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Heavenly Matter in Aristotle, Metaphysics Lambda 2

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Abstract This paper emphasizes an unnoticed connection between two lines in Aristotle, Metaphysics Λ.1, 1069a32, and Λ.2, 1069b26. It argues that the Greek text of the former has been obscured in standard editions by unnecessary emendation: if the reading of the mss. is preserved, the text here sets out a programme for research into the elements of heavenly bodies which is taken up in the second part of Λ.2. There, Aristotle distinguishes the matter of heavenly substance as if it were matter in a certain sense only, and not sensu stricto: the only change it underlies is coming-to-be ποθέν ποι, ‘from one place to another’ (not from privation to form, the standard case). In Θ.8 as well, this is what allows Aristotle to deny that eternal things can have matter (strictly speaking) as an element of their substance. The reading argued for here may also explain how Aristotle can claim, by the end of Lambda, that he has succeeded in responding to an important aporia which (he says) was neglected by predecessors, namely ‘why some things are corruptible and other incorruptible’ (Metaphysics B, Aporia 10).

Affiliations: 1: Università degli Studi di Trento, Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia, via Tommaso Gar 14, 38122 Trento Italy


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