WHO: Robert Gallagher (Prof.), Cultural Studies, AUB
WHEN: February 2013


Some writers (e.g., Loux) regard contemporary bundle theory incompatible with Aristotle’s theory of substance. Examination of Book Iota (10) of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, however, does not confirm that view. Iota derives the formal cause of any entity from the two contraries of the genos of which it is a member, which contraries it calls “the one” and “privation”. It defines any entity as a “number,” which equals the proportion of the contraries that compose it. Aristotle says that this sort of analysis also applies to substance (1054a8-9). Apparently, bundle theory and Aristotle’s theory of substance are not as incompatible as previously thought. Iota develops its argument from the example of the composition of colours, and draws on the discussion of the perception of colour in Plato’s Timaeus. Every intermediate colour is composed from the two contraries of the genos of colour, white and black. The contraries in turn are broken down into contrary differentiae, i.e., the properties “dividing” and “combining”. Aristotle’s treatment argues that privative contraries possess their own positive qualities, that the judgment that privation exists is often subjective, and that the visual capacity functions by being affected by gradations of properties rather than discrete entities.