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REREADING METAPHYSICS Ε2-3: ARISTOTLE'S ARGUMENT AGAINST DETERMINISM, AND HOW AVERROES TWISTED IT IN HIS LONG COMMENTARY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2022

Dustin Klinger*
Affiliation:
Harvard University

Abstract

In the fresh reading proposed here of the still not satisfactorily interpreted passages in Metaphysics Ε2-3, Aristotle emerges as making a case against determinism based on a robust notion of the accident. Accidental beings are uncaused causes and have their rightful place in Aristotle's ontology. The resulting physical indeterminism is here used as a litmus test for the exegetical practice of the great Commentator, Averroes, whose self-proclaimed, and later proverbial, loyalty to Aristotle's text will be shown to give way to idiosyncratic interpretations at times. His explanations of Metaphysics Ε2-3 are sparse and no less obscure than Aristotle's text. It is only when read together with his commentaries on the Physics, to which he explicitly refers twice in his Long commentary on Metaphysics Ε2-3, that a surprising picture emerges. Averroes recycles the notion of the accident, now reconceptualised in cosmological terms, and – putting it to the opposite use of Aristotle's – weaves it into an original theory of motion that integrates both supra- and sublunar realms into a deterministic framework of uninterrupted causal chains, thus safeguarding the principle of Divine providence.

Résumé

Résumé

Par la nouvelle lecture de Métaphysique Ε2-3 – un morceau de texte toujours manquant une interprétation satisfaisante – qui est proposée ici, l'argument d'Aristote ressort comme une défense de l'indéterminisme se fondant sur une notion solide de l'accident. Les êtres accidentels comme causes noncausées ont leur place légitime dans l'ontologie d'Aristote. L'indéterminisme assez radical qui en résulte est utilisé comme une mise à l’épreuve de la démarche exégétique d'Averroès : Il sera montré que la fidélité proverbiale du Grand Commentateur au texte du Stagirite parfois laisse place à des interprétations idiosyncratiques. Ses explications de Métaphysique Ε2-3 sont plutôt clairsemées et non moins obscures que le texte d'Aristote, mais si on les lit à la lumière de ses commentaires à la Physique, à laquelle il se réfère explicitement deux fois dans son Grand commentaire à Métaphysique Ε2-3, une image surprenante se fait jour. Averroès recycle la notion de l'accident, cette fois conceptualisée en termes cosmologiques, en l'employant contrairement à Aristote dans une théorie originale et idiosyncratique du mouvement qui fait intégrer les domaines supra- et sublunaires dans un seul cadre déterministe des chaines causales ininterrompues, entièrement pénétrable par la providence Divine.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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REREADING METAPHYSICS Ε2-3: ARISTOTLE'S ARGUMENT AGAINST DETERMINISM, AND HOW AVERROES TWISTED IT IN HIS LONG COMMENTARY
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REREADING METAPHYSICS Ε2-3: ARISTOTLE'S ARGUMENT AGAINST DETERMINISM, AND HOW AVERROES TWISTED IT IN HIS LONG COMMENTARY
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REREADING METAPHYSICS Ε2-3: ARISTOTLE'S ARGUMENT AGAINST DETERMINISM, AND HOW AVERROES TWISTED IT IN HIS LONG COMMENTARY
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