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Synthese

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From potency to act: hyloenergeism

  • Jeremy W. SkrzypekEmail author
S.I.: Form, Structure and Hylomorphism
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Abstract

Many contemporary proponents of hylomorphism endorse a version of hylomorphism according to which the form of a material object is a certain kind of complex relation or structure. Structural approaches to form, however, seem not to capture form’s traditional role as the guarantor of diachronic identity, since more “dynamically complex” material objects, such as living organisms, seem to undergo, and survive, various structural changes over the course of their existence. As a result, some contemporary hylomorphists have looked to alternative, non-structural approaches to form. One of the leading non-structural approaches is the powers approach, according to which the form of a material object is a certain kind of power continuously activated in the object or in its material parts. In this paper, I begin by offering an overview and assessment of this powers approach to form. I argue that while the powers approach captures some crucial elements for understanding the nature of more dynamically complex material objects, when we press on the details of the view we find that it actually points to a related, but importantly distinct, third approach to understanding form, according to which the form of a material object is a certain kind of activity or process in which the material object or its parts are continuously engaged. I call this third approach “Hyloenergeism”. In the second half of the paper, I consider what such a view of material objects might look like and what its principal virtues might be.

Keywords

Hylomorphism Form Structure Powers Activity Process 

Notes

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MaryBismarckUSA

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