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Ptolemy's Philosophy$
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Jacqueline Feke

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179582

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179582.001.0001

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Defining the Sciences

Defining the Sciences

(p.10) 2 Defining the Sciences
Ptolemy's Philosophy

Jacqueline Feke

Princeton University Press

Taking Almagest 1.1 as the starting point of this study, as it functions as an epitome of Ptolemy's general philosophical system, this chapter argues that the metaphysics Ptolemy presents when differentiating the three theoretical sciences—physics, mathematics, and theology—is Aristotelian, though not Aristotle's. They do not derive directly from Aristotle's Metaphysics but from his greater corpus. Ptolemy appropriates aspects of Aristotle's metaphysics and epistemology to construct his own. Ptolemy adapts criteria from Aristotle's broader corpus to distinguish the objects of the sciences and, by extension, the sciences themselves. Whether and how an object is perceptible determines whether it is studied by physics, mathematics, or theology. An imperceptible object, the Prime Mover, is studied by theology, special sensibles are studied by physics, and common sensibles are studied by mathematics.

Keywords:   Almagest 1.1, metaphysics, Aristotle, Aristotelian philosophy, Claudius Ptolemy, epistemology

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