Giulio Sciacca


Hylomorphic Forms, Dependence, and Substantiveness


Hylomorphism is the metaphysical thesis according to which material objects not only have material parts, but formal parts as well. Not only forms characterise hylomorphism as a non-reductive theory, but also allow for several explanatory claims concerning material objects. I am interested here in two features of formal parts. First, formal parts depend on their bearers, either generically, if forms are construed as universals, or rigidly, if forms are instead construed as particulars. Second, formal parts explain, or contribute to explain, why material objects instantiate the kind properties they do. The purpose of my paper is to question the tenability of such a characterisation. I argue hylomorphic forms cannot both ontologically depend on their bearers and serve as what accounts for the kind properties their bearers instantiate. I do so by showing that the two characterisations jointly imply a contradiction, at least when plausible principles regulating grounding relations are on board. Roughly, I show that, while the dependence claim suggests that the existence of the appropriate compounds grounds the existence of the corresponding forms, the substantiveness claim suggests otherwise, thus generating a tension with the irreflexivity of grounding. Moreover, it seems that a contradiction still follows even by adopting a weaker the definition of dependence. Of course, hylomorphism can embrace a less robust construction of hylomorphic forms, or even rejecting some principles employed in the troublesome inference. I discuss the available options and conclude that each of them would, at the very least, consistently diminish the general appeal of hylomorphism.

Date / Time / Place

June 22nd / 18:25 / Aula Magna