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Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts, Actions, and Organisms

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Simon J. Evnine explores the view (which he calls amorphic hylomorphism) that some objects have matter from which they are distinct but that this distinctness is not due to the existence of anything like a form. He draws on Aristotle's insight that such objects must be understood in terms of an account that links what they are essentially with how they come to exist and wh Simon J. Evnine explores the view (which he calls amorphic hylomorphism) that some objects have matter from which they are distinct but that this distinctness is not due to the existence of anything like a form. He draws on Aristotle's insight that such objects must be understood in terms of an account that links what they are essentially with how they come to exist and what their functions are (the coincidence of formal, final, and efficient causes). Artifacts are the most prominent kind of objects where these three features coincide, and Evnine develops a detailed account of the existence and identity conditions of artifacts, and the origins of their functions, in terms of how they come into existence. This process is, in general terms, that they are made out of their initial matter by an agent acting with the intention to make an object of the given kind. Evnine extends the account to organisms, where evolution accomplishes what is effected by intentional making in the case of artifacts, and to actions, which are seen as artifactual events.


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Simon J. Evnine explores the view (which he calls amorphic hylomorphism) that some objects have matter from which they are distinct but that this distinctness is not due to the existence of anything like a form. He draws on Aristotle's insight that such objects must be understood in terms of an account that links what they are essentially with how they come to exist and wh Simon J. Evnine explores the view (which he calls amorphic hylomorphism) that some objects have matter from which they are distinct but that this distinctness is not due to the existence of anything like a form. He draws on Aristotle's insight that such objects must be understood in terms of an account that links what they are essentially with how they come to exist and what their functions are (the coincidence of formal, final, and efficient causes). Artifacts are the most prominent kind of objects where these three features coincide, and Evnine develops a detailed account of the existence and identity conditions of artifacts, and the origins of their functions, in terms of how they come into existence. This process is, in general terms, that they are made out of their initial matter by an agent acting with the intention to make an object of the given kind. Evnine extends the account to organisms, where evolution accomplishes what is effected by intentional making in the case of artifacts, and to actions, which are seen as artifactual events.

32 review for Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts, Actions, and Organisms

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    [A courtroom in London. INDIANA JONES, DONALD J. DRUMPF, his wife MELANOMA DRUMPF, various OFFICERS OF THE COURT, etc] COURT USHER: Case 94, Rex versus Indiana Jones, Lord Justice Cocklecarrot presiding, all rise, all rise. COCKLECARROT: Please be seated. Mr Indiana Jones, you stand accused of having stolen from the British Museum the priceless artifact commonly known as the Ship of Theseus. How do you plead? JONES: Not guilty. PROSECUTOR: Mr Jones, I put it to you that you inveigled yourself into [A courtroom in London. INDIANA JONES, DONALD J. DRUMPF, his wife MELANOMA DRUMPF, various OFFICERS OF THE COURT, etc] COURT USHER: Case 94, Rex versus Indiana Jones, Lord Justice Cocklecarrot presiding, all rise, all rise. COCKLECARROT: Please be seated. Mr Indiana Jones, you stand accused of having stolen from the British Museum the priceless artifact commonly known as the Ship of Theseus. How do you plead? JONES: Not guilty. PROSECUTOR: Mr Jones, I put it to you that you inveigled yourself into a position of trust with the British Museum, and then over a period of nearly a year stole the entire ship one piece at a time, replacing each piece as it was removed. JONES: I was just cleaning it up. It was in terrible condition. PROSECUTOR: But you do admit that you replaced every piece of it? JONES: Of course I do. The Ship of Theseus is famous precisely because every piece of it has already been replaced at least once. I was continuing a tradition that goes back to the time of Plutarch. PROSECUTOR: And you do admit that you reassembled the pieces you removed so that they looked exactly like the original boat, and donated the result to the private collection of Mr Donald J. Drumpf, also known as Lyin' Crooked Donald? JONES: I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything. According to Professor Simon Evnine's recent book Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts, Objects and Organisms, the identity of an artifact is determined by the act that creates it. The act that created the reassembled ship was part of my thorough program of renovation and refurbishment, hence the ship in the museum is the real one and the reassembled ship is just a copy. PROSECUTOR: Even though it contains all the planks used in the original? JONES: Professor Evnine convincingly argues that the matter an artifact is composed of is irrelevant and only the act that created it is important. So my intentions are what's important here. Why would I want to steal the Ship of Theseus? I didn't make a cent out of the deal. I just gave the old planks to Drumpf because I didn't need them any more and he asked for them. [DONALD DRUMPF, who is watching from the gallery with MELANOMA, nods approvingly] PROSECUTOR: I further put it to you that you were persuaded to steal the ship by Mrs Melanoma Drumpf, with whom you have been conducting an illicit affair. [Pandemonium from the gallery, though DRUMPF still looks unconcerned. The JUDGE has to bang his gavel several times before anyone can hear a word he's saying] JUDGE: Order! Order, or I will clear the court. Mr Jones, how do you respond to these accusations? COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Objection! I wish to draw the court's attention to the theory of qua-objects advanced by Professor Kit Fine. Mr Jones was not having an affair with Melanoma-Drumpf-qua-Donald-Drumpf's-wife, but rather with Melanoma-Trump-qua-foxy-babe. PROSECUTOR: Professor Fine postulates that a qua-object inherits all normal properties possessed by the object from which it is derived. Hence it follows, even if one accepts the outlandish postulate advanced by my learned colleague, that Mr Jones was still having an affair with Donald Drumpf's wife. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: But one could reasonably argue that being married to Donald Drumpf is not a normal property. JUDGE: Objection overruled. Mr Drumpf's metaphysical status is not in question here. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Thank you m'lud. Mr Jones, it is clear that you had a motive for stealing the ship. Do you still persist in your absurd claims? JONES: It's like I said. I was just fixing it up. I'm an archaeologist. PROSECUTOR: But can you prove it? COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Excuse me, m'lud, I request permission to confer with my client. [He sits down with JONES and they whisper briefly] COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: We wish to call a witness, Miss Lolita Drumpf. [Enter LOLITA DRUMPF, wearing an extremely short skirt and chewing gum] USHER: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? LOLITA DRUMPF: Yeah. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Miss Drumpf, do you know the defendant well? LOLITA DRUMPF: Yeah. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: And what is the nature of your relationship? LOLITA DRUMPF: My Facebook page says it's complicated. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Miss Drumpf, I must remind you that you are under oath. Are you sleeping with the defendant? LOLITA DRUMPF: Yeah. I guess. [New sensation from the gallery, banging of gavel, etc. DRUMPF and MELANOMA look apoplectic] COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: And for how long has this relationship been going on? LOLITA DRUMPF: A few months. I guess. But it's kinda over. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: And why is it over, Miss Drumpf? LOLITA DRUMPF: He's boring. All he wants to talk about is that old boat. Even when we're in bed. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: And what does he say about the boat, Miss Drumpf? LOLITA DRUMPF: He keeps saying he's going to fix it up proper. Even if he has to replace every goddamn plank. COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: No further questions, your honor. [The PROSECUTOR and JUDGE confer briefly] JUDGE: Case dismissed. Mr Jones, you are free to go. JONES: [to LOLITA DRUMPF] You coming? LOLITA DRUMPF: Yeah. [She takes JONES'S arm. The COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENCE takes his other arm. As they leave together, DRUMPF makes a complicated gesture in their direction] JONES: What does that mean? COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE: Essentially, you're all losers and you're dead. JONES: Oh, not essentially I hope. At worst, contingently. (I also have a serious review of the book here)

  2. 5 out of 5

    jo

    this excellent book, available today in the UK and in the US (though only as a kindle book in the latter) discusses aristotle's theory of matter and form in relation to artifacts. aristotle's theory of matter and form claims that every object, in fact, every entity that is not purely mental (like numbers) is made out of some indeterminate "matter." aristotle's idea of matter does not equal what we call the matter of which something is made (wood, iron, flesh, or, at a more minute level, cells an this excellent book, available today in the UK and in the US (though only as a kindle book in the latter) discusses aristotle's theory of matter and form in relation to artifacts. aristotle's theory of matter and form claims that every object, in fact, every entity that is not purely mental (like numbers) is made out of some indeterminate "matter." aristotle's idea of matter does not equal what we call the matter of which something is made (wood, iron, flesh, or, at a more minute level, cells and atoms) but refers to a more abstract materiality that underlies all of that which exists in the world (and is not purely mental). so just imagine "matter" here to mean undifferentiated materiality. this is an abstract concept that doesn't match anything in the real world. now, what makes each entity what it is, is the coupling of this indifferentiated materiality with a form. this form, again, is not something we can match with anything we are familiar with. it is, rather, precisely what makes that entity what it is. the form of me is me, plus the matter i'm made of, which, before the form and the matter united, was undifferentiated matter. in this book, evnine rather daringly suggests that for every artifact, i.e. man-made object, you also have a matter and a form. unlike in aristotle, the matter here is not entirely undifferentiated but it's still somewhat undifferentiated. for instance, in the case of a chair, the matter is wood. what makes a generic piece of wood a chair is the intention of the maker. the maker, in other words, takes this undifferentiated piece of wood and decides to turn it into a chair. evnine, in other words, piggy-backs on aristotle's distinction but tweaks it to resemble things we recognize -- wood, the maker's intention. this makes aristotle's original theory less "mystic" and more practical. the real coup of this book, though, is evnine's daring suggestion that his theory applies to actions as well. actions, according to evnine, are made out of matter and the intention of the actor, just like artifacts (i don't remember here what the matter is, but maybe someone else can suggest it in the comments). and then, then, he extends the theory to organisms, and frankly i can't see my way out of that, even after having read the book. this is all super fascinating and, once you get used to the typical analytic shorthand, very clear and, at points, moving.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I am absolutely NOT recommending that anyone read this. I just wanted to share my pleasure with you that this long journey has nearly come to fruition. (To be published in July in the UK and September in the US.) :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    RipplesOfAqua

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (aka EM)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gretel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anissa Fondren

  10. 5 out of 5

    Micah Stafford

  11. 4 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

  12. 4 out of 5

    May

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rohitash Kumar

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Paiva

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pao

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve Morrison

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jayson Virissimo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Octipi

  19. 4 out of 5

    Goldy Kresch

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katherine L

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rad

  23. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Cravan

  24. 4 out of 5

    LZ

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jinx:The:Poet {the Literary Masochist, Ink Ninja & Word Roamer}

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mer Iem

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gunia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vladimir Gospodinoff

  30. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Colvin

  31. 4 out of 5

    Ulviyya Mutallimova

  32. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Marr

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