19 April 2006

The Significance of the H 1 Summary

This may be my last post on Devereux's redaction criticism; perhaps enough is enough.

Yesterday I drew attention once again to Devereux's argument that Z 3 is a later addition to Z, because the summary in H 1 does not mention or recount the dialectical discussion of Z 3. Yet this argument does not hold up under scrutiny, as even a brief examination of the relevant passage from H 1 will show.

That passage begins by stating a theme of the Metaphysics which recurs repeatedly from almost the beginning of that treatise. Moral: the summary is not meant to be simply a review of Z:

We have said that the causes, principles, and elements of substances are the object of our search.
It then gives a large amount of space to mentioning the 'commonly agreed upon substances'. These were not part of the argument of Z. Moral: there is a disproportion between the summary, and the content of Z; it would be unsound to argue from the size or significance of a mention in the summary, to the size or significance of the corresponding treatment in Z:
And some substances are recognized by every one, but some have been advocated by particular schools. Those generally recognized are the natural substances, i.e. fire, earth, water, air, &c., the simple bodies; second plants and their parts, and animals and the parts of animals; and finally the physical universe and its parts; while some particular schools say that Forms and the objects of mathematics are substances.
Then it turns to the considerations which occupy the bulk of Z. It mentions 'essence' (to ti en einai). Aristotle's discussion of this in Z occupies chapters 4-6. This summary simply mentions that essence is regarded as a candidate for substance; it does not summarize any argument from those chapters or even say what conclusion was reached by those arguments. Moral: we have no reason to think that the similar mention here of 'substratum' (hypokeimenon) does not stand, likewise, for a lengthy discussion in Z:
But there are arguments which lead to the conclusion that there are other substances, the essence (to ti en einai) and the substratum (hypokeimenon).
Next we have simply a mention of the two other criteria for substance (genus, species), and an explanation of why other things (Ideas, definition, formula) were dealt with as well, as related to these. Moral: no arguments of Z are presented in this summary.
Again, in another way the genus seems more substantial than the various species, and the universal than the particulars. And with the universal and the genus the Ideas are connected; it is in virtue of the same argument that they are thought to be substances. And since the essence is substance, and the definition is a formula of the essence, for this reason we have discussed definition and essential predication. Since the definition is a formula, and a formula has parts, we had to consider also with respect to the notion of 'part', what are parts of the substance and what are not, and whether the parts of the substance are also parts of the definition.
Next we do have a definite conclusion being mentioned, but this is only in order to defer until later (books M and N) a particular discussion:
Further, too, neither the universal nor the genus is a substance; we must inquire later into the Ideas and the objects of mathematics; for some say these are substances as well as the sensible substances.
Thus, there is simply no basis in this summary for concluding that Z 3 was not originally part of Z.

But this point was made already by Burnyeat in his Map of Metaphysics Z. In the chapter on 'Signposts', after reviewing the correspondences between the summary (and drawing lessons from it, although not quite the same lessons as those I draw above), Burnyeat at first observes:
There are, however, two apparent omissions (apart from Z7-9 and Z12) that call for explanation. The discussion of the subject in Z3 is not separately recorded, and the summary does not mention Z17.(63)
But then he later argues, clearly rightly:
If Z3 is cited without express mention of its rather brief discussion of substantial being as subject, whey complain? The summary reminds us that subject [hypokeimenon] was discussed, but the only thing more to say would be what conclusion was reached, and positive conclusions are something the summary avoids.(65)
Strange that Devereux in his article should frequently cite Burnyeat's Map as an authority and yet insist, against Burnyeat's commonsense point, and without giving an argument in reply, that there is a significant omission here.