Did Theophrastus Reject Aristotle’s Account of Place?

Phronesis
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Abstract

It is commonly held that Theophrastus criticized or rejected Aristotle’s account of place. The evidence that scholars put forward for this view, from Simplicius’ commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, comes in two parts: (1) Simplicius reports some aporiai that Theophrastus found for Aristotle’s account; (2) Simplicius cites a passage of Theophrastus which is said to ‘bear witness’ to the theory of place which Simplicius himself adopts (that of his teacher Damascius) ‐ a theory which is utterly different from Aristotle’s. But the aporiai have relatively straightforward solutions, and we have no reason to suppose that Theophrastus didn’t avail himself of them (and some reason to think that he did). Moreover, the text which Simplicius cites as bearing witness to Damascius’ view on closer inspection does not seem to be inconsistent with Aristotle’s account of place or natural motion.

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