June 2007

What Killed Substantial Form?
(and can it be revived?)

This is a draft of a presentation given at the Anselm Institute Metaphysics Colloquium on June 21, 2007.


Substantial form died at the beginning of the scientific revolution when a new method made it unnecessary and a new view of the senses revealed by this new method made it unknowable. Its death was caused by a re-definition of the very nature of science. A clear look at the type of mechanism implied by this new definition of science is provided by using John Conway’s cellular automata game of Life as a model for mechanism. This model not only shows the power of this mechanism to explain the origin of the natural unities that seemed to require substantial forms, but also reveals fundamental limitations of mechanism and reveals a new type of form that mechanism cannot explain.

Draft of paper

Powerpoint (animations may not display properly over the internet)
Zipped file of powerpoint and animations to download to your computer.

The colloquium was inspired by Pope John Paul II who in his encyclical letter Fides et Ratiospoke of the need for continuing ­philosophical speculation in order to come to an understanding of the Catholic faith. The colloquium invites philosophers and theologians from the New England area to discuss and debate issues in metaphysics with a view to offering the ecclesiastical and scholarly worlds insights and principles upon which to ground their work.

The Saint Anselm Journal offers presentations given at previous colloquia.

Metaphysics Colloquium – June 20-21, 2007

Benjamin Hill
University of Western Ontario

“The Aristotelian Notion of Substantial Form and the Rise of Contemporary Science”

Steven Baldner (Saint Francis Xavier, Nova Scotia)
David Banach (Saint Anselm College)

Wednesday, June 20
2:00 p.m. Registration-Dana Center Lobby
3:30 p.m. Prof. Hill’s presentation/discussion
6:00 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. First response and discussionThursday, June 21
8:30 a.m. Mass
9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:30 a.m. Second response and discussion
12:00 p.m. Lunch

Colloquium sessions will be held in the Conference Room of the Dana Center. Overnight accommodations are available in St. Joan of Arc Hall. There is no fee for the Colloquium.

>> Register Online For This Event

For more information contact:
Rev. John R. Fortin, O.S.B.
The Institute for Saint Anselm Studies
100 St. Anselm Drive
Saint Anselm College
Manchester, NH 03102-1310


Volume VIII, No. 2 Spring 2007


Back to Nature: Aquinas and Ethical Naturalism
Gavin T. Colvert

Kant’s Theory of Geometry in Light of the Development
of Non-Euclidean Geometries
Martha King

Plato’s Parmenides
An Analysis and Response to Objections Raised
Colin Connors

The Virgin Desert:
Gender Transformation in Fourth-Century Christian Asceticism
Erin Kidd

Why Parfit’s Contradiction Makes Me Think I Don’t Exist
Alice Evans

A Publication of the
Philosophy Department
Saint Anselm College