Xenophanes of Colophon
!!!Aristotle: On the Heavens BOOK II Part 13 By these considerations some have been led to assert that the earth below us is infinite, saying, with Xenophanes of Colophon, that it has 'pushed its roots to infinity',-in order to save the trouble of seeking for the cause. Hence the sharp rebuke of Empedocles, in the words 'if the deeps of the earth are endless and endless the ample ether-such is the vain tale told by many a tongue, poured from the mouths of those who have seen but little of the whole. Others say the earth rests upon water. This, indeed, is the oldest theory that has been preserved, and is attributed to Thales of Miletus. It was supposed to stay still because it floated like wood and other similar substances, which are so constituted as to rest upon but not upon air. As if the same account had not to be given of the water which carries the earth as of the earth itself! It is not the nature of water, any more than of earth, to stay in mid-air: it must have something to rest upon. Again, as air is lighter than water, so is water than earth: how then can they think that the naturally lighter substance lies below the heavier? Again, if the earth as a whole is capable of floating upon water, that must obviously be the case with any part of it. But observation shows that this is not the case. Any piece of earth goes to the bottom, the quicker the larger it is. These thinkers seem to push their inquiries some way into the problem, but not so far as they might. It is what we are all inclined to do, to direct our inquiry not by the matter itself, but by the views of our opponents: and even when interrogating oneself one pushes the inquiry only to the point at which one can no longer offer any opposition. Hence a good inquirer will be one who is ready in bringing forward the objections proper to the genus, and that he will be when he has gained an understanding of all the differences. The Works of Aristotle Translated into English under the Editorship of J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922); vol. 2, On the Heavens, translated by J.L. Stocks.
Summary of changes
. Last changed: 2013/12/27 21:27