This 1999 book demonstrates a method for reading the texts of Aristotle by revealing a continuous line of argument running from the Physics to De Caelo. The author analyses a group of arguments that are almost always treated in isolation from one another, and reveals their elegance and coherence. She concludes by asking why these arguments remain interesting even though we now believe they are absolutely wrong and have been replaced by better ones. The book establishes the case that we (...) must rethink our approach to Aristotle's physical science and Aristotelian texts, and as such will provoke debate and stimulate new thinking amongst philosophers, classicists, and historians of science. (shrink)
ARISTOTLE IS UNIVERSALLY credited with inventing the concept of teleology: "nature is among the causes which act for the sake of something." "That for the sake of which" is a thing's purpose, its end, the goal at which it aims. Taking Aristotle's physics as a focal point for his philosophy of nature, I shall argue that teleology functions within his theory of nature not only substantively, but also procedurally. First, then, I shall explain what I mean by teleology as procedure (...) and then show how this procedure relates both to problems within physics and to Aristotle's conception of physics as a science. (shrink)
In the fifth century A.D., Proclus served as head of the Academy in Athens that had been founded 900 years earlier by Plato. Proclus was the last great systematizer of Greek philosophy, and his work exerted a powerful influence in late antiquity, in the Arab world, and in the Renaissance. His treatise_ On the Eternity of the World _formed the basis for virtually all later arguments for the eternity of the world and for the existence of God; consequently, it lies (...) at the heart of neoplatonic philosophy and the controversy between pagans and Christians at the end of antiquity. Proclus’s eighteen Arguments were quoted within John Philoponus’ polemic against him, written in the sixth century; but the opening pages of the sole extant manuscript, which contained the first Argument, have been lost. In this book, Helen Lang and A.D. Macro present the seventeen Arguments preserved by Philoponus and translate them as an independent work. The first Argument, which survives in Arabic, is also included and makes this the only complete edition of _On the Eternity of the World_ since antiquity. This bilingual edition comprises the seventeen Arguments in Greek and English, along with an introduction, synopses, and detailed notes which help readers with or without Greek to understand them philosophically and historically. Two appendices complete the volume: the Arabic text of the first Argument, also with English translation and notes, and the first modern edition of an important Latin translation from the Renaissance. In a valuable introduction, Lang and Macro examine the complex history of these Arguments. Together with its excellent annotations, and English and Greek texts en face, the publication of Proclus’s _On the Eternity of the World_makes available an influential work by a major figure in the history of late Greek philosophy. (shrink)
This article considers the definition of nature as given by Aristotle in "Physics" II and the commentaries on it by Philoponus and Thomas Aquinas. Through Aristotle's definition and its treatment in two commentaries, we can see how each philosopher defines philosophy as an enterprise and the problems encompassed by it. I conclude that the conception of philosophy, and consequently its problems, is quite distinct in each case and should be considered as such; as a further consequence, the whole notion of (...) "commentaries" should be rethought. (shrink)
The ancient commentators remain the last body of important Greek writings to be translated into any modern language and this series under the general editorship of Richard Sorabji meets this need. The present volume is especially important both because of its intrinsic interest and because through Porphyry the Categories became a basic textbook of logic with the Neoplatonic school.
IN Physics VIII, Aristotle asks if motion is eternal or if it began only to end someday. He concludes in the first chapter that motion must be eternal; the remainder of Physics VIII resolves three objections to this conclusion. Consequently, the arguments of Physics VIII, 2-10 indirectly substantiate the eternity of motion in things. However, these arguments have often been associated with rather different questions, for example how does this mover produce motion--is it a moving cause or a final cause?--and (...) is this mover God or some other mover? (shrink)
This paper presents the idea, structure, history, goals, and accomplishments of mathematics and science laboratories as they have been organized and taught at Trinity College. The laboratories are designed to develop specific science and mathematics problem-solving skills, presenting them within the context of humanities-related inquiry . These laboratories are especially valuable in providing humanities students with literacy in advanced science and mathematics materials that, since they are not requisite for humanities majors, humanities students would not be exposed to otherwise. Especially (...) in the case of philosophy, laboratories bear the additional benefit of dissolving insularity, opening up study onto directly relevant fields and enriching and informing philosophical inquiry. The author concludes by considering philosophy’s relationship to science and mathematics, what these relationships imply for how a philosophy education should be structured, and the important role that science and mathematics laboratories play in that education. (shrink)
The Byzantine commentaries represent the most important body of Greek philosophy that has not yet been translated into any modern language. Cornell University Press is publishing a series of translations, The Ancient Commentators on Aristotle, under the general editorship of Richard Sorabji, to remedy this problem; both these volumes appear within this series.
Proclus composed 18 arguments for the eternity of the world and they survive only because Philoponus, intending to refute Proclus' arguments one by one, quotes each; one copy of Philoponus' work -- and so Proclus' arguments too -- survives. Because of their odd history, these arguments have received little attention either in themselves or in relation to Proclus' other works, even though they are intrinsically interesting and reflect his larger philosophical enterprise. I first examine Argument XVIII, in which Proclus calls (...) on "perpetuity", "eternity", and "time" to argue that the cosmos must be eternal. This argument leaves unanswered two important questions. The cosmos is caused by god and is itself a god; how can a cause and its effect both be gods? Proclus concludes that the cosmos is "a copy of the perpetuity of the eternal"; but what does this phrase -- and the conclusion that it expresses -- mean? To answer these questions, I turn to "The Elements of Theology," a systematic progression of 211 propositions disclosing the causal structure of all reality. "Eternity" and "time", along with "being perpetual", also appear here, particularly in propositions 40-55, to which I turn in the second part of this paper. They are conjoined with what Proclus calls "the Self-Constituted". I argue that by understanding the relation of the Self-Constituted as a cause to its effect, what depends upon another, we can also understand the causal relation between god and the cosmos. The cosmos can be called divine because, via the cause/effect relation between them, god and the cosmos are both eternal; the cosmos is "a copy of the perpetuity of the eternal" because via its relation to god, the cosmos becomes what its cause is, and in this precise sense an effect "imitates" its cause. (shrink)
As R. Sorabji says in his general introduction, "The 15,000 pages of the Ancient Greek Commentaries on Aristotle are the largest corpus of Ancient Greek philosophy that has not yet been translated into English or other modern European languages". Besides its considerable intrinsic interest, this corpus is an important source of late Greek philosophy, and a thorough acquaintance with it underlies the development of Arabic philosophy, whence it becomes a "silent partner" in Latin philosophy after 1200.
The ancient commentators on Aristotle comprise the last great philosophical tradition in Greek to be translated into a modern language. The series of translations of which this volume is a part is under the general editorship of Richard Sorabji and includes works by Alexander of Aphrodisias, Ammonius, Dexippus, and Philoponus as well as Simplicius. The present volume is especially important not only because of the intrinsic interest of its subject, namely place and time, but also because of its philosophic interest (...) both as expressing Neoplatonic views and as a critique of Aristotle. (shrink)
The heart of this volume consists of an Introduction, the translation of De Secretis Mulierum with extensive selections from two running commentaries, and Notes. The text itself of Women's Secrets is quite short, comprising about half of the 90 pages of translation. As the Introduction makes clear, however, it is important for several reasons.