What is a medium? – translation from Wolfgang Hagen part three


What Aristotle presupposes is the validity of his teaching of the four elements and
their modal qualities hot, cold, wet and dry. Hence there are four possible combinations:

1. Dry-warm, was realized in Fire
2. Warm-wet, was realized in Air
3. Damp-cold, was realized in Water
4. Cold-Dry, was realized in Earth

Based on their observation of nature, the ancient people found these expressions realized in Fire, Air, Water and Earth – the four elements. “(P2031, 14). Added the so-called Five Element theory, “The weight of each body is thought of lying between ideal limits. There is something absolutely Heavy and relatively heavy. Similarly, there is something “relatively easy and something completely lightweight and finally something that is neither heavy nor light and yet has weight, the imponderable or quinta essentia.”(13).

The distinctiveness in Aristotles’ teaching between Potential and Actuality is important in his differentiation between dynamis on one hand and entelecheia oder energeia on the other. The theory of Potentiality and Actuality is one of the central themes of Aristotle’s philosophy and metaphysics. With these two notions, Aristotle intends to provide a structure for the comprehension of reality.

It can be shown where the concept of the medium has been interpolated by Aquinas into Aristotls’ work. It happens in the second book of Peri Psyche, where Aristotle tries to give a detailed description of the five senses in relation to their perceptual function. Hearing is comparative simple. In the Aristotelian system their is air, which must be struck in a manner with matter so that contracted air reaches the ear and instantiate the sensation. Ein Ton entsteht, „wenn die geschlagene Luft zusammenbleibt und sich nicht wieder verflüchtigen kann. Deshalb ertönt sie, wenn sie schnell und heftig geschlagen wird.“(106) Echo entsteht, wenn diese wie in einem Gefäß eingeschlossene Luft an etwas Hartem „apprallt wie ein Ball“(107). Hearing “happens” in the element Air – which has not changed since Aristotle. Smell and Taste “happen” for Aristotle in the elements Air and Water. Aristotle knows that fish do have a highly sensitive sense of smell and that one can only smell something that is wet. Major problems, however, appear for A’s sensory physiology, when it comes to vision is.

“Οὕ μεν οὖν εστιν ἡ ὄψις, τούτ ‘εστιν ὁρατόν.”
“What now the sense of sight is directed, this is the visible. “(417, a25)

It still seems clear, clear. Next sentence:

“ὁρατὸν δ ‘εστι χρῶμα μέν, καὶ ὅ λόγῳ μὲν ἔστιν εἰπεῖν, ἀνώνυμον δὲ τυγχάνει ὁν.”
“Visibility is the color and that which can be discribed but has no designation.”

Thus begin the fundamental difficulties in Aristotle’s text. Although the color is the visible, it is also visible in something that is different from its kind. What is visible for the sense of sight is the colour of the things in the world around it. This is the world of the periechon – the surrounding, athmosphere, das umgebende. But there is more. Here start the inconsistency problems in Aristotles text. Only a few paragraphs later the term for “that which can be discribed but has no designation” is stated: ἔστι δή τι διαφανές ‘ – “There is something Transparent.” Gigon nennt diesen Begriff, diaphanes, nicht umsonst „sehr schwer zu fassen“(244). What does transparency mean?

“διαφανες δε λέγω ὅ εστι μὲν ὁρατόν, oὐ καθ αὑτο δὲ ὁρατὸν ὡς ἁπλῶς εἰπεῖν, ἀλλά
δι ἀλλότριον χρῶμα.”
“I call transparent, what is visible, but not to be visible as such, but by the alien suit.”

Aristotle (or whoever the text may have written) wants to make a distinction which is not so easy to succeed. What is visible are the colours. But not as colors are they visible, only in the transparency in which contains them.

“Αχρουν δ ‘εστί το διαφανές”
“The Transparent itself is colorless”

“Τοιοῦτον δέ έστιν ἀὴρ και ὕδωρ και πολλά των στερεῶν
“Such are air, water and many solids. Thus colorless.

“Οὐ γαρ ᾗ ὓδωρ οὐδ ‘ᾗ ἀήρ, διαφανές, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἐστὶ φύσις ὑπάρχουσα ἡ αὐτὴ
ἐv τούτοις ἀμφοτέροις καὶ ἐν τῷ ἀϊδίῳ τῷ ἄνω σώματι. ”
” Such “, ie the Transparent (Diaphanes), which is the transparent, “is not transparent as water or air, but because in these two is the same nature present as in the (invisible) upper body (the ether).”

At this point, Walter Seitter prompted a speculation, namely that Aristotle defined the medium of light, because it is the medium of color, as ether. Such as to justify such impilcation for the ether physic in the 19th century. The ether physic tried to describe the phenomenon electromagnetism as the result of vibrations and disturbance waves of the ether. But this is simply not the case when one reads Aristotls text.

To which the Aristotelian text in his second, the empirical Perceptual functions, narrows down, is the attempt to make a distinction between the elements of perception, including air, water and humidity, and their function of perception. Hearing in Aristotle is not noticed in the air that penetrates the ear, but something that is of a nature such as the ano somatic, that is through the ether, which fills also the space between circling planets and stars. The sense of touch penetrates the moisture -the flesh on the fingers or the Skin- but even here it is not the element of moisture that generates its perception. But what is it? A medium?

Again, Aristotle did not use this term. The sense of sight operates with Colors in the visible, in the transparent body. More is not said. That Light plays a crucial role is clear.

διο και ούχ οραται άνευ φωτός
“Therefore the color will not be seen without light ”

,but the light is in the A system not an element.

Rather: ή δ ‘Εντελέχεια του διάφανους φως εστίν.
“The completion of the Transparent is the light.

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