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Plato, Aristotle, and Engels on Motion as the Holomovement



From "Aristotle", by Sir David Ross, 1923, pp. 81-2:

Nature being a principle of movement, Aristotle turns to consider what movement is. From this he will proceed to consider certain notions implied in movement. Movement is *continuous*, and the continuous is often defined as that which is divisible to *infinity*. *Place*, *time*, *void* are also thought to be implied in movement.

The Eleatics had denied the existence of movement (or change) altogether. The half-way Eleaticism of the mechanists (Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists) had denied the existence of change of quality; there was according to them only 'mixing and divorce'. On the other hand the Megaric School had abolished the continuity of movement by dividing it into indivisible unitary movements. We may compare with this Plato's suggestion that movement takes place discontinuously 'in the instant'. (Parmenides 156 d,e.) Aristotle maintains both the reality and the continuity of movement. It is according to him not a sudden replacement of one state by another but the passage between them.

Motion is 'the actualization of that which is potentially, as such'. I.e. if there is something which is actually x and potentially y, motion is the making actual of its y-ness.... And motion in general is the actualizing of the potential. Thus it is part of the nature of movement that the potential has not yet completely lost its potentiality and become actual; that is the difference between movement and activity. In each moment of activity, potentiality is completely cancelled and transformed into actuality; in movement the transformation is not complete till the movement is over. In other words movement differs from activity as the incomplete from the complete; or, more loosely, movement is incomplete activity and activity is completed movement. Movement cannot be classed *simpliciter* either as potentiality or as activity. It is an actualization, but one which implies its own incompleteness and the continued presence of potentiality.


From "Anti-Duhring", by Frederick Engels, 1894, p. 132:

Motion itself is a contradiction: even simple mechanical change of place can only come about through a body at one and the same moment of time being both in one place and in another place, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continuous assertion and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is.



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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