Aristotl1 - apeiron mean? These have all been considered...

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Aristotle ( Phys. 204b22) helps out here: ... for the elements are opposed to each other (for example, air is cold, water moist, and fire hot), and if one of these were infinite the rest would already have been destroyed. But, as it is, they say that the infinite is different from these, and that they come into being from it. There are two possible lines of thought here (3a vs. 3b): 1. The conflict of opposites: the opposites are at war with one another. 2. Hot, cold, etc. are thought of as things , not qualities . 3a. No one of the opposites could have been infinite , or there would be nothing else. 3b. No one of the opposites could have been the archê , or its opposite would never have come to be. 4. But all the “elements” are either opposites or are essentially connected to an opposite (e.g., water is cold, fire is hot). 5. Therefore, no element, no familiar stuff can be the original archê . What, then, does
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Unformatted text preview: apeiron mean? These have all been considered possibilities: 1. Spatially infinite. 2. Qualitatively indefinite. 3. Temporally infinite (i.e., eternal). (2) seems most plausible: Anaximander posits the apeiron in response to Thales. His objection to water cannot have been that there was only a finite amount of it. Rather, it was that water is a determinate kind of stuff, essentially cold and wet. If originally there was only water, we are left with no account of how there could be any hot, or dry, or fire. See KRS 109-110 . What’s crucial for Anaximander is that the original element be neutral in quality, independent of all the so-called elements (earth, air, fire, water) and pairs of opposites (hot/cold, wet/dry). Still, he may also have supposed it to be infinite in extent (i.e., without spatial boundaries). For details on Anaximander’s cosmological theory, see Guthrie, pp. 89-90....
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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