Speaking as Predication. Aristotle’s Question concerning Philosophy and Its Matter

Seweryn Blandzi

The author puts forward hermeneutic rethinking of Aristotle’s theory of being, freed from later mediation (Aristotle’s commentators, scholastics, modern ontology), which unwittingly still infl uence the original understanding of his predicative ontology. Th e term ‘being’ (to on) as a nominalized form of ‘being something’ (to einai/ ti/ to on) does not denote existence (or ‘the existent’), Being as object in general or the notion of Being or Being as a notion, but expresses a general truth claim of predication. The form on (‘being’), the participle of einai (‘to be’) belongs to speech, it is a carrier of predication, but not a straight object (res), of which (in later metaphysics) we predicate as of ‘Being’ (to on, ens). Metaphysics shift ed the stress from predicativity on, that is, from the carrier of predication onto what is predicated (subject). As a result in the Latin tradition, the function of on is obscured a limine by the substantive and substantial understanding of what is predicated as ens.  Th is shift  of stress results in a substantivization of on under the infl uence of what is predicated (res). Th e linguistic element undergoes confl ation into one with what is predicated. As a result of this reifi cating substantivization, the predicative Greek on is translated into Latin as the subjective (id) quod est (‘what is’), which later is used interchangeably with ens. We could call it a transformation of the universal predicate of ‘being something’ into the universal name ‘Being’, and the most general concept.  Th e grammatical form (to on] is a linguistic exponent of predicativity, whose real designate is ousia, that is essence or substance. In short, the predicating element is on], the predicated – ou) si/a, the latter as defi nitional essence or individual substance (to ade ti).  Aristotle does not dwell on the sense or meaning of to on, but asks the question ti to on and answers concretely: tou=to/ e)sti ti/v h( ou)si/a, Being (res) is essence or substance. I n this paper the author also takes up the controversial issue of Aristotle’s ‘prime’ philosophy, mostly on the basis of Metaphysics, Book VI, which continues considerations published in the paper Aristotle’s Prote Philosophia: Metaphysics, Ontology, Theology or Methodology?, “Archive of the History and Philosophy of Social Th ought”, vol. 61/2016, pp. 273–286.


Keywords: Aristotle · participle being as exponent of predication · Being as noun · substance · name · meaning · general concept · object in general

Seweryn Blandzi – editor-in-chief of the  “Archive”. Head of a Research Group for Ancient Philosophy and History of Ontology at IFiS PAN. Chairman of the Polish Society of Systematical  Philosophy, editor of the book series: “Hermeneutics of the problems of philosophy” and “Studies in Systematical Philosophy”. Research interests: history of philosophy (mainly ancient philosophy), history of metaphysics and its transformation into ontology, German philosophy and hermeneutics. He published (inter alia): Platonic Search for Ontology of Ideas. Platonic Project of First Philosophy (Warsaw 2002) (Warsaw 1992), Between Parmenides' aletejology, and Filon's ontotheology (Warsaw 2013).

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