Primary Substances and Their Homonyms in Aristotle’s Teleology

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Mikolaj Domaradzki


The purpose of this article is to reconstruct Aristotle’s distinction between primary substances and their homonyms. It is shown that the Stagirite regards both body parts and artefacts as mere homonyms of primary substances when they are no longer capable of performing their function (ergon) and actualizing their end (telos). In the course of the present discussion, Aristotle’s approach is confronted with his famous doctrine of the four causes, whilst an analysis of the examples given by the Stagirite serves the purpose of determining the ontic status of homonyms. Subsequently, this paper argues that Aristotle’s hylomorphism not only defies the functionalist assumption of the irrelevance of matter but also precludes the possibility of equating artefacts with living organisms. The discussion concludes with an observation that primary substances which are truly (alēthōs) and things which are only homonymously (plēn homōnymōs) require different definitions.


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Domaradzki, Mikolaj. 2018. “Primary Substances and Their Homonyms in Aristotle’s Teleology”. Diametros 58 (58):2-17.
Author Biography

Mikolaj Domaradzki, Institute of Philosophy, Adam Mickiewicz University

Mikolaj Domaradzki, prof.Institute of PhilosophyAdam Mickiewicz UniversitySzamarzewskiego 89CPl-60-568 PoznanE-mail:

Mikolaj Domaradzki – is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. He is the author of the book Ancient Philosophy and the Problem of Interpretation. The Development of Allegoresis from the Presocratics to Aristotle (Poznan 2013), as well as a number of articles on the history of ancient philosophy (among others in Ancient PhilosophyClassical World, Kernos, Elenchos, Eos) and translations (from Ancient Greek and Danish). He is the co-founder and Editor of the journal Peitho. Examina antiqua.

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