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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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Principles and Contraries

Principles and Contraries

Physics I 5

(p.156) 5 Principles and Contraries
Aristotle's Physics Alpha

Sylvain Delcomminette

Oxford University Press

Contrary to readings that consider Physics I 5 as doxographical, this chapter argues that it is the first step of a constructive inquiry whose conclusions, paradoxical as they may seem, are never dismissed later. Its main thesis is that the contraries are principles of coming-to-be and passing-away, but it also endorses the stronger thesis that the principles are contraries. Although it appeals to doxographical considerations, its main section is an inductive argument which heralds the concept of privation, without mentioning it explicitly. This chapter studies the relationship between the opposition of contraries and that of possession and privation, as well as the way Aristotle reduces the intermediates to the contraries. Finally, it shows how the device of sustoikhia (‘series’) allows Aristotle to identify the opposition between possession and privation as the first pair of contraries and to organize the positions of his forerunners in respect of their proximity to the truth.

Keywords:   coming-to-be, passing-away, principles, contraries, intermediates, privation, series

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