Lucas Herchenroeder's Hellenistic Historiography and the Sciences Practices and PDF

By Lucas Herchenroeder

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The same may be said of bronze in respect of the statue, or wood in the respect of the house (material causes). Even formal qualities count as causes too, such as the plan of the statue conceived by the sculptor, or that maintained by the carpenter with respect to the house; similarly, in the context of geometry, the ‘three-sidedness’ of the triangle may be said to constitute the final cause of that entity. Ancient conceptions of cause are thus analytically extensive. Now, this is not to say that explanations always exhibit the complexity of the Aristotelian model, for surely the complexity of that scheme is partly due to the fact that many did not regard causation under the same terms.

Even formal qualities count as causes too, such as the plan of the statue conceived by the sculptor, or that maintained by the carpenter with respect to the house; similarly, in the context of geometry, the ‘three-sidedness’ of the triangle may be said to constitute the final cause of that entity. Ancient conceptions of cause are thus analytically extensive. Now, this is not to say that explanations always exhibit the complexity of the Aristotelian model, for surely the complexity of that scheme is partly due to the fact that many did not regard causation under the same terms.

40 In geometry, for example, it is form this time possible to form expressions of knowledge established necessarily from indemonstrable first principles. 41 Aristotle too devotes serious attention to this subject, notably in the Posterior Analytics, which considers the implications of knowledge for the theoretical sciences in general, not just geometry. Admittedly, geometry is crucial to Aristotle’s efforts to conceptualize scientific knowledge, though in fact it principally serves as a model for thinking about possibilities in a range of scientific contexts.

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