Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 93, 2019

Timothy Kearns
Pages 311-325

Substantial Form in Modern Physics and the Other Sciences—and a New Picture of the Cosmos

Beginning from the apparent failure of Aristotelian natural philosophy in the last centuries, I propose key questions internal to that tradition, most importantly this: Are the central theses of Aristotelian natural philosophy true and do they continue to contribute to our knowledge of the natural world in light of modern discoveries in the sciences? In this paper, I answer this question affirmatively by drawing on the most general mathematical theory used in the sciences to study natural change. I propose an Aristotelian extension of that theory to include substantial change. With such an extension, it becomes possible to see the physical aspect of substantial form, the role that each natural thing plays in making the cosmos what it is. Understood this way, substantial form allows the cosmos itself to be seen in a new way, one that integrates modern scientific discoveries with an Aristotelian approach to nature.