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The Possibilities Of Being And Not-Being In De Caelo 1.11–12

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Chapter Summary

In the stretch of text we know as De caelo 1.12, the question of the mutual entailment of genêton and phtharton is not broached straightaway. First comes a discussion, which is simply called "L1", that starts from a question about the actual being and actual not-being of a thing that has the possibility of being and also the possibility of not-being. L1 is followed by, a further stretch of argumentation, L2, in support of the main thesis. This chapter first mainly discusses L1 and then examines L2. L2 is a rather unfortunate argument for two reasons. First, it involves a non sequitur, arising, perhaps, from a false analogy. Secondly, it turns out that Aristotle has adopted an L1-related starting point which (a) in any case immediately yields the conclusion that genêtonphtharton, and consequently (b) renders L2 redundant.

Keywords: Aristotle; De caelo; genêton; phtharton; possibility of being; possibility of not-being



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