The Hegemony of Form and the Resistance of Matter

Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 21 (2):21-46 (1999)
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At the beginning of his book, Methode und Beweisziel im ersten Buch der “Physikvorlesung” des Aristoteles, Johannes Fritsche announces that the theme of the work is to be more or less Aristotle’s Physics. It is to be less about the Physics insofar as it treats only two sentences of its first book—the first sentence of chapter one and a sentence taken from its decisive seventh chapter. It is to be more about the Physics insofar as it explicates these two sentences in order to establish the principle according to which the entire Physics is constructed. Fritsche’s book is impressive both in its breadth and its depth. He situates his own position within a broad historical tradition by addressing both ancient commentators, like Simplicius and Philoponus, and modern commentators, like Wieland and Guzzoni. He argues, however, the unpopular position that the books of the Physics do have a systematic relationship to one another, that they are not merely an amalgamation of individual thoughts on the general subject of natural philosophy. One of the most intriguing aspects of Fritsche’s account is his suggestion that the main goal of the first two books of the Physics is to establish the condition for the possibility that there are principles of natural beings. In this, he distinguishes his own position from many in the tradition who claim that Aristotle assumes the existence of such principles without ever actually arguing for them.



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