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More massive objects will fall faster than lighter objects?

  1. Sep 26, 2005 #1
    Was it Aristotle who said that more massive objects will fall faster than lighter objects? This leads me to wonder: why didn't he just experiment with this idea to see that he was wrong? :confused:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2005 #2
    Yes, it was Aristotle. He didn't do experiments. He just wrote what he thought was true.
     
  4. Sep 26, 2005 #3
    And yet call him an "empiricist" :rolleyes:
     
  5. Sep 26, 2005 #4

    honestrosewater

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    How does Aristotle differ from modern theoretical physicists?
     
  6. Sep 26, 2005 #5

    loseyourname

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    I could think of about a hundred thousand different ways.

    Regarding the original post, though, he probably did experiment. Not in any controlled way, mind you, but he probably observed that rocks fall faster than paper and made an inference. Unfortunately, it would be many years before anybody developed a system of inductive logic or scientific method that would make his error obvious. The one that always gets me is his claim that a revolving object, when let out of its revolution, will fly off along a path perpendicular to a tangent line to its circle of revolution. Wasn't discus a popular sport amongst the Greeks? Did he honestly never notice that the discs actually fly off on the tangent?
     
  7. Sep 26, 2005 #6
    I hate Aristotle.
     
  8. Sep 26, 2005 #7

    honestrosewater

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    For instance?? He was operating under a different paradigm? Telescopes hadn't been invented yet? No stopwatches or cameras? Did he accept the four elements (fire, air, water, earth) thing?

    He did use logic to explain observations. Don't theoretical physicists still do that?
     
  9. Sep 26, 2005 #8

    russ_watters

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    Aristotle observed the world around him, but he didn't perform experiments. He also relied more heavily on his logic than on observations. He once reasoned that a fly should have 4 legs like a table, and never bothered to look at one to see if his reasoning led to a correct answer.

    The worship of Aristotle is largely responsible for holding back scientific advancement until the scientific revolution.
     
  10. Sep 26, 2005 #9

    honestrosewater

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    Great, I don't like blind devotion any more than I like blind contempt. I'm just trying to avoid, as much as possible, an inaccurate picture of him.

    He did things that ended up - not by his actions alone - hurting modern science. Is there any reason to think that he did so intentionally, maliciously? If it was an honest mistake, have we learned the lesson?
    Did he do anything that ended up helping modern science? Trying to construct a logically consistent model of the physical world - is that not something he did that helped modern science? Are people still doing the same thing?

    He was a teacher - can anyone else at least give him that?
     
  11. Sep 26, 2005 #10

    PerennialII

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    So did his philosophy run itself to a dead end which caused the stagnation or was the worship the problem? I'd be arguing in favor of the latter, since although Aristotle's philosophy has its flaws (compared to modern that is) and structures which can be interpreted to hinder further progress, don't see them to be the real obstacles here. Misplaced respect and worship, on the other hand, are.
     
  12. Sep 26, 2005 #11

    arildno

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    I've read excerpts of Aristotle concerning the evolution of a chicken within the egg.
    From these, it is obvious that Aristotle performed observations (by opening the egg at different times) and in this manner was an empiricist.

    I haven't read any excerpts of Aristotle that can be likened to what it is said he said about physics. If anyone knows where to look in his works, please inform me.
     
  13. Sep 26, 2005 #12
    You could say that about many people. I wouldn't blame Aristotle any more than I'd blame Newton.
     
  14. Sep 26, 2005 #13

    PerennialII

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    Physica (Physics) and De Caelo (On the Heavens) as far as I'm aware contain his physics related contributions. For general info probably better to read it from some compilation or so, at least for myself tough pointing out specific sections out of those. Sure they are far more imaginative what comes to the actual physics in them and influenced (very) heavily by the religious aspects, but somehow don't consider that really surprising (+ the "Platonic/Greek like scientific method"). Got to start doing physics somewhere though, and although his mechanics for one don't comply with Newton, Galileo etc at all it's still an attempt to formulate general understandings of physics.
     
  15. Sep 26, 2005 #14

    selfAdjoint

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    Several times in this thread the statement is made, "Aristotle did not do experiments". Taken literally, this is wrong. He did not do physics experiemnts, or at least he never wrote them up that we know, but he did biological dissections and was a careful observer of maritime life as he had access to it. His law of falling bodies is true under water!
     
  16. Sep 26, 2005 #15
    You're right. Hmmm, it must've been a typo. Damn! If only we'd discovered that 2400 years earlier! Gah!
     
  17. Sep 26, 2005 #16

    jma2001

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    Aristotle's science was mostly rubbish, but his writings on ethics, politics, and poetics were, and are, brilliant. I'm afraid a lot of people hear examples of his bad science and dismiss him without recognizing the value of his purely philosophical works.

    I would make a comparison between Aristotle and Ptolemy. Both wrote influential scientific works that have been largely discredited in modern times. Yet, Aristotle is still being read while Ptolemy is forgotten. Why? Because of the quality of his philosophical works. No one reads Aristotle for his science, they read him for his philosophy.
     
  18. Sep 26, 2005 #17

    Tom Mattson

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    Whatever damage his philosophy did to scientific progress, Aristotle is to logic what Euclid is to geometry.
     
  19. Sep 26, 2005 #18

    honestrosewater

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    Well, I don't know much about his work in science; I know him from philosophy and logic (and am quite fond of him too). I started browsing through Physics today, and so far he seems to spend most of his time refuting other people's arguments. I want to search around for the best translation before reading more. If he was wrong, I'd still like to know why - it looks like there are some good lessons and arguments in there.

    I already have a question. He argues (I think) that the 'void' is impossible, i.e., cannot exist. Today, if a theory predicts that something is impossible or cannot exists and this thing is not already known to exist, do scientists go looking for it? Does anyone have examples? (I'm familiar with the idea of falsification - I'm asking specifically about looking for something that is predicted to not exist or be impossible.)
     
  20. Sep 26, 2005 #19
    In the case of g, scientists have indeed gone looking for the thing that was posited not to exist.
    amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0275961036

    [​IMG]

    Ditto for race.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2005
  21. Sep 26, 2005 #20

    russ_watters

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    I'm not blaming Aristotle, (though I'm not a big fan), I'm blaming those who worshiped him.
     
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