In discussing time, Aristotle frequently mentions "the whole" and "the sphere itself." I have the intuition that it is related to his physical cosmology, but fail to see anything that clarifies this. I am particularly wondering what he means when he says "Some assert that [time] is the movement of the whole, others that it is the sphere itself" and "time is the sphere of the whole." What is he saying?

  • In contemporary language Aristotle is saying that some people attribute to time an aspect of the eternal and infinite universe, 'the whole'. This is equivalent to what Mauro is referring to in the 'outermost sphere'
    – user37981
    Oct 5, 2020 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


In the discussion about time in *Physics, bk IV, with "sphere of the whole", Aristotle is referring to the theory of Celestial spheres and in particular to the outermost one, that contains everything.

[§14, 223b13] time is measured by motion [...] time is thought to be the movement of the sphere, viz. because the other movements are measured by this, and time by this movement.

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