On Aristotle "On the Heavens 1.10-12" (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)
of Cilicia Simplicius
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In the three chapters of "On the Heavens" dealt with in this volume, Aristotle argues that the universe is ungenerated and indestructible. In Simplicius' commentary, translated here, we see a battle royal between the Neoplatonist Simplicius and the Aristotelian, Alexander, whose lost commentary on "On the Heavens" Simplicius partly preserves. Simplicius' rival, the Christian Philoponus, had conducted a parallel battle in his "Against Proclus" but had taken the side of Alexander against Proclus and other Platonists, arguing that Plato's "Timaeus" gives a beginning to the universe. Simplicius takes the Platonist side, denying that Plato intended a beginning. The origin on which Plato refers is, according to Simplicius, not a temporal origin, but the divine cause that produces the world without beginning.
process of] being destroyed] they exist previously but later do not. 10 The first sense of ‘indestructible’ he picks out is that where what ‘at one time it exists and at another it does not, but without [a process of] being destroyed’; contacts are of this sort ‘because without [a process of] being destroyed they exist previously but later do not’. This is partially equivalent in force to the first sense of ‘destructible’.204 For what changed from existence into non-existence was said
same formula applies to both, the generable and the destructible are reciprocally entailing, which is what he proposed to show. These things have already been shown earlier, when he showed that negations of the contraries of always existing and always not existing hold true of the same thing.363 But one should not suppose that this holds in general, namely that if intermediate between certain things are others, to which the negations of the contraries hold true, then they are reciprocally
everlasting for the rest [of time]). He shows this by first assuming the following axioms. First, that what is generable and destructible is certainly also alterable (he will demonstrate this is in On Generation and Corruption):473 for generations and destructions occur when things alter and change in respect of quality. He made use of this at the beginning of the book474 when he showed that the divine body is unalterable, given that it is ungenerated and indestructible. Secondly, he assumes that
impossibility of option (1) (n. 133 above). 135. This phrase, clumsy in English, expresses the material status of the disordered universe (and connects it in standard Aristotelian fashion with potentiality: above, n. 119): Aristotle sometimes characterises the material relation as ‘that out of which’ (to ex hou; e.g. Phys. 2.3, 194b23-6), which became a standard designation in later Greek philosophy for the material cause. See 309,14 below. 136. The Principle of Plenitude again: see n. 90 above.
disorderly elements, 14-15, 17, 18, 19, 90 n. 98 and hypothetical generation, 16-17 and the ‘really real’, 10, 11, 71, 88 n. 70 and the world, 79-80; generated but indestructible, 7-12, 65-8, 70-2, 78; ‘having its being in becoming’, 8-9, 11, 17 Laws, 34 on time, 7, 9-10, 14 Statesman, 15, 18-19, 80 Theaetetus, 81 Timaeus, 7-11, 15, 51, 64, 70, 109 n. 401 points, 68 possibility, see capacity, potentiality no impossibility results from, 99 n. 252; see also ‘Capacity Principle’ potentiality, 56-7