Chapter

History and Dialectic in Metaphysics A 3 History and Dialectic in Metaphysics A 3 <i>Metaphysics</i> A 3, 983<sup>a</sup>24–4<sup>b</sup>8

Rachel Barney

in Aristotle's Metaphysics Alpha

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639984
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743337 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639984.003.0003

Series: Symposia Aristotelia

History and Dialectic in Metaphysics A 3 History and Dialectic in Metaphysics A 3 Metaphysics A 3, 983a24–4b8

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This chapter discusses Metaphysics A.3, 983a24-4b8, in which Aristotle proposes to examine the first principles [archai] of his Presocratic predecessors in terms of his own theory of the four causes [aitiai]. It argues that Aristotle's account represents a particular kind of constructive dialectic, influenced by Plato's treatment of his predecessors in the Sophist; but that it also should be considered a foundational work in the history of philosophy, continuous with Peripatetic historical investigations in other fields. On more specific points, it argues that Aristotle's presentation of Thales is mostly taken from the sophist Hippias' account of Hippo, and that his account of Presocratic monism is more ambiguous than usually appreciated, and influenced by earlier readings as well.

Keywords: ‘history of philosophy’ [or ‘philosophy; history of’; or ‘Aristotle as historian of philosophy’]; ‘dialectic’; ‘Presocratics’; ‘Plato’ [or more specifically ‘Plato as historian of philosophy’]; ‘aitiai’ [or ‘causes’]; ‘archai’ [or ‘first principles’]; ‘monism’ [or ‘monism; Presocratic’ or ‘monism; material’]; ‘Thales’; Hippo

Chapter.  18927 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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