12 April 2006

My Take on the Z 3 Passage

I'll post later about Devereux's argument. First something about the translation.

In the passage I gave from Metaphysics Z 3, if ti/ should not be translated as 'particular thing', then how should it be rendered? Also, what is the significance of le/gw d'? Here is the passage again:

le/gw d' u(/lhn h(\ kaq' au(th\n mh/te ti\ mh/te poso\n mh/te a)/llo mhde\n le/getai oi(=j w(/ristai to\ o)/n. e)/sti ga/r ti kaq' ou(= kathgorei=tai tou/twn e(/kaston, w(=| to\ ei)=nai e(/teron kai\ tw=n kathgoriw=n e(ka/sth| (ta\ me\n ga\r a)/lla th=j ou)si/aj kathgorei=tai, au(/th de\ th=j u(/lhj), w(/ste to\ e)/sxaton kaq' au(to\ ou)/te ti\ ou)/te poso\n ou)/te a)/llo ou)de/n e)stin: ou)de\ dh\ ai( a)pofa/seij, kai\ ga\r au(=tai u(pa/rcousi kata\ sumbebhko/j.
1. I don't think that le/gw d' is definitional, because there is no definite article. Compare 1029a3-4, where the phrase does define by ostension: le/gw de\ th\n me\n u(/lhn oi(=on to\n xalko/n. Here I think it has the sense, rather, of "My term for ..... is 'matter'", or "I refer to as 'matter' ...." That is, whatever anyone else may call something that lacks all characteristics, Aristotle prefers to call it 'matter'. (Later at a24 he qualifies and suggests that it is 'ultimate'.)
2. ti/ stands for a predicate in the category substance, such as 'man' or 'animal'. It tells 'what' a thing is. Hence, to say that "'ti/ is not said of X in itself" is to say that no claim of the form, "X is F", where for 'F' we substitute some predicate purporting to tell what a thing is, is true of X considered in its own right.
3. I take the 'negations' to be not propositions but predicates: ou)de\ dh\ ai( a)pofa/seij sc. le/gontai. That Aristotle replies to this, as to an anticipated rejoinder, shows that what precedes it needs to be rendered in such a way as to make this rejoinder natural.

Thus I would render the quoted passage as follows. Corrections welcome.
I refer to as 'matter' that as regards which, in itself, no claim saying what it is, or how much, or applying any other predicate by which existence is determined, is true. For there is something as regards which each of these is predicated, but for which its being is different, even (kai/), from that of anything so predicated. For although the other sorts of predicates are predicated of the substance, this is predicated of the matter. The upshot is that there is no 'what' or 'how much' or any other thing that the ultimate [sc. substratum] is in itself. (Neither, then, are the negations of these predicated of it : these of course will belong to it incidentally.)