Order in Multiplicity: Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle

By Christopher Shields | Go to book overview

6
Oneness, Sameness, and Referential Opacity


6. 1 FORMS OF ONENESS AND SAMENESS

Aristotle's introduction of two bodies, one organic and one non-organic, may seem in various way ad hoc; it may also seem unparsimonious in the extreme. After all, the organic body occupies the same space as the nonorganic body for its entire career, although the non-organic normally perU +00AD sists for a while after the demise of the organic body. It may further appear to be introduced merely for the purpose of staving off telling objections to hylomorphism. If this distinction has no independent motivation, then critics will be right to find Aristotle's appeals to two spatiotemporally overlapping bodies unappealing. They will also be right to wonder whether the sorts of principles adduced to motivate a distinction between organic and non-organic bodies might not multiply entities beyond control.

Aristotle ought to be sensitive to these sorts of worries. For he himself derides the Sophists for their treatment of accidental oneness in ways which suggest an awareness of allied problems. The Sophists want to know, when Coriscus is both a musician and adept at grammar, whether the musical thing (to mousikon) and the grammatical thing (to grammatikon) are the same or different; they also want to know whether the musical Coriscus and Coriscus are the same (Met. 1026b 15-18). Aristotle thinks Plato is partially justified in accusing them of trading in non-being (Met. 1026b 14-15; cf. Phys. 191b 13-17,) since 'the accidental seems to be something near non-being' (Met. 1026b21). Aristotle's complaint here cannot be that the Sophists are wrong to take up the question of accidental unity as such: he considers it himself, at length. Rather, they make a muddle by exploiting the phenomenon of accidental unity for the contrivance of paradox (Met. 1026b18-21). The philosopher, then, needs an account of accidental unity himself, if only to circumvent the paradoxes others derive from it.

Aristotle's anti-Sophistic justification for inquiring into accidental unity is wholly defensible. Yet his interest in the topic extends far beyond

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Order in Multiplicity: Homonymy in the Philosophy of Aristotle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Homonymy as Such 7
  • 1 - The Varieties of Homonymy 9
  • 2 - The Promises and Problems of Homonymy 43
  • 3 - Homonymy and Signification 75
  • 4 - Core-Dependent Homonymy 103
  • II - Homonymy at Work 129
  • 5 - The Body 131
  • 6 - Oneness, Sameness, and Referential Opacity 155
  • 7 - The Meaning of Life 176
  • 8 - Goodness 194
  • 9 - The Homonymy of Being 217
  • Afterword: Homonymy's Promise Reconsidered 268
  • Bibliography 271
  • Index of Passages Cited 281
  • General Index 287
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