Substance-Accident Relation and Categories in AristotleJune 26, 2021
When the form becomes actual in matter, when the visible universe order occurs and individual particulars come into existence, it is seen that they always carry certain qualities and predicates.
There is no form, form, reality in the first, pure, chaotic matter (proto-hyle). Therefore, pure matter did not possess any properties, qualities or predicates that made it known, thoughtable, or talkable for us.
However, as mere matter realizes the form and essence that is hidden in it, that is, as it gains existence and reality, it acquires some predicates, concepts and qualities that make it known, thinkable and talkable for us.
Then things always present themselves to us with certain predicates, concepts, qualities, and these are things related to our way of being, thinking and speaking. Aristotle argued that individual particulars always carry ten separate qualities or predicates (categories). Aristotle calls them categories, and their number is ten:
It is passivity (Sahakian, 1997: 67).
All beings that occur with the actualization of the form always present themselves to us with predicates with certain qualities. Aristotle calls them categories, substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, possession, activity, passivity. Nine of them are accidental and one is substance.
That is, when we think about or talk about anything, our thinking, speech or judgment will answer any or more of the following questions: Quantitative properties of something, eg size, number, etc. what? What kind of entity is it? How does it relate to other things? Where is it located? What is the temporal state? What position is it in? What does it have? What is he doing? What is being done to him? When we talk about something, we always think and talk about it (Gökberk, 1994: 78). These are the ten categories determined by Aristotle, and the nine categories outside the substance category are called “accident”. That is, even if a change occurs in these nine categories, there is no change in the essence of the object in the object. For example, the size of a tree, that is, the category of quantity it carries, may be different. This will not cause the tree to cease to be a tree.
But there is one of these categories, which corresponds to the immutable structure of the object, not to its variable accidentals. This category is the substance category. Substance, in its most general terms, can be defined as “the thing that makes something that thing”. Thus, what makes a tree a tree is its substance. Substance is also the bearer of the accidents of the object, but it is never found independently of the accidents. For example; tree substance is always in nature together with the mentioned nine accidents. Tree substance in nature, a certain shape, location, place, etc. We cannot see or find independently of the individual tree particulars that have them, that is, are endowed with certain accidents.
Substance also does not vary in individual particulars. That is, it is common to each tree and gathers all of them under the tree universality or concept. Whereas, the other nine categories, namely accidents, can take on different appearances in individual particulars. As a matter of fact, the trees in Eskişehir and those in Ankara are in different places, but they all reflect the universality of woodland.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook