PNTs (pt. 2)

Matter and form are PNTs because they are neither substances nor accidents. Aristotle carves out an ontological niche for them in Categories as parts of substance. 

Parts properly speaking compose a whole and so cause its existence. In accidental wholes, the parts exist as substances before the whole and cause it to exist by taking on accidental forms, but not all wholes are like this. Like an accidental whole, a cat exists because its parts cohere together, but none of the proper parts of the cat: its bones, flesh, nerves, etc existed as substances before the cat did.

The parts didn’t come from nowhere, of course, and so both organic or inorganic wholes came from parts once outside themselves. Living beings actively seek out the parts that compose them while inorganic compounds contribute to their structure passively, in virtue of the ‘laws’ within them that allow one substance to be changed into another. In both cases the extrinsic component that comes to be a part of some whole is matter while the active-living source or passive non-living law within things is form. 

 

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