One Answer

  1. Τὸ ὑποκείμενον – it is literally the “subject”; the term in the philosophy of Aristotle correlated with the term τὸ κατηγορούμενον (rarely ἡ κατηγορία), i.e., “predicate” (related terms that can be found in school textbooks of the Russian – and in fact any European language is the direct descendants of these concepts Aristotle). Each of these terms has two closely related meanings – logical and ontological. Which is derived from which is hardly possible to say with accuracy, but it is easier to explain based on the logical, or, more precisely, even grammatical meaning of words.

    In the grammatical sense, everything is quite intuitive: “subject” and “predicate” are what appears as the subject and predicate in a simple basic statement like A is B. A chair is a piece of furniture. Cactus – green. “Chair” and “cactus” are subjects, “piece of furniture” and “green” are predicates, they “speak out” about what is subject to them as expressed characteristics. You can go further and say, for example: green is a color. Here the subject is “green” and the predicate is “color”. Thus, “green” can be either a subject or a predicate. But this situation is not true for all things; there are objects that can only be subjects, and there are those that can only be predicates.

    And here we come to the ontology. Let's leave aside those things that can only be predicates, because in the question we are not talking about predicates (in short, we can say that these are either the most general concepts, i.e. categories from the treatise “Categories”, or the terms” being “and” one “from the IV book of”Metaphysics”). It is better to point out those things that can only be subjects. These are individual concrete objects, i.e. concrete tables, chairs, cacti, Socrates and Callias. Indeed, we can use the word “Socrates” as a subject (Socrates is a person), but we cannot use it as a predicate (except in cases such as “This is Socrates”, which according to Aristotle will not be quite correct use of language). Thus, in this sense, ὑποκείμενον is a synonym for the phrase “single object”, or, as Aristotle himself puts it,”first essence”

    Then go even deeper into the ontology. Such individual things, according to Aristotle, are the only things that exist in the proper sense of the word; all other things (qualities, quantities, relations, etc.) exist only in connection with concrete things – since if the first entities did not exist, then there would be nothing to have qualities, to remain in a certain quantity, to enter into relations, etc. Everything else depends on them and, accordingly, is expressed about them (that is, it is a predicate for them).

    You can go on and on. A single object in Aristotle is the unity of form and matter. At the same time, the form is not some outline of a thing, but its logical essence, its definition (the form of a person is not the outline of a person, but the answer to the question ” what does it mean to be a person?”, the essence of being a human being). That is, when we have a person in front of us – this form (the concept of “person”) is superimposed on a certain matter (flesh and bones), just as the predicate is superimposed on the subject. Predicates and subjects form a descending chain according to the type “essence” – “physical body” – “animal” – “person” – “concrete person” – “matter of a concrete person”, where each previous member is a predicate for the next one, and each subsequent member is a subject for each previous one. Therefore, Aristotle often calls the last subject matter (and even more deeply- “first matter”; however, we will not go into what it is); in Russian in these cases, ὑποκείμενον is translated by the word “substrate”. Thus, another meaning of ὑποκείμενον is the matter underlying the thing.

    Here are the three main meanings of the term τὸ ὑποκείμενον – a grammatical-ontological subject in an utterance in a broad sense (in these cases it was often translated into European languages with the Latin tracing paper subjectum); synonym for the first essence (in these cases it was translated by the word substantia until a certain point; later, however, this term was reassigned to refer to the very concept of “essence” of Aristotle); synonym for matter in a specific object (as already mentioned, in these cases the word substratum).

Leave a Reply