Notes on Aristotle’s “On Generation and Corruption”

Book II

This book is really interesting for those who like their history of science, especially where the typically down-to-earth Aristotle crosses over into astrology and myth.

Ch. 9 (335.10ff)

Refers to Socrates in Plato’s “Phaedo”

  • Concerning things which are, such as:
    • Forms
    • Things which “have” forms.
  • Of things that become, they come to exist by “taking form”.
  • ”                                                   “pass away by “losing form”.

For physiologoi and the atomists, matter is the source of change or movement.

“But neither party [idealist nor materialists] give the correct account, for if the forms are causes, why do they not always generate continuously rather than sometimes doing so and sometimes not, since both the forms and the things which partake of them are already there?”

Ch. 10

On the astronomical cause of natural corruption:
The source of cycles of growth/birth and corruption and death are in the heavens. All natural change has its ultimate arkhe in the heavens: the Sun rises and sets each day; the ecliptic tilting each year is the cause of the yearly and daily cycles. Since winter is the season of decay and death, its arkhe is the lowering of the angle of the ecliptic each year. Rebirth thus happens when the ecliptic’s angle increases again.

This interpretation is deeply rooted in the mythology of “Hamlet’s Mill“. a worldwide mythological trope whereby all pain and suffering is due to some “ur-catastrophe” that unseated the celestial axis from it’s original socket and made the ecliptic tilt like it does. It just so happens that winters are cause by this tilt, but not, of course death and pain. NOTE: I do not endorse the main thesis of the discredited work “Hamlet’s Mill”, however, it is a theme with wide provenance neat to find this in Aristotle. I am not sure how widely know the precession of the equinoxes was in the ancient world, but I am open to a few independent discoveries, perhaps even in the New World.

Ch. 11

Are there any necessary beings?

Contingent genesis: “going to be”

Necessary genesis: “will be”

Conditional necessity: for the roof to be, the foundation must also be.

338.0 In nature, only circular motion is “necessary becoming” in the strictest sense.

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