Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Hylomorphic Self

The thesis of self-ownership, not the ideal of freedom, is the real basis of libertarianism and Capitalism. Defenders of the thesis of self-ownership generally focus on the “ownership” part of the thesis and say little about the metaphysics of the self that is said to be self-owned. But not all accounts of the self are consistent with robust self-ownership. Philosophical accounts of the self are typically enshrined in theories of personal identity. There are many of these theories but not all are suitable for grounding a metaphysics of the self consistent with self-ownership. As it happens, only one such theory is suitable: the hylomorphic theory* of Aristotle and Aquinas. To adopt such a theory, however, is to see that self-ownership may in some respects have implications different from those many of its defenders take it to have.
*hylomorphism is the view that a substance is defined by a combination of the matter from which it is made and the form which that matter takes.

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