Parmenides Publishing

Reading Aristotle: Physics VII.3
«What Is Alteration?» Proceedings of the International ESAP-HYELE Conference

Stefano MASO,
Carlo NATALI, and
Gerhard SEEL, eds.

May 2012

ISBN 978-1-930972-73-5
171 pages • 6 1/4 x 9 • Paperback
Stefano Maso
Stefano Maso is Assistant Professor of History of Ancient Philosophy at Università Ca' Foscari, Venice. He is co-editor of La catena delle cause. Determinismo e antideterminismo nel pensiero antico e in quello contemporaneo (2005) and the author of Capire e dissentire. Cicerone e la filosofia di Epicuro (2008), and Filosofia a Roma. Dalla riflessione sui principi all'arte della vita (2012).
Carlo Natali
Carlo Natali is Professor of History of Ancient Philosophy at Università Ca' Foscari, Venice, and Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of The Wisdom of Aristotle (2001) and L'action efficace. Etudes de la théorie de l'action d'Aristote (2004), and editor of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book VII: Symposium Aristotelicum (2009) and co-editor of La catena delle cause. Determinismo e antideterminismo nel pensiero antico e in quello contemporaneo (2005). He is also co-editor of the International Aristotle Studies series.
Gerhard Seel
Gerhard Seel is Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Philosophy, University of Bern. He is the author of Sartres Dialetik (1971), Die Aristotelische Modaltheorie (1982), and co-editor of Ammonius and the Seabattle: Texts, Commentary, and Essays (2000). He is also co-editor of the International Aristotle Studies series.


István Bodnár
Ursula Coope
Frans de Haas
Benjamin Morison
Oliver Primavesi
Cristina Viano
Robert Wardy

synopsis   reviews    

This volume presents the results of the ESAP-HYELE conference on "Aristotle, Physics 7.3: What is Alteration?", which took place in Vitznau, Switzerland, 12–15 February 2007. The contributors are part of a team of Aristotelian scholars who came together for the first time in 1995, and have since been meeting every spring. The purpose of their gatherings is to read and interpret line by line a short, but important chapter of Aristotle's works. In this way, attention is focused on key texts of particular exegetic and theoretical interest. Each session starts with the presentation of a translation and a first analysis of the main problems; these then become the subject of an intense debate which illustrates the different schools of thought and methodological approaches. Over the years, the confrontation of these different points of view has had a beneficiary effect on scholarship and has stimulated research activity worldwide. On the occasion of the Vitznau meeting in 2007, it was decided for the first time to publish the results of the meeting in order to make them accessible to a wider public of scholars and students. The present volume is the fruit of this common effort.

Physics 7.3 is one of the crucial texts in Aristotle's theory of change, in which he deals with the question of what alteration is and what it is not. Aristotle discusses change in various parts of his writings, and seems to provide quite a broad range of notions: movement and change of place, alteration in aspect and form, temporal change, variation in the way a given being is perceived, the change in relationship between beings, qualitative and accidental alterations. The present volume sets out to provide the reader with some new insights in those subjects. It opens with Robert Wardy's introduction, in which the problem of "change" is inserted in the context of the great debate surrounding the entire Book 7 of Aristotle's Physics. Next it gives Aristotle's text in Greek (accompanied by an English translation) according to the so-called version α in the edition by W. D. Ross (Oxford, 1950) which we slightly modified. Also included is version β of Aristotle's chapter which was known by Simplicius, Philoponus, and Themistius. The main part of the book contains an "Analysis and Commentary" consisting of 1. Preliminary Remarks by Benjamin Morison and Gerhard Seel concerning the place of chapter 3 in Book 7, the structure of the chapter and its main problems; and 2. Commentaries on the Six Sections of the Chapter. These six contributions do not represent a simple reproduction of the 2007 conference papers; on the contrary, they are the result of a process of meticulous revision which took into account both the conference discussions and the subsequent correspondence between the participants. Finally there are two appendices: 1. Gerhard Seel, "The Logical and Semantic Background of Aristotle's Argument,"; and 2. Oliver Primavesi, "Aristotle, Physics 7.3, 245b3–248a9: Towards a Fuller Synopsis of the Two Versions"; the latter facilitates the comparison of the two versions.

This book presents the results of an international conference on Aristotle’s Physics, book VII, chapter 3 that  took  place  in  Vitznau,  Switzerland on April 12–15, 2007. It opens with a 13-page introduction by Robert Wardy of Cambridge. Next Aristotle’s text is given in Greek, in both the a and b versions, together with a new English translation by the six contributors, harmonized by Stefano Maso of Venice and Gerhard Seel of Bern. The core of the book consists in an in-depth analysis and line-by-line commentary on the six parts of the text by Benjamine Morison, Ursula Coope, István Bodnár, Cristiana Viano, Frans A. J. de Haas, and Carlo Natali.
(Read entire review here)
—Patrick Madigan
Heythrop College 
This book is a very useful tool for understanding Phys. VII.3 in several respects: first, because it focuses on a limited portion of text which focuses on aspects of textual exegesis and philosophy, and secondly because VII.3 currency in relation to other writings of Aristotle and thus it provides a 'global interpretation, and finally because we appreciate the effort that was made by the authors to compare their positions and hermeneutics to connect with each other, as well as the efforts of curators to harmonize the content of the whole book. The final outcome is certainly that of a volume indispensable for future studies on the subject. (read more: Italian English)
—Giovanna R. Giardina
For Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Università di Catania
"Aristotle's most sophisticated metaphysics of qualitative change or alteration under the magnifying glass of a panel of leading Aristotelian scholars. A model of a slow reading seminar, combining logical and philological expertise with philosophical insight and a deep sense of wonder. A book that teaches how to read Aristotle well, that is — to quote Nietzsche's praise of slow reading — 'slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes.'"
—Walter Cavini
Alma Mater Studiorum–University of Bologna

"This is an excellent collection of essays and commentaries on an important, demanding but somewhat neglected part of Aristotle's discussion of change in the Physics. Anyone seriously interested in Aristotle's account of alterations and processes must read this first rate publication. It contains important contributions on the philosophical, exegetical and textual questions raised by this chapter."

—David Charles
Oriel College, Oxford

"Physics VII.3 has wide-ranging implications for our understanding of Aristotle's physics and psychology. This work by some of our best Aristotelian scholars provides an indispensable tool for its study."

—Dr. Thomas Kjeller Johansen
Brasenose College, Oxford