Most ancient theorists of matter accept that matter is a formless substrate, which in itself lacks any qualification, but which undergoes the imposition of form as part of creation. Its existence is accepted to explain the continuity of generation and decay of the material world. Gregory of Nyssa’s theory of matter presents an exception to this widely shared view of matter. To his mind, a formless substrate cannot exist, as there is no such thing as a sheer absence of form. Any conceivable material existent (even sheer bulk) will have to be a qualified one, whereby the qualities (as universal intelligibles) are responsible for the existent’s being thinkable or perceivable. A material thing is, thus, always a “bundle” of qualities, which account for its individuality. The main point of this article is that the “bundle theory” of matter must be carefully distinguished from a “bundle theory” of the individual. The latter was not uncommon in late antiquity, but its application to matter seems to be peculiar to Gregory. The distinction between the two also allows one to avoid an apparent contradiction that lies in Gregory’s reference to matter as a “substrate” (ὑποκείμενον).


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pp. 395-421
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