My question is: Is it possible to point to a development in the concept of "nature" in the period between pre-Socratic philosophers and Aristotle (inclusive)?

Thank you very much.

  • 1
    Maybe useful: Gerard Naddaf, The Greek Concept of Nature (2005) Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 6:29
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    – J D
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 17:01
  • You may have a look at Peter's " Greek philosophical terms".
    – user37859
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


There is a very good account here, also included in Pathmarks.

From the translator, Thomas Sheehan. See the 1998 section:

M. Heidegger: On The Essence and Concept of Physis in Aristotle's Physics

The Romans translated φύσις by the word natura. Natura comes from nasci, “to be born, to originate,” as in the Greek root γεν- . Natura means “that which lets something originate from itself.” . . .

The first coherent and thoughtful discussion (“first” because of its way of questioning) of the essence of φύσις comes down to us from the time when Greek philosophy reached its fulfillment. It stems from Aristotle and is preserved in his ... (Lectures given - or better, “Lectures heard” - on φύσις).

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    Heidegger is not a good source for studying ancient philosophers, he just uses them as a springboard for expounding his own ideas, see Most, Heidegger's Greeks:"Heidegger himself sometimes took care to distinguish his own philosophical project from a historical reconstruction... What is interesting about Heidegger’s Greeks is not that they are Greeks, but that they are Germans and that they are Heidegger’s."
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 19:40
  • I suppose Heidegger admits that in the above essay where he writes one of his main points: "Thus the assertion, “Clearly actuality is prior to potentiality” seems to be evidently in error, for the contrary is more plausible. Surely in order for something to be “actual” and to be able to be “actual,” it must first be possible. Thus, potentiality is prior to actuality. But if we reason this way, we are not thinking either with Aristotle or with the Greeks in general." (more context here) Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:43

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