of λόγος refers to a being-context that is preliminarily described as the life of the human being.20
§7. Οὐσία as the Basic Concept of Aristotelian Philosophy
The basic function of λόγος is the bringing-to-self-showing of beings in their being, of οὐσία as the “being” of beings or as “beingness.” By this is meant that the being of a being itself has determining aspects, and so something can still be discovered about the being in the how of its being. But οὐσία, as the “being in the how of its being,” is itself ambiguous in Aristotle; it has various meanings. At the same time, οὐσία is the title of the concrete context that constitutes the topic of Aristotle’s fundamental research. Οὐσία is the expression for the basic concept of Aristotelian philosophy. On the basis of οὐσία, we will come to know not only what the ὁρισμός is, but we will also acquire a ground on which to place other basic concepts.
a) The Various Types of Conceptual Ambiguity and the Coming to Be of Terms
Οὐσία is ambiguous for Aristotle. That could immediately interrupt the application of the expression since an ambiguity in the basic concept of research poses a danger. But not every ambiguity is of the same type. There are the following types.
1. Ambiguity of confusion arises when a word is being used in a certain way but still has various meanings that are already clarified, and these meanings are conflated through a lack of knowledge of the matter at issue. The ambiguity of confusion sets in subsequently and obscures that which came to light in explicit research.
2. Ambiguity can be, and can arise from, an inability to see certain concrete contexts in terms of their possible differences, from an insensitivity to difference in conceptual apprehension and determination.
3. Ambiguity can be the index for the fact that the scope of a word in its ambiguity arises from a legitimate relation to, a legitimate familiarity with, the matter; that the mutifariousness of meaning is demanded by the matter, an articulated manifoldness of distinct meanings; that the matter is such that it demands, from out of itself, the same expression but with various meanings.
Thus is the situation for Aristotle—for example, in Book Δ of the Metaphysics. The fact that Aristotle is not concerned with removing this ambiguity, by leveling it out through some fanciful systematization, shows his instinct for the matter. He lets the meaning stand in the face of the matters.
Consequently, multifariousness of meaning is an index of variation. It is advisable not to mistake one’s own confusion for the multifariousness of
20. See Hs. p. 341 f.