Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The goal of my project is to provide a reading of Metaphysics Λ 10. Λ 10 states that there is an order in the cosmos, or a cosmic nature. The problem for the interpreter of Aristotle is how to make sense of this claim given Aristotle’s arguments elsewhere regarding nature/substance and the priority of substances over the parts of a substance. To explain what Aristotle means when he states that there is a cosmic nature and arrangement, I first examine the army and household analogies offered by Aristotle in Λ 10. I contend that the household analogy in particular provides the reader with a way to explain Aristotle’s concept of a cosmic nature, since it leads us to Aristotle’s account of the naturalness and priority of the polis. It is then through understanding Aristotle’s concept of the naturalness and priority of the polis, found in Politics I 2, that one can understand the naturalness and priority of the cosmic order defended in Λ 10. The naturalness of the polis is found in the fact that it is a part of the natural process of practical reasoning in which all human beings participate. The polis is prior because outside of the polis it is impossible to live the fully human life, and thus one largely ceases to exist outside of the polis. I will conclude by arguing that this reading of Politics I 2 allows us to see that the cosmic ordering or arrangement in Λ 10 is natural in so far as it arises out of the teleologically ordered motions of the individual entities within the cosmos, and it is prior in so far as no entity can carry out its essential functions outside of the cosmic arrangement and structure. This reading allows us to understand Λ 10 and Aristotle’s conception of the cosmos in a way that does not conflict with other claims that are basic to Aristotle’s conception of reality.