, Volume 185, Issue 3, pp 387–410 | Cite as

Reassessing logical hylomorphism and the demarcation of logical constants

  • Catarina Dutilh NovaesEmail author
Open Access


The paper investigates the propriety of applying the form versus matter distinction to arguments and to logic in general. Its main point is that many of the currently pervasive views on form and matter with respect to logic rest on several substantive and even contentious assumptions which are nevertheless uncritically accepted. Indeed, many of the issues raised by the application of this distinction to arguments seem to be related to a questionable combination of different presuppositions and expectations; this holds in particular of the vexed issue of demarcating the class of logical constants. I begin with a characterization of currently widespread views on form and matter in logic, which I refer to as ‘logical hylomorphism as we know it’—LHAWKI, for short—and argue that the hylomorphism underlying LHAWKI is mereological. Next, I sketch an overview of the historical developments leading from Aristotelian, non-mereological metaphysical hylomorphism to mereological logical hylomorphism (LHAWKI). I conclude with a reassessment of the prospects for the combination of hylomorphism and logic, arguing in particular that LHAWKI is not the only and certainly not the most suitable version of logical hylomorphism. In particular, this implies that the project of demarcating the class of logical constants as a means to define the scope and nature of logic rests on highly problematic assumptions.


Hylomorphism Demarcation of logic Logical constants History of logic 



Thanks to Stephen Read, Arianna Betti, Anthony Booth and Eric Schliesser for helpful comments on earlier drafts.

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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