Thursday, June 11, 2009

Matter and Becoming

On a friend's recommendation, I ordered a copy of a book on book I of Aristotle's Physics. It's an old book (not quite as old as the Physics!)—Matter and Becoming by Richard J. Connell, who studied at Laval.

I haven't started reading it yet, but even the title is highly suggestive. Matter in Aristotle's thought is what becomes something else; it's the principle of substantial becoming, the potentiality for one thing to become another. In contrast, matter in modern thought doesn't become anything, but is merely rearranged; in fact, strictly speaking there is nothing: there is only matter. Everything else is merely various arrangements of the "real substance" underlying everything.

It's amazing how Aristotle simply takes our experience at face value: there are things in the world and some things become other things. Meanwhile, modern thought starts with a bald postulate, an unproven hypothesis, a dogma not based on experience: there is only matter.

Which view is more empirical? Which is more reasonable?

Richard J. Connell, Matter and Becoming (Chicago: The Priory Press, 1966).

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