So far I understand that Aristotle argues that Parmenides is wrong thinking that not change is possible because he confused Generational change with Qualitative change. Which, from my perspective, must imply that both types of change actually exist. But I also understood that he conceded that thinking of generational change is not possible.

Then, my questions are:

  1. How can he simultaneously acknowledge that existence of Generational change, that is coming into existence from nothing, and at the same time acknowledge that such kind of change is not thinkable?

  2. What are his grounds for holding that generational change exist? Why wouldn't it all be reducible to qualitative change?


  • Bear in mind that the modern solution here is Newton's differential calculus. The inertia of an object, the tendency implicit in the derivative of its motion is not actual movement. It both exists as a force that creates movement, and cannot be explained as a form of actual movement. This is obviously simpler than Aristotle, because we trimmed it down with math. But it captures the same basic idea.
    – user9166
    Apr 6, 2018 at 17:11

1 Answer 1


See Aristotle's Natural Philosophy:

Nature, according to Aristotle, is an inner principle of change and being at rest.

Thus, change is the central concept of A's natural philosophy.

According to A, every type of change is definable in the same way as a "motion" form potentiality to actuality.

What differs is the way this happens, according to the difefrent categories: the one involved in change are: substance, quantity, quality and place.

We have then foru types of change: generation and corruption, according to substance, growing and diminuishing, according to quantity, alteration, according to quality, and finally local motion, according to place.

See De Generatione et Corruptione, (314a1-314a6)

Our next task is to study coming-to-be and passing-away. We are to distinguish the causes, and to state the definitions, of these processes considered in general — as they apply uniformly to all the things that come-to-be and pass-away by nature. Further, we are to study growth and alteration. We must inquire whateach of them is; and whether alteration has the same nature as coming-to-be, or whether to these different names there correspond two separate processes with distinct natures.

And 314b1-314b12 :

Those, then, who construct all things out of a single element [Parmenides], must maintain that coming-to-be and passing-away are alteration. For they must affirm that the underlying something always remains identical and one; and change of such a kind is what we call altering. Those, on the other hand, who make the ultimate kinds of things more than one [Empedocles, Anaxagoras], must maintain that alteration is distinct from coming-to-be; for coming-to-be and passing-away result from the consilience and the dissolution of the many kinds.


we must state what the difference is between coming-to-be and alteration—for we maintain that these changes are distinct from one another. Since, then, we must distinguish the substratum, and the property whose nature it is to be predicated of the substratum; and since change of each of these occurs; there is alteration when the substratum is perceptible and persists, but changes in its own properties, the properties in question being either contraries or intermediates.

And finally 319b32-320a2:

When the change from contrary to contrary is in quantity, it is growth and diminution; when it is in place, it is locomotion; when it is in property, i.e. in quality, it is alteration; but when nothing persists of which the resultant is a property (or an accident in any sense of the term), it is coming-to-be, and the converse change is passing-away.

Conclusion : in A's universe, not every change is reducible to qualitative change.

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