McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
philosophy, Aristotle, nature, substance, physics, history of science
This dissertation explores the relation between Aristotle's account of the generation of substances and his attempt to lay the foundations for his natural philosophy. The central question concerns the injunction posed by the Eleatic philosophers to the study of nature on the basis of the principle "ex nihilo nihil" which they formulated into argument against the intelligibility of nature. Aristotle's Physics begins with a sustained attempt to defeat the Eleatic prohibition by demonstrating that change in general can be understood once a few principles are established. My reading of the arguments that constitute Aristotle's refutation of the Eleatics and the rehabilitation of the Milesian project of natural philosophy corrects the traditional view that interprets Aristotle's understanding of substantial generation by means of his general account of change in Physics I.7. This correction, however, complicates the issue of the coherence of Aristotle's arguments establishing the legitimacy of the science of nature. To resolve the issues raised here, an appeal must be made to Aristotle's definition of motion in Physics III in order to reinterpret Aristotle's account of substantial generation in terms of potentiality and actuality. This definition once properly understood applied as a model for substantial generation allows for a more satisfactory resolution to the Eleatic dilemma.
Ivins, M. (2008). The Problem of Substantial Generation in Aristotle's Physical Writings (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/686