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09 February 2010 @ 10:07 pm
Deep thoughts  

It says here* that in book twelve of his Metaphysics, “…Aristotle sets out to prove the existence of an eternal unchanging First Cause of the eternal circular movement of the heavenly sphere and the world of change. … [He argues that] the First Cause does not directly bring about the change but acts as the end of the activities of the spheres of the fixed stars, as an object of love and desire. The spheres, according to Aristotle, are intelligent beings, and the unchanging motion of the first sphere is motivated by its desire to emulate the fixed existence of the First Cause. Its eternal circular motion is the closest approximation of the heavenly spheres to the perfection of the First Cause.”

So if I understand this correctly, Aristotle is saying that in its relentless pursuit of perfection, the first sphere goes in circles—chasing its own tail as it were—and never really gets anywhere. Hm. Maybe he’s on to something!

*Ari Ackerman, “Miricles,” in Nadler, Steven and T.M. Rudavsky (eds.), The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2009, pages 366–367.

Current Mood: tiredtired
dd-bdd_b on February 10th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
It's the sort of nonsense you get when you're totally committed to reaching a nonsensical conclusion. The whole "eternal" thing never ends well.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on February 11th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
Um, David? The whole "eternal" thing never ends poorly either. In fact, the whole point of "eternal" is that it never ends. Yes?
dd-bdd_b on February 11th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
Thanks, I was rather fishing for something in that general area :-).
wcolsher on February 12th, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Go easy on Aristotle fellas...
We read some bits of Aristotle in a post-bac Greek class - if you think he's confusing in English...

Aristotle is struggling with the implications of the received wisdom of Plato and earlier philosophers. He's trying to think his way through things, but can't quite let go of things that he sees must be wrong, but can't be. And of course he lacks some concepts that we believe to be foundational. Book 12 is where he calculates how many spheres there must be, and gets a bit disgusted with the whole thing.

IMHO, the point of Book 12 is wrapped up in his quote from Iliad 2:204 at the end:

"οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη: εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω."

The rule of many (is) not good: let One be the master.

(Homer is easy!)