On Generation and Corruption

On Generation and Corruption

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On Generation and Corruption , , also known as On Coming to Be and Passing Away) is a treatise by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

. Like many of his texts, it is both scientific and philosophic (although not necessarily scientific in the modern sense). The philosophy, though, is essentially empirical
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

; as in all
Corpus Aristotelicum
The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through Medieval manuscript transmission. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's lost works, are technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school...

 Aristotle's works, the deductions made about the unexperienced and unobservable are based on observations and real experiences.

The question raised at the beginning of the text builds on an idea from Aristotle's earlier work The Physics
Physics (Aristotle)
The Physics of Aristotle is one of the foundational books of Western science and philosophy...

. Namely, whether things come into being through causes, through some prime material, or whether everything is generated purely through "alteration."

From this important work Aristotle gives us two of his most remembered contributions. First, the Four Causes
Four causes
Four Causes refers to a principle in Aristotelian science that is used to understand change. Aristotle described four different types of causes, or ways in which an object could be explained: "we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause", He argued...

 and also the Four Elements
Four elements
Four elements may refer to:* Classical elements, such as air, fire, earth and water* 4 Elements, an album by Chronic Future* Group 4 element, one of the chemical elements in Group 4 of the periodic table...

 (earth, wind, fire and water). He uses these four elements to provide an explanation for the theories of other Greeks concerning atoms
Atomism
Atomism is a natural philosophy that developed in several ancient traditions. The atomists theorized that the natural world consists of two fundamental parts: indivisible atoms and empty void.According to Aristotle, atoms are indestructible and immutable and there are an infinite variety of shapes...

, an idea Aristotle considered absurd.