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Animals, Animal Parts, and Hylomorphism: John Duns Scotus’s Pluralism about Substantial Form


This paper presents an original interpretation of John Duns Scotus’s theory of hylomorphism. I argue that Scotus thinks, contrary to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, that at least some of the extended parts of a substance—paradigmatically the organs of an animal—are themselves substances. Moreover, Scotus thinks that the form of corporeity is nothing more than the substantial forms of these organic parts. I offer an account of how Scotus thinks that the various extended parts of an animal are substantially unified. First, a plurality of substances can become parts of a complex substance if they are essentially ordered to one another in the order of final causality. Second, a plurality of substances do become parts of a complex substance if they are together informed by a soul. The paper closes with some reflections on some of the ramifications of the substancehood of organic parts on the function of soul.