Hylomorphism: Emergent Properties without Emergentism

  • William JaworskiEmail author
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 2)


Hylomorphism claims that structure is a basic ontological and explanatory principle. It accounts for what things are and what they can do. The hylomorphic notion of structure provides resources for understanding the place of mind in the natural world. The activities of living things like us are not random physiological occurrences; they are physiological occurrences with a certain organization or structure. We engage in them by imposing an order on the ways our parts manifest their powers. According to the hylomorphic view I defend, thought, feeling, perception, and intentional action are structured activities of this sort. The result is a theory of mental phenomena that rejects physicalism but that is nevertheless naturalistic. It is also antireductive: it denies that psychological discourse is reducible to physical theory. Finally, it provides an unmysterious account of how mental phenomena fit within the natural world.


Hylomorphism Physicalism Emergentism Structure Organization Mind Reduction Naturalism Powers Dispositions Mind-body problem Composition Perception Embodiment Supervenience Determination Emergence 


  1. Armstrong, D.M. 1978a. Realism and nominalism: Universals and scientific realism, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong, D.M. 1978b. A theory of universals: Universals and scientific realism, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong, D.M. 2010. Sketch for a systematic metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bechtel, W., and R.C. Richardson. 1993. Discovering complexity: Decomposition and localization as strategies in scientific research. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bechtel, W. 2007. Reducing psychology while maintaining its autonomy via mechanistic explanations. In The matter of the mind, ed. M. Schouten and H. Looren de Jong. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Bechtel, W. 2008. Mental mechanisms: Philosophical perspectives on cognitive neuroscience. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, K. 1990. Abstract particulars. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell, N.A. 1996. Biology, 4th ed. San Francisco: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Chalmers, D.J. 2002. Consciousness and its place in nature. In Philosophy of mind, ed. D.J. Chalmers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Craver, C.F. 2007. Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cummins, R. 1975. Functional analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72: 741–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. 1958. Experience and nature. New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Ellis, B. 2002. The philosophy of nature: A guide to the new essentialism. Chesham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  14. Fine, K. 1999. Things and their parts. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23: 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fodor, J. 1968. The appeal to tacit knowledge in psychological explanation. Journal of Philosophy 65: 627–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Glennan, S. 2002. Rethinking mechanistic explanation. Philosophy of Science 69: S342–S353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grimes, Th.R. 1988. The myth of supervenience. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69: 152–160.Google Scholar
  18. Harré, R., and E.H. Madden. 1975. Causal powers: A theory of natural necessity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Heil, J. 2003. From an ontological point of view. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heil, J. 2005. Dispositions. Synthese 144: 343–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jaworski, W. 2011. Philosophy of mind: A comprehensive introduction. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. Jaworski, W. 2012. Structures, powers, and minds. In Powers and capacities in philosophy: The new Aristotelianism, ed. R. Groff and J. Greco. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Jaworski, W. 2014. Hylomorphism and the metaphysics of structure. Res Philosophica 91: 179–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jaworski, W. 2016. Structure and the metaphysics of mind: How hylomorphism solves the mind-body problem. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Johnston, M. 2006. Hylomorphism. Journal of Philosophy 103: 652–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kim, J. 1984. Concepts of supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45: 153–176. Reprinted in Kim 1993, 53–78.Google Scholar
  27. Kim, J. 1990. Supervenience as a philosophical concept. Metaphilosophy 21: 1–27. Reprinted in Kim 1993, 131–60.Google Scholar
  28. Kim, J. 1993. Supervenience and mind Cambridge. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim, J. 1998. Mind in a physical world. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books.Google Scholar
  30. Koslicki, K. 2008. The structure of objects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ladyman, J., and D. Ross. 2007. Every thing must go: Metaphysics naturalized. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lewis, D.K. 1983. New work for a theory of universals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61: 343–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lycan, W.G. 1987. Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  34. Martin, C.B. 1996a. Properties and dispositions. In Dispositions: A debate, ed. T. Crane. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Martin, C.B. 1996b. Replies to Armstrong and Place. In Dispositions: A debate, ed. T. Crane. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Martin, C.B. 1997. On the need for properties: The road to Pythagoreanism and back. Synthese 112: 193–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Martin, C.B. 2007. The mind in nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin, C.B., and J. Heil. 1998. Rules and powers. Philosophical Perspectives 12: 238–312.Google Scholar
  39. Martin, C.B., and J. Heil. 1999. The ontological turn. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23: 34–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Martin, C.B., and K. Pfeifer. 1986. Intentionality and the non-psychological. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46: 531–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mayr, E. 1997. This is biology: The science of the living world. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University.Google Scholar
  42. Miller, J. 1978. The body in question. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  43. Molnar, G. 2003. In Powers: A study in metaphysics, ed. S. Mumford. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Oderberg, D.S. 2007. Real essentialism. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Place, U.T. 1996a. Intentionality as the mark of the dispositional. Dialectica 50: 91–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Place, U.T. 1996b. Dispositions as intentional states. In Dispositions: A debate, ed. T. Crane. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Rea, M.C. 2011. Hylomorphism reconditioned. Philosophical Perspectives 25: 341–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schaffer, J. 2009. On what grounds what. In Metametaphysics: New essays on the foundations of ontology, ed. D. Chalmers, D. Manley, and R. Wasserman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Sider, T. 2012. Writing the book of the world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Strawson, P.F. 1974. Subject and predicate in logic and grammar. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  51. Swoyer, Ch. 1982. The nature of natural laws. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 60: 203–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Inwagen, P. 1981. The doctrine of arbitrary undetached parts. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 62: 123–127.Google Scholar
  53. Van Inwagen, P. 1990. Material beings. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Worrall, John. 1989. Structural realism: The best of both worlds? Dialectica 43: 99–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Young, J.Z. 1971. An introduction to the study of man. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fordham UniversityBronxUSA

Personalised recommendations