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Aristotle's Concept of Chance: Accidents, Cause, Necessity, and Determinism
     

Aristotle's Concept of Chance: Accidents, Cause, Necessity, and Determinism

by John Dudley
 

ISBN-10: 1438432275

ISBN-13: 9781438432274

Pub. Date: 03/01/2012

Publisher: State University of New York Press

This landmark book is the first to provide a comprehensive account of Aristotle's concept of chance. Chance is invoked by many to explain order in the universe, the origins of life, even human freedom and happiness. An understanding of Aristotle's concept of chance is indispensable for an appreciation of his views on nature and ethics, views which have had a

Overview

This landmark book is the first to provide a comprehensive account of Aristotle's concept of chance. Chance is invoked by many to explain order in the universe, the origins of life, even human freedom and happiness. An understanding of Aristotle's concept of chance is indispensable for an appreciation of his views on nature and ethics, views which have had a tremendous influence on the development of Western philosophy. Author John Dudley analyzes Aristotle's account of chance in the Physics, the Metaphysics, in his biological and ethical treatises, and in a number of his other works as well. Important complementary considerations such as Aristotle's criticism of Presocratic philosophers, particularly Empedocles and Democritus, Plato's concept of chance, the chronology of Aristotle's works, and the relevance of Aristotle's work to evolution and quantum theory are also covered in depth. This is an essential book for scholars and students of Western philosophy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781438432274
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Series:
SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy Series
Pages:
484
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

Part I Chance in the Physics of Aristotle

1 The doctrine of Phys. II, iv-vi 19

i Context and method 19

ii Terminology 20

iii Only unusual occurrences come about by chance 21

iv Chance refers to events 22

v Some events are meaningful and others are not 23

vi Chance events are both unusual and meaningful 26

vii Chance is a cause 27

viii Chance is an accidental cause that is meaningful 31

ix Chance as an accidental cause can pertain to any category 35

x Chance events are inherently unpredictable 39

xi The relationship of τυχη to τεχνη: their outcomes are contingent 40

xii Both good luck and bad luck are meaningful 42

xiii Good luck 46

xiv The distinction between τυχη and ταυτοματον 48

xv The relationship of ταυτοματον to ματην 52

xvi Substances generated counter to nature fall under ταυτοματον 53

xvii Chance, νους and φυσις 54 2 2 The structure of Phys. II, iv-vi 58

3 Dating Phys. II, vi 72

a Texts in which τυχη covers all of chance 73

b Tυχη in Aristotle's mature metaphysical writings 93

i The meaning of ταυτοματον και τυχη 93

ii Inconclusive passages in the later metaphysical writings 97

iii The sources of generation 98

iv Note on Met. K 99

v Conclusion 100

4 Necessity and chance 101

a Aristotle's concept of necessity 101

i Introduction 101

ii Absolute necessity 102

iii Final causes are not derived by absolute necessity 104

iv The necessity of the Unmoved Mover 106

v Hypothetical necessity 108

vi Degrees of hypothetical necessity 109

vii Force 110

viii Fate 111

ix The correspondence of the four causes to absolute and hypothetical necessity 113

x The coincidence of hypothetical and absolute necessity 114

xi The distinction in subject-matter and method between physics and the other two theoretical sciences 119

xii Accidents occur by absolute and not by hypothetical necessity 125

xiii There is no science of the unusual accident 129

xiv Necessity in relation to man 133

b Necessity and chance: Aristotle's criticism of the Presocratics 135

i The compatibility of necessity and chance in Greek thought 135

ii Necessity and chance in Democritus 144

iii Conclusion 153

Additional notes to Chapter IV

a Phys. VIII, iv 156

b Plato's concept of chance 157

c Empedocles' zoogony 158

d Phys. II, iv, 196 a 28-33 160

5 The causes of that which occurs by chance 163

a Chance events 163

b Monsters 165

c Spontaneous generation 172

i The vocabulary of spontaneous generation 174

ii The causes of spontaneous generation 176

iii The evolution of the theory of spontaneous generation 185

d The parallel between chance events and chance substances 190

i The unusualness of monsters and spontaneous generation 191

ii The unusual category and the efficient cause 194

e Conclusion 195

Part II Chance in the Ethics of Aristotle

6 Chance as the source of external prosperity 199

a The necessity of external prosperity 200

b Good fortune throughout a complete life (βιος τελειος) is necessary for perfect happiness 217

i Aristotle recognises the existence of various degrees of happiness 218

ii The happiness sought in the ethical works is perfect happiness 219

iii Perfect happiness must last throughout life 220

iv Perfect happiness requires a "complete life" (βιος τελειος) 224

v Perfect happiness on one day and in a complete lifetime 232

vi Chance, external prosperity and happiness 233

7 Chance and intuition 236

a The doctrine of τυχη in EE VIII, ii 238

b The doctrine of good fortune (ευτυχια) in MM II, viii 249

Additional note on the chronology of Aristotle's ethical works 258

Appendix I Chance in the lists of the sources of happiness in NE and EE 260

Appendix II Differences in the role of chance in NE, EE, and MM 264

i The doctrine of external goods 264

ii Chance and intuition 266

Part III Implications of Aristotle's Concept of Chance

8 Chance and Aristotle's rejection of determinism 271

a Determinism and final causality 272

b Determinism and efficient causality 278

i Human free choice 278

ii Unusual accidents: Met. E(VI), iii 286

iii Chance 314

iv Conclusion 317

Additional note on determinist interpretations of Aristotle's philosophy of nature 325

9 Aristotle's concept of chance and related contemporary questions 326

a Chance and the order in the universe 326

b Chance and the origin of life 329

c Chance and evolution 334

i Aristotle's analogy of substance 337

ii Teleology 340

iii The operation of chance 349

d Quantum theory 354

e Conclusion 358

Conclusion 359

a Textual conclusions 359

b Doctrinal conclusions 363

Bibliography 375

Index locorum 405

Index nominum 429

Index rerum 439

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