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Fundamental Aristotle: A Practical Guide to the Physics

M. James Ziccardi

Copyright 2012 by M. James Ziccardi

Smashwords Edition

Section 1 - Notes on the Text

With regard to quotations, content found within square brackets [] is mine; content found within parentheses () is Aristotle’s.

Sections in bold type or that are underlined are intended by me to highlight critical points.

Section 2 - Introduction

There are few works that have had as great an impact on Western thought as those of the Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). Unfortunately, only about one-fifth of his writings have survived to this day. Most of his prose and dialogs, which are said to have rivaled those of Plato in their elegance, have been lost forever to antiquity. Consequently, most of what remains of his work survives in the form of treatises and compiled lecture notes; and Aristotle’s work, Physics, is one such treatise. Specifically, the Physics is a compilation of what we would consider to be instructional or academic preparation notes on a wide range of issues relating to what was then known as natural philosophy, or what today would be called science. (It is believed that the material that would later become the Physics was written around the year 350 BC.) The Physics, it should be said, is not a work on science per se, but rather a treatise on the fundamental principles and concepts of which both science and philosophy are founded. As such, the Physics has come to be regarded as one of the most important and influential works for both disciplines in all of Western thought.

The line between science and philosophy has never been clear-cut and it was even less so during the time of Aristotle. Aside from the Medieval philosopher Roger Bacon, who was an early advocate of the scientific method, it wasn’t until the Age of Reason in seventeenth century Europe – a time which brought us the likes of Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, and Gottfried Leibniz and a host of other great scientific thinkers – that science was established as we recognize it today. It is worth mentioning that it was also during this time that the European world was introduced to the Eastern mathematical discipline of algebra, a discipline which, when combined with geometry, forever changed our approach to both science and mathematics. Prior to this time, however, it was the ideas of Aristotle that held sway in all issues relating to science and nature. Thus, for over a thousand years Aristotle was regarded as the foremost authority on all such matters.

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