McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Aristotle, Natural philosophy, Schelling, Time
In what sense, if any, is time related to nature? In this dissertation, I argue that Aristotle's Treatise on Time (Physics iv 10-14) must be read in light of his foregoing discussion of nature (phusis) in Physics i-iv 9. Thus, Aristotle's definition of time (chronos) in Physics iv 11, that time is the number (arithmos) of motion (kinesis) with respect to before and after (219b1), is highly contextualized and as such must be understood as not only derivative of both Aristotle's definition of nature, as the inner capacity for motion and rest (192b13-22), and of his explanation of kinêsis, but also parallel to his analyses of the infinite (apeiron), place (tops), and void (kenos). What is more, I bring attention to the fact that Aristotle's understanding of nature is shaped fundamentally by the distinction he makes in the Physics and elsewhere (Metaphysics iv) between potentiality (dunamis) and actuality (entelecheia). With this in mind, I distinguish between the potential for time and actual time in Aristotle and conclude that the human being, along with actual motion, is both the necessary and sufficient condition for actual time on his account. Time, for Aristotle, then, results from an interaction between two or more parts of nature. It is not an a priori substance to be examined qua itself. My conclusions, therefore, offer a solution to those who read Aristotle's Treatise on Time as a confused inquiry, i.e. one that oscillates between a theory of knowledge and a theory of reality and combines what many believe to be Aristotle's characteristic realism with idealism. Finally, I use these conclusions to show a likeness between the account of time I attribute to Aristotle and what I suggest to be a return to thinking about time as derivative of a theory of nature in early Schellingian Naturphilosophie.
Harry, C. (2013). Time (Chronos) in Aristotle's Natural Philosophy and of Time's Place in Early Naturphilosophie (1750-1800) (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/632