On Aristotle’s Meteorology 4

Review of Metaphysics 51 (2):407-408 (1997)
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Many authors do not consider Book 4 of the Meteorology authentic. The main reasons to doubt its Aristotelian origin are the absence of primary matter in the explanation of the formation of the elements and, secondly, the theory of pores. It is difficult to believe that Aristotle would have replaced his classic doctrine of matter and form of the Physics by a theory which makes such contraries as hot and cold, dry and moist the principles, or even the matter, out of which things come to be. Likewise the refutal of the theory of pores in the Physics and the On Generation and Corruption makes one wonder whether in Meteorology 4 he could have returned to something close to atomism, as Lewis thinks he did. These difficulties explain why the Aristotelian authorship of the treatise is questionable, although some defend it. Professor Lewis belongs to this group. He accepts Furley’s arguments in favor of its authenticity and has a more positive view of its contents than H. D. P. Lee in his introduction to the Loeb Edition of the text. Meteorology 4 is an attempt to discuss a wide range of cosmic phenomena. It contains a further development of the theory of primary matter and the four elements. The commentary by Alexander does not help us much to solve the above mentioned difficulties. Lewis’s translation is good, though. In 179.18 of the text, Lewis translates en hypostasei einai by “they are actually existent,” but it seems better to read “they are in a subject”.



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