Early Science and Medicine 14 (1-3):43-67 (2009)

I argue that the main goal of the Mechanical Problems, a short treatise transmitted in the Corpus Aristotelicum, is to explain the working of technology in terms of the concepts of Aristotelian natural philosophy. The author's explanatory strategy is to reduce the thirty-five "problems" or questions that he discusses to one or more of three simple models: the circle, balance, and lever. The conceptual foundation of this reduction program is a principle concerning circular motion, viz. that a point on the circumference of a larger circle moves more quickly than one on a smaller circle, assuming that the circles turn about the same center at the same angular speed. I analyze the author's argument for this principle and his application of it throughout the text, especially to the analysis of the lever. The main conclusions are that the author's justification of the circular motion principle is based on an innovative geometrical analysis of motion, not on a highly theoretical conceptualization of force; and while the author is aware of a reciprocal relationship between weights and distances from the fulcrum in the case of the lever, his explanation of this fact makes no reference to the conditions for static equilibrium.
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/157338209x425498
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,579
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Modes of Explanation in the Aristotelian Mechanical Problems.Jean De Groot - 2009 - Early Science and Medicine 14 (1-3):22-42.
Aristotelian Force as Newtonian Power.John Aidun - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 49 (2):228-235.
Aspects of Aristotelian Statics in Galileo's Dynamics.J. Groot - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (4):645-664.
Nature and Inertia.Thomas J. McLaughlin - 2008 - Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):251-284.
Beeckman, Descartes and the Force of Motion.Richard Arthur - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):1-28.
Filosofia e Mecânica: Matéria inerte e força activa.Ricardo Lopes Coelho - 2005 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 61 (1):247 - 280.
Force and "Natural Motion".I. E. Hunt & W. A. Suchting - 1969 - Philosophy of Science 36 (3):233-251.
Gauge Gravity and the Unification of Natural Forces.Chuang Liu - 2001 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (2):143 – 159.


Added to PP index

Total views
29 ( #382,934 of 2,461,812 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #298,909 of 2,461,812 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes