Aristotle was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy", his writings cover many subjects – including physics, zoology, logic, aesthetics, theatre, rhetoric, linguistics, economics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry; as a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion. Little is known about his life. Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira in Northern Greece, his father, died when Aristotle was a child, he was brought up by a guardian. At seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined Plato's Academy in Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven.
Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great beginning in 343 BC. He established a library in the Lyceum which helped him to produce many of his hundreds of books on papyrus scrolls. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues for publication, only around a third of his original output has survived, none of it intended for publication; the fact that Aristotle was a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, following Plato's death, Aristotle developed an increased interest in natural sciences and adopted the position of immanent realism. Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, their influence extended from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, were not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle's zoological observations found in his biology, such as on the hectocotyl arm of the octopus, were disbelieved until the 19th century.
His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, studied by medieval scholars such as Peter Abelard and John Buridan. Aristotle's influence on logic continued well into the 19th century He influenced Islamic thought during the Middle Ages, as well as Christian theology the Neoplatonism of the Early Church and the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was revered among medieval Muslim scholars as "The First Teacher" and among medieval Christians like Thomas Aquinas as "The Philosopher", his ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics, such as in the thinking of Alasdair MacIntyre and Philippa Foot. In general, the details of Aristotle's life are not well-established; the biographies written in ancient times are speculative and historians only agree on a few salient points. Aristotle, whose name means "the best purpose" in Ancient Greek, was born in 384 BC in Stagira, about 55 km east of modern-day Thessaloniki.
His father Nicomachus was the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Both of Aristotle's parents died when he was about thirteen, Proxenus of Atarneus became his guardian. Although little information about Aristotle's childhood has survived, he spent some time within the Macedonian palace, making his first connections with the Macedonian monarchy. At the age of seventeen or eighteen, Aristotle moved to Athens to continue his education at Plato's Academy, he remained there for nearly twenty years before leaving Athens in 348/47 BC. The traditional story about his departure records that he was disappointed with the Academy's direction after control passed to Plato's nephew Speusippus, although it is possible that he feared the anti-Macedonian sentiments in Athens at that time and left before Plato died. Aristotle accompanied Xenocrates to the court of his friend Hermias of Atarneus in Asia Minor. After the death of Hermias, Aristotle travelled with his pupil Theophrastus to the island of Lesbos, where together they researched the botany and zoology of the island and its sheltered lagoon.
While in Lesbos, Aristotle married Hermias's adoptive daughter or niece. She bore him a daughter, whom they named Pythias. In 343 BC, Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander. Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon. During Aristotle's time in the Macedonian court, he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but to two other future kings: Ptolemy and Cassander. Aristotle encouraged Alexander toward eastern conquest and Aristotle's own attitude towards Persia was unabashedly ethnocentric. In one famous example, he counsels Alexander to be "a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as after friends and relatives, to deal with the latter as with beasts or plants". By 335 BC, Aristotle had returned to Athens. Aristotle conducted courses at the school for the next twelve years. While in Athens, his wife Pythias died and Aristotle became involved with Herpyllis of Stagira, who bore him a son whom he named after his father, Nicomachus.
According to the Suda, he had an erômenos, Palaephatus of Abydus. This period in Athens, between 335 and 323 BC, is when Aristotle is believed to have composed many of his works, he wrote many dialogues. Those works that have survived are in treatise form and were not
The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through medieval manuscript transmission. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's lost works, are technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school. Reference to them is made according to the organization of Immanuel Bekker's nineteenth-century edition, which in turn is based on ancient classifications of these works; the extant works of Aristotle are broken down according to the five categories in the Corpus Aristotelicum. Not all of these works are considered genuine, but differ with respect to their connection to Aristotle, his associates and his views; some are regarded by most scholars as products of Aristotle's "school" and compiled under his direction or supervision. Other works, such as On Colors, may have been products of Aristotle's successors at the Lyceum, e.g. Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus. Still others acquired Aristotle's name through similarities in doctrine or content, such as the De Plantis by Nicolaus of Damascus.
A final category, omitted here, includes medieval palmistries and magical texts whose connection to Aristotle is purely fanciful and self-promotional. In several of the treatises, there are references to other works in the corpus. Based on such references, some scholars have suggested a possible chronological order for a number of Aristotle's writings. W. D. Ross, for instance, suggested the following broad chronology: Categories, Sophistici Elenchi, Metaphysics Δ, the physical works, the Ethics, the rest of the Metaphysics. Many modern scholars, based on lack of evidence, are skeptical of such attempts to determine the chronological order of Aristotle's writings. According to a distinction that originates with Aristotle himself, his writings are divisible into two groups: the "exoteric" and the "esoteric". Most scholars have understood this as a distinction between works Aristotle intended for the public, the more technical works intended for use within the Lyceum course / school. Modern scholars assume these latter to be Aristotle's own lecture notes.
However, one classic scholar offers an alternative interpretation. The 5th century neoplatonist Ammonius Hermiae writes that Aristotle's writing style is deliberately obscurantist so that "good people may for that reason stretch their mind more, whereas empty minds that are lost through carelessness will be put to flight by the obscurity when they encounter sentences like these." Bekker numbers, the standard form of reference to works in the Corpus Aristotelicum, are based on the page numbers used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle. They take their name from the editor of that edition, the classical philologist August Immanuel Bekker; the following list gives the Bekker numbers. The titles are given in accordance with the standard set by the Revised Oxford Translation. Latin titles, still used by scholars, are given; the Constitution of the Athenians was not included in Bekker's edition because it was first edited in 1891 from papyrus rolls acquired in 1890 by the British Museum.
The standard reference to it is by section numbers. Surviving fragments of the many lost works of Aristotle were included in the fifth volume of Bekker's edition, edited by Valentin Rose; these are not cited by Bekker numbers, but according to fragment numbers. Rose's first edition of the fragments of Aristotle was Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus; as the title suggests, Rose considered these all to be spurious. The numeration of the fragments in a revised edition by Rose, published in the Teubner series, Aristotelis qui ferebantur librorum fragmenta, Leipzig, 1886, is still used, although there is a more current edition with a different numeration by Olof Gigon, a new de Gruyter edition by Eckart Schütrumpf is in preparation. For a selection of the fragments in English translation, see W. D. Ross, Select Fragments, Jonathan Barnes, The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, vol. 2, Princeton 1984, pp. 2384–2465. A new translation exists by Hutchinson and Johnson; the works surviving only in fragments include the dialogues On Philosophy, Eudemus, On Justice, On Good Birth.
The spurious work, On Ideas survives in quotations by Alexander of Aphrodisias in his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. For the dialogues, see the editions of Richard Rudolf Walzer, Aristotelis Dialogorum fragmenta, in usum scholarum, Renato Laurenti, Aristotele: I frammenti dei dialoghi, Naples: Luigi Loffredo, 1987. Barnes, Jonathan. "Life and Work". The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle; the Ancient Catalogues of Aristotle's Writings. A Survey of Current Research The Rediscovery of the Corpus Aristotelicum with an annotated bibliography Bekker's Prussian Academy of Sciences edition of the complete works of Aristotle at Archive.org Lazaris, S. "L’image paradigmatique: des'Schémas a
Aristotle's Poetics is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory in the West. This has been the traditional view for centuries. However, recent work is now challenging whether Aristotle focuses on literary theory per se or whether he focuses instead on dramatic musical theory that only has language as one of the elements. In it, Aristotle offers an account of what he calls "poetry", they are similar in the fact that they are all imitations but different in the three ways that Aristotle describes: Differences in music rhythm, harmony and melody. Difference of goodness in the characters. Difference in how the narrative is presented: telling a story or acting it out. In examining its "first principles", Aristotle finds two: 1) imitation and 2) genres and other concepts by which that of truth is applied/revealed in the poesis, his analysis of tragedy constitutes the core of the discussion. Although Aristotle's Poetics is universally acknowledged in the Western critical tradition, "almost every detail about his seminal work has aroused divergent opinions".
The work was lost to the Western world for a long time. It was available in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance only through a Latin translation of an Arabic version written by Averroes. Aristotle's work on aesthetics consists of the Poetics and Rhetoric; the Poetics is concerned with drama. At some point, Aristotle's original work was divided in two, each "book" written on a separate roll of papyrus. Only the first part – that which focuses on tragedy and epic – survives; the lost second part addressed comedy. Some scholars speculate that the Tractatus coislinianus summarises the contents of the lost second book; some other scholars indicate that "tragedy" is a misleading translation for the Greek tragoidos, which seems to have meant "goat-song" originally. The reason is that Aristotle says three times in the treatise that the protagonist can go from fortune to misfortune or misfortune to fortune; the table of contents page of the Poetics found in Modern Library's Basic Works of Aristotle identifies five basic parts within it.
A. Preliminary discourse on tragedy, epic poetry, comedy, as the chief forms of imitative poetry. B. Definition of a tragedy, the rules for its construction. Definition and analysis into qualitative parts. C. Rules for the construction of a tragedy: Tragic pleasure, or catharsis experienced by fear and pity should be produced in the spectator; the characters must be four things: good, appropriate and consistent. Discovery must occur within the plot. Narratives, stories and poetics overlap, it is important for the poet to visualize all of the scenes. The poet should incorporate complication and dénouement within the story, as well as combine all of the elements of tragedy; the poet must express thought through the characters' words and actions, while paying close attention to diction and how a character's spoken words express a specific idea. Aristotle believed that all of these different elements had to be present in order for the poetry to be well-done. D. Possible criticisms of an epic or tragedy, the answers to them.
E. Tragedy as artistically superior to epic poetry: Tragedy has everything that the epic has the epic meter being admissible; the reality of presentation is felt in the play as read, as well as in the play. The tragic imitation requires less space for the attainment of its end. If it has more concentrated effect, it is more pleasurable than one with a large admixture of time to dilute it. There is less unity in the imitation of the epic poets and this is proved by the fact that an epic poem can supply enough material for several tragedies. Aristotle distinguishes between the genres of "poetry" in three ways: Matterlanguage and melody, for Aristotle, make up the matter of poetic creation. Where the epic poem makes use of language alone, the playing of the lyre involves melody; some poetic forms include a blending of all materials. These points convey the standard view. Recent work, argues that translating rhuthmos here as "rhythm" is absurd: melody has its own inherent musical rhythm, the Greek can mean what Plato says it means in Laws II, 665a: " ordered body movement," or dance.
This conveys what dramatic musical creation, the topic of the Poetics, in ancient Greece had: music and language. The musical instrument cited in Ch 1 is not the lyre but the kithara, played in the drama while the kithara-player was dancing if that meant just walking in an appropriate way. Moreover, epic might have had only literary exponents, but as Plato's Ion and Aristotle's Ch 26 of the Poetics help prove, for Plato and Aristotle at least some epic rhapsodes used all three means of mimesis: language and music. SubjectsAlso "agents" in some translations. Aristotle differentiates between tragedy and comedy throughout the work by distinguishing between the nature of the human characters that populate either f
Constitution of the Athenians (Aristotle)
The Constitution of the Athenians called the Athenian Constitution, is a work by Aristotle or one of his students. It was preserved on two leaves of a papyrus codex discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt in 1879; the Aristotelian text is unique. It was lost until two leaves of a papyrus codex carrying part of the text were discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt in 1879 and published in 1880. A second, more extensive papyrus text was purchased in Egypt by an American missionary in 1890. E. A. Wallis Budge of the British Museum acquired it that year, the first edition of it by Frederic G. Kenyon was published in January, 1891; the editions of the Greek text in widest use today are Kenyon's Oxford Classical Text of 1920 and the Teubner edition by Mortimer H. Chambers; the papyrus text is now held in the British Library. Ancient accounts of Aristotle credit him with 170 Constitutions of various states. Athens, was a important state, where Aristotle was living at the time, therefore it is plausible that if students composed the others, Aristotle had composed that one himself as a model for the rest.
On the other hand, a number of prominent scholars doubt. If it is a genuine writing of Aristotle it is of particular significance, because it is the only one of his extant writings, intended for publication; because it purports to supply so much contemporary information unknown or unreliable, modern historians have claimed that "the discovery of this treatise constitutes a new epoch in Greek historical study." In particular, 21–22, 26.2–4, 39–40 of the work contain factual information not found in any other extant ancient text. The Constitution of the Athenians describes the political system of ancient Athens; some ancient authors, such as Diogenes Laërtius, state that Aristotle assigned his pupils to prepare a monograph of 158 constitutions of Greek cities, including a constitution of Athens. The work consists of two parts; the first part, from Chapter 1 to Chapter 41, deals with the different forms of the constitution, from the trial of the Alcmaeonidae until 403 BC. The second part describes the city's institutions, including the terms of access to citizenship and the courts.
The text was published in 1891 by Frederic George Kenyon. Shortly after, a controversy arose over the authorship of the work. In chapter 54, Aristotle relates that the Festival of Hephaestus was "instituted during the archonship of Cephisophon," which corresponds to 329 BC. In Chapter 62, Aristotle indicates that, at the time he was writing, Athens was still sending officials to Samos. After 322 BC, Samos was no longer under Athenian control. Based on this internal evidence, scholars conclude that the Athenian Constitution was written no earlier than 328 BC and no than 322 BC. Furthermore, the fact that Aristotle does not mention quinquiremes despite mentioning triremes and quadriremes suggests that it was written no than 325 BC when quinquiremes are first recorded in the Athenian Navy. Constitution of the Athenians, translated by Horace Rackham The Constitution of Athens public domain audiobook at LibriVox
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of thought, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution; the works of Aristotle were defended by the members of the Peripatetic school and on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings. In the Islamic Golden Age and Averroes translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, Aristotelianism became a major part of early Islamic philosophy. Moses Maimonides adopted Aristotelianism from the Islamic scholars and based his famous Guide for the Perplexed on it and that became the basis of Jewish scholastic philosophy. Although some of Aristotle's logical works were known to western Europe, it was not until the Latin translations of the 12th century that the works of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators became available.
Scholars such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas interpreted and systematized Aristotle's works in accordance with Christian theology. After retreating under criticism from modern natural philosophers, the distinctively Aristotelian idea of teleology was transmitted through Wolff and Kant to Hegel, who applied it to history as a totality. Although this project was criticized by Trendelenburg and Brentano as non-Aristotelian, Hegel's influence is now said to be responsible for an important Aristotelian influence upon Marx. Postmodernists, in contrast, reject Aristotelianism's claim to reveal important theoretical truths. In this, they follow Heidegger's critique of Aristotle as the greatest source of the entire tradition of Western philosophy. Recent Aristotelian ethical and "practical" philosophy, such as that of Gadamer and McDowell, is premissed upon a rejection of Aristotelianism's traditional metaphysical or theoretical philosophy. From this viewpoint, the early modern tradition of political republicanism, which views the res publica, public sphere or state as constituted by its citizens' virtuous activity, can appear Aristotelian.
The most famous contemporary Aristotelian philosopher is Alasdair MacIntyre. Famous for helping to revive virtue ethics in his book After Virtue, MacIntyre revises Aristotelianism with the argument that the highest temporal goods, which are internal to human beings, are actualized through participation in social practices, he juxtaposes Aristotelianism with the managerial institutions of capitalism and its state, with rival traditions — including the philosophies of Hume and Nietzsche — that reject Aristotle's idea of human goods and virtues and instead legitimate capitalism. Therefore, on MacIntyre's account, Aristotelianism is not identical with Western philosophy as a whole. Politically and it has been characterized as a newly "revolutionary Aristotelianism"; this may be contrasted with the more conventional and conservative uses of Aristotle by, for example, Gadamer and McDowell. Other important contemporary Aristotelian theorists include Fred D. Miller, Jr. in politics and Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.
The original followers of Aristotle were the members of the Peripatetic school. The most prominent members of the school after Aristotle were Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus, who both continued Aristotle's researches. During the Roman era the school concentrated on defending his work; the most important figure in this regard was Alexander of Aphrodisias who commentated on Aristotle's writings. With the rise of Neoplatonism in the 3rd century, Peripateticism as an independent philosophy came to an end, but the Neoplatonists sought to incorporate Aristotle's philosophy within their own system, produced many commentaries on Aristotle. Byzantine Aristotelianism emerged in the Byzantine Empire in the form of Aristotelian paraphrase: adaptations in which Aristotle's text is rephrased and pruned, in order to make it more understood; this genre was invented by Themistius in the mid-4th century, revived by Michael Psellos in the mid-11th century, further developed by Sophonias in the late 13th to early 14th centuries.
Leo the Mathematician was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the Magnaura School in the mid-9th century to teach Aristotelian logic. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the emergence of twelfth-century Byzantine Aristotelianism. Before the 12th century, the whole Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries was focused on logic. However, the range of subjects covered by the Aristotelian commentaries produced in the two decades after 1118 is much greater due to the initiative of the princess Anna Comnena who commissioned a number of scholars to write commentaries on neglected works of Aristotle. In the Abbasid Empire, many foreign works were translated into Arabic, large libraries were constructed, scholars were welcomed. Under the caliphs Harun al-Rashid and his son Al-Ma'mun, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad flourished. Christian scholar Hunayn ibn Ishaq was placed in charge of the translation work by the caliph. In his lifetime, Ishaq translated 116 writings, including works by Plato and Aristotle, into Syriac and Arabic.
With the founding of House of Wisdom, the entire corpus of Aristotelian works, preserved became available, along with its Greek commentators.
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being," or being insofar, it examines what can be asserted about any being insofar as it is and not because of any special qualities it has. Covered are different kinds of causation and matter, the existence of mathematical objects, a prime-mover God; the Metaphysics is considered to be one of the greatest philosophical works. Its influence on the Greeks, the Muslim philosophers, the scholastic philosophers and writers such as Dante, was immense, it is a reconciliation of Plato's theory of Forms that Aristotle acquired at the Academy in Athens, with the view of the world given by common sense and the observations of the natural sciences. According to Plato, the real nature of things is unchangeable. However, the world we observe around us is and perpetually changing. Aristotle’s genius was to reconcile these two contradictory views of the world.
The result is a synthesis of the naturalism of empirical science, the rationalism of Plato, that informed the Western intellectual tradition for more than a thousand years. At the heart of the book lie three questions. What is existence, what sorts of things exist in the world? How can things continue to exist, yet undergo the change we see about us in the natural world? And how can this world be understood? By the time Aristotle was writing, the tradition of Greek philosophy was only two hundred years old, it had begun with the efforts of thinkers in the Greek world to theorize about the common structure that underlies the changes we observe in the natural world. Two contrasting theories, those of Heraclitus and Parmenides, were an important influence on both Plato and Aristotle. Heraclitus argued that things that appear to be permanent are in fact always changing. Therefore, though we believe we are surrounded by a world of things that remain identical through time, this world is in flux, with no underlying structure or identity.
By contrast, Parmenides argued that we can reach certain conclusions by means of reason alone, making no use of the senses. What we acquire through the process of reason is fixed and eternal; the world is not made up of a variety of things in constant flux, but of one single Truth or reality. Plato’s theory of forms is a synthesis of these two views. Given, any object; the form of each object we see in this world is an imperfect reflection of the perfect form of the object. For example, Plato claimed a chair may take many forms, but in the perfect world there is only one perfect form of chair. Aristotle encountered the theory of forms when he studied at the Academy, which he joined at the age of about 19 in the 360s B. C. Aristotle soon expanded on the concept of forms in his Metaphysics, he believed that in every change there is something which persists through the change, something else which did not exist before, but comes into existence as a result of the change. To explain how Socrates comes to be born Aristotle says that it is ‘matter’ that underlies the change.
The matter has the ‘form’ of Socrates imposed on it to become Socrates himself. Thus all the things around us, all substances, are composites of two radically different things: form and matter; this doctrine is sometimes known as Hylomorphism. Subsequent to the arrangement of Aristotle's works by scholars at Alexandria in the first century CE, a number of his treatises were referred to as τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά; this is the origin of the title for collection of treatises now known as Aristotle's Metaphysics. Some have interpreted the expression "τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά" to imply that the subject of the work goes "beyond" that of Aristotle's Physics or that it is metatheoretical in relation to the Physics, but others believe that "τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά" referred to the work's place in the canonical arrangement of Aristotle's writings, at least as old as Andronicus of Rhodes or Hermippus of Smyrna. Within the Aristotelian corpus itself, the metaphysical treatises are referred to as τὰ περὶ τῆς πρώτης φιλοσοφίας.
It is notoriously difficult to specify the date at which Aristotle wrote these treatises as a whole or individually because the Metaphysics is, in Jonathan Barnes' words, "a farrago, a hotch-potch", more because of the difficulty of dating any of Aristotle's writings. In the manuscripts, books are referred to by Greek letters; the second book was given the title "little alpha," because it appears to have nothing to do with the other books or, although this is less because of its shortness. This disrupts the correspondence of letters to numbers, as book 2 is little alpha, book 3 is beta, so on. For many scholars, it is customary to refer to the books by their letter names, thus book 1 is called Alpha. It is possible that Aristotle did not write the books in the order in which they have come down to us
The Physics is a named text, written in ancient Greek, collated from a collection of surviving manuscripts known as the Corpus Aristotelicum, attributed to the 4th-century BC philosopher and mentor of Macedonian rulers, Aristotle. Due to the unique educational methods of the Athenian school founded by Aristotle, the Lyceum, at the period of its greatest success, the accidental circumstances surrounding the disposition and rediscovery of its library after his death, it is possible to say that without a doubt some of that library descends to the Corpus and that some must be attributed or to Aristotle, but it is not possible to say for sure which works; the two answers excluded by the circumstances are "all" and "none". Standard epistemological method has been to accept the entire Corpus tentatively as genuine; as soon as evidence is perceived or discovered to make a case that a work is not Aristotle's, it is crossed out, but left in the list. Such a cross-out does not mean that its author was not influenced by Aristotle, or did not have Aristotle's work in front of him.
It is a collection of treatises or lessons that deal with the most general principles of natural or moving things, both living and non-living, rather than physical theories or investigations of the particular contents of the universe. The chief purpose of the work is to discover the principles and causes of change, or movement, or motion that of natural wholes. In the conventional Andronicean ordering of Aristotle's works, it stands at the head of, as well as being foundational to, the long series of physical and biological treatises, whose ancient Greek title, τὰ φυσικά, means "the on nature" or "natural philosophy"; the Physics is composed of eight books. This system is of ancient origin, now obscure. In modern languages, books are referenced with Roman numerals, standing for ancient Greek capital letters. Chapters are identified by Arabic numerals, but the use of the English word "chapter" is conventional. Ancient "chapters" are very short less than a page. Additionally, the Bekker numbers give the page and column used in the Prussian Academy of Sciences' edition of Aristotle's works and managed by Bekker himself.
These are evident in the 1831 2-volume edition. Bekker's line numbers may be given; these are given, but unless the edition is the Academy's, they do match any line counts. Book I introduces the Aristotle's approach to nature, to be based on principles and elements. Before offering his particular views, he engages previous theories, such as those offered by Melissus and Parmenides. Aristotle's own view comes out in Ch. 7 where he identifies three principles: substances and privation. Chapters 3 and 4 are among the most difficult in all of Aristotle's works and involve subtle refutations of the thought of Parmenides and Anaxagoras. In chapter 5, he continues his review of his predecessors how many first principles there are. Chapter 6 narrows down the number of principles to three, he presents his own account of the subject in chapter 7, where he first introduces the word matter (Greek: hyle to designate fundamental essence. He defines matter in chapter 9: "For my definition of matter is just this—the primary substratum of each thing, from which it comes to be without qualification, which persists in the result."
Matter in Aristotle's thought is, defined in terms of sensible reality. Matter is not described, but consists of whatever is apart from quality or quantity and that of which something may be predicated. Matter in this understanding does not exist independently, but exists interdependently with form and only insofar as it underlies change. Matter and form are analogical terms. Book II identifies "nature" as "a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it belongs primarily". Thus, those entities are natural which are capable of starting to move, e.g. growing, acquiring qualities, displacing themselves, being born and dying. Aristotle contrasts natural things with the artificial: artificial things can move but they move according to what they are made of, not according to what they are. For example, if a wooden bed were buried and somehow sprouted as a tree, it would be according to what it is made of, not what it is. Aristotle contrasts two senses of nature: nature as matter and nature as definition.
By "nature", Aristotle means the natures of particular things and would be better translated "a nature." In Book II, his appeal to "nature" as a source of activities is more to the genera of natural kinds. But, contra Plato, Aristotle attempts to resolve a philosophical quandary, well understood in the fourth century; the Eudoxian planetary model sufficed for the wandering stars, but no deduction of terrestrial substance would be forthcoming based on the mechanical principles of necessity. In the Enlightenment, cent