Aristotle On Change Essay

1042 words - 5 pages

Aristotle’s three element account of change is largely motivated and influenced by the accounts of his predecessors such as Plato, Mellitus and Parmenides who had a lot of trouble in their accounts answering whether there is one thing (principle) or many, how many and if they are subject to change. Plato claims that real things do not change outside of the physical world of forms, Democritus is an atomist while Parmenides as a monist denies change entirely. Believing that his predecessors where mistakenly driven off course in this argument due to inexperience, Aristotle begins to separate his view from theirs and forming his own opinion account of change within nature. He does this ...view middle of the document...

Aristotle’s account is aimed toward avoiding this dilemma.
In his account Aristotle explains the concept of “coming to be” commonly to all cases before considering the peculiarities of each. He does this by separating cases into two categories, the simple and the compound. His main problem with Parmenides view is that what is cannot come to be since it is already, and nothing can come out of what is not since there must be something underlying which makes the third principle element known as matter in addition to form and privation. In the case of the light and dark comparison used earlier, Aristotle would point out that there has to be a constant which underlies both such as a room or a closet present to be affected or changed. Merely stating that light and dark are opposites does not explain change, it provides contrast and would need to be applied to a constant in order for change to occur as opposites cannot be acted upon by one another. In this example light is not the opposite of dark, it is the absence of darkness. While darkness is not the opposite of light, so much as a lack of light. This difficulty too is resolved by the fact that the underlying thing is something else, and the other thing is not an opposite. In order to say that something comes out to be out of what is not, is the same as saying that it does so out of what is not, as something which is not. His predecessor’s failure to make this distinction, or one similar to it is what caused this topic to be so much trouble for them as it lead them to an even greater mistake; that nothing comes to be or is thus doing away with coming to be all together.
An example Aristotle uses is the non-musical man becoming musical. This example exemplifies that the thing coming to be and that which comes to be are compound. Aristotle believes this must be true because the man must at some point aspire to become musical, before he ever changes. Here the matter would be the man,...

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