Theory and History of Ontology

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  • "History Logic" and "Bibliographia" are my other websites. "Table of Contents" gives the list of the pages, for other indexes see the "Sitemap". "Modern Ontologists" contains a table with links to the pages on the most important philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries who have written on ontology. The "Search" function can be used to find a particular author or subject.


Selected Bibliography on the History of "Substance" in Philosophy


  1. Alverny, Marie-Thèrese d'. 1988. "Substance in Arabic Philosophy: Al-Farabi's Discussion." Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association no. 61:88-97.

  2. Anscombe, Elizabeth G.M., and Geach, Peter Thomas. 1973. Three Philosophers. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

    Contents: Analytical Table of Contents VI-XX; G. E. M. Anscombe: Aristotle: The Search for Substance 1; P. T. Geach: Aquinas 65; P. T. Geach: Frege 127-162.

  3. Arpe, Curt. 1938. Das Ti En Einai Bei Aristoteles. Hamburg: Walter de Gruyter.

    Reprint: New York, Arno Press, 1976 with Ernst Hambruch, Logische Regeln der Platonischen Schule in der Aristotelischen Topik (1904).

  4. ———. 1941. " Substantia." Philologus.Zeitschrift für das Klassische Altertum no. 94:65-78.

  5. Aubenque, Pierre. 1962. Le Problème De L'être Chez Aristote. Essai Sur La Problématique Aristotélicienne. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  6. ———. 2000. "Sur L'ambivalence Du Concept Aristotélicien De Substance." In Ontologie Et Dialogue. Mélanges En Hommage À Pierre Aubenque Avec Sa Collaboration À L'occasion De Son 70e Anniversaire, edited by Cordero, Nestor-Luis, 93-106. Paris: Vrin.

    Repris dans: P. Aubenque, Problèmes aristotéliciens. I. Philosophie théorique, Paris: Vrin, 2009, pp. 197-210.

  7. ———. 2002. "La Transformation Cartésienne Du Concept Aristotélicien De Substance." In Le Style De La Pensée. Recueil De Textes En Hommage À Jacques Brunschwig, edited by Canto-Sperber, Monique and Pellegrin, Pierre, 490-501. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

    Repris dans: P. Aubenque, Problèmes aristotéliciens. I. Philosophie théorique, Paris: Vrin, 2009, pp. 341-350.

  8. Bärthlein, Karl. 1968. "Zur Entstehung Der Aristotelischen Substanz-Akzidens-Lehre." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 50:196-253.

  9. Bennett, Jonathan. 1987. "Substratum." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 4:197-215.

    Reprinted in: Vere Chappell (ed.), Locke, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 129-148.

  10. Berti, Enrico. 1975. "Logical and Ontological Priority among the Genera of Substance in Aristotle." In Kephalaion: Studies in Greek Philosophy and Its Continuation Offered to Professor C. J. De Vogel, edited by Mansfeld, Jaap and Rijk, Lambertus Marie de, 55-69. Assen: Van Gorcum.

    "Among the many still unsolved problems of Aristotelian exegesis is that concerning the relationship between the three types of substance which are distinguished in book XII of the Metaphysics, that is to say, terrestrial (mobile and corruptible), celestial (mobile and incorruptible), and supracelestial (incorruptible and immobile) (1). In fact some scholars supposed they could regard this relationship as an instance of pros hen homonymy (2), involving a priority of the immobile substance which is not only ontological but also logical (3); some identified it with the relationship of succession (to ephexes), understood as a particular sort of pros hen homonymy and therefore as implying logical priority as well (4); finally, some identified it with the relationship of succession itself, without specifying whether this should be regarded as implying not only ontological, but also logical priority (5). In spite of this variety of solutions, it seems to me that the problem has not been discussed with sufficient thoroughness and, especially, that the following issues have not been definitively clarified : a) whether in fact the three above-mentioned types of substance are irreducible to a common genus, and therefore give rise to a true and proper homonymy or equivocity of the notion of substance; b) whether this homonymy, if it subsists, allows some sort of logical unification, i.e. a priority of a genus in relation to the others which is not only ontological but also logical; also, what would be the precise nature of this logical priority.

    An answer to these questions seems important for the general interpretation of Aristotle's philosophy. As a matter of fact, since substance, for Aristotle, is what gives unity to all being, a decision concerning the type of unity which it possesses determines the conception which we must have of the very unity of being; and since, furthermore and that of the other types of substance, that is to say, the problem of the unity, and therefore of the possibility, of the science of being qua being, i.e. of philosophy itself.

    The present investigation does not claim, of course, to provide a definitive reply to the questions enumerated above, but merely offers itself as a contribution to their discussion, by analyzing some passages in Aristotle which have not been sufficiently taken into account in this connexion." pp. 55-56

    (1) Cf. Aristot., Metaph. XII 1, 1069a33-34; 6, 1071b3-4. For convenience I mention the former under the denomination of terrestrial substances, though they occupy the whole sphere under the sky of the moon, and the latter under the denomination of supracelestial substances, though, to be exact, they, being immaterial, could not be localized spatially.

    (2) J. Owens, The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics, Toronto, 1963 (2nd ed.), 279-300, 455-473; G. Patzig, Ontologie und Theologie in der "Metaphysik" des Aristoteles, Kant-Studien 52, 1960-61, 199-201.

    (3) By "ontological priority" ( physei or ousiai) I mean the possibility that some things have of existing independently of others, while the latter cannot exist without them (cf. Metaph. VII, 1019a1-4); by "logical priority" ( logoi) I mean the fact that the notion of some things is necessarily contained in the notion, or definition, of others, while the notion of these others is not contained in the definition of the former ( Metaph. V 11, 1018b30-36). On this distinction cf. G. E. L. Owen, Logic and Metaphysics in some earlier works of Aristotle, in: Aristotle and Plato in the mid-fourth century, Goteborg 1960, 170-72.

    (4) H. J. Kramer, Zur geschichtlichen Stellung der "Metaphysik" des Aristoteles, Kant-Studien 58, 1967, 349; H. Happ, Hyle, Berlin 1971, 337-342.

    (5) G. Colle, Aristote, Métaphysique, Livre IV, Louvain-Paris 1931, 63; J. Tricot, Aristote, La Métaphysique, Paris 19622, I, 190, n.4; G. Reale, Aristotele, La Metafisica, Napoli 1968, I, 329.

  11. Boehm, Rudolf. 1976. La Métaphysique D'aristote. Le Fondamental Et L'essential : "De L'etre Et De L'etant", (Livre Vii). Paris: Gallimard.

    Traduit de l'allemand Das Grundlegende Und Das Wesentliche. Zu Aristoteles' Abhandlung ÜBer Das Sein Und Das Seiende' (Metaphysik Z), Den Haag: Aspen Publishers Inc, 1965, presenté par Emmanuel Martineau; avec une note de Jean François Courtine.

  12. Bolton, Robert. 1995. "Science and the Science of Substance in Aristotle's Metaphysics Z." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly no. 76:419-469.

    Reprinted in: Frank A. Lewis and Robert Bolton (eds.), Form, Matter and Mixture in Aristotle, Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, pp. 231-280.

  13. ———. 2002. "Substance and the Definition of Definition in Aristotle." In Le Style De La Pensée. Recueil De Textes En Hommage À Jacques Brunschwig, edited by Canto-Sperber, Monique and Pellegrin, Pierre, 155-181. Paris: Belles Lettres.

  14. Bos, Egbert Peter. 2000. "Some Notes on the Meaning of the Term 'S ubstantia' in the Tradition of Aristotle's Categories." In L'élaboration Du Vocabulaire Philosophique Au Moyen Âge, edited by Hamesse, Jacqueline and Steel, Carlos, 511-537. Turnhout: Brepols.

  15. Braun, René. 1977. Deus Christianorum. Recherches Sur Le Vocabulaire Doctrinal De Tertullien. Paris: Éditions Augustiniennes.

    Deuxième édition revue et augmentée (Premère edition 1962).

  16. Burnyeat, Myles, ed. 1979. Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Oxford: Sub-Faculty of Philosophy.

    Being the record by Myles Burnyeat and others of a seminar held in London 1975-1979.

    Reprinted 1986.

  17. ———. 2001. A Map of Metaphysics Zeta. Pittsburgh: Mathesis Publications.

  18. Collinge, N.E. 1971. "The Senate and the Essence: Gerousia and Ousia." Glotta no. 49:218-229.

  19. Courtine, Jean-François. 1980. "Note Complémentaire Pour L'histoire Du Vocabulaire De L'être. Les Traductions Latines D' Ousía Et La Compréhension Romano-Stoïcienne De L'être." In Concepts Et Catégories De La Pensée Antique, edited by Aubenque, Pierre, 33-87. Paris: Vrin.

    Repris dans: J-F. Courtine, Les catégories de l'être. Études de philosophie ancienne et médiévale, Paris: Press Universitaires de France, 2003, pp. 11-77.

  20. Dancy, Russell. 1975. "On Some of Aristotle's First Thoughts About Substances." Philosophical Review no. 84:338-373.

  21. Dörrie, Heinrich. 1955. " Hypostasis. Wirt- Und Bedeutungsgeschicte." Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaft zu Göttingen, phil--hist.Klasse no. 3:35-92.

    Reprinted in: H. Dörrie, Platonica minora, München, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1976, pp. 13-69.

  22. Driscoll, John A. 1979. "The Platonic Ancestry of Primary Substance." Phronesis no. 24:253-269.

  23. ———. 1981. " Eide in Aristotle's Earlier and Later Theories of Substance." In Studies in Aristotle, edited by O'Meara, Dominic J., 129-159. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

    Reprinted in: Terence Irwin (ed.), Aristotle. Substance, Form, and Matter, New York: Garland, 1995.

  24. Dumoulin, Bertrand. 1983. "L' Ousia Dans Les Catégories Et Dans La Métaphysique." In Zweifelhaftes Im Corpus Aristotelicum. Studien Zu Einigen Dubia. Akten Des 9. Symposium Aristotelicum, Berlin, 7-16 September 1981, edited by Moraux, Paul and Wiesner, Jürgen, 37-71. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  25. Erdin, Franz. 1939. Das Wort Hypostasis. Seine Bedeutungsgeschichtliche Entwicklung in Der Altchristlichen Literatur Bis Zum Abschluss Der Trinitarischen Auseinandersetzungen. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder.

    Freiburger Theologische Studien vol. 52.

  26. Ermano, Andrea. 2000. Substanz Als Existenz. Eine Philosophische Auslegung Der Prote Ousia. Mit Text, Ubersetzung Und Diskussion Von Aristoteles, Categoriae 1-5. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

  27. Ferrarin, Alfredo. 2001. Hegel and Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  28. Fonfara, Dirk. 2003. Die Ousia-Lehren Des Aristoteles. Untersuchungen Zur Kategorienschrift Und Zur Metaphysik. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  29. Frede, Michael. 1987. "Substance in Aristotle's Metaphysics." In Essays in Ancient Philosophy, 72-98. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  30. Furth, Montgomery. 1988. Substance, Form, and Psyche. An Aristotelian Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  31. Galluzzo, Gabriele, and Mariani, Mauro, eds. 2006. Aristotle's Metaphysics Book Z: The Contemporary Debate. Pisa: Edizioni della Normale.

  32. Ghellinck, Joseph de. 1941. "L'entrée D' Essentia, Substantia, Et Autre Mots Apparentés Dans Le Latin Médiéval " Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi no. 16:77-112.

  33. ———. 1942. " Essentia Et Substantia. Note Complémentaire." Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi no. 17:129-133.

  34. Gill, Mary Louise. 1989. Aristotle on Substance. The Paradox of Unity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  35. Gilson, Étienne. 1952. Being and Some Philosophers. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.

  36. Gutschmidt, Holger, Lang-Balestra, Antonella, and Segalerba, Gianluigi, eds. 2008. Substantia - Sic Et Non. Eine Geschichte Des Substanzbegriffs Von Der Antike Bis Zur Gegenwart in Einzelbeiträgen. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

  37. Halleux, André de. 1984. "'Hypostase' Et 'Personne' Dans La Formation Du Dogme Trinitaire." Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique no. 79:311-369.

    Deuxième partie: pp. 623-670.

    Repris dans: A. de Halleux, Patrologie et oecuménisme. Recueil d'études, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990, pp. 113-214.

  38. Hartman, Edwin. 1976. "Aristotle on the Identity of Substance and Essence." Philosophical Review no. 85:545-561.

  39. Irwin, Terence, ed. 1995. Aristotle. Substance, Form and Matter. New York: Garland.

  40. Jolivet, Régis. 1929. La Notion De Substance. Essai Historique Et Critique Sur Le Développement Des Doctrines D'aristote À Nos Jours. Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne.

  41. Lewis, Frank A. 1991. Substance and Predication in Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  42. ———. 1996. "Aristotle on the Unity of Substance." In Form, Matter, and Mixture in Aristotle, edited by Lewis, Frank A. and Bolton, Robert, 39-81. Maiden: Blackwell.

  43. Loux, Michael J. 2005. Primary Ousia. An Essay on Aristotle's Metaphysics Z and H. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

  44. MacKinnon, D.M. 1965. "Aristotle's Conception of Substance." In New Essays on Plato and Aristotle, edited by Bambrough, Renford, 97-119. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  45. Mansion, Suzanne. 1946. "La Première Doctrine De La Substance: La Substance Selon Aristote." Revue Philosophique de Louvain no. 44:349-369.

  46. Marten, Rainer. 1962. Ousia Im Denken Platons. Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain.

  47. Marx, Werner. 1988. "Ousiologie Et Théologie." In Aristote Aujourd'hui, edited by Sinaceur, Mohammed Allal, 44-59. Paris: Éditions érès.

  48. Moingt, Joseph. 1964. Théologie Trinitaire De Tertullien. Paris: Aubier.

    Vol II: Voir la Deuxième Partie: Substantialité et Individualité. Étude du Vocabulaire Philosophique.

  49. Moreau, Joseph. 1955. "L'être Et L'essence Dans La Philosophie D'aristote." In Autour D'aristote. Recueil D'études De Philosophie Ancienne Et Médiévale Offert À Monseigneur A. Mansion, 181-204. Louvain: Publications Universitaires de Louvain.

  50. Motte, André, and Somville, Pierre, eds. 2008. Ousia Dans La Philosophie Grecque Des Origines À Aristote. Lovain-la-Neuve: Peeters.

    Travaux du Centre d'études aristotéliciennes de l'Université de Liège.

  51. Ong-Van-Cung, Kim-Sang. 1997. "Substance Et Distinctions Chez Descartes, Suárez Et Leurs Prédecesseurs Médiévaux." In Descartes Et Le Moyen-Age, edited by Biard, Joël and Rashed, Roshdi, 215-229. Paris: Vrin.

  52. Pasnau, Robert. 2011. Metaphysical Themes, 1274-1689. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  53. Perez Paoli, Ubaldo Ramon. 1990. Der Plotinische Begriff Von Hypostasis Und Die Augustinische Bestimmung Gottes Als Subiectum. Würzburg: Augustinus-Verlag.

  54. Reeve, C.D.C. 2000. Substantial Knowledge. Aristotle's Metaphysics. Indianapoli: Hackett.

  55. Richard, Marcel. 1945. "L'introduction Du Mot 'Hypostase' Dans La Théologie De L'incarnation (Première Partie)." Mélanges de science religieuse no. 2:5-32.

  56. ———. 1945. "L'introduction Du Mot 'Hypostase' Dans La Théologie De L'incarnation (Deuxième Partie)." Mélanges de science religieuse no. 2:243-270.

  57. Robertson, David G. 1998. "Stoic and Aristotelian Notions of Substance in Basil of Caesarea." Vigiliae Christianae no. 52:393-417.

    "Basil is somewhere in between Stoic and Aristotelian doctrines of substance, while his mind is also guided on these matters by his theological predecessors and contemporaries. It is possible to see evidence in Basil of deeply ingrained habits of thought which he carries into his writings from his early training in Stoic dialectic. One outstanding example of this may be seen in his insistence that the ousia of God must have its being securely rooted in a hypostasis, while the Stoics would say that nothing can exist without the possession of ousia (their first category) as a qualified thing ( poion). What one does not find in Basil is a doctrine of divine substance and persons which can support a consistent conceptuality derived from Stoic logic."

  58. Romano, Francesco, and Taormina, Daniela Patrizia, eds. 2002. Hyparxis E Hypostasis Nel Neoplatonismo. Atti Del I Colloquio Internazionale Del Centro Di Ricerca Sul Neoplatonismo (Catania, 1-3 Ottobre 1992). Firenze: Olschki.

  59. Rosenberg, Jay F. 2000. "Identity and Substance in Hume and Kant." Topoi. An International Review of Philosophy no. 19:137-145.

  60. Rosier, Irène. 1987. "Les Acceptions Du Terme ' Substantia' Chez Pierre Hélie." In Gilbert De Poitiers Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Jolivet, Jean and Libera, Alain de, 299-324. Napoli: Bibliopolis.

  61. Ruler, Han van. 1999. "'Something, I Know Not What'. The Concept of Substance in Early Modern Thought." In Between Demonstration and Imagination. Essays in the History of Science and Philosophy Presented to John D. North, edited by Nauta, Lodi and Vanderjagt, Arjo, 365-391. Leiden: Brill.

  62. Salbego, Luigi. 1976. ""Essentia" Nel De Trinitate Di S. Agostino E Nel Monologion Di S. Anselmo." In Saint Anselme Ses Précurseurs Et Ses Contemporains, edited by Kohlenberger, Helmut, 205-220. Frankfurt: Minerva.

  63. Smalbrugger, Matthias. 1989. "Sur L'emploi Et L'origine Du Terme "Essentia" Chez Augustin." Augustiniana no. 39:436-445.

    "Dans le présent article, nous nous proposons d'examiner un aspect de la théologie d'Augustin, à savoir son emploi du terme essentia. P. Hadot se demande si Augustin «a ignoré la théologie trinitaire de Victorinus ou a renoncé à l'utiliser», sans choisir l'un des termes de l'alternative (1); peut-être une lecture attentive de quelques passages montrera-t-elle qu'Augustin a volontairement renoncé à suivre son prédécesseur." p. 436

    (1) P. Hadot, Porphyre et Victorinus, Paris 1968, p. 477.

  64. Spellman, Lynne. 2005. Substance and Separation in Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  65. Stead, George Christopher. 1975. "The Concept of Divine Substance." Vigiliae Christianae no. 29:1-14.

  66. ———. 1977. Divine Substance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  67. ———. 1985. Substance and Illusion in the Christian Fathers. London: Variorum Reprints.

  68. Stegmaier, Werner. 1974. Der Substanzbegriff Der Metaphysik. Aristoteles, Descartes, Leibniz. Hirschlanden: Gedruckt bei Fa. Schober.

  69. Tonelli, Giorgio. 1961. "Critiques of the Notion of Substance Prior to Kant." Tijdschrift voor Filosofie no. 23:285-301.

    "The Ages of Reason and Enlightenment aimed not only to advance knowledge but also tried to distinguish carefully between things which can and cannot be known. Characteristic of those ages is the manner in which metaphysical speculation was reduced by the sciences or brushed aside by the leading philosophical schools.

    The general problem of the limits of human understanding became one of the leading philosophical themes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Doubts about the possible scope of human reasoning concerned not only God, the spirits, and the nature of the human soul, (1) but also went to the very core of that reality which man was then trying to subdue intellectually; several conceptual elements were discovered whose nature many thinkers found mysterious and inaccessible to the mind. In fact, beside a clear awareness of the limits of human understanding in general, the notions of mathematical infinity, (2) force, (3) and substance were considered by many philosophers to be above man’s reason. The purpose of the present paper is to study the criticisms which were directed against the last of these notions, criticisms which played a rather important role in the famous "Copernican revolution" of 1769 at the start of Kant's critical period. (4) We shall consider not only criticisms of the notion of substance itself, but also those of the closely related notions of essence and materia prima; these often include the notion of substance, or serve as a foundation for." (pp. 285-286)

    (1) For opinions about the human soul in that period see: G. Tonelli, Elementi melodologici e metafisici in Kant precritico (1745-1768), Cap. VII, § 30 and foll. About God's unintelligibility, Ibid., Cap. VII, § 17 (In the II Vol., to be published in short. Vol. I, Torino 1959).

    (2) See G. Tonelli, Le problème des bornes de l'entendement humain au XVllle siècle et la genèse du criticisme kantien particulièrement par rapport à la question de l’infini, "Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale", 1959.

    (3) See Tonelli, Elementi, Cap. VII, § 21 and foll.

    (4) A not very thorough history of the notion of substance is in K. Heidmann, Der Substanz-Begriff von Abälard bis Spinoza, Berlin 1889, (Dissertation).

  70. Wedin, Michael. 2000. Aristotle's Theory of Substance. The Categories and Metaphysics Zeta. New York: Oxford University Press.

  71. Witt, Charlotte. 1989. Substance and Essence in Aristotle. An Interpretation of Metaphysics Vii-Ix. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

  72. ———. 1989. "Aristotelian Essentialism Revisited." Journal of the History of Philosophy no. 27:285-298.

  73. Witt, Rex E. 1933. "Hypostasis." In Amicitiae Corolla. A Volume of Essays Presented to James Rendel Harris, on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, edited by Wood, H.G., 319-343. London: University of London Press.

  74. Woolhouse, Roger S. 1993. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz. The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics. New York: Routledge.