CategoriesWestern Mysticism and PhilosophyNeoplatonism and Greek Philosophy On the Heavens

On the Heavens

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Aristotle's cosmological work On The Heavens is the most influential treatise of its kind in the history of humanity.

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Publisher's Synopsis
It was accepted for more than eighteen centuries from its inception (around 350 B.C.) until the works of Copernicus in the early 1500s. In this work Aristotle discussed the general nature of the cosmos and certain properties of individual bodies.

Nearly all the works Aristotle prepared for publication are lost; the priceless ones extant are lecture-materials, notes, and memoranda (some are spurious). They can be categorized as follows:

I. Practical: Nicomachean Ethics; Great Ethics (Magna Moralia); Eudemian Ethics; Politics; Oeconomica (on the good of the family); Virtues and Vices.

II. Logical: Categories; On Interpretation; Analytics (Prior and Posterior); On Sophistical Refutations; Topica.

III. Physical: Twenty-six works (some suspect) including astronomy, generation and destruction, the senses, memory, sleep, dreams, life, facts about animals, etc.

IV. Metaphysics: on being as being.

V. On Art: Art of Rhetoric and Poetics.

VI. Other works including the Athenian Constitution; more works also of doubtful authorship.

VII. Fragments of various works such as dialogues on philosophy and literature; and of treatises on rhetoric, politics and metaphysics.

The Loeb Classical Library® edition of Aristotle is in twenty-three volumes.

Reviews
"Aristotle’s contributions to the physical sciences are less impressive than his researches in the life sciences. In works such as On Generation and Corruption and On the Heavens, he presented a world-picture that included many features inherited from his pre-Socratic predecessors. From Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC) he adopted the view that the universe is ultimately composed of different combinations of the four fundamental elements of earth, water, air, and fire. 

Aristotle’s vision of the cosmos also owes much to Plato’s dialogue Timaeus. As in that work, the Earth is at the centre of the universe, and around it the Moon, the Sun, and the other planets revolve in a succession of concentric crystalline spheres. The heavenly bodies are not compounds of the four terrestrial elements but are made up of a superior fifth element, or 'quintessence.' In addition, the heavenly bodies have souls, or supernatural intellects, which guide them in their travels through the cosmos.

Even the best of Aristotle’s scientific work has now only a historical interest. The abiding value of treatises such as the Physics lies not in their particular scientific assertions but in their philosophical analyses of some of the concepts that pervade the physics of different eras—concepts such as place, time, causation, and determinism."          ~Encyclopædia Britannica

Excerpt
"As to its position there is some difference of opinion. Most people - all, in fact, who regard the whole heaven as finite - say it lies at the centre. But the Italian philosophers known as Pythagoreans take the contrary view. At the centre, they say, is fire, and the earth is one of the stars, creating night and day by its circular motion about the centre. They further construct another earth in opposition to ours to which they give the name counterearth. In all this they are not seeking for theories and causes to account for observed facts, but rather forcing their observations and trying to accommodate them to certain theories and opinions of their own."

Biography
Aristotle, great Greek philosopher, researcher, reasoner, and writer, born at Stagirus in 384 BC, was the son of Nicomachus, a physician, and Phaestis. He studied under Plato at Athens and taught there (367–47); subsequently he spent three years at the court of a former pupil, Hermeias, in Asia Minor and at this time married Pythias, one of Hermeias’s relations. After some time at Mitylene, in 343–2 he was appointed by King Philip of Macedon to be tutor of his teen-aged son Alexander. After Philip’s death in 336, Aristotle became head of his own school (of “Peripatetics”), the Lyceum at Athens. Because of anti-Macedonian feeling there after Alexander’s death in 323, he withdrew to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in 322.

Author Aristotle
Translator Guthrie, W. K. C.
Book Type Hardcover
Page Count 378 pp.
Publisher Harvard University Press 1986
Series
Aristotle Volume VI
Loeb Classical Library 338
Browse these categories as well: Neoplatonism and Greek Philosophy, Science, Physics and the Unified Field

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