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Introduction To The Essay

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Chapter Summary

In the absence of an independent source dating the Essay, its contents and their relation to current ideas and the works of Theophrastus's contemporaries have from the very beginning constituted the means to estimate the time of its composition. Two problems relating to the title of the Essay have dogged scholarship from the very beginning. One is its very name, given the glaring historical anachronism of the transmitted title. The second is the unusual syntax of the transmitted title itself, in which something has been thought to be missing. Theophrastus's Essay has been recognized by recent scholarship as an integral and independent work. Its explicit purpose is to identify and mark off the subjects which a study of first principles and of the nature of their connection to the rest of the universe must address in order to proceed to a successful resolution.

Keywords: first principles; Theophrastus's Essay



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