Hylomorphism note

Hylomorphism posits matter as underling all change, but this matter is not a being but an aspect of a thing, that is, its ability to be worked with or turned into something else. We have no matter lying about, but we do have trees that can be made into coffee tables and hydrogen atoms that stars can turn into heavy elements. Similar things might be said about form: we have no power to act lying around, only artistic skill in artists, the heaviness and momentum of a pendulum in a clock, the heat in the flame of a cigarette lighter.

So what becomes of hylomorphism then? A natural thing can act and be acted upon. Among such things, some can be acted on to such an extent that they become another thing altogether – for Aristotle, these were the sublunar things, whereas the heavenly things could only be acted on to change place, but never change in being.

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