Body, Matter and Mixture: The Metaphysical Foundations of Ancient Chemistry

Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago (1989)

The history of ancient chemistry has been virtually ignored. I examine the foundations of the chemical theories of the Peripatetics and Stoics, in an attempt to glean the motivations for their chemical theories, and how these theories relate to their greater natural philosophies. This involves a detailed examination of ancient theories of mixture. I attempt to relate Aristotle's theory of mixture to his theories of substantial change, the elements and matter. This entails a rejection of the notion of prime matter, and a reevaluation of the status of the contrarieties. I also look at the understudied fourth book of the Meteorologica, which sheds new light on Aristotle's theory of matter. I then turn to Alexander of Aphrodisias, and his development of Aristotle's theory. Next I consider the Stoic theory of body, and how doxographers have misinterpreted this theory. While offering a radically new interpretation of the Stoic theory of mixture, much of Stoic natural philosophy is reconstructed, including their theory of categories and qualities. In the end a Stoic theory free from obvious paradox is presented
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