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 HELP! KEY TERMS in Aristotle's "WHOLE/PARTS" line
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jjzanath

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 08 Dec 2009 :  03:19:09  


Hi: I'm doing a Systems Engineering dissertation and am interested in the original Greek words (and their exact meanings) for key English-translation terms in Aristotle's sole -- and too-little-known -- ACTUAL reference to "whole" as it relates to "parts", in Metaphysics VIII:6 (line 1045a9 in my McKeon):

"...with respect both to definitions and to numbers, what is the cause of their UNITY? In the case of all THINGS which have SEVERAL PARTS and in which the TOTALITY is not, as it were, a *MERE* *HEAP*, but the WHOLE is *SOMETHING* *BESIDE* the parts, ..."

Could someone kindly supply me with the original Greek terms (in original or transliterated form, preferably the latter so I can look them up in various dictionaries) for the CAPITALIZED terms above -- especially for "MERE", "HEAP", "SOMETHING", and "BESIDE"? And basic definitions, if you have the time.

"Mere" has an archaic English meaning that I doubt McKeon intends; I'm interested in the precise meaning of the original Greek term -- and even more so in the crucial term translated as "BESIDE" in McKeon.

As too few know, the famous attribution "The whole is greater (or "more") than the sum of its parts" is a rather wanton mistranslation or pop-cultural misconstrual, somewhat in the mode of the "meta" in "Metaphysics" itself, which I understand originally meant simply "after" (as referring to the set of otherwise unnamed books on First Principles filed just past the Physics-related titles on the canonical bookshelf), and only in Medieval times came to mean "beyond", as in "radically superordinate of", due to their content level relative to the preceding volumes.

To me, "more than" -- or even "greater than" -- the "sum" of "parts" falls significantly short of the apparently intended notion of qualitative distinction, which "other than" a "mere aggregate" (the best translation I've found, I've forgotten where) seems to peg *far* more precisely. But what's the real skinny on this classic and near-universally misinterpreted characterization?

Thanks so much for any help out there, as I can't find online Greek/English parallel texts for this should-be-famous passage, and would have trouble with the Greek if I could!!


 

George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 08 Dec 2009 :  04:56:00  

 

The original Greek of your text is (Metaph 1045a.11): Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἀπορίας τῆς εἰρημένης περί τε τοὺς ὁρισμοὺς καὶ περὶ τοὺς ἀριθμούς͵ τί αἴτιον τοῦ ἓν εἶναι; πάντων γὰρ ὅσα πλείω μέρη ἔχει καὶ μὴ ἔστιν οἷον σωρὸς τὸ πᾶν ἀλλ΄ ἔστι τι τὸ ὅλον παρὰ τὰ μόρια͵ ἔστι τι αἴτιον. There is no "mere" in the original, just heap (σωρός). Beside is παρά, something is τι.

Aristotle here thinks about the cause of unity in entities that are not just heaps.

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giovanni

Italy
45 Posts

Posted - 08 Dec 2009 :  09:00:07  

 

You can also have a look at Aristotle's Metaphysics 1015b16 to 1016a33. It speaks about the one, what is one and what is not. There are many others texts on the matter, important is the Comment on the Metaphysics by Alexander of Aphrodisias, an author of ancient greek mother tongue from about II century a.D.
Important is also the INDEX ARISTOTELICUS by Hermann Bonitz, a german philologist of the nineteenth century, it is a vocabulary containing explanations of all the words and concepts employed by Aristotle; since the copy right is expired, it is freely available on line. Have a look! It is Aristotelis Opera volume V.

Perhaps I have been a something pedant, but I think that if you plan to become engineer, it could be useful to know, at least, how things are and how they were in ancient and not so ancient times. I also began as an engineer, then I recycled myself.

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jjzanath

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 09 Dec 2009 :  01:59:06  

 

MORE HELP, PLEASE !!! Can anyone provide an English transliteration of George's helpful original Greek line above, and maybe even mark the terms corresponding to all of my BOLDENED TERMS of the English translation in my original posting? Thanks!!

ALSO -- in Giovanni's link to the Aristotle term glossary INDEX ARISTOTELICUS provided above all the online copies (and referenced print copy) I've been able to locate are in the original LATIN !!! Does anyone know of an English translation of this work, online or in (available) print?!?....

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George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 09 Dec 2009 :  03:40:12  

 

Transliteration of the Greek text of Aristotle: "Peri the tis aporias tis eiremenes peri te tous orismous kai peri tous arithmous, ti aition tou en einai? panton gar osa pleio mere echei kai me estin oion soros to pan all esti ti to olon para ta moria, esti ti aition.

In the translation: "...with respect both to definitions and to numbers, what is the cause of their UNITY? [=en] In the case of all THINGS ["Things" does not appear in the original] which have SEVERAL PARTS [=pleio mere] and in which the TOTALITY [=to pan] is not, as it were, a *MERE* ["mere" does not appear in the original] *HEAP* [=soros], but the WHOLE [=olon] is *SOMETHING* [=ti] *BESIDE* [=para] the parts..."

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giovanni

Italy
45 Posts

Posted - 09 Dec 2009 :  06:04:57  

 

I wrote that it was only for your knowledege, just to know how things were. There is no English translation of the INDEX ARISTOTELICUS. Hermann Bonitz writes that he worked 25 years on it and asks for help, because otherwise he could not finish it, and this help came.
I also was an engineer, I know this profession, today, here in Italy the government plans to build Nuclear Power plants, it would be better to teach people to work as Hermann Bonitz worked. Think to this if you ever get involved in Nuclear Power plants. That was the thought I intended to express.

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