There are two distinct but interrelated questions concerning Aristotle’s account of infinity that have been the subject of recurring debate. The first of these, what I call here the interpretative question, asks for a charitable and internally coherent interpretation of the limited pieces of text where Aristotle outlines his view of the ‘potential’ (and not ‘actual’) infinite. The second, what I call here the philosophical question, asks whether there is a way to make Aristotle’s notion of the potential infinite coherent (...) and rigorous with modern tools that can stand as a rival to the widely-accepted view of the infinite as characterized in a mathematical theory of sets. In this paper, I argue that the theoretical roles that Aristotle intends his account of the potential infinite to fulfill lead to a deep and irresoluble tension that can help explain the persistence of debates on both of these questions. I do so by turning to the places where Aristotle attempts to argue for or against the existence of particular infinite processes to show that he slides between different underlying notions of when changes are possible. Making these underlying notions clear can help us better understand the role of Aristotle’s account in the history of philosophy, the possible pitfalls for a contemporary theory of the potential infinite, and what each of these debates might learn from each other. (shrink)
The intelligibility of nature was a persistent theme of William A. Wallace, OP, one of the most prolific Catholic scholars of the late twentieth century. This Reader aims to make available a representative selection of his work in the history of science, natural philosophy, and theology illustrating his defense and development of this central theme. Wallace is among the most important Galileo scholars of the past fifty years and a key figure in the recent revival of scientific realism. Further, his (...) long and productive scholarly career has been shaped by a continuous effort to bring the resources of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition to the solution of contemporary problems of philosophy and science. Through all of these contributions, Wallace has provided the foundation for a renewed confidence in the capacity of human knowers to attain understanding of the natural order. Consequently, the overall aim of this volume is to secure continued access to his scholarship for readers in the new millennium. -/- Intelligibility of Nature contains twenty-nine previously published essays written by Wallace over a period of some forty years. Many of these essays are currently not readily accessible. They are arranged in five thematic groups, each representing a major subject-area of Wallace's scholarly interests. The first group is devoted to essays on making nature intelligible through the use of scientific models. The second group of essays investigates various ways in which the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition is foundational to contemporary scientific research. Essays in the third group are historical studies on the origins of modern science. The fourth group of essays discuss the viability of the cosmological argument for the existence of God in light of natural science. The final group of essays consider the relation of science and religion. Together these essays provide a representative sample of Wallace's multifaceted contributions to scholarship. (shrink)
On propose ici de clarifier ce qu’Anaximandre entendait par « le divin » et ce qu’il appelait des « dieux ». À partir d’une réévaluation des sources anciennes, on soutient que cette enquête peut aider à comprendre son modèle cosmologique et le problème des cataclysmes dans son système. Trois hypothèses sont avancées à cette fin : [i] que dans Physique, III, 4, 203b3 15, le syntagme τὸ ἄπειρον renvoie à une notion concrète de substrat infini ; [ii] que dans ce (...) même passage, Aristote n’a probablement pas attribué aux philosophes de la nature – y compris Anaximandre – la thèse selon laquelle τὸ ἄπειρον est divin, mais plutôt la thèse selon laquelle ils comprennent le divin comme étant immortel et impérissable ; [iii] qu’Anaximandre, en supposant que « les astres célestes » sont des dieux, admettrait qu’ils naissent mais ne se détruisent pas – ce qui réfuterait l’idée d’un cataclysme universel chez lui. En conclusion, l’étude discute en quoi consisterait la gouvernance cosmique de τὸ ἄπειρον dans un univers divisé en trois niveaux et propose que cette gouvernance viendrait du fait que τὸ ἄπειρον possède un mouvement éternel. (shrink)
This paper addresses a difficult passage from Aristotle’s Metaphysics (V. 4, 1015a11-13) in which he identifies a metaphorical use of the term “nature” (phusis) to refer to the entities which he calls “substances” (ousiai). I claim that the passage at stake deploys the very notion of metaphor on the basis of an analogy (as defined in the Poetics and in the Rhetorics), which is grounded on a weak (and, sometimes, very weak) similarity between two relations (each involving two relata). The (...) sentences found in 1015a11-13 belong to those kind of metalinguistic sentences which we usually employ to shed some light on the metaphorical use of a term. The similarity Aristotle is presupposing is this: both nature and substance are, in their respective fields, some kind of principle that guarantees (besides other things) certain persistence conditions for what they are the principles of. And this weak similarity is enough for the term “nature” to refer metaphorically to substances. (shrink)
This volume explores the versatility of the concept of pneuma in philosophical and medical theories in the wake of Aristotle’s physics. It offers fourteen separate studies of how the concept of pneuma was used in a range of physical, physiological, psychological, cosmological and ethical inquiries. The focus is on individual thinkers or traditions and the specific questions they sought to address, including early Peripatetic sources, the Stoics, the major Hellenistic medical traditions, Galen, as well as Proclus in Late Antiquity and (...) John Zacharias Aktouarios in the early 14th century. Building on new scholarly approaches and on recent advancements in our understanding of Graeco-Roman philosophy and medicine, the volume prompts a profound re-evaluation of this fluid and adaptable, but crucially important, substance, in antiquity and beyond. (shrink)
Resumo Neste artigo, procura-se analisar os fatores envolvidos na determinação da natureza substancial do organismo vivo, em Aristóteles. Tais fatores seriam, por um lado, a forte unidade e coesão interna composicional e, por outro, o elevado caráter de independência quanto às propriedades essenciais ou formais, relativamente às propriedades dos componentes materiais, por meio dos quais o organismo vivo vem a ser formado, ou com referência aos outros tipos de particularidades de seres. Com esta análise, pretende-se mostrar, ao mesmo tempo, que (...) a unidade do composto orgânico-animado, de um modo geral, é constituída por um complexo arranjo de camadas estratificadas, no qual as camadas ou os tipos de composições materiais apresentam, entre si, um forte grau de interdependência. Tal interdependência entre as partes materiais, que formam uma rede composicional complexa e bem-articulada, faz com que as propriedades essenciais ou formais do todo orgânico se diferenciem sobremaneira das propriedades essenciais dos tipos de componentes que integram esse todo, caracterizando, assim, o caráter substancial da composição orgânica.In this paper, I will try to analyze the factors involved in determining the substantial nature of the living organism in Aristotle. Such factors would be, on the one hand, the strong unity and compositional internal cohesion and, on the other hand, the high character of independence as regards the essential or formal properties, relative to the proper properties of the material components through which the living organism comes to be formed, or relative to other types of particularities of beings. With this analysis, it is intended at the same time to show that, in a general way, the unity of the organic-animate compound is constituted by a complex arrangement of stratified layers, in which the layers or types of material compositions have a strong degree of interdependence among themselves. Such interdependence between the material parts, which form a complex and well-articulated compositional network, makes the essential or formal properties of the organic whole very different from the essential properties of the types of components that make up the whole, thus characterizing the substantial character of organic composition. (shrink)
The roots of the problem of vis-viva or the living forces are potentially from the ancient Greek philosophy, more specifically Aristotle. He wanted to know, What is motion?, Why things move?, Is movement 'real' or 'not-real'?. Answer to this question never came until 16 th century. Philosophers and scientists such as Galileo, Descartes, Huygens, Leibniz, D'Alambert found an approach to this problem that seems rigorously to our observations. Even though, we do not know if that was the intention of Aristotle?
Aristotelian commenters have long noted an apparent contradiction between what Aristotle says in Posterior Analytics I.2 and Physics I.1 about how we obtain first principles of a science. At Posterior 71b35–72a6, Aristotle states that what is most universal (καθόλου) is better-known by nature and initially less-known to us, while the particular (καθ’ ἕκαστον) is initially better-known to us, but less-known by nature. At Physics 184a21-30, however, Aristotle states that we move from what is better-known to us, which is universal (καθόλου), (...) to what is better-known absolutely, which is particular (καθ’ ἕκαστον). This paper turns to two of Aristotle’s most notable medieval commentators—Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas—to resolve this apparent contradiction. The key to Thomas and Albert’s solutions, we will argue, is a twofold distinction between a sense-perceptive and scientific universal, and the particulars as sensed individuals and as differentiating attributes. Our Synthetic treatment of these distinctions contributes to the ongoing scholarly effort to understand the Stagyrite’s complex theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Com este artigo, pretendo examinar a maneira pela qual ocorreria a necessidade natural, em seus diversos aspectos, nos distintos processos gerativos composicionais em Aristóteles. Em um caso, a necessidade natural se daria de um modo "sem mais", ou de um modo absoluto, por meio da qual se geram os agregados. Em outro, a necessidade natural se realizaria a partir de um princípio anterior regulativo ou determinante, que Aristóteles denomina de necessidade ex hupoteseos, com relação aos processos envolvidos na constituição dos (...) corpos homogêneos inanimados e, dos organismos vivos. No entanto, haveria uma diferença essencial relativamente ao acabamento composicional associado, por um lado, aos corpos homogêneos inanimados e, por outro, aos organismos vivos. Enquanto que o acabamento constituinte das composições homogêneas inanimadas se restringiria apenas ao todo composicional e suas propriedades características, o acabamento dos organismos vivos corresponderia ao todo composicional e as suas propriedades características, bem como este acabamento em vista da realização das atividades orgânico-funcionais, ou vitais. (shrink)
This article considers whether and how there can be for Aristotle a genuine science of ‘pure’ psychology, of the soul as such, which amounts to considering whether Aristotle’s model of science in the Posterior Analytics is applicable to the de Anima.
Today, there are many natural sciences, one of which is physics, but there is no science in the sense of a Theory of Nature. In our everyday life, the opinion is rightly held that there is only one nature, but whether this opinion stands up to reflection is questionable. When we apply the speculation that Aristotle developed in Metaphysics Λ to his Physics, we will see, that Aristotle has developed a Theory of Nature that consists in posing the question of (...) the being of the natural being (Frage nach dem Sein des Naturseienden). The standardinterpretation wants us to believe that Aristotle founded a substance metaphysics with a corresponding theology, and that he practised natural science. But, our hermeneutical situation could lead us to an "Aristotle today" and free us from old beliefs so that we, like Thomas Aquinas and others, could learn from a contemporary Aristotle as an immediate interlocutor. One of the learning points, for example, would be that questions are more crucial than new assertions, even if they are sophisticated, and that unassertive thinking (unbehauptendes Denken) in a topical attitude can lead us to insight into the multiplicity of worlds. This insight would have immediate consequences for our behaviour towards our co-inhabitants of our planet and towards our environment. (shrink)
At some point in the Incessu Animalium, Aristotle appeals to some geometrical claims in order to explain why animal progression necessarily involves the bending (of the limbs), and this appeal to geometrical claims might be taking as violating the recommendation to avoid “kind-crossing” (as found in the Posterior Analytic). But a very unclear notion of kind-crossing has been assumed in most debates. I will argue that kind-crossing in the Posterior Analytics does not mean any employment of premises from a discipline (...) other than that to which the explanandum belongs. Kind-crossing was meant to cover a specific sort of employment of premises from a different discipline, namely, the case in which premises from a discipline X are taken as the most important explanatory factor that delivers the fullest appropriate explanation of an explanandum within discipline Y. If this is so, the employment of geometrical premises in the Incessu Animalium is not an instance of the prohibited kind-crossing, but something that is in line with the theory of the Posterior Analytics. (shrink)
To which science, if any, does the intellect’s study belong? Though the student of nature studies every other vital capacity, most interpreters maintain that Aristotle excludes the intellect from natural science’s domain. I survey the three main reasons that lead to this interpretation: the intellect (i) is not realized physiologically in a proprietary organ, (ii) its naturalistic study would corrupt natural science’s boundaries and leave no room for other forms of inquiry, and (iii) it is not, as all other vital (...) capacities are, a principle of movement and rest. I show that the third consideration is the most significant and then defend the view that the student of nature can (and ought to) study the intellect despite its not being a principle of movement. I argue that all of an organism’s vital activities have one and only one nature as their principle, namely, the organism’s soul considered as a unitary whole. The student of nature must concern herself with whatever activities are involved in the coming to be, development, and full realization of these natural forms. (shrink)
In the fifth century BCE, Melissus of Samos developed wildly counterintuitive claims against plurality, change, and the reliability of the senses. This book provides a reconstruction of the preserved textual evidence for his philosophy, along with an interpretation of the form and content of each of his arguments. A close examination of his thought reveals an extraordinary clarity and unity in his method and gives us a unique perspective on how philosophy developed in the fifth century, and how Melissus came (...) to be the most prominent representative of what we now call Eleaticism, the monistic philosophy inaugurated by Parmenides. The rich intellectual climate of Ionian enquiry in which Melissus worked is explored and brought to bear on central questions of the interpretation of his fragments. This volume will appeal to students and scholars of early Greek philosophy, and also those working on historical and medical texts. (shrink)
This is an epistemologically-driven history of the concept of evolution. Starting from its inception, this work will follow the development of this pregnant concept. However, in contradistinction to previous attempts, the objective will not be the identification of the different meanings it adopted through history, but conversely, it will let the concept to be unfolded, to be explicated and to express its own inner potentialities. The underlying thesis of the present work is, therefore, that the path that leads to the (...) development of the concept of evolution is the path that studies the possibilities of the evolution of concepts, and that the historical reconstruction of its conceptual trajectory will shed light into potential and unexploited possibilities. This methodology will provide useful tools and resources for future developments of the concept. For example, it will define the concept of transmutation as a different conceptual trajectory deviating from the one corresponding to evolution, at the onset of the 19th century. Moreover, epigenesis will not be the opposing concept to evolution, but only to simultaneous and instantaneous generation. It will demonstrate that every important system of epigenesis drew upon some kind of formative power to explain development. More importantly, it will show that the problem of preformation cannot be overlooked, and that some kind of virtual preformation must be considered in order to address the problems of generation and development. (shrink)
This paper concerns Aristotle's kind‐crossing prohibition. My aim is twofold. I argue that the traditional accounts of the prohibition are subject to serious internal difficulties and should be questioned. According to these accounts, Aristotle's prohibition is based on the individuation of scientific disciplines and the general kind that a discipline is about, and it says that scientific demonstrations must not cross from one discipline, and corresponding kind, to another. I propose a very different account of the prohibition. The prohibition is (...) based on Aristotle's scientific and metaphysical essentialism, according to which a scientific demonstration must take as its starting point a set of per se properties of a subject, if these make up a single, unitary definition. The subject of demonstration here is a kind, although not the general kind associated with a discipline, but rather the particular kind that the particular demonstration is about. (shrink)
Aristotle’s most fundamental distinction between changes and other activities is not that ofMetaphysicsΘ.6, between end-exclusive and end-inclusive activities, but one implicit inPhysics3.1’s definition of change, between the activity of something incomplete and the activity of something complete. Notably, only the latter distinction can account for Aristotle’s view, inPhysics3.3, that ‘agency’—effecting change in something, e.g. teaching—does not qualify strictly as a change. This distinction informsDe Anima2.5 and imparts unity to Aristotle’s extended treatment of change inPhysics3.1-3.
Ao desenvolver sua teoria causal no livro II da Física, Aristóteles explica e exemplifica cada uma das causas separadamente, como se existissem por si só. Mas, ao se fazerem presentes nos entes, encontram-se ligadas uma às outras, expressando uma relação de subordinação entre si. Cada ente possui uma causa de um dos quatro tipos em sua formação, sendo uma causa material, uma formal, uma eficiente e uma final. Desse modo, meu objetivo é apresentar como as causas existem nos entes a (...) partir de seus diferentes modos de subordinações, visando, principalmente, como cada uma se relaciona com causa final. (shrink)
This paper aims to undertake an examination of the exposition made in the aristotelian treatise De Incessu Animalium about the directional orientations (above and below, right and left, front and behind) mostly from its extra, inter and intratextual context. These directional orientations seem to be directly related to the principles of movement, perception and growing. The treatise starts from the points of origin (archai) of these functions in the animals and, from these functions, distinguish them. Therefore, functionality is established as (...) the first value, because it is the prism through which Aristotle perceives and think the right, above and front in the animals. On that account, it is corroborated the great importance of functionality in the aristotelian philosophy. Afterwards, it will be searched if (or how) the primacy of the trinominal formed by right, above and front is related to aspects of the greek imaginary contemporaneous with the given text. (shrink)
In Augustinus Niphus’ commentary on Aristotle’s Physics some marginal annotations can be considered an aide-mémoire for teachers commenting Aristotle’s text. In these annotations titles of questions concerning problems raised by Aristotle’s discussion on motion are recorded together with some medieval and renaissance comments. The analysis of these annotations is limited to the pages of the discussion on vacuum.
Nossa pesquisa é pautada na tentativa de compreender alguns conceitos da filosofia aristotélica, mais especificamente as noções de forma, matéria, privação e potência, e um pouco sobre a metodologia usada pelo filósofo. As linhas abaixo compõem um capítulo da minha monografia de fim de curso, intitulada Dialogo com a tradição: A conquista de novas convicções acerca dos princípios de natureza no primeiro livro da Física aristotélica, realizada na Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro. Nela tratei a respeito da metodologia (...) de Aristóteles que, dentre outras coisas, passa pela crítica à filosofia precedente, esclarecendo assim algumas questões do primeiro livro da Física – livro no qual o filósofo tenta determinar quantos e quais são os princípios da natureza. (shrink)
This study is the first comprehensive analysis of the physical theory of the Islamic philosopher Avicenna (d. 1037). It seeks to understand his contribution against the developments within the preceding Greek and Arabic intellectual milieus, and to appreciate his philosophy as such by emphasising his independence as a critical and systematic thinker. Exploring Avicenna’s method of "teaching and learning," it investigates the implications of his account of the natural body as a three-dimensionally extended composite of matter and form, and examines (...) his views on nature as a principle of motion and his analysis of its relation to soul. Moreover, it demonstrates how Avicenna defends the Aristotelian conception of place against the strident criticism of his predecessors, among other things, by disproving the existence of void and space. Finally, it sheds new light on Avicenna’s account of the essence and the existence of time. For the first time taking into account the entire range of Avicenna’s major writings, this study fills a gap in our understanding both of the history of natural philosophy in general and of the philosophy of Avicenna in particular. (shrink)
Is life a simple result of a conjunction of physico-chemical processes? Can be reduced to a mere juxtaposition of spatially determined events? What epistemology or world-view allows us to comprehend it? Aristotle built a novel philosophical system in which nature is a dynamical totality which is in constant movement. Life is a manifestation of it, and is formed and governed by the psyche. Psyche is the organizational principle of the different biological levels: nutritive, perceptive and intelective. Driesch's crucial experiment provided (...) empirical proof of the principle of life, which he called entelechy. Entelechy is an intensive manifoldness and cannot be comprehended by the usual extensive parameters. The entelechian's own ambiance is duration. This allows the reintroduction of the concept of teleology in the sphere of the living, understood not as a final cause, but as an order born from desire and leading to action. (shrink)
Aristotle was the first thinker to articulate a taxonomy of scientific knowledge, which he set out in Posterior Analytics. Furthermore, the “special sciences”, i.e., biology, zoology and the natural sciences in general, originated with Aristotle. A classical question is whether the mathematical axiomatic method proposed by Aristotle in the Analytics is independent of the special sciences. If so, Aristotle would have been unable to match the natural sciences with the scientific patterns he established in the Analytics. In this paper, I (...) reject this pessimistic approach towards the scientific value of natural sciences. I believe that there are traces of biology in the Analytics as well as traces of the Analytics’ theory in zoological treatises. Moreover, for a lack of chronological clarity, I think it’s better to unify Aristotle’s model of scientific research, which includes Analytics and the natural sciences together. (shrink)
According to a generally held impression, which has coalesced out of centuries of misinterpretation occasioned mostly by misguided charitable commentary, but often by outright hostility to his followers (and occasionally deliberate misrepresentation of his ideas), Aristotle is a teleological (as opposed to “mechanistic”) philosopher, responsible for a “qualitative” (as opposed to quantitative) approach to physics that is thereby inadequately mathematical, whose metaphysical speculations, as absorbing as they continue to be even for contemporary and otherwise ahistorical analytical metaphysicians, are essentially devoid (...) of the virtues that determine the success of our modern sciences, which are in fact the result of overthrowing Aristotelian views. Jean De Groot’s monograph Aristotle’s Empiricism: experience and mechanics in the 4th century BC should completely wipe away that impression, as she offers an extremely attractive interpretation of Aristotle and his methods to replace it. This is a groundbreaking and exciting work, brimming with insights won from close and careful readings of both well-known and obscure passages of the Aristotle Corpus. It is an instant classic of Aristotle studies that should not only change the image of Aristotle’s role in the history of science but also set the agenda for much of the future research in every area of his theoretical sciences, including metaphysics, mathematics, and natural science. Thus although my primary goal in this review is to summarize its contents and try to give an idea of the richness, depth, and breadth of de Groot’s project, I will mention at the end what I think are the most important ways that the research should be developed and extended—the next areas of Aristotle studies that should incorporate these views and methods. (shrink)