What is it about?
Aristotle uses two kinds of material cause in his analysis of biological organisms: compositional mater, which persists through their birth and death; and functional matter, which consists of the organs and functional parts out of which biological organisms are made while they are alive. I argue that biological organisms for Aristotle are systematically dependent upon their compositional matter, which is responsible for many of their necessary attributes.
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Why is it important?
Many commentators on Aristotle have argued that all of the important attributes of biological organisms are explained by their formal cause, their soul. I argue that the compositional material cause of biological organisms is for Aristotle much more important than the traditional view allows; many permanent, fundamental features of living organisms are due to their matter.
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This page is a summary of: Compositional & Functional Matter: Aristotle on the Material Cause of Biological Organisms, Apeiron, January 2013, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/apeiron-2012-0062.
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