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HST 325 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Classical Planet, Deferent And Epicycle, Indus River

Course Code
HST 325
Conor Burns
Study Guide

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Natural Philosophy - term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant
before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such
as physics.
Investigation of change in material world
Interest in material causation
Legitimate Area of rational inquiry specifically devoted to the study of natural causation in the
natural world
the attempt to understand and explain the workings of the natural world
Early Civilizations
- Urban Revolution 6000 years ago
- Where? At least six different centers around the world: Mesopotamia (after 3500 BC); Egypt
(after 3400 BC); Indus River Valley (after 2500 BC); Yellow River in China (after 1800 BC);
Mesoamerica (500 BC); South America (after 300 BC)
Aristotle (384 322)
influenced future generations dominate scientific traditions from late antiquity, middle ages
and Renaissance
Wrote extensively on all fields and effectively synthesized his findings: logic, rhetoric, physics,
anatomy, cosmology, ethics, psychology, etc…
theoretical research with little practical value even though he discussed subjects like anatomy
and biology
relationship between science and technology:
“when everything *practical+ had been already provided, those sciences were discovered which
deal neither with necessities nor with the enjoyment of life, and this took place earliest in
regions where men had leisure”
studied under Plato for 20 years, tutored Alexander the Great, formed own school called
Coherent system (All his work is related to one system)
o Terrestrial Change -> Cosmology
Reacting against
o Super natural
o Socratic/platonic idealist philosophy
Believes in existence of realm of ideal forms
Doctrine of Elements Reducing nature to simpler components
Makes clear distinction between terrestrial and celestial realms
o Terrestrial: Air, Water, Earth Fire
o Celestial Realms: Ether
which is the divine substance that makes up the heavenly spheres and heavenly
bodies (stars and planets).
each element made up of two pairs of qualities: hot, cold, wet, dry
o earth (cold and dry); air (wet and hot); fire (dry and hot); water (wet and cold)

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Doctrine of Place and Motion
Natural motion -> Dropping an object -> downward -> seeking natural seeking place at the
center of the earth/universe
Violent motion -> throwing an object
o External mover violation of natural matter
o violent motion flight of arrow requires external mover that is constant contact with
with arrow case, mover is medium (air)
o Motion (Especially natural motion) -> speed of object is proportional to weight. falling
bodies force proportional to weight heavy objects fall faster
o Difference? Natural motions were those motions that objects naturally did: objects on
earth fell towards the center of the earth. Violent motion is when an object goes against
its natural way like someone picking up a rock or shooting an arrow.
celestial world (world above moon): unchanging, perfect, circular motion
o Matter in celestial realm was perfect and that its inherent natural motion was also
perfect, traveling in a uniform and immutable circle, which was the perfect geometric
earth is at center of universe; unmoving
physics relates to astronomy; makes common sense (we don’t sense any movement, ball thrown
up does not appear to fall behind)
world set in motion by Prime Mover
useful and acceptable in Judaism, Christian and Islamic theology
The cosmos is then made of a central earth (which he accepted as spherical) surrounded by the moon,
sun and stars all moving in circles around it. Note the strange idea that all celestial bodies are perfect,
yet they must circle the imperfect Earth. The initial motion of these spheres was caused by the action of
a ``prime mover'' which (who?) acts on the outermost sphere of the fixed stars; the motion then trickles
down to the other spheres through a dragging force.
Aristotle also addresses the question whether this world is unique or not; he argues that it is unique.
The argument goes as follows: earth (the substance) moves naturally to the center, if there world is not
unique there ought to be at least two centers, but then, how can earth know to which of the two
centers to go? But since ``earthy'' objects have no trouble deciding how to move, he concludes that
there can only be one center (the Earth) circled endlessly by all heavenly bodies

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Theory of explanation
User of logic in formulating statements/order of reasoning
o Syllogism Method of verifying reliability
1. All men are mortal
2. Socrates is a man
3. Therefore Socrates is mortal
o Casual explanation 4 modes of causation
To understand (analyze) change
1. Material Cause Matter it is made of
o Describes the material out of which something is composed.
Thus the material cause of a table is wood, and the material
cause of a car is rubber and steel. It is not about action. It does
not mean one domino knocks over another domino.
2. Formal “Shape” the marble becomes (The plan)
o tells us what a thing is, that any thing is determined by the
definition, form, pattern, essence, whole, synthesis or
archetype. Plainly put the formal cause according to which a
statue or a domino, is made is the idea existing in the first place
as exemplar in the mind of the sculptor, and in the second place
as intrinsic, determining cause, embodied in the matter. Formal
cause could only refer to the essential quality of causation. A
more simple example of the formal cause is the blueprint or
plan that one has before making or causing a human made
object to exist
3. Efficient Activity
o which immediately sets the thing in motion
4. Final Purpose/goal
o for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, including both
purposeful and instrumental actions and activities. The final
cause or telos is the purpose or end that something is supposed
to serve, or it is that from which and that to which the change
is. This also covers modern ideas of mental causation involving
such psychological causes as volition, need, motivation or
motives, rational, irrational, ethical, and all that gives purpose
to behavior.
Example: Stone wall around a garden
Material Cause: Stone and Mortar
Formal: plans and drawings in order to know how much stone is required to build it like a 30
meter high wall with a 20 centimeter base wide
Efficient: stone mason
Final: reason to build the wall, to keep the neighbor’s goat out of the garden
Teleology the study of ends, purposes, and goals
The idea that natural phenomena are determined not only by mechanical causes but by an
overall design or purpose in nature.
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