Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s ‘Timaeus’ by George S. Claghorn

By George S. Claghorn

The goal of this examine is to figure out Aristotle's angle towards the content material and approach to Plato's average technological know-how. Plato and Aristotle have usually been considered as on contrary facets of a philosophic 'Great Divide'. nonetheless, those that have came across that the 2 males have been in contract have occasionally pointed out purely scattered circumstances of that contract. there's want for a brand new comparability of the 2 thinker- one that is proscribed in scope, in keeping with the first texts, and that is systematic and thorough in process. If winning, the sort of comparability might carry into sharp concentration one section of Aristotle's reviews on Plato. Our try and meet this desire is Aristotle's feedback of Plato's TIMAEUS. In pursuing this examine, it's been essential to reject a couple of uncritically-accepted interpre­ tations of the Timaeus. opposite to the view of many, we've got concluded that Aristotle mostly agreed with Plato, either within the rules and presuppositions of his common technological know-how. a couple of implications stem from this learn. there's, for instance, the oft-questioned demeanour within which Aristotle taken care of Plato's philosophy. within the nice majority of circumstances, Aristotle stands forth as a competent reporter and a talented critic. additionally, the research sheds gentle on that old riddle: no matter if Plato and Aristotle are primarily akin or at odds of their basic philosophies.

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3r6a34)· Moreover, if the simple bodies are composed of planes alone, some strange consequences might ensue. They might unite end to end, thus forming a great bi-dimensional sheet. Or they might come together piled one atop another, allowing no room for volume, instead of joining edge to edge in regular figures. Or a third possibility might be that they would form unorthodox figures, thus making more than four simple earthly bodies (De Caeto Z99bz4-3 r ). These criticisms are, for the most part, directed against those who considered only the mathematicals, to the exclusion of the Receptacle.

Cf. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics (Oxford, 1924), II, p. 457 n. 32. ; 1044a4-9; 1045b23; I052a29-36; I088bI4-16, 25-8. Also, De Anima, 41Zb6-9, 430b14-20, 27-31. This does not affect, of course, his general attack on the divisibility of solids, to be found in De Gen. , 325b253z6b7. ARISTOTLE'S CRITICISM OF THE SIMPLE BODIES 35 It alone would be indestructible, and would not be alterable into anything but itself. It would also be indissoluble and elementary. All of this should lead one to ask why Plato made earth to be constructed according to different triangles from those of the other three simple bodies.

Although one can speculate that the alacrity with which Plato's followers accepted 'ether' as the fifth element might show that it arose in the Academy and was put forth before Plato's death (Jaeger, Aristotle (Oxford, 1948), pp. ), thereis'no real proof that this was Plato's view. Rivaud (Timee-Critias, Bude, p. 84) thinks in contrast to the above that Plato's followers considered ether a variety of fire. ARISTOTLE'S CRITICISM OF THE SIMPLE BODIES 23 Plato says regarding ether should prevail, Though the doctrine of the four 'kinds' (or 'roots') stems from the sixth or fifth century, 12 the construction of five regular bodies is now dated from Plato's own time 13.

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