Aristotle’s Physics

  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. — The gods too are fond of a joke. — All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire. — All men by nature desire knowledge. — For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. (Aristotle)

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), Greek philosopher, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great, is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings constitute a first at creatinga comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.

Aristotle’s views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics

The aim of Aristotle’s logical treatises was to develop a universal method of reasoning by means of which it would be possible to learn everything there is to know about reality.

To get a perspective on the basic notions of space, time, motion and change, you can amuse yourself by browsing Aristotle’s Physics}, from which we cite:

  • Everything that is in motion must be moved by something.
  • The question, what is place? presents many difficulties. An examination of all the relevant facts seems to lead to divergent conclusions. Moreover, we have inherited nothing from previous thinkers, whether in the way of a statement of difficulties or of a solution.
  • Now it has three dimensions, length, breadth, depth, the dimensions by which all body also is bounded. But the place cannot be body; for if it were there would be two bodies in the same place.
  • What in the world then are we to suppose place to be.
  • By asking these questions, then, we must raise the whole problem about place-not only as to what it is,but even whether there is such a thing.
  • Time is a measure of motion and of being moved, and it measures the motion by determining a motion which will measure exactly the whole motion, as the cubit does the length by determining an amount which will measure out the whole.
  • Further ‘to be in time’ means for movement, that both it and its essence are measured by time (for simultaneously it measures both the movement and its essence, and this is what being in time means for it, that its essence should be measured).
  • Since time is the measure of motion, it will be the measure of rest too-indirectly. For all rest is in time.For it does not follow that what is in time is moved, though what is in motion is necessarily moved. For time is notmotion, but ‘number of motion’: and what is at rest, also, can be in the number of motion. Not everything that is not in motion can be said to be ‘at rest’-but only that which can be moved, though it actually is not moved, as was said above.
  • Time is an aspect of change.

Trajecories of projectiles according to Aristotle. Correct?



  • The great begins great, manintains itself only through the free recurrence of greatness within it,and if it is great ends also in greatness. So it is with the philosophy of the Greeks. It ended in greatness with Aristotle. (Heidegger)
  • The Greeks called the essent as a whole physis.We oppose the psychic, the animated, the living to the “physical”. But for the Greeks all this belonged to physics and continued to do do even after Aristotle.  (Heidegger)
  • The meaning of physis is further restricted by contrast with techne, which denotes neither art nor technology, but a knowledge, the ability to play and organize freely. Techne is creating, building in the sense of deliberate producing.  (Heidegger)

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