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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 52$
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Victor Caston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805762

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805762.001.0001

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Aristotle’s Measurement Dilemma

Aristotle’s Measurement Dilemma

(p.257) Aristotle’s Measurement Dilemma
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 52

Barbara M. Sattler

Oxford University Press

This paper has two main goals: first, it reconstructs Aristotle’s account of measurement in the Metaphysics and shows how it connects to modern notions of measurement. Second, it demonstrates that Aristotle’s notion of measurement works only for simple measures, and leads him into a dilemma once it comes to measuring complex phenomena, such as motion, where two or more different aspects, such as time and space, have to be taken into account. This is shown with the help of Aristotle’s reaction to one of the problems that Zeno’s dichotomy paradox raises: Aristotle implicitly employs a complex measure of motion when solving this problem, while he explicitly characterizes the measure of motion as a simple measure in the Physics.

Keywords:   measurement, measure, motion, time, unit, one, Aristotle’s Physics, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Zeno, dichotomy paradox

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