Talk:Hylomorphism

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More work[edit]

This very existence of this article is a big improvement. But, I dare say, the topic is a difficult one to us because we are mainly all atomists. Thus while on the one hand I am saying that the article fails to capture the topic, on the other I am saying that it is a tough topic and it is no vain venture to undertake it and no disgrace not to get it at first.

A few pointers for a heads up. Hylomorphic matter is not scientific matter. In change it does not change. Form changes, but there are different kinds of forms. Second, atomism and hylomorphism are not opposites, do not contradict each other. They study different aspects of change. Third, atoms have both matter and form. There is no matter without form and no form without matter.

It's a different view, folks. I understand it, and many others do also, but not the people in general, who have been taught to be atomists. If after a long time the article has no champion, I will undertake to make it comprehensible, but only if it does not get trashed.Dave 18:01, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Hylomorphism is quite compatible with modern atomism, since modern atoms aren't indestructible.1Z 00:23, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

  • I must also cite that the subject pre-dates Christianity and yet the article suggests that it is Christian in origin and purpose. This is a problem. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.244.247.130 (talk) 01:23, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Plus ca change[edit]

"that what changes is the matter while the form remains invariant".

Surely that is the wrong way round.1Z 21:16, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Of course, brother. The whole article is dead wrong and needs to be rewritten. I'm waiting for someone to rewrite it. The author needed to throw something in there to make the red underlines blue somewhere else, so he did the best he could, but ancient philosphy is not his forte.
Approaching the definition through the change problem, the theory explains how change can occur by hypothesizing an element, matter, that does not change and lends continuity to the object, and other elements, forms, that appear and disappear in the object lending discontinuity to it. Thus an object in change can be both continuous and discontinuous. Approaching the definition through the problem of multiplicity, the theory explains how the same object can be multiple by hypothesizing an element, matter, that is multiple and lends multiplicity to the object, and other elements, forms, that are the same in many objects. Thus an object, such as man, can be one species, man, and yet be multiple men.
You can only get an idea of these components by abstraction. Start with a ball of wax. Knead it into a cyclinder. The wax is the same but the form has changed from ball to cylinder. Now generalize from "ball" and "cylinder" to any determination whatsoever! They are all forms. The self-undetermined stuff in which they reside is matter. it has no determination of its own.
Matter and form do not exist and cannot be found without each other. They can be conceived as everywhere uniformly interpenetrated, "metaphysical interpenetration." They are really distinct and each gives its quasi-property to the object: form, unity and determination; matter: multiplicity and distinctness or dispersion.
The above explanation will reassure you and get you started if you are going further. You could take a course at BC or Notre Dame or any such or ask your parish priest for some instruction, but if you are a Protestant like me any beginning text in metaphysics will do. If you are of another religion, don't let your cleric know you are interested, and if you are a scientific academic or scientist, be very quiet indeed about your interest. Best of luck.Dave 03:43, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Functional Programming / Categories[edit]

If someone knows the categorical meaning of the hylomorphism, this one'd be welcome by me...

1) What makes you think it has got anything to do with these subjects?

2) what's your handle?

Or were you thinking of polymorphism?

1Z 00:21, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Hi there Peter. I told you it was tough. Hylomorphism is a metaphysical theory of phenomenal change and multiplicity. Happy now? No, seriously, I'm not into the programming side of Wiki but if you explain what you want maybe I can help. What's "these subjects?" What do you mean by "handle?" No, it has nothing to do with polymorphism.Dave 03:12, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
This page needs to be forked, because hylomorphism can refer to two different contexts. Hylomorphism is a concept in Computer Science. I believe its practical value to computer scientists was first introduced in the area of program fusion transformation. A notable example for hylomorphism is that a merge sort can be implemented as a leaf-tree hylomorphism. This example is covered in Advanced Functional Programming by S. Doaitse Swierstra, José N. Oliveira, Pedro R. Henriques. In this book, they discuss how studying recursive patterns can provide additional, constructive ways to classify sorting algorithms. Fleshing out the different morphism topics such as Paramorphism, anamorphism and catamorphism, and forking the article on hylomorphism will give context to this classification method. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JohnZabroski (talkcontribs) 00:04, 28 April 2007 (UTC).
Ah! I recently created the article hylomorphism (computer science). In the process of adding the otheruses template to this page, I checked this talk page to find this. Just a heads up for you folks. Angus Lepper(T, C, D) 18:33, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Matter and Form July 24[edit]

Nice try but your understanding needs to be improved despite the citations. Beware of citations from people who do not understand it. You need to go off somewhere and think about a lot then read then think then read then think then think some more. Here are some pointers:

  • Matter and forms are not concepts only. Such a distinction would be a rational distinction. Aristotle postulated a real distinction. The abstraction reaches something real. It is not identical to our generalization. Abtraction "takes away" in thought some of what you perceive to leave the rest as though distinct so that you can understand it better. Matter alone does not exist (in Aristotle), nor does form alone. Existence, which is really distinct from either, is given to matter and form together. These are real components of real objects. They get their reality, which is not naturally theirs, from the existence. They are real with a borrowed reality. The form gives the thing unity, the matter divisiveness and the eistence reality. If there were no real components there would be conceptual objects only.
  • The Elements. The elements are not part of the theory of matter and form. They belong to the pre-socratic pluralists. Aristotle spent no time on atoms or elements. What are you going to do with strings? They have a matter and form too, but they are not elements or atoms. What about waves? What about diffuse beings such as electrons?

The second paragraph is better. Also I think the active organizing principle is good. What I would like to see though is not citations from half-Aristotle-literate modern physicists who reject the whole thing but citations from Aristotle. Metaphysics is in Wikisource now and so is Categories. I got to go. I'll look at it in another few months.Dave 14:13, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Change July 23[edit]

Getting better. Here are some pointers:

  • Atomism. There are all different kinds. Atomism does not necessarily hold that the forms are not real. That view is more materialism. But these hard-line materialists are in a position of denying that they or their scientific instruments exist. So, exactly what is going on there? The statement is oversimple.
  • Atomism is NOT an alternative to hylomorphism. The hard-line materialist atomism you are talking about does not believe in oak trees or people and so it cannot explain why the atoms take those forms. It just does not explain it. it offers us no alternative there. We aren't here and that is that. This is a very big subject. You don't need to take that point of view. That is why it is so necessary to stick to Aristotle and his epexegetes and not bring in modern materialist cynics at all.Dave 14:34, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

God July 23[edit]

This material on God and the angels needs to come out right now! It is NOT part of Aristotle's hylomorphism and is only marginally related to hylomorphism. Hylomorphism is ancient physics. The material on God comes from ontology and mainly was contributed by St. Thomas. It does not go in this article. We can't take on all of ancient and mediaeval philosophy in this one article. Stick to the point. In summary, you materialsts get out of here and you ontologists get out of here. We are interested in early physics here.Dave 14:34, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to disagree. I freely admit that I'm no philosophy professor. I'm a student who's taken a class on ancient philosophy and who has read some books on philosophy. I would have liked to cite Aristotle himself, but I was short on time and used the sources I had at hand. Seeing that this article lacked thorough discussions, I decided to be bold and expand it.

First of all, I don't see why scholastic discussions of God and the angels aren't examples of disputes over "ancient physics". And if they aren't, why exactly should we limit this article to "ancient physics" anyway? This article is about hylomorphism. Thus, it should include any significant philosophical disputes about hylomorphism. The medieval dispute over angels is a dispute about interpreting hylomorphism, and it was rather significant for the scholastics. "Hylomorphism" doesn't just mean Aristotle's hylomorphism. If we want to cut out medieval hylomorphism, then we should rename this article "Aristotle's hylomorphism" and create a separate article for "Medieval hylomorphism".

In short, as long as this article is called "Hylomorphism", let's discuss all aspects of hylomorphism here (although in abbreviated form, of course). I mean, even with the stuff about angels and such, it's currently short for a Wikipedia article. --Phatius McBluff 22:48, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Hello Phatius. Maybe I went too far. Anyway just a few comments on the comments. You're right. There's Platonic hylomorphism. Those two are the hylomorph models. So I envision two sections, one on Platonic and one on Aristotelian. As I see it the section would reference the definitions of matter and form (and substance and essence) in the writings of those two authors. Now, the angels and God, well, those are mainly St. Thomas. So we would need a third section on St. Thomas. But here, it more difficult because St. Thomas introduces analogy rather than definition. The angels I believe are the ones that are pure form. They are not limited by matter, therefore there is only one individual per quasi-species (an angelic species is only like a material species). And God, he is pure existence, not pure form ("I am that I am"). However the existence is like an essence and like a form so you can speak of God's essence and form analogously. It's all in the turn of the Word (joke). To go on, you can see that the subject is like an apple, you don't know where to bite it. Furthermore I can't say that I care much what your formal credentials may be. For all I know you might be a French-Canadian woodcutter from Concord, Massachusetts. As far as I am concerned you are starting to show some credentials now. You remember in For whom the bell tolls there is a scene where Jordan is evaluating horses with Pablo and Jordan thinks, the man who couldn't read was reading his credentials now. As for the article I cannot say it shows much credentials. It did not right from the start. You are probably wondering why I did not do it myself. Well, you see, I anticipated this! Philosophy on Wikipedia 1.5 years ago was quite a bruhaha. I did a decent article on Thales and I doubt if anyone ever got over it. What I had to go through to keep that article! Maybe it is gone now, I dont know. I got other things to do with my intellectual time than throw beer bottles in a bruhaha. When you fellows have got on further with it I will take a hand if I can, but if it is all too terrible even to look at I will just write it off as hopeless. Maybe philosophy is beyond us here. But maybe not. The Roman army articles seemed hopeless at one point but someone fixed them finally. So good luck with the articles and I'll be taking another look down the road apiece.Dave 05:32, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Hylomorphism is not ancient physics. It's metaphysics. While Aristotle disagreed with Democritian atomism for good reasons, modern atomic theory does not conflict with the notions of form and prime matter. Also, what's this business about matter being relative? That syllables are made of letters does not mean letters are matter relative to syllables. Matter is not matter in the modern sense. It is the principle by which forms exist as a physical object, so to speak. I think a good piece of advice would be: if you are not strongly familiar with hylomorphism and basic Aristotelian notions, do not edit this article. Right now, it looks like a bunch of C college students put this thing together. 89.69.81.190 (talk) 20:20, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

The template[edit]

OK fair enough. That was a swift answer. This is not a topic where I can give you instant answers in a sentence or two. The article needs to be worked on for a while. I wonder that such a template was not already on. My job now is to get it off by finishing the article with proper references. I do find your statement about the very idiosyncratic statements somewhat less than desirable. It implies that you know what is idiosyncratic. If you know, why do you not say? What statements are very idiosyncratic? What do you suspect is original research? However certainly the template should be on there for the time as the article is not in very good condition. I will be back to it when I have done more work but Rome was not built in a day. I did not wish to develop the article in the introduction, so I may shorten the introduction. Certainly whatever I retain I will make sure gets tied either to a reference or to material or references presented after. More than that I cannot do. I will eventually be asking you to pin down your ideas on the article as it will be. Until then.Dave 14:21, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Intro fact templates[edit]

1) Aristotle did not originate the theory. Plato uses it before Aristotle and they cite some presocratics. 2) It does not divide substance. In metaphysics division is usually used of division into parts. These are not parts. 3) What do you mean useful? Useful for what? Do you mean it was not useful before then? If it originated with Plato and Aristotle what happened to all the rest of the time?Dave 15:33, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Fact templates on New Section on Matter and Form[edit]

At last we are getting somewhere. It's an interesting try. I've indicated where the previous intro went wrong. Putting it back does make it right. I see you are on the metaphysics committee. There is a difference you know between ancient and modern. If you are up on modern metaphysics you may not be up on ancient; from the look of it, I would say you probably are not. It isn't your fault. I never would have cited those things as they are the most obvious generalities of ancient metaphysics. Anyway I'm not sure I approve of putting that in NOT as an intro. In the body of the text I wanted to develop the ideas from the sources. The intro was only an introductory overview. I wouldn't use it as the article proper. Let me give you an example. You questioned that there are no instances of matter and form in modern chemistry and physics. That is not a conclusion; it is only to get the reader thinking! How could there be any instances? Modern chemistry and physics exclude the theory of matter and form totally. It is not even in their domain. They study physical matter but this is not physical matter. If matter does not exist and form does not exist how can they be studied? How can there be any matter and form in physics and chemistry if there aren't any at all? But how can something be real and not exist! You see this is a totally different game! (the answer is that they use something else's existence). There is no way at all to perceive metaphysical matter. So, you want me to cite a reference for something that is not a conclusion or a hypothesis but follows from the definition of matter and form. No, that would be bad article without logical unity. If you read the rest of the article as it will be then you will not need such a statement as it will be obvious, such as two and two are four.

In a sense you are blocking me before I can even take a single step. I know, you are on the metaphysics committee and therefore feel responsible. I don't blame you. The problem is the gap on Wikipedia in Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy, which modernists never study. There seem to be no students of classical philosophy on the committee. It is DIFFERENT you know and that is why it seems so outlandish to you! I hardly know how to proceed. But I think you did leave me a door - the section on Plato. That is where the subject logically should begin. After I do that and fix the one on Aristotle, which is all wrong, it should be clearer to everyone what the intro should be. Meanwhile I think all the "facts" should be left on as without them the article seem to look OK, but it is far from OK, it is misleading. Any student who relies on it is going to fail. What I can do that might be helpful is actually cite the Catholic course metaphysicians (typically Jesuits), but that gives it a catholic cast! Oh well, maybe it cannot be helped. To change the subject, if there is space there should be a section on modernist critiques of matter and form. I know the phenomenalists 50 years ago attacked the whole idea of existence. There is a question of what can fit in one article. In a sense you are in an awkward position. You have to critique a field you do not know very much about just because it has the same name as one you MAY know something about (I wouldn't know). Well OK, as I say it is not your fault. Do the best you can, read some classical metaphysics in English and we will try to work this out. I'll try to get some online books in there so you don't have to work so hard. I'm going to defer the intro now and work on the opening you left, but it can't be done instantaneously. The angels require time to get from heaven to earth.Dave 16:20, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Group of topics[edit]

Well. I just discovered there is a whole group of topics on this subject on Wikipedia, which puts a different light on things. We do not have to explain everything in this article. Moreover the one I was just looking at, form, is a good article but it has a request for sources on it. I think some parsimony of speech and a lot more refs are going to be required. The whole set needs some going over so it can make sense as a connected whole.

So now is not the time to get into disputes over introductory details. First you need something to introduce then you can introduce it. I am not happy with the current intro nor am I happy any longer with everything in the intro I wrote, now tagged and bumped down a section. But to argue about these things now is like quibbling over the furniture when the house needs to be built. So, I'm going to desist until there is something to introduce. Getting that is going to take a systematic detailed approach extending over a number of articles. For example, I was going to cite Timaeus from Wikisource but now I find the paragraph numbers were left out there. What good is that? I started to put them in but then I saw Timaeus and it cites fully numbered texts elsewhere on the Internet. This is like philosophy. You start in to get some small detail right and no matter what the detail you find yourself enmeshed in a mire. I will be in the detail phase for a while. By the way as far as I know hylomorphism has never applied only to Aristotle so I refuse to accept that scheme. I will try to find out which of the scholastics uses it first and in what sense. Ideally we ought to go back to which of the pre-Socratics shows a predilection for matter and form. This will take a long time, so forget I ever popped in here. I started with Thales and got mired down again there. From time to time statements will appear in this article and related ones. Many a difficult article has been shaped into a good one on Wikipedia so keep the faith. The public is depending on us. I have heard so many good things said about Wikipedia. Most people cant read the Greek and can't get the books so they need us.Dave 21:35, 21 September 2007 (UTC)


Hey. I am probably breaking norms by editing here, in this way, and if so my apologies. I'm new at this. I just want to point out that saying "the Stoics rejected....." is misleading if not wrong. The Stoic world is matter or hule inseparably bound with pneumo, theos, Zeus, etc... I do not think that there is any real difference between their pneuma and Aristotle's formal and final causes. The Stoic world is hylomorphic, even if that exact term isn't overtly applied to them. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.185.81.143 (talk) 07:43, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Request for feedback on draft[edit]

I've come to the conclusion that this article is currently in a rather shabby condition and should be overhauled. Thus, I've put together a draft for a revised article and posted it on my user page. As you may notice, the draft discusses only Aristotelian hylomorphism. I believe that the article Theory of forms adequately discusses Plato's hylomorphism (or, if it doesn't, then it should). And, at any rate, when modern philosophers debate the merits of "hylomorphism" as an alternative to materialism and dualism, they're generally talking about Aristotelian hylomorphism. And I feel that combining Platonic and Aristotelian hylomorphism into a single article makes things unnecessarily confusing. (Many of the remarks about "hylomorphism" in the current article apply only to Aristotelian hylomorphism, compounding the confusion.) Anyhow, I'd appreciate any feedback on my draft. (Please note that I am not suggesting only discussing Aristotelian hylomorphism in an article simply titled Hylomorphism. Rather, I am suggesting that we revise this article in accordance with my draft and rename it Hylomorphism (Aristotle).) --Phatius McBluff (talk) 07:17, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I read the article, which obviously has been well thought over. In fact, it seems a unified presentation and as such it is something like an apple. I am not sure therefore exactly where I would begin to bite it. The non-hylomorphic reader will find it difficult, but that is rather because hylomorphism is difficult and philosophy is difficult. We can't talk significantly about philosophy without getting difficult. I think the article leaves room for expansive articles spun from various words and phrases and that is probably the best we can do. Another strong feature of the article is the frequent use of examples. I'm prepared therefore to say, let's put it in. For those beginning in ancient philosophy I would like to say, right off the top, without getting into the details, there are several good books detailing what Aristotle was trying to say, which everyone should read. So, our one or two small articles can only serve as introduction and you should come away from them with the feeling that you need to think more about this rather than that you now understand this. Wikipedia cannot accomplish your philosophy for you, you have to do it for yourself. We're telling you what you don't know and should look into rather than what you do. If you were thinking of getting into philosophy later when you have the time, well, better to do it now.Dave (talk) 11:20, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

McBluff no bluff[edit]

Hello Phatius. Giving it another shot, hey? You're a persistent person, no bluff. Philosophy has always been very difficult on Wikipedia but I think things may be getting better since it mushroomed in size. People are beginning to understand thst sll points of view do not have to be contained in a few small articles. It's an interesting experiment. I have not been on it for a long time. The best I can do at this point is a read-over. In principle I agree with changing hylomorphism to Aristotelian etc. Wikipedia creates new articles by splitting articles that get too big. I see one of the issues I varied with you on was the inclusion of material from St. Thomas in here. Modern churchmen combine the whole thing into a pretty smooth whole but if we are going to have segmented articles that should not be our goal. That imples a certain obligation for you: the hylomorphism of each person ought to be primarily about that person's hylomorphism and not about someone else's. As Aristotle did not talk about angels his article should not either. I do believe in angels, by the way. But, I would go further! Maybe we need an overall article to link articles on all the various kinds together? Or, it could be a disambig page would handle it or a box. Categories are OK but no one seems to look at them as much. Here is a question for you, should you leave a skeleton article under its current name to tie all the other articles together? Anyway all I am going to do right now is read the article and comment. I would say, as you are taking the initiative and doing some work, the field is pretty much yours. The main evaluations will come later after people read what you wrote. Later.Dave (talk) 10:42, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

"I see one of the issues I varied with you on was the inclusion of material from St. Thomas in here. Modern churchmen combine the whole thing into a pretty smooth whole but if we are going to have segmented articles that should not be our goal. That imples a certain obligation for you: the hylomorphism of each person ought to be primarily about that person's hylomorphism and not about someone else's. As Aristotle did not talk about angels his article should not either."
Hmmm, agreed. I just realize to my embarrassment that I included material on angels in a draft titled "Hylomorphism (Aristotle)". I think I was just being thick-headed there; I know that Aristotle himself didn't believe in angels (unless you count those mysterious celestial movers, which some Muslims and Christians identified with angels). The trouble is that medieval theological hylomorphism (unlike Platonic hylomorphism) is a form of Aristotelian hylomorphism -- Aristotelian hylomorphism mixed with some Neo-Platonism and Abrahamic theology. Any discussion of Aristotelianism would be incomplete without it. But to avoid misleading readers about Aristotle, I'm renaming the draft "Hylomorphism (Aristotelian)".
Perhaps that's not good enough, though. Perhaps we should remove the medieval material from the draft entirely, put it in a different article, and just add a link to that other article. And that's problematic. We certainly can't just move the medieval material into the Thomism article. Many modern philosophers (even Catholic philosophers) seem to labor under the delusion that Aquinas was the only medieval theologian. Yet there were many others too, such as Bonaventure and Duns Scotus, who strongly disagreed with Aquinas's take on hylomorphism. Should we create a new article titled Hylomorphism (medieval)?
Thanks for the swift reply! --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
It has a been a few days since I posted the above notice, and no one but Dave has responded. I even posted a notice on the Wikiproject Philosophy page. So I will proceed on the assumption that no one objects to my overhaul of the article. I am creating a new article titled Hylomorphism (Aristotelian) and inserting a revised version of my draft into it. As Dave suggested, I have left out the part on medieval debates regarding angels, immortal souls, etc. However, I have decided to leave in a few brief discussions of medieval interpretations of hylomorphism, as needed context. Anyone learning about Aristotelian hylomorphism should know that it became an important philosophical framework during the Middle Ages. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:19, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Page move completed. The title is now Hylomorphism (Aristotelian). The content is now the same as the content of my draft. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:34, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Gender theory[edit]

Critics of gender theory have at times asserted that the theory is built in opposition to historical aristotelian hylomorphism. It might be a good thing if this could be mentioned in the article somehow. ADM (talk) 04:28, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

If you can find relevant sources, then you should definitely add information about that. Unfortunately, I know nothing about gender theory or its critics, so I'm not in a position to add such information myself. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 04:51, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Universal Hylomorphism[edit]

While working on the Wikipedia article for Solomon Ibn Gabirol, I came across an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that led me to think some mention of "Universal Hylomorphism" should be included in this article; however, I don't see myself qualified to do so myself, and I'm not sure how to insert what may be an exclusively Neoplatonic concept into an article that seems to be (so far, at least) all Aristotelian.

Since the article is titled "Hylomorphism", it probably should somehow discuss how the subject is treated in other schools of thought.

Boruch Baum (talk) 22:42, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

Source references?[edit]

Hi,

I know that sourcing Aristotle might be difficult, as many of the stones in the edifice of Aristotelianism are quarried a little here, a little there from many of his works. Still, for anyone reading about this subject and wanting to check out what Aristotle actually wrote, some pointers to at least the major text references would be useful.
On this one topic, it seems his Metaphysics, book VII, may be one such key text; at least it is referenced in the corresponding section in the Aristotle article.
T 88.89.219.147 (talk) 21:16, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

New book[edit]

Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem by William Jaworski, Oxford University Press, 2016 Jodi.a.schneider (talk) 01:48, 29 June 2016 (UTC)