New Issue (Volume 9-2) Spring 2008


Volume IX,     No. 2 Spring 2008



Aristotle’s Form of the Species as Relation

Theodore Di Maria, Jr.

What Was Hume’s Problem about Personal Identity in the Appendix?

Megan Blomfield

The Effect of Luck on Morality

Kerian Wallace

Love as Knowledge: the Metaphysics behind the Emotion

Matt Schuler

A Publication of the
Philosophy Department
Saint Anselm College

Theodore Di Maria, Jr.: Aristotle’s Form of the Species as Relation


The question of the nature and status of Aristotelian forms has divided scholars into three general camps: those who argue that forms are particular, those who argue they are universal, and those who maintain that forms can be regarded both as particular and as universal. Each of these approaches can cite various passages in Aristotle for textual support and has the advantage of evading difficulties arising from the other approaches. However, due to fundamental problems arising from the former two approaches, which will be outlined below, the following paper will adopt the third strategy and distinguish between form in the sense of a principle of organization for a particular, concrete object (particular form) and form in the sense of species (species form), which is a universal. The concept of the species form is the central feature in this interpretation, and it will be argued that the species form is best understood as a type of relation holding between particular forms. The species form, so construed, is ontologically dependent upon the particular form, i.e. requires the particular form for its existence, but has objective, ontological status as a real feature of the world. The species form’s objective status as a relationenables it to be a basis for Aristotle’s realism about universals that neither reduces them to concepts in the mind (conceptualism) nor identifies them with entities such as Platonic Forms. However, it must be emphasized at the outset that the aim of the paper is not to argue that Aristotle expressly defends the notion of the species form as a relation

. Rather, it is to argue that this interpretation of the species form is consistent with many of Aristotle’s major texts and doctrines, helps render crucial texts and doctrines intelligible, and can be viewed as implied by at least some text .

The paper will be divided into five main sections. The first section will outline standard versions of the three approaches to Aristotelian forms described above. The second section will consist of two parts: the first part describes the notion of a particular form, and the second part describes the crucial concept of the species form. The third section will examine the role of the species form in Aristotle’s discussion of definition and substance in the Metaphysics. The fourth section will consider two interpretive advantages to the present interpretation that were not brought to light in the previous analysis. The fifth and final

section will address two possible objections to the present interpretation beyond those considered in the previous analysis.

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Megan Blomfield: What Was Hume’s Problem about Personal Identity in the Appendix?


Hume’s theory of personal identity is the one thing in which he confesses to having made “considerable mistakes” in the Appendix to the Treatise (App. 1). There is little consensus, however, on what exactly was the source of his discontent. There is not time in this paper to discuss the multitude of opinions that have been given on the Appendix, but in what follows I will explain what I think was troubling Hume. I think that Hume finds that his explanation of how we attribute simplicity and identity to our minds fails once we are aware that the mind is a bundle of all our perceptions. I will then briefly discuss Pitson’s criticism of this sort of interpretation, concluding that Pitson’s objections are unsuccessful.

Hume’s bundle theory of the mind

Hume’s theory of mind essentially states that the mind is a bundle of perceptions. It is important, therefore, to understand exactly what perceptions are according to Hume. Perceptions are all that is present to the mind, whether sensing, thinking, reflecting or “actuated with passions” (Ab. 5). They are separated into impressions and ideas, which differ in terms of degree of “force and liveliness” (T, Impressions are those perceptions that have most “force and violence”, whereas ideas are the fainter perceptions we have whenever we reflect on other perceptions. I think that Hume seems to take an action theory of perceptions, in which they have an awareness of their objects built into them – a perception isn’t an image, rather it is an awareness of an image. Since a perception of a perception

is an awareness of a perception, to become aware of a perception is for an idea of it to occur. You are not aware of your perceptions unless you reflect upon them.

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Kerian Wallace: The Effect of Luck on Morality


In his work Moral Luck Thomas Nagel suggests that morality is determined by luck. He argues that it affects not only society’s evaluation of an act but also ones ability to be moral. He is correct in recognizing that an agent is not always fully responsible for the consequences of their actions; however he understates the value society places on intention. A person’s moral capacity is a matter of chance, as natural characteristics are not chosen by an agent. Luck is an important consideration when evaluating the morality of both the action and the person themselves, but determining how much responsibility may be placed on destiny is difficult. If we allow for luck to account for too much than no one may be praised or criticized for their actions; however if not enough value is given to luck then it seems we unfairly evaluate persons based on factors beyond their control. Nagel is right to suggest that some factors affecting a person’s ability to be moral are a matter of fate.

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Matt Schuler: Love as Knowledge: the Metaphysics behind the Emotion