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This paper is a discussion of one of the more neglected passages in the central books of Aristotle's Metaphysics, Θ 9 105la4~19. In this passage Aristotle makes some assertions concerning relations that hold among potentialities and actualities, both good and bad. These assertions seem to be made as an afterthought, and their relation to the analysis of potentiality and actuality that precedes is unclear. I shall argue that in this passage Aristotle is in effect providing a metaphysical foundation for the normative component of a teleological analysis of composite substance. I consider certain difficulties in reconciling the text with the account of potentiality, and actuality presented earlier in Metaphysics Θ. I then briefly explore some of the implications that this passage has for our understanding of Aristotelian teleology.


Owen Goldin presented “Aristotle on Good and Bad Actualities” to the Society at its meeting with the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association in Kansas City in 1994. A revised version was subsequently published in Journal of Neoplatonic Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1993. pp. 126-150. (JNS was behind in its schedule). That version is posted on: We are also linking to that version.

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