Form without Matter: Empedocles and Aristotle on Color Perception

ISBN : 9780198717904

Mark Eli Kalderon
240 Pages
168 x 241 mm
Pub date
Feb 2015
Send mail

Mark Eli Kalderon presents an original study in the philosophy of perception written in the medium of historiography. He considers the phenomenology and metaphysics of sensory presentation through the examination of an ancient aporia. Specifically, he argues that a puzzle about perception at a distance is behind Empedocles' theory of vision. Empedocles conceives of perception as a mode of material assimilation, but this raises a puzzle about color vision, since color vision seems to present colors that inhere in distant objects. But if the colors inhere in distant objects how can they be taken in by the organ of sight and so be palpable to sense? Aristotle purports to resolve this puzzle in his definition of perception as the assimilation of sensible form without the matter of the perceived particular. Aristotle explicitly criticizes Empedocles, though he is keen to retain the idea that perception is a mode of assimilation, if not a material mode. Aristotle's notorious definition has long puzzled commentators. Kalderon shows how, read in light of Empedoclean puzzlement about the sensory presentation of remote objects, Aristotle's definition of perception can be better understood. Moreover, when so read, the resulting conception of perception is both attractive and defensible.


1. Empedocles
2. Perception at a Distance
3. Transparency
4. Color
5. Light and Dark
6. The Generation of the Hues
7. The Eye
8. Two Transitions to Actuality
9. Form Without Matter

About the author: 

Mark Eli Kalderon is a Professor of Philosophy at University College London. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1995. His most recent work concerns color and the nature of perception. He is the author of Moral Fictionalism (OUP, 2005), and editor of Fictionalism in Metaphysics (OUP, 2005).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.