© 2019

Substance in Aristotle's Metaphysics Zeta


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 1-4
  3. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 5-15
  4. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 17-36
  5. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 37-57
  6. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 59-66
  7. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 81-98
  8. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 99-121
  9. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 123-150
  10. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 151-184
  11. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 185-198
  12. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 199-210
  13. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 315-323
  14. Norman O. Dahl
    Pages 325-337
  15. Back Matter
    Pages 339-354

About this book


This book argues that according to Metaphysics Zeta, substantial forms constitute substantial being in the sensible world, and individual composites make up the basic constituents that possess this kind of being. The study explains why Aristotle provides a reexamination of substance after the Categories, Physics, and De Anima, and highlights the contribution Z is meant to make to the science of being. Norman O. Dahl argues that Z.1-11 leaves both substantial forms and individual composites as candidates for basic constituents, with Z.12 being something that can be set aside. He explains that although the main focus of Z.13-16 is to argue against a Platonic view that takes universals to be basic constituents, some of its arguments commit Aristotle to individual composites as basic constituents, with Z.17’s taking substantial form to constitute substantial being is compatible with that commitment.



aristotle platonic ancient thought Book Zeta Greek philosophy metaphysics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor, University of MinnesotaMill CreekUSA

About the authors

Norman O. Dahl is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota.  His main interests are moral philosophy and ancient philosophy.  In the latter area he is the author of Practical Reason, Aristotle, and Weakness of the Will (1984), articles on Metaphysics Zeta, and publications on Aristotle’s ethics and Plato’s ethics.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Substance in Aristotle's Metaphysics Zeta
  • Authors Norman O. Dahl
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-22160-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-22163-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-22161-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 354
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Classical Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Norman Dahl offers a thorough, detailed and sophisticated analysis of Book 7 (Zeta, as it’s commonly known) of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, a book of the Metaphysics universally recognized to be both central to its project and difficult to understand.  Dahl expertly leads the reader through the intricacies of Zeta’s arguments, chapter by chapter, making clear its difficulties and revealing how a coherent interpretation of the book can be seen to emerge. This essay is a focused piece of scholarship that leads the reader to Dahl’s convincing conclusion that ‘according to Z, substantial forms constitute substantial being in the sensible world, and individual composites are the basic constituents that have that kind of being.’” (Aryeh Kosman, John Whitehead Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Haverford College, USA)

“An admirable contribution to a contentious set of topics.” (Frank A. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Southern California)

​“Are the primary substances of Metaphysics Z individual composites or their substantial forms? In Dahl’s view, they are both: substantial forms constitute substantial being, and individual composites are the basic constituents that have this kind of being. Dahl’s interpretation stands out in being constructed entirely of materials found within Z itself. This gem of scholarship offers the most thorough and sophisticated examination of Z to date. It is a must-read for every serious ‘Zetologist.’” (S. Marc Cohen, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, University of Washington, USA)

“Engagingly written and offering a novel defense of the view that hylomorphic compounds are more fundamental than their constituents, Dahl makes a welcome and idiosyncratic contribution to the secondary literature.” (Phil Corkum, Associate Professor, University of Alberta, Canada)