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Philosophy 1000 Spring 2014
Jessica Menna
Final Essay
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Jessica Menna
Alexander Izrailevsky
Final Assignment
Philosophy 1000
April 18, 2014
Aristotles Categories
Aristotle is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time, in terms of his
philosophical influence throughout the centuries, with only Plato being his equal.
Aristotle's Categories is an extremely significant work of philosophy. It not only presents the
keystone of Aristotle's own philosophical theorizing, but has travailed an unmatched influence
on the schemes of many of the greatest philosophers in the western world. This essay will be
discussing, first, a brief description of Aristotles background, followed by, a description of
Aristotle was born into a wealthy upper-middle class family in 364 B.C., in Stagira. His
father was a doctor and he was expected to follow in his fathers footsteps. At the age of 17,
Aristotle decided to move to Athens and become a student at Platos Academy. At first, Plato
was hesitant to allow him into the academy, due to the fact that he was a foreigner, as well as the
fact that he was not a member of the aristocracy. Plato decided to allow him in and Aristotle
proved to be the best student at the Academy, and was asked to stay as Platos assistant. Aristotle
happily accepted. When Plato passed in 348 B.C., Aristotle applied to become the new head of
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the Academy, but was denied. Out of anger, Aristotle left Athens to travel, and to spread the
word of his philosophy.
Aristotle was married for the first time at the age of 40, to a girl from a wealthy family.
He wasnt in love with her and only married her for her status. She passed away giving birth to a
daughter, whom was taken by his in-laws, so he never really saw his daughter. Years later, he
met his one true love, who was an entertainer in her twenties, and fathered a son, Nicomachus.
Their son was born out of wedlock, which was illegal. He loved his son and financially
supported him, but he could not give him what was most important, legal status.
At the age of 50, he wanted more out life than he was receiving, so he decided to move
back to Athens and start his own school, the Lyceum. Unlike the Platonic Academy, Aristotles
school was open to everyone. (The Lyceum was the Salt Lake Community College to Platos
Westminister) Aristotle received protection from Alexander the Great. Once Alexander passed,
Aristotle went from having total protection, to being completely vulnerable. When Athens asked
him to leave, he decided to do the smart thing, unlike Socrates, and take his family back to his
home town, Stagira, where the rest of his family was. He passed away in 322 B.C.
Aristotle is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time. In terms of his
philosophical influence throughout the centuries, only Plato tops him. The Categories is a text
from Aristotle's Organon that enumerates all the possible kinds of things that can be the subject
or the predicate of a proposition. They are "perhaps the single most heavily discussed of all
Aristotelian notions". The work is brief enough to be divided, not into books as is usual with
Aristotle's works, but into fifteen chapters. (Categories (Aristotle)) These fifteen chapters are
divided into three distinct parts: the Antepraedicamenta, the Praedicamenta, and the
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Aristotle's Categories is a singularly important work of philosophy. It not only presents
the backbone of Aristotle's own philosophical theorizing, but has exerted an unparalleled
influence on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the western tradition.
Aristotle called the philosophy of being "first philosophy" because it does not examine
the parts of reality (politics, math, music, history), but reality itself: existence, change, properties,
space, time, causality, and possibility. This first philosophy is also called "metaphysics,"
Aristotles Categories, includes ten sorts of extra-linguistic basic beings: substance
(ousia, essence or substance), quantity (poson, how much), quality (poion, of what kind or
quality), relative (pros ti, towards something), place (pou, where), time (pote, when),
position (keisthai, to lie), having (echein, to have), acting upon (poiein, to make or to
do), and being affected (paschein, to suffer or to undergo). These categories seem to
proceed in order of the questions one would ask while gaining knowledge of an object. Aristotle
did not choose these categories on any principled basis whatsoever, and for this, he has been
greatly criticized by other philosophers over the years, such as Immanuel Kant. They were very
random, and according to Aristotle, none of them can be broken down any further, nor is one
more important than the other. None of the categories are replaceable. They compare to pure
elements, in the fact that they cannot be broken down any further than they already have been.
Each of the categories is in its simplest form.
Of the ten categories, Aristotle considers substance to be the primary, because we can
conceptualize of a substance without, for example, any given qualities but we cannot
conceptualize of a quality unless it pertains to a particular substance. All of the other nine
categories can be describes as accidental. One important determination from this division into
categories is that we cannot conclude any general arguments about being as a whole because
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there are ten very different ways in which something can have being. There is no mutual ground
between the kind of being that, for example, a tree has and the kind of being that the color purple
Quantity is essentially the extension of an object (substance). Further, its parts may or
may not have comparative positions to one another. Quantity refers to an amount or a how
much of an object there is. Four miles and five miles, or four-foot and five-foot, would be
examples of this category.
Quality is the determination which classifies the nature of an object. Examples of this
category are: hot, sweet, white, yellow, black, cold, etc. They are adjectives because they are
describing the nature of a substance, which is a noun. This is a prime example of why substance
is considered to primary of the categories, all the following categories are related to the category
of substance in some way.
Relation is used in regards to how one object may be related to another. Things that are
relative to one another, are relative in comparison to one another. If someone said that a
substance was half of something, they would have to say it was half of some other substance in
order for the statement make any sort of sense to the person whom the object is being described
Place refers to the position of an object within its surrounding environment. This
categorys fulfillments require the description of an objects location. For example, The book
was in the library. In this case, in the library is the place of the book which is the object or
substance that is being referred to.
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Time is relative to the objects position in a chain of events. This category contains words
such as: today, yesterday, tomorrow, next year, etc. The object (substance) is being described
based off of its relevance to a certain time-frame.
Position is the condition of rest which results from an action. The term is, however, often
taken to mean the relative position of the parts of an object (usually a living object), assuming
that the placement of the parts is inseparable from the state of rest entailed.
State is the condition of rest which results from affection. The term is, however, often
taken to mean the determination originating from the physical accessories of an object: ones
clothing, ones finger, etc. Traditionally, this category is also called a habitus, derived from the
Latin word habere, meaning to have.
Action is the production of change in some other object. Aristotle also referred to action
as doing. This category includes matters such as cuts and burns.
Affection is the reception of change from some other object. Easily misinterpreted to
refer only or mainly to affection as an emotion or to emotional passion. For action he gave the
example, to lance, to cauterize; for affection, to be lanced, to be cauterized. His examples
make clear that action is to affection as the active voice is to the passive voice as acting is to
being acted on. (Categories(Aristotle))
The question does time exist? is answered with Aristotles category of quantity. Since
time is a measure of motion with respect to the before and after, it is in fact an entity in the
category of quantity. But since it is a non-substance, it exists only in a dependent way. Since
time is a dependent entity in this theory, so too are all other entities in categories outside of
substance. This helps explain why Aristotle thinks it appropriate to deploy his apparatus of
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core-dependent homonymy in the case of being. If we ask whether qualities or quantities exist,
Aristotle will answer in the affirmative, but then point out also that as dependent entities they do
not exist in the independent manner of substances. Thus, even in the relatively rarified case of
being, the theory of categories provides a reason for uncovering core-dependent homonymy.
Aristotles definition of substance being the primary of the categories, is an implication
that none of the other categories can exist without substance. With that said, this also means that
substance can exist by itself without any of the other categories. This theory has been greatly
criticized in the past centuries. Many people are wondering what made Aristotle decide that
substance was the primary category and prior to all others. Sure, it is hard to fathom a quality in
a world without substance. But, it is equally difficult to imagine a substance without any quality
or quantity or any of the other categories. So this brings up the question, why was substance
chosen as the primary?
As was stated earlier in this essay, Aristotle did not have a definitive reason for why he
chose this order of categories. He never revealed reasoning to bring this categorization to light.
Despite the fact that this work was and is greatly criticized to this day, it has been a very
influential philosophical work of history. It is no secret that Aristotle is quite possibly the most
well-known philosopher in history. His work will continue to influence philosophical ideologies
and theories for a very long time. Aristotles work and tachings will live forever in the world of

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"Categories (Aristotle)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

"Organon: The Structure of Knowledge." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Studtmann, Paul. "Aristotle's Categories." Stanford University. Stanford University, 07 Sept.
2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.