Hylomorphism is a philosophical theory devised by Aristotle that claims all beings are made up of matter and form. The word is taken from Greek terms for matter (hulê) and form (morphê). When equating this to Aristotle’s view, one might think of body and soul as being the matter/form that Aristotle theorizes. Aristotle theorizes the notion of different forms of substance. These forms are comprised of what Aristotle terms the substantial and the accidental. He claims that substantial form only contains the necessary being or essence of that substance.
It might be explained in this way. A table contains a top and four legs. Aristotle’s substantial form assumes that everyone understands these are the necessary or essential components that make up a table. Therefore, real substantial form cannot be based on theory alone. This would be nearly impossible since one thing is never perceived to have the same meaning for more than one person. By comparison accidental form holds the opposite meaning from substantial form. Aristotle theorizes that accidental form is a substance that is comprised of non-essential and that by changing a substance it becomes something else. Using the table as an example, if one or more of the legs were removed it would change the look and feel of the table. It might still be considered a table, but would just have a different substance about it.
Embedded in Aristotle’s philosophy on hylomorphism are the tenets of perception. Aristotle theorizes that perception is the capacity of the soul to distinguish animals from plants which in turn identifies the ability to perceive is indicative of being an animal. In order for animals to live they must have the ability to perceive things. The mind is the part of the soul that has the ability to reason and understand things. The mind and soul are connected. Without the mind the soul is unable to perceive.