On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements: (Liber de Causis Proprietatum Elementorum)

On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements: (Liber de Causis Proprietatum Elementorum)

On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements: (Liber de Causis Proprietatum Elementorum)

On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements: (Liber de Causis Proprietatum Elementorum)

Synopsis

Albert the Great’s On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements investigates such diverse natural events as the formation of volcanoes, thermal springs, and mountains among the earth’s topographical features. It examines the moon’s influence on ocean tides and the astronomical events that cause both the Noah flood recounted in the Bible and the regular flooding of the Nile. Albert explores the basic building blocks of the physical world, i.e., the four elements of earth, air, fire and water—and their mixtures that form the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. He studies the position of the earth, which he proves to be round, at the center of a planetary system that extends beyond the seven planets known to medieval astronomers to reach the outermost place of the universe occupied by a Prime Mover.

Excerpt

TRANSLATED BY

IRVEN M. RESNICK

Albert the Great stands out among Scholastic philosophers as one of the only figures to comment upon all of the writings of Aristotle, including the Philosopher’s works on natural science. Among those works, however, Albert had received a number of writings that were ascribed to Aristotle in error but which, nonetheless, had a significant impact upon the development of medieval science. These include the Pseudo-Aristotelian On Plants [De vegetabilibus], as well as the On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements [Liber

1 De vegetabilibus >libri VII, eds. Ernest Meyer and Carl Jessen (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1867; repr. Frankfurt am Main: Minerva, 1982). This text is properly attributed to Nicholas of Damascus.

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