Aristotle and Farabi on the Definition and Priority of Substance

Mohsen Javadi


Reviewing contemporary questions about Aristotle's definition of substance, we try to find some answers for them in the light of the explanation and comments of Muslim peripatetic philosophers in this regard. What is the nature and how is the existence of the individual substance (primary substance according to Aristotle) and also the other substances such as species and genus (secondary substances in Aristotle)? Individual substance can be a subject for species and genus in the one hand and for accidents on the other hand, so what is the exact difference between the predication of a substance and an accident to a being? Is it the predicating of some substance to a being coherent with the basic character of it namely not being present in a thing? Secondary substance can be an attribute for an individual being such as being a man for Ali and also can be an attribute for some other secondary substance for example being an animal for a man. (In these cases the attribute is called essential or substantial) but in the case of the accidents we find some perplexities. Some of the attributes taken from the accidents are called accidental, such as being coloured for this table. But the same accident may be an essential property for another accident such as red or green. So we can conclude that the correlate concept of the secondary substance is accident and not attribute as suggested by the name of this workshop. What roles can be played by the dichotomy of substance and accident in metaphysics? This paper will pay attention particularly to the works of such commentators of Aristotle's Categories as Farabi and Avicenna (representatives of the Eastern Muslim world) and Ibn Bajjah and Ibn Rushd on the other hand (representatives of the Western Muslim world).


20th century philosophy; metaphysics; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; attribute; Islamic philosophy; Al-Farabi; Aristotle; substance

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