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I want to confirm a sentence, which I have rendered bold below, related to Aristotle's view regarding Thales philosophy in a philosophical article.

In Book I of the Metaphysics, Aristotle claims that the earliest of these, among whom he places the Milesians, explained things only in terms of their matter (Met. I.3 983b6–18). This claim is anachronistic in that it presupposes Aristotle's own novel view that a complete explanation must encompass four factors: what he called the material, efficient, formal, and final causes. Yet there is something in what Aristotle says. Aristotle links Thales' claim that the world rests on water with the view that water was the archē, or fundamental principle, and he adds that “that from which they come to be is a principle of all things” (983b24–25; 11A12). He suggests that Thales chose water because of its fundamental role in coming-to-be, nutrition, and growth, and claims that water is the origin of the nature of moist things.

The point which I would like to confirm is: The subject of the verb "claims" in claims that water is ... is Aristotle. In other words, here the article writer is saying that Aristotle dismissed the generality of Thale's claim and restricted it to the things having the moist nature.

Is it correct?

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    See text Met, 983b : "Thales, the founder of this school of philosophy, says the permanent entity is water (which is why he also propounded that the earth floats on water). Presumably he derived this assumption from seeing that the nutriment of everything is moist, and that heat itself is generated from moisture and depends upon it for its existence (and that from which a thing is generated is always its first principle). 1/2 – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 22 '18 at 13:16
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    He derived his assumption, then, from this; and also from the fact that the seeds of everything have a moist nature, whereas water is the first principle of the nature of moist things." 2/2 – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 22 '18 at 13:17
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    Thus, Aristotle claims that Thales' view is... This is A's reading of Thales' view; according to the modern author, A's reading is anachronistic because A read Thales' theory with the "intellectual machinery" of his (A) own metaphysics. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 22 '18 at 13:19
  • Thank you very much. So, I was mistakenly rendering it as the view of Aristotle himself and it was in fact, the reading of Aristotle for Thales view and when he said that "the nature of moist things", it was implied that everything has moist nature. This was the point which skipped me and I distracted from the actual point. Thanks for your clearance! – Mushrraf Baig Ashraf Jun 22 '18 at 13:33
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He [Aristotle] suggests that Thales chose water because of its fundamental role in coming-to-be, nutrition, and growth, and [that Thales] claims that water is the origin of the nature of moist things.

If we take Hugh Lawson-Tancred's translation of the text we read :

But the number and form of such a principle [of all things] they do not all proclaim to be the same. Thales, the introducer of this sort of philosophy, said that it was water (that is why he declared the earth to be sitting on water), perhaps drawing this supposition from seeing that the nourishment of all creatures is moist and that warmth itself arises from this and that it is by this that all creatures live (and the assumption that that from which a thing comes is its principle in all cases). Metaphysics, Alpha, 393b : Lawson-Tanced, 13.

So Aristotle claims that Thales claims that water is the origin ... And your author claims that Aristotle claims that Thales claims that water is the origin ...

What is essentially going on in the Metaphysics is that Aristotle (a not very reliable historian of philosophy) attributes to Thales the claim that water is the principle [or origin] of all things. He does not assert that Thales drew this supposition from seeing that the nourishment of all creatures is moist and that warmth itself arises from this and that it is by this that all creatures live (and the assumption that that from which a thing comes is its principle in all cases). Rather, Aristotle ventures the conjecture, merely a conjecture as 'perhaps' indicates, that Thales's claim about water was a supposition drawn from seeing ...

Reference

Aristotle, The Metaphysics, tr. Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (1999) ISBN 10: 0140446192 ISBN 13: 9780140446197

  • Thanks for this detailed reply and explanation! It really helped. – Mushrraf Baig Ashraf Jun 22 '18 at 19:21
  • I appreciate your thanks and am glad to have been of help. All the best : GT – Geoffrey Thomas Jun 22 '18 at 20:32

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