Physics Book I

CORPUS ARISTOTELICUM marks many copies as doubted: Aristotle’s works have been forged and redacted since Antiquity. The extant material has required balancing probability on word sense: there are no originals anymore.


Redaction might have been for fear the author wrote about change to water or air, a thing dangerous in hostile hands; but even if to suspect the Physics of having inspired heavy water (FOOTNOTE), the original context does not have it, and after all, if someone misuses aspirin, we do not blame aspirin.


Feel welcome to the Bibliography for the Simple English presentation here.
I mark my comment as TP, Teresa Pelka.




When we notice regularities about matters of our focus, we study the regularities to have knowledge of the matters. We can have regularities for principles.


In American English today, the principles often would be factors; TP.


We can have a basic regularity for a first principle or a constitutive factor.[1]


Our method should be to begin with what we already know, and to work towards a truth we can find in nature.


The matter of focus is in other words the object of thought. For our object, we selectively observe how the particular relates to the general, rejecting any irrelevant premise.[2]


We first decide if we want to find (a) the one and only constitutive factor, or we allow for (b) more than one regularity.


For the one and only regularity, we agree if it (i) never should allow change, after Parmenides and Melissus, or if it (ii) might permit variance, as physicists prefer.


For more than one regularity, our set can be (i) finite or (ii) infinite. A (i) finite set would have two, three, or some other, specified number of regularities.


We do not tell how many, if our set for regularities is (ii) infinite, we yet may describe on regularity kind, shape, and form. Democritus holds the set should be infinite.


“An existent” can be our name for a factor in context. If we ask about existents, we ask in fact if there is one or more than one factor, for a context or set.


Existents need to be. We could make a gerund of the verb to be and ask, if being might be something we describe with one factor and without allowance for change, as postulated by Melissus and Parmenides. Regularities or factors all need substance,[3] to apply.


Aristotle is quite comprehensible, if we refer his writings to language. Here, we may note we do not have verbs just on their own. Running, reading, etc. are sets of associations, as with people or animals that can run, or people that can read. Likewise, we need someone or something that is, to use the verb to be. The question here would be if being, the gerund, could stand on its own physically, not only as absolutely an abstraction. TP.


Physicists agree that all is in a state that can change; and whether we take substance, quantity,[4] and quality[5] separately or not, there always will be more than one factor to being.


To answer the above, we would need to be able to say that being is, for a physical application; the noun and the verb do not exist separately; TP.


To say that being is infinite, after Melissus, is to say that being needs thinking about quantity: we invoke measuring and units, to say that something is without measurement. There would be at least two factors to being, substance and quantity, never only one, and the infinite builds on quantity the same as the finite.


To define being as for a dictionary, we would not be telling it is something of no beginning and end; it could be only some speculative type of being, and being as such would remain undefined for earthly, physical world; TP.


The words “one” and “being” are used in many senses. To analyze the phrase All is one, we consider word sense.


The word “one” may mean something
(a) continuous,
(b) indivisible,
or it may mean
(c) things of the same essence, as ‘liquid’ and ‘drink’.[6]


In the sense of something (a) continuous, the One would be More than one,[7] as we could divide a continuum endlessly (ad infinitum), substance and quantity to be the factors.


For the sense of something (b) indivisible, there remains the difficulty over the part and the whole: if they relate by one, or more than one factor.


We hold limits for indivisible, to delineate on something divisible. To consider One as something (b) indivisible, we would have to consider its limit or border on the divisible physical reality we perceive.


An indivisible One would have neither quantity nor quality; it could not be infinite, as Melissus claimed, or limited, as Parmenides said, because then it would have to be divisible (analyzable).[8]


If we have things for One based on (c) part the same definition, we would be supporting the Heraclitean teaching, and the same thing might be ‘good’, ‘bad’, as well as ‘not good’ at the same time.


The way we describe on objects does not decide on principles. Whether we say a man ‘walks’ or ‘is walking’, the true principle, regularity, or factor is that he is a man who can walk.


Whether we say a man is ‘clever’ and ‘musical’, or ‘clever’ and ‘dexterous’, he remains the same man of potentially one factor that we highlight for a context, as when we talk about a musician, or someone who has repaired a thing.


A philosopher’s pursuit is to think about the objective reality, not to follow on descriptions or highlights.


“The more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered”, Thomas Paine.

BOOK I | Part 3
Melissus divides on matters saying, ‘what has come into being always has a beginning’, and thus ‘what has not come into being has no beginning’.


It is yet absurd to surmise there always has to be a beginning to an object of thought, or that we always take such a factor.


Being is never one factor in form, however physicists may agree and take what being is made of (the substance) for one factor, in a process.


To take white objects, ‘whiteness’ will not be the same as ‘what has whiteness’, and yet they will not exist apart.


Parmenides refers being to (1) what just is and (2) what is just one.


To say (1) what just is, we speak with an attribute. This means we make an object of thought, and we give the thought existence (as in saying there is no dry water; TP).


If we always required substance for an object of thought, we would have to hold ‘white’ on its own, without a physical object, for ‘not-being’.


Otherwise, to say that white is, we would have to hold the quality ‘white’ for substance ‘white’. Gradation yet belongs with qualities (we do not say that wood is ‘woodier’, but we can say something is ‘whiter’; TP).


(2) When we analyze, we ‘divide’ substance. A ‘human being’ can be an ‘animate life form’ and a ‘biped’.


(a) An attribute may be separable from the subject, as ‘sitting’ when it refers to a ‘human being’. An attribute also may share part the definition with the subject, as ‘snub’ in referring mostly to ‘noses’.


We cannot reverse the roles between the definiendum (that which is defined) and the definiens (that which defines), as not all people would be sitting, and not all noses would be snub.


(b) However, attributes do not make the subject they may define, as not all definitions are permanent in reference. We can define a ‘two-footed life form’, looking to a life form different from human as well. On this ground, we can say that substance never is an attribute.


Could we say, then, that All is composed of indivisible substances?


Some thinkers have agreed that not-being also is, and thus All is One, as being is the only factor.


If we say something is not, we do not assert it never will be. We also do not assert it is, as the same thing never means its contradiction at the same time.


Just as we tell being by objects that be, we tell not-being by objects that be not (orig. ‘particular not-being’).


Being itself, without regard to time and the negative or affirmative, would be another philosophical substance that cannot exist by one factor (‘be one by itself’).


Physicists mainly chose between two ideas. The first party assumed there was one underlying body of either water, or fire, or air, or another substance, and derived everything from that. They claimed multiplicity came from condensation and rarefaction, which were known as contraries or ‘excess and defect’.


The second party claimed the underlying body contained the contraries, and variety emerged by separation. Anaximander, Empedocles, and Anaxagoras believed in separation, and asserted that ‘What is, is One and Many’ (More than one).


Anaxagoras posited his homochimerous substances were infinite in multitude; and according to him, change came in series. Empedocles imagined change in cycles.


“Empedocles supposes the course of Nature to return upon itself, coming round again periodically to its starting point”, WICKSTEED AND CORNFORD, PAGE 43.


Anaxagoras believed in innumerable regularities, and accepted the popular concept that a thing that came into being was a change in quality, as nothing came into being from not-being: contraries proceeded one from another (as vapor coming from boiling water), and substances pre-existed in one another, some imperceptibly, as small particles.


Both parties believed that things appeared different and received different names owing to the nature and amount of the constituent particles. Nothing was purely and entirely white or black or sweet; everything was a mixture of particles where some prevailed.


(1) We cannot get to know a thing, if the regularities that make it are infinite to us in number, multitude, or size (quantity), as well as nature or kind (quality).


It is when we know the component quality and quantity that we suppose we know a complex.


(2) If the components, that is parts that are actually present in the entirety, may be of indefinite size, the entirety may be of indefinite size. Since neither animate nor inanimate forms can be indefinitely big or small, nor can be their parts. There needs to be a proportion between the part and the entirety, that is, proportion is a factor.

(3) If we sifted a molecular structure (“a physical order”) out of a body of water, extracts would be smaller and smaller, to become the minimum proportion. Then, extraction would be arrested, and the water might not contain the particular structure anymore.


(4) From a minimum physical order or body, no other might be extracted.[9]


(5) There is a physical structuring (“order of things”) in animate forms, as for the flesh, blood, and brain, and features can be inherited, but there is no extraction to single out ‘white’ or ‘clean’, λευκὸν καὶ ὑγιεινὸν.[10]


Animate structuring is not as with bricks that come ‘from’ a house or a house ‘from’ bricks; yet there must be a finite number of principles to make an individual.



A Greek transcript with Wikisource.

Φυσικής Ακροάσεως


A Latin edition by
Ambrosio Firmis Didot


Translations by R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye
The Works of Aristotle, W.D. Ross (Ed.)
first print 1930, US public domain

Full text:


P.H. Wicksteed and F. M. Cornford
Physics, Volume I
first print 1929, US public domain

Full text:


For balance on probability, I occasionally compare translations to French, Russian, or German as well.

Aristote, Physique. Traduction par Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire. Librairie Philosophique de Ladrange, 1862. Online.
Аристотель. Физика. Перевод: В.П.Карпов из книги “ФИЛОСОФЫ ГРЕЦИИ ОСНОВЫ ОСНОВ: ЛОГИКА, ФИЗИКА, ЭТИКА”
издательство ЭКСМО-Пресс; Харьков 1999. Online.
Aristoteles: Physik. Textgrundlage: Übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen begleitet von C. H. Weiße, Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1829., Lesesaal.



[1] Constitutive factor: a material feature or another determinant that makes something or someone what or who they are; Latin FACERE. The ancient idea for a factor or principle is that regularity in behavior, condition, or application can let tell if we view an object of thought for substance, quality, or quantity, one of the three constitutive factors, which follows.


[2] Object of thought, object in short: a person, thing, animal, phenomenon, regard, idea, etc. we think about; used to avoid enumerating on possible objects of thought.


[3] Substance: the physical matter or the defining characteristic of an object of thought; one of the three constitutive factors in Greek philosophy. With regard to parts of speech, we express substance with nouns.


[4] Quantity: number, amount, an idea to invoke units of measurement. If we say something is uncountable or infinite, we refer to thought about measurement, saying that something is without measurement. Quantity is one of the three constitutive factors in Greek philosophy. With regard to parts of speech, we relate quantity to numerals.


[5] Quality: sort, character; one of the three constitutive factors in Greek philosophy. With regard to parts of speech, we relate quality to adjectives.


[6] REFERENCE TO ALCOHOL in W.D. Ross is non-essential.


[7] The translation uses the word many in the sense of more than one; the use is yet non-standard, nowadays.


[8] A context in which to consider the limit itself for a delimited and thus divisible matter might be called an aporia.


[9] The Greek text has the noun σάρξ (sarx), which has happened to be translated as flesh, it yet has meant since ancient times a physical structure (‘order of things’), see the PERSEUS WORD STUDY TOOL.

We may refer to history of salt production, the partial vacuum method and CRYSTALLIZATION from brine, in WIKIPEDIA. Filtering would be ἐκ σαρκὸς ὕδωρ, or evaporation σὰρξ ἐξ ὕδατος. Compare Problems and Meteorology.


Salt is white, observably structured in crystalline form, and continues to be associated with hygiene. The association occurs in passage (5), next footnote.


[10] For people, we do not consider inheritable hygiene. We may refer to the history of DONKEY keeping in ancient Greece, and genetics in WIKIPEDIA. White donkeys would be extremely rare (I have not seen one even over the Internet), and they are more difficult than horses to train to bathe; of course, the animals are absolutely not like white kittens, and training is not a feature that could be inherited.