The essence of a thing is what the thing is said to be in its own right. For being you is not the same as being a musician, since you are not a musician in your own right; hence your essence is what you are in your own right. (Metaphysics Ζ.4)1

This is a strange departure from Aristotle’s normal litany of examples: Socrates, horse, cloak, pale, white etc. I don’t think much rides on it, but why choose to switch to the second person here?


  1. Trans. Terence Irwin and Gail Fine in Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Hackett, 2005).