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ousia


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


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A ncient G reek philosophy, metaphysics [Greek, substance, essence, entity, reality, from ousa , the singular feminine participle of einai , to be; the term is closely linked to on , the neutral participle of einai] Although Plato used on and ousia synonymously, Aristotle classified different kinds of being and used ousia for on (being) in its first sense, namely, ultimate reality. In the Categories , Aristotle defined ousia as the ultimate subject that underlies every-thing else. According to this test, a sensible individual is primary ousia , while species and genus are secondary ousiai. In the Metaphysics, ousia is the focal meaning of being, but it is divided into form, matter , and the composite of matter and form. If ousia were still determined by the subject criterion , matter would be the primary subject and hence primary ousia. But Aristotle held this to be impossible, and presented the separation (independent existence) of substance and its status as a this ( tode ti ) as more important criteria for deciding what is ousia. According to these new criteria, form is ousia in the primary sense, with composites of form and matter being ousia in a derivative sense. Species and genus, which are secondary ousia in the Categories , are rejected as ousiai in the Metaphysics. This has given rise to the problem of explaining the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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