Author Topic: Prime Matter and Form  (Read 620 times)

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Offline Lybus

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Prime Matter and Form
« on: February 21, 2010, 07:17:28 PM »
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  • I read an interesting article on Scholastic Philosophy, pertaining central to Matter and Form.
    http://www.saintaquinas.com/primer.html
    Being somewhat new to the concept, I naturally have questions for the philosophers of the forum.

    In what way do you determine what matter actually constitutes a part of some whole? E.G, my skin is a part of the whole which I am, but are the clothes that I am wearing a part of my substance? What exactly distinguishes one substance from another? Who is to say that the t-shirt i am wearing and my body are not a part of the same matter and form? In what way are two different objects with matter and form distinguished from each other?


    In regards to being a responsible man, would it be interesting to learn, after six years of accumulating all the wisdom you could, that you had it right all alon

    Offline gladius_veritatis

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 11:22:24 AM »
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  • Quote from: Lybus
    [M]y skin is a part of the whole which I am, but are the clothes that I am wearing a part of my substance?


    Did you come into the world naked?  So did I.  So did every single man born of woman.

    If you take your clothes off, are you still the same being?  Yes.  Your substance has NOT changed in any way.

    Even if a good portion of your skin is badly burned, for example, (or if you lose an arm or a leg) you are still the same person.

    Quote
    Who is to say that the t-shirt i am wearing and my body are not a part of the same matter and form?


    Each of the words you have used -- "t-shirt" and "body" -- represent a DIFFERENT substance.  If they did NOT, you would not be using separate words.

    If I burn (or take, etc) your t-shirt, does it affect you in any meaningful way?  No.  You are still YOU, shirt or no.
    + Vincit veritas +


    Offline Lybus

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #2 on: February 22, 2010, 11:58:40 AM »
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  • Alright, so my substance is simply all that is required to make up that which is me? In that case, how much change can I go through before I am no longer me? How many limbs, body parts, etc, would I have to lose before I can no longer be classified as who I am/was? How do we measure when something has taken on a different substance?

    It sounds like this can be applied on a different level. For instance, the human Kidney is made up of cells, so in its own fashion, it is its own substance. Going the other way, You can take a council of bishops. while the bishops are their own substance, but make up the parts for another substance, that is, the council.

    But then it seems that this can go on for infinity, or from any reference you want.  The bricks of the church, the atoms of the bricks, the particles of the atoms, etc. Is this correct?

    In regards to being a responsible man, would it be interesting to learn, after six years of accumulating all the wisdom you could, that you had it right all alon

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #3 on: February 22, 2010, 12:48:48 PM »
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  • These are good questions.

    Clothes are not even "accidentally" part of the human being; they are completely separate entities.

    Skin is substantially part of the human being in that all human beings by definition have bodies which have skin, but it's not essential to a human being.  If a human being were born without skin, say due to some genetic defect, he would still be human.  So skin wouldn't be ESSENTIAL to a human being or to a human body even.

    So, in other words, something is essential if by taking it away you would eliminate the thing itself.  If you had a human being without a body, then it wouldn't be a human being.  (I don't want to get into people who are in heaven without bodies right now.)

    Skin is substantially part of the human body.  It's not a mere accident like say skin color which can change.  But it's not essential either, since you would still be human if you didn't have skin.



    Offline Jamie

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #4 on: February 22, 2010, 05:19:28 PM »
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  • Quote from: Lybus
    Alright, so my substance is simply all that is required to make up that which is me? In that case, how much change can I go through before I am no longer me? How many limbs, body parts, etc, would I have to lose before I can no longer be classified as who I am/was? How do we measure when something has taken on a different substance?

    It sounds like this can be applied on a different level. For instance, the human Kidney is made up of cells, so in its own fashion, it is its own substance. Going the other way, You can take a council of bishops. while the bishops are their own substance, but make up the parts for another substance, that is, the council.

    But then it seems that this can go on for infinity, or from any reference you want.  The bricks of the church, the atoms of the bricks, the particles of the atoms, etc. Is this correct?


    You are still a human so long as your soul is connect to any portion of your body.  No amount of parts being lost from your body renders you not human unless those parts being removed lead to your death.

    In philosophy we have the four causes: formal, material, efficient, and final cause.  These are roughly defined thus:

    1. Formal cause is what it is to be X - the pattern or essence (here we have the accidental form and the substantial form - the accidents and substance)
    2. The material cause is the matter from which the thing is made - in the case of a human, this is flesh and bone
    3. efficient cause: this is the thing which puts the matter and form together - in the case of a statue it is the sculptor.
    4. Final cause: this is what the thing is made for - in the case of a human to love and serve God and join Him in the beatific vision.  In the case of a dog it is to be a "good dog" - to do those things which are necessary in a dog.  There are two parts to this - the end of the work (in the case of scissors - to cut) and the end of the worker (in the case of scissors, to make money from the sale of scissors for example)

    The parts most pertaining to your question are the material and formal - the two intrinsic causes - they are intrinsic to your being - if either is lost, you are no longer human.

    If you are interested in this sort of stuff (scholastic philosophy) I would strongly recommend you join the Society of Scholastics and sign up to do their course in Logic (it is starting in about 2 or 3 weeks).  The cost is around $250 US and it is a full year course done online with the professor live.  It is a brilliant course and covers formal logic followed by material logic.  This lays the ground work for further scholastic philosophical subjects such as physics, mathematics, ethics, etc.  The physics course is starting soon and so is a course in Latin.  I can't recommend the society enough - it is run by traditional Catholics.  Here is their site:

    Society of Scholastics


    Offline Lybus

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #5 on: February 22, 2010, 06:24:03 PM »
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  • Quote
    You are still a human so long as your soul is connect to any portion of your body.  No amount of parts being lost from your body renders you not human unless those parts being removed lead to your death.

    In philosophy we have the four causes: formal, material, efficient, and final cause.  These are roughly defined thus:

    1. Formal cause is what it is to be X - the pattern or essence (here we have the accidental form and the substantial form - the accidents and substance)
    2. The material cause is the matter from which the thing is made - in the case of a human, this is flesh and bone
    3. efficient cause: this is the thing which puts the matter and form together - in the case of a statue it is the sculptor.
    4. Final cause: this is what the thing is made for - in the case of a human to love and serve God and join Him in the beatific vision.  In the case of a dog it is to be a "good dog" - to do those things which are necessary in a dog.  There are two parts to this - the end of the work (in the case of scissors - to cut) and the end of the worker (in the case of scissors, to make money from the sale of scissors for example)

    The parts most pertaining to your question are the material and formal - the two intrinsic causes - they are intrinsic to your being - if either is lost, you are no longer human.

    If you are interested in this sort of stuff (scholastic philosophy) I would strongly recommend you join the Society of Scholastics and sign up to do their course in Logic (it is starting in about 2 or 3 weeks).  The cost is around $250 US and it is a full year course done online with the professor live.  It is a brilliant course and covers formal logic followed by material logic.  This lays the ground work for further scholastic philosophical subjects such as physics, mathematics, ethics, etc.  The physics course is starting soon and so is a course in Latin.  I can't recommend the society enough - it is run by traditional Catholics.  Here is their site:


    The first two types of causes are a little bit confusing. So what is the difference between the first two causes, if the first one already encompasses material, or matter? It almost seems like the second kind of cause would be a sub  category of the first. Accidents are the material, or what gives something a material. What exactly is "matter" in substance then?

    in the fourth cause, what usually comes first, the final cause of the worker, or the final cause of the work? Scissors are made to be sold, but they are usually sold first, before they are actually used by the customer to cut. Can it go in either order?

    Quote
    These are good questions.

    Clothes are not even "accidentally" part of the human being; they are completely separate entities.

    Skin is substantially part of the human being in that all human beings by definition have bodies which have skin, but it's not essential to a human being. If a human being were born without skin, say due to some genetic defect, he would still be human. So skin wouldn't be ESSENTIAL to a human being or to a human body even.

    So, in other words, something is essential if by taking it away you would eliminate the thing itself. If you had a human being without a body, then it wouldn't be a human being. (I don't want to get into people who are in heaven without bodies right now.)

    Skin is substantially part of the human body. It's not a mere accident like say skin color which can change. But it's not essential either, since you would still be human if you didn't have skin.


    What about inanimate objects? Does the substance for that depend soley on Chemistry, or the chemical makeup of an object?

    What about forces like wind, gravity etc. Are those considered to have substance, or are they categorized differently?

    In regards to being a responsible man, would it be interesting to learn, after six years of accumulating all the wisdom you could, that you had it right all alon

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #6 on: February 22, 2010, 08:16:33 PM »
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  • There are several distinctions here, and you may be confusing some of them.

    substance vs. accidents

    form vs. matter

    essence vs. substance

    actual vs. potential

    Offline Jamie

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #7 on: February 22, 2010, 08:33:32 PM »
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  • Quote from: Lybus
    Quote
    You are still a human so long as your soul is connect to any portion of your body.  No amount of parts being lost from your body renders you not human unless those parts being removed lead to your death.

    In philosophy we have the four causes: formal, material, efficient, and final cause.  These are roughly defined thus:

    1. Formal cause is what it is to be X - the pattern or essence (here we have the accidental form and the substantial form - the accidents and substance)
    2. The material cause is the matter from which the thing is made - in the case of a human, this is flesh and bone
    3. efficient cause: this is the thing which puts the matter and form together - in the case of a statue it is the sculptor.
    4. Final cause: this is what the thing is made for - in the case of a human to love and serve God and join Him in the beatific vision.  In the case of a dog it is to be a "good dog" - to do those things which are necessary in a dog.  There are two parts to this - the end of the work (in the case of scissors - to cut) and the end of the worker (in the case of scissors, to make money from the sale of scissors for example)

    The parts most pertaining to your question are the material and formal - the two intrinsic causes - they are intrinsic to your being - if either is lost, you are no longer human.

    If you are interested in this sort of stuff (scholastic philosophy) I would strongly recommend you join the Society of Scholastics and sign up to do their course in Logic (it is starting in about 2 or 3 weeks).  The cost is around $250 US and it is a full year course done online with the professor live.  It is a brilliant course and covers formal logic followed by material logic.  This lays the ground work for further scholastic philosophical subjects such as physics, mathematics, ethics, etc.  The physics course is starting soon and so is a course in Latin.  I can't recommend the society enough - it is run by traditional Catholics.  Here is their site:


    The first two types of causes are a little bit confusing. So what is the difference between the first two causes, if the first one already encompasses material, or matter? It almost seems like the second kind of cause would be a sub  category of the first. Accidents are the material, or what gives something a material. What exactly is "matter" in substance then?

    in the fourth cause, what usually comes first, the final cause of the worker, or the final cause of the work? Scissors are made to be sold, but they are usually sold first, before they are actually used by the customer to cut. Can it go in either order?

    I think that the final cause can go in either order because we know that scissors can or can not cut before they are sold.

    As for the material and formal cause:

    Material cause: anything which is indeterminate and in potency to being one way or another. The wood in a tree is indeterminate to being a table or a chair.

    Formal cause: that which determines a thing to be one way or another. The shape given to the wood from the tree determines it to be a chair or a table.

    I probably shouldn't have mentioned the accidental and substantial form as those are extremely complex topics covered in physics - and you should have logic before physics.  So forget those for now and focus on the four causes more generally (as described above).


    Offline Jamie

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    Prime Matter and Form
    « Reply #8 on: February 22, 2010, 09:58:10 PM »
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  • Sorry for the second post - I am not sure what happened to the formatting in the first.

     

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