Accessibility navigation

Is prime matter energy?

Oderberg, D. S. ORCID: (2022) Is prime matter energy? Australasian Journal of Philosophy. ISSN 1471-6828

Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

[img] Text - Accepted Version
· Restricted to Repository staff only


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2021.2010222


This paper tests the following hypothesis: that the prime matter of classical Aristotelian-Scholastic metaphysics is numerically identical to energy. Is P=E? After outlining the classical Aristotelian concept of prime matter, I provide the master argument for it based on the phenomenon of substantial change. I then outline what we know about energy as a scientific concept, including its role and application in some key fields. Next, I consider the arguments in favour of prime matter being identical to energy, followed by the arguments against. The method used is that of ontological profile comparison: does the profile of prime matter match, in key features, that of energy? An affirmative answer, that P=E, would be a momentous discovery: it would show that one of the most neglected and derided ideas of pre-modern metaphysics – a contributor to its downfall in the wake of the Scientific Revolution – was right all along. From a negative answer we would still learn much about the interaction of science and metaphysics. It turns out, however, given what we currently know, that the answer is not quite as simple as one might hope.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:102182


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation