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Aristotle's Physics AlphaSymposium Aristotelicum$
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Katerina Ierodiakonou, Paul Kalligas, and Vassilis Karasmanis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198830993

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198830993.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2020

The Path to the Principles

The Path to the Principles

Physics I 1

(p.19) 1 The Path to the Principles
Aristotle's Physics Alpha

Stephen Menn

Oxford University Press

Physics I 1 is a methodological introduction, not just to physics, but specifically to the investigation of principles. To gain scientific knowledge of nature, we must first determine its principles, but how do we determine these if we don’t know them already? This chapter distinguishes two readings of Aristotle’s claim that ‘at first it is rather confused things which are evident and clear to us, but afterwards, starting from these, the elements and principles become knowable when we divide these things’. On Reading A, we start by knowing compounds but not their elements. On Reading B, we start by knowing the compound more clearly than its elements, but also confusedly knowing the elements. We start by knowing the elements under universal descriptions and come to know them more clearly in substituting more particular descriptions. The chapter defends Reading B and show how it fits Aristotle’s procedure in Physics I and beyond.

Keywords:   Aristotle, physics, methodology, principles, elements, universals, wholes

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