Physics Aristotle L01en

Book I

Table of Contents

First Chapter

[§1] Ἐπειδὴ τὸ εἰδέναι καὶ τὸ ἐπίστασθαι συμβαίνει περὶ πάσας τὰς μεθόδους, ὧν εἰσὶν ἀρχαὶ ἢ αἴτια ἢ στοιχεῖα, ἐκ τοῦ ταῦτα γνωρίζειν (τότε γὰρ οἰόμεθα γιγνώσκειν ἕκαστον, ὅταν τὰ αἴτια γνωρίσωμεν τὰ πρῶτα καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς τὰς πρώτας καὶ μέχρι τῶν στοιχείων), δῆλον ὅτι καὶ τῆς περὶ φύσεως ἐπιστήμης πειρατέον διορίσασθαι πρῶτον τὰ περὶ τὰς ἀρχάς.
[§1] [184a] When the objects of an inquiry, in any department, have principles, conditions, or elements,¹ it is through acquaintance with these that knowledge, that is to say scientific knowledge, is attained. For we do not think that we know a thing until we are acquainted with its primary conditions or first principles, and have carried our analysis as far as its simplest elements.² Plainly therefore in the science of Nature, as in other branches of study, our first task will be to try to determine what relates to its principles.³ ¹ The present treatise, usually called the Physics, deals with natural body in general: the special kinds are discussed in Aristotle's other physical works, the De Caelo, &c. The first book is concerned with the elements of a natural body (matter and form): the second mainly with the different types of cause studied by the physicist. Books III-VII deal with movement, and the notions implied in it. The subject of VIII is the prime mover, which, though not itself a natural body, is the cause of movement in natural bodies.

The title φθσικὴ ἀκρόασις (=Lectures on Physics) is as old at least as Simplicius (Α.D. 530). When Aristotle uses the phrase ἐν τοῑς φισικοῑς he is usually referring to the first two books of the Physics, but sometimes to the later books, and sometimes even to the other physical treatises. He repeatedly refers to the later books of the Physics as τὰ περὶ κινὴσεως.

² It seems best to take (with Zabarella) the words ὧν ἐσὶν ἀρχαὶ ἢ αἴτια ἢ στοιχεῖα as limitative. Throughout Book I Aristotle uses the
words ἀρχή, and αἴτιον and στοιχεῖον indiscriminately to mean the internal principles or factors of a natural body.

³ Pacius takes τα αἴτια τὰ πρῶτα καὶ τὰς ἀρχας τὰς πρότας to be
proximate causes, as distinct from τὰ στοιχεῖα which are remote. But the distinction seems unnecessary: when Aristotle draws the conclusion of his syllogism, he mentions simply ἀρχαί.
[§1] Πέφυκε δὲ ἐκ τῶν γνωριμωτέρων ἡμῖν ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ σαφεστέρων ἐπὶ τὰ σαφέστερα τῇ φύσει καὶ γνωριμώτερα· οὐ γὰρ ταὐτὰ ἡμῖν τε γνώριμα καὶ ἁπλῶς. Διόπερ ἀνάγκη τὸν τρόπον τοῦτον προάγειν ἐκ τῶν ἀσαφεστέρων μὲν τῇ φύσει ἡμῖν δὲ σαφεστέρων ἐπὶ τὰ σαφέστερα τῇ φύσει καὶ γνωριμώτερα.
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