Potentiality

Larval Subjects .

Aristotle associates potentiality with matter. Here I am not endorsing Aristotle’s four causes, nor his hylomorphism, but simply thinking about the category of potentiality. If matter is associated with potentiality, then this is because is teeming with possible forms. Clay is the classic example. The lump of clay can take on many forms. It can, through the agency of the efficient cause, become a bowl, a plate, a cup, a sculpture of Zeus’s face, etc. While the clay already has a form– actuality –of its own, it is subject to further becomes through which that form is transformed and mutated. Here, pushing back against Aristotle’s hylomorphism– or maybe not! –it should be said that the distinction between form and matter is a formal distinct rather than a numerical distinction. Two things are numerically distinct when they exist independently of one another. Two things are formally distinct when they are really…

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