ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY. Parmenides on Change The Puzzle Parmenides s Dilemma For Change

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1 ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY ARISTOTLE PHYSICS Book I Ch 8 LECTURE PROFESSOR JULIE YOO Parmenides on Change The Puzzle Parmenides s Dilemma For Change Aristotle on Change Aristotle s Diagnosis on Where Parmenides Went Wrong Departure from the Categories Qualified and Unqualified Change Lecture on Aristotle Physics Book I Ch 8 Page 1 of 5

2 PARMENIDES ON CHANGE The Puzzle Aristotle summarizes Parmenides s puzzle about the impossibility of change: What is cannot come to be (since it already is), while nothing can come to be from what is not. (191a 28 29) What does this mean? It means, contrary to appearances, that a banana cannot change from being unripe to ripe. Why? Parmenides s Dilemma For Change Parmenides presents a dilemma. The Resultant can come from one of two possibilities: What already IS If the initial object is what is and the resulting object is also what is, there is no coming to be because we just have two beings one at time 1 and another at time 2. There is no (single) being that undergoes a change. Nothing If the initial object is nothing, we have an impossibility, because nothingness has no capacity to give rise to anything, let alone a being. ARISTOTLE ON CHANGE Aristotle s Diagnosis of Where Parmenides When Wrong Aristotle s involves drawing a distinction that was overlooked by Parmenides. Their problem was to treat the initial and resulting objects as whole indivisible simples. On A s view, the objects are not simples, but compounds: For qualified change, the compound is a substance and a quality that is IN the resulting entity. 1 For unqualified change, the compound is form and matter, where matter without the form is, SAID OF the resulting object. 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1!Focus carefully on the illustration involving the doctor. The insofar as expression is also translated into Latin as qua, and is best illustrated with examples: Of a statue made of marble, you may say that it is beautiful qua work of art, not qua lump of marble; or of Shakespeare, you may say that he was brilliant qua writer, not qua mathematician; or of a human zygote, you may say that it is a human being qua genes, but not a human being qua conscious person.! 2!A doctor doesn t bring a house into being insofar as (qua) he is doctor, but insofar as (qua) house-builder. This same doctor cures a disease insofar as he is a doctor, not a house-builder. There is, thus, a being qua one way, and Lecture on Aristotle Physics Book I Ch 8 Page 2 of 5

3 By treating the initial and resulting objects as compounds, we can admit that there is a sense in which the initial object comes both from a being and not a being. In the case of qualified coming to be, a ripe banana comes into being from a being (which is the unripe banana), but it also comes from not being (which is the privation of ripeness). In the case of unqualified coming to be, a banana comes into being from a being (which is matter), but it also comes from not being (which is the privation of the form of banana). 3 Departure from the Categories Now this is a HUGE insight (and admission of inadequacy or mistake in the Categories). The Categories insisted that a primary substance is ousia precisely because it was indivisible a simple. Moreover, the Categories claimed that primary substances and only primary substances were candidates for change. However, on this current diagnosis of how and why Parmenides went wrong with this account of change, it seems that the Aristotle of the Categories is guilty of the same mistake. To put this more positively, the insight is that the entity that undergoes change MUST be metaphysically complex not simple. Illustrations Aristotle draws a distinction between qualified and unqualified coming into being. This distinction is basically the distinction between the birth or a substance and an alteration in the characteristics of a pre-existing substance: Qualified coming into being: unripe banana becoming ripe Unqualified coming into being: a banana coming into being!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the same being qua another way, where depending on which way you consider the being, the being can change. By recognizing that subjects of change are essentially compounds of the underlying subject and a quality, where that quality captures the subject qua one way but not another, we can accommodate the possibility of change.! 3!Here is an account given by Aristotle scholar Patrick Maher: To say something comes from what is is ambiguous. It might mean: (a) It comes from what already is what it will become. (b) It comes from something that exists. To say something comes from what is not might mean: (a) It comes from nothing. (b) It comes from something that isn t yet what it will become. In the (a) senses, things can t come to be either from what is or from what is not. In the (b) senses, things come to be both from what is and from what is not. Parmenides went astray by confusing the (a) and (b) senses.! Lecture on Aristotle Physics Book I Ch 8 Page 3 of 5

4 General Model: CONTRARY OR PRIVATION OF F F UNDERLYING SUBJECT When a banana ripens UNRIPE RIPE BANANA (PRIMARY SUBSTANCE) When a banana comes into being: PRIVATION OF FORM FORM OF BANANA MATTER In chapter 9, Aristotle diagnoses what the earlier philosophers missed in their account of change. What is one of the crucial things they overlooked? They overlooked the possibility that a (primary) substance could be a compound. Aristotle claims, what strives for the form must be matter. (192a 24) Immediately thereafter, Aristotle gives examples to illustrate this striving. Putting the sexist nature of the example aside, how is Aristotle encouraging us to conceive of the relationship? Neither can exist on its own, since the only things that can exist on their own are matter-form composites, or more accurately, formed matter. But whereas the form of a substance is not trying to be mattered, matter is trying to be formed. (Aristotle uses the term coincidentally in a technical way in some contexts, not always in the way we mean as unlikely Lecture on Aristotle Physics Book I Ch 8 Page 4 of 5

5 events occurring together. For Aristotle, the term sometimes means within the range of changeable qualities. For qualified coming into being (alterations), the coincident qualities are like ripe and unripe; for unqualified coming into being the coincidents are form and privation of form.) Lecture on Aristotle Physics Book I Ch 8 Page 5 of 5

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