Whether the fourteenth books of the Metaphysics are a unity or a collection of disparate treatises is a matter of serious debate. Aristotle clearly recognizes a special study corresponding to metaphysics which he calls variously wisdom, first philosophy, and theology. But the books of the Metaphysics seem to present different conception of what metaphysics is. In Book I Aristotle identifies wisdom with knowledge of the ultimate causes and principles, which he identifies as the four causes. Book IV makes metaphysics an enquiry into the causes of being qua being, an enquiry made possible by the fact that all senses of being are related to a single central notion, the notion of substance.
Book VI argues that the highest science must study the highest genus of substance, which is the divine, and hence this science must be theology.
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Of course, it is not surprising that metaphysics should take in studies of causation, of ontology the study of the basic entities in the world , and what was later called special metaphysics the study of special kinds of beings, e. God and the soul ; but precisely how these enquiries were related in Aristotle's mind remain obscure. I, pp. In an essay published in 1 , Hans Reiner proposed a new interpretation of the origins of the title of Aristotle's book. His hypothesis is summarized by Takatura Ando in: Metaphysics.
The interpretations of this book by Alexander of Aphrodisias and by Asclepius, on which modern scholars like Brandis, Zeller, and Bonitz base the above mentioned hypothesis [that the title is due to Andronicus of Rhodes], tell us in reality that the book was called ta meta ta fisika, because it came after the physical sciences. Rather then mentioning anything about its origin from Andronicus' arbitrary arrangement, Alexander and Asclepius said that the order was taxix proz hmaz.
Anyone who has learned a little about Aristotle's philosophy must know that prox emax usteron is the contradictory opposite of prox emax proteron, which on its side, is the contrary of fusei proteron. Metaphysics is posterior to physical sciences in the order in which we learn things, and this is consistent with calling metaphysics prote filosofia , first philosophy, i. The name metaphysica, Rainer proceeds, cannot be found even in Diogenes Laertius, the oldest catalogue of Aristotle's works. The first person to use this title if Nicolaus of Damascus, who lived in the latter half of the first century B.
In a commentary on Theophrastus metaphysics -- this book had also originally another name -- we find that Nicolaus of Damascus wrote a book on Aristotle's meta ta fusica. Though as we have already said we cannot find it [metaphysics] in the list of Diogenes Laertius, it seems very probable that it was included in an earlier list -- that of Hermippus ca. The origin of the name metaphysics, thus traced back to one century after Aristotle's death, might be safely conjectured to reflect the sequence which Aristotle himself followed.
Eudemus, Aristotle's immediate disciple, the author of the History of Theology, and the first editor of his teacher's works, is supposed by Reiner to have invented the name ta meta ta fusica. The bibliographical references of the works cited can be found in the Selected Bibliography.
Reiner, Hans. Reprinted in: Fritz-Peter Hager ed. Opinions differed widely as to how this growth might be charted; eventually, a reaction to the whole enterprise set in. The past thirty years have seen the question lose its prominence as scholars returned to studying the corpus without Aristotle's development as a primary concern. Recently, the question of the Aristotle's philosophical development has been reopened. Together they may signal a renewed interest in developmentalism, and offer philosophers an opportunity to assess the problems and prospects facing any such revival.
For fifty years after it was first raised, to little notice by Oxford professor Thomas Case Case , then resoundingly by Werner Jaeger in a groundbreaking study two years later Jaeger , scholars devoted themselves to the question of Aristotle's growth as a thinker. Jaeger's study concentrated on the development of Aristotle's Metaphysics; in , he furnished a comprehensive account of the whole of Aristotle's growth, which revolutionized the study of the philosopher Jaeger ; all references are to the second English edition except as noted.
The main points of his thesis are familiar though perhaps no longer familiar enough: see Code Aristotle began his philosophical career as a follower of Plato and only later, after a long transitional period, emerged into philosophical maturity as the opponent of Platonic forms and the investigator of empirical nature and living things. Much of Jaeger's evidence for the early Aristotle came from fragments of the literary remains, many of which had been regarded as spurious before his work.
He then turned to works often regarded as assemblages of independent lectures or smaller pieces the Metaphysics and Politics in particular and to the three ethical treatises that have come down to us under Aristotle's name. Using these works he constructed a picture of Aristotle's development in which Aristotle moved toward an increasing independence from Plato. He then sought parallels with doctrines in other works not held to be internally inconsistent.
So, for instance, his contention that Aristotle's empiricism came late in his career led to his assigning the biological works to the Lyceum period. Almost immediately, the genetic question came to dominate Aristotelian scholarship see Chroust , also A. Mansion Cherniss argued forcefully that, given Aristotle's constant revision of his lectures until the end of his life and the clear programmatic connections between many of them, interpreters are compelled to take his doctrines as a unified whole.
Others sought to dismiss Jaeger's approach as being simply the product of positivist or historicist dogmas popular in Germany at the turn of the century. Gradually, Jaeger found himself with fewer and fewer supporters for his version of the developmental thesis. During , a, b argued that Aristotle was from the beginning opposed to Plato and his transcendental view of reality. His growing interest in natural science developed, in turn, under the influence of Aristotle's own gifted pupil and eventual successor, Theophrastus.
Owen's analysis , was yet more influential. Owen argued that early in his career Aristotle issued an uncompromising rejection of Platonic metaphysics and the corresponding master science of dialectic. Later, a pivotal insight into how we refer to one thing by means of another -- the now famous doctrine of 'pros hen equivocity" of 'focal meaning' -- prompted him to make room for a universal science of Being after all. In effect 'the Platonism of Aristotle' was more complex that Jaeger had pictured it and perhaps more so than Owen thought -- see Code From: William Wians ed.
By a curious coincidence, in two different works he mentions two different events as contemporary with the time of writing, one in and the other in In the Politics V 10, b10 , he mentions as now nun Dion's expedition to Sicily, which occurred in In the Meteorologica III 1, a30 , he mentions as now nun the burning of the temple at Ephesus, which occurred in To save his hypothesis of late composition, Zeller resorts to the vagueness of the word "now" nun.
But Aristotle is graphically describing isolated events and could hardly speak of events of and as happening "now" in or near Moreover, these two works contain further proofs that they were both begun earlier than this date. The Politics II 20 mentions as having happened lately neosti the expedition of Phalaecus to Crete, which occurred towards the end of the Sacred War in The Meteorologica III 7 mentions the comet of It is true that the Politics also mentions much later events, e.
Indeed, the whole truth about this great work is that it remained unfinished at Aristotle's death. But what of that? The logical conclusion is that Aristotle began writing it as early as , and continued writing it in , in , and so on till he died. Similarly, he began the Meteorologica as early as and was still writing it in Both books were commenced some years before Plato's death; both were works of many years; both were destined to form parts of the Aristotelian system of philosophy. It follows that Aristotle, from early manhood, not only wrote dialogues and didactic works, surviving only in fragments, but also began some of the philosophical works that are still parts of his extant writings.
He continued these and no doubt began others during the prime of his life. Having thus slowly matured his separate writings, he was the better able to combine them more and more into a system, in his last years. No doubt, however, he went on writing and rewriting well into the last period of his life; for example, the recently discovered Athenaion Politeia mentions on the one hand c.
Serie: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series
Theta sets out to define potentiality and actuality. Chapters 1—5 discuss potentiality. In chapter 6 Aristotle turns to actuality. We can only know actuality through observation or "analogy;" thus "as that which builds is to that which is capable of building, so is that which is awake to that which is asleep Actuality is the completed state of something that had the potential to be completed. The relationship between actuality and potentiality can be thought of as the relationship between form and matter, but with the added aspect of time.
Actuality and potentiality are diachronic across time distinctions, whereas form and matter are synchronic at one time distinctions. This book includes Aristotle's famous description of the unmoved mover , "the most divine of things observed by us", as "the thinking of thinking". Many scholars believe that Aristotle's works as we have them today are little more than lecture notes.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Metaphysics — Ibn Sina Avicenna , one of the greatest Medieval Islamic philosophers, said that he had read the Metaphysics of Aristotle forty times, but still did not understand it. Only later, after having read al-Farabi 's, Purposes of the Metaphysics of Aristotle , did he understand Aristotle's book.
In the 19th century, with the rise of textual criticism , the Metaphysics was examined anew.
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Critics, noting the wide variety of topics and the seemingly illogical order of the books, concluded that it was actually a collection of shorter works thrown together haphazardly. Werner Jaeger further maintained that the different books were taken from different periods of Aristotle's life.
Unity and Continuity in Aristotle : Apeiron
Everyman's Library , for their th volume, published the Metaphysics in a rearranged order that was intended to make the work easier for readers. During the Roman Empire, the Latin Fathers were the most readers and translators of Aristotle's books, of which, for instance, they translated possibilita-effecacia effectus for the Greek terms dynamis-energia. In the middle ages we confront the canonical translations, e. Among some of the earlier scholars of the Metaphysics were Arabs, who relied on Arabic translations from early Syriac translations from the Greek see Medieval Philosophy.
The book was lost in the Latin West from the collapse of Rome until the twelfth century. For a period, scholars relied on Latin translations of the Arabic, particular Michael Scot 's translation of Averroes ' commentary. These were sometimes inaccurate, having been through so many stages of translation. In the thirteenth century, following the Fourth Crusade , the original Greek manuscripts became available.
One of the first Latin translations was made by William of Moerbeke. William's translations are literal, and were intended faithfully to reflect the Greek word order and style. They were also used by modern scholars for Greek editions, as William had access to Greek manuscripts that are now lost. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources.
June Ross , Aristotle's Metaphysics , vol.
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Thomson, The Ethics of Aristotle, Penguin, p. In spite of this I could not understand it nor its object, and I despaired of myself and said, "This is a book which there is no way of understanding. So I bought it and, lo and behold, it was Abu Nasr al-Farabi's book on the objects of the Metaphysics. William E. Gohlam ed.
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