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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 88, Issue 3, Summer 2014

Andrew J. Jaeger
Pages 381-395

Back to the Primitive
From Substantial Capacities to Prime Matter

We often predicate capacities of substances in such a way so as to modify the way that they exist (e.g., the barbell has the capacity to bend). However, sometimes a capacity is not for the modification of a substance but for the existence of one. Moreover, we have reason to think that these capacities are just as real as other capacities. If that’s right, then the question arises: if these capacities (for the existence of substances) are real features in the world, what they are real features of? Part I argues that they can’t be capacities of substances, and so they must be capacities of some part of substances. Part II argues that they can’t be capacities of the substance’s integral/substantial parts. Part III argues that a possessor of such capacities would have to be a lot like prime matter in not being characterized by substantial forms.