The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2007

Philosophy of Culture(s)

Makoto Ozaki
Pages 185-189

On the Essence of Substance as the Individual
Aristotle and Tanabe

Hajime Tanabe (1885-1962), the Kyoto- School philosopher of modern Japan, attempts to interpret Aristotle's ontology as being involved in the logic of self-identical being without self-negative conversion in action from his own dialectical perspective. For Tanabe, the eternal essence or Form is to be mediated by the dynamic character of matter, i.e., the temporality pertinent to the changing movement. For Aristotle, however, the essence or pure activity as the principle of being is devoid of such a dynamic mediation, but is rather regarded as the past being, i.e., what it should be originally and eternally. In other words, for Aristotle, evil and matter are the lacks of goodness and the eternal Form that are identical with the essence of the individual substance. Evil is to be self-negatively mediated to goodness in free action through conversion in Tanabe's perspective. Movement pertaining to matter is not simply an incompletion of pure activity, but is rather self-negatively converted into the activity as the transcendent principle of the dialectical unification of time and eternity, matter and Form, evil and Goodness. The individual existence has freedom to unify the self-contradistinctive opposed moments, i.e., subjective action and objective being in a way of mutually negating conversion. The difference between Tanabe and Aristotle lies in that for Tanabe practice is relevant to the future, whereas for Aristotle contemplation is concerned with eternity as invariable and imperishable being since the past. While Aristotle's logic is confined to the self-identity of being in contemplation, Tanabe's logic is structured by the triadic elements of individuality, species as the relative universal, and genus as the absolute universal in terms of the negative conversion in action.