Substantial form

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Substantial form is an Aristotleian innovation designed to solve three problems. The first is how physical things can exist as certain types of intelligible things, e.g., Rover and Fido are both dogs because they have the same type of immaterial substantial form. It is the immaterial substantial form that makes the physical thing intelligible as a particular kind of thing. The second problem is how the activities of physical things can transcend the limitations of matter to different degrees: plants through their vegetative substantial form transcend the capacities of inanimate matter via growth and nutritive activities; animals through their sentient substantial form by sensation, perception and emotions; and humans via their rational substantial forms by their abstract thinking and free will.