A Summary of Russell Dancy’s paper: On Some of Aristotle’s First Thoughts About Substances (With Reference and Additions from Russell Dancy’s paper: On Some of Aristotle’s Second Thoughts About Substances).
It will be the aim of this paper, to critically analyze and summarize Dancy’s text on Aristotle’s conception of the idea of Substances. For the purpose of capturing the intention behind the text, one can look at Dancy as being concerned, primarily, with one or two overbearing questions – from which – smaller enquiries are to emerge. In this case, the primary concern, reveals itself to be with Aristotle’s notion of substance and realities. Eventually, this question will be streamlined into the form of how Aristotle conceives subjects as possessing an independent claim to reality and finally, what is Aristotle’s means of identifying a true subject. Dancy begins his text with an explanation of how Aristotle possibly evolved his formulation of reality and substance, as a reply to Platonic theory – and how large parts of it had its origins in argument against the same. His intentions, however, are to keep banter pertaining to Platonic theory in the background and directly confronting the question (and how Aristotle answers it) “What are substances” in the fore. The idea of substance and reality for Aristotle has undergone some evolution – changes and adaptations have been made – and these become evident when one compares the version found in Organon – which contains no reference to matter ‐ and as found in the Metaphysics1 – where it has gone suitable alteration to accommodate that same concept. Dancy works under the assumption that the reason why there is no mention of matter in the Organon – when in his view, there very will should be, is because the notion was simply not available to Aristotle.i According to the former, substances are equated with subjects, of which other things are predicated – these have the strongest claim to an independent reality2. However, once the idea of matter is introduced, the same notion begins to look unwieldy. As mentioned earlier, Dancy engages himself with the same notion of substance, are subjects upon which things are predicated as possessing the strongest claim to an independent reality. The next step for Dancy then naturally becomes to ask the question, what was in Aristotle, the legitimate manner to identify a true subject. Aristotle’s conception of a subject was not as a grammatical subject ii. The sense in which he used it, involved – to some extent – an implied feel. In the sentence “The pale thing is a stick” – ‘Stick’ provides the subject – however, in the statement ‘The educated thing is pale’ does not provide a true subject – as that is a man. However, Dancy feels that there is no need to overcomplicate matters and a simple reason for why Aristotle’s idea of a true subject does not refer to a grammatical subject can be found in the fact that they are not words, but things signified by words‐things signified by the 1 Metaphysics Zeta θ 2 It is also worth noting that this is a tool that is critical in it’s role as a rejection of Platonic theory.
It involves things that are being separated into four groups: some things are said of a subject.iv The reason he does this is stated by Dancy. especially as it turns up among paronyms. does not make it irrelevant to look at the sentences. Aristotle has left this need unattended to and he spends the next few sections attempting to shed light upon what it means to “be in” a subject. Dancy here delves into the categories. for example. According to the definition in Categories 5 – a substance is something that is neither said of any subject nor in any subject – and not every subject is a substance. Categories 2 contains the demarcation of being said of a subject and being in a subject. and their grammatical predicates. v The general requirement. for it eventually delivers some insight into sorting ‘things that are’. is quite simply that it not be in any subject. The first of these being Inseparability as the mark of being in – which involves the 3 Paronyms are [things] that derive the word by which they are called from something. their grammatical subjects. the point for now is that Aristotle may well want to classify the things expressions signify. true subjects are the grammatical subjects of straightforward predications. in classifying them. the courageous from
courage." which are signified by the subjects and predicates of simple sentences. is neither with words nor with semantics – but instead with “things that are” – and this notion gives as much importance to predicates as it does to the subjects involved. by analyzing Homonyms. and some are neither. It becomes more than evident at this point that a great deal of clarification is required in terms of distinctions between various concepts – especially the difference between ‘being said of’ and ‘being in’ – however in Dancy’s view. differing in
syntactic form from it. That is to say. Dancy spends a considerable amount of time and energy on it. but still give the expressions that signify them a role. With this quarter part separation one reaches a clearer idea of what are primary substances: those that are neither – and secondary substances are said of them. which is in a subject. in order to comprehend better. as per the definition. for qualification of something being a substance.iii Aristotle’s concern however.
. serve as features or definitions of the aforementioned. with some analysis. but not said of any. sometimes an essential one.grammatical subjects of straightforward predications.
In order to better understand what is implied by Aristotle’s notions of Substance. will occupy us later. Synonyms and Paronyms3. some are both. but in nothing. as follows:
This sort of phenomenon. The section that follows at this juncture is an elaborate explanation of the same definition. Dancy does this by highlighting various features of the categories that may. This is in Categories 5 – and the definition found implies a number of things – but most notably the distinction that is found between something that is said of a subject and that something. Aristotle’s method. And I think the situation is about the same with the distinctions we are trying to draw among subjects and predicates: the fact that Aristotle wants to classify the "things that are. the literate [person derives] from literacy. he refers to the source that first states that substances and independent realities are actually subjects.
What one can also say is that the predicable of Socrates is said in that sentence. he is motivated by something that is objectionable to a Platonist. flowing from the idea that man is said of particular men. His alternative thesis involves the idea that the predicate of any simple sentence is something that is said of its subject. However. He concludes his section with the idea that the confusion that arises from predicates being equated with a subject arise from misconstruing what are really paronyms. What the Platonist finds objectionable is not the idea that without Primary substances. which claims that one thing cannot be said of another unless both are in the same category. the concept of ‘being in’ as a heuristic and classificatory device – “an indication of the sort of thing Aristotle means”. statements of the form “Callias is Literate” and “Socrates knows something” – and these examples. it is in Socrates if it is true that Socrates is literate. what is meant by ‘Literate’ is said of Socrates. The reason this emerges as a point of contention. Secondary substances are said of them. What is in the subject is the abstraction associated with that predicate. so that secondary substances are said of primary ones. In Dancy’s view. “Socrates is a man” and “Callias is a man. In the sentence. Ackrill’s. when Aristotle concludes this. the problem hasn’t been solved. with the feeling that his formulation involves the same difficulties Aristotle faced – and hopes to gain better insight into the same. clearly conform with the idea of straightforward predication (as found in the analytics). according to Dancy. It is useful at this juncture to briefly mention the conventional understanding of this system. Dancy. However. as it does not shed any light on the distinction between being in and being said of. which has nothing/neither – and primary substances are the lowest members of the tree. for the moment at least. is because Aristotle claims that everything else is either said of or in primary substances that in the absence of primary substances there would be nothing at all. He asks the reader to analyze of Aristotle’s examples. Dancy proceeds in this section. “Socrates is literate”. In the concluding parts of this section. Dancy here mentions. where he adds Owens’s agreement.
.idea that a subject denotes that which belongs in something not as a part but (as) incapable of being apart from that in which it is. Dancy now aims to provide an alternative account of being in. there would be nothing – but instead the thesis that primary substances are things such that everything else is either said of them or in them. He claims that each category is a classificatory tree – the lower members are subjects of which the higher ones are said – and as mentioned before – the category of substance is the only tree. Dancy commits himself to the idea that. is suggesting that many non‐substances beyond differentiac are said of a subject.” – Knowledge and Literacy are in men ‐ or are predicated to their souls – however these statements cannot clearly be equated with “Socrates is Knowledge” or “Callias is Literacy”. Dancy claims this to be a circular argument and he attempts to shift the focus solely on the inability of that to exist apart from that within which it is. however. “Literacy is the abstraction or property correlated with the predicate “literate”.
though he is not a man because he has in him what makes things men.A Philosophy (I)
. no substance is in a subject. He understands Substances to never be in things what is in a thing is the abstraction correlated with the predicate of a simple sentence that has that thing for its object and in most cases. synonyms share a name under the same definition (ia6‐7.
i Organon – On Aristotle’s Second Thoughts About Substances – R. which involves a final and total elaboration on the Category of Substance.Dancy
Posterior Analytics A22 83a4‐7 “II “Subjects” and Sentences – On Aristotle’s First Thoughts About Substances ‐ R. the predicable in “Socrates is a man” is not derivative. That is to say. 3b7‐8). literate. What truly separates this category then. it is a classification of a number of things a subject might be: white. but not without exception. This being the difference between qualities and qualia.Dancy
Sahil Warsi M. compare 5. paronymously or from any abstraction.I ai ‐2). the category of quality is a classification of abstractions such as ‘whiteness. one of which will be predicable signified by the predicate in that sentence – and as mentioned before Secondary substances are the predicables represented by the predicates of simple sentences that may be used to answer simple questions asked pertaining to primary substances like “what is that?” What is different and other from substance show a duality that allows abstraction as well as predictability that is marked by paronymy. from one stand point. there is no root‐paronym distinction in that category. is that within it.5 v “III Being In and Being Said Of” – On Aristotle’s First Thoughts About Substances – R.This brings the reader to the concluding section of Dancy’s paper. there are no abstractions. that abstraction will be the root of a list of paronyms.Dancy
Categories I : Homonyms are things that share a name under different definitions (I . just. literacy and justice’ and from another. That is to said: Socrates is a man.