distinction between artifacts and natural beings is determined by the location of their beginning, their principle. In this passage, beings are considered from the perspective of their beginning, and natural beings seem to differ from artifacts in that natural beings are able to take over their beginning, they are able to take their principle into themselves and make it their ownnatural beings have the power of beginning in themselves. The artifact, on the other hand, cannot do this; it does not have this ability to take its principle of movement into itself. Thus Antiphons bed, when buried, does not produce another bed but, rather, wood.23 This is an indication that the bed does not have a principle of movement in itself according to which it can determine itself and othersin short, a bed cannot, in turn, be the parent of another bed. There is, however, a similarity between natural beings and artifacts, for both originally have their origins (principles) outside of themselvesthe artifact in the builder, the natural being in its prog-

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

95

enitors. Thus with regard to the beginning, the arche,\ it is not so much the initiation of the motion that distinguishes artifacts from natural beings but rather the ability to take this principle into itself, to take over and pass on its beginning, its principle. The distinction we find between motion and activity in Book IX is based on a similar consideration of the difference between artifacts and natural beings, although this time not only is the status of the beginning (arche) \ emphasized but along with it the status of the end (telos). By focusing his discussion of motion on the status of the end, Aristotle is able to bring out the difference between natural beings and artifacts more strongly, for the former do, while the latter do not, have their ends in themselves. This having-takenover-the-end is understood in terms of entelecheia, which is strongly distinguished from motion or kinesis \ . Thus Book IX marks at once an advance beyond and an ongoing loyalty to the hylomorphic economy of principles developed in the Physics. By thematizing form and matter in terms of the more dynamic, less reified notions of energeia/entelecheia and dunamis, Book IX manifests an important advance beyond the hylomorphic economy. However, by continuing to think the nature of motion in terms of the model of productionthe building of a house, losing weight, learning from a teacherBook IX remains loyal to the basic vision of kinesis \ developed in the Physics. Aristotle tells us that such motions are incomplete, for two reasons. First, they have their principle of movement outside of themselves: Hence, all arts and productive sciences are potencies; for they are principles that cause a change in another thing or [in the artist himself ] qua other.24 Here the beginning (arche) \ is not thought together with the activity itself; rather, even in examples such as the self-healing doctor or the person trying to lose weight, the agent acts on the patient not as itself but as another, that is, the agent and the patient remain distinct. As will be clear in a moment, Aristotle stresses that the model of motion retains this distinction between agent and patient throughout. Second, a motion is incomplete because its end (telos) remains external to the activity itself. Thus once the process of building a house is completed, the product produced, its end, has been reached, and the motion comes to a stop, it ceases to be. During the process itself, its end does in some sense exist, however, it exists externally in the mind of the builder as the idea of the product, the ultimate goal of the production. Motion, therefore, is a process of moving toward an end that exists outside of the process of motion itself. Based on this model, dunamis and energeia are distinct, for as long as the bricks and stones lie in a heap, they are only potentially a house; however, once the process of building is completed, the house exists in actuality and no longer in potentiality.25 Kosman puts this in a strikingly clear way: It is because the exercise of an ability qua ability and the realization of that ability as the end other than itself to which it is directed are

96

The Ethics of Ontology

distinct in the case of motions, that a motion cannot both sustain itself and achieve its end. In order fully to be itself, a motion must cease to be. Because of this auto-subversive character, a motion is, so to speak, on a suicide mission. A motion is fully realizable only posthumously; while alive, it has not yet fully achieved its being.26 The conception of motion in Aristotle, then, seems to lend itself to those sorts of beings that are precisely not alive, that is, to those beings that are technically produced. Such beings come alive, so to speak, when acted upon by a force outside of themselves. Thus when discussing the meaning of motion in Metaphysics IX, Aristotle always uses the appropriate example of artifacts. Fabricated things provide the proper topos for the analysis of motion. The analysis of motion is archic in both senses of the Greek arche:\ the agent begins the motion in a patient and is thus the principle in the sense of incipience, but because this initial cause continues to govern the motion from without, that is, maintains dominion over the patient during the entire extent of its motion, it is also the principle in the sense of domination, command, ruler. Furthermore, however, the hegemonic meaning of arche \ dominates the account of motion, for when the goal of motion has been reached (and if, as Aristotle likes to say, nothing prevents it, i.e., there is no other force more dominant), the motion is stopped, its end accomplished. Thus the efficient cause dominates the material cause (the patient) to such an extent that it is able to become the final cause as wellthe being of a motion has its beginning and its end outside of itself; it is dominated from beginning to end. Aristotle often thinks generation on this model of motion. This is not surprising because the generation of natural beings bears a similarity to motion, for the agent, which, in generation is understood as the father, begins the process of generation by acting on the patient, the mother. To this point, all is analogous with motion, and yet this kinetic picture is disrupted by the created living being itself, for the living being is able to take this principle of movement from the hands of its progenitor(s) and make it its own.27 In Metaphysics IX.7, Aristotle insists that prior to taking its principle into itself, a living being does not yet, strictly speaking, even exist in potentiality: [. . .] for example, the seed is not yet [potentially a human-being] (for it must [be placed] in another and change), and when it is already (ede \ ) \ the sort of thing [that acts] through its own principle, then it is in potency; but prior to this, it has need of another principle. Just as the earth is not yet a statue in potentiality, for it needs to change and become bronze.28 Despite the fact that Aristotle again conflates production and natural reproduction with the example of the statue, the point here is important; strictly

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

97

speaking, the semen cannot even be considered potentially a human-being until it enters into relation with the matter and indeed metabolizes. Aristotles conflation of natural and technological generation in this passage is particularly unfortunate. It is symptomatic of his continuing unwillingness to recognize the active role of matter in natural generation and his tendency to think all generation on the model of production, that is, in terms of the hegemony of form. Aquinas, commenting on a passage from Metaphysics VII.9 (1034a910) in which Aristotle seems to grant an active role to matter in generation, suggests that the distinction between what he calls violent generation and natural generation depends on more than just whether the principle is internal or external. The issue, rather, is determined by the extent to which matter is active: For if there were no active principle in the matter of those things which are generated by nature, the process of generation of these things would not be natural but violent; or, in other words, there would be no difference between artificial generations and natural ones.29 Richard Lee has suggested that the distinction is based on a specific understanding of how form comes to be in the matter in both cases: We could say that in natural generation the agent educes the form from the matter, while in violent generation the agent imposes the form on the matter.30 While Lee is correct to suggest that the form does not dominate the matter in natural generation in the same way it does in violent generation, what he identifies as an eductionthe manner in which the agent of natural generation draws out the form lying latent in the matteris understood by Aristotle in a slightly different way in both the Metaphysics and the biological writings. Rather than thematizing the agent as that which, while remaining external, draws out the form lying latent in the matter, the semen is said to concoct (pettein) the matter in such a way that it itself is transformed. The agent is itself no longer what it was at the beginning of the process. The being generated is something new, neither the form nor the matter, the agent nor the patient, yet also somehow both.31 Our discussion of Aristotles account of biological inheritance has suggested the complex manner in which the features and characteristics of both parents and their ancestors are expressed in the new being. In natural generation, the form ceases to act as an external cause in the manner that the agent of a production or violent generation does. Montgomery Furth suggests that only once the semen has completed its concoction of the matterthat is, completed the gradual process of differentiation leading up to the matters being completely informeddo we have a fully individual offspring, a tode ti in the strict sense.32 Furth argues that this moment of individuation may not be fixable, even in principle. Remarkably, Aristotle himself does not even seek to fix the moment of autarchy. Rather, in the passage cited earlier from Metaphysics IX.7, he merely gestures to it, saying: when [the semen] is already (ede \ ) \ the sort of thing [that acts] according to its own principle, then it is in

98

The Ethics of Ontology

potency. Here Aristotle deploys a temporal clause combined with the adverb ede \ , \ already, to indicate that the moment of complete individuation has taken place. This sort of gesture to the dimension of individuation that escapes the grasp of the concept has been seen before. It was at work already in the use of the perfect tense found in Aristotles formulation of the separability aporia in Metaphysics, Book III (999b12). It appeared again in the little adverb ede \ \ within the context of the discussion of generation in Metaphysics VII.8 (1034a57). These formulations are symptomatic of a thinking implicitly aware of its own finitude. The moment of autarchy cannot be completely captured by the concept. Yet its trace can be designated by the use of the perfect tense and the adverb ede \ , \ for the very appearance of the tode ti indicates that the moment of autarchy has already occurred. This moment of autarchy is fully eclipsed by the logic of violent generation and the model of kines \ is on which it depends. The coming into being of the tode ti cannot be fully explicated in terms of the hegemony of form. Another model is required, one that remains cognizant of its own limitations, open to that which escapes the grasp of the concept, even as it seeks a conceptual understanding of the individual. This other model would refuse to do away with dunamis, the potency of the tode ti that renders it recalcitrant to all definitive conceptualization. It would instead think dunamis in its fundamental relation to energeia. In chapter 6 of Book IX, this other model is introduced.

The Model of Action


At the beginning of Metaphysics IX.6, Aristotle reminds us that the discussion of dunamis from the perspective of the nature of kinesis \ was only preliminary. He then turns his attention to the meaning of energeia: Since that which is called dunamis with respect to motion has been discussed, let us determine the meaning of what energeia is and what sort of thing it is. For by distinguishing this, it will be at the same time clear with respect to dunamis, that we mean by this dunamis not only that whose nature is to move another or to be moved by another, either simply or in some other way, but also something else; and it is because we seek this [latter sense of dunamis] that we have gone through [the former senses].33 This something else is the sense of dunamis endemic to the identity of the composite tode ti. Thus in a clear line of argument beginning with the pos\ at the end of Book VIII, through the beginning of Book IX, where the discussion of dunamis and energeia is framed, to this passage inaugurating the dis-

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

99

cussion of energeia itself, Aristotle remains focused on the problem as to how to think the composite as the identity of energeia and dunamis. The entire discussion of dunamis and energeia in Book IX.18 is guided by this question, but it is only in IX.68 that Aristotle finally hits upon the economy of principles he seeks. Aristotle suggests that in order to grasp the meaning of energeia most proper to the identity of the composite, it is helpful to proceed by analogy and to look first to the more familiar role that energeia plays in the logic of motion: As that which builds is to that which is capable of building, so is that which is awake to that which is asleep or that which is seeing to that which has its eyes shut, or that which has been separated (apokekrimenon) from matter to matter, or that which has been worked-up (apeirgasmenon) to the un-worked-up (anergaston).34 Aristotle designates the first element in each analogy as an actuality, energeia, and the second as a potentiality, dunamis. Here again, no difference between natural and technological motion is discernible. The point simply seems to be that a distinction must be made between having an ability without using it and using that ability. The first, Aristotle wants to call a dunamis, the second, an energeia. On the model of motion, therefore, there does seem to be a sense in which potentiality and actuality are the same, for when the builder is not merely capable of building, but is actually building, her or his potential to build and her or his activity seem to be one and the same.35 This Aristotle had already suggested in his treatment of motion in the Physics, where he argues that a motion is to be understood as existing both in the movable object as well as in the agent that moves the object. There he claims that there is a certain unity in activity: And that which sets [something] into motion and the energeia are not distinct; for there must be one entelecheia in both; for by dunamis there is a putting into motion, but by energeia there is motion, but this is the actualizing of the movable, so it is alike one energeia in both, just as it is the same interval from one to two and from two to one and the same going up as coming down. For these things are one, though the account is not one.36 Here Aristotle attempts to think the unity of actuality and potentiality from the perspective of the model of motion. However, because he begins with the separate existence of the agent and the object moved, he is never quite able to achieve the strong conception of identity that the problem of ousia requires. To put it another way, the model of motion, because it is determined by a logic of things that forces it to begin with two separately existing independent

100

The Ethics of Ontology

objects only then to posit the unity of the two in the activity itself, thinks the wrong way around. If, however, we begin with the concrete presence of the individual and abstract from it the concepts of form and matter, a new perspective emerges, for it will then be recognized that an ousia only appears as always already composed of form and matter, that its identity manifests itself as the active tension of this relationship, and that what had been thematized as independent ontological principles are rather co-determining, grounding moments of the individual. Aristotle fleshes out the meaning of this active conception of ontological identity at the end of chapter 6 of Book IX by contrasting the model of activity with that of motion: These things are motions and incomplete; for one is not walking and at the same time has walked, nor is one building and has built, nor is a thing being generated and has been generated, nor is it being moved and has moved, but they are distinct; and moving [is distinct] from having moved. On the other hand, the same thing has seen (heorake) \ and is seeing at the same time, and is thinking and has thought (nenoeken) \ . I call this sort of thing an energeia, but the former a motion (kinesis) \ .37 The use of the perfect tenses throughout this passage establishes the distinction between something that is in motion and therefore has its end outside of itself and something that is active and has its end in itself. Activities such as seeing and thinking are ends in themselvesthey are not essentially determined by an external goal. The full significance of the use of the perfect tense here in this passage will be suggested later, however, for now it is important to understand that Aristotle uses this phraseologyis seeing and has seento indicate the fundamental identity of potentiality and actuality in the activity itself. To be sure, matter, existing potentially, is activated by form, but the existence of the individual, its diachronic and synchronic identity as the being it is, depends upon its capacity to actively maintain the relation between form and matter. To remain the being it has always been, this activity must be quite literally at workenergeia. Another way to say this might be that the what-itwas-to-be for this being is its being-at-work, its ti en \ einai is to be en-ergeia, not form alone, but the active identity of form and matter. Taken abstractly, matter and form are distinct, the one existing as potentiality, the other as actuality. However, as long as these two notions remain separate, they express an empty abstraction. Interestingly, the passage just quoted clearly places generation on the side of kines\ is. This is understandable, because Aristotles treatment of genesis is designed to account for the continuity of the species and so conceptualizes individuality exclusively in terms of particularity. However, as has been

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

101

seen, the kinetic economy of ontological principles, grounded as it is on the hegemonic functioning of the eidos and a purely passive conception of matter, is not capable of accounting for the unicity of the concrete composite. Composites are autarchic; they have their principle of being in themselves. Of course, we may abstract a form from the composite in logos; indeed, we may even identify this form as that which causes motion in another. However, once the principle has entered into relation with its other, it ceases to be what it wasnamely, the principle of the originatorfor it has been taken over by the progeny. Scaltsas has put this well: The form unifies the components of a substance, not by relating them (which would leave their distinctness intact), but by reidentifying them, that is, by making them identitydependent on the whole.38 This process of reidentification is what we have been thematizing as the taking of the principle into itselfthe moment of autarchy. Once this occurs, an account of the identity of the being in question requires a more dynamic economy of principles than that offered by genesis, which is itself grounded not only in kines\ is but ultimately in the experience of poies\ is, fabrication. Aristotle lends some determination to the meaning of this more dynamic conception of identity when he links the meaning of energeia and entelecheia in IX.8: The matter is still in dunamis because it might come into the form (eidos); but indeed whenever it is in energeia, then it is in the form. But it is similar in other cases as well, and even (kai) with those things whose end is motion, for just as teachers believe that they have accomplished their end when they display their students at work, it is likewise with nature. . . . For the work (ergon) is an end (telos), but the work is the being-in-work (energeia), and so the name being-inwork is said according to its work and points toward the being-inits-end (entelecheia).39 On one level, it makes sense for Aristotle to establish a similarity between motion and activity here, for by beginning from the perspective of matter prior to its coming into the form, he must operate with the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles, since matter is determined from without. However, once he alters his perspectiveafter the temporal clause, but indeed whenever it is in energeia, then it is in the formhe begins to think energeia as the identity of form and matter, that is, as an identity that has taken its principle into itself. This is illustrated quite clearly by the example of the teacher, for although teaching may be a sort of motion insofar as the principle remains outside of the process (the teacher and the student remain distinct), once the students have demonstrated that they have in fact taken the principles into themselves by acting on their own, then the teachers work

102

The Ethics of Ontology

is donethe motion of teaching is transformed, so to speak, into an activity.40 The principle no longer needs to dominate from without; it has been taken over by the student, has become internal. Here the distinction between agent and patient falls away. The self-directed activity of the student manifests the same autarchy as natural beings do once they have taken over their own ends. The notion of entelecheia cannot be understood to refer to an external end, a destination separate from the activity itself; this is the end appropriate to motion and production. The end of entelecheia is rather an ongoing process of determination according to the internal purposiveness of the activity itself. The very nature of the composite ousia is to exist as this active identity of form and matter. Aristotle expresses this new dynamic conception of identity not only in juxtaposition to the model of motion, but also by a strange and highly significant formulation whereby an iteration of a verb in the perfect tense is placed next to and identified with an iteration of the same verb in the present tense. The passage must be quoted at length: Since of the actions (praxeon) \ that have a limit none is an end (telos) but they are for the sake of an end, for example, with respect to the process of losing weight it [i.e., the end] is thinness, but whenever one is losing weight in this way one is in motion, and because that for the sake of which [a motion exists] does not inhere in the motion, this [motion] is not an action (praxis), or at least it is not complete (teleia), for it is not an end. But the end and action belong to that other kind. For example, one is seeing and at the same time one has seen (heorake), \ and one is practically wise (phronei) and one has been practically wise (pephroneke), \ is thinking and has thought (nenoeken); \ but it is not the case that one is learning and has learned or that one is being cured and one has been cured. Also, one lives well and at the same time has lived well, and one is happy and at the same time has been happy. If not, it is necessary [for the action] sometime to stop, as in the process of losing weight, but in these cases it does not, but rather, one lives and has lived.41 Again, here the difference between a motion, such as losing weight, and an action or activity, such as living, is determined with respect to the status of the end, telos. A motion tends toward an external end, while an action has taken over its end (telos); it is complete (teleia) at each moment of its existence. Here Aristotle attempts to think the telos as internal to the action itself.42 However, this sort of activity is thematized not only as having its end in itself, that is, as an entelecheia, but also as at the same time having its beginning, its arche \ in itself. This is captured by the strange formulation that places the perfect tense of a verb next to an iteration of the same verb in the present

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

103

tense: the same being has seen and is seeing, has lived and is living.43 This formulation resonates with those passages that deploy the perfect tense and the adverb ed \ e \ to gesture to the moment of autarchy. For here, as there the perfect tense, with its completed aspect, should be understood to point to the fact that the arche \ has always already been taken up into the being of the composite. By placing this perfect form of the verb next to the present tense, with its progressive aspect, however, Aristotle finds an expression for the unity of the past and the present in the activity itself. 44 Based on this model, to be is to exist as the active identity of past and present; it is to be determined by the past, but not exclusively so, for there remains in this formulation an emphasis on the activity of the present that infuses the structure of this identity with a certain dimension of openness. This openness is further affirmed by the recognition that the end or telos of the action is in the action itself. To think ousia as praxis is to hold the tension between past and future in the activity of the present; it is to recognize the tode ti as determined by the past and directed toward the future, that is, as having taken its arche \ and telos into itself. The concept of historywhich finds its expression here in the use of the perfect tense, but throughout the middle books of the Metaphysics generally in the ti en \ einai formulationanswers the concern for continuity. Just as the hypokeimenon of the Categories and the intransient form of the Physics had secured order through change in their respective economies, the historical dimension of praxis accounts for continuity in the dynamic economy of principles. The history of a being, like the hypokeimenon of an object or its intransient form, accounts for the diachronic identity of ousia. A being is what it has always been as long as it continues to function according to its own internal purposivenessthat is, as long as it remains en-ergeia, at work. Thus although the history of a finite ousia ultimately includes something of its long genealogical heritage, it begins as the history of this composite only once the principle has been taken up into the individual. This moment of autarchy, however, is far more complex than the mere imposition of form, for it always already involves the interplay between form and matter. Thus the present-perfect formulation gives expression to a sort of reversal in Aristotles thinking: whereas the view found in the Categories posited the primacy of synchronic identity in order to give an account of diachronic identity, the Metaphysics suggestion that ousia is praxis sees synchronic identity through the lens of diachronic identity, for a being only is what it is at any given time insofar as it continues to function as the being it always already has been. In fact, the present-perfect formulation itself opens up a conception of temporality different from that developed in the Physics on the model of motion.45 The finite temporality of the tode ti, its presence, is saturated with the past and directed toward the future. As praxis, the tode ti is complete at every moment of its existence; its ti en \ einai is entelecheia.

104

The Ethics of Ontology

The Priority of Energeia


Once this important new meaning of energeia or praxis is introduced, Aristotle turns his attention in IX.8 to establishing the various senses of its priority over dunamis. Unfortunately, because the term energeia can be used to refer to the form in distinction from the matter as well as to their dynamic identity, it is often unclear precisely what sense of energeia is intended in Aristotles discussion of its priority. We may gain some orientation, however, from Scaltsass suggestion that although in the nominative energeia can refer either to the concrete substance or the substantial form, in the dative, energeia only refers to the composite.46 Let us keep this in mind as we investigate the priority of energeia in Metaphysics IX.8 more closely, for it not only offers some orientation through a very difficult text, it also allows us to bring into focus a certain tension in Aristotles thinking at this juncture. To anticipate, although with the equivocal meaning of tode ti, the deployment of the vocabulary of energeia and dunamis, and the distinction between kinesis \ and praxis, Aristotle points to a dynamic economy of principles capable of doing justice to the unicity of finite ousia that also responds to his concern for continuity and order, there remains in Aristotle a tendency to retreat back to the hylomorphic economy of kinetic principles to secure, once and for all, the order of things. We will see that this tendency expresses itself most clearly in Aristotles discussion of what he calls the priority of energeia in ousia. Although it is not always perspicuous what sense of energeia Aristotle has in mind, it is clear that he intends to argue that energeia is prior to every sense of dunamis. He claims that energeia is prior in logos, ousia, and time. Let us take these in the order in which Aristotle presents them. He begins with the priority in logos of energeia. He suggests that we come to know the dunamis of something by attending to it in energeia. The logos or account of dunamis depends on and is derived from that which exists in energeia. He says: that which is primarily capable is capable because it is possible for it to be in actuality.47 Aristotle uses a dative articular infinitive of the verb energazesthai to express the priority of energeia here. The force of the dative is causal, but it also points to the precise sense of energeia that Aristotle has in mind here, for it is not the form in separation from the matter that concerns him, rather, he intends to highlight the action itself. Although he includes examples of both kineseis \ (building) and praxeis (seeing) in this discussion, these examples are designed to bring out the priority of the activity over the capacity. Here dunamis is known through direct encounter with the energeia. This makes good sense from the perspective of the dynamic economy of ontological principles, for we can only designate matter as a tode ti in potency by abstracting it from the activity of the concrete ousia through which it is manifest. Aristotles discussion of the priority of energeia in time reinforces the notion that he is here establishing not so much the priority of form over mat-

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

105

ter as the priority of the composite tode ti understood as energeia. For Aristotle, there is one sense in which energeia is not prior to dunamis, and another in which it is. When viewed from one perspective, it is true that dunamis is in a sense prior in time to energeia, for the seed and the matter are potentially a child before they are in energeia. However, prior to these things, there must exist something in energeia (used in the dative) from which these things are generated. Aristotle puts it this way: . . . but prior in time to these [potential things] there existed other beings in actuality from which these [potential] things were generated. For it is always by a being in actuality that another being becomes actualized from what it was in potency; for example, a human-being [is actualized] from a human-being, the musical from the musical, as there is always a first mover, and this mover always exists in actuality.48 Although here Aristotle returns to the kinetic account, he is clear to insist that although the intergenerational transferal of form must be given according to the economy of kinetic principles, it is important not to forget that prior to this kinetic transaction, there is a being that exists in energeia, that is, as the active identity of form and matter. Although he appeals to the notion of the first mover, he does not seem to have the ultimate prime mover in mind, for he is clearly speaking of the proximate mover of the individual new human-being, namely, the father. Thus here too there is a priority of the concrete being in energeia over dunamis. Interestingly, however, this perspective seems to be somewhat at odds with what Aristotle had said in the chapter before. There he claimed that it might not even be possible to call the seed potentially a human-being before it has entered into relation with the matter.49 Although at the beginning of IX.8 Aristotle was clear to explicitly state that energeia is prior to every sense of dunamis, not only that which is said to be a principle of change in another qua other, but also of every principle of motion and rest,50 there may be a sense of dunamis that escapes this determination, namely, that sense of dunamis endemic to the conception of praxis, itself irreducible to motion. This is the dunamis that remains operative even in the energeia of the being itself, the dunamis that appears the moment the being takes its principle of being into itself and becomes, for the first time, what it is. That this is in fact the case may be seen if we look more closely at the priority of energeia in ousia, for in much of this text, it is clear that Aristotle has the composite individual as the identity of energeia and dunamis in mindindeed, much of our understanding of the meaning of the active identity of energeia and dunamis has already been drawn from this discussion. However, as we will see, in the end, when Aristotle establishes the

106

The Ethics of Ontology

most dominant sense of the priority of energeia in ousia, he retreats to the economy of kinetic principles and to the ultimate prime mover in order to, as he readily admits, assuage the concerns of those who worry that the universe might be worn out by its activity and cease to exist, having been overcome by dunamis. Aristotle establishes the priority of energeia in ousia first by reasserting the position established with respect to time: the adult (male) human-being is prior to the child, and the human-being is prior to the seed, for the former already has its form (eidos), but the latter does not.51 Here, as we saw earlier, that which is in energeia is understood to be already in possession of the eidos, that is, to have already taken the eidos into itself. This suggests, however, that the being itself is complete, finished, completely developed as soon as it has taken its principle of being into itself. As long as we think these terms according to the economy of kinesis, \ the account makes no sense, for surely the being develops and changes even (and especially) after it has taken its principle of being into itself. Thus Aristotle must establish a conception of the activity of being that is capable of developing and changing without allowing the model of motion to subvert that of action. He does precisely this when he delineates two different sorts of ends, one appropriate to the model of kines\ is, the other to that of energeia. We have already suggested that the meaning of telos with respect to praxis had to be different than that applied to kines\ is, for kinetic ends remain external to the motion itself, while praxeis are said to be their own ends. The distinction that Aristotle establishes in Metaphysics IX.8 is between two sorts of ultimate ends: one, proper to kines\ is, is said to be external to or, as Aristotle puts it, over and above (para) the process itself, and the other, proper to energeia or praxis, is said to be other (allo) than but not over and above the praxis itself.52 Aristotle makes this clear with reference to his paradigmatic examples of motions and actions. The function or ergon of building a house does not lie in the process itself but in something over and above the process, namely, in the house. Here the house is said to be the end over and above (para) the process of building.53 However, with respect to praxeis, the function is not something over and above the process but rather, internal to it; thus although there may be determinate results identifiable during the process, these results are not, strictly speaking, over and above the action itself. Indeed, as Aristotle says, In those cases in which there is no other function beyond the energeia, the energeia exists in that which has it, for example, seeing is in that which sees and theorizing is in that which theorizes and life is in the soul, and so happiness too, for it is a sort of life.54 Here the function is the end internal to the action itself. Strictly speaking, a praxis does not come to a conclusion, like a kines\ is, but it can begin, end, and give rise to different, identifiable results during its lifetime. What we cannot say is that the action itself was for the sake of these results considered as something external to that

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

107

action. This distinction between ends that are para and those that are not allows Aristotle to speak of life as a development without positing an external end toward which it must always be directed. Thus he is able to do justice to the autarchy of being, to its ontological independence from the process through which it was produced, for ousia is no mere product. Once it takes its principle into itself, it no longer depends on an external principle to maintain itself in existence, and although it remains always in dunamis, this potency cannot be understood in separation from the activity that constitutes its identity. This is the very conception of the identity of energeia and dunamis that Aristotle had sought when he began Book IX. Throughout most of IX.8, Aristotle can be seen endorsing the priority of the energeia of the concrete composite ousia. However, immediately after reasserting the distinction between kinesis \ and energeia/praxis, Aristotle reverts to the kinetic economy to secure the ultimate order of things. In so doing, he turns once and for all away from the concrete, finite, contingent individual toward the ultimate cause of the universe. He does this by returning to the question of temporal priority in which the composite adult existing in energeia was seen to be prior to the child. He introduces a temporal regression into the discussion, and in order to posit an end to this regress, he takes refuge in the ultimate prime mover: and as we said, one energeia always precedes another in time, until we come to the eternal prime mover.55 Aristotle seeks ultimate solace in the security of the energeia of the prime mover. This energeia is eternal, constantly present, necessary, always dominating all beings from without, so that, indeed, Aristotle can say: And so the Sun and the stars and the whole heaven are always active, and there is not the fear, which those concerned with nature do fear, that they will stop. Nor are they worn out by this activity, for their motion does not come from a potentiality of two contradictories, as in destructible beings, which results in the continuity of such motion being subject to wear; for the cause of weariness is ousia in the sense of matter or dunamis, and not in the sense of energeia.56 This desire to allay the fear of discontinuity ultimately forces Aristotle to turn away from the conceptual resources that his own intense ontological engagement with finite contingent beings uncovered. These resourcesto ti en \ einai, tode ti, praxis, and entelecheiaare capable of accounting for continuity without resorting to the absolute hegemony of the first mover. As contingent, the continuity established by these concepts forfeits the timeless, permanent security of the continuity posited by the appeal to the prime mover. What is gained in this sacrifice, however, is the opportunity to critically consider the very process by which the identity of the individual is itself conceptualized as continuous.57

108

The Ethics of Ontology

THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE DOUBLE STRATEGY


We are now in a position to appreciate the results of Aristotles double strategy for overcoming the two aporiae with which we have been concerned. The tode ti, as an equivocal term, was seen to have three senses, one applicable to matter, another to the form, and a third to the composite. All three senses now take on a new significance when determined by the dynamic economy of ontological principles. The composite is a tode ti in the most strict sense, because it is separable without qualificationit clearly has its own independent, autarchic existence. This existence itself, however, has now been conceived in terms of energeia, entelecheia, and praxis, that is, as the active identity of form and matter that results from its having taken its beginning (arche) \ and end (telos) into itself. Indeed, once this activity ceases, the tode ti ceases to be what it was. From this perspective, the significance of suggesting that matter is potentially a tode ti comes into focus, for it points to the necessity of the actualization of matterthat is, matter is a tode ti only insofar as it is capable of coming into relation with form. By saying that it is potentially a tode ti, Aristotle is able to abstract matter from form in order to thematize it as one of the grounding moments of the composite. Similarly, the second sense of tode ti, in which the form is said to be a tode ti and separable in logos, also allows Aristotle to isolate the form as an ontological condition for the possibility of the composite. As we have seen, Aristotle has the tendency to identify the form as the active principle that initiates the activity of ousia by entering into the matter and metabolizing. Thus it can be apprehended as in some sense prior to the existence of the individual. However, as long as this priority is understood according to the economy of kinetic principles, then the autarchy of the new being remains eclipsed. The form is not a hypokeimenon in the sense that it remains constantly present throughout the change; rather, upon entering into relation with matter, it itself is reidentified according to the identity of the whole as the new being takes its principle into itself. Indeed, as the active principle and cause of the composite, the form is itself not something singular and capable of independent existence save through abstraction. However, neither is this abstraction to be reified into something universal with its own real existence external to the identity of the composite in which it is actualized. This is the significance of the equivocal use of the term tode ti in reference to form. Form is a tode ti insofar as it can be separated in logos and therefore thematized as an active internal cause. There is, then, no need to look to an external cause for the identity of form and matter in the individual composite, for the active existence of the composite is itself the cause. Thus Aristotle attempts to solve the aporia of identity by first stepping behind the static structure of thought that led to it, and second by translating the vocabulary of form and matter into energeia from dunamis, respectively. Once this has been established, Aristotle introduces the notion of praxis

The Dynamic Economy of Principles

109

which, along with energeia and entelecheia, names the active identity of energeia and dunamis. To understand the identity of the composite in terms of praxis is to locate the ontological grounds of that which is considered a tode ti in the composite individual itself. The universal has no independent existence apart from this identity. From this perspective, the ontological side of the universal/singular aporia seems circumvented, for as the grounds of the composite, form and matter are, strictly speaking, prior to the distinction between the universal and the singular that is only first established on the basis of the presence of the tode ti taken in its most strict sense as the independently existing concrete individual. However, even if this account of the safe passage through the ontological side of the universal/singular aporia is accepted, the epistemological side remains, for it seems that by affirming the ontological priority of the composite individual, Aristotle has rejected the possibility of establishing ontology as an episteme \ .\ The extent to which this both is and is not the case is one of the main focuses of the next chapter.

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

Even with the establishment of the dynamic economy of principles, the universal/singular aporia remains only partially circumvented. In fact, the forceful argument found in VII.13 that ousia cannot be universal and Aristotles insistence in Book VIII that the strict meaning of tode ti is applicable only to the composite suggest that Aristotle has abandoned the attempt to establish an episteme \ \ of finite ousia.1 As has been seen, technically, the substantial form and the matter are neither universal nor singular, for the universal/singular dichotomy itself is ultimately parasitic upon the concrete presence of the tode ti. Further, in Metaphysics IX.8, the composite individual, whose ontological identity is praxis or energeia, takes on both an ontological and an epistemological priority, for energeia is said to be prior not only in time and ousia but also in logos, by which it was shown that knowledge of what exists in energeia is prior to the knowledge or account of what exists in dunamis. If this is the case, however, then Aristotle seems simply to have relinquished the possibility of establishing a genuine episteme \ \ of finite ousia, for such a science requires universal knowledge, a knowledge that it is denied in the case of matter and form, because they are not universal, and in the case of the composite, because it is singular. Yet this conclusion is merely apparent. In the enigmatic andas Julia Annas so aptly puts ittantalizing2 tenth chapter of Metaphysics, Book XIII, Aristotle suggests a possible way to resolve the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia. This solution is, like that of the ontological side of the problem, more a circumvention than a resolution, for it entails renouncing the legitimacy of the Platonic assumption that the episteme \ \ sought is universal. Further, as with

111

112

The Ethics of Ontology

the ontological side of the aporia, the epistemological side finds its ultimate solution in the equivocal meaning of the term tode ti and the conceptual distinction between energeia and dunamis. The sort of knowledge that Aristotle points to in Metaphysics XIII.10 is explicitly directed toward that which is a tode ti 3that is, toward finite ousia understood no longer as singular but now as a composite individual, a unity of form and matter, energeia and dunamis, the name for which is praxis. The parallels with the account of the middle books of the Metaphysics are important, for they suggest that although Aristotle leaves the meaning of this sort of knowledge underdeveloped, he seems to have recognized that some way around the epistemological side of the aporia was possible based on the dynamic understanding of ousia itself. Furthermore, with these parallels, Aristotle points us in what at first glance appears to be a rather surprising direction: to the heart of the Nicomachean Ethics, and specifically to the technical discussion of phronesis, \ the peculiar form of knowledge designed explicitly to address matters of praxis. On further reflection, however, this direction should not be all that surprising. First, Aristotle explicitly deploys the term praxis the very theme of the Nicomachean Ethicsto name the dynamic identity of ousia in Metaphysics IX.68. Second, the distinction between praxis and kinesis \ established there closely parallels that between praxis and poiesis \ developed in Nicomachean Ethics VI.4. This suggests that praxis in the two texts has the same technical sense. Finally, the middle books of the Metaphysics engaged finite, sensible ousia, a being contingent in its very nature. It should not, therefore, be unexpected to find some important insight into the nature of the knowledge of such contingent beings in the Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle addresses, as he himself put it, beings that can be otherwise. To trace this undeveloped but nevertheless discernible and promising itinerary from the middle books of the Metaphysics through XIII.10 to the heart of the Nicomachean Ethics is the purpose of this chapter.

KNOWLEDGE AS ENCOUNTER
It has been widely recognized that Aristotles revision of the Platonic assumption that all knowledge is universal found in Metaphysics XIII.10 marks an important advance with respect to the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia. Owens considers it Aristotles express answer to the problem,4 while Frede and Patzig suggest that with the distinction between actual and potential knowledge, Aristotle both solves the aporia and fundamentally revises his conception of knowledge.5 Annas argues that XIII.10 marks a discussion separate from the rest of Book XIII, and that it is directed at the universal/singular problem, though she insists that the passage does not solve all of the difficulties.6

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

113

Yet although its bearing on the universal/singular aporia is vitally important, the true significance of XIII.10 lies in its insistence on the epistemological primacy of the direct encounter with the tode ti. The doctrine that Aristotle hits upon here and leaves tantalizingly underdeveloped is quite consistent with what has been called his empiricism. As has been frequently recognized, Aristotles empiricism is not that of the moderns, for neither does he believe that sense perception alone acquaints us with universals, nor does he assume something like a Lockean tabula rasa.7 Rather, for Aristotle, it is always a direct encounter that is the starting point of genuine knowledge. This is as true of the discussion of episteme \ \ in Posterior Analytics II.19 as it is of actual knowledge in De Anima II.5 and phronesis \ in Nicomachean Ethics VI.8 In Metaphysics XIII.10, the object of knowledge is explicitly thematized as a tode ti, which in its strictest sense refers to the concrete, composite individual. As knowledge of the individual, the episteme \ \ of XIII.10 points in the direction of the Nicomachean Ethics, and specifically to the discussion of phronesis, \ which itself is thematized as knowledge of the individual.9 Thus if we are to appreciate the full significance of the path of thinking indicated but not pursued in XIII.10, then not only will we need to show how it satisfactorily dissolves the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia but also how it points us toward the discussion of phronesis \ in the Ethics.

The Objects of Knowledge in Actuality


In one sense, the account introduced in XIII.10 is nothing new, for it coincides with what Aristotle generally has to say about how universal knowledge is derived from the direct experience of individuals. After rehearsing the basic problems that arise from the universal/singular aporia and claiming that this problem pertains not only to those who speak of forms but also to those who do not, Aristotle suggests the possibility that the assumption that all knowledge is of the universal is in one sense true and in another not true: For knowledge, just as to know, is twofold, of which one is in dunamis, the other in energeia. Dunamis, being, as matter, universal and indefinite is of the universal and indefinite; energeia being definite is of that which is definite, being a tode ti is of a tode ti; but sight sees the color universally only by accident, because this [individual] color which it sees is a color, and that which the grammarian investigatesthis [individual] alphais an alpha.10 Knowledge of the universal is potential and depends on the actual encounter between the knower and the object of knowledge. The examples that Aristotle deploys are, as usual, telling. He seems to have in mind the direct encounter

114

The Ethics of Ontology

between a specific color and the eye that sees, a specific letter and the grammarian. On the basis of this encounter, the eye and the grammarian can then look through this individual instance to its more universal nature. The process envisioned is not unlike what Aristotle calls epagoge \ \ in which a passage is made from individuals encountered directly in experience to universals. As Engberg-Pedersen has put it, epagoge \ \ involves acquiring insight into some universal point as a consequence of attending to particular cases.11 The approach is empirical and roughly analogous to what Aristotle develops in the final chapter of the final book of the Posterior Analytics. There he suggests how one comes to grasp the universal through sense perception (aisthesis), \ which, acquainting itself directly with individuals, generates a memory, and from many memories, a single experience (empeiria) is produced that then may be applied to other individuals of the same sort.12 As Allan Bck writes: When we apprehend this phantasm [the single memory produced from sensation] as universal, sc., as applying to all similar cases, even beyond those actually experienced, we have apprehended the universal. Aristotle calls this ability to grasp the universal nous. 13 Here nous names the capacity to discern the universal through the individual, that is, to see the individual as a particular. In XIII.10, this universal is indefinite, potential, ultimately receiving concrete determination only in the actual encounter with the individual. But the doctrine of XIII.10 is only roughly analogous to Posterior Analytics II.19, because the former, unlike the latter, speaks neither of nous, nor of empeiria, nor, indeed, of aisthesis \ . Indeed, where Posterior Analytics II.19 seems to speak of the direct apprehension of the universal via nous,14 XIII.10 insists that the universal exists merely as potency and thus remains dependent on the actual encounter with the object. However, the basic model is the same: universal knowledge is derived from the actual encounter with the individual. It is peculiar, though, and quite significant, that Aristotle speaks not of aisthesis \ in potency and actuality, as he does elsewhere,15 but of episteme \ ,\ knowledge. For Owens, this term poses no real problem, for he takes the tode ti involved in the direct encounter to be the substantial form itselfits very ti en \ einaiwhich, according to him, is neither universal nor singular but responsible for the singularity of the individual.16 Thus according to Owens, Aristotles very deliberate use of the term tode ti in this passage points specifically to the substantial form. He writes: the term this, which can apply either to a singular or to a physical form (separate in notion), is used. A this is either a what-IS-being or a singular composite expressed according to its what-IS-being. It is not a universal. It may or may not be a singular.17 Although Owens endorses the translation of the term kath hekaston as singular, and he is indeed quite correct to insist on the importance of the appearance of the term tode ti in this passage, his assertion that what is directly encountered is the substantial form, while possible, is not the most natural reading of the text. In order to appreciate this, and to recognize that Aristotle

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

115

deliberately uses tode ti not in its qualified senseas referring to form separate in notionbut in its strict senseas referring to the composite separate without qualificationwe must recall not only the dynamic economy of principles developed in the previous chapter but also the manner in which Aristotle formulates the aporiai with which he is concerned in XIII.10. Aristotle formulates the separability aporia at the beginning of XIII.10 in the following passage: For if someone does not posit ousiai to be separate, and in the way that individual existing beings (ta kath hekasta ton \ onton) \ are said [to be separate], he will do away with ousia as we want to speak [about it]; but if someone posits separate ousiai, how will he posit the elements and the principles of them?18 The precise answer to the latter question is answered in the middle books of the Metaphysics by the twofold strategy outlined in the previous chapter. What is important about the present formulation of the aporia is the explicit use of the phrase ta kath hekasta ton \ onton \ to clarify the meaning of separate. This signifies, as Owens himself readily admits, that Aristotle has the unqualified sense of separate in mind, the sense in which composite individuals are said to be separate.19 However, when he comes to suggest a solution to the epistemological side of the aporia, Aristotle intentionally shifts the vocabulary by saying that there is actual knowledge not of a kath hekaston but of a tode ti. For Owens, the shift in vocabulary signals a shift in that which is signified, for no longer is the actually existing composite designated as the object of concern but rather the substantial form. There is solid textual evidence for this reading. Not only is there a shift in vocabulary from kath hekasta to tode ti, but the manner in which Aristotle presents the problem immediately before introducing the potency/actuality distinction makes it clear that he is concerned with the principles of beingstas to\n onton \ archas.20 Thus according to Owens, tode ti must be taken to mean separate in notion and not separate in an unqualified manner. The advantage of this reading is that it quite simply explains how the transition from the direct encounter with the individual substantial form to the universal happens. Owens writes: The grammarian knows actually this a. It is not actually a universal. But his knowledge of the a according to its what-IS-being, which is the source of its thisness, can be applied to any other a whatsoever. It is able to be applied universally, and so is potentially universal.21 The problem remains, however, as to why Aristotles examples point not to the substantial form but to concrete, determinate individuals. Aristotle insists that what sight sees is this very color before it, tode to chroma; \ the grammarian too knows not the form but this alpha before him, tode to alpha. For Owens, examples of this color and this alpha can be used to illustrate the

116

The Ethics of Ontology

direct knowledge of the substantial form: it is the form as seen in the singular, not the singular as such that is directly known. Thus Owens envisions knowledge in actuality as a sort of nous that is capable of directly apprehending the substantial form through the singular as such. Of course, Owens is careful to insist that this sort of direct knowledge of the form is not a noetic apprehension of a universal but the direct knowledge of the singular according to its form, which then can be potentially applied to other individuals with the same form. For Owens, unlike for Frede and Patzig, who appeal to this passage as evidence for the fact that forms are individual and not universal, the form is neither universal nor singular but a tode ti.22 There is little doubt that Owens is correct in maintaining that Aristotle intentionally uses the term tode ti in his formulation of knowledge in actuality. However, it is less obvious that the term is meant to signify the form, which is a tode ti in the highly qualified sense that it is separable in logos. Nowhere in XIII.10 does Aristotle suggest that this specific usage is in play. In fact, the most natural reading of the text points more directly to the tode ti taken in its unqualified sense as a determinate, demonstrable, composite individual. Two main pieces of textual evidence suggest this. First, as has been mentioned, Aristotle has already claimed that the sort of separability necessary for the resolution of universal/singular aporia is that of the singular existing being.23 Of course, the switch from ta kath hekasta to tode ti and the concern to discover a way to know the principles of existing being could signify a shift of perspective from the concrete individual to the form, as Owens suggests. It is more likely, however, that the term tode ti is deployed in order to emphasize the demonstrable presence of the object of knowledge, that is, the fact that it is precisely this being here that is actually known. Here the demonstrative dimension of the tode ti takes on decisive significance: it underscores the determinate presence of that which is known. What is so present, however, is not the form but the composite individual. The direct encounter with the composite individual actualizes knowledge. Universal knowledge is only potential, ineluctably fettered to the direct encounter with the actual presence of the concrete tode ti. The use of tode ti in this context reinforces the importance of this direct encounter. The second piece of textual evidence that supports the suggestion that the tode ti refers to concrete individuals involves the examples that Aristotle uses. The object of knowledge in actuality is explicitly this alpha, tode to alpha, or this color, tode to chroma \ . This is the typical use of the demonstrative tode, deployed to delineate that which is in the immediate vicinity of the speaker, that which is encountered as actually present. Nowhere does Aristotle suggest that it is the alpha or color according to its form that is directly known. Obviously, however, neither a concrete letter nor a concrete color is the sort of being that Aristotle is in the habit of calling ousia, for neither seems to be composite in the manner of an individual existing being. Yet they retain a sim-

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

117

ilarity to such beings insofar as they are encountered as determinate individuals capable of being demonstrably designated. This is the dimension that Aristotle seems to want to emphasize in appealing to them as examples.24 The most natural reading of the text seems then to be that the term tode ti is meant to designate the concrete individual and not the form, for without any explicit indication that it is the substantial form that is directly known in this encounter, it is most reasonable to take tode ti in its unqualified sense as referring to the concrete individual. Of course, problems remain on this view as well. It is not exactly clear why this sort of direct encounter with the concrete individual deserves to be called an episteme \ \ at all; rather, it would seem more appropriate to call it an aisthesis \ . However, the text is truncated. Just as Owenss interpretation seems to require something like the direct noetic apprehension of the individual form to make sense of a text in which the word nous does not appear, so too the interpretation offered here seems to require something like induction based on direct experience in a text in which neither aisthesis \ nor epagoge \ \ appear.25 Both readings could indeed appeal to the use of the term episteme \ \ to justify importing any of the aforementioned notions into the interpretation of the text, but the truth is, Aristotle speaks of none of them here.

The Nature of Knowledge in XIII.10


Julia Annas is less confident than Owens that Aristotle has indeed circumvented the universal/singular aporia with the introduction of the distinction between potential and actual knowledge in XIII.10. She raises two important issues that Aristotles account leaves unclear. These issues provide an excellent framework from which to investigate the limitations of the solution that Aristotle offers in XIII.10. They also point to the sort of knowledge that may in fact offer safe passage. We begin with the second problem she introduces. Annas asks how the claim that the elements and principles are knowable is to be reconciled with the claim that they are individuals. She writes: Aristotle has shown that there is a sense in which the individual is known by the actualization of the (merely potential) knowledge of the universal. But if we apply this to knowledge of the first principles or elements, we find that these do after all have universals prior to them in some way (since knowledge of them is necessary for there to be knowledge of the elements), and we seem to be back with the second horn of the original dilemma.26 The second horn of the original dilemma is, of course, the fact that if the principles are singular and not universal, then the elements will not be knowable.

118

The Ethics of Ontology

Interestingly, Owenss interpretation offers a relatively simple solution to one aspect of this question: knowledge of the first principles is not knowledge of the singular (kath hekaston) but of the tode ti, which for him is, strictly speaking, neither universal nor singular. For Owens, we have direct, actual knowledge of the form as tode ti that provides the basis for further knowledge of other beings with the same form, though this knowledge remains only potential because it is able to be applied indefinitely to all things in which that form happens to be found.27 Yet if we take the term tode ti to refer to the individual, as we have suggested, and as Annas seems to assume, then the problem that Annas introduces apparently remains. It seems, however, that Annas does not take seriously Aristotles assertion that there can be a sort of knowledge of individuals. Two features of her formulation of the problem suggest this. First, she glosses the meaning of the episteme \ \ in actuality of individuals as the actualization of potential knowledge of the universal. The problem with this formulation is that it renders the universal and potential prior to the individual and actual. This vision of things may operate in the Posterior Analytics, at least on a reading of that text that emphasizes the syllogistic notion of apodeictic episteme \ \ in which universal principles are brought to bear on individual instances in order to generate necessary conclusions.28 However, in the Metaphysics, Aristotle is quite clear never to give the universal epistemological or ontological priority, and whenever the question as to the priority of potentiality or actuality emerges, he unequivocally sides with actuality.29 Annass insistence that actual knowledge is the actualization of a merely potential knowledge, however, implies that the potential universal has some sort of priority over the actual individual, that the individual is nothing more than an actualization of the universala particular. She reinforces this vision of things when she insists that principles . . . do after all have universals prior to them in some way (since knowledge of them is necessary for there to be knowledge of the elements).30 Such statements, however, fail to recognize the radical departure from the Platonic conception of knowledge that Aristotle suggests in this text. The whole thrust of the text is designed to establish the possibility that there is genuine knowledge precisely of individuals. Everything is designed to affirm the priority of the actually existing individual and to suggest that it is only through the actual knowledge (episteme \ \ energeiai) of the individual that its principles can be knownthat is, these principles can be thematized as principles only on the basis of this concrete encounter. We have already suggested how Aristotles thinking sets the stage for this new conception of knowledge in actuality by rejecting the Platonic conception of separately existing forms, by delineating the various meanings of the tode ti and, most importantly, by establishing the notion of ontological praxis according to which an account of the autarchy of the concrete individual can be given. To suggest that knowledge of the principle is separate from and independent of

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

119

the direct knowledge of the individual, that there must be some universal prior to the individual, is to fail to appreciate not only Aristotles strong critique of Platonic forms but also the radical implications of the dynamic ontology developed in the middle books. Thus XIII.10 is important precisely because it introduces the possibility of developing a conception of knowledge appropriate for this new understanding of being. It is therefore difficult not only because it is underdeveloped, but also because it announces a fundamentally new conception of knowledge. However, because the conception of knowledge offered in XIII.10 is a radical departure from the Platonic notion, the precise sense in which it may be called an episteme \ \ remains unclear. The first problem that Annas introduces with respect to this text grapples with exactly this issue. She argues that what Aristotle is calling an episteme \ \ is, in fact, merely the recognition of an individual. She then asks: But are we entitled to call this simple recognition an instance of knowledge at all? Aristotles examples which indicated that knowledge must be of universals (1086b347) involved reasoning and connections between concepts, not the mere recognition of instances of a single concept. Further, the paradigms of knowledge offered there seemed to be instances of necessary truth, whereas this is an A is a simple matter of fact. The examples in terms of which Aristotle offers his solution are so different from those he employs in setting the problem that he seems unclear about what the conditions for knowledge are to be.31 Rather than being unclear about the conditions for knowledge, it could be that Aristotle is in the process of rethinking these very conditions. The introduction of the potency/actuality distinction is intentionally designed to suggest a way of thinking about knowledge unburdened by the Platonic assumption that all knowledge is universal. Thus while Annas is quite correct to question the right by which this vision of knowledge in actuality claims for itself the name episteme \ ,\ the answer might involve a reconsideration of the nature of episteme \ \ itself. Annas assumes, with plausible textual evidence, that Aristotle has apodeictic knowledge in mind when he speaks of episteme \ \ in energeia. Her justification for this assumption lies in the examples that Aristotle uses to illustrate the ramifications of the postulate that the principles are singular. After asserting that the elements will not then be knowable because all knowledge is of the universal, he offers the following: This is clear from demonstrations and definitions, for there is no deductive argument [sullogismos] that this triangle [tode to trigonon] \ has angles equal to two right angles unless every triangle has its angles equal to two right angles; nor that this human-being is an animal

120

The Ethics of Ontology

unless every human-being is an animal.32 Annas notes that these examples are somewhat surprising, for in a discussion of the possibility of direct knowledge of individuals, one might expect Aristotle to point to examples of general concepts such as redness as opposed to the perception of individual red objects. What we get, however, are examples of connections between concepts. For Annas, this suggests that by knowledge Aristotle has in mind predominantly what is (1) knowledge of what must be the case, not what contingently happens to be the case, and (2) knowledge of connections or inferences.33 If this is true, then the solution to the aporia is unsatisfactory, for it points merely to the possibility of direct knowledge of actual individuals and in no way explains how the sorts of necessary connections between concepts required of apodeictic knowledge are established. Put simply, because episteme \ \ in energeia is direct knowledge of the individual, it cannot be apodeictic, but if not apodeictic, then what sort of episteme \ \ is it? If Annas is correct and Aristotles examples can be taken to mean that he intends to establish a sort of apodeictic knowledge by introducing the distinction between epistem \ e \ in potency and that in actuality, then what he explicitly states in XIII.10 is insufficient. However, if his reconsideration of the Platonic assumption that all knowledge must be universal is taken more seriously, and Aristotle is seen to be rethinking the fundamental meaning of ontological knowledge itself, then perhaps epistem \ e \ in energeia can be seen not as just another sort of apodeictic knowledge but rather as a genuine knowledge of contingent individuals. Annass claim that Aristotle seeks both necessary knowledge and knowledge of connections or inferences is based on his formulation of the aporia, not on his suggestion of a solution. Once Aristotle challenges the validity of the all knowledge is universal assumption, he implicitly calls into question the wisdom of trying to foist apodeictic knowledge onto an ontology of contingent beings. It appears that as long as ontological epistem \ e \ is presumed to require apodeictic certainty, the universal/singular aporia will continue to be the most difficult to resolve.34 However, if apodeictic certainty is no longer required of ontological epistem \ e,\ then the knots of the epistemological side of the aporia begin to dissolve. Annas is correct: Aristotles examples do lead one to believe that he is searching for apodeictic knowledge of ousiai. One senses that he would like nothing more than to be able to rest secure in the certainty of demonstrative knowledge concerning concrete individuals. Yet Aristotles greatness lies in his unwillingness to sacrifice the phenomena in the face of pleas for the blessings of order.35 By introducing the possibility that there may be a genuine epistem \ e \ of individuals, Aristotle opens a space within which to reconsider the very nature of ontological knowledge. The limitations of this inchoate suggestion have been made clear by Annas. Not only is XIII.10 woefully inadequate if one assumes that Aristotle aims to establish a sort of

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

121

apodeictic knowledge, but it remains inadequatethough somewhat less woefullyeven when one does not make such an assumption. If Aristotle intends to rethink the very nature of ontological epistem \ e,\ and in so doing he relinquishes the hope of establishing apodeictic knowledge of contingent sensible ousiai, then it still remains to be seen how the direct encounter with individuals deserves to be called an epistem \ e \ at all. Based on this reading, Aristotles appeal to individual instances, this color or this A, is not as odd as Annas would have us believe, for it confirms Aristotles interest in developing a sort of knowledge suitable to the being of concrete individuals. However, Annass question But are we entitled to call this simple recognition an instance of knowledge at all? remains valid. Our perplexity over this question is deeply rooted in a philosophical heritagedetermined in part by Aristotles own concern for order and reinforced by the modern obsession with certaintythat posits apodeictic knowledge as the only sort of knowledge worthy of the name. The text of XIII.10 remains tantalizing, because this other, contingent knowledge remains decisively underdeveloped. Aristotle points to it and abruptly leaves off the discussion. However, if a valid resolution to the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia requires not only an account of the possibility of knowledge of individuals but also a renunciation of apodeictic certainty, then perhaps some insight into the sort of knowledge most befitting contingent ousiai may be found elsewhere in the Corpus Aristotelicum. In fact, precisely this sort of knowledge is developed in the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) under the name phronesis. \ In NE VI, Aristotle distinguishes phronesis \ from apodeictic episteme \ \ precisely because it, unlike episteme \ ,\ concerns that which can be otherwise and is directed toward the individual. Because of this, phronesis \ cannot be apodeictic, yet it remains nonetheless a genuine form of knowledge. This suggests that the sort of knowledge necessary for a resolution to the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporianamely, direct knowledge of contingent individualsmay be provided by Aristotles discussion of phronesis \ . To be clear, we are not suggesting that Aristotle himself envisioned phronesis \ as the solution to the universal/singular aporiathere is no explicit textual evidence to support such a suggestion. The claim here is only that his discussion of phronesis \ provides the requisite conceptual apparatus to address the aporia, whether Aristotle recognizes it or not. Further, however, there is good textual evidence for linking the discussion of sensible substance in the middle books of the Metaphysicsspecifically that of IX.6 and 8to the discussion of phronesis \ and praxis in the Nicomachean Ethics. This evidence further justifies the appeal to the Ethics to address the epistemological side of the aporia. Therefore, before we turn to a detailed investigation of the potential ontological significance of phronesis, \ it is necessary to establish the textual evidence that links the Metaphysics to the Nicomachean Ethics.

122

The Ethics of Ontology

THE ETHICAL DIMENSIONS OF THE METAPHYSICS


There is little doubt that Aristotle considered the inquiry of the Metaphysics distinct from that of the Ethics, though perhaps not as independent as those enthralled with the so-called fact/value distinction might like to believe. In the Metaphysics, Aristotle seems to hold out hope for a genuine, rigorous episteme \ \ of being qua being,36 whereas in the Ethics, he is clear to insist that we should expect only so much accuracy from a discipline as its subject matter will permit.37 Where the Metaphysics seems intent on delineating the necessary principles of being, the Ethics remains firmly focused on contingent existence. However, such strictly oppositional characterizations of these texts are at best schematic, at worst, misleading.38 As has been seen in the previous chapters, the central portion of what the ancient editor, Andronicus, ordered under the title ton \ meta ton \ phusika, Of the Things after the Physics, concerns finite, contingent beingsbeings for whom apodeictic knowledge is quite impossible. Further, although the distinction established in the Ethics between episteme \ \ and phronesis \ is developed explicitly in terms of necessary and contingent knowledge, even in the Posterior Analytics, where Aristotle is concerned to delineate the nature of apodeictic knowledge, he tends to blur the radical distinction between the necessary and contingent by insisting that there may be demonstrative knowledge also of what holds epi to polu, that is, for the most part.39 It has already been suggested that in Metaphysics XIII.10, Aristotle points to a sort of episteme \ \ that cannot be apodeictic, because it is directed toward the encounter with the concrete individual. All of this suggests that however strange it might sound to the orthodox reading of Aristotle, there is some justification for turning to the Ethics for insight into the ontological knowledge of that which is contingent.40 Indeed, by weakening his insistence on exactitude in the Ethics, Aristotle seems to open a space for precisely such a conception of contingent knowledge. In order to justify the connection between the Metaphysics and the Ethics we are suggesting, it is necessary to look more closely at the relationship between Metaphysics IX.6 and Nicomachean Ethics VI, and specifically the manner in which they establish the energeia/kinesis \ and praxis/poiesis \ distinction, respectively.

Linking Metaphysics IX.6 to Nicomachean Ethics VI


Ethical vocabulary is rife in Metaphysics IX.6. Three of the five examples Aristotle uses to distinguish energeia from kinesis \ in this text are central topics of discussion in Aristotles Ethicsphronein, eudaimonein, and eu zen \ . Furthermore, the specific word that Aristotle uses to name the special sort of energeia he develops in Metaphysics IX.6 is praxis, itself a key concern of the Ethics. In order to establish a link between IX.6 and the Nicomachean Ethics in general,

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

123

and Book VI in particular, it is necessary to defend the thesis that not only the words themselves but the meaning attached to them is the same in both texts. While it is simple enough to point out that these terms appear in both texts in NE VI, the verb phronein never appears as such, although the noun phronesis \ derived from it is the central topic of the bookit is quite another thing to suggest that the concepts are used in the same manner. With eudaimonia and eu zen, \ this second step is rather straightforward, for the terms carry with them an inherent ethical meaning that praxis and phronein/phronesis \ do not. Let us consider these later terms before turning to the concept of praxis. Werner Jaeger has traced the trajectory of the changing significance of phronesis \ as a philosophical concept.41 According to Jaeger, it was Socrates who made the ordinary understanding of the term into an important philosophical concept. For Socrates, phronesis \ was, quite simply, the ethical power of reason, and because Socrates was primarily concerned with ethical questions, phronesis \ became an important part of his philosophical vocabulary. In appropriating the term for philosophy, however, Socrates retained the ethical connotations it always had in ordinary language. However, Jaeger writes, It was then taken over by Plato, who strongly emphasized the element of intellectual knowledge in it, and examined the special nature of this knowledge.42 At this point, phronesis \ became closely connected to nous, as it is, for example, throughout Platos Philebus and Timaeus.43 It became, according to Jaeger, pure theoretical reason, losing its ordinary ethical meaning almost completely and taking on significance as the most divine power of reason in human-beings, the faculty by which the True and the Good may be directly apprehended. Jaeger argues that although Aristotle was deeply influenced by this conception of phronesis, \ by the time Aristotle writes the sixth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, the meaning of phronesis \ seems to have been returned to its Socratic sense.44 Jaegers account of the changing meaning of phronesis \ is insightful. It is quite likely that Aristotle would have been influenced by the Platonic use of the terman influence that might not have ended as abruptly after the Protrepticus as Jaeger suggests. Indeed, the fact that there is a role for nous to play in phronesis \ even in NE VI points to the ongoing influence of the Platonic position. The important question here, however, is precisely how we are to understand its use in Metaphysics IX.6. Does the phronein that appears as a praxis there signify the purely theoretical, Platonic sense of the term or the ethical, more Socratic sense developed by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics? It seems likely that there is a combination of both meanings at work in IX.6. Having been sandwiched between horan and noein, phronein seems to lean toward the Platonic determination. Seeing, as the opening lines of the Metaphysics famously suggest, has always been of particular importance for the Greeks as a model for knowledge, particularly the immediate sort of knowledge involved in the direct apprehension of the Truth.45 Nous, in the Eleatic tradition of philosophy, is the name for the power by which the Truth is

124

The Ethics of Ontology

directly apprehended.46 In this company, the Platonic understanding of phronein seems to come to the fore. However, even in the Ethics, phronesis \ retains a close relation to nous. Furthermore, the role that nous plays in phronesis \ as developed in NE VI is itself intimately bound up with, if not collapsed into, aisthesis \ .47 Thus the appearance of phronein between horan and noein does not necessarily imply that the former term is used in its purely Platonic sense. On the other hand, its appearance, in close conjunction with eudaimonein and eu zen, \ which are inherently ethical concepts, points to the possibility that phronein may indeed retain its Socratic connotations. Furthermore, the overall point of appealing to phronein in Metaphysics IX.6 is consistent with the use of phronesis \ in the NE, for in both texts the term refers to an activity that is an end in itself. Indeed, in his translation of the Metaphysics, Hippocrates Apostle does not hesitate to give phronein the technical translation it receives in the Nicomachean Ethics: we are engaged in acts of prudence and have been so engaged.48 Although it supports the thesis that IX.6 is closely related to the Nicomachean Ethics, a translation that emphasizes the ethical dimensions of the termwhich has here too been usedis perhaps a bit strong. It is probably true that Aristotle does not intend the term as it appears in IX.6 in the full technical sense it receives in NE VI. However, even if this full technical sense of phronein is not intended in this passage, its ethical undertones are amplified as it echoes off eudaimonia and eu zen, \ on the one hand, and praxis, on the other hand. For the purposes of the argument offered here, there is no need to defend the stronger thesis that phronein has the full technical meaning that phronesis \ receives in NE VI. It is enough to recognize it as embedded in a constellation of concepts that play decisive roles in the Ethics, for what we seek are signs pointing us clearly in that direction. It can hardly be denied that the appearance of phronein in IX.6 is one such indicator. A second indicator is, of course, the use of the term praxis in distinguishing energeia from kinesis \ . Aristotle uses praxis in a variety of places outside of his ethical writings, where it receives its firm technical sense as an end in itself.49 A brief and by no means comprehensive survey of some of the other contexts in which the word is found will clarify the extent to which, in IX.6, praxis is used in a very specific, technical sense, a sense that finds a close parallel in NE VI. In the De Caelo, Aristotle describes how that which is best has its good without praxis.50 He suggests that the stars should be understood to enjoy a certain sort of life and praxis, and that humans have the greatest variety of praxeis. Here, however, a praxis is clearly understood as directed toward an end beyond itself, for the best being has no need of praxis, precisely because it is an end in itself, while a praxis is said to require a means and an end.51 Thus in the De Caelo, praxis is what Metaphysics IX.68 would describe as a kinesis \ . In fact, some of the examples that Aristotle deploys to illustrate the meaning of

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

125

praxis in De Caelo II.12 are precisely the ones he uses to illustrate kineseis \ in distinction from praxeis in IX.6, namely, becoming healthy and losing weight.52 Interestingly, however, praxis is closely conjoined to the concept of life in the De Caelo. In this, it retains an affinity with all of the senses of praxis found in Aristotle. In the Generation of Animals, Aristotle ascribes praxis to plants, linking it closely to the idea of function, ergon, and associating it with the generation of seed.53 This link to the life process, and specifically to procreation, is reinforced almost everywhere that Aristotle uses the term in his biological works. For example, in the History of Animals, he ascribes actions to animals, whereby he means primarily their habits, what they manifestly do.54 Often, however, praxis is used explicitly to refer to the function of procreation. At 539b21, Aristotle calls procreation itself ten \ praxin ten \ gennetike \ n, \ the generative action, and at 589a410, he divides actions into two parts, one concerning procreation and the other feeding. However, even in the biological works, praxis is linked closely to character and circumstance, as it is in the Ethics.55 In the Metaphysics itself, the term is most often used in a nontechnical sense. In Metaphysics I.1, Aristotle insists that all praxeis and generations, geneseis, concern individuals and not universalsa doctrine that is quite consistent with that developed in the Ethics.56 However, elsewhere, praxeis are quite simply identified with other changes that have their ends outside of themselves.57 In Metaphysics IV.6, Aristotle seems to use praxis in the same manner it was used in the History of Animals (i.e., to refer to what is manifestly done).58 Interestingly, however, a more subtle vision of praxis begins to emerge in Metaphysics V.20. In defining the various meanings of disposition (hexis), Aristotle begins to link praxis to energeia and hesitates when identifying praxis with kinesis, \ calling it instead a sort of motion (tis he \ kinesis) \ .59 What makes this passage even more interesting, however, is the manner in which Aristotle uses the term praxis to name that which is shared between the active and passive partners in an actual relationship. In explaining the meaning of praxis in this sense, he writes: for whenever there is a making and that which is made, there is a making between them; so too, whenever there is [a person] holding a garment and a garment being held, there is a having (hexis) between them.60 Although this is a strange formulation, it suggests that Aristotle has hit upon a way to think the identity of the active and passive in the action itself, an action that is called praxis in a more strict sense. This is precisely the sense of praxis that we find used in IX.6 to understand the dynamic identity of energeia and dunamis. In fact, in this passage, Aristotle claims that there is no having of this having that is a praxis, for if there were, then there would be an infinite regress. Thus even here praxis signifies something primary, a relation prior to which it makes no sense to speak of another relation. Thus although praxis has a number of different senses in Aristotles various writings, the specific sense in which it is used in Metaphysics IX.6 has

126

The Ethics of Ontology

much more in common with the technical meaning of the term developed in the Ethics than it does with the nontechnical understanding of the term found elsewhere. Of course, one thread that links all of the senses of praxis is the concept of life, which itself can never be actual without being in potency as well.61 However, the connection between the meaning of praxis in IX.6 and NE VI is far more intimate, for in both texts, praxis takes on a specific technical meaning that separates them from the casual usages found elsewhere. In order to further solidify the argument that praxis, as it is deployed in Metaphysics IX.6, has the same technical meaning developed in NE VI, and thus that there is a connection between the two texts strong enough to justify bringing the ethical concept of phronesis \ to bear on the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia, let us briefly identify the common conceptual content of these texts. This common content concerns the distinctions established in IX.6 and NE VI.45, respectively, between energeia/praxis and kinesis, \ on the one hand, and praxis and poiesis, \ on the other hand. A number of commentators have simply assumed that the distinction between energeia/praxis and kinesis \ found in IX.6 is fundamentally the same as that between praxis and poiesis \ found in NE VI.45.62 Such an assumption seems reasonable not only because the technical meaning of praxis appears in both texts but also because the manner in which it is distinguished from kinesis \ and poiesis, \ respectively, seems fundamentally the same. Yet although the affinity between the two texts is often assumed, it is rarely defended by a detailed investigation into the two texts themselves. Once such an investigation is undertaken, it will be clear that the term praxis is used in the same narrow sense in both texts. Although the ontological impetus behind the introduction of the vocabulary of praxis in Metaphysics IX.6 has been clarifiedAristotle seeks an expression capable of conceptualizing the peculiar manner in which energeia and dunamis may be said to be one and the samethe first use of the term is rather abrupt and general. Aristotle first uses the term praxis to classify common motions: of the actions (praxeon \ ) that have a limit none is an end (telos) but they are for the sake of an end, for example, with respect to the process of losing weight it [i.e., the end] is thinness.63 He then quickly qualifies this, saying that losing weight is a kines\ is and not a praxis, or at least not a complete (teleia) praxis. As we have seen, the point is that unlike a kines\ is, which has its telos outside of itself and thus has a definite limit, a teleia praxis includes its telos in itself and thus has no determinate limit toward which it is directed from outside. Aristotle then proceeds to speak of praxeis in the strict sense, using the peculiar present-perfect formulation. This formulation and the examples it highlightshoran, phronein, noein, and so onare designed to illustrate the meaning of teleia praxis.64 What these examples suggest is that such praxeis differ from kines\ eis not only because they do not have a determinate end outside of themselves, but also because they are homoge-

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

127

neous in themselvesthat is, they may not be said to be more or less complete at any given time as kines\ eis are.65 Whereas a kines\ is approaches closer to its end as time goes on, this sort of variability with respect to the end is impossible for praxis, precisely because it is always already its own end. Thus although Aristotle introduces the distinction between kines\ is and praxis in terms of the notions of limit, peras, and completeness, teleia, and further, while the present-perfect formulation helps clarify the difference in terms of homogeneity, the concept upon which all of these distinctions depend is that of the location of the telos. Ultimately, it is the fact that a praxis has its end in itself that generates all of the other distinctions between it and a kines\ is. As Hagen puts it, . . . the location of the telos is obviously key in the Metaphysics passage.66 Turning then to the passage in the Nicomachean Ethics in which Aristotle establishes the distinction between praxis and poies\ is, we may ask if the distinction is similarly established with reference to the location of the telos. At the beginning of NE VI.45, Aristotle is far less equivocal about the nature of praxis than he is in Metaphysics IX.6. It is as if in IX.6 Aristotle is in the very process of determining the more narrow and technical meaning of praxis that is fully established and unequivocally used in the Ethics. Thus the distinction between praxis and poies\ is is established more decisively than that between praxis and kines\ is in IX.6. Aristotle asserts: That which admits of being otherwise may be some object of production or action. But production and action are different . . . with the result that a practical disposition with reason is different from a productive disposition with reason. Because of this, they exclude one another; for no praxis is a poies\ is, and no poies\ is is a praxis.67 No such definitive statement occurs in IX.6 in relation to the distinction between praxis and kines\ is. Aristotle goes on to suggest the close affinity between poies\ is and techne,\ and to insist that these are both distinct from praxis. The key to this distinction is that while poies\ is and techne \ concern contingent beings just as praxis, unlike praxis, they are specifically concerned with those sorts of contingent beings that do not have their principles of movement in themselvesthat is, they are concerned with things whose beginning is in the producer and not in that which is produced.68 Here Aristotle explicitly distinguishes the objects of poies\ is both from things that exist or come to be of necessity and those that do so by nature, for these latter, he insists, have their beginning in themselves.69 Although Aristotle here speaks explicitly about the location of the beginning, arche,\ not of the telos, or end, to distinguish poiesis/techne \ \ from praxis, the manner in which the distinction is established echoes the manner in which the distinction between praxis and kinesis \ is established in IX.6 insofar as it is the location of the principle in the activity itself that is decisive. The parallel is even stronger, however, when Aristotle turns his attention to the meaning of phronesis, \ the sort of knowledge appropriate to praxis:

128

The Ethics of Ontology

. . . phronesis \ would be neither episteme \ \ nor techne;\ it would not be episteme \ \ because it is possible for the practical object to be otherwise; it would not be techne \ because the genus of praxis is different from that of poiesis \ . What remains then is this: A practical disposition with true reason concerning the good and bad for humans. For the end of poiesis \ is another thing, but of praxis there would be no [end beyond the action itself ], for a good action (eupraxia) is itself the end.70 In the final analysis, the location of the end distinguishes a praxis from a poiesis \ . The telos of poiesis \ is in some other thing, namely, the product, which comes into being only as the process of production reaches its conclusion. It is otherwise with praxis. A praxis is an end in itself; its very activity is its fulfillment. Again, two different sorts of ends are at work here. The first is quite familiar; it is the end of poiesis, \ telos as goal. The second is more difficult to discern, for it refuses to submit to the means/ends logic of production with which we have become so familiar. This is the telos of praxis, telos as internal purposiveness. Aristotle himself signals this shift in the meaning of the telos in NE VI.5 when he writes: The beginnings of practical things are that for the sake of which (to hou heneka) they are done.71 The shift in the meaning of telos from goal to purpose suggests that here praxis takes on the sense of function that it had in a number of the passages cited from the biological works.72 The praxis of a being is its very function, its purposeful activity. This conception of praxis is ontological in the sense that to be engaged in praxis is for a being to exist in accordance with its own internally determined function. Although this teleological conception of praxis is here called ontological, it is not metaphysical in a grand sense. A number of recent scholars have sought to rescue Aristotles biological teleology from what might be called the grand cosmological vision of teleology. Stephen Salkever has suggested, following Martha Nussbaum, that living organisms, themselves neither purely potential nor purely actual, exhibit characteristic behaviors discernible through direct empirical research. A functional explanation of such behaviors presupposes only that living things are . . . organized around a norm or normal way of life which allows us to make judgments about whether members of a particular species are young or old, healthy or ill representatives of their class.73 Thus Salkever agrees with Balme, who writes: The novelty in Aristotles theory was his insistence that finality is within nature.74 Balme goes on to argue that there is no room in Aristotles cosmology for any force acting upon the sublunary realm. As long as we do not assume the traditional, cosmological (and totalizing) vision of teleology, the appeal to natural teleology has certain advantages. As Martha Nussbaum has suggested: (1) it sets the process to be explained in a wider context of an integrated pattern of behavior, and (2) it is able to account for the plasticity of behavior, that is, to give a unified account of the very different ways living beings operate.75

Knowledge in Actuality and the Ethical Turn

129

Thus when Aristotle says that a praxis has its end in itself, he means that it expresses purposeful behavior based on its internal principle of being.76 This is the teleological sense that praxis came to have in IX.6, where examples were deployed to illustrate the proper functioning of a given being: an eye is seeing and has seen, the mind thinks and has thought, indeed, a human-being is happy and has been happy. This is true because these beings are engaged in the very activity of existing as the beings they areas long as they are so engaged, they may be said to exist; once their praxis stops, they no longer are what they were, they have lost their ti en \ einai, the what-it-was-for-them-tobe. Thus the existence of an eye as eye requires that it be engaged in the praxis of seeing, of a mind as mind that it think, and, indeed, of a human-being as human that it live. This is not teleological in the sense that each being is determined by an overall cosmic purposean external telos that would reduce all being to a sort of poiesis \ or kinesis \ . Rather, it is teleological in the sense that each being is what it is as long as it continues to perform the praxis that is its very existence, as long as it holds its energeia and dunamis together in such a way that it continues to manifest its own peculiar purposive activity. The reason the distinction between praxis and poiesis \ is more clearly and decisively established than that between praxis and kinesis, \ however, is that Aristotle recognizes that kinesis \ is intimately bound up with the purposive activity of natural beings. Thus even if we can map the meaning of praxis developed in the Metaphysics cleanly onto that developed in the Nicomachean Ethics, it is not possible to suggest that all kineseis \ are also poieseis \ .77 Although Aristotle often thinks kinesis \ on the model of poiesis, \ even in Metaphysics IX.6 he offers other illustrations of kinesis \ that cannot be reduced to the category of poiesis \ . Such examples include walking and becoming healthy. Our investigation into NE VI.45 has suggested precisely why such a reduction is unjustified. It concerns the location of the beginning, for Aristotle explicitly states that a poiesis \ has its beginning in the producer and not in the thing being produced. This was used to distinguish it from things existing according to nature (ton \ kata phusin). Things that exist according to nature are not poieseis, \ but they are often in motion; in fact, they are specifically designated as beings of which each has its beginning of motion and rest in itself.78 Thus it is clear that the domain of kinesis \ is wider than that of poiesis, \ although it is surely possible to say that a poiesis \ is a special sort of kinesis \ . However, irrespective of how the precise nature of kinesis \ is understood in relation to poiesis \ in both texts, it is clear that the meaning of praxis is the same. This is what we have sought to show. Once it is recognized not only that the examples and vocabulary used in IX.68 point to the Ethics, but also that the technical meaning of praxis in IX.6 coincides with that developed in NE VI, a link between the two texts is established, so that it becomes justifiable not only, as many have, to look to the Metaphysics as a source of insight into the Ethics, but to look to the Ethics as a source of insight into problems left

130

The Ethics of Ontology

unresolved in the Metaphysics. This is precisely the proposal of the next chapter: to look to the discussion of phronesis \ in NE VI for some insight into the sort of ontological knowledge capable of doing justice to the finite, contingent individuals that were thematized in terms of praxis and energeia in the middle books of the Metaphysics. The discussion of Metaphysics XIII.10 has already set the framework for this by insisting that the ontological knowledge involved must be capable of knowing that which is a tode ti. With the establishment of a close connection between the discussion of praxis in Metaphysics IX.6 and NE VI, a clear signpost now points in the direction of the Ethics, where perhaps some insight into this matter may be gained. Specifically, it may be possible to appropriate for ontological purposes the sort of knowledge that Aristotle develops to deal with praxis in its strictly ethical context. Here we say appropriated intentionally, for there is no evidence that Aristotle himself recognized the possibility that phronesis \ would have this sort of ontological significance. His discussion of praxis in the Metaphysics has, however, pointed us in the direction of his Ethics, so it is reasonable to do with Aristotle what he advised doing with Empedocles: to follow the path of his thinking and not his obscure words.79 Here the obscure words are found in XIII.10, but the thinking directs us to the Ethics.

8
Contingent Knowledge
Phronesis \ in the Ethics

Our analysis of Metaphysics XIII.10 suggested that there may be a sort of episteme \ \ of the concrete, composite individual, the very being that was thematized in Metaphysics IX.68 in terms of praxis. Although XIII.10 does not establish precisely how actual knowledge of such individuals is possible, it remains of central importance insofar as it points to the possibility of developing a conception of ontological knowledge capable of doing justice to the finite individual. Furthermore, although the nature of this sort of knowledge remains underdeveloped in XIII.10, the text makes some important preliminary suggestions about what this sort of knowledge might entail. First, it must be grounded in the actual encounter with the being with which it is concerned. Second, it is directed primarily toward the individual, not the universal. As we have suggested in the previous chapter, these characterizations point in the direction of the Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle turns his full attention and philosophical acumen to contingent existence and develops a conception of knowledge capable of doing justice to the vagaries of such contingency. Specifically, in Nicomachean Ethics VI, he introduces the notion of phronesis, \ a special sort of knowledge suited to the sphere of praxis and explicitly directed toward that which is individual. In fact, Aristotles detailed discussion of the inner workings of phronesis, \ found in NE VI, lends insight into precisely how the enigmatic sort of ontological knowledge hinted at in XIII.10 might be conceived. If this is the case, perhaps the notion of phronesis, \ which finds its explicit home in a discussion of the nature of human praxis, may be reappropriated and expanded to fill in the gaps left by Aristotles obscure discussion of ontological episteme \ ,\ found in XIII.10.

131

132

The Ethics of Ontology

The sort of ontological reappropriation of phronesis \ suggested here is not unprecedented. Martin Heidegger was the first to appreciate the ontological significance of phronesis \ . The first part of his influential 19241925 lecture on Platos Sophist interprets Aristotles conception of phronesis \ in such a way that it rivals the priority given to sophia in Aristotleand Greek thinking in generaland suggests that phronesis \ reveals something important about the being of Dasein in relation to other beings that themselves are Dasein.1 Further, a number of scholars have come to recognize that Heidegger draws heavily on Aristotles conception of phronesis \ in Sein und Zeit, though there is no consensus on precisely which of the existentialia developed in that text owe their inspiration to phronesis \ .2 HansGeorg Gadamer further develops the ontological significance of phronesis \ in Wahrheit und Methode by using it as a model for hermeneutics, which for him is no mere matter of textual interpretation but a way of being.3 While both Heidegger and Gadamer appropriate the meaning of phronesis \ for their own philosophical projects, neither attempts to read it as a possible response to the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia that plagues Aristotles Metaphysics itself. The reappropriation of phronesis \ proposed here must be understood in a specific sense. It is neither an attempt to reestablish the original meaning of the term in the context of the Nicomachean Ethics nor even to rediscover Aristotles own intended, but undeveloped, position by an appeal to the appropriations of Heidegger and Gadamer. Rather, we seek to assign phronesis \ an ontological significance that it never explicitly had in Aristotle in order to lend insight into a very real problem that not only emerges in Aristotles thinking itself but continues to persist: to what extent is ontological knowledge of the finite individual possible? For Aristotle, the problem manifests itself in the tension between universality and singularity. For us, the problem is fundamentally ethical, for it concernsto use now the Levinasian terminology the relationship between the Same and the Other, and the extent to which the being of the Other offers itself to the concepts of the Same. The methodological procedure for what follows is guided by concerns that emerge internally in Aristotle and externally from the recognition that the epistemological relation that grounds ontology is inherently ethical. The procedure is thus inside out and outside in: the internal analysis of Aristotles ontology has pointed beyond itself to the possibility of developing an ontological knowledge capable of doing justice to individual beings as such (inside out), but this sort of knowledge is left underdeveloped by Aristotle and must be supplemented by contemporary philosophical suggestions that phronesis \ has ontological significance (outside in). The thrust of the inside-out procedure led to the inchoate conception of knowledge in actuality, outlined in Metaphysics XIII.10; the outside-in strategy can now be used to investigate the extent to which phronesis \ fills in the picture left obscure in XIII.10. The turn to the Nicomachean Ethics, then, is made in the interest of both perspectives: it fills in the picture left undeveloped by Aristotle by suggesting precisely how

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

133

there may be a genuine sort of knowledge of the individual, but it also points to the possibility of developing an ethical conception of ontological knowledge in which the contingent individual is recognized as the ultimate arche.\ However, the interpretation of phronesis \ that will ultimately move beyond Aristotles explicit comments and be infused with ontological significance to address the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia must itself be guided by and find its justification in what Aristotle actually says about phronesis \ in the context of the Nicomachean Ethics. Once the internal logic of phronesis \ is clarified in its original context, its ontological significance will come more clearly into focus. Happily, this does not require a complete account of Aristotles ethical theory. However, it does require critical treatment of the constellation of concepts determining the highly technical meaning of phronesis \ developed in NE.VI. Chief among these are arete \ (virtue), ethical nous (intuition), and prohairesis (intentional choice), concepts that are widely recognized as constituting the complex internal structure of phronesis \ . Less widely recognized, however, are three other concepts: sunesis (intelligence, or conscientious apprehension), epieikeia (equity), and suggnome \ \ (forgiveness), which also play an important role in the functioning of phronesis \ . With some notable exceptions,4 commentators on practical reason in Aristotle often either minimize the importance of these three latter concepts or ignore them altogether. To some degree this can be attributed to the natural tendency to interpret practical reason as being analogous to theoretical reason. Aristotle himself encourages this in NE VI.9 and 12 by using terms such as sullogismos (syllogism) and protasis (premise) in connection to practical reasoning.5 Furthermore, it is undeniable that in De Motu Animalium (MA), chapter 7, Aristotle appeals to the model of the syllogism to illustrate the psychological factors that account for animal motion.6 However, although there are important insights into phronesis \ to be gained by comparing it to theoretical knowledge, its full complexity is lost if the syllogistic model is permitted to obfuscate those dimensions of phronesis \ that do not fit cleanly into the paradigm. Aristotle himself never asserts that the syllogistic paradigm is the exclusive or even the best model according to which to understand the inner workings of phronesis \ . His approach is far more inclusive, sometimes using vocabulary borrowed from his logical writings and other times appealing to juridical terminology. An appreciation for the insights provided by the former model ought not be permitted to eclipse those offered by the latter, for they both point to important dimensions of the complex nature of phronesis \ .

THE PRACTICAL SYLLOGISM AS HEURISTIC DEVICE


In his book Aristotles Ethical Theory, W. F. R. Hardie criticizes the tradition of appealing to the practical syllogism to elucidate the structure of practical

134

The Ethics of Ontology

reasoning in Aristotle. He argues that in the Nicomachean Ethics the term sullogismos most often has the broad, everyday sense of reasoning, calculation, or collection of data,7 and not the restricted, technical meaning it receives in Aristotles logical writings. Hardie goes on to suggest that because it names a process according to which a rule is applied to a concrete situation in view of a specific end, the practical syllogism fails to do justice to the full complexity of practical reasoning.8 Martha Nussbaum, however, has sought to rehabilitate the heuristic importance of the practical syllogism for understanding the nature of practical reason in Aristotle by looking more closely at how he explicitly uses such syllogisms in De Motu Animalium, De Anima, and the Nicomachean Ethics. She insists that sullogismos is used in its technical sense in these texts but refuses to restrict the meaning of the syllogism to what she calls the deductivist view that appeals to the language of the syllogism to construct a objective science of ethics.9 In a similar vein, Carlo Natali has powerfully argued that while practical wisdom, or phrones\ is, is not, strictly speaking, a scientific form of knowledge, the practical syllogism still offers the best model according to which it may be understood. He suggests that although some modern scholars have often overemphasized the differences between phrones\ is and theoretical knowledge, the similarities remain numerous and enlightening.10 Like Nussbaum, Natali recognizes the practical syllogism as a formal apparatus designed to offer insight into the internal functioning of phrones\ is.11 Although Nussbaum and Natali are correct to emphasize the value of the practical syllogism as a heuristic device, as a conceptual model designed to capture the full complexity of phronesis, \ the practical syllogism is less successful. While it offers the formal framework within which to conceptualize the relationship between reason and desire, the function of nous, and the central importance of the individual, it tends to eclipse those distinctive dimensions of phronesis \ that set it apart from theoretical reasoning. Specifically, the model of the practical syllogism is incapable of capturing the precise relationship between phronesis \ and ethical virtue (arete), \ for it is not able to recognize the manner in which the very operation of phronesis \ is determined by the complex nexus of relationships within which it always operates. Furthermore, because the model of the syllogism orients the interpretation of phronesis \ toward the question of truth, it tends to obscure the important roles that conscientious apprehension (sunesis), equity (epieikeia), and forgiveness (suggnome \ ) \ play in phronetic judgment.12 That these dimensions of phronesis \ have traditionally been eclipsed is no surprise, for at the beginning of NE VI.3, Aristotle thematizes phronesis \ along with scientific knowledge (episteme \ ), \ craft (techne), \ wisdom (sophia), and intuition (nous) as ways by which the soul may possess truth (aletheuein) \ .13 Because syllogistic reasoning so clearly elucidates one of the ways the soul possesses truth, it is no wonder the practical syllogism emerged as a primary model by

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

135

which to conceptualize the nature of phronesis \ . Traditionally this has meant establishing an analogy between phronesis \ and episteme \ .\ However, because episteme \ ,\ unlike phronesis, \ is fundamentally concerned with that which cannot be otherwise, its internal structure, however similar to phronesis, \ fails to capture those dimensions of phronesis \ peculiar to it as knowledge of the contingent.14 Thus although it is indeed possible, as a number of recent studies have shown, to gain much insight into phronesis \ by comparing it to episteme \ ,\ this analysis must, in the end, be supplemented by another model and vocabulary, one designed to capture those dimensions of the logic of phronesis \ determined by its fundamental contingency.15 Let us look first, then, at those passages in NE VI that legitimate the appeal to the practical syllogism and the model of episteme \ ,\ for they may serve as a preliminary guide to our investigation into the internal operation of phronesis \ . After delineating the basic differences between phronesis, \ episteme \ ,\ techne,\ and sophia, Aristotle turns his full attention to the nature of phronesis \ in NE VI.8. He first insists upon the intimate relationship between phronesis \ and deliberation (to bouleuesthai) in order to reaffirm that the object of phronesis \ is \ is not only of both contingent and attainable.16 He then claims that phronesis the universal but must also know the individuals (ta kath hekasta), for it is practical, and praxis concerns individuals.17 This establishes at once a similarity and a difference between phronesis \ and episteme \ ,\ for the latter is necessarily concerned with that which is universal, while the former most vigilantly attends to the individual. However, both phronesis \ and episteme \ \ deploy universal principles. The example to which Aristotle appeals here indicates both that he is thinking in terms analogous to the theoretical syllogism and accentuating an important difference. He claims that those who, though lacking universal knowledge, have experience are often correctly thought to be more practical: For if someone should know that light meats are digestible and healthy, but did not know what sorts of meats are light, he would not produce health; but the person who knows that bird meat is light and healthy would more likely produce health.18 The conclusion that Aristotle draws from this is that although both universal and individual knowledge are important, in practical matters knowledge of the individual takes on a certain precedence. Here Aristotle seems to have in mind the model of a theoretical syllogism in which a universal claim, All light meat is healthy, is brought into relation with a middle term, Bird meat is light meat, in order to produce the conclusion, Bird meat is healthy. Of course, as Cooper has pointed out, the middle term here is universal in scope.19 The example seems to suggest that the translation of ta kath hekasta as individuals is illegitimate, for the statement referred to by this term designates bird meat as something particular, not individual. It makes a general claim about a species of beings, bird meats, namely, that they are light and healthy. Further evidence for the claim that ta kath hekasta should be rendered particulars rather than individuals may be found

136

The Ethics of Ontology

in De Motu Animalium, where the middle term in three of Aristotles examples designates not an individual as such but rather a particular member of a class. In one example Aristotle posits the major premise as it is necessary for all humans to walk, the minor as I myself am a human, and the conclusion is the immediate action of walking. In another, the major premise posits, It is necessary to make something good, the minor, a house is good, and at once the project is embarked upon. In the third example, the major premise is I need a covering, the minor is a cloak is a covering, and the result is an immediate gathering of the things necessary to make a coat.20 Bracketing the difficult issues concerning the role of desire and the immediacy of the action pursued, the middle term in all of these examples corresponds not to an individual but to a particular judgment concerning an individualthat is, to an individual seen as a member of a class. Indeed, from a logical point of view, the participation of the individual in the universal class expressed in the middle term is precisely what justifies the transition from the major premise to the conclusion. However, within the context of the discussion of phronesis, \ in which the passage concerning bird meat appears, the main point seems to be to insist on the importance of experience in practical knowledge and to suggest that knowledge of ta kath hekasta has a certain priority over knowledge of the universal in the practical sphere. Indeed, the person of experience knows what is healthy without any act of subsumption. Of course, this is not to say that the experienced person does not make a judgment, that is, does not see the individual as something or other.21 It is in fact vital that the individual piece of bird meat is seen as healthy, yet the person of experience recognizes this without running through the universal premise at all. The use of the practical syllogism here seems designed to clarify a difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge is impossible if the universal is not firmly established, either absolutely or, as Aristotle often claims, for the most part. Yet there may indeed be a sort of practical knowledge, even if the universal premise is not deployed at all. Of course, this is not episteme \ .\ The verb used to designate the sort of knowledge with which Aristotle is here concerned is eidenai, which has the connotation of the immediate recognition associated with what might be called insight. This seems to be the point of Aristotle calling the person with experience more practical, for that person precisely has insightan ability to discern the individual immediately as beneficial in some manner. However, at the end of this passage, Aristotle insists not that the universal is useless, but that phronesis \ holds both knowledge of the universal and, to put it more literally, of the things according to each (ta kath hekasta), although the latter is more important. Thus while experience is of central importance to phronesis, \ it is not coextensive with it. Ironically, the first instance of the practical syllogism to appear in NE VI seems designed not to establish the similarity between theoretical and practi-

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

137

cal reasoning but to insist upon an important difference, namely, the primacy of the individual over the universal in practical reasoning. This difference, however, has often been permitted to eclipse a deeper affinity between the two. By focusing on the nature of the relationship between epagoge \ \ and nous, recent scholarship concerning the nature of Aristotelian episteme \ \ has suggested the great significance for science of attending to particulars. EngbergPedersen has captured the basic sense of epagoge \ \ in Aristotle when he thematizes it as attending to particular cases with the consequence that insight into some universal point is acquired.22 Here insight, by which Engberg-Pedersen translates the Aristotelian nous, is not understood as some infallible capacity to see the absolute truth. Rather, it is far more humbly characterized as a generalizing capacity or ability that is responsible for the fact that a universal point, something, that is, which goes beyond what is grasped in sense-perception, may come to be present to the mindwhether this point is true or false.23 Engberg-Pedersens characterization of the relationship between epagoge \ \ and nous suggests that episteme \ \ may in fact be just as dependent upon individuals as phronesis \ . Perhaps the difference between episteme \ \ and phronesis \ Aristotle insists upon at the beginning of NE VI is not as radical as it appears. The difference was, in fact, thematized not in terms of the operation of the two capacities both are characterized as a disposition (hexis)but in terms of the nature of the object with which they are concerned.24 This opens up the possibility not only that the operation of epagoge \ \ may lend insight into the logic of phronesis, \ as many commentators have suggested, but also that the logic of phronesis \ may lend insight into the nature of episteme \ .\ The prejudice that posits the primacy of the eternal over the finite has historically caused commentators to attempt to establish ethics as a rigorous science by appealing to episteme \ \ as the model for phronesis \ . Once this allergy to finitude is overcome, the reverse path of inquiry becomes accessible, and the ethical dimensions of episteme \ \ begin to come into focus. Like phronesis, \ episteme \ \ too has its roots ultimately in the direct encounter with individuals.

The Complexities of Phronetic Perception


In NE VI, however, Aristotle seems to insist on the distinction between phronesis \ and episteme \ ,\ even as he appeals to the syllogistic model to elucidate the structure of phronesis \ itself. This can be seen in NE VI.9, when Aristotle again gestures to something like a practical syllogism to clarify the different ways in which one can err in deliberation: Further, error in deliberation either concerns the universal or the individual (to kath hekaston), for the error is either that all heavy water is bad or because this here is heavy (todi barustrathmon).25 The use of the term to kath hekaston in the singular here is significant. Unlike

138

The Ethics of Ontology

in the bird meat passage, what plays the role of the middle term in this example is not something particulara specific typebut rather the individual itself. Aristotle underscores this by using the demonstrative todi to emphasize that the error concerns this individual present here. A similar use of the demonstrative is employed in an example taken from the De Motu Animalium. There Aristotle speaks explicitly about the role of desire and sense-perception, or what he there calls phantasia: Desire says: It is necessary for me to drink; This here is a drink (todi de poton) said sense-perception or phantasia or nous. Immediately he drinks.26 This passage resonates with the one found in the Nicomachean Ethics insofar as it too uses the demonstrative to designate the concrete individual serving as the middle term of the syllogism. Of course, the individual qua singular is never directly accessible to knowledge. Martha Nussbaum has drawn this out in discussing the relationship between aisthesis \ (sensation) and phantasia (imagination). She distinguishes between what may be called a passive and an active side of aisthesis \ . On the passive side, sensation receives impressions, not of a unitary and an identifiable whole but of the qualities of the objectits color or flavor, for example.27 On the active side, phantasia seems to be that which consolidates these sensations into a unified whole. This is hinted at in the De Motu Animalium, when Aristotle suggests that the reason we shudder when we only think about something fearful is that the phantasia presents forms that are much like the actual things themselves.28 Nussbaum writes: These remarks seem to imply that whereas in aisthesis \ the animal becomes just like the object, when phantasia is operative he becomes aware of the object as a thing of a certain sort.29 This awareness of the thing as a particular sort is precisely what is required of the minor premise in the practical syllogism if it is to serve as a middle term linking the major premise to the conclusion. It is not enough merely to perceive the object; there must also be an imaginative synthesis that recognizes the individual as something or other, whether it be a member of a more generic classas with the bird meat is healthy example, or as an object of desireas with the this is a drink example. Indeed, in De Anima III.8, there is evidence that Aristotle himself saw the action of the imagination as a condition for the possibility of thinking itself.30 This account of the imagination subverts the nave belief that singulars are immediately accessible to cognition. As Nussbaum puts it: The theory of phantasia, then, helps Aristotle to account for the interpretive side of perception; and it does more. The claim that aisthesis and phantasia are the same faculty now amounts to the contention that reception and interpretation are not separable, but thoroughly interdependent. There is no receptive innocent eye in perception. How something phainetai to me is obviously bound up with my past, my prejudices, and my needs. But if it is only in virtue

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

139

of phantasia, and not aisthesis alone, that I apprehend the object as object, then it follows that there is no uninterrupted or innocent view of it, no distinctionat least on the level of form or object-perceptionbetween the given, or received, and the interpreted.31 Thus while Aristotle deploys the demonstrative todi to pick out the individual directly present to the judging subject, this act of designating already seems to involve an interpretive moment. The individual is always already recognized as something or other. The structural similarity between the example of heavy water in NE VI.9 and the drink of MA 7 opens up the possibility at least that an extremely complex, sophisticated conception of phronesis \ is at work, one that involves an important role for phantasia.32 The legitimacy of importing the notion of phantasia into the discussion of phronesis, \ although the term appears nowhere in NE VI, is reinforced by a third passage taken from NE VI in which the model of the syllogism seems to operate. The passage, which admittedly is perplexing and open to a variety of interpretations, is as follows: It is clear that phrones\ is is not epistem \ e,\ for it is about the ultimate individual (eschaton), as has been said, for this sort of thing is practical. And it is opposed to nous. For nous is of the definition, of which there is no reasoning (logos), while phrones\ is is of the ultimate individual (eschaton), of which there is not epistem \ e,\ but rather aisthes\ is, not the aisthes\ is of the special objects, but the sort by which we sense that the ultimate individual [in mathematics] is the triangle. For here too [mathematics] will stand [before the individual]. But this is more properly aisthes\ is than phrones\ is, of that, however, there is another kind.33 Here Aristotle repeats what he had already established as a difference between episteme \ \ and phronesis \ that the latter directly intuits the last ultimate in a manner in which the former, bound as it is to logos, does not. However, he then goes on to delineate a difference between phronesis \ and nous, or at least a certain kind of nous, namely, that involved in grasping permanent definitions. But it seems that Aristotles main point is not to delineate between phronesis \ and either episteme \ \ or nous here but to point to the special sort of aisthesis \ involved in phronesis \ .34 The real difficulty is to discern precisely what the analogy with mathematical perception is designed to elucidate about phronesis \ . Engberg-Pedersen has suggested that the proper way to understand the appeal to the triangle in mathematics is to imagine a geometer attempting to figure out how a more complex figure is constructed. He argues that there are two dimensions to the aisthesis \ of the triangle. One corresponds to what Aristotle most commonly calls sensation, namely, the visual grasp of the image,

140

The Ethics of Ontology

either as drawn or imagined. This, Engberg-Pedersen argues, may be either the special sensibles that seem to be explicitly referenced in the passage or, indeed, the sensation of the common qualities, which themselves might be part of the perception of geometry. The other, he claims, is unlike any of the three Aristotelian senses of aisthesis \ .35 It is the grasp of the triangle as the last step in the analysis, that is, as having a particular role in the special context.36 This expanded sense of sensation is precisely what Aristotle intends to draw out as the aisthesis \ of phronesis \ . We will call this other kind of aisthesis \ phronetic perception to distinguish it from the immediate aisthesis \ of the proper or common sensibles. Phronetic perception is always more than mere sensation, for it is perception of an individual embedded in a given context. However, Engberg-Pedersens judgment that this other kind of aisthesis \ is not a case of genuine Aristotelian perception may be, given Nussbaums analysis of phantasia, based on too narrow a conception of aisthesis \ in Aristotle. Nussbaum has suggested that when Aristotle attempts to account for animal motion, he is forced to develop a more robust understanding of aisthesis, \ one that goes beyond the initial three sorts developed in De Anima II.6. The drink example taken from MA 7 illustrates in part the role that phantasia plays in the very act of aisthesis, \ for it accounts for how the subject recognizes an object as desirable. This recognition is itself, however, contextual. It is dependent on the presence of the desire for drink; in another context, for example, one in which an abundance of fluids has been recently ingested, the appearance of a drink will not lead to action. Thus Nussbaum has insisted that phantasia is contextual: the one who uses phantasia will not just perceive an object, but perceive it as a thing of a certain sort, a thing that could become for him an object either of pursuit or avoidance.37 This sort of seeing as must be recognized as the key to the operation not only of the practical but also the theoretical syllogism: without the capacity to see the individual as something or other, either, in the case of the practical syllogism, as desirable, or, in the case of the theoretical syllogism, as related to the universal in the requisite manner, the middle term will be incapable of linking the major premise to the conclusion. But to see something as something, to deploy phantasia, is to engage in an act of categorization; it is to violate the pure singularity of the being under consideration. This act of appropriation is in fact a condition for the possibility of knowledge. To be known in any sense, whether in a practical or theoretical context, the singular must be transformed into an individual and situated within a schema of deliberation. It must succumb to logos. By suggesting that the aisthesis \ of phronesis \ is of another sort, is something more than the mere reception of sense data emanating from the object, Aristotle points to precisely the fantastic dimension of phronetic knowledge. Although the term phantasia does not appear here, it is recognizable in the peculiar sort of aisthesis \ endemic to phronesis, \ an aisthesis \ in which the object perceived is always already seen as determined by the context in which it is encountered.

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

141

However, the encounter with the individual in phronesis \ is yet more complex, for Aristotle explicitly calls the aisthesis \ of phronesis \ nous in a final passage to be considered in which the vocabulary of the syllogism is used. The passage runs as follows: Nous is also of the ultimate individuals (ton \ eschaton) \ in both directions; for nous is of the first definitions and of the ultimate individuals, and it is without logos. And on one hand nous with respect to demonstrations is of the permanent definitions and primary things; on the other hand nous in practical matters is of the ultimate individual and of that which may vary and of the other premise (tes\ heteras protaseos); \ for these are the beginnings of that for the sake of which; for the universals [come] from the individuals; thus it is necessary to have aisthesis \ of these, but this is nous.38 Here again the logic of the theoretical and practical syllogisms seems intertwined, with nous playing a decisive role in both. In the theoretical syllogism nous is said to see that which is permanent and unchanging, the definitions and primary things. On the model of demonstration, these permanent universal principles are deployed to render the individual particular: the individual is determined as an instantiation of a universal, subsumed under its authority. It is otherwise with practical nous. Here the model is not that of demonstration and subsumption but of what Aristotle in his logical writings calls epagoge \ . \ The last ultimate (to eschaton) is itself the starting point, the site from which universals themselves come into being. The last ultimate is intuited by nous, which is explicitly not logos. Here intuitive access to the singular itself is understood as being inherent in the operation of phronetic perception. The singular retains its absolute otherness in the moment of encounter, an otherness only intuited by practical nous, prior to its being appropriated by logos. This othernessthat which escapes the purview of logosis the beginning, the principle, of that for the sake of which, the end. Intuition of the singular is the condition for the possibility of knowledge of the individual situated within a system of ends in which it is always already embedded. Nous names the intuition of the singular that makes all knowledge possible, but it itself does not constitute cognition of the object; the singular escapes logosit remains inaccessible to knowledge. This is as true for episteme \ \ as it is for phronesis; \ however, for the former, the singular is known only as particular, and for the latter always as an embedded individual. What emerges from this analysis of the two main passages in NE VI concerning nous is a complex vision of phronetic perception. On the one hand, phronesis \ involves more than simple aisthesis, \ for it is capable of apprehending the individual as something or other. This may be called the logical dimension of phronetic perception, for logos always speaks of something as something:

142

The Ethics of Ontology

it is discursive.39 The logical dimension of phronesis \ encompasses a complex constellation of concepts that emerges as a direct result of this embeddedness. These include concepts such as arete,\ intentional choice (prohairesis), desire (orexis), and disposition (hexis), which are to some degree captured by the syllogistic model, and others, such as sunesis, epieikeia, and suggnome \ ,\ which seem to be eclipsed by the paradigm of the syllogism. On the other hand, by calling the aisthesis of phronesis \ a sort of nous, Aristotle seems to suggest that there is more to phronesis \ than the merely logical deployment of principles. Thus before addressing the complex structure of the logical dimension of phronesis, \ let us draw out the role that nous plays in practical wisdom.

\ IS THE NOETIC DIMENSION OF PHRONES


Phronetic nous names the capacity to intuit, or indeed, sense that which is immediately present. Yet the vocabulary that Aristotle deploys is ambiguous, for what it intuits is to eschaton, which means simply that which is last in a series, or the most extreme, the ultimate. Here Aristotle may be referring to the last premise in syllogistic reasoning, or to that which is immediately presentthat to which the demonstrative todi pointed in the example of the heavy water. Throughout the discussion of phronesis \ in NE VI, Aristotle seems to vacillate between understanding the last ultimate as referring to a situation and understanding it in what may be considered more ontological termsthat is, as referring to the immediate presence of some being. The former sense seems operative in the bird meat example, the latter in the heavy water example. Such a vacillation makes sense once the logical and noetic dimensions of phronesis \ have been delineated. From the logical perspective, the last ultimate is the individual as contextually embedded in a given situation. From the noetic perspective, however, it may refer to the immediate presence of the singular to which the most clear reference may be a demonstrative gesturethis being here, todi. The noetic dimension of phronesis \ points precisely to that which, in itself, always escapes the grasp of the logosto the tode somehow isolated from the ti. This does not imply that phronesis \ is irrational, for as long as the noetic dimension of phronesis \ remains separate from and unrelated to its logical dimension, phronesis \ itself will be, quite literally, ineffective. To paraphrase Kant, phronesis \ without nous is empty, without logos, blind.40 However, if one side of phronetic nous is directed toward the last ultimate, then the other side seems to be involved in grasping ends. Here the operation of nous is more difficult to discern. It is, however, intimated in the passage cited earlier, when Aristotle suggests that the last ultimates are the beginnings of that for the sake of which; for the universals [come] from the individuals.41 He goes on to say that nous is both a beginning and an end, and that one should pay attention to older people and to those with experience not less

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

143

than to demonstrations, for they see correctly because they have eyes from experience.42 Again, nous is understood as a sort of perception, but here having an eye for the end does not mean directly intuiting the absolute, unchanging end of all action but rather seeing the proper end through experience. Here the logical and noetic dimensions of phronesis \ are again intertwined, and the possibility for misunderstanding is great, for experience is always saturated with logos. However, as has already been suggested by Engberg-Pedersens conception of epagoge, \ nous names the capacity to have insight into some universal point as a consequence of attending to experience.43 This of course opens up the very complicated and much-discussed question of whether or not phronesis \ is itself capable of determining the ends according to which it operates. We will discuss this question, which belongs properly to the logical dimension of phronesis, \ in detail later. For now, however, it is important simply to recognize that even if it cannot determine its own ends, phronesis \ must at least be capable of seeing the ends. For this reason, phronetic nous must be understood to be directed not only to the last ultimate but also to the ends for the sake of which action is undertaken. In ethics, however, because the ends may be otherwise, there is a great difference between seeing them and determining them. This latter falls within the purview of the logical rather than the noetic dimension of phronesis \ .

\ IS THE LOGICAL DIMENSION OF PHRONES


The investigation into phantasia reveals that phronetic judgment always involves more than noetic intuition, for it entails the ability to discern that which appears as something or other. This capacity to see as accounts for the manner in which phronesis \ is able to mediate between the major premise and the conclusion in a practical syllogism. However, precisely what this sort of seeing as involves remains somewhat inaccessible when viewed through the lens of an analysis guided primarily by the practical syllogism. Although that analysis pointed to the discussion of the practical syllogism in De Motu Animalium 7 and so to the important role that desire plays in action, it did not capture those aspects of the logical dimension of phronesis \ that Aristotle identifies in Nicomachean Ethics VI.44 Some of these aspectsvirtue, deliberation, and choice, for exampleare not as easily incorporated into the syllogistic model; othersconscientious apprehension (sunesis), equity (epieikeia), and forgiveness (suggnome \ ) \ are completely eclipsed by it. The logical dimension of phronesis \ may thus be said to have two distinct but interconnected aspects. One concerns the constellation of concepts that surrounds the relationship between phronesis \ and ethical virtue. These may be called the ethical aspects of phronesis, \ because they highlight the act of judgment as conditioned by the habits, upbringing, culture, and society in which

144

The Ethics of Ontology

it is always embedded. These are the elements of phronesis \ that determine the lens through which judgments are made. The second slightly different but connected aspect of the logical dimension of phronesis \ may be named juridical. If the ethical aspects of phronesis \ delineate the contingency of the lens through which the phronimos renders judgment, then the juridical aspects ensure that this judgment is directed toward justice. They are designed to temper the subjective side of phronetic judgment by introducing considerations of fairness, forgiveness, and even conscience into the logic of phronesis \ . The syllogistic paradigm is constitutionally incapable of considering these juridical aspects, because it is guided by a concern for truth, not justice. The question of justice becomes centrally important precisely because of the specifically ethical nature of phronesis \ . Once phronesis \ is recognized as an act of judgment embedded in the contingent world and mediated by the finite judging subject, it needs to be equipped with limits and safeguards designed to ensure that justice is done to that which is judged in each instance. This is the significance of Aristotles repeated insistence that phronesis, \ although operating with universals, must attend principally to the individual. Aristotles concern for the individual in the practical sphere is a direct result of his recognition that as a contingent form of knowledge, phronesis \ is potentially unjust. This recognition suggests the possibility of thinking knowledge not only in terms of truth but in terms of justice as well. In order to further delineate the extent to which ethics and epistemology are intertwined in phronesis, \ the ethical aspects of the logical dimension of phronesis \ must be investigated.

The Ethical Aspects of Phronesis \


On the face of it, phrones\ is and ethical virtue, et \ hike \ arete,\ seem to be separate dispositions. Aristotle distinguishes between the ethical and the intellectual virtues at the end of NE I and the beginning of NE II.45 His treatment of these two sorts of virtues in isolation from one another in the NE further solidifies the impression that phrone\sis and virtue are indeed separate. Final confirmation of this seems to come at the end of NE VI, when Aristotle establishes the distinct roles that virtue and phrones\ is play in right intention (prohairesis orthe) \ : the one [that is virtue] posits the end, while the other [that is phrones\ is] makes us act with respect to the things toward the end (ta pros to telos).46 It is tempting to understand this statement in terms of the logic of technical production according to which phrones\ is would be concerned merely with the means to establish some end determined externally by virtue. That things may not be so straightforward, however, is already suggested by the passage from the end of NE VI which, when read in context, is clearly intent on establishing the close connection between ethical virtue and phrones\ is. Just before the passage cited, Aristotle claims that no one can be

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

145

good without both phrones\ is and ethical virtue,47 a point that further clarifies his earlier claim that phrones\ is is itself a sort of virtue and not a mere techne.\ 48 Although there may or may not be arete \ with respect to techne \ an artist or a craftsperson may be either good or badthere is no phrones\ is without virtue: arete \ is not something separate from phrones\ is, although its precise role within the logic of phrones\ is itself may be delineated. Once Aristotle establishes the distinction between poies\ is and praxis, as he does in NE VI.5,49 it is no longer possible to understand phrones\ is according to the logic of production, for the end of praxis is not, like that of poies\ is, determined from the outside. Aristotles ultimate identification of phrones\ is with arete \ is necessitated by the fact that phrones\ is concerns praxis, which is an end in itself; as such, phrones\ is must be concerned not only with the means to ends but also with the determination of the ends themselves. This interpretation of phronesis \ is relatively controversial. Although it finds solid justification in the text, the continued efficacy of the technological frameworkthat is, the tendency to think means and ends in isolation from one anotherthreatens to obfuscate the extent to which Aristotle himself integrates the capacity to determine ends into the logic of phronesis \ .50 Natali argues that it is most reasonable to take Aristotles insistence that phronesis \ concerns what leads toward the ends and not the ends themselves at face value. However, he also recognizes that once phronesis \ is linked to arete,\ its scope is expanded: Aristotles theory aims to rule out the possibility of deliberating passionlessly about the end to be pursued, in the way a mathematician analyzes a problem. The orientation to good action depends on phronesis, \ which takes its end from virtue, which is determined by a logos which is, in its turn, phronesis \ . 51 There is, to be sure, a sort of circularity here, but this circularity is simply an expression of the extent to which phronesis \ is always already embedded in the finite world.52 Phronetic judgment is ethical, which means it is contextual. It takes its end from virtue, which itself is determined by logos. Natalis excellent formulation points to the important role that deliberation, disposition (hexis), and experience play in determining both virtue and phronesis \ .53 Knowing the right thing to do in a given context requires both experience and habituationone must be well practiced in making good judgments and disposed to do so. Aristotle nowhere states that disposition alone is sufficient for virtue; rather, such a view would undermine not only the importance of practical nous and thus the centrality of the actual encounter with each individual situation within which all human action is embedded, but also it would divorce disposition from deliberation, thus severing virtue from logos. To cut off virtue from logos in this way would be to eliminate the possibility of responsibility that is central to Aristotelian ethics. This is clear in Aristotles definition of arete \ itself: Virtue, then, is a disposition toward deliberate choice (hexis prohairetike), \ being at a mean relative to us, having been defined by logos and in a manner

146

The Ethics of Ontology

in which the phronimos would define it.54 As a disposition toward deliberate choiceindeed, as a mean relative to the phronimosvirtue can never become a matter of rote habituation.55 This definition further solidifies the intimate connection between phronesis \ and arete.\ If arete \ does indeed set the end, it does so only as a result of the relationship between deliberate choice and the nexus of cultural, experiential, educational, and political concerns that impinge upon the phronimos as embedded in a contingent world. Deliberation and choice are of decisive importance for virtue and thus for phronesis, \ precisely because they are bound up with logos. If practical nous operates at the two extremeson the one hand, orienting the phronimos toward the direct encounter with the singular, and on the other hand, naming the capacity for insight into the universalthen deliberation operates between these extremes, determining action by mediating between the concrete situation and the universal principles of action derived from past experience, education, and previous habituation. At one extreme, deliberation is always already at work in the very apprehension of the individual situation as an opportunity for action. In De Anima III.11, Aristotle distinguishes between perceptual and deliberative phantasia, suggesting that the former is shared by humans and animals alike, while the latter is peculiar to humans. What seems to distinguish perceptual from deliberative phantasia is the capacity to make reasonable judgments based on an imaginative conception of that which presents itself. Animals simply act on the direct perception of the desired object. Humans are able to construct the object of desire by deliberative imagination; that is, part of seeing that which presents itself as desirable involves the ability to determine what is best by looking to the past and future.56 Aristotle characterizes this as an ability to make a unity from many images.57 To put it in terms of the earlier discussion of phantasia, the very encounter with the individual itself involves an act of interpretation. Thus if nous offers access to the last ultimate, in order for this to become a matter for phronetic judgment it must be co-opted by logos; this is the work of logical judgment (logismos) that Aristotle dubs deliberative phantasia.58 At the other extreme, however, is the deliberative process known as prohairesis, deliberative choice. Nancy Sherman has pointed out that Aristotles conception of prohairesis is a special kind of deliberative preference, namely, one that requires the rational evaluation of a given action in light of some end, whether specific or more general.59 Aristotle emphasizes this when he links prohairesis to boulesis, \ the deliberative desire or wish for that which is good in a given situation. In fact, Aristotle calls prohairesis itself a bouleutike \ orexis, deliberative desire.60 However, he goes on to distinguish between boulesis \ and prohairesis by saying that the ends are given by deliberative desire (boulesis), \ while the things toward the ends are ordered by deliberative choice (prohairesis).61 Yet this analytical division of labor must not eclipse the extent to which

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

147

deliberation and choice function together. As Sherman correctly suggests: Aristotles negative claim that we do not deliberate about ends can be understood most straightforwardly as saying that for a given piece of deliberation we regard certain ends as fixed, e.g., that a doctor is interested in healing is assumed in the treatment of his patients. However, that guiding end may itself be the product of previous deliberations.62 In fact, the entire discussion of virtue, deliberation, and choice in NE II and III tells against segregating the roles of boulesis \ and prohairesis. The process according to which the ends of action are set itself includes deliberation and choice. Aristotle insists that ethical actions are deliberately chosen, because they are the right things to do in the given situation.63 A person cannot become virtuous by rote practice. Virtue involves becoming disposed to act according to deliberative choice, a disposition that emerges from deliberative practice. As Sherman puts it: Once we appreciate that full virtue cannot even be possessed without practical wisdom . . . , and that practical wisdom reciprocally requires virtue (1144a30), we can begin to see that the end which sets a deliberative process in action may itself be considerably transformed by the process.64 This implies that the logic of phrones\ is may be far more complicated and dynamic than the image of the theoretical syllogism would suggest. In the theoretical syllogism, the major premise is said to express that which is eternally true. The universal with which it operates is static in a way that the universal of phrones\ is cannot be. Rather, what corresponds on the model of the practical syllogism to the major premise is, in phronetic judgment, itself determined in the very process of its application.65 The model of the syllogism eclipses the extent to which the universal is itself determined by each act of phronetic judgment. Although the ends of action are in part given by virtue, that is, they are in part determined by experience, culture, and upbringing, they are constantly being revised in each application of phrones\ is. The ends themselves are transformed in the very process of being deliberatively chosen. Just as the individual situation is determined by the application of the universal, so too is the universal codetermined by its encounter with each new situation.66 The fact that the universal and individual are codetermined in the application of phronetic judgment itself suggests why phronesis \ can never simply be a question of truth but must also orient itself toward justice. Truth has traditionally been a matter of adequation. It governs the relation between idea and object, intellect and thinga relation in which the idea holds firm, and its truth is determined by how adequately it corresponds to the object. When the rigidity of the idea begins to falter, when it allows itself to be determined by the object with which it is concerned, then truth becomes a matter of justice. Recognizing this on some level, Aristotle introduces three important juridical concepts into the discussion of the logic of phronesis \ .

148

The Ethics of Ontology

The Juridical Aspects of Phronesis \


For an interpretation of phrones\ is overly preoccupied with the syllogistic model, the discussion of sunesis, epieikeia and, indeed, suggnome \ at NE VI.1112 must appear strange and out of place. Although on one level sunesis, which is traditionally translated simply as intelligence, seems to fit in with the general tendency to elucidate the nature of phrones\ is by appealing to purely theoretical forms of knowledge, its deeper connotations point to something far less abstract. The term itself is derived from the verb sunienai, which means to send, bring, or set together, to perceive or hear and, in the middle voice, even to come to an understanding about something.67 It thus has a communal, indeed, a contextual connotation that is not captured by the abstract translation of intelligence. Aristotle suggests that judging well is said to be intelligent (sunienai) when it judges by using opinion (doxa) concerning those things with which phrones\ is is concerned, when someone else speaks (allou legontos) [about them].68 Thus although it is not identical to phrones\ is, sunesis seems to name the capacity to discern the proper thing to do within a given context by attending not only to the peculiarities of the situation but also to the perspectives, advice, and council of others.69 Once sunesis is recognized as the sort of intelligence that is directed toward or exercised in conjunction with another, then a bolder translation of it may be suggested. The word itself has an etymological relation to suneides\ is, or conscience.70 Thus although suneides\ is never appears in Aristotle as such, and there remains in the term conscience dangerously misleading Christian theological and Heideggerian connotations, perhaps we can nonetheless risk the more bold translation of sunesis as conscientious apprehension to emphasize the ethical and dialogical connotations that it clearly has in Aristotle.71 Conscientious apprehension names the ability to grasp the nature of a given situation in a mode of critical self-reflection that remains constantly conscious of the fact that the judge too is implicated in each act of judgment. The ability to imagine ones way into the position of the other and the ability to listen as the other speaks (allou legontos) are important elements of conscientious apprehension, because they disrupt the internal monologue of the phronimos and direct it toward that which is outside of itself. Here phrones\ is is understood as dialogical not merely because it can listen as others speak, but also because it recognizes that the concrete situation itself is never exclusively determined by its subjective judgment. Indeed, the fact that sunesis must operate with doxa and not with an immediate grasp of the truth already suggests the extent to which phrones\ is is itself determined by the world in which it is embedded. The embedded nature of phronesis \ is further reinforced by a second concept closely connected to sunesis: equity or fairness (epieikeia).72 Aristotle originally introduced the conception of fairness at the end of his account of jus-

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

149

tice in NE V, because he was concerned to hold the absolute authority of the law in check. Here epieikeia takes on the meaning of equity: This is the nature of the equitable: a correction of the law when it errs because it is stated universally.73 Equity or fairness serves to correct universal laws that are unable to do justice to the peculiarities of the individual situation and context to which they are applied. Such laws become unjust because they are too rigid and thus require correction by a special decree made in the spirit of fairness. By introducing the notion of fairness into the structure of phronesis, \ Aristotle equips phronesis \ with the capacity to question critically the authority of the universal with which it operates. Here the dialogical dimension is expressed not in terms of the encounter with another but rather as an aspect of the internal operation of phronesis \ itself. Fairness points to the capacity of phronesis \ to problematize the application of the universal with which it must operate in each act of judgment to ensure that justice is done in each case. It emerges as an important feature of phronesis, \ precisely because Aristotle recognizes that the universals with which judgment operates violate the autarchy of the individual. In order to mitigate the violence of its own operation, phronesis \ must operate with a more flexible and dynamic sort of universal, one that is itself understood to be codetermined by the individual in the very act of application. Phronetic judgment must recognize its own fallibility. Although Aristotle insists that phronesis \ is a disposition according to which the soul possesses truth, and that phronesis \ is a matter of hitting the mark, not missing it, such claims ought not to be taken as evidence for the infallibility of phronesis \ . In fact, Aristotles insistence that phronesis \ includes virtue already points to its fallibility. As an intellectual virtue, phronesis \ is learned through practiceit involves a process that inherently involves trial and error. Phronesis \ is fallible, because it is contingent. This is reinforced by a third feature of the logic of phronesis, \ closely connected to the aforementioned two features of conscientious apprehension and fairness, namely, fellow feeling and leniency or forgiveness (suggnome \ ) \ . Aristotle claims: We say the person is fair who is most likely to forgive, and that fairness is to be forgiving in specific cases.74 Here forgiveness clearly operates with fairness to ensure that justice is done in each specific case. By emphasizing not only fairness but also forgiveness or leniency, Aristotle further equips phronesis \ with the capacity to recognize the violence of its own operation. Forgiveness emerges as a fundamental feature of phronesis, \ precisely because it is embedded in doxa and concerned with contingent beings. These juridical aspects of phronesis \ sunesis, epieikeia, and suggnome \ are \ completely eclipsed by the model of the practical syllogism which, guided by the question of truth, is based on a monological conception of the relationship between subject and object. The dialogical dimension of phronesis \ only emerges once the vocabulary of the syllogism is supplemented by that of jurisprudence. The practical syllogism sees phronesis \ only in terms of truth,

150

The Ethics of Ontology

while the juridical vocabulary recognizes phronesis \ as a matter of justice as well. Although he never appeals to the practical syllogism to express the meaning of phronesis, \ Gadamer has captured both its veridical and juridical senses when he writes: It is not only reasonableness, it is also a kind of political and social responsibility that is meant here, and this is the reason why I often used two words for phronesis, \ reasonableness and conscientiousness. In Greek, the two are one word: phronesis. \ 75 As conscientiousness, phronesis \ is a disposition for critical judgment. If the close connection between phronesis \ and ethical arete \ renders phronetic judgment capable of reflectively (deliberatively) determining the ends according to which it operates, then conscientious apprehension, fairness, and forgiveness are designed to respond to the violence endemic to each act of judgment. They are concerned to do justice to the individual itself, even as the universals through which it becomes accessible are deployed.

\ IS TOWARD AN ONTOLOGICAL CONCEPTION OF PHRONES


When taken together, the noetic and logical dimensions of phronesis \ constitute the complex dynamics of contingent knowledge. What emerges as primary, and what serves to differentiate the finite knowledge of phronesis \ from either episteme \ \ or sophia, is the status of the concrete individual. Aristotles insistence that phronesis \ concerns the individualthat it must respect the individuality of the concrete situation in each act of judgmentdistinguishes phronesis \ from the other forms of knowledge in Aristotle. It distinguishes it from techne \ in which the end is predetermined by the artist and imposed upon the matter from without. It distinguishes it from episteme \ ,\ where individuals are subsumed under fixed universal principles.76 Finally, it distinguishes it from sophia, where allegedly the eternally true principles are immediately intuited by nous and deployed without any need to attend to each case individually.77 Attention to the concrete situation is the very condition for the possibility of the operation of phronesis \ . Practical nous functions in phronesis \ not to establish the ultimate eternal truth but to provide access to that dimension of the contingent situation that escapes the grasp of logos. As such, intuition situates the phronimos over against the concrete presence of that which it judges, reminding the phronimos that its logos can never fully capture the object of its judgment. Practical nous serves as an intuitive ethical reminder of the remainder that always escapes determination by the logos. In so doing, it transforms the very function of the logos itself. In phronesis, \ logos is not only the way a situation is judged, determined, and incorporated into the schema of the judging subject, it is also the medium through which the encounter between the phronimos and that which is judged in each case first becomes possible. However, the noetic intuition operating in phronesis \ points to the limit to which the deployment of logos must remain constantly accountable. Thus if virtue and

Contingent Knowledge: Phronesis \ in the Ethics

151

habituation impinge on the autonomy of the judging subject from the side of the world, then the concrete singularity of the individual impinges on its autonomy from the side of the object of judgment. The elements of conscientious apprehension, fairness, and forgiveness equip phronesis \ with the capacity to seek justice in each unique situation; deliberation, virtue, and choice serve to remind the phronimos that it too is involved in and determined by each act of judgment. In developing this complex conception of knowledge in which justice and responsibility emerge as genuine epistemological concerns, Aristotle renders epistemology ethical. In the process, however, he also opens up the possibility of rethinking the sort of knowledge deployed by ontology. In Aristotle himself, this remains undeveloped, yet the robust conception of phronesis \ offered in Nicomachean Ethics VI suggests the possibility that a new model of ontological knowledge might be developed that is capable of doing justice to the individual, to the tode ti the Metaphysics had designated as ousia. Perhaps phronesis \ is itself the episteme \ \ in energeia hinted at in Metaphysics XIII.10. Perhaps it is the mode of knowledge most proper to the dynamic conception of ousia as praxis. To develop such suggestions is, to be sure, to move beyond what Aristotle himself explicitly states. It is to follow the trajectory of Aristotles thinking beyond his thought; it is, in short, to render ontology ethical.

The Ethics of Ontology

The transition from the purely ethical to the ontological conception of phronesis \ can be accomplished by focusing on the ambiguity of the Greek terms to kath hekaston and to eschaton. While these terms clearly indicate that toward which phronesis \ is directed, precisely what they are meant to designate is less obvious. John Cooper suggests that in NE VI these terms always refer to particulars and never to individuals.1 We have seen, however, that this is not always the case: although both terms may refer to particulars, they also sometimes seem to point to the individual itself. That which presents itself to the judging subject is always already a determinate individual, no longer singular, but not yet particular. The tension of this no longer and not yet is at play in the semantic ambiguity of both to kath hekaston and to eschaton. This ambiguity haunts the Metaphysics throughout, finding its boldest expression in the conceptual gesture tode ti. In chapter 6 we argued that the ambiguity of the tode ti reflected the ontological structure of finite ousia itself. The tode ti, itself composite, points to the duality of the individual whose being is the dynamic identity of form and matter, energeia and dunamis, determinateness saturated with indeterminacypraxis. To map the concepts to kath hekaston and to eschaton onto the ontological vocabulary of tode ti is not difficult. Aristotle himself deploys to kath hekaston throughout his ontological writings, and it seems fair to say that however one chooses to render to eschaton into English, the last ultimate for Aristotles ontological engagement with finite ousia, the point of its departure and the ultimate being with which it remains constantly concerned, is the concrete individual. To wrest these terms from their strictly ethical context is, however, slightly more challenging, for most often Aristotle seems to use the terms to refer not to the concrete being that confronts the phronimos but to the concrete situation 153

154

The Ethics of Ontology

within and from which the phronimos must discern the proper thing to do. Yet there is something of a slippage in Aristotles own use of the terms, a shift that legitimizes the ontological approach to phronesis \ suggested here. Precisely where this slippage leads is suggested when Aristotle uses to kath hekaston in the singular in conjunction with the demonstrative todi to refer to the concrete being encountered by the phronimos.2 In such cases, it is not so much the situation as the very being itself that serves as the referent of the term. If to kath hekaston can be taken in this ontological sense to refer to the concrete individual, then perhaps phronesis \ can be given a new determination as a genuine form of ontological knowledge of the individual itself. When this slippage is combined with Aristotles use of the term praxis to designate the dynamic identity of ousia in the Metaphysics, and the suggestion in Metaphysics XIII.10 that there may be a peculiar sort of direct knowledge of the tode ti, the possibility that phronesis, \ whether Aristotle intended it or not, delineates this form of ontological knowledge gains credibility. The common tension found in the ethical terms to kath hekaston and to eschaton and the ontological term tode ti further establishes the connection between Aristotles ontological and ethical thinking. In fact, our investigation into the internal logic of phronesis \ suggests precisely why this tension between singularity and particularity emerges in such central concepts. The ambiguity of these terms is symptomatic of a thinking implicitly cognizant of its own finitude. The singularitself autonomous, independent, Otherdoes not enter into appearance unaltered; it always already appears as individual. This individuality, however, is itself unstable, no longer singular, for it has entered the sphere of logos, but not yet particular, for it is never fully captured by the concept. The attempt to establish ontology as a rigorous episteme \ ,\ to do away, once and for all, with the inherent ambiguity of individuality, is nothing more than a denial of the finitude of thinking itself. To substitute the security of particularity for the ambiguity of individuality is to take refuge in a delusion, for, to paraphrase Adorno, the individual does not go into its concepts without remainder.3 This remainder thwarts every attempt to assimilate the singularity of the individual in the name of stability. Ontology becomes ethical the moment it recognizes its own contingency. Responding to this recognition, the ethics of ontology turns away from the quest for certainty, toward the ambiguity of individuality, seeking to do justice to that which cannot be captured by the concept. This turn requires not an epistemic, but an ethical rigor: the assiduous attempt to do justice to the autarchy of the individual, even as it is distorted by the very concepts through which it is encountered. Thus ontological knowledge of the individual cannot be episteme \ ,\ with its eye toward universal generalizability, nor techne,\ with its loyalty to the ideas of the craftsperson. Yet it cannot be sophia either, with its alleged direct access to eternal first principles. Rather, as Aristotle himself points out, knowledge of the individualto kath hekaston, to eschatonis phronesis \ .4 Aristotles unwill-

The Ethics of Ontology

155

ingness to reduce individuality to particularity in his analysis of phronesis \ opens up the possibility of appealing to phronesis \ as a genuine ontological way of knowing. In drawing out the ontological dimensions of this ethical form of knowledge, we are able to uncover the underlying tension that gives rise to the epistemological side of Aristotles universal/singular aporia. Yet this ontological reappropriation of phronesis \ also points to an ethical conception of ontology that remains ultimately responsible to the otherness of the Other. The epistemology of the ethics of ontology suggests, in turn, a new conception of arche \ in which the dimension of incipience emerges as primary, and that of domination, while recognized as necessary, is held ultimately accountable to the singularity of the individual. Thus although we are guided in what follows by the preceding analysis of the ethical meaning of phronesis \ developed by Aristotle, we are led beyond the limits of Aristotles emphatic philosophy.

INTUITING THE SINGULARARCHIC INCIPIENCE


Sensation breaks up every system,5 says Levinas, and so he speaks something of the truth, for sensation itself lies on the border between nous and logos, and intuition (nous) shatters every system. Levinass antipathy for the visual model of cognition, however insightful, forces him to insist that the power of resistance is sensation, not intuition. Yet our analysis of Aristotles conception of phronetic perception uncovers the limitations of Levinass bold claim. Phronetic perception always already involves the deployment of concepts, the capacity to see that which is present as something or other in the context in which it appears. This indicates the extent to which aisthesis \ is already a matter of phantasia, and thus a violation of the radical otherness of the Other, its singularity. There is, however, a dimension of phronetic perception open to the genuinely recalcitrant. This was captured by Aristotles rather odd identification of aisthesis \ with practical nous.6 Although phronetic perception deploys logos, it is directed toward that which escapes the grasp of logos; it is noetic. Practical nous is precognitive, preconceptual, indeed, prelinguistic. It is the first inchoate awareness of the presence of the Other. We may describe this metaphorically as a vague feeling of being addressed. The singularity of the Other is never known, only dimly intuited. This vague intuition, this sense of being called out of oneselfthe noetic awareness of the singularity of the Othershatters the monological system of the Same by calling it to account. This is the deep ontological significance of Aristotles insistence that practical nous is directed toward the archai of that for the sake of which (tou hou heneka) 7 and, more fundamentally, that nous is an arche \ and a telos, for demonstrations (apodeixeis) come from these and concern these.8 The beginning toward which nous is directed, and the end to which it always remains accountable, is the singularity of the Other. Here arche \ is not yet the dominating principle, the ruling concept, but beginning,

156

The Ethics of Ontology

incipience, openness to the Other; nor yet is telos the final cause, the ultimate goal, but that for the sake of which each act of ontological judgment is made and to which it must remain response-able. Behind every alleged apodeixis lurks the haunting uncertainty of the individualan uncertainty that emphatic philosophy has sought and always failed to annihilate. Thus if, as Levinas suggests, sensation shatters every system, then this is because through the intuitive dimension of phronetic perception the Same is called out of itself and into relationit is addressed by the singularity of the Other. In this description, we move beyond the traditional conception of philosophical nous, which is said to see that which it encounters as it shines forth in the full brilliance of its being, nous naming an infallible capacity to know. This conception of nous is itself already a symptom of a philosophical tradition deluded by its own hubris. Adorno identifies this conceit when he writes: Traditional philosophy believes that it possesses an infinite object, and in this belief becomes itself finite, conclusive philosophy. A changed philosophy would have to quash that claim, to cease persuading others and itself that it has the infinite at its disposal.9 Theoretical nous persuades itself and others that it is in full possession of the infinitemodern philosophy has indeed been duped by this dogma: the universe is at the disposal of the rational mind, fully saturated by its concepts; nous reigns supreme. Yet it did not need to be so, nor did nous need to be the vehicle for such delusions. Kurt von Fritz has suggested that from its earliest usage in Homer, nous has always been closely connected to a sort of aisthesis \ .10 The word itself seems to have been derived from roots meaning to sniff or smell but quickly came to be identified with the far more comprehensive senses of vision and touch.11 In Homer, nous is associated with the ability to recognize the importance of an object or action in a given situation.12 Thus from its earliest beginnings, nous was recognized as embedded in the concrete world of finite existence. Indeed, the Homeric conception of nous seems to have had certain features in common with Aristotles conception of phronesis: \ just as phronesis \ is a virtue and thus linked to the character of each individual, so too does the nous of an individual in Homer differ according to the circumstances and character of each; just as fairness (epieikeia) functions in phronesis \ as a corrective to the unjust deployment of universals, so too in Homer nous may serve to correct a previous inaccurate recognition; and, finally, just as phronesis \ is always linked to deliberation and choice, so too in Homer nous comes to mean a plan, particularly in the face of danger.13 To retrieve something of this Homeric conception of nous would go a long way toward developing the sort of changed philosophy of which Adorno speaks. The suggestion that nous may have been derived originally from roots meaning to sniff and smell already points to the precognitive dimension of ontological nous. Through nous a vague sense of the Other becomes accessible. The scent of the singular precedes the logic of encounter.

The Ethics of Ontology

157

However, to use the metaphor of a single sensewhether it be the model of vision embraced by traditional philosophy or the auditory metaphor intimated earlier with the vocabulary of being addressed, or even the Homeric sense of smellis to truncate the full meaning of ontological nous. Here something like and unlike Aristotles conception of common sense is at work.14 Like Aristotles common sense, ontological nous is not limited to a specific sense organ but deploys them all together. Unlike Aristotles common sense, sensing the singularity of the Other through nous is not like sensing motion, shape, magnitude or, indeed, unity, that is, it does not yet intend to the universal, the concept. Rather, it names the inchoate awareness of the presence of the Other, a presence that flits across the senses, awakening a desire at the very core of the being of the Same. Ontological nous, itself born of the deep ontological desire for encounter, reaches out for, listens to, catches a whiff, and perhaps even a dim glance, of the singularity of the Otheryet for all of this, the singular escapes the grasp of the concept. The singular is the beginning from which ontological encounter first becomes possible and the end toward which it remains ultimately accountable. It is the remainder that always escapes the dominating grasp of the logos. This remainder, vaguely intuited, serves as the ultimate reminder of the inadequacy of the concept and the need for vigilant critique. Critique is thus necessitated by the irony of finite thinking itself: the Other burns the husk of its own singularity as it enters into the community of the logos;15 the logos itself, however, at once distorts the Other and serves as the condition for the possibility of justice, for justice always operates within an economy of concepts that can never lose sight of their own distorting influence. Ontological nous offers access to that which cannot be captured by the concept; it enjoins responsibility and necessitates critique. If, however, the logic of the ethics of ontology is itself to be critical, it must remain constantly cognizant of its own finitude and of the violence with which it operates.

ENCOUNTERING THE INDIVIDUALARCHIC DOMINATION


Let us recall Adornos warning: No plea for the blessings of order removes the difficulties that the relationship between tode ti and prote \ \ ousia in the Aristotelian metaphysics prepares.16 We have seen these difficulties in great detail and have sought neither to solve nor to dissolve them but, rather, to think our way into the deep ontological truth to which they point. In so doing, we have suggested that the term tode ti indicates that which is neither singular nor particular, rather, it names, quite precisely, the inherently ambiguous, precariously situated individual. Aristotles great genius lies in his insistence that ontology be directed toward the individual and in his resistance to the temptationso prevalent in later generations and so obviously alluring to Aristotle himself

158

The Ethics of Ontology

to violate the individual in favor of the alleged blessings of order.17 Between the singular and the particular stands the individualthe only possible object of ontology, for there is no knowledge of the singular, and what has traditionally been posited as the genuine knowledge of the particular is nothing more than an unreflective endorsement of the delusion that concepts are capable of completely capturing the objects with which they are concerned. The individual, however, occupies a perilously ambiguous space. Drawing on the irreducible autarchy of its unique singularity, it refuses to submit fully to the authority of the concepts of the Same. Again, Levinas clarifies for us the extent to which the individual is constantly in peril of being reduced to particularity, yet for Levinas, the tode ti itself is already conceptual: The refusal of the concept is not a resistance to generalization by the tode ti, which is on the same plane as the conceptand by which the concept is defined, as by an antithetical term.18 What Levinas fails to recognize and what our analysis of the middle books of the Metaphysics has suggested is that the tode ti is itself amphibious, simultaneously form and matter, energeia and dunamis, conceptual and nonconceptual. The tode ti quite literally points to the conceptualization of that which always escapes the grasp of the concept; it gestures to that which cannot be dissolved in concepts and yet for which a conceptual name is sought.19 To think our way into this the amphibious ambiguity of individuality is to recognize at once the danger endemic to the allure of totality and the key to its resistance. From the side of the individual, the capacity to resist the totality lies in its irreducible singularity. Aristotles own vocabulary already points to this singularity with the term ti en \ einaithat which is said of each individual according to itself.20 We suggested the significance of the use of the imperfect in this rather odd termthat it points to the historical dimension of the dynamic conception of ontological identity. But the imperfect gestures to something more: it indicates the inaccessibility of the full essence of the individual; it implicitly recognizes that in appearing the individual is no longer what it was. It signifies the very burning of the husk of singularity as the individual enters into the community of concepts. The singularity of the individual can never be brought into the full light of the present by logos; it always operates on what was, that is, on what has always already made its appearance. The answer to the question What is it? can only be given in terms of the what-it-was-for-something-to-be. The question itself seeks to render present the always already absent singularity of that which has appeared. Concepts forever come too late. However, if, from the perspective of the individual, the capacity to resist totalization lies inherent in its singularity, from the perspective of the Same, then this capacity depends on the recognition that a dimension of domination is inherent in the very deployment of principles that conditions all appearance. What may be thematized as a question of resistance from the perspective of

The Ethics of Ontology

159

the individual must be understood as a question of justice from the perspective of the Same. An analysis of the logical dimension of phronesis \ offers the vocabulary according to which the hegemonic functioning of principles may be recognized and conscientiously minimized. Our discussion of the role that phantasia plays in phronetic perception has challenged the nave belief that objects present themselves to the perceiving subject in their pure immediacy. Phantasia was shown to be the capacity to organize sensations in a unified manner so that they come to constitute some one thing. Indeed, phantasia emerged as a condition for the possibility of perception itself. This led to the recognition that perception is also interpretation. The singular does not appear; what appears is the individual, always already a construct of its encounter with the Same. In appearing, the individual submits to the prejudice of the concept. What appears as given has already been appropriated. Ontological imagination conditions the direct encounter with the individual. However, if this sort of imagination is not to be duplicitous in the delusion of the absolute hegemony of the Same, that is, if it is to become genuinely ethical and therefore of fundamental significance for ontology, then it must not only recognize its own collusion in the construction of the individual but also must allow itself to be deployed in such a manner that the individual never is permitted to become a mere particular. Ontological phantasia becomes ethical the moment it recognizes its own role in wrenching the individual from its independent singularity while refusing to reduce the individual to particularity. Here the imagination does not merely concern the conditions for the possibility of knowledge of the individuala way of thematizing the relationship that reinforces the centrality of the Samebut it also names the capacity to limit the deployment of concepts based on an imaginative intuition of singular. Thus resistance to the hegemony of the Same is accessed not only from the side of the individualnamely, from its irreducible singularitybut also from the side of the Same itself, for through ethical imagination, the Same is able to alter the categories according to which it renders ontological judgment. The analysis of phronesis, \ particularly that of conscientious apprehension, fairness, and forgiveness, has suggested how the Same might temper the violent impact endemic to the deployment of its concepts. Levinas points to the context in which these dimensions of phronesis \ emerge as vital: Conscience welcomes the Other. It is the revelation of a resistance to my powers that does not counter them as a greater force, but calls in question the nave right of my powers, my glorious spontaneity as a living being. Morality begins when freedom, instead of being justified by itself, feels itself to be arbitrary and violent.21 By highlighting the notion of conscientious apprehension (sunesis) in the ontological reappropriation of phronesis, \ the ethics of ontology equips the Same with the cognitive capacity to critically consider the arbitrary violence of its spontaneity. Although the very presence of the individual calls into question

160

The Ethics of Ontology

the authority of the concepts of the Same, conscientious apprehension points to the capacity on the part of the Same to recognize the violence inherent in its deployment of concepts. Yet conscientious apprehension includes more than this mere recognition. It also involves a willingness to put these very categories at risk. As apprehension, it seeks to understand the being of the individualit enters into ontological relation; as conscientious, it recognizes that every act of understanding is always already a misunderstanding standing in need of correctioncorrection that comes not only from the irreducible singularity of the individual but from the honest, self-critical reflection of the Same. Conscientious apprehension resists becoming comprehension from two directions: the individual remains recalcitrant, and the Same critically self-reflective. Thus if ontological phronesis \ is not to become totalizing, then it must recognize its own fallibility. Although for human-beings meaning emerges only as concepts are deployed, the concepts deployed must themselves be forgiving, open. Aristotle, to his imperishable honor,22 captures this dimension of fallibility with the concept of equity or fairness (epieikeia). By incorporating the capacity for fairness into the ontological reappropriation of phronesis, \ we mean to equip ontology with the ability to call the deployment of its own concepts into question. In so doing, ontological judgment is redirected away from its obsession with truth toward the question of justice, for each time a universal is deployedand human thinking itself requires the deployment of universal conceptsthere is a risk of injustice. However, justice cannot be done to the singular, for the singular never enters the community of concepts where the question of justice first emerges. Yet it is the echo of singularity in the realm of the conceptual, the remainder that does not go cleanly into the concepts that seek to determine it, that demands justice. The concrete presence of the individualno longer singular and not yet particularis the ultimate principle of ontology. As such, it manifests both dimensions of the traditional conception of arche:\ it is the incipient principle of ontological relation and the commanding principle of accountability. As the individual enters into appearance, it burns the husk of its singularity. But this singularity is never fully incinerated; it remains and enjoins a response. To respond to this remainder with fairness is to refuse to succumb to the tempting belief, as false as it is audacious, that complete comprehension is possible if only the proper concepts are deployed. Here ontological knowledge does not emerge as a rigorous science that seeks to secure, once and for all, the truth of being. Rather, it involves the far more difficult and uncertain attempt to do justice to the ambiguous individuality of the Other. Ironically, Aristotles own loyalty to the autarchy of beings and to the manner in which beings appear has led to the recognition that an episteme \ \ of ousia is impossible in the manner in which Aristotle himself and, indeed, the history of philosophical ontology had hoped. Rather than leading to the firm security of universal principles capable of capturing the plurality of beings, the

The Ethics of Ontology

161

path of Aristotles engagement with finite ousia has led to a complex conception of ontological knowledge firmly embedded in the contingent world. This analysis of ontological phronesis \ is, however, capable of accounting for the peculiar way ousia had been conceptualized at the end of the middle books of the Metaphysics. There ousia was thought as the active identity of energeia and dunamis, terms that were given a certain temporal determination by the strange present-perfect formulation that Aristotle used in laying out the meaning of ontological praxis.23 We suggested that this formulation, when combined with the use of the term entelecheia, indicated the structure of ontological temporality in which praxis named a sort of presenceousiadetermined at once by its past and determining itself toward its future. However, what was thematized in our analysis of the Metaphysics as the objective structure of finite being itself can now be recognized in its deeper, more concrete significance, for praxis is never some abstract process, but the structure of the very happening of the ontological encounter itself. Just as it is impossible to separate ethics from ontology, so too is it impossible to segregate ontology from epistemology. To posit such a separation is to fail to recognize that being and judging are always intertwined for human-beings; indeed, as a way of knowing, the ethics of ontology renders epistemology ethical as well. Aristotles analysis of phronesis \ in the Nicomachean Ethics lends insight into the ethics of epistemology by focusing on the relationship between the subject and object in the very act of judging. In the Metaphysics, this theme was eclipsed by Aristotles overarching concern to establish absolute order in the immobile.24 Because the Ethics remains focused on contingent existence, Aristotle no longer feels compelled to engage in what Adorno has called the detemporalization of the meaning of concepts. [T]he crucial fallacy in traditional philosophy as a whole, Adorno says, is nothing other than this detemporalization of the meaning of concepts, which is produced by the way in which concepts are formed, but is attributed as an inherent property to that which they subsume.25 Phronetic judgment is itself temporal. Yet this temporality, which emerges out of the concrete engagement with the individual, was, in the Metaphysics, thematized as the objective ontological structure of ousia itself. Aristotles insistence that disposition, deliberation, and choice are intimately intertwined in phronesis \ lends insight into how this allegedly purely objective structure came to be ascribed to ousia understood as praxis. Let us begin with deliberation, for it is situated between, but never separated from, disposition and choice. Because phronesis \ is always directed toward that which can be otherwise, and thus always includes a dimension of uncertainty, deliberation mediates the encounter between the judging subject and that which is judged in each new situation. This sort of deliberation is temporally determined, because the right choice (prohairesis orthe) \ must be discursively discerned by considering the contingencies of the context, historical experience, and the idiosyncrasies of the individuals involved. Aristotle himself

162

The Ethics of Ontology

hints at the temporality of phronesis \ when he links deliberation to prohairesis, choice, and suggests that the name prohairesis itself points to a sort of taking of one thing before other things.26 Here Aristotle recognizes that deliberation is embedded in the very succession of finite time.27 The discursive nature of deliberation, however, does not have the structure of motion that determined Aristotles investigation of time in the Physics.28 Rather, it is the temporality endemic to the very deployment of concepts that determines the meaning of ontological praxisousia emerges as temporal precisely because its very appearance depends upon the discursive deployment of concepts. The historical dimension of ontological phronesis \ is captured by its characterizations as both an arete,\ a virtue, and a hexis, disposition. Ethical virtues only arise out of that extensive field of lived experience upon which the phronimos must draw in order to determine the right end, and dispositions are determined by the cultural and historical context into which the phronimos is born. The analogue to these dimensions of phronesis \ is perhaps the enabling prejudice that Gadamer recognizes as a condition for all judgment. To use the language of the Metaphysics: this historical dimension is expressed in the formulation to ti en \ einai, the-what-it-was-to-be that always already has determined each moment of actual existence. Indeed, one way to characterize the limitation of traditional ontology is to suggest that its obsession with essence reifies the being of that which it encounters in terms of the what-it-was and fails to recognize its own collusion in this determinationas if this were simply an objective determination of the singular itself. Prior to Kant, traditional ontology turned a blind eye to its own incapacity to gain access to the singular; after Kant, it forgot the singular altogether, confident in the comprehensive capacities of its own concepts. The ethics of ontology remains riveted to the site of encounter, recognizing that the individual enters into the community of concepts as always already historically determined. As a praxis decisively determined by the ontological encounter, the very essence of the individual must be recognized not only as saturated by history but as intimately linked to the future. The ti en \ einai is always already an entelecheia. Ontological phronesis \ determines praxis toward the future, because it involves a prohairesis that is precisely directed toward the end (pros to telos).29 To take the pros here in the sense of the means directed toward an end determined objectively from the outside is already to obfuscate the ontological significance of prohairesis. Phronesis \ involves not only arete \ and hexis (the historical) but also prohairesis (the futural) so that, as we have seen, the end of the action is itself determined in the intentional choice of the phronimos. We have insisted, however, that such choices are never made in isolation, that they involve the direct encounter with the Other and are determined not merely subjectively but intersubjectively. The legacy of modern idealism, and specifically its obsession with freedom, persuades us to think the determination of ends in terms of the free act of the subject. This tradition, however, raises the subject to a status of

The Ethics of Ontology

163

absolute freedom only at the expense of the Other. The free deployment of concepts must be held accountable to the remainder that always escapes conceptualization. The delusion of absolute freedom is shattered by ontological prohairesis, for the manner in which concepts are deployed here is recognized as a matter of intentional choice that remains critically bound to the site of the encounter with the individual. As such, ontological prohairesis is capable of mobilizing the critical capacities of conscientious apprehension, fairness, and forgiveness in determining the response of the Same to its encounter with the individual. Thus ontological prohairesis grounds responsibility. Indeed, just as Aristotle makes prohairesis an integral part of his discussion of phronesis \ so as not to allow the phronimos to shirk responsibility for its own actions, so too in the ontological reappropriation of phronesis \ we insist on the centrality of ontological prohairesis in order to emphasize the importance of responsibility. In the face of the encounter with the individual, ontological prohairesis is enjoinedbut can always failto operate with conscientious apprehension, fairness, and forgiveness. Ontological truth depends ultimately on doing justice to difference in relation. The reason Aristotles engagement with finite, sensible ousia led to a dynamic determination of the individual in terms of praxis is that access to ousia is always mediated by the complex structure of ontological phronesis \ . Grounded in logos but made possible by ethical nous, ontological phronesis \ directs us to the concrete encounter with the individual, the starting point (he \ arche) \ and the last ultimate (to eschaton) of all ontological investigation. In the end, the ontological encounter, direct yet embedded in a nexus of historico-ethico-political relations, is the very principle of being. This recognition that the concrete encounter with the individualwhat Aristotle calls the tode tiis the ultimate arche \ of ontology lends insight into the very origins of the universal/singular aporia. The tension between the universal and the singular, which has been reified into an intractable opposition by the tradition, is merely a reflection of the ambiguity of the individual itself, of its tenuous position between singularity and particularity. The tension between the universal and the singular is symptomatic of a thinking intent on doing justice to the finite contingent individual. To dissolve the individual into singularity is to give up on the possibility of meaningful relation. To subsume it under the universal is to sacrifice justice for the illusion of truth. Ontological phronesis \ responds to the epistemological side of the universal/singular aporia by thinking its way into the ambiguous identity that emerges out of each concrete ontological encounter.

RETHINKING THE MEANING OF ARCHE \


By redirecting the focus of ontology from the universal to the concrete encounter with the individual, our analysis points to the possibility of altering

164

The Ethics of Ontology

the traditional conception of the meaning and function of principles. Historically, philosophers have sought refuge in the timeless immobility of an ultimate arche \ by systematically refusing to think the manner in which this arche \ establishes its authority by abstraction. To insist upon the primacy of encounter is to force ontology to consider the very process by which principles come to be established as ultimate. Here the dimension of incipience, manifest in the very intuition of the singular, is conscientiously deployed and redeployed to temper the necessary, but inherently violent, dimension of domination in logos. The arche \ of ethical ontology is divided against itself in a new way: the hegemonic arche \ of the logos that seeks first to assimilate the individual by rendering it particular and then to obfuscate this assimilation by positing it as the objective nature of the individual itself is subverted by the incipient arche \ of the singular. To subvert the hegemonic arche \ of the logos, however, is not to naively reject the necessity of its deployment, for to reject the deployment of principles is to annihilate the possibility of meaningful response, to relinquish the active, critical engagement with the world of contingent beings. Paradoxically, the possibility of ontological justice only first emerges in and through logos. Thus just as the traditional conception of arche \ would have it, incipience and domination function together as principles are deployed. However, the traditional conception uncritically posits the priority of domination over incipience. It attempts to legitimize this priority by forgetting its role in positing it and then glorifying the posited arche \ as the very objective structure of being itself. The ethics of ontology refuses this self-indulgent amnesia by assiduously insisting that access to the allegedly objective structure of being is always mediated by the dynamic encounter with the individual. Here the element of incipience continually calls that of domination to account. Thus rather than seeking to reduce all things to a single, overarching hegemonic principle, the ethics of ontology thinks its way into the very arche \ of each being it encounters, setting up the encounter with the individual itself as the absolute ultimate toward which all ontological judgment must remain vigilantly response-able. In so doing, however, it remains constantly cognizant of the dimension of domination endemic to the very deployment of principles that serves as the condition for the possibility of meaningful encounter. To deny that encounter itself depends upon the deployment of principles would return us to the traditional delusion of philosophy that remains convinced of its absolute access to the Other. It would endorse the conceit that uncritically trusts the capacity of finite human concepts to completely capture the being with which they are concerned. Such a denial amounts to a renunciation of finitude. Aristotle himself has colluded in covering over the finitude of philosophy by establishing the absolute priority of sophia over phronesis \ . Sophia, unlike phronesis \ and like episteme \ ,\ is directed toward that which is eternal, permanent, and neces-

The Ethics of Ontology

165

sary. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle gives the decisive formulation: sophia would be nous and episteme \ ,\ that is episteme \ \ of the most honorable things, holding its own head.30 This rather odd statement is meant to emphasize the direct access that sophia has to the eternal truth through theoretical nous. This direct access to the divine renders sophia infallible. Because of this alleged infallibility, and because sophia is thought to be both self-sufficient not requiring the presence of others for its operationand capable of knowing all things without attending to each individually, Aristotle insists on the priority of sophia over phronesis, \ an insistence that has had a decisive effect on the history and direction of philosophy ever since.31 Yet if the love of sophia is to live up to its determination as knowledge of the most honorable (timiotato \ n), \ then it must become more like phronesis, \ which honors the otherness of the Other. For the most honorable is not that which is absolutely necessary, eternal, and permanent, but that which is contingent, unique, and vulnerable. For philosophy to recognize the vulnerability of the Other is for it to call its own concepts into question, to become critically cognizant of its own fallibility. If philosophy begins with this recognition and remains loyal to it, then it will no longer seek to segregate ethics from ontology, for ethics and ontology begin the moment the Other burns the husk of its own singularity and, entering into relation, becomes vulnerable. This relation, never anarchic, is grounded in the ability to respond, which, for finite humans at least, is always mediated by logos. If philosophys arche \ is not to become totalizing, then justice must be done to the trace of singularity that always remains undetermined by this relation. The ethics of ontology neither presumes to posit nor pretends to possess absolute access to the essence of the singular. To render ontology ethical is to insist that every attempt to determine the meaning of being must begin with the concrete encounter with the Other and remain riveted there. The uncertain frontier between the Same and the Other is the site of the activity of being. The delusion of absolute freedom dissolves on this frontier, challenged by the singularity of the Other. This challenge always takes the form of an address, a claim made upon the Same to which it must respond. Ontology is always a response to the address of the Other, to its insistence upon justice. Yet every response carries with it the violence of injustice. Only an ability to respond that conscientiously considers both the inherent violence of its response and the impossibility of failing to respond is genuine finite ontological response-ability. The ethics of ontology recognizes this as the great burden and ultimate delight of finite being, the assiduous attempt to seek justice in relationthe praxis of being.

Notes

PREFACE
1. John McCumber develops the conception of ousia as a parameter. See John McCumber, Metaphysics and Oppression: Heideggers Challenge to Western Philosophy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). 2. Theodor W. Adorno, Metaphysics: Concept and Problems, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 78.

CHAPTER 1
1. Reiner Schrmann, Heidegger, On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy, trans. Christine-Marie Gros and Reiner Schrmann (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 97. 2. At the beginning of the Second Meditation, Descartes writes: Archimedes used to demand just one firm and immovable point in order to shift the entire earth; so I too can hope for great things if I manage to find just one thing, however, slight, that is certain and unshakeable. See Ren Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 2, trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 16 (ATVII 24). 3. Aristotle, Aristotelis Metaphysica, ed. Werner Wilhelm Jaeger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 987a30b9. See also 1078b71079a4. All references to Aristotles Greek text are based on the Oxford editions and will be presented in the Notes section with an abbreviated reference to the work, followed by the Bekker page number. All translations are my own. 4 Here we explicitly do not say Plato and Descartes in order to separate the complexities of each of their specific positions from the tendency that can be identified with their respective schools. 5 Richard Bernstein has insightfully suggested that postmodernism is a sort of mood of the times, not so much a Zeitgeist as, what Bernstein, borrowing from Heidegger, calls a Stimmung. See Richard J. Bernstein, The New Constellation: The Ethical-

167

168

Notes to Chapter 1

Political Horizons of Modernity/Postmodernity (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992), 11. Bernsteins vocabulary is helpful, because it affirms the amorphous and shifting character of that which falls under the label postmodern, while recognizing its powerful influence over contemporary thinking. 6. For Descartes position, see the Discourse on Method, AT VI, 89, in Ren Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. 1, trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). It should be noted that for all of the postmodern talk of rupture and decisive breaks, many postmodern thinkers (e.g., Heidegger, Levinas, Foucault, and Derrida) remain deeply engaged with the history of philosophy. 7. Aristotle, Metaphysics, VII.1 1028b13. 8. Martin Heidegger, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, trans. Albert Hofstadter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 10612. For a detailed discussion of Aristotles formulation as decisive, see Werner Marx, Heidegger and the Tradition, trans. Theodore Kisiel and Murray Greene (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1971), 342. Marx emphasizes Heideggers critique of this approach: it is directed toward eternalness, necessity, self-sameness, and intelligibility in a way that conceals the occurrence of Being itself. 9. See the introduction of Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tbingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1986). It is important to emphasize that Heidegger tells a number of stories about the history of metaphysics. Sometimes Aristotles own thinking is seen to retain something of the more authentic, pre-Socratic conception of Being, as in Martin Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der physis. Aristoteles, Physik B, 1, in Gesamtausgabe: Wegmarken, ed. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1976), pp. 239302. 10. Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966), 35. All translations from the German are my own. For the English translation, see Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1994), 24. References will be to the German edition, followed by the page number of the English translation. 11. The view that the Metaphysics is a unity that leads ineluctably to the notion of God as pure act has been powerfully expressed in recent generations in Joseph Owenss excellent book, The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978). The holistic approach to Aristotle, which not only sees the Metaphysics but the entire Corpus Aristotelicum as a unified whole, has recently been reaffirmed by C. D. C. Reeve. This approach permits him to draw on any passage in the corpus to illuminate any other without regard to the specific context in which a given selection is situated. See C. D. C. Reeve, Substantial Knowledge: Aristotles Metaphysics (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000). The reigning vision of Aristotle continues to be as emphatic philosopher. Increasingly, however, there are exceptions. For example, Mary Louise Gill takes issue with the orthodox reading of the Aristotelian cosmos as orderly and austere. See Mary Louise Gill, Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 242; Martha Nussbaum and David Balme have leveled strong critiques of the traditional conception of Aristotles essentialism and

Notes to Chapter 1

169

the notion of an overarching cosmic teleology. See Martha Craven Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985); D. M. Balme, Aristotles Biology Was Not Essentialist, in Philosophical Issues in Aristotles Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 292312; D. M. Balme, Teleology and Necessity, in Philosophical Issues in Aristotles Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 27585; David Bolotin even suggests that the more dogmatic, systematic elements of Aristotles thinking are the results of the political pressure Aristotle would have felt writing on natural philosophy in fourth-century Athens. See David Bolotin, An Approach to Aristotles Physics with Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998). 12. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 30/19. 13. Ibid., 79/71. 14. I say for the most part here because Levinas suggests that the idea of infinityan idea whose ideatum overflows the capacity for conceptualizationappears in Aristotle as well, specifically in his conception of the agent intellect. See Emmanuel Levinas, Totalit et Infini: Essai sur Lextriorit (Paris: Kluwer Academic, 1971), 41. For the English translation, see Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), 49. References will be given with the page number of the French edition, followed by that of the English translation; direct citations follow the Lingis translation. 15. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 3334/43. 16. G. W. F. Hegel, Werke in Zwanzig Bnden, ed. Eva Michel Karl Markus Moldenhauer (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1986), vol. 19, 153. For a more detailed discussion of Hegels appropriation of Aristotles conception of God, see Christopher P. Long, Totalizing Identities: The Ambiguous Legacy of Aristotle and Hegel after Auschwitz, Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (2003). 17. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 33/43. 18. Ontologys systematic denial of its ethical heritage is treated in more detail in my article: See Christopher P. Long, The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis, Continental Philosophy Review 35, no. 1 (2002): 3560. 19. For Descartes, see Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 10/24, 233/212; for Plato, ibid., 106/103; for Aristotle, ibid., 4143/4951. 20. Ibid., 52/59. 21. Cf. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 17/5. 22. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 122/118. 23. This other side of the legacy of ousia can be traced through medieval nominalism. For an excellent account of how, at the end of the Middle Ages, nominalist philosophers such as Ockham, Marilius of Inghen, and Pierre dAilly became acutely aware of the incapacity of concepts to completely capture the being of the singular, see Richard A. Lee, Science, the Singular, and the Question of Theology (New York: Palgrave, 2002). Much is to be gained by highlighting this other side of the tradition, for in such thinking there already seems to be an attempt to temper Western philosophys totaliz-

170

Notes to Chapter 2

ing tendency. For an account of how this other dimension of the tradition plays itself out, see Christopher P. Long and Richard A. Lee, Between Reification and Mystification: Rethinking the Economy of Principles, Telos 120 (2001): 92112. 24. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit Und Methode: Grundzge einer Philosophischen Hermeneutik (Tbingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1990), 313. For the English, see Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (New York: Continuum, 1994), 308. Translations are my own. I provide citations for the English edition following those of the German. 25. Ibid., 319/314. 26. Ibid., 381/375. 27. Cf., ibid., 274/270. 28. Richard J. Bernstein, From Hermeneutics to Praxis, Review of Metaphysics 35 (1982): 82345, 827. 29. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, 306/301. 30. Ibid., 311/306. 31. Ibid., 307309/302305. 32. W. K. C. Guthrie, Aristotle As a Historian of Philosophy: Some Preliminaries, Journal of Hellenic Studies 77, no. 1 (1957): 3541. 33. Aristotle, Metaphysics, I.4 985a45. 34. Ibid., I.3 983b223. 35. This approach resonates with Ernst Tugendhats suggestion that Aristotles is a living philosophizing, and that we miss much when we seek to reconstruct his system rather than attempt to follow the direction of his thinking. See Ernst Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos: Eine Untersuchung zu Struktur und Ursprung Aristotelischer Grundbegriffe (Mnchen: Verlag Karl Alber, 1958), 34. 36. That the theory of the Categories gives way to another theory in the Physics and Metaphysics has been suggested by Daniel W. Graham. See his Aristotles Two Systems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987). While our account of the transition between the foundational economy developed in the Categories and the hylomorphic economy introduced in the Physics has much in common with Grahams, it remains at odds with his, both in suggesting that there is a third economy of principles discernable in Aristotle and in directing itself to the paths of Aristotles thinking, rather than to the systems of Aristotles thought. 37. Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (New York: Penguin, 1987), 1211.

CHAPTER 2
1. Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der physis, 24244. 2. Wolfgang-Rainer Mann, The Discovery of Things: Aristotles Categories and Their Context (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 205. The great insight of

Notes to Chapter 2

171

Manns analysis is to recognize the Categories as itself the result of Aristotles deep engagement with Greek philosophy, and specifically that it is a response to the Platonic metaphysics of participation. Despite his apologies for appealing to Heidegger as one inspiration for this approach (see ibid., 3738), Manns analysis gains in depth and urgency when it is set into the context of the Heideggerian recognition that it is necessary to rethink precisely those dimensions of our thinking that have come to be seen as most obvious and unquestionable. Finally, Manns deployment of the term discovery to characterize Aristotles accomplishment in the Categories is, despite his insistence to the contrary, an unhappy formulation. Discovery implies the uncovering of what is always already objectively there and thus covers over the fundamentally thetic nature of all metaphysical and ontological accounts. Invention, however, is also inadequate, for Mann is correct to insist upon the fact that there is something pre-analytically available to Aristotle for analysis (ibid., 22n31). 3. The term autarchy should be given an etymology in which the Greek reflexive pronoun, hauto, which means self, is combined with arche, \ which means principle, rule, or beginning in such a manner that autarchy indicates the immanence of the principle of being in the being itself. It should not be confused with the term autarky, which suggests the absolute self-sufficiency of a being. A being can have its principle of being in itself without being completely self-sufficient in the sense that it does not need the presence of other beings. No finite being is autarkic in this sense. 4. Michael Frede, Essays in Ancient Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 72. Mann seems to follow Fredes basic suggestion in his Discovery of Things. 5. John Herman Randall Jr. recognizes the long historical influence of the foundational mode of thinking established in the Categories when he suggests that throughout modern philosophy substance is understood as that which persists unchanged throughout change. See John Herman Randall, Aristotle (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), 112. To use the vocabulary developed in the Categories, it would be fair to say that modern philosophy is foundational insofar as it seeks the ultimate hypokeimenon of beingthat which is permanent, stable, and secure. 6. Aristotle, Aristotelis Categoriae, ed. L. Minio-Paluello (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1949), 2b373a1. 7. Two comments about terminology are necessary here. First, the English translation of ousia as substance, drawing on the Latin subsistare, to stand or be under, remains faithful to the conception of ousia operating in the Categories. Second, the term atomic here echoes the Greek word atomon, which indicates the indivisibility of the primary beings, that is, their unanalyzability into anything more fundamental. These atomic things are the indivisible foundations of the ontology of the Categories. For an excellent discussion of this, see Individuals in Aristotle, in Frede, Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 4971. 8. Categories, 2b78. 9. This is stated most clearly in the first chapter of the first book of the Physics: The natural way to proceed is from what is more known and clearer to us to what is by nature clearer and more known by nature. See Aristotle, Aristotelis Physica, ed. W. D. Ross (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 184a1617.

172

Notes to Chapter 2

10. Nicolai Hartmann clearly recognized this fact. See Nicolai Hartmann, Kleinere Schriften (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter & Co., 1957), 217. 11. Mann, Discovery of Things, 203. John Herman Randall Jr. states the methological procedure this way: the ousia expressed in statement leads beyond statement to the ousia encountered in its natural operations. Starting with the things that are said, ta legomena, what things can be said to be, we are led to ta onta, to things themselves. See Randall, Aristotle, 113. 12. This suggests precisely the opposite of Porphyrys position that the primary interest in the Categories is linguistic and the talk of things is only secondary. See Porphyry, On Aristotles Categories, trans. Steven Strange (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 2029. 13. Said-of predication points to the universal-individual relation, inherence-in predication to the object/property relation. See Frede, Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 56. 14. Categories, 1a201b6. 15. Ibid., 1b5. 16. These are the four characteristics of an ousia discussed in the Categories at 3b104a21. 17. By speaking of a Platonic and not Platos philosophy, I intend at once to call into question the simple identification of a theory of forms with Plato himself and to recognize that Aristotle understood Platonic philosophy as endorsing the ontological significance of universal Forms. Wolfgang Mann lays out in great detail the sort of Platonism with which Aristotle seems to be engaged in the Categories, though he himself is not convinced that there is a theory of forms in Plato. This does not stop him from identifying certain arguments and proposals in Platos thinking as animated by the belief that the ordinary objects of everyday experience cannot be ontologically accounted for simply in terms of themselves. See Mann, Discovery of Things, 31, particularly part 2. For a strong argument against a theory of forms in Plato, see Drew A. Hyland, Finitude and Transcendence in the Platonic Dialogues (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), especially chap. 7. 18. Categories, 3b25. 19. Ibid., 3b2627. 20. Ibid., 3b2733. 21. He had already said at Categories, 2b728 that a secondary ousia admits of degrees of ousia insofar as the species is more an ousia than the genus, and both, of course, are less than the primary ousia. 22. Categories, 3b3437. 23. In his commentary on Categories, Hippocrates Apostle comments on the technical meaning in Aristotle of the Greek word hoper, which was translated as as such. This qualification can be taken to limit the meaning of the term ousia in its most strict sensenamely, to point to this as a characteristic of primary and not secondary ousiai. See Hippocrates G. Apostle, Aristotles Categories and Propositions (Grinnell, Iowa: Peripatetic Press, 1980), 7677.

Notes to Chapter 2

173

24. According to Frede, in Plato, the object/property distinction is almost completely overshadowed by the universal/individual relation. See Frede, Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 56. 25. Categories, 3b374a3. Anthropos \ is translated here and elsewhere as humanbeing, with a hyphen, in order to emphasize that it designates an individual being. We try to avoid the sexist language of man in English which, whatever one makes of Aristotles misogyny, is not carried in the Greek anthropos. \ 26. That Aristotle must be referring to primary ousia in this passage when he speaks of a human-being is clear from the preceding distinction between primary and secondary ousiai with regard to the question of variation of degree. 27. Mann has suggested that the distinction between objects and their properties introduced by Aristotle in the Categories is designed to respond to the Platonic distinction between being and becoming in which particular objects appearing in the world are themselves radically unstable, lacking a nature of their own and thus not merely capable of changing but constantly undergoing change (Mann, Discovery of Things, 83). 28. It should be recognized that Aristotle always has living beings in mind when he speaks of primary ousiai in the Categories. This suggests that the description of primary ousiai in the Categories is inadequate from the beginning, because it never thematizes these beings in terms of life. The manner in which living beings are reified in the Categories and treated as if they were dead objects must have been quite distasteful to anyone as well versed in the intricacies of biology as was Aristotle. The seeds for a dynamic conception of being are planted, therefore, already in this human-being and this horse of the Categories. 29. Categories, 3b1013. 30. Apostle argues that the term should be understood as a popular way to designate some whole that is easily recognizable, separate and distinguishable from other things namely, to designate some determinate object. See Apostle, Aristotles Categories, 69. 31. The technical sense of the term tode ti as it is developed in the Metaphysics is discussed in chapter 6. 32. Categories, 3b1417. 33. This is underscored in Montgomery Furths Substance, Form, and Psyche: An Aristotelian Metaphysics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). For the point concerning the absence of the form/matter distinction in the Categories, see Furth, Substance, 33. Much of what is here called the strategy of evasion was developed from certain suggestions that Furth makes about the nature of the Categories. 34. Categories, 3b1417. 35. Ibid., 3b1821. 36. In the Physics, form begins to function as a determining principle in I.7, when Aristotle makes the claim that the presence or absence of the form is sufficient to account for both accidental and substantial change (191a67). This idea is echoed in the Metaphysics, when Aristotle thematizes form in terms of ti en \ einai and then argues that it is the ti en \ einai in each thing that makes it actual (1045a3034).

174 37. Categories, 4a1011. 38. Ibid., 4a1422.

Notes to Chapter 3

39. This way of putting it is borrowed from Furth, Furth, Substance, 27. 40. Ernst Tugendhat has suggested that the hypokeimenon is the concept in which the presence of that which is immediately given is thought. See Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos, 14. Here what he calls the Platonic conception of Prsenz, that is, the presence of the simple, in-itself, devoid of absence (ibid., 11), is rethought in terms of what lies factically present before one. The Aristotelian question concerning the being and unity of the manifold beings is the question concerning the presence of that which lies before one (des Vorliegenden) (ibid., 15). Here the notion of the hypokeimenon already points to the ontological importance of the concrete presence of the individual. In the Categories, however, this presence is reified.

CHAPTER 3
1. Ute Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit: Untersuchung zum Aristotelischen Verstndnis der Ontologischen Grnde (Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1975), 32. 2. Aristotle, Aristotelis Physica, ed. I. Bywater (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), I.5, 188a19. 3. This is one reason the hylomorphic economy is so closely related to a poietic conception of kinesis \ . Aside from being determined by the framework of fabrication, a main limitation of the examples of artifacts is that their forms are so readily separable from a specific sort of matter that one can easily miss the fundamental point that Aristotle must make with regard to form and matter, that they are not separable in the way artifacts make them seem, that they are ontologically interdependent grounding moments of the composite. This is more perspicuous, however, only in Aristotles most paradigmatic ousiailiving beings. 4. Categories, 1a1719. 5. In Physics, I.5, Aristotle had established that the term enantia must be understood in a very specific sense: contraries are things that are most different under the same genus. Cf. Metaphysics, V.10, 1018a26ff. Thus he argues: But white does come from the not-white (ou leukou), not from any not-white but from black or some intermediate color; and the musical comes to be from the not-musical (ouk ek mousikou) not from any not-musical but from the unmusical (ex amousou) (Physics, 188a37b3). The difference is not that between what is, for example, white on the one hand, and everything in the world that is not-white on the other, but rather between the determinate color white and its determinate contrary, black. It seems, however, that Aristotle often uses the terms ou mousikon and amousikon interchangeably. This lack of consistency is regrettable, but it is perhaps explained by the fact that he rehearses precisely what he meant by enantia in Physics I.5. Furthermore, it is not incorrect to use the term ou mousikon, for the ou mousikon includes also the amousikon along with everything else that is not musical. In what follows, the term unmusical will be used to designate the determinate contrary, strictly speaking, of the musical.

Notes to Chapter 3 6. Physics, I.7, 190a913. 7. Ibid., 190a1320. 8. Categories, 4a10ff. 9. Physics, I.7 190a32ff. 10. Ibid., 190a37b1. 11. Ibid., 190b15.

175

12. See Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar, ed. Gordon Messing (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), 407408. 13. C. D. C. Reeve argues that all change in Aristotle is canonical, that is, it is based on the model of accidental change. His concern is that if there is such a thing as genuine substantial change, then a human-being could come from nothing, and this would mean that anything could come from anything. See Reeve, Substantial Knowledge, 117. The concern to account for continuity through substantial change is well founded, however, Aristotle seems to be able to do this without reducing all change to canonical change. Rather, by delineating the ontological efficacy of form here in the Physics, he is able to suggest a way of accounting for continuity through intergenerational change without requiring the constant presence of the hypokeimenon. Aristotle himself does not seem to think that all change can be reduced to canonical change when, in the Metaphysics and again in the Nicomachean Ethics, he establishes the distinction between motion/production and action. Cf. Metaphysics, IX.68, and Aristotle, Aristotelis Ethica Nicomachea, ed. I. Bywater (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1894), VI.45. 14. Physics, 190b69. 15. Ibid., 190b1316. 16. Indeed, this is one of those passages in Aristotle that has perplexed commentators for centuries. For an in-depth discussion of both ancient and modern positions on it, see Johannes Fritsche, Methode und Beweisziel im ersten Buch der Physikvorlesung des Aristoteles (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Anton Hain Meisenheim GmbH, 1986), 99111. The interpretation offered here owes much to Fritsches discussion, and it agrees with his suggestion there that to gignomenon at 190b11 indicates not the result of the process of becoming but the object conceptualized in the process of becoming so that passage 190b1723 can be interpreted not as a summary of what has been said but as a transitional passage. 17. Here I employ Guzzonis vocabulary in thematizing form and matter as determining moments of the composite. Such moments can be understood either as equi-original with the composite or as earlier, more original moments, a first with respect to which the composite can be conceived as second. In this latter sense, the moments are understood as the grounds of the composite. See Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit, 6263. The advantage of this vocabulary is that it resists the tendency to hypostatize form and matter as independently existing things. 18. That is, Physics, 190b1316. 19. As mentioned, this is not overly significant at face value, because opposite is the general term that encompasses contraries within its scope. The significance of the

176

Notes to Chapter 3

term, however, manifests itself in the next series of examples, for opposites, unlike contraries, can refer to form and its privation as well as to determinate contraries. The former distinction will prove to be of vital importance to the kinetic economy of principles. 20. Cf. Physics, 189b29. 21. Johannes Fritsche, Methode und Beweisziel, 137. Fritsche distinguishes three levels of argumentation in the Physics: (1) If there are principles; (2) How many there are; and (3) Which are the principles. Of these, he takes the first to be the primary concern of the first book of the Physics. His interest is to show that this question is of fundamental importance for the internal project of the Physics in order to suggest how the books of the Physics are systematically related to one another (ibid., 16). Our interest here is not with the internal structure of the Physics but with the development of a new economy of principles designed to address the finitude of primary ousiai. 22. Physics, 190b1723. 23. Ibid., 191a47. 24. Ibid., 189a26. 25. Fritsche understands this transition in terms of the shift in vocabulary from enantion to antikeimenon. He writes: This sentence . . . seeks to interpret the antikeimenon from the perspective of the eidos, such that while it remains conceptually distinguished from the hypokeimenon, it is dependent upon the eidos. It seeks to interpret the antikeimenon such that it is not a being opposed to the eidos, as the enantia are opposed to one another, but rather as the eidos itself in a determinate way of being, namely, as the not-yet-being eidos, not, however, an [independent] being opposed to the eidos. See Fritsche, Methode und Beweisziel, 12930. 26. Strictly speaking, in I.7, Aristotle remains uncertain as to whether form or the hypokeimenon is ousia, but the claim that the presence or absence of the form accounts for generation (191a68) already suggests Aristotles propensity to give priority to form. The hesitancy is important, though, for it suggests both Aristotles unwillingness to reject matter as a grounding moment of ousia and his reluctance to renounce the logic of things. 27. In their detailed analysis of Metaphysics, Book VII, Frede and Patzig point out that form does not undergo the process of becoming, although we might be able to say that forms appear and disappear insofar as they are present in finite individuals. However, strictly speaking, it would be improper to say that the form itself undergoes a process of coming into being. See Michael Frede and Gnther Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Kommentar (Mnchen: C. H. Beck, 1988), 136. 28. For the claim that form is phusis to a higher degree than matter, see Physics, II.1, 193b67. 29. Fritsche, Methode und Beweisziel, 132. 30. Adorno, Metaphysics, 41. Adorno argues that the idea of mediation in Aristotle is not strictly dialectical, because although he continually thematizes the moments of form and matter as interrelated, he always holds that this relation is externally, rather than, as with Hegel, internally, determined. Adorno writes: But this mediation is

Notes to Chapter 3

177

really only something existing between the extremes, and not that which is implicit in the meaning of the extremes themselves. If you will permit me this anachronistic horror, I would say that he is the mediating thinker par excellence, yet one lacking the idea of dialectic. See ibid., 47. However, while Aristotle does not think the relation between form and matter in the precise dialectical manner that Hegel doesthere is no Aufhebung, strictly speaking, in Aristotlehe does in fact think form and matter together as an internal relation of the composite itself, as will be seen in the discussion of the ontological meaning of praxis in chapter 6. Thus the vocabulary of moments might not be as anachronistic as it at first appears. 31. Physics, II.1, 192b1324. 32. Ibid., II.3, 194b21ff. 33. Reiner Schrmann has developed the implications of this view in detail. See Schrmann, Heidegger, On Being and Acting, 100. Schrmann looks to Nietzsche for confirmation of this position, specifically Nietzsches recognition that the concept of causality is predicated on a very subjective experience. In The Will to Power, Nietzsche writes: we derive the entire concept [of causality] from the subjective conviction that we are causes (ibid., 33435). See Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufman and R. J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books, 1967), 295. 34. See Schrmann, Heidegger, On Being and Acting, 329n.32; Physics, II.3, 194b24195a3. Here action is not taken in the strict sense that it will receive in Metaphysics IX.68 or the Nicomachean Ethics. 35. Physics, I.7, 191a57. 36. Heidegger argues that to reduce Aristotles conception of phusis to the causal structure and to see in it only the productive comportment toward beings is to miss what he calls the peculiarly Greek way of thinking in Aristotle. He suggests that there is another sense of phusis, corresponding to Heideggers own conception of the revealing/concealing structure of aletheia, \ operating in Aristotles Physics. See Heidegger, Vom Wesen und Begriff der physis; for the English translation, also see Martin Heidegger, On the Being and Conception of Physis in Aristotles Physics B, 1, Man and World 9, no. 3 (1976): 21970. Schrmann, following Heidegger, calls this a residual factor that remains once natural and human-made things are opposed, and the two are combined under the single concept moving things. Schrmann writes: He [Aristotle] owes this residual factor, Heidegger says, to his speaking Greek: in spite of the predominance of manipulable and manufactured objects in his understanding of being, he occasionally still takes phusis in the sense of its verbal root as coming forth, presencing. See Schrmann, Heidegger, On Being and Acting, 101. While there is much to the suggestion that the model of production dominates Aristotles thinking concerning causality, generation, and motion, the turn to the presencing of Being is somewhat problematic, because it remains, as Levinas would say, a fundamentally neutral process. What is significant for ontology is not the presencing of Being but that of the concrete Other to which all ontological investigation must remain loyal. For a critique of Heideggers position, see Christopher P. Long, The Hegemony of Form and the Resistance of Matter, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 21, no. 2 (1999): 2146. 37. Physics, II.7, 197b2426.

178

Notes to Chapter 3

38. The term heap (soros) \ is borrowed from Metaphysics, VII.16, 1040b910, and it is meant to designate the matter prior to its being worked up into a specifiable being of a determinate sort. To be a heap is not to be formless, or completely indeterminate, but neither is it to be a completely differentiated individual. For a discussion of the distinction between being a heap and being a differentiated individual, see Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 12227. 39. Aristotle, De Le Gnration des Animaux, ed. and trans. Pierre Louis (Paris: Association Guillaume Bud, 1961), I.22, 730b823. 40. See, for example, Generation of Animals (GA), II.4, 739b24. 41. Aristotle may have been particularly interested in rejecting the idea that no matter from the semen is retained in the completed product in order to undermine the preformationist and pangenetic conceptions of generation that seem to have been widespread in his day. See Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 11315. 42. See GA, I.20, 729a9; GA, I.21, 729b35730a2; GA, IV.1, 764b1213, for example. It should be noted that, as Furth suggests, although the manner in which Aristotle conceptualizes the interaction of the semen and catamenia may seem crude and in many respects incorrect, he remarkably anticipates modern genetic theory by insisting that the form carries with it information that directs and constructs the generation of the offspring. See Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 119. 43. GA, IV.1, 765b1011. 44. Ibid., IV.1, 765b1415. 45. See GA, IV.1, 766a16ff. What follows is not meant as a complete account of Aristotles theory of these three issues but rather an adumbration of the basic structure of Aristotles treatment of them to elucidate the limitations of the kinetic economy of principles. 46. GA, I.3, 767b57. 47. Ibid., 767b3235. 48. Although speaking generally about the nature of Aristotles thinking and not specifically about this passage, Adorno captures the essence of the point established here when he says: For if these deuterai ousiai are immanent in particular things, instead of standing opposed to them as something external and alien, it is no longer absurd or inconceivable, Aristotle argues, that these essences should have an effect on particular things, or that a mediation should be established between the Idea and scattered existence. See Adorno, Metaphysics, 32. Adorno suggests that this is precisely what renders Aristotles metaphysics dynamic. 49. Ibid., 768a1821. Furth remarks that this is the first explicit mention of motions emanating from the females residue. See Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 130. 50. GA, I.3, 768b1521. 51. C. D. C. Reeve, Practices of Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 201. 52. See GA I.20, 728a2530.

Notes to Chapter 4

179

53. Heinz Happ suggests as much when he traces the development of I.7 as the transition from hypokeimenon = ousia to hypokeimenon = hyle. See Heinz Happ, Hyle: Studien zum Aristotelischen Materiebegriff (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1971), 282ff. Happ himself, however, does not think that it is wise to point to this passage as a place where Aristotle explicitly ascribes a spermatic meaning to hyle (ibid., 28283, n. 20). In any case, it is clear that Aristotle has the tendency to call hyle sperma and to ascribe a certain activity to the female. See H. Bonitz, Index Aristotelicus (Berlin: Graz, 1955), 691b4058. 54. See GA 766b1517, 768a22, and 768a33 for examples of the passive use of the verb. 55. For a good discussion of the extent to which the female may be active in Aristotles biology, and for a discussion of the various places in Aristotle where the catamenia is referred to as spermatic, see Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 12941. 56. That Aristotle, despite his misogynistic tendencies, does in fact recognize this can be seen from his suggestion that the first departure from the type, namely, that which generates the female, is itself a necessity in nature. For it is necessary to save the genus of those beings having been divided into the female and male (GA IV.3, 767b910). The tension expressed in the GA concerning the role and function of matter haunts Aristotles thinking throughout. Adorno has put it beautifully: There is a curious tension and difficulty in the concept of hyle in Aristotle; on the one hand it is denigrated, disqualified, censured in every respect, including the moral, while on the other there is the remarkable assumption whereby this element, though heterogeneous with regard to form, is endowed with a kind of animation, a tendency, even a certain kind of yearning. See Adorno, Metaphysics, 74.

CHAPTER 4
1. Categories, 3b1821. See chapter 2 for a discussion of this passage. 2. In Greek, poros means passage, and when combined with the alpha privative, the term aporia indicates a difficulty of passing or the lack of a way. Owens makes this point quite clearly, and he points out the variety of words related to aporia that Aristotle employs. See Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 2149. This further justifies our talk of the paths of Aristotles thinking rather than the development of his thought. 3. Metaphysics, 1003a517. 4. For examples, see Categories, 1b6; 3a34, 38, 39; 3b2, 7, 12. 5. Frede, Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 50. 6. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 159n9. 7. Adorno, Metaphysics, 35. 8. Metaphysics, 1003a718. 9. This aporia appears at 999a24999b24. 10. Metaphysics, 999a2628. Edward Halper clarifies this position very nicely when he writes, . . . the principle needs to be apart because one is the principle of

180

Notes to Chapter 5

knowledge and only something that exists apart can be one. See Edward Halper, One and Many in Aristotles Metaphysics (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1989), 245. 11. Metaphysics, 999b416. 12. For an in-depth treatment of Platos so-called late ontology, see Kenneth Sayre, Platos Late Ontology: A Riddle Solved (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983). 13. Sayre discusses the similarities and differences between Platos own use of the terms in the Parmenides and the Philebus. He argues that although the Parmenides uses the terms apeiron plethos, \ unlimited in quantity, and the Philebus simply uses the term apeiron, the two formulations are essentially interchangeable. See Sayre, Platos Late Ontology, 124ff. Mitchell Miller makes a strong case for the affinity between certain elements of Platos Parmenides and Aristotles Metaphysics, not the least of which is that the discussion of peras and apeiron plethos \ anticipates the form/matter distinction in Aristotle. See Mitchell H. Miller, Platos Parmenides: The Conversion of the Soul (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986), 12937, 26063. 14. Frede and Patzig suggest that the distinction between that which is eternal and that which comes to be and passes away without being in the process of generation is more than simply a matter of semantics. They point out that Aristotle is very careful to suggest that if the eidos is not eternal, then it does not necessarily follow that it is transient like sensible beings. For example, in Meta. VII.15, 1039b2326, Aristotle suggests that definitions exist or do not exist without being generated or destroyed. See also VIII.3, 1043b15ff.: ousia must either be eternal or destructible without being in the process of being destroyed and generable without being in the process of being generated. See Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Kommentar, 136ff. Cf. Metaphysics VI.3, 1027a2930. 15. Owens makes precisely this point. See Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 245. 16. In his book Substantial Knowledge, C. D. C. Reeve makes much of the interconnection between the ontological and epistemological demands that Aristotle places on the notion of primary ousia in the Metaphysics. He calls the conflicting directions in which this pulls Aristotle the Primacy Dilemma: For to be ontologically primary, Aristotles own substances have to be particulars. But to be substances they must also be epistemologically primary, and thus, one might add, universal. See Reeve, Substantial Knowledge, 17. The decision here to treat the ontological in isolation from the epistemological side of the aporia by no means denies the legitimacy of Reeves appeal to the Primacy Dilemma. 17. See Metaphysics, VII.3, 1029a27.

CHAPTER 5
1. Mary Louise Gill agrees that Book VII of the Metaphysics is fundamentally exploratory. See Gill, Aristotle on Substance, 15. 2. Aristotle, Physics, I.7 191a47.

Notes to Chapter 5 3. Metaphysics, VII.3, 1029a34.

181

4. Michael J. Loux, Primary Ousia: An Essay on Aristotles Metaphysics Z and H (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 77. 5. Ibid., 76; emphasis added. 6. Louxs book Primary Ousia is in many respects wonderfully insightful. The distinction between species and form predications is especially enlightening. However, to put it somewhat hyperbolically, the entire trajectory of the book is misguided, insofar as it is obsessed with the Population Problem: the attempt to determine which things are ousiai. Thus the book falls victim to the hegemony of entitative thinking, and, true to this mode of thought, throughout the book, Loux attempts to argue for one side of the false dichotomy set up by the universal/singular aporianamely, that forms are universal, and that they count as the primary things. (See ibid., 103, for a good formulation of the dichotomy and Louxs ultimate stance.) However, by focusing on the Population Problem, the movement from the foundational economy of principles operating in the Categories to the dynamic economy of principles established in Metaphysics VIII and IX is obfuscated. The extent to which this is true can be seen once it is recognized that Loux does not follow the story of ousia into Metaphysics, Book IX, where the dynamic picture is established. 7. See Metaphysics, XIII.4, 1078b15ff. 8. Fritsche points to Aristotles great ability to arrive at a technical term by focusing on the grammatical structure of several sentences and then transforming that structure into a noun by placing the definite article in front of it. See Johannes Fritsche, Genus and To ti en einai (Essence) in Aristotle and Socrates, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 19/20, no. 2/1 (1997): 163202, 168. He cites the discussion of the four causes in the Physics (193b16ff.) as another place where Aristotle does this. 9. For the former quotation, see Metaphysics, VII.4, 1029b1416; for the latter, see Metaphysics, V.18, 1022a26. The noun appearing in the dative is not necessarily, nor even most frequently, a kind term, as Loux suggests. See Loux, Primary Ousia, 73. The two examples given here are precisely not kind terms: you and Callias do not mean Man, but rather this individual person. Contra Loux, who claims that the term applies only for universals, Fritsche argues that Aristotles use of to ti en \ einai applies precisely to individuals such as you and Callias. See Fritsche, Genus and To ti en einai, 179. For a discussion of the significance of the manifold usages of the dative case in the Greek language, see the characteristically long and illuminating footnote 7 in Fritsches article (ibid., 19298). 10. Aristotle uses these later two examples at Metaphysics, 1078b2324. 11. The two passages are to be found at Metaphysics, I.6, 987a29987b14, and XIII.4, 1078b932. Gregory Vlastos argues that there is a clear distinction between the Platonic and historical Socrates. He suggests that one of the main differences is the denial of separately existing forms. See Gregory Vlastos, Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 46ff. This coincides with Aristotles comments, which alone concern us here. Vlastoss argument, while forceful and illuminating, depends on a questionable chronological division of the dialogues and

182

Notes to Chapter 5

assumes that we have the hermeneutical capacity, 2,400 years later, to disentangle unequivocally the historical Socrates from the dramatic figure that appears in Platos dialogues. 12. Both Vlastos and Ross agree that it is Plato himself (along with the members of his school) who is implied at Metaphysics XIII.4, 1078b31, when Aristotle speaks of the thinkers who thought that the ideas existed separately from sensible things. Ross suggests that Aristotle often referred obliquely to Plato when criticizing him. See W. D. Ross, Aristotles Metaphysics: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), xxxviii. Cf. Vlastos, Socrates, 91, esp. n.38. 13. Here we are careful to use the vocabulary that Aristotle deploys in speaking about the forms not as a theory, theoria, but as an opinion, doxa. Drew Hyland has suggested that there is no theorystrictly so-calledof forms in Plato, and that Aristotles use of doxa here reinforces this. See Hyland, Finitude and Transcendence, 170ff. 14. Metaphysics, XIII.4, 1078b3033. The parallel to this passage, to cite it for comparison, is found in Metaphysics, Book I: But Socrates, being occupied with ethical matters but not at all with the whole of nature, sought the universal and was the first to fix his thought on definitions; the former [Plato], inheriting this sort of thought, held that this [inquiry] was concerned with other things and not with sensible things, for it is impossible for there to be a common definition of certain sensible things when these, indeed, are always changing. On the one hand, he called things of this other sort ideas and, on the other, [he thought] sensible things were separate from these [ideas] and that they all were spoken about according to these [ideas] (987b49). 15. For two examples of Aristotles critique of participation, see Metaphysics I.6, 987b1014, VIII.6, 1045a141045b10. 16. See Physics, 193b56, where Aristotle introduces the concept that form is not, strictly speaking, separate, but only separate in logos. The same idea is expressed more clearly in Metaphysics, VIII.1, 1042a2633. 17. Johannes Fritsche has argued that the vocabulary of to ti en \ einai has important political significance as well. Relating the term to Aristotles early dialogue On Good Birth and emphasizing that the importance of determining the good birth of citizens was vital during the transition from aristocracy to democracy in Athens, Fritsche argues that the question, ti en \ einai?, was the political question par excellence. See Fritsche, Genus and To ti en einai, 171. 18. Michael Frede and Gnther Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Einleitung, Text und bersetzung, vol. 1 (Mnchen: C. H. Beck, 1988), 35. Thus they translate the term das Was es heit, dies zu sein, which nicely indicates the manner in which the term signifies a question, but which also obfuscates the important temporal element buried in the use of the imperfect. In this respect, the usual German translation of the term Wesen is quite appropriate insofar as it is built out of the past participle of the verb to begewesenand therefore includes this vital temporal dimension. Hegel points out the link between the German Wesen and the past in his Wissenschaft der Logik, when he writes: The language has preserved in the verb to be the essence (Wesen) in the past

Notes to Chapter 5

183

time, gewesen [the past participle of the verb Sein in German]; for the essence is past, but timelessly past, being. See G. W. F. Hegel, Wissenschaft der Logik: Die Lehre vom Wesen, vol. 376 (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1992), 3. Here, however, Hegel insists on the timelessness of the essence. 19. Joseph Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 183. 20. Ibid., 184. 21. Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos, 18. 22. Ibid., 1719. 23. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 184ff. 24. Aristotle does use to ti en \ einai to refer to eternal beings, but when he does this, he is certain to explicitly indicate that the ti en \ einai for such beings does not include their matter. Thus to use Tugendhats distinction between the two dimensions of the term, the term is being used in the sense in which it points to the simple independence of the form. At de Caelo I.9, 278a2, Aristotle says that when we state the ti en \ einai of the spheres, we do not include the account of gold and bronze, but if we are speaking of a gold or bronze sphere, we do include them. At Metaphysics XII.8, Aristotle does refer to the first immoveable mover as the first ti en \ einai when he identifies it with actuality, entelecheia. But here too he is careful to qualify that the ti en \ einai referred to does not have matter. Such qualifications already suggest what we will insist upon later: that the term to ti en \ einai, when applied to contingent beings, is not exclusively identifiable with the formal principle but in some way refers to the material principle as well. It may indeed be the case that the en \ in the ti en \ einai of an eternal being, because it no longer includes the material principle that renders it potential, no longer retains the historical dimension upon which we insist. However, in the realm of contingent being, with which we are exclusively concerned here, this historical dimension, and the sort of temporality to which it points, is vital. 25. Metaphysics, VII.4, 1029b1314. The distinction between the logical and the physical approach to to ti en \ einai and much of the argument for the mutual dependence of form and matter offered later has been inspired by Michael Ferejohns article, The Definition of Generated Composites. See Michael Ferejohn, The Definition of Generated Composites, Unity, Identity, and Explanation in Aristotles Metaphysics, ed. Theodore Scaltsas, David Charles, and Mary Louise Gill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). 26. Metaphysics, VII.4, 1029b1415. 27. Ibid., VII.11, 1036b23. 28. See Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 308. 29. In the Theaetetus, for example, Theodorus claims that Theaetetus is not beautiful and likens him to Socrates in having a snub nose and prominent eyes (143e4). See Plato, Platonis Opera I, ed. E. A Duke, W. F. Hicken, W. S. M. Nicoll, D. B. Robinson, and J. C. G. Strachan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). In the end, however, Socrates will assure himself and Theaetetus that beautiful is as beautiful does (185e3), and it will be clear that the man with the snubbed nose, the individual personifying the active identity of form and matter, is beautiful because he acts beautifully.

184

Notes to Chapter 5

30. Ross assures us that there is a credible tradition that tells of the mocking disposition of Aristotle that showed itself in his expression, and that he seems to have had a ready quick wit. See W. D. Ross, Aristotle (London: Routledge, 1995), 6. It is easy to lose this more human Aristotle behind the faade of his all-too-often prosaic prose. The wit of Aristotle seeps through the example of the snub. 31. Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites. 32. Metaphysics, VII.4, 1029b251030a2. 33. Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 297. Here Ferejohn rehearses the argument itself, breaking it down into nine distinct steps. He goes on to show that Aristotles argument is based on the assumption that (1) snub nose is defined by concave nose, and (2) that the snub is defined by concave nose. Thus Ferejohn argues that the infinite regress is produced by an alternating replacement of these two assumptions (ibid., 299): (a) the snub nosed by (2) becomes the concave nose nose, (b) the concave nose nose by (1) becomes the snub nose nose, (c) the snub nose nose by (2) becomes the concave nose nose nose. . . . Besides being obviously humorous, this example does seem to suggest that there is a problem with the definition of composites. The possibility that the snub may be defined in a way that makes mention of its material principle without falling into the regress is what must be established in the course of Book VII. 34. Metaphysics, VI.1, 1025b351026a6. 35. Ibid., VII.5, 1030b341031a1. 36. It seems to be one of the many questions related to the composition and history of the Metaphysics that simply will never be answered definitively. 37. While Frede and Patzig seem to agree that Aristotle inserted the chapters himself, they argue that the insertion of these chapters in their present context is disruptive to the natural flow of the argument. See Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Einleitung, Text, 2425. In fact, they argue that these chapters intrude so audaciously upon the sequence of thought (Gedankengang) at work in Book VII that no one other than Aristotle would have trusted himself to place them in their current position. Although their reasoning that VII.79 is intrusive is questionable, their conclusion is acceptable. The so-called London Group also conjectures that Aristotle inserted the text himself. See Myles Burnyeat, Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotles Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). As for the stronger claim that the argument found in VII.79 is fundamental to the overall development of Book VII, this is supported by a number of authors to one degree or another. In Primary Ousia, Loux writes: . . . were we to move directly from Z.46 to Z.10, we would find the move disorienting. In Z.1011, Aristotle discusses the notion of essence from the perspective of the conceptual tools developed in Z.79. Without the detailed discussion of matter, form, and composite these latter chapters provide, we would have nothing more than Z.3s statue example to orient us. See Loux, Primary Ousia, 11011. Ferejohn agrees with this position as well: . . . the doctrines developed in chs. 1011 depend essentially on insights developed in the preceding chapters. See Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 294n. 38. Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 308.

Notes to Chapter 5

185

39. Metaphysics, VII.7, 1033a2ff. There is something of a debate about the precise meaning of this amphoteros, \ in both ways. Mary Louise Gill suggests that one of the ways is to mention the matter and the other to mention the form. Her translation of the passage emphasizes that the significance of both ways in this case indicates the necessity, as Aristotle clearly states, of including matter in the formula of the bronze sphere. See Gill, Aristotle on Substance, 122. Ferejohn takes issue with this reading, arguing that it amounts to a single way of defining that mentions two items, form and matter. Furthermore, he looks to amphoteros\ for further justification for his distinction between the logical and physical modes of analysis. In the logical mode, it would be sufficient to mention the form alone; in the physical mode, it would not, for matter must be mentioned as well. Although Ferejohn is correct to distinguish the logical from the physical mode of analysis in Aristotle, the term amphoteros\ at 1033a2 may not have the wide-ranging implications that he suggests. However, it is employed to make the simple point: to define something composite, we must mention both its matter and its form. This Aristotle clearly states immediately following the use of amphoteros. \ 40. Metaphysics, VII.7, 1033a5. 41. Ibid., 1033a57. 42. Ibid., 1033a813. 43. Cf. chap. 3. 44. See Physics, 190b1ff.; also see chap. 3 of this book. 45. Metaphysics, VII.7, 1033a1723. Ferejohn argues that Aristotle appeals to artifacts in passages such as this one, not only for heuristic purposes but also because such examples allow him to avoid the problem of discussing precisely what counts as the form of a living being, that is, it allows him to bracket the present investigation from the complicated discussion of the soul. See Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 296n. 46. Aristotles ambivalence about unequivocally affirming the difference between alteration and generation comes into focus when VII.7s ambivalent attitude toward the linguistic practice of using the adjectival phrase to refer to the material principle of a composite is compared to the straightforward affirmation of it in IX.7. For a discussion of the difference between these two passages, compare Gill, Aristotle on Substance, 12225, 15155, to Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 302, 307. Gill argues that Aristotle disapproves of this linguistic practice in VII.7 but approves of it in IX.7. However, given the fact that he has clearly established the decisive distinction between activity and potency by the time he writes IX.7, it is more reasonable to assume that his position on the matter is simply less ambivalent. He can see more clearly the virtue of appealing to the material principle by the derivative adjective, because he has a clear view of precisely how the active identity of form and matter is to be thought. In VII.7, he remains ambivalent, because he continues to misleadingly attempt to understand generation from the perspective of alteration. 47. Metaphysics, 1036b23. 48. See Physics, 190b15; also see chap. 3 of this book. 49. Categories, 3a2931.

186

Notes to Chapter 5

50. The static ontology of the Categories seems only to have been able to think the part/whole relationship from the perspective of somethings being present-in something else. Thus Aristotle avoided this issue, because it would have led to the conclusion that the parts of an ousia, because they are merely present-in and thus not neither present in nor said-of a subject, are themselves not ousiai. This would have placed the Aristotle of the Categories in the embarrassing position of holding that the parts of an ousia are themselves not ousiai. Thus he evades the issue by commanding his students not to fall into confusion. 51. Metaphysics, VII.10, 1035a29. 52. Arguably because the concept of concavity must, in order to have any determination at all, involve matter of some sort, be it the physical matter that displays empirical examples of concavity in objects or what Aristotle points to in this very chapter, VII.10, 1036a4ff., as intelligible matter, which is perhaps a condition for the possibility of thinking mathematical objects in which concavity occurs. In this sense, it is possible to apprehend that Aristotles intelligible matter is an anticipation of what Kant called sensible intuition. See note 64. 53. Metaphysics, VII.10, 1035b1425. 54. Aristotle mentions that the form of living beings, namely, the soul, seems to have parts. He does not, here at least, go on to problematize this position. This gives some credence to Ferejohns position that Aristotle does not want to allow the difficult problems surrounding the nature of the soul to cloud the discussion as to the meaning of ousia at this point. See Ferejohn, Definition of Generated Composites, 296n. 55. Metaphysics, VII.10, 1035b13. 56. This is not to argue for the traditional conception of prime matter as pure indeterminacy, for to have an existence independent of, and in this sense prior to, its being worked up into a given composite is not necessarily to argue that matter can exist without any form at all. The bronze from which a statue becomes had a different formsay that of being a block of metal or even a heapbut it did not have no form at all. It seems that this is part of what Aristotle argues in Metaphysics, IX.7, 1049a18ff., when he discusses the proximate matter of a given composite. On the other hand, as will be discussed later, Aristotle does seem to want to argue that matter does not have such an independent existence before being worked up. See Metaphysics, VII.16, 1040b910. Mary Louise Gill argues for a more radically independent conception of matter by suggesting that pure matter is not totally indeterminateas the traditional view of prime matter would have itbut elemental, existing with definite natures, yet not as composites of form and matter. In this way she is able to convincingly argue that finite beings are primary ousiai, at least in the sublunary realm, and that sensible composite individuals exist as the tension between form and matter. See Gill, Aristotle on Substance. 57. GA, 722b19. 58. Metaphysics, 1040b510. The phrase worked up translates pepthe,\ the aorist, passive subjunctive of phuein, which has the connotation of the . . . metabolic concocting of residues among animals (Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 125n.). Worked up links in English this conception of pepthe \ to both the notion of function or work,

Notes to Chapter 5

187

ergon, operating in VII.10, and the ultimate thematization of the activity of being in terms of energeia, being-at-work. However, Hippocrates Apostles translation of pepthe \ as transformed has the advantage of stressing the role of the form in this activity. See Hippocrates G. Apostle, Aristotles Metaphysics (Grinnell: Peripatetic Press, 1979), 133. 59. Metaphysics, VII.8, 1033b191034a8. Compare the comments about generation at the beginning of this passage to the separate existence aporia, outlined in chapter 4. Aristotle seems to see that establishing the separate existence of form is a deterrent to a proper account of generation. 60. See Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 122. 61. A similar formulationtemporal clause combined with the adverb ede \ is \ deployed to make the same point in a somewhat more perspicuous manner at Metaphysics, IX.7, 1049a1516. For a discussion of this passage, see The Model of Motion section in chapter 6 of this book. We have already seen this sort of vocabulary anticipated in the formulation of the separate existence aporia discussed at the end of chapter 4. 62. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotles Metaphysics, trans. John P. Rowan (Notre Dame: Dumb Ox Books, 1995), n. 1435. 63. Metaphysics, 1036b2232. 64. Again, it is arguable if an account can be given even of mathematical objects such as a circle without reference to something that functions as the material principle, for it is difficult to imagine how we can think a circle without determining it in some manner. In order to think a determinate concept, something must be determined, even if it is what Aristotle calls intellectual matter (Metaphysics, VII.10, 1036a5ff.). This is the significance of Kants comment that we cannot think a line, a triangle, or a circle without actually drawing it in our mind. See Immanuel Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Hamburg: Meiner Verlag, 1990), B154. For the significance of the active nature of the relationship between sensibility and the understanding in Kant, see Christopher P. Long, Two Powers, One Ability: The Understanding and Imagination in Kants Critical Philosophy, The Southern Journal of Philosophy 36, no. 2 (1998): 23353. 65. Metaphysics, VII.11, 1037a23b7. 66. See Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit, 162. 67. Ibid., 188. 68. See Balme, Aristotles Biology Was Not Essentialist, 305. Here Balme reads those passages where Aristotle explicitly identifies form with the ti en \ einai (e.g., at 1032b1 and 1035b32) as evidence for the fact that the two are not always so identified. 69. Metaphysics, VII.17, 1041a79. 70. Ibid., 1041b5. 71. Ibid., 1041b79. 72. L. A. Kosman, The Activity of Being in Aristotles Metaphysics, in Unity and Identity in Aristotles Metaphysics, ed. Theodore Scaltsas, David Charles, and Mary Louise Gill (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 198. 73. Metaphysics, VII.17, 1041b12ff.

188

Notes to Chapter 6

CHAPTER 6
1. Metaphysics, VIII.6, 1045b2021. 2. Ibid., VII.3, 1029a2728. 3. Donald Morrison, Separation in Aristotles Metaphysics, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 3 (1985): 12557, 126. 4. J. A. Smith, Tode ti in Aristotle, in Classical Philosophy: Collected Papers, ed. Terence Irwin (New York and London: Garland, 1995), 51. 5. We have been arguing for the latter throughout. For a clear expression of Aristotles claim that no universal is ousia, see Metaphysics, VII.131038b11039a23. For an interesting argument that this text does not establish the claim that nothing universal can be ousia, see Michael J. Loux, Form, Species, and Predication in Metaphysics Zeta, Eta, and Theta, Mind 88 (1979): 123; Loux, Primary Ousia, chap. 6. For a contrasting view, see Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Kommentar, 24163. 6. Smith, Tode ti in Aristotle, 51. 7. Smith seems to avoid this by saying that the universal nature is named when the what is it? question is asked. 8. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 38889. 9. Ibid., 388. 10. Mary Louise Gill has convincingly argues that the composite and even matter, understood as basic elements, remain strong candidates for primary ousia throughout the middle books. Further, she insists that with finite, living beings, it is the composite of form and matter that is primary. See Gill, Aristotle on Substance. 11. See Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos, 26. Tugendhat argues further that the indeterminate character of the tode ti is shown in the fact that it is accidentally determinable through other presences, and that the tode ti should not be thought exclusively in terms of the category of ousia. 12. Ibid., 29. Tugendhat insists that this twofold nature of the tode ti requires a kind of perception that itself is twofold: no longer can it be merely a noein, but it must be a sort of legein as well (ibid., 23). This already suggests the importance of developing a conception of ontological knowledge that is not merely noetic but also logical. We will suggest later that phronesis \ is precisely such a knowledge. 13. Metaphysics, VIII.1, 1042a2533. 14. Aristotle, Aristotelis De Anima, ed. W. D. Ross (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 412a69. 15. This account owes much to Ute Guzzonis thematization of form and matter as the ontological grounds of the composite. Guzzoni writes: Matter and form have no reality in themselves, their being grounds itself does not have a ground character. Grounds alone are the concrete determining moments. See Guzzoni, Grund und Allgemeinheit, 103. These are grounds universally by analogy, because in all composites there is the analogous function of form and matter. Tugendhat seems to affirm this way

Notes to Chapter 6

189

of conceptualizing the composite as the relation of form and matter when, juxtaposing Aristotles conception of the composite ousia with the Platonic conception of form, he says: Being (presence) has become twofold, and one can only say of each of the two sides that they are when each is combined with the other. See Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos, 22. Although Theodore Scaltsas denies that it is possible to think the composite as a relationbecause a relation in Aristotle is, strictly speaking, dependent on the category of ousia and thus only exists between ousiaihe seems to endorse something like this picture of the composite when he argues that the form reidentifies the material components to make them identity dependent on the whole, which itself is neither the form nor the matter prior to this reidentification. See Theodore Scaltsas, Substance and Universals in Aristotles Metaphysics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), 25. 16. Metaphysics, VIII.6, 1045a1419. 17. Ibid., 1045a2033. The problem seems here to be framed so that the universal Animal (as matter) is differentiated by the form Biped. Admittedly, this is rather odd, as the form more often seems to be the universal, while it is the matter that is the principle of difference (see, e.g., the model of generation at work in VII.8, 1034a18). This difficulty may be explained away as endemic to the kind of entitative thinking at work in this Platonic appeal to the universal. It is clear that Aristotle is criticizing it, and the main point is to develop a way to think the strong identity of form and matter. The significance of the passage is that Aristotle sees the notions of energeia and dunamis as being vital to this attempt. 18. Metaphysics, VIII.6, 1045b1723. 19. Ibid., IX.1, 1045b351046a2, emphasis added. This passage illustrates quite well Aristotles willingness to use energeia and entelecheia interchangeably. 20. Kosman has recognized this as the issue at stake. See Kosman, The Activity of Being, 200ff. and Kosman, Substance, Being, and Energeia, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 2 (1984): 12149. 21. Heideggers interpretation of Metaphysics IX.13 agrees that Aristotles main interest in developing the meaning of dunamis in terms of motion is negative, that his interest lies elsewhere. See Martin Heidegger, Aristotles Metaphysics Theta 13: On the Essence and Actuality of Force, trans. Walter Brogan and Peter Warnek (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 42. However, because Heidegger reads Metaphysics, IX.10, where the main concern is the nature of truth with respect to noncomposite beings, as the proper end of Book IX and its highest point (ibid., 8), and further, because he is concerned not only to sequester the question of energeia and dunamis from the sphere of the logos but also to establish the fundamental ontological difference between Being and beings, he does not recognize that the investigation into the nature of dunamis and energeia in Book IX is fundamentally guided by the search for a way to think the finite composite as the dynamic identity of form and matter. 22. Physics, II.1, 192b1319. This is a vital distinction in Aristotle, and it points to the special status of natural entities in his philosophy. Indeed, the fact that natural things have their principle of movement and existence in themselves seems to indicate one reason, in his discussion of the meaning of ousia, Aristotle most often seems to have natural beings foremost in his mind.

190

Notes to Chapter 6 23. Physics, II.1, 193a1317. 24. Metaphysics, IX.2, 1046b24.

25. The sense in which the house exists no longer in potentiality must be understood from the standpoint of the two-level conception of potentiality as developed quite clearly by Gill. See Gill, Aristotle on Substance, 171240. The first-level passive potentiality is, in Gills view, a state of privation (not-x), whereas a second-level passive potentiality is a state of possession of without using it. Therefore, knowledge is a first-level passive potentiality only as long as the student has the capacity to learn but has not yet been taught. Once she or he has been taught, she or he may either choose to use her or his knowledge or not. As long as she or he does not use it, it is a second-level passive potentiality. The point here is that the building of a house involves the change from a privation (the not-house-bricks) to possession (the house-bricks) and therefore involves a loss of the first-level potentiality. In this sense, potentiality and actuality are not the same, for once the building is finished, the motion stops. It ceases to exist as potentially a house and begins its existence as an actual house. This need not imply that all potentiality whatsoever is lost, for the house can retain its ability to be something else, namely, a heap of bricks again, or even a bridge, if the process of motion is taken up again with a new end in view. 26. See Kosman, The Activity of Being, 203. This is a particularly effective way of characterizing the nature of motion, because it deploys the category mistake that Aristotle is in the habit of using in the opposite direction. Rather than, as Aristotle often does, attempt to understand living processes on the model of production, in a reversal, Kosman clarifies the meaning of motion (and thus production) on the model of life. 27. In chapter 3, it was shown that, in Aristotles view, the female role in generation is ambiguous. The s in brackets has been added here to capture this ambiguity and to do justice to the active role the discussion in GA IV.13 ascribes to the female. 28. Metaphysics, IX.7, 1049a1418. The analogy with the earth becoming bronze is poor, for although it is true that we would not call any earth potentially a statue, but only earth that has been worked up in such a way that it would lend itself to becoming a statue, the earth does not have the capacity to take its principle into itself, that is, to take on the capacity of self-movement and self-determination, as does the living being. 29. Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotles Metaphysics, n. 1442b. 30. Richard A. Lee, Mana and Logos: Violence and Order in Thomas Aquinas, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 22, no. 2 (2001): 2948, 33. 31. Cf. Metaphysics, VII.16, 1040b5ff. This is in part what Scaltsas suggests when he speaks of the forms reidentifying the material components of a substance so that it becomes a being in its own right. See Scaltsas, Substance and Universals, 3. John Herman Randall Jr. emphasizes the emergence of novelty in this discussion of generation in Aristotle. See Randall, Aristotle, 20742. 32. Furth, Substance, Form, and Psyche, 12127. 33. Metaphysics, IX.6, 1048a2530. 34. Ibid., 1048a371048b4. Note that Aristotle again deploys the perfect tense the participles apokekrimenon and apeirgasmenonto gesture to the moment of autarchy.

Notes to Chapter 6

191

35. Thus Scaltsas is correct to insist that the difference between means/ends and potentiality/actuality must be held with respect to the model of motion, for means are not potentially ends, and ends are not actually the means. Further, it is correct to insist that on the model of motion, we must keep apart three related concepts: (1) activation of a potentiality; (2) completion of the realization of a potentiality; and (3) exercise of a capacity. Thus for Scaltsas, motion is properly designated as an activated potentiality, which serves as the means towards the achievement of the goal. See Theodore Scaltsas, Substratum, Subject, and Substance, in Aristotles Ontology, ed. Anthony Preus and John P. Anton (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 189. 36. Physics, 202a1320. 37. Metaphysics, IX.6, 1048b3035. 38. Scaltsas, Substance and Universals, 3. 39. Metaphysics, IX.8, 1050a1522. 40. Actually the tendency to understand teaching in terms of the hegemony of form is already a perversion. Rather, it is much more like the process that Aristotle describes in GA IV.13, in which the female principle is shown to have an active role. Learning is not just the result of the imposition of knowledge, but it results from the dynamic interplay between teacher and student so that both are transformed in the process. 41. Metaphysics, IX.6, 1048b1823. It should be mentioned that this passage is somewhat corrupt. It is not corrupt insofar as the term praxis is in question but rather insofar as some of the perfect forms of the verbs that appear in the present are missing. However, Ross follows Bonitzs amendment of the passage that supplies the missing perfects based on corresponding passages in IX.6 as well as in De Senu Animalium and Sophistici Elenchi. The manuscripts give the present tenses hora, phronei, and noei, but they only explicitly give the perfect for thinking, nenoeken. \ As Ross points out, in the rest of the section Aristotle is careful to supply all the perfects; he therefore agrees with Bonitzs amendment of the passage that supplies them here too. See W. D. Ross, Aristotles Metaphysics: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 25354. 42. In the passage cited earlier, which actually appears just after the one cited here, Aristotle employs the term energeia to designate the sort of activity that differs from kinesis \ in the manner outlined here. Further, as mentioned, he also establishes a strong link between energeia and entelecheia, thus the terms energeia, entelecheia, and praxis can all be understood as indicating the sort of activity by which energeia and dunamis can be thought together. 43. A number of commentators have seen in this formulation a sort of test according to which different processes can be classified as either genuine actions or as motions. Although Ackrills seminal and explicitly aporetic article seems to be an early expression of the notion that Aristotle deploys a linguistic test to distinguish energeia from kinesis \ (see J. L. Ackrill, Aristotles Distinction between Energeia and Kinesis, in New Essays on Plato and Aristotle, ed. R. Bambrough [New York: Humanities Press, 1965], 126), the most detailed account of the tense test is given by Graham. See Daniel W. Graham, States and Performances: Aristotles Test, Philosophical Quarterly 30 (1980): 11729.

192

Notes to Chapter 6

For a good critique of it, see Charles Hagen, The Energeia-Kinesis Distinction and Aristotles Conception of Praxis, Journal of the History of Philosophy 22, no. 3 (1984): 26380. Talk of a grammatical test for classifying different processes fails to recognize that the impetus behind the strange expression is not classificatory. Rather, it is an attempt to give expression to the dynamic identity of energeia and dunamis. 44. For an interesting discussion of the progressive aspect of the present tense in Aristotle, see R. Allan Cobb, The Present Progressive Periphrasis and the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Phronesis 18 (1973): 8090. His claim that the inflected present roughly, she liveshas the same meaning as the present periphrasisshe is livingin Aristotle supports the suggestion here that the present tense has a progressive aspect. However, the broader significance of this article is that it argues that Aristotle himself was attuned to the function of verb tense, specifically that of aspect, and he did not hesitate to put verb tenses in the service of his metaphysical theory. 45. Cf. Physics, IV.11.219b12, where Aristotle defines time in terms of motion as the number of motion with respect to a before and after. 46. See Scaltsas, Substratum, Subject, and Substance, 192. He does recognize that in one corrupt text, the dative of energeia does apply to privation (1071a810), but on the whole, he asserts that in the dative energeia does not apply to nonenmattered predicable forms (ibid., 207n58). 47. Metaphysics, IX.8, 1049b1214. The final clause in Greek is: toi\ gar endechesthai energesai. \ 48. Ibid., 1049b2327. 49. Ibid., IX.7, 1049a1416. 50. Ibid., IX.8, 1049a8. 51. Ibid., 1050a67. It is important that Aristotle characterizes the spermatos here as not having an eidos yet, for this suggests that perhaps the eidos only first appears in the interaction between the matter and the seed. 52. David Charless interesting and helpful article makes this distinction clear. See his Aristotle: Ontology and Moral Reasoning, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 4 (1986): 11944. Cf. Physics, II.2, 194a30194b1. 53. Metaphysics, IX.8, 1050a2534. 54. Ibid., 1050a341050b2. 55. Ibid., 1050b46. 56. Ibid., 1050b2328. 57. This process of conceptualization will only come into focus in chapter 9, once the ontological significance of phronesis \ is established, for only in the discussion of ontological phronesis \ is the manner in which concepts are deployed critically considered. Adorno has recognized clearly the implications of Aristotles tendency to appeal ultimately to a conception of the prime mover devoid of potency: The universal manifesting itself as pure form is, of course, the existing form of social dominance in abstracto; and according to this definition the bigger battalions in world history are justified in advance. See Adorno, Metaphysics, 7980.

Notes to Chapter 7

193

CHAPTER 7
1. The precise nature of Aristotles rejection of the possibility that ousia is universal is a matter of some controversy. For a strong argument that Aristotle leaves open the possibility that ousia might be universal in some sense and precisely what this sense is, see Loux, Primary Ousia, 197235. For a strong argument that Metaphysics, VII.13, amounts to an unequivocal rejection of the possibility that ousia is universal, see Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Kommentar, 24163. While Louxs argument is brilliant and insightful, the most natural and straightforward way to read VII.13 is as a strong renunciation of the universality of ousia. 2. Julia Annas, Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N, ed. J. L. Ackrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 191. 3. Metaphysics, XIII.10, 1087a18. 4. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 430. 5. Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Einleitung, Text, 56. 6. Annas, Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N, 18892. 7. Charles Kahn, The Role of Nous in the Cognition of First Principles in Posterior Analytics II 19, in Aristotle on Science, ed. Enrico Berti (Padova: Editrice Antenore, 1981), 403. 8. See Aristotle, Aristotelis Analytica Priora et Posteriora, ed. W. D. Ross and L. Minio-Paluello (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), II.19, 100a15b17; Aristotelis De Anima, II.5, 417a1014; Nicomachean Ethics, VI.9, 1142a2431. It seems that Aristotles insistence that actual episteme \ \ is of the tode ti is inconsistent with other texts in which episteme \ \ is contrasted to aisthesis \ precisely because the former is of the universal while the latter is of the singular. For example, in the De Anima, Aristotle juxtaposes actual sensation (he \ kat energeian aisthesis) \ with actual episteme \ \ by saying: actual sensation is of the singular (kath hekaston), but actual episteme \ \ is of the universal (De Anima, II.5 417b2324). However, in this passage, neither is the universal/singular aporia an explicit issue, nor is the vocabulary of tode ti deployed. Furthermore, just prior to this passage, Aristotle had said: The person already theorizing is [a knower] in actuality and in the most proper sense is knowing this A (kurios\ epistamenos tode to A) (ibid., 417a2830). This sentence not only refers to the object of knowledge as a tode but also is quite consistent with the treatment of actual episteme \ \ in Metaphysics, XIII.10. Ross has suggested that despite its inconsistency with some passages in the Aristotelian corpus, the doctrine established in Metaphysics, XIII.10, is genuinely Aristotelian (see Ross, Aristotles Metaphysics, 466). 9. In the Nicomachean Ethics, the concrete individual is referred to by the term kath hekaston which, because it is no longer understood to be unknowable, no longer deserves to be translated as singular as it was throughout the discussion of the Metaphysics. 10. Metaphysics, XIII.1087a1521. 11. Troels Engberg-Pedersen, More on Aristotelian Epagoge, Phronesis 24 (1979): 30119, 305. Compare Aristotle, Aristotelis Analytica Priora et Posteriora, ed. W. D. Ross and L. Minio-Paluello (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964).

194

Notes to Chapter 7 12. Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, II.19, 100a37.

13. Allan Bck, Aristotles Discovery of First Principles, in From Puzzles to Principles? Essays on Aristotles Dialectic, ed. May Sim (Lanham: Lexington Books, 1999), 164. The difficulty in interpreting Posterior Analytics, II.19, is well known. There is no need here to enter into a prolonged discussion of the specifics of this text, for the general point to be established is that Aristotles position in XIII.10 is not radically different from what he says about knowledge elsewhere, insofar as the direct encounter with the object of knowledge is always decisive. 14. Posterior Analytics, II.19, 100b517. We must say seems here, because it is unclear whether what nous intuits in Post. An., II.19, is really universal or individual perhaps the first principles are themselves individuals. If nous does in fact directly intuit the individual, then it bears a strong affinity to the episteme \ \ energeia developed in XIII.10. 15. De Anima, II.5, 417a1014, for example. 16. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 428. 17. Ibid. 18. Metaphysics, XIII.10, 1086b1620. 19. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 427. 20. Metaphysics, XIII.10, 1087a12. 21. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 428. 22. Ibid., 38889. Cf. Frede and Patzig, Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Einleitung, Text, 56. It is not clear that this passage can do the sort of justificatory work that Frede and Patzig would like it to do. Even if it is granted that what is actually known is the form itselfa point that we are attempting to undermine, but for which there is plausible evidencethe most that can be shown by this passage is that the form is a tode ti, which can be interpreted as the technical term for a form that is neither universal nor individualas Owens himself argues. Thus this passage alone does not establish the individuality of forms. However, this is obviously not the only evidence that Frede and Patzig bring to bear on this issue. For an interesting critique of Fredes and Patzigs position, see Scaltsas, Substance and Universals, 22951. Scaltsas differentiates between Charlotte Witts claim that there are individual forms and Fredes and Patzigs, for Witt derives the oneness of the forms from the oneness of composite substances, while Frede and Patzig attempt to account for the oneness of the composite through the oneness of the form. For Witts position, see Charlotte Witt, Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VIIIX (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), 179. The argument presented here agrees with Witt and Scaltsas, that the individuality of the form is derived from the composite. 23. Metaphysics, XIII.10, 1086b17. 24. A modicum of insight into this issue may be gained by a brief look at two other places in which Aristotle uses the example of the syllable. In VII.17, Aristotle suggests that the composite is not just a heap, but like the syllable BA, which is something more than its mere elements, A and B (1041b1114). Here, however, the form is neither of the

Notes to Chapter 7

195

elements, the individual A nor the individual B, but rather something else besides (alla kai heteron ti), which Aristotle calls a principle. It seems odd then, that in XIII.10, when speaking explicitly about the principle, he should appeal to the individual A, if he in fact has the form of the individual in mind. However, in XII.5, a slightly different image is set forth. There Aristotle explicitly claims that the principle of an individual is individual and then appeals to the following examples: Peleus [is the principle] of Achilles, your father of you, and this B of [the syllable] BA, and in general, B [is the principle] of BA without qualification (1071a2024). Here it seems that the analogue of B is in fact a concrete existing individual, namely, the father of the being in question. Of these two instances of the BA example, one treats the individual letter as an element and the other not only speaks of the principle but also implies that this is something like a concrete individual. In neither case is the example used to designate the substantial form. However, it is possible to take the father example as referring to the form passed down by the father, and thus to suggest that the second instance of the example may supply some support for the theory that it is the form to which Aristotle appeals in XIII.10. 25. To be clear, Owens himself never appeals to the need for a noetic apprehension of substantial form in his interpretation. However, we have seen that something like thisnamely, seeing through the concrete individual to the formis required if there is to be a direct encounter with the form. Perhaps this is what Owens would say is implied in the use of the term episteme \ ,\ but if this is the case, then the same claim can be made based on the view offered here with regard to epagoge \ .\ 26. Annas, Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N, 191. 27. Owens, The Doctrine of Being, 429. 28. Of course, it remains a matter of great controversy even in the Posterior Analytics as to precisely how such universal principles themselves are known. For details on this debate, see, for example, Kahn, The Role of Nous; L. A. Kosman, Understanding, Explanation, and Insight in Aristotles Posterior Analytics, in Exegesis and Argument, ed. E. N. Lee, A. D. Mourelatos, and R. M. Rorty (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1973); Engberg-Pedersen, More on Aristotelian Epagoge. 29. The clearest expression of the former strain of Aristotles thinking can be seen in VII.13, where Aristotle argues against the possibility that ousia is universal, and of the later in IX.8, where the priority of energeia is unequivocally endorsed. 30. Annas, Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N, 191. 31. Ibid. 32. Metaphysics, XIII.10, 1086b3437. 33. Annas, Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N, 189. 34. Cf. 999a24ff.; 1087a13. 35. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 79/71. 36. Metaphysics, IV.1, 1003a20ff. 37. Nicomachean Ethics, I.6, 1098a2629. 38. A number of scholars have recognized, to one degree or another, the intimate relationship between Aristotles Ethics and his Metaphysics. Edward Halper, Deborah

196

Notes to Chapter 7

Achtenberg, and May Sim all argue versions of the thesis that the Metaphysics is an indispensable basis for understanding the Ethics. See May Sim, The Crossroads of Norm and Nature: Essays on Aristotles Ethics and Metaphysics (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995). Charlotte Witt uncovers the complexity of the normative nature of the ontology developed in the middle books of the Metaphysics when she observes that norms and values enter into a theory not only from the side of the theorist but from the side of nature as well. See Charlotte Witt, Form, Normativity, and Gender in Aristotle: A Feminist Perspective, in Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle, ed. Cynthia A. Freeland (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), 133. David Charles argues that the nature of ethical reasoning as expounded in the Ethics can be clarified once its ontological underpinnings are properly understood. For Charles, this concerns specifically ascertaining a clear picture of the distinction between energeia and kinesis \ in the Metaphysics and the parallel distinction in the Ethics between praxis and poiesis \ . See Charles, Aristotle: Ontology and Moral Reasoning. 39. Posterior Analytics, 87b25, 96a1018. For an interesting discussion of the extent to which the Nicomachean Ethics may be considered a sort of episteme \ ,\ see Reeve, Practices of Reason. 40. Although a number of interpreters use the conceptual apparatus of the Metaphysics to clarify certain features of the Ethics, few, if any, use the conceptual apparatus of the Ethics to resolve central problems found in the Metaphysics. This is most likely due to the traditional tendency to posit the priority of ontology over ethics. This tendency has historically covered over the extent to which ontologybecause it is always ultimately grounded in the encounter with the Otheris itself always ethical. 41. Werner Wilhelm Jaeger, Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Development, trans. Richard Robinson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948), 81ff. 42. Ibid., 82. 43. See Plato, Platonis Opera II, ed. Ionnes Burnet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1901), Philebus, 59d1ff. and Plato, Platonis Opera IV, ed. Ionnes Burnet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1902), Timaeus, 90b7ff., for example. 44. Jaeger, Aristotle: Fundamentals, 82. 45. For an excellent discussion of the primacy of sight for the Greeks, and thus for the Western tradition, see Hans Jonas, The Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses, in The Philosophy of the Body: Rejections of Cartesian Dualism, ed. Stuart Spicker (New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1970), 31233. For a discussion of Jonass essay and the more recent French philosophical reaction to the primacy of vision, see Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 46. The history of the concept of nous has been traced beautifully in von Fritz. See Kurt von Fritz, Nous, Noein, and Their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy (Excluding Anaxagoras), in The Pre-Socratics: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Alexander P. D. Mourelatos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 2385. This essay shows that nous did not always have this significance. For a more detailed discussion of von Fritzs essay as it relates to the dimension of nous in phronesis, \ see chapter 9 of this book, Intuiting the SingularArchic Incipience.

Notes to Chapter 7

197

47. See Nicomachean Ethics, VI.12, 1143b5, where Aristotle speaks about how individuals are known and says: It is necessary to have perception (aisthesis) \ of these things, and this is intuition (nous). 48. Apostle, Aristotles Metaphysics, 152. Ironically, though his commentary touches on seeing and thinking, he does not mention the appearance of phronein. See ibid., 357. Ross chooses the more Platonic sense to understand as a translation of phronein in Metaphysics, IX.6. See Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), vol. 2, 1656. 49. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.5, 1140b120. 50. Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle; De Caelo, II.12, 292a23. 51. Ibid., 292b46. 52. Cf. De Caelo, II.12, 292b1324, with Metaphysics, IX.6, 1048b2433. 53. Aristotle, De Le Gnration des Animaux, II.23, 731a25. 54. Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, History of Animals, I.1 487a14, b34ff. 55. Ibid., IX.49, 631b519. Aristotle speaks of the praxeis of hens who, after beating a cock, will begin to crow like him and often attempt to ride (ocheuein) him, and of cocks, who, upon the death of a hen, take on maternal duties. 56. Metaphysics, I.1, 981a17. 57. See ibid., 988b6, 996b22, and 1022a7, for example. 58. Ibid., VI.6, 1011a11. 59. Ibid., V.20, 1022b59. 60. Ibid. 61. Life without potency would be no life at all. Thus when Aristotle understands Gods existence as a sort of life in Metaphysics, XII.7, he must be speaking metaphorically, for God is pure act, completely devoid of potency. The metaphor seems backward though, for it seems a perversion of Gods Being to conceptualize it in terms of something as bound up with potency as life. Cf. Long, Totalizing Identities. 62. Ackrill presumes a close relation between the two distinctions. See Ackrill, Aristotles Distinction, 121, while Kenny seems to identify the two, saying that what he calls performances corresponds to Aristotles kinesis \ in the Metaphysics and poiesis \ in the Nicomachean Ethics, while his activities correspond to Aristotles energeia/praxis in the two texts. See Anthony Kenny, Action, Emotion, and Will (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1963), 173n2. David Charles uses the distinction developed in the Metaphysics to shed light on the meaning of the praxis/poiesis \ distinction found in the Ethics. See Charles, Aristotle: Ontology and Moral Reasoning. 63. Metaphysics, IX.6, 1048b1819. 64. Pertinent here is Charles Hagens excellent critique of Graham, Penner, and anyone else who wants to see in the present-perfect formulation as a sort of tense test, by which different actions may be categorized. Hagen writes: However, if one looks closely at the Metaphysics passage itself, there is reason to doubt that the tense

198

Notes to Chapter 7

test is being used in this way [i.e., as a way to distinguish different activities from one another]. The presents and perfects are introduced rather weakly by hoion (as, for instance), which would indicate that they are serving as an illustration of what has gone before rather than giving a reason for it. See Hagen, The Energeia-Kinesis Distinction, 265. 65. For a clear indication of this dimension of praxis, see NE, X.3, 1074a21b13. 66. Hagen, The Energeia-Kinesis Distinction, 276. 67. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.4, 1140a16. 68. Ibid., VI.4, 1140a13. 69. Ibid., VI.4, 1140a1516. 70. Ibid., VI.5, 1140b27. 71. Ibid., 1140b1617. 72. Charles Hagen insists on this point and beautifully illustrates the affinity between this sense of praxis found in the biological works and the sense deployed in Metaphysics, IX.6. See Hagen, The Energeia-Kinesis Distinction, 278. 73. Stephen G. Salkever, Finding the Mean: Theory and Practice in Aristotelian Political Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 43. 74. Balme, Teleology and Necessity, 275. 75. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 7879. 76. When Oded Balaban says that praxis is without end and non-purposeful, he is mistaken, though he is correct to distinguish between two types of telos. See Oded Balaban, Praxis and Poiesis in Aristotles Practical Philosophy, The Journal of Value Inquiry 24, no. 3 (1990): 18598, 194. On his own account, a praxis might end, but it is not done for the sake of the ending. To say that a praxis is not done for the sake of an external end does not mean that it is not done for the sake of some purpose; rather, the key is that the purpose cannot be externally imposed but rather is internally determined. Finally, two other points about Balabans article need to be mentioned. First, he denies that moral action (praxis) can be interpreted in a teleological manner (190). However, if one understands the telos to inhere in the being in action, then there is no problem in interpreting praxis in a teleological manner. It is only when the telos is understood as imposed from without that a praxis comes to be understood on the model of poies \ is, which Balaban is correct to reject. Second, Balaban argues that praxis is an act devoid of potency (191). However, Aristotle does not use the term praxis for the sort of activity that is devoid of potencythat is, for the activity of Godbut rather, energeia, as he does at 1071b1922, for example. Aristotles uses of praxis in the biological works, in the ethical works, and even in Metaphysics, IX.6, all refer to contingent beings, that is, beings that may be otherwise, that have a dimension of potency inherent in them. Indeed, praxis is the name for the very identity of energeia and dunamisthis is its core ontological significance. 77. Engberg-Pedersen has emphasized that the meaning of kinesis \ outlined in the Metaphysics cannot be simply mapped onto that of poiesis \ developed in the Nicomachean

Notes to Chapter 8

199

Ethics. See Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Aristotles Theory of Moral Insight (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 33ff. 78. Physics, II.1, 192b1314. 79. Cf. 985a45.

CHAPTER 8
1. Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe: Platon: Sophistes, vol. 19, ed. FriedrichWilhelm von Herrmann (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1976), 165; for the English, see Martin Heidegger, Platos Sophist, trans. Richard and Andr Schuwer Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 113. Although in these lectures he gestures to the importance of phronesis, \ Heidegger ultimately follows the traditional Greek tendency to give priority to sophia. For a discussion of the implications of this, see Long, The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis. 2. There has been extensive debate concerning the precise debt that Sein und Zeit owes to Aristotles treatment of phronesis, \ some finding evidence for its being the precursor to Verstehen, others for Entschlossenheit, or Umsicht, and still others for Gewissen. Robert Bernasconi provides a good introduction to the entire debate. See Robert Bernasconi, Heideggers Destruction of Phronesis, The Southern Journal of Philosophy 28, Supplement (1989): 12747. See, too, Walter Brogan, A Response to Robert Bernasconis Heideggers Destruction of Phronesis, The Southern Journal of Philosophy 28, Supplement (1989): 14953. 3. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, 31729/31224. 4. Gadamer is one such notable exception. See Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, 32829 and Hans-Georg Gadamer, Aristoteles: Nikomachische Ethik VI (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1998), 1416. See also Nancy Sherman, The Fabric of Character: Aristotles Theory of Virtue (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 1322. 5. See Nicomachean Ethics, VI.10, 1142b22, VI.13 1144a3136, for examples of syllogism, and VI.12, 1143b3 for premise. 6. See Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 701a6ff. For a good discussion of Aristotles use of sullogismos, both here and in the Nicomachean Ethics, also see Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 165220. 7. W. F. R. Hardie, Aristotles Ethical Theory, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), 243. 8. Cf. 24849. Anthony Kenny has reinforced this position by asserting that Practical syllogisms are not, and most of them do not even look like, syllogisms. See his Aristotles Theory of the Will (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 112. 9. Nussbaum writes: There is no hint of a system of rule-case deductions, and no evidence of a plan to work towards a grand hierarchical system (see Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 184). This statement seems to directly challenge the approach to the Nicomachean Ethics taken by C. D. C. Reeve in which there is an attempt to delineate ethics as a genuine science. See Reeve, Practices of Reason.

200

Notes to Chapter 8

10. Carlo Natali, The Wisdom of Aristotle, trans. Gerald Parks (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 99100, 209, note 51. One scholar Natali seems to have in mind here is Gadamer, who never thematizes phronesis \ in terms of the practical syllogism. 11. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 187; Natali, The Wisdom of Aristotle, 109. 12. For a discussion of the rather bold translation of sunesis offered here, see Long, The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis. Cf., the section on The Juridical Aspects of Phronesis, \ below. 13. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, VI.3, 1139b1516. 14. Aristotle establishes the difference between episteme \ \ and phronesis \ primarily in terms of the object with which each is concerned. The object of episteme \ \ is necessary (NE, VI.3, 1139b2021), that of phronesis, \ contingent (NE, VI.5, 1140b12). 15. Two important studies that look to the practical syllogism for insight into the elements of phronesis \ include Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 165220, and Natali, The Wisdom of Aristotle, 63109. From a slightly different perspective, C. D. C. Reeve seeks to bring phronesis \ in line with episteme \ \ by focusing on the contingent nature of episteme \ \ itself. He argues that scientific knowledge is possible in ethics, and that the universals deployed by phronesis \ are provided by episteme \ .\ See Reeve, Practices of Reason. 16. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.8, 1141b814. 17. Ibid., 1141b1416. Throughout the discussion of the Ethics, we will translate kath hekaston as individual rather than as singularas we had in the discussion of the universal/singular aporia in the Metaphysics. The reason we chose to translate kath hekaston in the Metaphysics as singular was to bring out the fact that it is conceptualized as unknowable. However, with the development of the term tode ti in the Metaphysics, room has been made for the possibility that there might be genuine knowledge of the individual. As we will see, the kath hekaston in the Ethics is more like the tode ti in the Metaphysics insofar as it is not immediately assumed to be unknowable, and it manifests the same duality the tode ti suggests in the Metaphysicsnamely, it points to that which is determinate and indeterminate simultaneously: the contingent being. 18. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.8, 1141b1621. 19. John M. Cooper, Reason and Human Good in Aristotle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 31. 20. Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 701a1323. 21. Cooper is correct to argue that, in this passage at least, ta kath hekasta does not refer to the individual as such. However, he seems misguided in saying that it refers to specific types (ibid., 30), for what the term seems to refer to is not some entity at all but to a particular judgment concerning the individual, that is, to the recognition of the individual as a particular of a specific sort. The confusion here, and the entire controversy as to how to take ta kath hekasta in Book VI, is a symptom of the duality endemic to knowledge of the contingent individual, for we do not ever have access to the singularity of the individual as such. Rather, we must always apprehend the individual through concepts and particularize it to some degree. This renders the individual itself inherently ambiguous.

Notes to Chapter 8

201

22. Engberg-Pedersen, More on Aristotelian Epagoge, 305. L. A. Kosman suggests a similar vision of epagoge \ \ when he writes: Epagoge \ \ is thus the act of insight, of seeing in revealed particulars these more fundamental natures which are their principles and explanations. See Kosman, Understanding, Explanation, and Insight, 389. Kosman, however, does not insist on the fallibility of nous to the degree that EngbergPedersen does. 23. Ibid., 308. This far more fallibilistic conception of science in Aristotle is extremely well defended by Allan Bck. See Bck, Aristotles Discovery of First Principles. 24. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.5, 1140b23. 25. Ibid., VI.9, 1142a2123. 26. Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 701a3233. 27. See De Anima, II.12, 424a2225. 28. Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 701b1722. 29. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 257. 30. De Anima, III.8, 432a810. There Aristotle claims that some phantasia is necessary to think. It is no accident that the formulations about the imagination sound Kantian, for Aristotle seems to have recognized something obliquely that Kant fleshes out in great detail: that the synthesis of the imagination itself is a condition for the possibility of cognition. See Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, B152. Ross has ascribed a very Kantian flavor to Aristotles conception of phantasia when he writes: . . . sensation would accordingly be reduced to the level of a mere passive affection which has to be interpreted by phantasia before it can give information or misinformation about objects. See Ross, Aristotle, 147. For a more skeptical, but by no means dismissive, attitude concerning these Kantian connotations, see Malcolm Schofield, Aristotle on the Imagination, in Essays on Aristotles De Anima, ed., Martha Nussbaum and Amlie Oksenberg Rorty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 24978. Finally, Dorothea Frede seems to endorse the Kantian conception by recognizing the specifically synthetic and noetic dimensions of phantasia in Aristotle, though she does this without rejecting the fact that phantasia has other dimensions as well. See Dorothea Frede, The Cognitive Role of Phantasia in Aristotle, in Essays on Aristotles De Anima, ed. Martha Nussbaum and Amlie Oksenberg Rorty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 27996. Specifically, she is careful to insist that not all phantasiai are informed by thought (ibid., 294). 31. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 26061. For Aristotles identification of aisthesis \ and phantasia, see Aristotle, The Complete Works, De Insomniis, I.1, 459a15. There he identifies them and then asserts that they are in fact different in einai, being. Compare De Anima, III.9, 432a31, where Aristotle makes a rather cryptic remark that the einai of phantasia is different from all other capacities, but that it might still be the same as some capacity. For a discussion of this see ibid., 234. 32. Jana Noel makes a strong argument for granting phantasia a role in phronesis \ . See Jana Noel, Interpreting Aristotles Phantasia and Claiming Its Role within Phronesis, Philosophy of Education (Urbana: Philosophy of Education Society, 1997). Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon is skeptical. See Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, Aristo-

202

Notes to Chapter 8

tles Phantasia and Its Role within Phronesis: A Question, Philosophy of Education (Urbana: Philosophy of Education Society, 1997). 33. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.8, 1142a2530. 34. Aristotle had distinguished between phronesis \ and episteme \ \ earlier in NE, VI, and he qualifies the distinction between phronesis \ and nous in a passage (1143a35b5) to be considered later. 35. Cf. De Anima, II.6, 418a8ff., where Aristotle distinguishes the proper from the common sensibles, that is, the objects sensed directly through a specific faculty of sensationas color is sensed by the eye aloneversus those requiring multiple faculties of sensationas motion is sensed by touch and vision. The third sort of sensation Aristotle calls accidental. The example to which he appeals is that of the sensation of a particular ousia, the son of Diares, who is sensed indirectly through an accidental attributehis being white, for example. But that which is sensed is not the color, but the ousia itself. 36. Engberg-Pedersen, Aristotles Theory of Moral Insight, 206. See also Sherman, The Fabric of Character, 39, who suggests that the triangle (rather than the point, stigme) \ is the ultimate figure, because it is peculiarly relevant to the specific problem. 37. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 246. 38. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.12, 1143a35b5. 39. Heidegger highlights the discursive dimension of logos in his lecture on Platos Sophist. See Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe: Platon: Sophistes, 180, 188. Ernst Tugendhat has recognized that the structure of this logos, the need to speak of something as somethingti kata tinositself points to the twofold character of being. See Tugendhat, Ti Kata Tinos, 6. 40. Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, A51/B75. 41. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.12, 1143b45. 42. Ibid., 1143b1314. 43. Engberg-Pedersen, More on Aristotelian Epagoge, 305. 44. Here it is tempting to agree with Coopers suggestion that Aristotle speaks in terms of practical syllogisms, because they seem to help explain how desires and perceptions work together to produce action. See Cooper, Reason and Human Good, 55. 45. Nicomachean Ethics, 1103a419. 46. Ibid., VI.13, 1145a56. 47. Ibid., VI.13, 1144b3032. 48. Ibid., VI.5, 1140b2425. 49. Ibid., VI.5, 1140b47. 50. Carlo Natali gives an excellent summary of the various positions; see Natali, The Wisdom of Aristotle, 18389. 51. Ibid., 58.

Notes to Chapter 8

203

52. The sort of circularity manifest here is not unlike the circularity to which Heidegger points in his discussion of the fore-structure of Daseins understanding as Being-in-the-world. See Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 153. 53. Deliberation, disposition, and experience are treated here together in order to counteract the misimpressionexacerbated by Aristotles own decision to introduce the moral virtues in isolation from the so-called intellectual virtues in NE, II.1that dispositions are established by rote habit and so are nonintellectual. Richard Sorabji has effectively argued against this misconception, suggesting that habituation is not a mindless process . . . habituation involves assessing the situation and seeing what is called for. So habituation is intimately linked with the kind of intuitive perception (nous) that we have been discussing. See Richard Sorabji, Aristotle on the Role of Intellect in Virtue, in Essays on Aristotles Ethics, ed. Amlie Rorty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 216. 54. Nicomachean Ethics, II.6, 1106b361107a2. 55. Sorabji, Aristotle on the Role of Intellect in Virtue, 204205. Charles Larmore suggests that Aristotles great insight is his insistence on the importance of judgment in ethical education, and his unwillingness to posit abstract universal moral laws. One expression of this is found in Aristotles definition of virtue mentioned here: by defining virtue in relation to the phronimos, Aristotle situates the judging subject at the center of his ethical theory. See Charles E. Larmore, Patterns of Moral Complexity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987). 56. Nussbaum, Aristotles De Motu Animatium, 263. 57. De Anima, III.11, 434a9. 58. Ibid. 59. Sherman, The Fabric of Character, 79. Here Sherman speaks of an overall end of character, which is surely part of the operation of prohairesis. However, it is argued here that prohairesis has a role in determining all ends as good, whether they are concerned with the overall ends according to which ones life is set in order or more specific ends concerning the concrete situation. For Aristotle, the pursuit of specific ends is constitutive of the pursuit of overall ends. 60. Nicomachean Ethics, III.5, 1113a912. 61. Ibid., III.7, 1113b35. 62. Sherman, The Fabric of Character, 71. 63. Nichomachean Ethics, II.3 1105a26b5. 64. Sherman, The Fabric of Character, 91. 65. Cf. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, 31230. 66. Jaeger fails to see the codetermination of the universal and the individual in the application of phronesis \ . This leads him to mistakenly suggests that phronesis \ is not concerned with the universal but with the fleeting details of life. See Jaeger, Aristotle: Fundamentals, 8283. This mistake was also made by Jacques Taminiaux, who writes that phronesis \ is not concerned with anything universal. See Jacques Taminiaux, Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, trans. and ed. Michael Gendre (Albany:

204

Notes to Chapter 8

State University of New York Press, 1991), 124. The misinterpretation is, however, somewhat understandable, because Aristotle never tires of emphasizing that phronesis \ is peculiar, because it is primarily concerned with the individual, and, indeed, concerned with it in a way that episteme \ \ and techne \ are not. 67. See George Henry Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 1712. 68. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.11, 1143a1015. Gadamer has argued that the use of the genitive absolute, allou legontos, suggests that sunesis is not pursued in isolation but is always situated in dialogical encounters with others. See Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode, 328/322. 69. Natali argues that phronesis \ and sunesis are radically different. Starting from doxa, sunesis results in another doxa; there is no transmission of desire. See Natali, The Wisdom of Aristotle, 95. While it is true that there is a difference between phronesis \ and sunesis, to claim that they are radically different is to deny that they are intimately interconnected. The analysis offered here agrees with Engberg-Pedersens suggestion that nous, sunesis, and gnome \ \ (judgment) are all parts of the wider mental state that is phronesis \ . See Engberg-Pedersen, Aristotles Theory of Moral Insight, 213. 70. Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1712. Liddell and Scott explicitly establish conscience as one of the meanings of sunesis, linking it to suneidesis \ . Suneidesis, \ which means, a joint knowledge or consciousness, or conscience, however, is derived from a different root, namely, *sunidein (ibid., 1704). This verb is linked to verbs of knowledge related to the sense of sight: sunoran, to see together, and suneidenai, to share in the knowledge of a thing, or to be conscious to oneself (when used with the dative). Taken together, the cluster of words to which sunesis is related clearly suggests that it connotes a sort of intelligence directed toward and intimately related to others. The translation offered later is designed to bring out this dimension of the term that is otherwise eclipsed when merely translated into English as intelligence or understanding. 71. Heideggers own insistence on Gewissen, conscience, as a translation of phronesis \ must not be permitted to obfuscate our translation of sunesis as conscientious apprehension, which remains un-Heideggerian insofar as it is designed to capture one aspect of the dialogical dimension of phronesis \ in Aristotle. As P. Christopher Smith has suggested, Heideggers transformation of phronesis \ into Gewissen is a superimposition of the New Testaments idea of suneidesis \ onto Aristotle, but what is worse, it renders conscience one more facet of the existential analysis of Dasein that serves to solidify its own-most (eigenstes), authentic (eigentliches), solitary nature. See P. Christopher Smith, The I-Thou Encounter (Begegnung) in Gadamers Reception of Heidegger, in The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, ed. Lewis Edwin Hahn (Chicago: Open Court Press, 1997), 521. Heidegger writes, . . . conscience is, in its ground and essence, in each case mine. And this not only in the sense that ones own-most potentiality-forbeing is in each case called, but also because the call comes from that being which I myself always am. See Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 278. If the term conscience is permitted to be used in conjunction with Aristotles conception of sunesis, then this monological connotation of conscience must not be permitted to hold sway. 72. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.11, 1143a2033.

Notes to Chapter 9 73. Ibid., V.14, 1137b2627. 74. Ibid., VI.11, 1143a2122. 75. Gadamer, Aristoteles: Nikomachische Ethik VI, 14.

205

76. The manner in which these universals become fixed via epagoge \ \ links episteme \ \ more closely to phronesis \ than one might think. However, episteme \ ,\ unlike phronesis, \ remains guided by an ideal of absolute certainty. 77. For a detailed discussion of the totalizing dimensions of sophia, see Long, The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis.

CHAPTER 9
1. See Cooper, Reason and Human Good, 2930, 184. 2. See 1142a2123. Cf., Aristotles De Motu Animalium, 701a32. 3. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 17/5. 4. Paul Ricur has emphasized the primacy of the individual in phronesis, \ suggesting that this is the most important implication of the concept in Aristotle. See Paul Ricur, la Gloire de la Phronsis, in La Vrit Pratique: thique Nicomaque Livre VI, ed. Jean-Yves Chateau (Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 1997), 22. 5. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 53/59. 6. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.12, 1143a35b5. 7. Ibid., VI.12, 1143b4. 8. Ibid., VI.12, 1143b911. 9. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 2425/13. 10. Von Fritz, Nous, Noein, and Their Derivatives. 11. Ibid., 23, 59. In Aristotle, vision and touch take on a priority that seems to anticipate and perhaps consolidate the delusion of philosophy. At various points in the Metaphysics, particularly when discussing the mode of direct encounter with that which is incomposite or, indeed, the manner in which God knows himself, Aristotle uses the vocabulary of nous and thigganein (to touch) (1072b2032; cf. 1051b1733). In discussing the meaning of nous in De Anima, III, Aristotle employs a similar vocabulary (424a1725, 429a1518). For an excellent discussion of the importance of touch in Aristotles De Anima, see Michael Golluber, Aristotle on Knowledge and the Sense of Touch, Journal of Philosophical Research 26 (2001): 65580. 12. Von Fritz, Nous, Noein, and Their Derivatives, 24. 13. Ibid., 2425. 14. Cf. De Anima, III.1, 425a14ff. 15. The image here is borrowed from Walter Benjamins Ursprung des Deutschen Trauerspiel: The content [of beauty] however does not come to light by being exposed; rather it shows itself in a process that one might metaphorically describe as the burn-

206

Notes to Chapter 9

ing of the husk as it enters the circle of ideas, as an incineration of the work, in which its form comes into the highpoint of its illumination. See Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften I/1, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhaeuser (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1990), 211. 16. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 79/71. 17. To appreciate the extent to which the blessings of order were alluring to Aristotle, see Metaphysics, XII.6, 7, and 9, 10. There the absolute primacy of God is posited as the ultimate guarantor of stability. Adorno has recognized the tension in Aristotle between what may be called the nominalist and realist dimensions of his thinking. While we have attempted to highlight the nominalist strain of his thinking by pointing to the priority of the tode ti, the realist elements cannot be denied. As Adorno puts it: to understand Aristotle means to recognize that both these moments are contained in his work; and that the conflict between them is resolved by giving precedence to the universal concepts or Forms. See Adorno, Metaphysics, 38. This was seen with some clarity in our discussion of the priority of energeia in Metaphysics, IX.8, at the end of chapter 6. 18. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 122/118. Levinas makes this statement as he attempts to develop the ipseity of the I, which, he says, exists without having a genus, without being the individuation of a concept. The ipseity of the I consists in remaining outside the distinction between the individual and the general (ibid.). The discussion of singularity developed here owes much to Levinassand here it must be said conception of ipseity. Yet there is, even in Levinass own formulation, a tension we have always sought to hold in mind; it is the tension inherent in the attempt to develop a conception of the nonconceptual, the tension, endemic to finite existence itself, that haunts Levinass text throughout. Levinas, well aware of this tension, warns the reader at the end of his Preface: But it belongs to the very essence of language, which consists in continually undoing its phrase by the forward or the exegesis, in unsaying the said, in attempting to restate without ceremonies what has already been ill understood in the inevitable ceremonial in which the said delights (ibid., 16/30). Rather than opting to unsay the said, we have attempted to focus attention on the ineluctable hegemony of the logos in order to conscientiously temper the violence of its necessary deployment. 19. Adorno, Metaphysics, 35. 20. Cf. Metaphyisics, VII.4, 14. 21. Levinas, Totalit et Infini, 83/84. 22. Adorno, Negative Dialektik, 305/311. 23. See, for example, Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1048b25. 24. Cf. Adorno, Metaphysics, 91. Adorno says that in his ruminations concerning God as thought thinking itself, Aristotle comes palpably close to a reflection on subjectivity. This, however, is only an anticipation of the decontextualized subject of modern philosophy (cf. Long, Totalizing Identities). The sort of subjectivity that Aristotle thinks in the Nicomachean Ethics is the embedded subject of finite existence, the subject as it relates to its object.

Notes to Chapter 9 25. Ibid., 71.

207

26. For the link between deliberation and choice, see Nicomachean Ethics, III.3, 1113a313. For the connotations of the word prohairesis, see Nicomachean Ethics, III.2, 1112a1517; cf. Aristotle, Aristotelis Ethica Eudemia, ed. R. R. Walzer and J. M. Mingay (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1226b59. 27. The distinction that Aristotle establishes in a rather convoluted manner between the continuous, suneches, and the successive, hexes, \ in Metaphysics, 1068b261069a18, is perhaps interesting in this context, for Aristotle suggests that it is contact that turns succession, hexes, \ into contiguity, echomenon, of which continuity, suneches, is a species. There Aristotle calls something suneches whenever the limit of two things that are touching and held together become one and the same. Thus what differentiates the successive from the continuous is precisely the touching that reduces difference to the same. Succession, on the other hand, respects this difference but recognizes that that which is successive is determined both by what came before and what will come after. 28. Cf. Physics, IV.11.219b12. Taminiaux has recognized that Aristotle hints at, but never explicitly develops, another conception of temporality when he establishes the difference between kinesis \ and praxis in Metaphysics, IX.6, and further in Nicomachean Ethics, VI.5, when he establishes the difference between poiesis \ and praxis. The analysis of the temporality of phronesis \ found here owes much to Taminiauxs basic contention that . . . praxis includes its own goal, and, as such, is teleia, or complete. It means that at each moment, praxis unifies what it previously was and what it will be, its past and its future, whereas the kinesis of which poiesis is a species leaves its past and future unrelated to one another (see Taminiaux, Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology, 125). 29. Aristotle uses this sort of phrase to refer to prohairesis at NE, III.4.1111b27, to bouleuesthai at NE, III.5.1112b1112, and phronesis \ at NE, VI.13.1144a78. 30. Nicomachean Ethics, VI.7, 1141a1620. 31. For the self-sufficiency of sophia, see Nicomachean Ethics, X.7, 1177a27b1; for its capacity to know all things without attending to each individually, see Metaphysics, I.2, 982a89. For a discussion of these dimensions of sophia, see Long, The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis. For an indication of its effect, see McCumber, Metaphysics and Oppression.

References

Ackrill, J. L. 1965. Aristotles Distinction between Energeia and Kinesis. In New Essays on Plato and Aristotle, ed. R. Bambrough, 12141. New York: Humanities Press. Adorno, Theodor W. 1966. Negative Dialektik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. . 1994. Negative Dialectics. Trans. E. B. Ashton. New York: Continuum. . 2001. Metaphysics: Concept and Problems. Trans. Edmund Jephcott, ed. Rolf Tiedemann. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Aeschylus. 1989. Eumenides. Ed. E. J. Kenney and P. E. Easterling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Annas, Julia, trans. 1976. Aristotles Metaphysics Books M and N. Ed. J. L. Ackrill, Clarendon Aristotle Series. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Apostle, Hippocrates G., trans. 1979. Aristotles Metaphysics. Grinnell, Iowa: Peripatetic Press. , trans. 1980. Aristotles Categories and Propositions. Grinnell, Iowa: Peripatetic Press. Aquinas, St. Thomas. 1995. Commentary on Aristotles Metaphysics. Trans. John P. Rowan. Notre Dame: Dumb Ox Books. Aristotle. 1894. Aristotelis Ethica Nicomachea. Ed. I. Bywater. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1949. Aristotelis Categoriae. Ed. L. Minio-Paluello. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1961. De Le Gnration des Animaux. Ed. and trans. Pierre Louis. Paris: Association Guillaume Bud. . 1964. Aristotelis Analytica Priora et Posteriora. Ed. W. D. Ross and L. MinioPaluello. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1984. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes, vol. 1 and 2. Bollingen Series, LXXI, 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press. . 1988. Aristotelis De Anima. Ed. W. D. Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

209

210

References

. 1991. Aristotelis Ethica Eudemia. Ed. R. R. Walzer and J. M. Mingay. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1992a. Aristotelis Metaphysica. Ed. Werner Wilhelm Jaeger. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1992b. Aristotelis Physica. Ed. W. D. Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bck, Allan. 1999. Aristotles Discovery of First Principles. In From Puzzles to Principles? Essays on Aristotles Dialectic, ed. May Sim, 16381. Lanham: Lexington Books. Balaban, Oded. 1990. Praxis and Poiesis in Aristotles Practical Philosophy. The Journal of Value Inquiry 24, no. 3: 18598. Balme, D. M. 1987a. Aristotles Biology Was Not Essentialist. In Philosophical Issues in Aristotles Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox, 291312. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. . 1987b. Teleology and Necessity. In Philosophical Issues in Aristotles Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox, 27585. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Benjamin, Walter. 1990. Gesammelte Schriften I/1. Ed. von Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhaeuser, vol. Band I, 1, 931. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Bernasconi, Robert. 1989. Heideggers Destruction of Phronesis. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 28, Supplement: 12747. Bernstein, Richard J. 1982. From Hermeneutics to Praxis. Review of Metaphysics 35: 82345. . 1992. The New Constellation: The Ethical-Political Horizons of Modernity/Postmodernity. Cambridge: MIT Press. Bolotin, David. 1998. An Approach to Aristotles Physics with Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing. Albany: State University of New York Press. Bonitz, H. 1955. Index Aristotelicus. Berlin: Graz. Brogan, Walter. 1989. A Response to Robert Bernasconis Heideggers Destruction of Phronesis. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 28, Supplement: 14953. Buber, Martin. 1994. Das Dialogische Prinzip. Gerlingen: Verlag Lambert Schneider. Burnyeat, Myles, ed. 1979. Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotles Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Charles, David. 1986. Aristotle: Ontology and Moral Reasoning. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 4: 11944. Cobb, R. Allan. 1973. The Present Progressive Periphrasis and the Metaphysics of Aristotle. Phronesis 18: 8090. Cooper, John M. 1975. Reason and Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Descartes, Ren. 1984. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothff, and Dugald Murdoch, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

References

211

. 1985. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothff, and Dugald Murdoch, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Engberg-Pedersen, Troels. 1979. More on Aristotelian Epagoge. Phronesis 24: 30119. . 1983. Aristotles Theory of Moral Insight. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ferejohn, Michael. 1994. The Definition of Generated Composites. Unity, Identity, and Explanation in Aristotles Metaphysics. Ed. Theodore Scaltsas, David Charles, and Mary Louise Gill. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Frede, Dorothea. 1992. The Cognitive Role of Phantasia in Aristotle. In Essays on Aristotles De Anima, ed. Martha Nussbaum and Amlie Oksenberg Rorty, 27995. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Frede, Michael. 1987. Essays in Ancient Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Frede, Michael, and Gnther Patzig. 1988a. Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Einleitung, Text und bersetzung, vol. 1. Mnchen: C. H. Beck. . 1988b. Aristoteles Metaphysik Z Kommentar, vol. 2. Mnchen: C. H. Beck. Fritsche, Johannes. 1986. Methode und Beweisziel im ersten Buch der Physikvorlesung des Aristoteles. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Anton Hain Meisenheim GmbH. . 1997. Genus and To ti en einai (Essence) in Aristotle and Socrates. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 19/20, no. 2/1: 163202. Furth, Montgomery. 1988. Substance, Form, and Psyche: An Aristotelian Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 1990. Wahrheit und Methode: Grundzge einer Philosophischen Hermeneutik. Tbingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck). . 1994. Truth and Method. 2nd ed. Trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. New York: Continuum. , trans. and comm. 1998. Aristoteles: Nikomachische Ethik VI. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Gill, Mary Louise. 1989. Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Golluber, Michael. 2001. Aristotle on Knowledge and the Sense of Touch. Journal of Philosophical Research 26: 65580. Graham, Daniel W. 1980. States and Performances: Aristotles Test. Philosophical Quarterly 30: 11729. . 1987. Aristotles Two Systems. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Guthrie, W. K. C. 1957. Aristotle As a Historian of Philosophy: Some Preliminaries. Journal of Hellenic Studies 77, no. 1: 3541. Guzzoni, Ute. 1975. Grund und Allgemeinheit: Untersuchung zum Aristotelischen Verstndnis der Ontologischen Grnde. Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain. Hagen, Charles. 1984. The Energeia-Kinesis Distinction and Aristotles Conception of Praxis. Journal of the History of Philosophy 22, no. 3: 26380.

212

References

Halper, Edward. 1989. One and Many in Aristotles Metaphysics. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Happ, Heinz. 1971. Hyle: Studien zum Aristotelischen Materiebegriff. Berlin: De Gruyter. Hardie, W. F. R. 1980. Aristotles Ethical Theory. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Haroutunian-Gordon, Sophie. 1997. Aristotles Phantasia and Its Role within Phronesis: A Question. Philosophy of Education 297300. Urbana: Philosophy of Education Society. Hartmann, Nicolai. 1957. Kleinere Schriften. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter & Co. Hegel, G. W. F. 1986. Werke in Zwanzig Bnden. Ed. Eva Michel Karl Markus Moldenhauer, vol. 120. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. . 1992. Wissenschaft der Logik: Die Lehre vom Wesen, vol. 376. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. Heidegger, Martin. 1976a. Gesamtausgabe: Platon: Sophistes. Ed. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, vol. 19. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. . 1976b. On the Being and Conception of Physis in Aristotles Physics B, 1. Man and World 9, no. 3: 21970. . 1976c. Vom Wesen und Begriff der physis. Aristoteles, Physik B, 1. In Gesamtausgabe: Wegmarken, vol. 9, ed. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, 239302. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. . 1986. Sein und Zeit. 16th ed. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. . 1988. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. . 1995. Aristotles Metaphysics Theta 13: On the Essence and Actuality of Force. Trans. Walter Brogan and Peter Warnek. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. . 1997. Platos Sophist. Trans. Richard and Andr Schuwer Rojcewicz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Hyland, Drew A. 1995. Finitude and Transcendence in the Platonic Dialogues. Albany: State University of New York Press. Jaeger, Werner Wilhelm. 1948. Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Development. Trans. Richard Robinson. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Jay, Martin. 1993. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press. Jonas, Hans. 1970. The Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses. In The Philosophy of the Body: Rejections of Cartesian Dualism, ed. Stuart Spicker, 31233. New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co. Kahn, Charles. 1981. The Role of Nous in the Cognition of First Principles in Posterior Analytics II 19. In Aristotle on Science, ed. Enrico Berti, 385414. Padova: Editrice Antenore. Kant, Immanuel. 1990. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Hamburg: Meiner Verlag.

References

213

Kenny, Anthony. 1963. Action, Emotion, and Will. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press. . 1979. Aristotles Theory of the Will. New Haven: Yale University Press. Kosman, L. A. 1973. Understanding, Explanation, and Insight in Aristotles Posterior Analytics. In Exegesis and Argument, ed. E. N. Lee, A. D. Mourelatos, and R. M. Rorty, 37492. Assen: Van Gorcum. . 1984. Substance, Being, and Energeia. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 2: 12149. . 1994. The Activity of Being in Aristotles Metaphysics. In Unity and Identity in Aristotles Metaphysics, ed. Theodore Scaltsas, David Charles, and Mary Louise Gill, 195214. New York: Oxford University Press. Larmore, Charles E. 1987. Patterns of Moral Complexity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lee, Richard A. 2001. Mana and Logos: Violence and Order in Thomas Aquinas. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 22, no. 2: 2948. . 2002. Science, the Singular, and the Question of Theology. New York: Palgrave. Levinas, Emmanuel. 1969. Totality and Infinity. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. . 1971. Totalit et Infini: Essai sur Lextriorit. Paris: Kluwer Academic. Liddell, George Henry, and Robert Scott. 1968. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. Long, Christopher P. 1998. Two Powers, One Ability: The Understanding and Imagination in Kants Critical Philosophy. The Southern Journal of Philosophy 36, no. 2: 23353. . 1999. The Hegemony of Form and the Resistance of Matter. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 21, no. 2: 2146. . 2002. The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis. Continental Philosophy Review 35, no. 1: 3560. . 2003. Totalizing Identities: The Ambiguous Legacy of Aristotle and Hegel after Auschwitz. Philosophy and Social Criticism 29: 21344. , and Richard A. Lee. 2001. Between Reification and Mystification: Rethinking the Economy of Principles. Telos 120: 92112. Loux, Michael J. 1979. Form, Species, and Predication in Metaphysics Zeta, Eta, and Theta. Mind 88: 123. . 1991. Primary Ousia: An Essay on Aristotles Metaphysics Z and H. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Mann, Wolfgang-Rainer. 2000. The Discovery of Things: Aristotles Categories and Their Context. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Marx, Werner. 1971. Heidegger and the Tradition. Trans. Theodore Kisiel and Murray Greene. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

214

References

McCumber, John. 1999. Metaphysics and Oppression: Heideggers Challenge to Western Philosophy. Studies in Continental Thought. Ed. John Sallis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Miller, Mitchell H. 1986. Platos Parmenides: The Conversion of the Soul. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Montaigne, Michel de. 1987. The Complete Essays. Trans. M. A. Screech. New York: Penguin. Morrison, Donald. 1985. Separation in Aristotles Metaphysics. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 3: 12557. Natali, Carlo. 2001. The Wisdom of Aristotle. SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy. Trans. Gerald Parks, ed. Anthony Preus. Albany: State University of New York Press. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1967. The Will to Power. Trans. Walter Kaufman and R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage Books. Noel, Jana. 1997. Interpreting Aristotles Phantasia and Claiming Its Role within Phronesis. Philosophy of Education 28996. Urbana: Philosophy of Education Society. Nussbaum, Martha Craven. 1985. Aristotles De Motu Animalium. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Owens, Joseph. 1978. The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. Plato. 1901. Platonis Opera II. Ed. Ionnes Burnet. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1901. Platonis Opera IV. Ed. Ionnes Burnet. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1995. Platonis Opera I. Ed. E. A. Duke, W. F. Hicken, W. S. M. Nicoll, D. B. Robinson, and J. C. G. Strachan. New York: Oxford University Press. Porphyry. 1992. On Aristotles Categories. Trans. Steven Strange. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Randall, John Herman. 1960. Aristotle. New York: Columbia University Press. Reeve, C. D. C. 1992. Practices of Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press. . 2000. Substantial Knowledge: Aristotles Metaphysics. Indianapolis: Hackett. Ricur, Paul. 1997. la Gloire de la Phronsis. In La Vrit Pratique: thique Nicomaque Livre VI, ed. Jean-Yves Chateau, 1322. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin. Ross, W. D. 1924a. Aristotles Metaphysics: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. . 1924b. Aristotles Metaphysics: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press. . 1995. Aristotle. London: Routledge. Salkever, Stephen G. 1990. Finding the Mean: Theory and Practice in Aristotelian Political Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

References

215

Sayre, Kenneth. 1983. Platos Late Ontology: A Riddle Solved. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Scaltsas, Theodore. 1992. Substratum, Subject, and Substance. In Aristotles Ontology, ed. Anthony Preus and John P. Anton, 177210. Albany: State University of New York Press. . 1994. Substance and Universals in Aristotles Metaphysics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Schofield, Malcolm. 1992. Aristotle on the Imagination. In Essays on Aristotles De Anima, ed. Martha Nussbaum and Amlie Oksenberg Rorty, 24977. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Schrmann, Reiner. 1987. Heidegger, On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy. Trans. Christine-Marie Gros and Reiner Schrmann. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Sherman, Nancy. 1989. The Fabric of Character: Aristotles Theory of Virtue. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Sim, May, ed. 1995. The Crossroads of Norm and Nature: Essays on Aristotles Ethics and Metaphysics. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. Smith, J. A. 1995. Tode ti in Aristotle. In Classical Philosophy: Collected Papers, ed. Terence Irwin, 51. New York and London: Garland. Smith, P. Christopher. 1997. The I-Thou Encounter (Begegnung) in Gadamers Reception of Heidegger. In The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, ed. Lewis Edwin Hahn, 50925. Chicago: Open Court Press. Smyth, Herbert Weir. 1956. Greek Grammar. Rev. ed., ed. Gordon Messing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Sorabji, Richard. 1980. Aristotle on the Role of Intellect in Virtue. In Essays on Aristotles Ethics, ed. Amlie Rorty, 20120. Berkeley: University of California Press. Taminiaux, Jacques. 1991. Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology. Trans. and ed. Michael Gendre. SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, ed. Dennis Schmidt. Albany: State University of New York Press. Tugendhat, Ernst. 1958. Ti Kata Tinos: Eine Untersuchung zu Struktur und Ursprung Aristotelischer Grundbegriffe. Mnchen: Verlag Karl Alber. Vlastos, Gregory. 1991. Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Von Fritz, Kurt. 1974. Nous, Noein, and Their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy (Excluding Anaxagoras). In The Pre-Socratics: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Alexander P. D. Mourelatos, 2385. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Witt, Charlotte. 1989. Substance and Essence in Aristotle: An Interpretation of Metaphysics VIIIX. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. . 1998. Form, Normativity, and Gender in Aristotle: A Feminist Perspective. In Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle, ed. Cynthia A. Freeland, 11837. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Index

action. See praxis activity/actuality. See energeia and entelecheia Adorno, Theodor, xii, 154, 179n56, 192n57, 206n17, 206n24; critique of western ontology, 410, 15658, 161; on Aristotles tode ti, 5, 52, 15758; on mediation in Aristotle, 41, 176n30, 178n48 aisthesis, \ 114, 117; as operating in phronesis, \ 13743 alteration, 7274, 185n46 Annas, Julia, 11112, 11722 aporia, meaning of, 50, 179n2. See also separate existence aporia and universal/singular aporia Apostle, Hippocrates, 1867n58 Aquinas, St. Thomas, 5, 78, 97 arche,\ 16, 64, 8283, 86, 9498, 1023, 108, 127, 133; dual meaning of, 12; meaning in the ethics of ontology, 15565 arete,\ 13334, 142, as related to phronesis, \ 14348 artifacts: as paradigmatic ousiai, 32, 42, 7879, 92, 9496, 174n3, 185n45 autarchy, 29, 31, 41, 4950, 5560, 149, 154, 158; Aristotles commitment to, 64, 69, 8687, 107, 160; defined, 20, 171n3; moment of, 9798, 101, 103, 190n34 Balme, D.M., 81, 128 Benjamin, Walter, 2056n15 Bernstein, Richard, 12, 167n5

causality, 19, 4247, 177n33, 177n36 Charles, David, 196n38, 197n62 choriston, \ 8593 composite, dynamic identity of, 56, 65, 72, 85, 112, 154, 189n21 conscientious apprehension. See sunesis, translation of Cooper, John M., 13536, 153, 200n21 Descartes, Ren, 23, 8, 167n2, 167n4, 168n6, 169n19 developmentalism, 14 dunamis, 60, 75, 77, 85, 91109, 191n42 economy of principles: defined, 14; dynamic, 1516, 60, 65, 67, 81, 85109; foundational, 15, 20, 29, 72, 75, 89; hylomorphic/kinetic, 15, 3247, 60, 90, 95, 101, 1049 eidos. See form end. See telos energeia, 75, 77, 91109, 191n42; as the active identity of form and matter, 100, 1049, 161; vs. kinesis \ /motion, 73, 85, 1004, 12230 Engberg-Pedersen, Troels, 114, 137, 13940, 143, 198n77 entelecheia, 93, 95, 189n19, 1013, 191n42 epagoge \ ,\ 21, 114, 117, 137, 141, 143, 195n25, 201n22 epieikeia, 13334, 142, 14850, 15960 episteme \ ,\ 16, 89, 165, 193n8; limits of, 154, 160; of ousia, 11121; vs. phronesis, \ 13551, 200n15

217

218 equity. See epieikeia ergon, 7683, 125, 128 essence. See to ti en \ einai ethics: defined, 68; of ontology, xiii, 6, 6465, 15465; vs. morality, 7

Index God, as ultimate principle, xiii, 5, 67, 10, 60, 75, 1067, 197n61, 206n17, 206n24 Ground, form and matter as, 37, 41, 60, 63, 73, 75, 7883, 9091, 100, 1089 Guzzoni, Ute, 31, 33, 8081, 174n1, 175n17, 18889n15 Hagen, Charles, 127, 197n64 Halper, Edward, 17980n10 Hegel, G.W.F., 4, 7, 18283n18 Heidegger, Martin, 3, 203n52; critique of the history of metaphysics, 4, 19, 177n36; on Metaphysics IX, 189n21; on phronesis, \ 132, 199n1, 202n39, 204n71 historicity, 92, 103 hyle. See matter hypokeimenon, 103, 174n40; in the Categories, 15, 2021, 24, 2829; in the Metaphysics, 61, 7175; in the Physics, 3242 identity: diachronic, 24, 2729; synchronic, 2427 imagination. See phantasia individual, 144, 15365; atomic, 2128, 37, 53, 6263, 69, 171n7; form as, 194n22; knowledge of, 11322, 140, 15051, 200n21; rendered particular, 41, 49, 114, 141, 158, 200n21; vs. singular and particular, 9, 5152, 8789, 13536, 138, 141, 15355, 200n17 individuation: in principle indiscernible, 78, 97; use of adverb ede \ \ to designate, 55, 78, 9698, 187n61 induction. See epagoge \ \ intuition. See nous Jaeger, Werner, 123, 203n66 Kant, Immanuel, 2, 142, 162, 186n52, 187n64, 201n30 kinesis, \ 3233, 60, 73, 9498, 1067, 12230 Kosman, L.A., 8283, 95, 190n26, 201n22

fabrication: as heuristic device, 174n3; as model for genesis/phusis, 4247, 60, 7374, 92, 9698, 101, 177nn3336 Ferejohn, Michael, 6870, 183n25, 185n39,185n45, 185n46, 186n54 form: as determining/grounding moment, 37, 5960, 61, 63, 73, 7581, 90, 93, 100, 1089, 175n17, 188n15; domination/hegemony of, 4047, 49, 5961, 64, 74, 98, 101; ontological efficacy of, 33, 3840, 4950; priority of, 69 Frede, Michael, 20, 21, 171n3, 173n24 Frede, Michael and Gnther Patzig: on Aristotles tode ti, 8687; on form, 176n27, 180n14; on ousia as individual, 188n5, 194n22; on the imperfect in to ti en \ einai, 6566; on the status of Metaphysics VII.79, 184n37, 188n5 Fritsche, Johannes: on principles in the Physics, 38, 40, 175n16, 176n21, 176n25; on to ti en \ einai, 181n8, 181n9, 182n17 function. See ergon Furth, Montgomery, 173n33; on Aristotles biology, 178nn4142, 178n49, 179n55, 18687n58; on individuation, 78, 9798, 178n38 Gadamer, Hans-Georg: hermeneutical approach, 1013; on phronesis, \ 132, 150, 162, 204n68 generation. See genesis genesis, 5455, 80, 92, 125; in Generation of Animals, 4347; in Metaphysics, 68, 7074, 80, 9698, 1001, 185n46; in the Physics, 3640 Gill, Mary Louise, 168n11, 180n1, 185n39, 185n46, 186n56, 188n10, 190n25

Index Levinas, Emmanuel, 132, 206n18; critique of western ontology, 410, 169n14, 177n36; on Aristotles tode ti, 89, 158; singularity of the Other, 15559 logic of things, 15, 2022, 24, 26, 33, 72, 82, 99100; limits of, 23, 2829 Loux, Michael, 6263, 88, 181n6, 181n9, 184n37, 188n5 Mann, Wolfgan-Rainer, 19, 17071n2, 172n17, 173n27 matter: as determining/grounding moment, 37, 42, 46, 5960, 73, 7581, 90, 93, 100, 1089, 175n17, 188n15; irreducibility of, 42, 6465, 67, 73, 75, 79, 179n56; mentioned in definitions, 7181 morphe.\ See form motion. See kinesis \ Natali, Carlo, 134, 145, 200n15, 204n69 natural beings, 9498, 102 nous, 114, 194n14, 195n25; history of the concept, 15557; practical, 13943; role in epagoge \ ,\ 114, 137, 194n14, 201n22 Nussbaum, Martha, 128, 134, 13840, 200n15 ousia: as parameter, xixii; dynamic conception of, xiii, 73, 85109, 151; legacy of, 9, 20 Owens, Joseph: on Aristotles tode ti, 88, 194n22; on meaning of aporia, 179n2; on Metaphysics XIII.10, 112, 11418, 195n25; on translation of ta kath hekasta, 51, on translation of to ti en \ einai, 6566; on unity of the Metaphysics, 168n11 particular. See individual and tode ti perception. See aisthesis \ perfect tense: Aristotles use of, 55, 66, 98103, 12627, 161, 190n34, 197n64 phantasia, 13840, 143, 146, 155, 159, 201nn3032

219

phronesis: \ history of the concept, 12324; in the Ethics, 13151; ontological appropriation of, 1617, 121, 15965, 188n12, 192n57 Platonism: knowledge of universal in, 11112, 11920; ontological efficacy of the universal in, 2223, 26, 90; separation of Forms in, 2, 118; tendency in Aristotle, 50, 5455, 59, 6165, 87; understanding of phronesis \ by, 12324; vs. Plato, 167n4, 172n17 poiesis, \ vs. praxis, 122, 12630, 145. See also fabrication population problem, 91, 181n6 postmodernism, 23, 10, 11 potency/potentiality. See dunamis practical syllogism, 13351 practical wisdom. See phronesis \ praxis: ontological, 16, 93109, 151, 16165, 191n42, 198n76; technical meaning of, 112, 12230, 145 Prime Mover. See God principle. See arche \ privation. See steresis \ production. See fabrication qualified becoming. See alteration Randall, John Herman, 171n5, 172n11, 190n31 Reeve, C.D.C., 46, 168n11, 175n13, 180n16, 199n9, 200n15 Ross, W.D., 182n12, 184n30, 191n41, 193n8 Salkever, Stephen G., 128 Scaltsas, Theodore, 101, 104, 18889n15, 190n31, 191n35, 192n46, 194n22 Schrmann, Reiner, 42, 167n1, 177n33, 177n34, 177n36 science. See episteme \ \ sensation. See aisthesis \ separable. See choriston \ and separate existence aporia separate existence aporia, 5357, 91, 93, 9899, 115, 187n59, 187n61

220 Sherman, Nancy, 14647, 202n36, 203n59 singular. See individual and tode ti snubnose, 6770 Socrates, 61, 6365, 82, 123 sophia, 132, 13435, 150, 154, 16465, 199n1, 205n77, 207n31 steresis, \ 3640 strategy of evasion, 2429, 173n33 sunesis, 13334, 142, 14850, 15960; translation of, 148, 200n12, 204n70, 204n71

Index imperfect tense in, 65, 81, 158; logical treatment of, 6770; physical treatment of, 7075; technical sense of, 6167, 183n24 tode ti: as individual, 9, 5152, 78, 15758; knowledge of, 11221, 193n8; non-technical sense of, 2526; resistant to conceptualization, 52, 98, 15758; technical sense of, 8693, 103, 1089; translation of, 8 Tugendhat, Ernst, 67, 88, 174n40, 188n1112, 18889n15, 202n39 underlying subject. See hypokeimenon unicity, of ousia, 20, 49, 52, 64, 101, 104 universal/singular aporia: epistemological side of, 11517, 12021, 126, 13233, 155, 163, 180n16; formulation of, 1516, 5057; ontological side of, 61, 93, 1089, 11113, 11722 unqualified becoming. See genesis virtue. See arete \ Vlastos, Gregory, 181n11, 182n12 von Fritz, Kurt, 15657

techne.\ See fabrication teleology, 12829 telos, 95, 108; in the ethics of ontology, 15556; location of in praxis, 1023, 106, 12629 temporality, 103; existential, 103, 16162, 207n28; of to ti en \ einai, 66, 183n24 thinking: Aristotles vs. thought, xii, 5, 1011; entitative, 20, 93, 181n6, 189n17; paths of Aristotles, xii, 1417; totalizing and totalitarian, 23 to ti en \ einai, 6075, 92, 100, 103, 107, 114, 158; as different from form, 81;