Aquinas's Ontology of the Material World: Change, Hylomorphism, and Material Objects

ISBN : 9780198776598

Jeffrey E. Brower
352 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2017
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What is the nature of the material world? And how are its fundamental constituents to be described? These questions are of central concern to contemporary philosophers, and in their attempt to answer them, they have begun reconsidering traditional views about metaphysical structure, including the Aristotelian view that material objects are best described as 'hylomorphic compounds'-that is, objects composed of both matter (hyle) and form (morphe). In this major new study, Jeffrey E. Brower presents and explains the hylomorphic conception of the material world developed by Thomas Aquinas, the most influential Aristotelian of the Middle Ages. According to Brower, the key to understanding Aquinas's conception lies in his distinctive account of intrinsic change. Beginning with a novel analysis of this account, Brower systematically introduces all the elements of Aquinas's hylomorphism, showing how they apply to material objects in general and human beings in particular. The resulting picture not only sheds new light on Aquinas's ontology as a whole, but provides a wholesale alternative to the standard contemporary accounts of material objects. In addition to presenting and explaining Aquinas's views, Brower seeks wherever possible to bring them into dialogue with the best recent literature on related topics. Along the way, he highlights the contribution that Aquinas's views make to a host of contemporary metaphysical debates, including the nature of change, composition, material constitution, the ontology of stuff vs. things, the proper analysis of ordinary objects, the truthmakers for essential vs. accidental predication, and the metaphysics of property possession.


List of Abbreviations

Part I. Introduction
1 A Sketch of the Complete Ontology
2 Filling Out the Sketch

Part II. Change
3 Change in General
4 Substantial vs. Accidental Change

Part III. Hylomorphism
5 From Change to Hylomorphism
6 Hylomorphism as a Type of Substratum Theory
7 In Defense of Hylomorphism

Part IV. Material Objects
8 From Hylomorphism to Material Compounds
9 Types of Material Compound
10 Material Compounds vs. Material Objects

Part V. Complications
11 Non-Standard Changes and Forms without Substrata
12 Mind-Body Dualism
13 The Afterlife

Appendix: A Glossary of Technical Terms

About the author: 

Jeffrey E. Brower is Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. His areas of specialization are medieval philosophy, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. He is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Abelard (CUP, 2004), and has published numerous articles in journals and edited volumes such as Mind, The Philosophical Review, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie, Faith and Philosophy, The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, The Cambridge Companion to Abelard, The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, and The Oxford Handbook to Philosophical Theology.

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