29 April 2006

Souls Are Particulars

Chris Shields considers this neat argument, in his SEP article on Aristotle's psychology, that, according to Aristotle, particular forms exist:

  1. All souls are forms.
  2. Some souls are particulars.
  3. Thus, some forms are particulars.
(It could be that all souls are particulars. The weaker claims suffice.)

Since 1. is so entrenched in Aristotelian psychology, the only plausible way to deny the conclusion is to deny that Aristotle accepts 2. Shields admits that in this controversy it is difficult to find a 'proof text'. Yet he does not consider Categories 1a25.

It is conceded on all sides that the Categories distinction between 'said of'/'not said of' is meant by Aristotle to be a distinction between universals and particulars: 'This particular instance of grammar', since it is an individual, is not 'said of'' someone, although 'grammatical', a universal, is. ('Socrates is grammatical' makes sense; 'Socrates is an instance of grammatical knowledge' does not.)

Presumably, too, a particular which exists in something, exists only in a particular.

Thus, when Aristotle gives as an example:
Some are in a subject but are not said of any subject. (By 'in a subject' I mean what is in something, not as a part, and cannot exist separately from what it is in.) For example, the individual knowledge-of-grammar is in a subject, the soul, but is not said of any subject; and the individual white is in a subject, the body (for all color is in a body), but is not said of any subject. (Ackrill)

ta_ de\ e0n u(pokeime/nw| me/n e0sti, kaq' u(pokeime/nou de\ ou)deno_j le/getai, e0n u(pokeime/nw| de\ le/gw o4 e1n tini mh_ w(j me/roj u(pa&rxon a)du&naton xwri\j ei]nai tou~ e0n w|{ e0sti/n, oi[on h( ti\j grammatikh_ e0n u(pokeime/nw| me/n e0sti th|~ yuxh|~, kaq' u(pokeime/nou de\ ou)deno_j le/getai, kai\ to_ ti\ leuko_n e0n u(pokeime/nw| me/n e0sti tw|~ sw&mati, a3pan ga_r xrw~ma e0n sw&mati, kaq' u(pokeime/nou de\ ou)deno_j le/getai:
This shows that he regards some souls as particulars, in just the same way that he regards bodies as particulars. (One may resist the conclusion by invoking developmentalism, but it is not clear that that recourse would escape the charge of circularity.)


Karma said...

1. Some animals are cats
2. Some animals are dogs
3. Therefore, some cats are dogs

Michael Pakaluk said...


Ouch! I've encountered my logical karma.

Does it help if I say that the problem came from an inconsistent revision?

Anyway, touche. If you don't mind, I'll correct the post but let your comment stand.