In this course, we will investigate the reality and meaning of the famous categories of Aristotle. He introduces them as logical concepts, as modes of predication occurring in various sorts of propositions. He does this work in the book called the Categories. He goes on to argue, however, in Book 5 of the Metaphysics, that the categories correspond to modes of being, a claim that sets the stage for many of the conclusions he draws in the Metaphysics, for example, in Book 7. Ultimately, they underpin theology itself, as he shows in Book 12. Prior to these metaphysical considerations, Aristotle shows that the categories are necessary in defining concepts belonging to natural philosophy, for example, the definitions of nature and motion.
Consequently, in order to lay out an overarching view of Aristotle’s use of the categories in his philosophy, we will first consider his view of them in the Categories as logical concepts, i.e., as predications (kategoria in Greek). Then we will look at the role of the categories in the definitions of nature and motion in Book 2 of the Physics. Finally, we will look at the role they play in defining being itself in Books 5 and 7 of the Metaphysics, along with a glimpse of their application to the Divine Being itself in Book 12.