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Meteorology By Aristotle

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Author Topic: Meteorology By Aristotle  (Read 1579 times)
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Posts: 141

« Reply #105 on: August 31, 2009, 12:13:53 am »

Our account of the formation of the homogeneous bodies has given us
the elements out of which they are compounded and the classes into
which they fall, and has made it clear to which class each of those
bodies belongs. The homogeneous bodies are made up of the elements,
and all the works of nature in turn of the homogeneous bodies as matter.
All the homogeneous bodies consist of the elements described, as matter,
but their essential nature is determined by their definition. This
fact is always clearer in the case of the later products of those,
in fact, that are instruments, as it were, and have an end: it is
clearer, for instance, that a dead man is a man only in name. And
so the hand of a dead man, too, will in the same way be a hand in
name only, just as stone flutes might still be called flutes: for
these members, too, are instruments of a kind. But in the case of
flesh and bone the fact is not so clear to see, and in that of fire
and water even less. For the end is least obvious there where matter
predominates most. If you take the extremes, matter is pure matter
and the essence is pure definition; but the bodies intermediate between
the two are matter or definition in proportion as they are near to
either. For each of those elements has an end and is not water or
fire in any and every condition of itself, just as flesh is not flesh
nor viscera viscera, and the same is true in a higher degree with
face and hand. What a thing is always determined by its function:
a thing really is itself when it can perform its function; an eye,
for instance, when it can see. When a thing cannot do so it is that
thing only in name, like a dead eye or one made of stone, just as
a wooden saw is no more a saw than one in a picture. The same, then,
is true of flesh, except that its function is less clear than that
of the tongue. So, too, with fire; but its function is perhaps even
harder to specify by physical inquiry than that of flesh. The parts
of plants, and inanimate bodies like copper and silver, are in the
same case. They all are what they are in virtue of a certain power
of action or passion-just like flesh and sinew. But we cannot state
their form accurately, and so it is not easy to tell when they are
really there and when they are not unless the body is thoroughly corrupted
and its shape only remains. So ancient corpses suddenly become ashes
in the grave and very old fruit preserves its shape only but not its
taste: so, too, with the solids that form from milk.

Now heat and cold and the motions they set up as the bodies are solidified
by the hot and the cold are sufficient to form all such parts as are
the homogeneous bodies, flesh, bone, hair, sinew, and the rest. For
they are all of them differentiated by the various qualities enumerated
above, tension, tractility, comminuibility, hardness, softness, and
the rest of them: all of which are derived from the hot and the cold
and the mixture of their motions. But no one would go as far as to
consider them sufficient in the case of the non-homogeneous parts
(like the head, the hand, or the foot) which these homogeneous parts
go to make up. Cold and heat and their motion would be admitted to
account for the formation of copper or silver, but not for that of
a saw, a bowl, or a box. So here, save that in the examples given
the cause is art, but in the nonhomogeneous bodies nature or some
other cause.

Since, then, we know to what element each of the homogeneous bodies
belongs, we must now find the definition of each of them, the answer,
that is, to the question, 'what is' flesh, semen, and the rest? For
we know the cause of a thing and its definition when we know the material
or the formal or, better, both the material and the formal conditions
of its generation and destruction, and the efficient cause of it.

After the homogeneous bodies have been explained we must consider
the non-homogeneous too, and lastly the bodies made up of these, such
as man, plants, and the rest.



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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