Você está na página 1de 7

Individuals in

Aristotle's Two Queries JULIA ANNAS


Barrington Jones, in his recent article in Phronesis,11 has suggesa new way of solving the standing debate about the nature of ted non-substance individuals in the Categories. Mr. Jones' article some new to the Categories, but I would suggests exciting approaches like to put forward two difficulties I find with the way he proposes to cut through the main problem. In the Categories, but nowhere else, there seem to be individuals in non-substance to substances. What categories, corresponding primary sort of thing are these non-substance to individuals? According Ackrill2 they are non-repeatable individual instances of (for example) a An example would be the particular of white instance property. exhibited by this paper: it is peculiar to this piece of paper and will are the most specific perish when it does. According to Owen3 they of a The white exhibited types (for example) by this piece property. of paper and all the paper in the same batch would be an example: it can continue to exist when this piece of paper perishes, as long as some other piece of paper from the batch continues to exhibit it. I shall not go into the controversy that has arisen over these difof I have the more limited objective Aristotle. fering interpretations of examining the way Jones proposes to restate the terms of the debate. If Jones is right the alternatives just sketched represent a false dichotomy : the new solution supersedes them both. It is merely the proffered new solution that is my concern. is glossed as Jones begins from the fact that "the term 'individual' `what is one in number"',4 and goes on to explain this in terms of Aristotle's 1.5 In I Aristotle analyses analysis of "one" in Metaphysics r.


"one" by reference to counting, and in the process gives a clear sense to his statements elsewhere that number is relative. The one or unit that is the basis of enumeration is relative to the number that is counted. A one or unit is some object taken as a unit in counting (as one decides what is to be a unit of measurement), and one can count different numbers on the unit one takes.7 7 (The many depending raised by the I analysis must likewise be left interesting problems aside for now). If the I analysis is applied to the Categories problem, we seem to get at once. Take an instance which Jones illumination of sort item instance of translates What of is an individual "literacy". literacy? If we bear the I analysis in mind, the question we are directed to is: How can we court instances of literacy? And this question, as ,Jones points out, can only be answered by counting literate people. I can only conclude that there are two instances of literacy in this room rather than one if there are two literate people rather than one. "The basis of the individuality of nonsubstantial is to be individuals of the substantial in which individuals sought in the individuality individuals is But the type of non-substantial they are present".8 not to one While this instance individual. something necessarily unique of literacy is one in number because it is found in one man, it is literacy because it is a type of item that can recur in more than one man. With Jones' analysis, the problems of the traditional debate as it stands melt away, or rather they are superseded. There is a sense in which non-substantial individuals are, and a sense in which they are to individual so to debate whether they not, particular substances; are or not is mistaken. This new solution to an old problem is obviously and also very Aristotelian in spirit. There are two very attractive, at which I feel dubious. however, points,


1. Can the I analysis

be aPPlied to the Categories?

Jones assumes that "one in number", used to "gloss" the term "indior at least some vidual", can be taken as a definition of "individual", of kind of analysis what "individual" is to be taken to mean. But the text of the Categories does not seem to offer enough suppoit for this. At 1 b 6-7 and 3 b 12 Aristotle talks about items that are indivisible and one in number, with no indication that "one in number" of what "individual" alone suffices as an explanation means. At 4 a 10-21 substance is said to be distinguished able to receive by being while remaining contraries one and the same. Again, numerically however, there is no indication that the two parts of this can be taken individuals that in non-substance will be separately, categories to one not able receive So the contraries. numerically though Categories itself offers insufficient grounds for maintaining that being numerically one is any kind of criterion for being an individual in any category. But even if the Categories text does not itself suggest the I analysis, to apply it to the Categories ? Might might it still not be appropriate it not be a genuinely Aristotelian solution, though not one that Aristo-tle puts forward in so many words? I do not think that it is, for two reasons. Firstly, while Aristotle's analysis of "one" in I does contain the above analysis of "one in number" in terms of counting, Aristotle nowhere distinguishes this problem from another problem about being In I and in A 6, the entry in "one", namely, what it is to be unitary. he his philosophical lexicon for "one", discusses the two problems together without the faintest attempt to separate them. Being one in number is never distinguished from being one in genus, or one in kind, the latter two concern a thing's unity, not its countability, although and the two are logically quite distinct.9 No doubt the use of the Greek word ev was partly responsible for Aristotle's failure to see that "one in number" is quite different from his other senses of "one", which


a thing's unity. In Greek it is not at once obvious .that the ev?" could be for two "Is this different asking question, thing quite types of answer: that the thing is one of something (and so a unit for or that the thing is unitary in some way. Aristotle's failure counting), to distinguish the two types of question comes out very clearly when he asks the Platonists, "In virtue of what are (ideal) mathematical one?"10 He magnitudes compares the ideal magnitudes unfavourably with animate substances in respect of "being one": concern It is reasonable for things round us to be one in virtue of soul or part of soul or something else - otherwise there is not one but many, and the thing is divided up. But these objects are divisible and quantitative. What can be responsible for their being one and holding together? Aristotle is conflating two criticisms here: i) animate substances have a clear principle of unity (soul) which is lacking for ideal magnitudes. ii) with substances we know clearly when we have one and when we have which are lacking two, i.e. they have clear conditions of individuation The problems of countability and of in the case of ideal magnitudes. conflated as the problem of "being ev". unity are completely This suggests that Aristotle was most probably not aware of the for of the I the potentialities analysis solving problem of what it is to be a reidentifiable In I, where he is thinking about the individual. problem of being ev, he achieves an analysis of what it is to be one in number which is still interesting; but he never succeeds in making a clear aPPlication of this particular analysis, distinct from the problems of unity which he also considers under the heading of being sv. It is certainly puzzling, to an unprejudiced observer, philosophical that Aristotle never makes the sort of application of the I analysis that Jones wants to make. Why does Aristotle never apply this tool of the are and when results so powerful analysis, illuminating, not obviate a difficult and perhaps undecidable Moreover, problem? in over the but difficulties the only Categories problem Metaphysics of the I individuation would have yielded to such an application analysis. Yet it never occurs to Aristotle. Part at ileast of the explanation of this must lie in the fact that Aristotle never consciously distinguishes oneness." of unitariness from questions of numerical questions


But this makes it somewhat dubious to apply the I analysis as if this were a solution that Aristotle to the Categories problem Jones wants to envisaged or could have envisaged; for the application oneness and is quite separate from make concerns only numerical questions of unity. The second reason for doubting whether the I analysis can be applied to the Categories problem is that Aristotle does once consider the latter and the solution he toys with has problem, somewhat inconclusively, no reference to the I analysis. in At 1089 b 24-8 Aristotle takes up the problem of individuals non-substance categories. In the case of the other categories, there is another difficulty in the question of how there can be many items. Because they are not separable, it is through their underlying subject's coming to be and being many that qualities and quantities are many. But there ought to be a type of matter for each category, except that it cannot be separated from the actual objects (substances). Here Aristotle says that, in effect, items in non-substance categories of substances. are individuated via the individuation His words are vague enough to leave room for dispute as to which of unfortunately The interesting rival interpretations the traditional they support. that the problem should be point is that Aristotle clearly thinks solved with the aid of the concept of matter.12 Insofar as he is aware of the problem Jones deals with, he proposes to deal with it, not in Jones' way by applying the I analysis, but by using the concept of matter. This is in spite of the fact that "matter" becomes a rather unclear to the outside the least, notion, say category of substance. (What sort of thing could the matter of properties, or of relatives, be?) The fact that in this passage, in which the theory of categories is being put to


never thinks of applying the I analysis work, Aristotle polemical that it is not to solve the strongly suggests right Categories problem . by appeal to I.?3

2. Paronymy. Jones claims that his solution of the Categories problem also makes it the true importance of paronymy, and underpossible to appreciate stand it as something genuinely co-ordinate to homonymy and synoas 1 of is the the nymy, chapter Categories suggests.14 Paronymy relation between two items when one is referred to by a noun and the other by an adjective inflected from the noun, (or a cognate verb). The property named by the noun is "in" the items to which the adinflected from the noun applies. jective of the links with his analysis of the dependence Jones paronymy of of individuation non-substance individuals on that individual substances. "The point of paronymy .. is to licence the inference from a certain number of literate individuals to that number of literacies".?5 makes it in clear how "one number" as an account of what Paronymy an individual is, can apply to non-substance individuals. An individual instance of literacy exists in an individual who can be called literate, and the two are paronyms. as Aristotle in the Categories, any However, presents paronymy inference-licence would seem to go the other way. According to Aristotle (1 a 12-15) the literate man is so called from literacy, the brave


man from bravery. So far from being able to infer to an instance of bravery f rom being able to call a man brave, the suggestion is that if anything we call a man brave because we can "name" bravery, which is present in him. It is not even certain that Aristotle has in mind that we can "name" the instance of bravery in a man (in that case, would presuppose an account of the individuation of nonparonymy substances, rather than licencing one, but there would be a connexion). It is possible that paronymy has no connexion at all with this problem, is simply not aware of the problem that if we and that Aristotle "name" a brave man from bravery we are more likely to have an instance of the property in mind (the bravery in him) than the property itself. is right, it is certainly the case that Whichever of these alternatives wherever paronymy is mentioned in Aristotle the "direction of derivativeness" not from adjective to noun as is from noun to adjective, at Physics Jones' account would require. 16 There is one exception, "two" and all 207 b 8-10, where Aristotle says that perhaps "three", are 7tOCP<vufJ.oc other number-terms This is a rather odd the of of notion Since the sentence application paronymy. preceding made the point that number is essentially a numbei of ones, the point here seems to be that "three", used as a noun, is paronymous from "three" as in "the number made up of three ones", where it functions as an adjective. In this case, then the direction of derivativeness does run from adjective to noun. However, the peculiarity of number-terms makes this an exceptional kind of case, and I do not think it provides any support for Jones' thesis, since it does not concern the individuation of any type of entity by means of any other. If paronymy does not in fact licence us to move from numbers of literate men to numbers of literacies, this seriously weakens Jones' claim to have united these different theories of the Categories into a So it seems that we have a further reason "single, coherent doctrine". for doubting that the traditional problems of the Categories have been I that will remain to trouble us. au fgehoben. suspect they St. Hugh's College, 0xford