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R.K. Sprague: Aristotle on Mutilation17 Aristotle on Mutilation: Metaphysics 5.27 Rosamond Kent Sprague Dedicated to the memory ofHippocrates G. Apostle My interest in Aristotle's discussion of the term ????ß?? in Metaphysics 5.27 was aroused by C. Kirwan's remark that "the reason for its inclusion here [in Book Delta] is a mystery."1 Kirwan's puzzlement is shared by A. Edel, who writes, "in Metaphysics 5, which analyzes all sorts of important philosophical concepts, we are surprised to find a brief discussion of the mutilated."2 Although the presence of 5.27 may be puzzling if one thinks of the entire book as a study of equivocal expressions, in other respects a discussion of the concept "mutilated" follows quite naturally on the discussions of "part" in 5.25 and "whole" in 5.26.3 Once Aristotle has given, as one of the meanings of "whole," "that from which is absent none of the parts of which it is said by nature to be a whole" (1023b27-28),4 it is not really strange for him to go on to consider the case of wholes from which one or more parts are in fact absent. As an additional argument for 5.27, as a natural continuation of 25 and 26, it may be pointed out that some of the illustrative material in 27 has links with illustrations in the earlier chapters. So, for instance, the question of whether or not a number may be mutilated, which appears to be introduced rather abruptly in 1 Aristotle's "Metaphysics" Books Gamma, Delta, Epsilon: Translated with Notes, Clarendon Aristotle Series (Oxford 1971) 177. 2 Aristotle and his Philosophy (Chapel Hill 1982) 59. Edel attempts to treat the chapter in the context of substantival change, by suggesting a progression from unmutilated cup to leaky cup to sieve to bits of pottery. I do not think Aristotle shows any signs of approaching the subject in this way. 3 So, for instance, St. Thomas Aquinas in his Commentary (ad loc.) writes "here he clarifies the issue about the opposite of 'whole,' which is mutilated" (Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, trans, by J.P. Rowan, Library of Living Catholic Thought 1 [Chicago 1961] 413). 4 Translations of Aristotelian passages are from the version of H.G. Apostle, Aristotle's "Metaphysics" Translated with Commentaries and Glossary (Bloomington 1966). 18Syllecta Classica 2 (1990) 27.1024al2, is prepared for in 25 where Aristotle discusses the senses in which two may or may not be said to be a part of three (1023M2-17): two is a part of three if it is subtracted from three (1023M2). The reference to continuity at 27.1024a22 is also prepared for, in 26.1023b33-35. Again, the stipulated connection between mutilation, substance, and position (1024al8-21) is anticipated in 26.1024al-8 in Aristotle's discussion of the difference between "all" and "a whole." I am less concerned, however, to argue for the rightful place of 5.27 in the Metaphysics than to comment on some points of interest in the chapter itself. As the text is quite brief, we may as well have it before us (1024all-29): 1024all It is not any chance quantity that is called "mutilated" but only one which is divisible into parts and is a whole. For two is not called "mutilated" when one ofthe units is taken away (for the part removed 15 by mutilation is never equal to what is left), and in general no number is called "mutilated," for the substance of the thing must remain after mutilation. If a cup is mutilated, it must still be a cup; but the number is no longer the same. Further, even if a thing consists ofunlike parts, it is not always [the case] that it is said to be mutilated; for, in a sense, even a number has unlike parts, such as two and three. And in general, things in which position makes no difference, such as water and fire, are not said to be mutilated; but in 20 order to be mutilated, things must be such that according to their substance position makes a difference. Besides, they must be continuous; for a harmony...

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ISSN
2160-5157
Print ISSN
1040-3612
Pages
pp. 17-22
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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