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Space, Time, Matter, and FormEssays on Aristotle's Physics$
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David Bostock

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199286867

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199286868.001.0001

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Aristotle on the Transmutation of the Elements in De Generatione Et Corruptione I. 1–4

Aristotle on the Transmutation of the Elements in De Generatione Et Corruptione I. 1–4

Chapter:
(p.19) 2 Aristotle on the Transmutation of the Elements in De Generatione Et Corruptione I. 1–4
Source:
Space, Time, Matter, and Form
Author(s):

David Bostock

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199286868.003.0002

This essay is concerned with the contrast that Aristotle draws between ‘generation’ and ‘alteration’ in GC I.1-4, and its implications for ‘prime matter’. Aristotle believes that when one element (e.g., air) becomes another (e.g., water), this is a case of generation as opposed to alteration, and he attempts to explain what generation is in a way that will allow for this. It is argued that his attempts are clearly a failure, and are due to a mistaken appreciation of the question which should be understood as: When is the alteration of some persisting matter at the same time the generation of a new substance? It is also argued that when the question is thus revised, the answer should be that when one of Aristotle’s elements is transformed into another, this should not count as the generation of a new substance.

Keywords:   De Generatione et Corruptione, elements, prime matter, generation, alteration, substance

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