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Structures Of Argument And Concepts Of Force In The Aristotelian Mechanical Problems

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Chapter Summary

The main goal of the Mechanical Problems, a short treatise transmitted in the Corpus Aristotelicum, is to explain the working of technology in terms of the concepts of Aristotelian natural philosophy. This chapter outlines a satisfactory interpretation of the Mechanica'smethodology and conceptual foundations. The Mechanica reflects a distinction between theoretical mechanics, a body of knowledge consisting of relations between concepts such as weight, force, and motion and practitioners' knowledge, i.e. the knowledge acquired in the design and use of technology. Mechanical problems occupy an intermediate position between physics and mathematics. The key feature of mechanical problems is thus that they seem to violate the natural or normal relationship between force (ischus) and weight (baros). The explicit formulation of relationships between such concepts as force and weight is thus also an important part of the background to the Mechanica.

Keywords: Aristotelian Mechanical Problems; Aristotelian natural philosophy; force; mathematics; motion; physics; weight



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