Nature as Inner Principle of Change
Theodor Gomperz has voiced a common verdict on Aristotle's philosophy of nature: ‘The physical doctrines of Aristotle are a disappointing chapter in the history of science…The science of the Renaissance period was obliged to shake off the fetters of his authority before it could return to the paths of progressive and fruitful research.’ The purpose of this chapter is not to endorse this verdict, nor to challenge it, but to show how the typically Aristotelian doctrines on which it has been passed stem from one fundamental idea. This is the conception of a natural substance as characterized above all by an ‘inner principle of change and stasis’. This notion of ‘the nature of a thing’ links Aristotle's metaphysic of substance to his physical system, and it determines almost every one of that system's distinctive positions.
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