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Darwin-L Message Log 5:131 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:131>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Mon Jan 24 23:24:36 1994

Date: Tue, 25 Jan 1994 00:34:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Aristotle passage on cyclical history
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

In Toulmin and Goodfield's wonderful book _The Discovery of Time_ (highly
recommended for all Darwin-L members) there is a discussion of Aristotle's
cyclical view of history, and a reference to his remark that, in a sense, he
was living both after the Fall of Troy, but also before the Fall of Troy since
all events would come around again eventually.  Can anyone point me to the
specific passage in Aristotle where this remark about Troy occurs?  I have
checked in Gould's _Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle_, but there is no mention of
it there.  Here's the Toulmin and Goodfield paragraph for background:

  Even the rise and fall of civilizations might perhaps conform to the
  same overall rhythm.  In this connection, both Aristotle and Plato toyed
  with an attractive and sweeping hypothesis.  Once every few thousand
  years, the Sun, Moon and planets returned to the same relative positions,
  and began to follow out again the same sequence of configurations; so
  perhaps the rhythm of political fortunes also had its own definite period,
  keeping the recurring cycles of social change in step with the motion of
  the Heavens. If that were so (Aristotle remarked) then he himself was
  living _before_ the Fall of Troy quite as much as _after_ it; since, when
  the wheel of fortune had turned through another cycle, the Trojan War
  would be re-enacted and Troy would fall again.  (_The Discovery of Time_,
  pp. 45-46)

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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