Ancient Relativity: Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, and Sceptics

ISBN : 9780198846185

Matthew Duncombe
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
Send mail

Ideas about relativity underlie much ancient Greek philosophy, from Protagorean relativism, to Plato's theory of Forms, Aristotle's category scheme, and relational logic. In Ancient Relativity Matthew Duncombe explores how ancient philosophers, particularly Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Sextus Empiricus, understood the phenomenon and how their theories of relativity affected, and were affected by, their broader philosophical outlooks. He argues that ancient philosophers shared a close-knit family of views referred to as 'constitutive relativity', whereby a relative is not simply linked by a relation but is constituted by it. Plato exploits this view in some key arguments concerning the Forms and the partition of the soul. Aristotle adopts the constitutive view in his discussions of relativity in Categories 7 and the Topics and retains it in Metaphysics Delta 15. Duncombe goes on to examine the role relativity plays in Stoic philosophy, especially Stoic physics and metaphysics, and the way Sextus Empiricus thinks about relativity, which does not appeal to the nature of relatives but rather to how we conceive of things as correlative.


1 Introduction

2 Constitutive Relativity in Plato

3 Relativity and Separation in the Theory of Forms

4 Relativity and Partition in Republic 4

5 Relativity in Categories 7, Topics, and Sophistical Refutations

6 Aristotle on the Distinction Between Substances and Relatives

7 Relativity in Aristotle's Metaphysics 5.15

8 Relativity and Independence in Aristotle's On Ideas

9 Stoic Relativity

10 Relativity in Stoic Physics, Metaphysics, and Ethics

11 Relativity Against Dogmatism in Sextus Empiricus

12 Conclusion

About the author: 

Matthew Duncombe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Durham University and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Groningen. He studied philosophy and Classics at the University of Cambridge. His research interests focus on ancient Greek philosophy, particularly logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.