15 February 2006

Waiting for the Unmoved Mover

I was looking for a good statement of the problem about the subject matter of Aristotle's Metaphysics--you know, the difficulty about whether it is theology or "the science of being qua being". Turning to the usually reliable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I found S. Marc Cohen's contribution on "Aristotle's Metaphysics", which contained this tantalizing passage:

In Book E, Aristotle adds another description to the study of the causes and principles of beings qua beings. Whereas natural science studies objects that are material and subject to change, and mathematics studies objects that although not subject to change are nevertheless not separate from (i.e., independent of) matter, there is still room for a science that studies things (if indeed there are any) that are eternal, not subject to change, and independent of matter. Such a science, he says, is theology, and this is the “first” and “highest” science. Aristotle's identification of theology, so conceived, with the study of being qua being has proved challenging to his interpreters. We will deal with this issue in §14 below.
But then there is no §14! The entry skips from §13 (so superstition is not to blame) directly to §15. I begin to wonder: Is this perhaps a Straussian moment for the SEP? But then I look again at the index at the front of the entry and see:
§14. Substance Eternal and Immutable [Not yet available]
The article is copyrighted 2003. Perhaps we'll have to keep waiting for the Unmoved Mover to show up. Whatever it's other attributes, it's not disponible.


Ralph Blanchette said...

I just can't seem to find that "disponible". Does it have a meaning?

Michael Pakaluk said...
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Michael Pakaluk said...

Ralph, No big deal--I meant it as French, probably because it's a technical term in Gabriel Marcel's philosophy, representing a mode of lfe in which one lives open to the needs of others. MP