Chapter

Self-Change and the Eternal Cause

Sarah Waterlow

in Nature, Change, and Agency in Aristotle's Physics

Published in print April 1982 | ISBN: 9780198246534
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680984 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198246534.003.0005
Self-Change and the Eternal Cause

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Aristotle is in general elusive on the subject of agency and its connection with change. Nowhere is he more so than when treating of the mysterious concept of something’s ‘changing (transitive) itself’, or ‘being changed by itself’. The import of this concept, the grounds of its application, its point and its relation to other Aristotelian notions are all more or less obscure. But these obscurities especially demand elucidation not only because of the intrinsic interest of the idea of something's being changed by itself, but because of its crucial place in one of the most important arguments of the Physics. This is the grand course of reasoning in Book VIII, by which Aristotle seeks first to show that change never was nor will be absent from the universe, and then to explain the nature of the cause on which this fact depends. This chapter shows that the conclusions of Book VIII have a vital bearing on the validity of Aristotle’s original notion of natural substance put forward in II.1. In particular, the proposition that there never was nor will be a time without change may be regarded as underpinning the fundamental conception of the nature of a natural substance as an inner principle of change.

Keywords: Aristotle; change; Physics; natural substance; Book VIII

Chapter.  24983 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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