Physics

Contents:
Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC

1

EVERYTHING which changes does so in one of three senses. It may change (1) accidentally, as for instance when we say that something musical walks, that which walks being something in which aptitude for music is an accident. Again (2) a thing is said without qualification to change because something belonging to it changes, i.e. in statements which refer to part of the thing in question: thus the body is restored to health because the eye or the chest, that is to say a part of the whole body, is restored to health. And above all there is (3) the case of a thing which is in motion neither accidentally nor in respect of something else belonging to it, but in virtue of being itself directly in motion. Here we have a thing which is essentially movable: and that which is so is a different thing according to the particular variety of motion: for instance it may be a thing capable of alteration: and within the sphere of alteration it is again a different thing according as it is capable of being restored to health or capable of being heated. And there are the same distinctions in the case of the mover: (1) one thing causes motion accidentally, (2) another partially (because something belonging to it causes motion), (3) another of itself directly, as, for instance, the physician heals, the hand strikes. We have, then, the following factors: (a) on the one hand that which directly causes motion, and (b) on the other hand that which is in motion: further, we have (c) that in which motion takes place, namely time, and (distinct from these three) (d) that from which and (e) that to which it proceeds: for every motion proceeds from something and to something, that which is directly in motion being distinct from that to which it is in motion and that from which it is in motion: for instance, we may take the three things ’wood’, ’hot’, and ’cold’, of which the first is that which is in motion, the second is that to which the motion proceeds, and the third is that from which it proceeds. This being so, it is clear that the motion is in the wood, not in its form: for the motion is neither caused nor experienced by the form or the place or the quantity. So we are left with a mover, a moved, and a goal of motion. I do not include the starting-point of motion: for it is the goal rather than the starting-point of motion that gives its name to a particular process of change. Thus ’perishing’ is change to not-being, though it is also true that that which perishes changes from being: and ’becoming’ is change to being, though it is also change from not-being.

Now a definition of motion has been given above, from which it will be seen that every goal of motion, whether it be a form, an affection, or a place, is immovable, as, for instance, knowledge and heat. Here, however, a difficulty may be raised. Affections, it may be said, are motions, and whiteness is an affection: thus there may be change to a motion. To this we may reply that it is not whiteness but whitening that is a motion. Here also the same distinctions are to be observed: a goal of motion may be so accidentally, or partially and with reference to something other than itself, or directly and with no reference to anything else: for instance, a thing which is becoming white changes accidentally to an object of thought, the colour being only accidentally the object of thought; it changes to colour, because white is a part of colour, or to Europe, because Athens is a part of Europe; but it changes essentially to white colour. It is now clear in what sense a thing is in motion essentially, accidentally, or in respect of something other than itself, and in what sense the phrase ’itself directly’ is used in the case both of the mover and of the moved: and it is also clear that the motion is not in the form but in that which is in motion, that is to say ’the movable in activity’. Now accidental change we may leave out of account: for it is to be found in everything, at any time, and in any respect. Change which is not accidental on the other hand is not to be found in everything, but only in contraries, in things intermediate contraries, and in contradictories, as may be proved by induction. An intermediate may be a starting-point of change, since for the purposes of the change it serves as contrary to either of two contraries: for the intermediate is in a sense the extremes. Hence we speak of the intermediate as in a sense a contrary relatively to the extremes and of either extreme as a contrary relatively to the intermediate: for instance, the central note is low relatively-to the highest and high relatively to the lowest, and grey is light relatively to black and dark relatively to white.

And since every change is from something to something-as the word itself (metabole) indicates, implying something ’after’ (meta) something else, that is to say something earlier and something later-that which changes must change in one of four ways: from subject to subject, from subject to nonsubject, from non-subject to subject, or from non-subject to non-subject, where by ’subject’ I mean what is affirmatively expressed. So it follows necessarily from what has been said above that there are only three kinds of change, that from subject to subject, that from subject to non-subject, and that from non-subject to subject: for the fourth conceivable kind, that from non-subject to nonsubject, is not change, as in that case there is no opposition either of contraries or of contradictories.

Now change from non-subject to subject, the relation being that of contradiction, is ’coming to be’-’unqualified coming to be’ when the change takes place in an unqualified way, ’particular coming to be’ when the change is change in a particular character: for instance, a change from not-white to white is a coming to be of the particular thing, white, while change from unqualified not-being to being is coming to be in an unqualified way, in respect of which we say that a thing ’comes to be’ without qualification, not that it ’comes to be’ some particular thing. Change from subject to non-subject is ’perishing’-’unqualified perishing’ when the change is from being to not-being, ’particular perishing’ when the change is to the opposite negation, the distinction being the same as that made in the case of coming to be.

Now the expression ’not-being’ is used in several senses: and there can be motion neither of that which ’is not’ in respect of the affirmation or negation of a predicate, nor of that which ’is not’ in the sense that it only potentially ’is’, that is to say the opposite of that which actually ’is’ in an unqualified sense: for although that which is ’not-white’ or ’not-good’ may nevertheless he in motion accidentally (for example that which is ’not-white’ might be a man), yet that which is without qualification ’not-so-and-so’ cannot in any sense be in motion: therefore it is impossible for that which is not to be in motion. This being so, it follows that ’becoming’ cannot be a motion: for it is that which ’is not’ that ’becomes’. For however true it may be that it accidentally ’becomes’, it is nevertheless correct to say that it is that which ’is not’ that in an unqualified sense ’becomes’. And similarly it is impossible for that which ’is not’ to be at rest.

There are these difficulties, then, in the way of the assumption that that which ’is not’ can be in motion: and it may be further objected that, whereas everything which is in motion is in space, that which ’is not’ is not in space: for then it would be somewhere.

So, too, ’perishing’ is not a motion: for a motion has for its contrary either another motion or rest, whereas ’perishing’ is the contrary of ’becoming’.

Since, then, every motion is a kind of change, and there are only the three kinds of change mentioned above, and since of these three those which take the form of ’becoming’ and ’perishing’, that is to say those which imply a relation of contradiction, are not motions: it necessarily follows that only change from subject to subject is motion. And every such subject is either a contrary or an intermediate (for a privation may be allowed to rank as a contrary) and can be affirmatively expressed, as naked, toothless, or black. If, then, the categories are severally distinguished as Being, Quality, Place, Time, Relation, Quantity, and Activity or Passivity, it necessarily follows that there are three kinds of motion-qualitative, quantitative, and local.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: Physics

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: Physics

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Aristotle, "1," Physics, trans. R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRC73IU66RNZE6L.

MLA: Aristotle. "1." Physics, translted by R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRC73IU66RNZE6L.

Harvard: Aristotle, '1' in Physics, trans. . cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRC73IU66RNZE6L.