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I—Marilyn McCord Adams: What's Metaphysically Special about Supposits? Some Medieval Variations on Aristotelian Substance1

Marilyn McCord Adams
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0309-7013.2005.00124.x 15-52 First published online: 1 July 2005


In this paper I begin with Aristotle's Categories and with his apparent forwarding of primary substances as metaphysically special because somehow fundamental. I then consider how medieval reflection on Aristotelian change led medieval Aristotelians to analyses of primary substances that called into question how and whether they are metaphysically special. Next, I turn to a parallel issue about supposits, which Boethius seems in effect to identify with primary substances, and how theological cases–the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and of the human soul's separate survival between death and resurrection–call into question how and to what extent supposits are metaphysically special. I conclude with some reflections on various senses of being metaphysically special and how they pertain to primary substances and supposits.

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