Aristotle’s Physics II 1 and Cultivated Plants

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The aim of this paper is two-fold: to offer an interpretation that preserves the natural reading of Physics II 1 – that Aristotle is drawing a stark distinction between what is natural and what is artificial; and to show how there is logical room for a tertium quid – a category for things that are products of both nature and art. This aim is attained by highlighting two important qualifications Aristotle makes about the products of art in relation to an innate internal principle of change and pointing out that the proper understanding of the significance of the essential-accidental distinction that Aristotle draws must be viewed in the context where he identifies two kinds of nature – form and matter. Based on these analyses, the following three logical categories are shown to be consistent with the passage: 1) purely natural things; 2) essentially artificial objects; and 3) essentially natural things with artificial aspects.

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