Aristotle on Earlier Natural Science

Edward Hussey

in The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195187489
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Aristotle on Earlier Natural Science

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In the field of natural science, Aristotle recognizes as his forerunners a select group of theorists such as Heraclitus of Ephesus, Empedocles of Acragas, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and Leucippus and Democritus of Abdera. In addition, he mentions in the same contexts some whose claims to be “natural philosophers” are doubtful, yet who deserve notice in the same context, including Parmenides of Elea, Melissus of Samos, the people called Pythagoreans (or “the Italians”), and Plato as the author of the Timaeus. Aristotle takes seriously almost all of these people, treating them as exemplary pioneers and valuable partners in the enterprise of “natural philosophy.” This article examines earlier opinions on certain fundamental questions about the natural world, as treated in the first three books of the Physics and in the first book of the Metaphysics. In Physics II and III, Aristotle represents most if not all of his predecessors as disastrously misunderstanding, in more than one way, the nature underlying the natural world.

Keywords: Aristotle; natural science; nature; natural world; Physics; Metaphysics; Plato; Pythagoreans; natural philosophy; natural philosophers

Article.  15242 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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