Dr Robert A. Hatch - University of Florida

The Aristotelian System was a geocentric (earth-centered) geostatic (earth-stationary) model of the finite Cosmos.  Cosmos signaled something more than a planetary model but something quite different from a modern Universe.  Unlike the concept of Universe (infinite, quantitative and homogeneous) where space, time, matter, and cause were absolute and uniform, the Cosmos was finite, qualitative, and hierarchically differentiated.  In the Cosmos there was no space (only place), time was eternal, matter was composed of elements (derived from real qualities in nature:  hot, cold, wet, dry), change was based on the Four Causes (Material, Formal, Efficient, Final).  The basic principles of things were Potentiality and Actuality, Generation and Corruption.  However alien to the modern mind, Aristotle's Cosmos was a brilliantly integrated whole.  Here Matter and Form were never separate (substantiated form), here Being and Knowing were inseparably linked, here Aristotle combined the Microcosm (Theory of Matter, the parts of all things) and the Macrocosm (Cosmology, the structure of all things).  Aristotle's Cosmos holistically linked Matter, Place, Motion, Cause, and Value.  The relations between Man, Nature, and God were never in doubt.  Everything was connected and reinforcing.  All Becoming (Matter, Motion, Change) was explained by means of the Great Chain of Being and by Being itself (God, the Unmoved Mover).  For all that, Aristotle's most important categories were not those of the 17th century.  The extraordinary coherence of his Cosmos helps to explain why it dominated Western thinking for nearly 2000 years, why Copernicus' innocent suggestion raised such furor.
The above illustration of Aristotle's Cosmos appeared in Boulliau's Philolaus (Amsterdam 1639).  For other illustrations and applications of the Geocentric Model Click Here.



Dr Robert A. Hatch - All rights reserved