views updated May 18 2018


From the Latin forma, a term signifying figure or shape or "that which is seen" (Gr. ε[symbol omitted]δος) and having many derived meanings, such as kind, nature, and species. In early philosophical usage it came to signify the intrinsic determinant of quantity from which figure or shape results, and then to mean the intrinsic determinant of anything that is determinable. Thus the term is employed in such expressions as "form of contract," "form of worship," and "form of a Sacrament." In its stricter philosophical usage, however, it is limited to signifying the intrinsic principle of existence in any determinate essence, a definition that applies to both accidental and substantial form. In a further extended usage, every species or nature, whether in itself material or existent as immaterial, is called a form, although it may not be strictly a formal principle. In this manner it is not unusual to speak of the angelic form, or even of the form of God, as signifying the nature or essence of the angel, or of God. Hence, form is sometimes used as a synonym for essence or nature. Similarly, the formal cause, in Aristotelian and scholastic philosophy, is frequently identified with the essence (τ τί [symbol omitted]ν ε[symbol omitted]ναι), as that in virtue of which the essence, even of material and composite entities, is precisely what it is.

This article is concerned primarily with the philosophical significance of the term form and treats this in two parts: the first presents a history of the development of the concept of form; the second, a systematic analysis of the concept from the viewpoint of scholastic philosophy.

History of the Concept of Form

This survey (taken mainly from F. Aveling's earlier one) first enumerates the kinds of form discussed by philosophers; the development of these kinds is then traced through the Greek, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods.

Kinds of Form. The various kinds of form recognized in philosophy include the following. Substantial form, in material entities, is what determines or actuates primary matter to become a specific substantial nature or essence, as the form of hydrogen, of horse, or of man (see matter and form). It is defined by aristotle as the first entelechy of a physical body, and it may be such that it is merely the determinant of matter, in which case it is called a corporeal substantial form, or it may exceed, as it were, the potentiality of matter, in which case it is called a spiritual or subsistent form. Accidental form is what determines a substance to one or other of the accidental modes, such as quantified, qualified, relationed, etc. (see categories of being). As the existence of an accident is an inexistence, or one of inherence in an existent subject, it always connotes a subject of inherence. A separated form is one that exists apart from the matter it actuates. No accidental form can thus be separated, nor can corporeal substantial forms. The form of man, the human soul, becomes a separated form at death. An accidental form, because it modifies and determines substance, is sometimes referred to as an inhering form. The term is employed to emphasize the distinction of accidental from substantial forms. These latter do not inhere in matter, but are coprinciples with it in the constitution of material substances.

Forms of knowledge, according to I. kant, are forms of (1) intuition, viz, space and time, and (2) thought, viz, the 12 categories by which all judgments are conditioned: unity, plurality, totality; reality, negation, limitation; substantiality, causality, relation; possibility, existence, and necessity. All of these are a priori forms and under them, as content, fall all of humanity's intuitions and judgments.

Greek Thought. The doctrine of form in Greek philosophy made its first appearance with plato. While not denying that the things of ordinary experience possess something like form, Plato turned his primary attention to the exemplars that corporeal shapes or forms might imitate. This led him to postulate the existence of a world of Forms or Ideas that subsist in themselves and are the immutable objects of man's highest knowledge. (For the historical development of this Platonic conception, see idea.) Plato's doctrine was criticized by his student, Aristotle, particularly on the point of the separate existence of Forms. For Aristotle, forms exist, but they exist in matter. The Aristotelian doctrine of forms stems from the notion of substance, and particularly from that of material substance as composed of matter and form. In some texts Aristotle identifies form with essence, and this because substance is what it is essentially by reason of the substantial form; it would be a mistake, nonetheless, to suppose that his doctrine leaves no room for a distinction between the two.

Medieval Thought. The Aristotelian distinction between matter and form, and its more basic formulation in the doctrine of potency and act, is central in the philosophy and theology of St. thomas aquinas, the principal spokesman for medieval scholasticism. For him, substantial form is an act, the principle of activity, and that by which things actually exist (Summa theologiae 1a, 66.12). Moreover, it is one. Thus man exists as man, in virtue of his substantial form, otherwise known as the human soul (see soul, human). That the rational soul is the unique form of the body is also of faith [H. Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer (Freiburg 1963) 900, 902, 1440, 2828]. Man is learned or healthy in virtue of the accidental forms of learning or health that inhere in him; these may be present or absent without detriment to his humanity. Both kinds of form, it may be noted, are individuated by something extrinsic to themselves: substantial forms by quantified matter, and accidental forms by their subject of inherence (see individuation). The incorporeal subsistent form of man, though continuing to exist when separated from the body, retains its relationship to the matter by which it was individuated.

This doctrine is common to most scholastics, but it should be noted that duns scotus and others taught, in opposition to St. Thomas's doctrine of one substantial form, a plurality of forms in individuals. Thus, while according to Aquinas man is all that he is substantially (corporeal, animal, rational, Socrates) in virtue of his one soul, according to Scotus each determination (generic or specific) adds a new form to man. In this way, man would be corporeal in virtue of a corporeal form, animal in virtue of a superadded animal form, etc., until he becomes Socrates in virtue of his ultimate personal form (Socrateitas ). william of ockham also distinguished between a rational and a sensitive soul in man, and taught that the latter is corruptible. (see forms, unicity and plurality of.)

Modern Thought. The principal alternative systems in the modern period that profess to give an account of corporeal substances are those of Descartes, Locke, Mill, and the materialists. R. descartes placed the essence of bodies in extension in three dimensions, thus identifying quantified substance with quantity and in no way accounting for substantial differences. Each substance possesses a "preeminent attribute, which constitutes its nature and essence and to which all others relate." To this J. locke added the qualities of substance, making its essence consist of its primary qualities or properties (extension, figure and mobility, divisibility and activity). Locke regarded substantial form as "wholly unintelligible," maintaining that the search for this and like entities is fruitless. J. S. mill, considering substance from a psychological rather than from an ontological viewpoint, defined it by its relation to sense perception as an external and permanent possibility of human sensations. Akin to this is the doctrine of many materialists and positivists, who attempt to explain the nature of matter or substance as a series of sensations. All of these theories, as well as that of Kant mentioned above and those of the idealists, are strongly influenced by the epistemologies of their proponents (see knowledge, theories of; quality).

Contemporary Thought. In recent philosophy the term form rarely occurs, and the issues concerning the relationships between matter and form are no longer argued, the term matter being generally used without reference to form. Yet the problems that have traditionally been solved in terms of matter and form continue to be discussed. Examples are the problem of the one and the many, that of the universal and the particular, and that of the changeable and the changeless. These are discussed by thinkers such as W. james and H. bergson,J. Dewey and G. santayana, and A. N. whitehead and B. russell. An occasional approximation to earlier thought is found in expressions such as the "eternal objects" of Whitehead or the "realm of essence" of Santayana. Although not explicitly stated, therefore, the problem of form and its meaning still lies dormant in contemporary thought.

Bibliography: f. aveling, The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. c.g. herbermann et al., 6:13739 (New York 190714; suppl.1922). m. j. adler, ed., The Great Ideas: A Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World, 1:526542 (Chicago 1952); v.2, 3 of Great Books of the Western World. f. c. copleston, History of Philosophy (Westminster, Md., 1946). a. carlini, Enciclopedia filosofica, 2:477492 (Venice-Rome 1957). a. michel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 6.1:541588 (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951). j. b. lotz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 4:203205 (2d new ed. Freiburg 195765). r. eisler, Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe, 1:436443 (4th ed. Berlin 192730). r. p. phillips, Modern Thomistic Philosophy, 2 v. (Westminster, Md. 1934; repr.1945). e. j. watkin, A Philosophy of Form (New York 1935).

[w. a. wallace]

Systematic Analysis

Form is the term commonly used to designate the determinate aspects humans apprehend in things. This part of the article investigates such a notion of form systematically, treating of quantitative form, qualitative form, and intelligible form, and concluding with an analysis of the concept of formal causality.

Quantitative Form. The shape of a triangular bar and the shape of a square desk top are quantitative forms. They are configurations of actual matter that are definite down to the minutest detail; that is, they are determinate. They must be the shapes of actual things, for otherwise they would not exist independently of thought; yet the kind of stuff of which they are quantitative forms is quite irrelevant to human understanding of them as such forms. Thus triangularity and squareness are abstract, and this in two ways: they leave out of consideration all possible materials that can be formed triangularly or squarely, and they also omit all deviations from actual straightness that occur in attempts to produce perfectly triangular or square surfaces in matter. This twofold abstractness results from the omission of all features that are irrelevant to understanding what it is to be triangular and what it is to be square. Thus does the human understanding apprehend some determinate aspect of the thing understood; this exists in the mind not with the properties of a physical existent but with the abstractness of an act of under-standing. By contrast, the things that do exist in a physical way are determinate in every detail. Consequently, they are only approximations to their idealized quantitative aspects.

Some of the quantitative forms humans apprehend in nature can serve as models for forms engendered by him in matter when he produces artifacts. Thus a table top that is approximately square has been formed by man in accordance with a model made on paper or one existing only in his imagination. The model possesses the determinate form called squareness just as truly as does the actual table; however, its manner of existence is different, and so is its degree of approximation to the idealized squareness known through understanding. Thus one and the same formality (form considered abstractly as that by which something is determinate) can exist actually in matter, or representationally in the imagination, or meaningfully in the understanding.

Number and Measurement. A similar analysis holds for the quantitative form called number, which is used in a practical way to signify groupings of things; here, however, the imagined groupings and one's understanding of them can be exact replicas of actual physical multiplicities. This is so because numbers are more abstract than abstract shapes. Consequently, for numerical distinction any one means of identifying units suffices; the determinate aspects of their actual configurations can be left out of consideration.

In general the term quantitative form refers to any static or dynamic aspect of extension that can be considered in itself or as an actual aspect of things found in nature. The determinate aspects of such extension can be known with great precision by measurement.

Form and Matter. The determinate is contrasted with the determinable, that is, with what is capable of being formed in some manner. This latter is called matter or substrate; it designates what is formed and what remains when one form replaces another. The wood of a table about to be built is determinate as wood; nevertheless it is further determinable, since an arrangement of parts can be introduced into a pile of wood to form a table. When the wood has received these determinations, however, it is still receptive to further ones: it can be arranged, for example, as part of a room ensemble, or the table can be disassembled and the wood formed into some entirely different thing. Because the receiver of these new determinations is merely physical, and in no way cognitive, a new determination is acquired in each instance only at the expense of a previously existing one. This is so because a form that is actually present in a substrate forms the substrate determinately and thereby excludes other similar forms. Any one form must cease to be present actually when a contrary form replaces it.

The forms that result from the arrangement of parts presuppose the existence of parts, which are themselves determinate and further determinable. Consequently, the term quantitative form applies universally to the extended aspects of the most basic parts of material being as well as to the largest and most complex system of parts. But it is by the latter type of quantitative form that one customarily distinguishes kinds of living things. The same criterion is commonly used in the sciences of botany and zoology, and even paleontology, which primarily studies traces of the quantitative forms of living things preserved in the earth's crust. (see quantity.)

Qualitative Form. Inseparable from the quantitatively determinate aspects of things are determinate aspects that correspond to a person's various abilities to be directly aware of his or her body and its environment. By sight and taste and touch, for example, one can detect determinate aspects that are called qualitative forms or sensory qualities"forms" because they are actual determinations of things, "qualities" because they are of a particular kind (Lat. quale ) for each external sense. Such aspects are directly indicative of differences other than differences of mere extension. They are forms sui generis and provide the initial diversity in one's apprehension of matter. Their number corresponds to the number of ways in which humanity can make direct sensory contact with things. Thus sensible qualitative form is any aspect of anything that can make an initial impression upon any human sense. The quantitative forms resulting from the limits of the extension of material beings, it should be noted, are not apprehended initially but only by means of the sense qualities. The triangular shape of a steel bar, for example, may be apprehended either in the contrast of the color of the steel with the visual appearances of its surroundings or in the contrast of its hardness and coolness with the tactile impressions of its surroundings, but not directly and initially.

Forms Related to Sense. Humanity's view of the material universe is predetermined in that the senses are able to detect some formal aspects but not others. Yet, through technology, people have devised instruments to extend the normal range of the senses and to detect formalities that are otherwise too minute, too gross, or too distant for accurate discrimination. Through such instruments, formal aspects of things not discernible by any sense (e.g., molecular structure) can be represented to the senses. These may be referred to as reductively sensible, even though they are not directly apprehended by the senses.

Mechanical Explanation. The discovery of such formal aspects and the entities corresponding to themsuch as atoms and moleculeshas led some in the history of thought to attempt to explain all sensory forms mechanically, i.e., as nothing more than subjective impressions produced by the motion of particles of matter. Thus de mocritus posited atoms and the void as the only true realities and asserted that sense qualities exist for man but not in things themselves; similarly, contemporary mechanists hold that sense perception is but a biochemical function of brain cells. One difficulty for such mechanical viewpoints is that the basic entities of one age tend to be replaced by new ones in succeeding ages, thus giving rise to repeated revolutions in mechanistic thought. Another is that mechanical phenomena alone are rendered more intelligible by mechanical explanations. For example, a mechanical explanation proposes that puttylike sodium, combining with gaseous chlorine, forms crystalline salt. The crystalline structure of salt can be explained in terms of the quantitative forms of its components, but this explanation sheds no light on the different qualitative properties found in salt and in its components when taken by themselves. Yet another difficulty for mechanism is that no direct contact with matter is possible for man except through his senses and through formal aspects that are inseparable from them. To cast doubt upon the senses is thus to characterize all sensory information, and all theory elaborated from it (mechanism included), as nothing more than an illusion.

The alternative to rejecting sense knowledge or reducing it to some inexplicable, albeit real, element in human experience is to recognize the mechanical viewpoint as but one of many limited viewpoints arising in human understanding, according as a person singles out one or other formal aspect as preeminently intelligible.

Intelligible Form. Since the senses can apprehend only what is actually present to them, they are cognitively formed, or informed, by the determinate aspects of all things that can make an impression upon a sense organ. Through the repetition of sensory impressions, many things that are first discriminated as novelties come to be familiar. For example, bread and butter and coffee are easily recognizable by their visual appearances and their customary aromas and textures. If a mistake in identifying coffee by such sensory signs occurs, the sense of smell or of taste is usually invoked to decide the issue, since for most people to be coffee means to have a certain aroma or taste. But this may not be the decisive criterion for all. Some, for example, may want assurance that the ingredients are known to have been obtained from a coffee tree; others may wish a chemical analysis to determine that the beverage has the chemical components found in coffee beans. Each of these methods of identificationthe regular recurrence of the same sensory signs in the same combination (with incidental variations), the regular derivation of the thing in question from the same kind of source, and the invariability of the chemical components and quantitative form of the individual molecule of the kind of thing in questionis sufficient for the practical purposes of identification. Moreover, all three viewpoints, when added together, constitute part of the answer to the question as to what coffee really is. Such grouping of characteristics is the work of the human intellect; its result is what is known as intelligible form.

The name abstraction is commonly used of the process by which the intelligible form is derived from sensory experience. The concept it attains is abstract; there can be no concrete representation of it in itself, although its intelligible content can often be exemplified. Thus human understanding of animal as a sentient organism can be exemplified by any individual animal. While the concept is immaterial, however, it can be said to be formal, or to be a form, because it informs human intellect, even if in a general and abstract way. Its generality and abstractness do not militate against its being a form, since one formal aspect may encompass another, as the concept of color includes concepts of red, blue, and green. When many limited formal aspects are included within a more general formal aspect, however, this is always done at the expense of the determinateness of the more general. Thus to include green in the category of color and to include color in the category of quality is to proceed from determinate to general notions. It is this way, incidentally, that the notion of form itself is arrived at. The partiality of individual intelligible viewpoints obtained by abstraction from experience need not hinder human attempts at understanding the universe, for in thought itself one can compare them and derive more general but equally informative intelligible forms as a result. (see apprehension, simple; knowledge, process of.)

Formal Causality. Although formal aspects that are exclusive of one another considered in themselves may be included in some more general category in thought, the same is not true for forms outside of thought, such as the quantitative forms of bodies. Forms of the same kind exclude one another from the same substrate. But many forms not of the same kind can exist in the same substrate. Thus a body that is living may also be sentient and soft and warm, although it cannot be warm and cold at the same time. Similarly, what are materially the same parts may be informed by different forms at both the substantial and the accidental level. Thus combinations of chemicals may be salt or living flesh, depending upon the form of the whole of which the chemicals are the components. The principle of formation in this case is called substantial form to indicate that it gives to that which it forms its very being in the order of substance. By contrast, accidental forms are aspects that may always be found with the kind of thing in question but are not thought to characterize it fully. Hardness is an essential quality of diamonds, although the substance of diamond is carbon; and humans have many reflex actions similar to those found in unicellular organisms, although they are defined as rational animals because reason is the dominating characteristic in their acting and being.

Form comes into being when the composite of which it is the form comes into being. Thus the properties of salt arise simultaneously with the chemical union of sodium and chlorine by their mutual action upon one another. While the sculptor is the sole efficient cause of the statue he produces in stone, the stone and the figure with which he informs it exert mutual causality upon each other.

Both substantial and accidental forms are said to be educed from the potency of their corresponding matter under the action of the efficient cause. The rational soul of man, however, so transcends matter in its intellectual activities that it cannot originate from matter by a process of eduction (see soul, human, origin of).

Form passes out of existence when the whole of which it is the form is destroyed. When salt is broken down to its component chemical parts, the properties of salt cease to exist in them; similarly, the remains of a once living body act entirely according to their chemical natures and not as parts of living matter. Forms are physically inseparable from things; the act of apprehension, however, can separate them from matter and permit judgments about their nature, kinds, and characteristics.

From these considerations it may be seen that the causality of form is that of an intrinsic cause and, as such, one that requires the receptive action of some appropriate matter. Form and matter exercise their special causality by a mutual communication of their own being; their proper effect is the composite that results from their union. Both form and matter obtain their actual existence from the existence of this composite, even though the form may have preexisted potentially in the matter (and previous composite) from which it was educed. And neither form nor matter can exercise its causality unless there is a proper proportion between them, and unless an efficient cause acts to bring about the composite's formation. (see causality; efficient causality; final causality.)

Bibliography: f. j. collingwood, Philosophy of Nature (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1961). v. e. smith, The General Science of Nature (Milwaukee 1958). l. l. whyte, ed., Aspects of Form (New York 1951). j. goheen, The Problem of Matter and Form in the 'De Ente et Essentia' of Thomas Aquinas (Cambridge. Mass. 1940). p.h. j. hoenen, The Philosophy of Inorganic Compounds, tr. p. cohen (West Baden Springs, Ind. 1960).

[f. j. collingwood]


views updated May 21 2018

form / fôrm/ • n. 1. the visible shape or configuration of something: the form, color, and texture of the tree. ∎  arrangement of parts; shape: the entities underlying physical form. ∎  the body or shape of a person or thing: his eyes scanned her slender form. ∎  arrangement and style in literary or musical composition: these videos are a triumph of form over content. ∎  Philos. the essential nature of a species or thing, esp. (in Plato's thought) regarded as an abstract ideal that real things imitate or participate in.2. a mold, frame, or block in or on which something is shaped. ∎  a temporary structure for holding fresh concrete in shape while it sets.3. a particular way in which a thing exists or appears; a manifestation: her obsession has taken the form of compulsive exercise. ∎  any of the ways in which a word may be spelled, pronounced, or inflected: an adjectival rather than adverbial form. ∎  the structure of a word, phrase, sentence, or discourse: every distinction in meaning is associated with a distinction in form.4. a type or variety of something: sponsorship is a form of advertising. ∎  an artistic or literary genre. ∎  Bot. a taxonomic category that ranks below variety, which contains organisms differing from the typical kind in some trivial, frequently impermanent, character, e.g., a color variant. Compare with subspecies and variety.5. the customary or correct method or procedure; what is usually done: an excessive concern for legal form and precedent. ∎  a set order of words; a formula. ∎  a formality or item of mere ceremony: the outward forms of religion.6. a printed document with blank spaces for information to be inserted: an application form.7. chiefly Brit. a class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number: the fifth form.8. the state of an athlete or sports team with regard to their current standard of performance: illness has affected his form | they've been in good form this season. ∎  details of previous performances by a racehorse or greyhound: an interested bystander studying the form.9. variant spelling of forme. • v. [tr.] 1. bring together parts or combine to create (something): the company was formed in 1982. ∎  (form people/things into) organize people or things into (a group or body): peasants and miners were formed into a militia. ∎  go to make up or constitute: the precepts that form the basis of the book. ∎  [intr.] gradually appear or develop: a thick mist was forming all around. ∎  conceive (an idea or plan) in one's mind. ∎  enter into or contract (a relationship): the women would form supportive friendships. ∎  articulate (a word, speech sound, or other linguistic unit). ∎  construct (a new word) by derivation or inflection.2. make or fashion into a certain shape or form: form the dough into balls. ∎  [intr.] (form into) be made or fashioned into a certain shape or form: his strong features formed into a smile of pleasure. ∎  (be formed) have a specified shape: her body was slight and flawlessly formed. ∎  shape or develop by training or discipline. ∎  influence or shape (something abstract): the role of the news media in forming public opinion.PHRASES: in form (of an athlete or sports team) playing or performing form (of an athlete or sports team) not playing or performing well.DERIVATIVES: form·a·bil·i·ty n. / ˌfôrməˈbilətē/ form·a·ble adj.


views updated May 14 2018

form. The structure and design of a composition. Whereas in the 16th and 17th cents. instr. comps. were usually very brief (e.g. a movt. in a kbd. suite of Byrd or Purcell), by the 19th cent. they were frequently long (e.g. a sonata or sym. movt. of the later Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mahler). This implies an enormous growth in the understanding of the principles of form and in mastery of the application of those principles. In general, however, despite continuous experimentation the mus. forms so far devised can be classified into no more than 6 categories, all of them exploiting the idea of contrast plus variety both in the domain of content (thematic material) and in that of key (combinations of these are, of course, possible, e.g. in simple ternary form each section can be in binary form, and so on).(1) SIMPLE BINARY FORM (e.g. in the movts. of Bach's kbd. suites) has no strong contrast of material. The 1st section opens in the tonic key and then modulates, as it ends, into the key of the dominant (or in the case of a minor key, sometimes the relative major). The 2nd section then opens in that 2nd key and, before it ends, modulates back to the 1st. There are, then, 2 distinct main cadences, or points of rest, the 1st in the dominant (or relative major), and the 2nd in the tonic. This form, although it sometimes attained fairly considerable dimensions in the 18th cent., is unsuitable for very long pieces, since the variety offered to the listener is almost entirely confined to details of treatment and the element of key, the thematic material employed throughout being the same. This form has been little used since c.1750. (2) TERNARY FORM. This is one of the most commonly used forms for short comps. It consists of a first section (more or less complete and self-contained), a 2nd section, contrasting as to mus. material and key (normally in the dominant or the tonic minor or relative major), and then the first section repeated. See ABA. (3) COMPOUND BINARY FORM (also known as SONATA FORM, because often employed in the first or some other movt. or movts. of a sonata; and as FIRST MOVEMENT FORM for the same reason). This derives historically from simple binary form but has developed into something more resembling ternary form. Like simple binary it falls into 2 sections, of which the 1st modulates to the dominant and the 2nd takes us back to the tonic. But the sections have become elaborated as follows:

1st section. Strain I (first subject) in tonic key; followed by Strain II (2nd Subject) in dominant key. Those 2 strains (or subjects) are generally contrasted in character. This section is called the exposition.

2nd section. Some development (also called ‘working-out’ or ‘free fantasia’) of the material in the previous section, followed by a repetition (recapitulation) of that section, but this time with both subjects in the tonic key so that the piece may end in the key with which it opened.

Further details may incl. (a) a bridge passage, leading (in both sections) from the first subject to the second; (b) a closing passage (coda), at the end of each section.

A tendency towards the evolution of simple binary form into compound binary form may be observed in some of Bach's movts., but its first real exploitation is connected with the name and fame of his son, C. P. E. Bach, and the further exploitation and elaboration with the names of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries. This form is still in frequent use, but 20th cent. composers have modified it in detail. (4) RONDO FORM This may be considered an extension of ternary form. If the 3 sections of that form are indicated by the formula ABA, then the rondo form must be indicated by ABACADA, or some variant of this. (The sections B, C, D, etc. are often spoken of as episodes).

SONATA-RONDO FORM, as its name implies, offers a combination of compound binary and rondo forms. The general plan is as follows: 1st section. Subject I, subject II in another key, subject I repeated. 2nd section. Development of the previous subject-material. 3rd section. Subject I and subject II again, but the latter this time in the same key as subject I.

Sometimes the development above mentioned is replaced by new material. And there are other variants. (5) AIR WITH VARIATIONS. This form, which from the 16th cent. to the present day has been popular with composers of every class from the most trivial to the most serious, consists, as the name implies, of one theme (or ‘subject’), first played in its simplicity and then many times repeated with elaborations, each variation thus taking on its own individuality.

There are very many types of comp. to which distinctive names are given, each representing not a ‘form’ but rather a style in which one of the above forms is presented; such as the nocturne, the gavotte, the barcarolle, the Konzertstück, and others.

With the development of elec. mus. and the use of aleatory techniques in 20th-cent. comps., the use of form is stretched to meet whatever the composer may wish to do. Infinite flexibility would seem to be the guiding principle in works of this kind. (6) See fugue.


views updated May 14 2018

170. Form

variability of a chemical compound in which there is no variation in crystalline form. allomeric, adj.
the quality of being shapeless. Also, Rare. amorphy . amorphic, adj.
a distorted image of an object, as in anamorphic art. Also anamorphosis . anamorphic, adj.
a cylindrical mirror for correcting the distorted image created by anamorphism.
anamorphosis, anamorphosy
the state of being in the form of an X. See also 230. JOINING .
Physical Geography. the study of the characteristics, origins, and development of land forms. geomorphologist, n. geomorphologic, geomorphological, adj.
the state or condition of being curved, especially convexly. gibbous, adj.
any minor malformation.
heteromorphism, heteromorphy
1 . the quality of differing in form from the standard or norm.
2 . the condition of existing in different forms at different stages of development, as certain insects. heteromorphic, adj.
the state or quality of having a peculiar or characteristic form; uniqueness or individuality in form. idiomorphic, adj.
the state of having no material body or form. incorporeity, n.
the origin(s) of the various aspects of the form of an organism. Also called morphogeny . morphogenetic, adj.
the scientific description of form. morphographer, n. morphographic, adj.
1 . the study of the form or structure of anything.
2 . the branch of biology that studies the form and structure of plants and animals. See also geomorphology. morphologist, n. morphologic, morphological, adj.
the process or technique of measuring the external form of an object. morphometrical, adj.
the study of the laws governing form in nature. morphonomic, adj.
the study of the phylogeny of forms.
the state or quality of having every form. omniform, adj.
the state or quality of being right-angled or perpendicular. orthogonal, adj.
1 . the phase in the development of an organism in which its form and structure pass through the changes undergone in the evolution of the species.
2 . the morphological and structural changes that occur during insect development. Also palingenesia, palingenesy. palingenetic, adj.
the branch of morphology that studies the forms of organisms from a mathematical point of view. promorphologist, n. promorphological adj.
the form, disposition, or outline of a thing or concept. schematist, n.
a branch of morphology that regards an organism as made up of other organisms. tectological, adj.
the property of displaying four different forms. tetramorph, n. tetramorphic, adj.
the state or quality of occurring in three distinct forms, usually at different stages of development, as certain plants, organisms, etc. trimorphic, trimorphous, adj.


views updated Jun 08 2018

1. In LOGIC, the abstract relations of terms in a proposition, and of propositions in a syllogism.

2. In LINGUISTICS, an inflected variant of a word: men as the plural form of man; see, sees, saw, seen, seeing as the forms of the verb see.

3. In linguistics, a category such as ‘noun’ when analysed in terms of structure (singular man, plural men) and FUNCTION (subject and object of sentence). Items that share characteristics belong to the same form class: the forms happy and careful belong to the adjective form class. Criteria of form are used to identify units and classes of units. Words such as man and information are identified as nouns by the formal criterion (among others) that they can be the main words in a phrase that functions as the subject of a sentence (man in That man looks familiar) or as the object of a preposition (information in This is for your information only). The criterion may be negative: nouns, unlike most adjectives, do not have comparative and superlative forms: there are adjective forms happier and happiest alongside happy, but no corresponding forms for girl. In contrast, notional or semantic criteria identify units and classes by meaning: a noun defined as the name of a person, thing, or place; a verb as a doing word. While such criteria may adequately characterize central members of a class, they are not comprehensive. The notional definition of a noun does not cover such words as action, existence, happiness, temperature that belong to the noun form class on formal criteria. See MORPHOLOGY, PARADIGM.


views updated Jun 11 2018


A prototype of an instrument to be employed in a legal transaction or a judicial proceeding that includes the primary essential matters, the appropriate technical phrases or terms, and any additional material required to render it officially accurate, arranged in suitable and systematic order, and conducive toadaptationto the circumstances of the particular case.

The expression form of the statute signifies the language or structure of a statute, and, therefore, the restriction or command that it might include, as used in the phrase in criminal pleading "against the form of statute in that case made and provided."

A matter of form, as distinguished from a matter of substance—with respect to pleadings, affidavits, indictments, and other legal instruments—entails the method, style, or form of relating the applicable facts; the selection or arrangement of terms; and other such matters without influencing the essential sufficiency or validity of the instrument, or without reaching the merits.


views updated May 11 2018

A. visible aspect of a thing XIII; (scholastic philos.) that which makes matter a determinate kind of thing XIV.

B. character, nature, †degree XIII (class in school XVI); due observance or procedure XIV;

C. lair of a hare XIII; long seat without a back XIV; (typogr.) see FORME XV. ME. forme, f(o)urme — (O)F. forme, †f(o)urme :- L. fōrma mould, shape, beauty, of uncert. orig.
So vb. give a form to XIII; be the components of XIV; draw up or dispose in order XVIII. — OF. fourmer, (also mod.) former — L. fōrmāre. formal XIV. — L. formalism XIX, formalist XVII, formality XVI. formation XV. — (O)F. or L. formative XV.


views updated Jun 27 2018

1. A page of printer media. It may be a single sheet or a multipart set, i.e. a number of sheets interleaved with carbon paper or coated so that a single impact will produce similar marks on all sheets. The sheets may be joined to form a continuous web, with sprocket holes at the edges to allow automatic feeding through printers. The paper may be preprinted with headings, fixed information, and lines or boxes. Preprinted single sheets are commonly used with laser printers and inkjet printers.

2. The data structure within a computer system representing the final result to be printed or displayed.


views updated May 08 2018

form The overall shape of a crystal. If it is able to grow freely, a crystal develops with a regular pattern of crystal faces and interfacial angles which are characteristic of a particular mineral. The study of this regularity of crystal form, and of the internal structure to which it is related, is called ‘crystallography’.


views updated May 09 2018

1. A category used in the classification of organisms into which different types of a variety may be placed.

2. Any distinct variant within a species. Seasonal variants, e.g. the tawny brown (summer) and blue-white (winter) forms of the blue hare, may be called forms, as may the different types that constitute a polymorphism.