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For Many Centuries, Aristotle S Physics Was The Essential Starting Point For Anyone Who Wished To Study The Natural Sciences Now, In The First Translation Into English Since , Aristotle S Thought Is Presented Accurately, With A Lucid Introduction And Extensive Notes To Explain The General Structure Of Each Section Of The Book, And Shed Light On Particular Problems It Simplifies And Expands The Style Of The Original, Making For Easier Reading And Better Comprehension


10 thoughts on “Φυσικὴ ἀκρόασις

  1. says:

    Of all the ancient thinkers that medieval Christians could have embraced, it always struck me as pretty remarkable that Aristotle was chosen Of course, chosen isn t the right word rather, it was something of a historical coincidence, since Aristotle s works were available in Latin translation, while those of Plato were not Nonetheless, Aristotle strikes me as a particularly difficult thinker to build a monotheistic worldview around There s simply nothing mystical about him His feet are planted firmly on the ground, and his eyes are level with the horizon Whereas mystics see the unity of everything, Aristotle divides up the world into neat parcels, providing lists of definitions and categories wherever he turns Whereas mystics tend to scorn human knowledge, Aristotle was apparently very optimistic about the potential reach of the human mind since he so manifestly did his best to know everything The only thing that I can find remotely mystical is Aristotle s love of systems Aristotle does not like loose ends he wants his categories to be exhaustive, and his investigations complete And, like a mystic, Aristotle is very confident about the reach of a priori knowledge, while his investigations of empirical reality though admittedly impressive are paltry in comparison with his penchant for logical deduction At the very least, Aristotle is wont to draw many conclusions from a limited set of observations than most moderns are comfortable with I admit, in the past I ve had a hard time appreciating his writing His style was dry his arguments, perfunctory I often wondered What did so many people see in him His tremendous influence seemed absurd after one read his works How could he have seemed so convincing for so long I know from experience that when I find a respected author ludicrous, the fault is often my own So, seeking a remedy, I decided that I would read Aristotle specifically, I would read enough Aristotle until I learned to appreciate him For overexposure can often engender a change of heart in the words of Stephen Stills, If you can t be with the one you love, love the one you re with So I decided I would stick with Aristotle until I loved him I still don t love Aristotle, but, after reading this book, I have a much deeper respect for the man For this book really is remarkable As Bertrand Russell pointed out though it didn t need a mind as penetrating as Russell s to do so , hardly a sentence in this book can be accepted as accurate In fact, from our point of view, Aristotle s project was doomed from the start He is investigating physical reality, but is doing so without conducting experiments in other words, his method is purely deductive, starting from a few assumptions, most of which are wrong Much of what Aristotle says might even seem silly such as his dictum that we always assume the presence in nature of the better Another great portion of this work is taken up by thoroughly uninteresting and unconvincing investigations, such as the definitions of together , apart , touch , continuous , and all of the different types of motions all of which seem products of a pedantic brain rather than qualities of nature But the good in this work far outweighs the bad For Aristotle commences the first at least, the first, so far as I know intellectually rigorous investigations of the basic properties of nature space, time, cause, motion, and the origins of the universe I find Aristotle s inquiry into time particularly fascinating, for I m not aware at least, I can t recall any comparatively meticulous investigations of time by later philosophers I ve read Of course, Aristotle s investigation of time can be properly called Aristotle s investigation of the human experience of time, but we need not fault Aristotle for not thinking there s a difference I was particularly impressed with Aristotle s attempt to overcome Zeno s paradoxes He defines and re defines time struggling with how it can be divided, and with the exact nature of the present moment and tries many different angles of attack And what s even interesting is that Aristotle fails in his task, and even falls into Zeno s intellectual trap by unwittingly accepting Zeno s assumptions.Aristotle s attempts to tackle space were almost equally fascinating for there, we once again see the magnificent mind of Aristotle struggling to define something of the highest degree of abstractness In fact, I challenge anyone reading this to come up with a good definition of space It s hard, right The paradox at least, the apparent paradox is that space has some qualities of matter extension, volume, dimensions without having any mass It seems, at first sight at least, like empty space should be simply nothing, yet space itself has certain definite qualities and anything that has qualities is, by definition, something However, these qualities only emerge when one imagines a thing in space, for we never, in our day to day lives, encounter space itself, devoid of all content But how could something with no mass have the quality of extension As is probably obvious by now, I am in no way a physicist and, for that matter, neither was Aristotle but his attempt is still interesting Aristotle does also display an admirable though perhaps na ve tendency to trust experience For his refutation of the thinkers who argue that a everything is always in motion, and b everything is always at rest, is merely to point out that day to day experience refutes this And Aristotle at least knows since it is so remarkably obvious to those with eyes that Zeno must have committed some error so even if his attacks on the paradoxes don t succeed, one can at least praise the effort To the student of modern physics, this book may present some interesting contrasts We have learned, through painstaking experience, that the most productive questions to ask of nature begin with how rather than why Of course, the two words are often interchangeable but notice that why attributes a motive to something, whereas how is motiveless Aristotle seeks to understand nature in the same way that one might understand a friend In a word, he seeks teleological explanations He assumes both that nature works with a purpose, and that the workings of nature are roughly accessible to common sense, with some logical rigor thrown in A priori, this isn t necessarily a bad assumption in fact, it took a lot of time for us humans to realize it was incorrect In any case, it must be admitted that Aristotle at least seeks to understand far than us moderns for Aristotle seeks, so to speak, to get inside the mind of nature, understanding the purpose for everything, whereas modern scientific knowledge is primarily descriptive Perhaps now I can see what the medieval Christians found in Aristotle The assumption that nature works with a purpose certainly meshes well with the belief in an omnipotent creator God And the assumption that knowledge is accessible through common sense and simple logical deductions is reasonable if one believes that the world was created for us To the modern reader, the Physics might be far less impressive than to the medievals But it is always worthwhile to witness the inner workings of such a brilliant mind and, of all the Aristotle I ve so far read, none so clearly show Aristotle s thought process, none so clearly show his mind at work, as this.


  2. says:

    While this book helped me appreciate Aristotle s philosophical merit, it hasn t changed my opinion that Aristotle is tedious and pedantic Aristotle does explore fascinating topics in this collection of lectures infinity, time, change, place, movement motion, space, etc, but Aristotle can make even topics that should be otherwise fascinating incredibly dry Many of his arguments would seemingly require a diagrammatic approach, but, unfortunately, the reader is left to schematize Aristotle s logical constructions unaided I personally did not labor over this aspect of his thought Usually his points are understood intuitively without engaging in Aristotle s elaborate proofs He does make some very salient points through out this book though and that made it worth reading.After reading his Metaphysics, I was curious as to Aristotle s approach to time and whether he considered it to be eternal that he does indeed is made evident in this book And as I said in my review to the Metaphysics, his prime mover has a rather perplexing relationship with time While Aristotle denies infinity in most actual circumstances, he does consider time to be infinite How a first mover can ever be reconciled to an infinite time is not at all clear If he is within time, how could he have ever been the progenitor of a prime movement It seems, as Aristotle declares, movement always existed in infinite time If his prime mover exists outside of time, he must certainly be an ideal prime mover, but it still doesn t explain how he generates movement within infinite real time Aristotle doesn t address these ambiguities here or in the Metaphysics I had intended to go through of Aristotle s writings after this, but as with what happened after reading his Metaphysics, I have had my fill of Aristotle for the time being.


  3. says:

    I read this at Cornell College, Iowa The course was titled Western Humanism It counted for four credits, when other courses gave three I asked my student adviser why The course was worth four credits because it was difficult than most Color me intrigued The professor permitted no one to take notes and was a master of the Socratic method of teaching We began with Boethius and kept moving Dr Crossett did not permit Yes, but He also would choose a student at the end of the three hour class to return to the next class with a report of what had been decided Fresh from journalism school, I listened and volunteered to give the first report As soon as students stood up to leave I wrote the 18 points that had been proven All good until we reached a chapter in Aristotle s Physics that made Perfect Sense I had an out of body experience, looking down at myself while I asked a question At the next class, it was my turn to describe what had been proven I was fine with the first five points then said I cannot remember much after this because I understood it The professor laughed and said, Yes, you did I was surprised, too So I entered the world of it made sense and I have no clue how to describe it Very Strange.


  4. says:

    First off, this is an exceedingly difficult text to get through Although Aristotle is one of philosophy s most brilliant minds, he is absolutely unquestionably wrong a lot of the time What this means for the reader is that you have to be constantly critical you can t assume, for instance, that a particular argument is going to be valid or invalid you actually have to get down to the logic of it and figure that s t out.To confuse matters further, Aristotle will often introduce an apparently erroneous premise that, when looked at closely, proves to be unessential to the argument So to reiterate a passive reader will have a bad time with Physics it is a struggle to even uncover what his arguments are the first place That being said, Physics is an integral piece of philosophy for two main reasons 1 disregarding his proposed solutions, the problems raised by Aristotle in this book are ones that have preoccupied philosophers ever since as such, it is valuable for those interested in understanding later philosophy and 2 the book does, in fact, contain some shining insights see, for instance, Aristotle s ingenious account of time Book IV.11 14.The Oxford Classics text translated by Robin Waterfield, with notes by David Bostock is a solid edition I couldn t even fathom getting through this book without Bostock s shrewd explanations helping me along.


  5. says:

    Physics is a treatise by Aristotle in which he deals with the study of Nature, or rather, how we should study Nature This comprises not just physics in the modern sense, but all things in the world so to use modern phraseology Aristotle views the study of Nature to be the domain of physics, biology, even psychology To understand the book, it is necessary to situatie Aristotle s treatise in the proper philosophical context Aristotle was responding to his tutor Plato s conception of philosophy, as well as other contemporary and prior philosophers His main adversaries are the Ionic natural philosophers claiming everything is change and plurality the Eleatics claiming everything is unity and immutability and the pluralists claiming simple immutable elements interact to combine changing pluralities Aristotle s main strategy is roughly 1 ask an interesting question, 2 see what others think about it, 3 criticize those views, and 4 then offer your own solution to the problem with this approach he is the founder of analytical philosophy.The book itself is pretty straightforward, and one can argue that to understand Aristotle s conception of Nature again including such fields as biology it is necessary to read just the first three books and the last eight one In book 1 he immediately cuts to the chase and claims that Nature is change, so the student of Nature should actually study change And he almosti mmediately defines change as well change is the acquisition of an attribute of a substance Or in other terms change is the process in which a thing moves from a state of privation to a final state in which it acquires its form And with the notion of form one of the three principles of Nature is introduced, the other two being matter and privation Aristotle claims he can explain all change in terms of matter, form and privation He distinguishes between two types of change 1 the acquired form is an attribute in a category that s not substance, and 2 the acquired form is an attribute in the category of substance The second type of change is problematic, since it seems to imply that in such a change some substance ceases to exist while at the same time some new substance is created out of nothing Aristotle resolves this problem by claiming that matter might be the underlying substance of all primary substances i.e the four elements In Book 2 Aristotle deals with an entirely different topic the types of explanation a student of Nature should use The relation of this topic to the content of Book 1 seems to be change, and this change is literally the nature of all things To study nature, then, is to study how things behave which itself is explained in terms of matter and form The term behave might seem to mislead people in tricking them to believe that things actually behave on their own accord But the term is rather well put, since Aristotle claims that co ncidence is not part of Nature, all natural things change according to four types of causes, which could be interpreted as these things having a will albeit it an unconscious one Why four types of causes Because, Aristotle claims, there are four types of questions a student of Nature should ask 1 What is the thing made of 2 What is its essence 3 What effects the change 4 What is the goal of this change These questions respond to four causes each thing has a 1 material cause, 2 a formal cause, 3 an efficient cause, and 4 a final cause Once these four causes are explained, the behaviour of the thing is understood at least physicially.So, what Aristotle seems to imply is that the study of Nature is the study of change, and that scientific explanations should answer all four questions about a natural thing, with the final cause as the most important element Aristotle s conception of the universe is a craftsman, who molds matter in its designed form according to a pre ordained purpose Science should thus uncover Nature s intentions through studying the changes of natural objects.Then, in Book 3, he deals with change in detail According to Aristotle, change always happens through an act of an agent, through direct contact in which the actor impresses a form on the receiving object and all change is localized in the receiving object Further, he argues against the impossibility of an infinite universe i.e totality but for the necessity of infinite time, magnitudes and numbers This is a crucial argument the totality of all matter cannot be infinite, yet when measuring any piece of matter there is the infinite divisibility of the thing in question This stance cuts deep into the atomism of Democritus co who claimed that the entire universe consists of indivisible elementary particles atoms , moving in a void.And speaking about a void, in Book 4 Aristotle argues that place does not exist apart from bodies i.e place is in the bodies, or rather is their continuous limit , and so a void is not only physically but over logically impossible When matter compresses or expands, place expands with it matter s potentiality actualizes and so matter increases or decreases without leaving behind or pushing away empty space Also in Book 4, Aristotle deals with time According to him, time does not exist apart from change Change is always the change of a thing mostly movement of bodies , which can be expressed in numbers this is what we call time I have to admit that I find Aristotle s conception of time rather confusing and the entire chapter on time rather convoluted, so there s not much I can make of itIn Book 5, Aristotle argues that change itself comes in three types generation, destruction and variation a subject either begins to exist, ceases to exist or changes an attribute Further, variation can be split into alteration, increase decrease and movement Alteration always is concerned with the change of an attribute of a subject, never with the subject itself, this is because change is not substance, so it cannot have any attributes on its own This, by the way, makes it impossible to explain phenomena like accelaration or decelaration, in which change is changing over time.Then, in Book 6, we learn about continuity Starting from the assumption that movement is continuous and not discrete , Aristotle concludes that time, space and matter are indivisible While this allows Aristotle to dismantle Zeno s infamous paradoxes about how a fast runner never can overtake a tortoise in a race, assuming a given distance , but it does contradict his earlier views on the infinity of time, magnitudes and thus place and numbers And another problem is that when an object changes from movement to rest, these two cannot happen instanteneous, making rest impossible This is an inconsistency in Aristotle s conception of continuity, and he opts for the solution to claim rest is no change Whether this is satisfying is another question.Book 7 offers some notions on change, but the most important part is Book 8, in which Aristotle sets out his theory of the unmoved mover He has claimed that change always happens through contact with an agent, which itself is changeable as well Further, he claimed that the force causing the change has to remain in effect, or else the object will move toward its natural place again The problem is astronomy When looking at the heavens, we see continuous, ever changing bodies, so there has to be some agent possibly forcing these bodies to move in the heavens But if these agents itself require to be moved in order to move, we end up with an infinite regress of moving movers To stop this regress, Aristotle postulates an unmoved mover a being which can move things how he doesn t explain without needing any force to sustain itself This makes this being infinitely powerful in a physical sense but this would mean it s immaterial, since anything material has a magnitude So, we have a being which is infinitely powerful, immaterial, unchanging and this being is located just outside the outermost heavenly sphere carrying the fixed stars And this concludes Physics The book itself is rather a collection of treatises on different subjects, written in a very dense and abstract way, requiring lots of contextual information and familiarity with contemporary Greek philosophers This makes the book rather unattractive and inaccessible, but it is certainly possible to distil some kind of narrative from all of the books Aristotle s conception of the universe is summarized A collection of spherical shells, in which all the heavenly bodies, made of ether, follow their continuous circular and eternal paths through the heavens In the sublunar world, everything is comprised of four elements fire, air, water, and earth which each have their natural place and have a tendency to seek out this natural place when displaced through force In this sublunar region all movement is either natural objects moving towards their natural place or in rest at this natural place or unnatural objects moving through the force applied by an agent To understand the change in this sublunar sphere, one needs to study natural objects in terms of matter, form, impact and goal The whole universe, thus, is teleological, following set goals If one thinks this makes Aristotle a determinist, one is wrong For Aristotle claims that agents can initiate their own force and hence impact the world in the Aristotelean world there is room for human freedom or so it seems to me This is my first reading of Aristotle s original works so take this review for what it s worth I have read a lot of secundary information over the years, but since I have studied the Pre Socratics and Plato, I felt the need to understand Aristotle as well, from his own materials There seems to be no easy road into his philosophy the most accessible works on ethics and politics are rather cut off from Aristotle s scientific and metaphysical thoughts, so starting with physics a domain with which I felt quite familiar seems to be a good idea Next up his logic, as epistemological preconditions for knowledge of nature And once I grasp Aristotle s conception of Nature and his epistemology, perhaps I ll understand his metaphysics as well I read somewhere that much of his metaphysics presupposes knowledge of his science and logic.


  6. says:

    Whew, this was one hell of a slough While it s not strictly speaking a hard book to read, it deals with so many huge, uber abstract ideas one after the other that it just leaves you exhausted In some ways it feels like a Compendium than a strict philosophical text Aristotle examines every phenomenon that he can think of, Being, Space, Motion, Matter, Time, Infinity, Magnitude, etc in an attempt to pin down and rationally account for how the universe as he understands it works It s unrelentingly dense, and obviously quite dated, but at the same time it manages to be pretty enjoyable It s not so much a straight forward philosophical text as it is a sort of compendium of problems that philosophers have spent the past several millenniums taking a stab at You might say that it s a work of proto philosophy, its concerned with creating a system where these sorts of questions can be fully articulated and worked on than it is in fully solving any of them.


  7. says:

    Goodness Aristotle attempts to cover a lot of ground in 231 pages He covers opposites, time, infinity, motion, matter, causation, and void with change being the underlying principle experienced by all phenomenon He attacks atomists and defends teleology My mind is still reeling, trying to grasp some of his concepts For things to qualify as principles they must not consist of one another or of other things and everything must consist of them For Aristotle, change is just such a principle.His first discussion really hit on something I have been wondering about for awhile, that is the relationship of opposites My question began in reading Plato s Phaedo where he argues for the immortality of the soul from contraries I began wondering about applying this argument to love and hate In Works of Love, Kierkegaard argues briefly that eternal love can never hate, though this seems on the surface to be contrary to certain verses in the Bible In Categories, Aristotle seems to say that contraries only happen in relations Here he says that opposites are a scale with some underlying substance constant to both ends, but these are only applicable to physical characteristics In this discussion, he does not make room for the possibility that say, on a scale from white to black, something may become white from some other color, say red, instead of black Not sure how this fits, just an observation made by my commentator In trying to piece together all of this I seem to end up with something like this Opposites are contrary in the sense of being in a different position , but not necessarily contradictory Love and Hate have an underlying strong intense feeling in common, but are not necessarily contradictory Whereas Loving and Not Loving are the true opposites, in the sense of being contradictory Anyway, some of his examples of opposites were strange to me He discusses the coming to being of a house from bricks and vice versa, which to me is a good example of change, but not necessarily opposites Physics is also one of the sources of Aristotle s famous Unmoved Mover argument Having heard this referenced a lot, I was super interested to see what he had to say And I am perhaps unsurprisingly confused He seems to think that the universe is finite, but that time has no beginning or end unless I am completely misreading him, which is a very distinct possibility For him, Change and time are inextricably linked and I am having a hard time figuring out how the Unmoved mover, the first and final cause, operates if there is no beginning to time It is also strange to me that he thinks time is infinite, but that infinity, in a numerical sense is not I will definitely have to come back to this one later I love Aristotle s commonsensical approach to science It appears to me to be something like an ancient form of empiricism It s a fascinating, though maybe not entirely comprehensible, look at the physical world.


  8. says:

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.This was one of those books that made me think, I don t understand this book I don t want to understand this book I don t need to understand this book I hate this book Why am I in college Why do I read these things OH LORD NOT ANOTHER 20 PAGES LET ME DIE NOW This book taught me how fundamentally immature I really am I like my time space continuum discussion in sci fi tv shows, not in philosophic definitions.


  9. says:

    While I am normally hostile to Hellenism, I ll give Aristotle credit on this point he was a fairly good communicator He also set the stage for later scholastic thought for better or worse By physics he means things like being, motion, time Don t think he is talking about the discipline in science today Like most Greeks, his understanding of science was wrong to put it mildly Pascal, among others, refuted him on the nature of the void and vacuum.We do not know a thing until we know its first principles 184 a10 Substance is not a predicate An attribute is that which belongs to the subject 186 b20 Being itself Substance could mean FormMatterComplex of both The form is indeed the nature rather than the matter 28 form actualitymatter potentiality 64.Cause that out of which a thing comes to be 31.FormalMaterialFinal first in intention last in operation Book IIINature defined as the principle of motion and change Motion is the fulfilment of what exists potentially 201 a10 It appears he rejects the idea of a transcendent infinite because there is no such sensible body 205 b30.Container notion of spaceDealing with the infinite, Aristotle notes Nothing is complete which has no end 207 a14 This rules out Christian theism, for God has no limit yet he is complete and perfect Aristotle s discussion on potential infinity, while since surpassed by Cantors, is important for his own time Further, the infinite, such as it is, is contained 24.What is a container The form is that which contains A place is the boundary between the body and the container 211 b20 This contact creates an organic union when both become actually one 213 a9 This is the false view that Thomas Torrance so devastatingly refuted.Time is a measure of motion and of being moved 221a Aristotle says that all motion takes place during a time 227 b25 Just curious is there motion in heaven Heaven s outside of time What would it be like to exist in a realm that has neither motion nor time Contrast that with the Hebrew prophets I think that is what Aristotle is saying He notes that it is impossible for a thing to undergo a finite motion in an infinite time, since time and motion are correlative In other words, the motion will max out the time Aristotle just rejected the Christian view of heaven, whether biblical or even Platonic 237 b25.Key argument everything that is in motion must be moved by something else 242 a17 You can see the later arguments for the existence of God Something unmoved must already be in place to get the motion going Book VIII has his famous line of the unmoved mover 260 a19 While I can grant Aristotle s point that there is an eternal existent, we have no reason to think that it no need to use personal pronouns cares for you or would bother to reveal itself by speaking.


  10. says:

    All of the elegance and beauty of modern physics is noticeably missing in the ancient system The effort made to understand the world is highly impressive in itself even if Aristotle s system did lead to centuries of misconceptions in the field and still does today considering the widely used Kalam Cosmological Argument is based of Aristotelian physics , but compared with light bending around stars, black holes ripping matter apart as it crosses the event horizon, or atoms colliding in a particle accelerator, the visual of things going from rest to motion or from blackness to whiteness due to an influence from a prime mover is less than inspiring to say the least.