Volume 91, Issue 2, April 2014
Neo-Aristotelian Themes in Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind
Modern Hylomorphism and the Reality and Causal Power of Structure
A Skeptical Investigation
In recent years, a significant number of philosophers from an orthodox analytic background have begun to advocate theories of composite objects, which they say are strikingly similar to Aristotle’s hylomorphism. These theories emphasize the importance of structure, or organization—which they say is closely connected to Aristotle’s notion of form—in defining what it is for a composite to be a genuine object. The reality of these structures is closely connected with the fact that they are held to possess powers, again in what is held to be a broadly Aristotelian sense, and so to be genuinely efficacious. Naturally enough, they want to do all this without espousing the discredited aspects of Aristotelian science. It is the purpose of this essay to cast a skeptical eye on whether this objective can be achieved.