Monday, 3 September 2007

Aristotle and Auditing Principles: What do they have in common?

Did you know, the phrase that we often use in our auditing profession "substance over form" is related to the great Greek Philosopher, Aristotle? The idea of "susbtance" and "form" is in fact the brain child of Aristotle.

According to Aristotle, "substance" is what things are made of, while "form" is the specific characteristics of each thing. Common sense it may seem, but there are some very complex and comprehensive theories behind this. Some examples are, "substance" always contains the potentiality to realise a specific "form", like a chicken egg has the potentiality to become a chicken (which is the "form" in this case) but not a goose. And we see a horse as a horse because of the form it takes. It is the "substance" that will distinguish one horse from another. Haha.... confused already? I feel exactly the same as I am writing this, am I making sense or not?

I don't pretend to understand fully what Aristotle is advocating behind all these but somehow I think he was trying to explain why things are the way they are and the constant changes that we are experiencing in nature, i.e. things take their current form because of their inherent nature (substance) and nature is constantly changing because potentiality are being transformed into actual. Still confused? So am I! Anyway, Aristotle's ideas and theories are important foundations to many scientific and logical reasonings today.

The next time you use the phrase "substance over form", don't just think that you are applying only the auditing rule of thumb, in fact you are thinking like the great Philosopher!

P.S. Don't start wondering what has happened to me as I seem to be talking in riddle. I am just reading a novel and some of these philosophy concepts are discussed which I find completely fascinating!

3 comments:

Thomas said...

Hmmm, I believe now is "substance and form" and not "substance over form". Haha

*sheep said...

that's the perfectionist speaking :x

Ling said...

If perfectionists are the only people who rule the world, we might all have to die younger haha... 缺陷也是美的!