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Natural, Unnatural, And Preternatural Motions: Contrariety And The Argument For The Elements In De Caelo 1.2–4

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Chapter Summary

In chapters 2-4 of book 1 of his De caelo, Aristotle sets out to establish the existence of a fifth element, the aether, which is distinct from the standard four four of Greek physics - earth, water, air, and fire - and which uniquely serves to provide the material for the heavenly bodies. This chapter examines various features of the notions of contrariety, and of the natural and the unnatural, that Aristotle makes use of in his argument for the existence of the fifth celestial element. It sketches Aristotle's arguments, presents the case for the prosecution, and then attempts to rebut it using material derived from Simplicius and elsewhere. Finally, the chapter presents the merits of the case as a whole.

Keywords: Aristotle's arguments; De caelo; natural motions; preternatural motions; Simplicius; unnatural motions



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