Aristotle, Mechanical Problems

LCL 307: 330-331

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847 a

Θαυμάζεται τῶν μὲν κατὰ φύσιν συμβαινόντων, ὅσων ἀγνοεῖται τὸ αἴτιον, τῶν δὲ παρὰ φύσιν, ὅσα γίνεται διὰ τέχνην πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. ἐν πολλοῖς γὰρ ἡ φύσις ὑπεναντίον πρὸς τὸ 15χρήσιμον ἡμῖν ποιεῖ· ἡ μὲν γὰρ φύσις ἀεὶ τὸν αὐτὸν ἔχει τρόπον καὶ ἁπλῶς, τὸ δὲ χρήσιμον μεταβάλλει πολλαχῶς. ὅταν οὖν δέῃ τι παρὰ φύσιν πρᾶξαι, διὰ τὸ χαλεπὸν ἀπορίαν παρέχει καὶ δεῖται τέχνης. διὸ καὶ καλοῦμεν τῆς τέχνης τὸ πρὸς τὰς τοιαύτας ἀπορίας βοηθοῦν μέρος μηχανήν. 20καθάπερ γὰρ ἐποίησεν Ἀντιφῶν ὁ ποιητής, οὕτω καὶ ἔχει· τέχνῃ γὰρ κρατοῦμεν, ὧν φύσει νικώμεθα. τοιαῦτα δέ ἐστιν ἐν οἷς τά τε ἐλάττονα κρατεῖ τῶν μειζόνων, καὶ τὰ ῥοπὴν ἔχοντα μικρὰν κινεῖ βάρη μεγάλα, καὶ πάντα σχεδὸν ὅσα τῶν προβλημάτων μηχανικὰ προσαγορεύομεν. ἔστι δὲ ταῦτα τοῖς 25φυσικοῖς προβλήμασιν οὔτε ταὐτὰ πάμπαν οὔτε κεχωρισμένα λίαν, ἀλλὰ κοινὰ τῶν τε μαθηματικῶν θεωρημάτων καὶ τῶν φυσικῶν· τὸ μὲν γὰρ ὣς διὰ τῶν μαθηματικῶν δῆλον, τὸ δὲ περὶ ὃ διὰ τῶν φυσικῶν.

847 bΠεριέχεται δὲ τῶν ἀπορουμένων ἐν τῷ γένει τούτῳ τὰ περὶ τὸν μοχλόν. ἄτοπον γὰρ εἶναι δοκεῖ τὸ κινεῖσθαι μέγα βάρος ὑπὸ μικρᾶς ἰσχύος,


Mechanical Problems

Mechanical Problems

Remarkable things occur in accordance with nature, General consideration. the cause of which is unknown, and others occur contrary to nature, which are produced by skill for the benefit of mankind. For in many cases nature produces effects against our advantage; for nature always acts consistently and simply, but our advantage changes in many ways. When, then, we have to produce an effect contrary to nature, we are at a loss, because of the difficulty, and require skill. Therefore we call that part of skill which assists such difficulties, a device. For as the poet Antiphon wrote, this is true: “We by skill gain mastery over things in which we are conquered by nature.” Of this kind are those in which the less master the greater, and things possessing little weight move heavy weights, and all similar devices which we term mechanical problems. These are not altogether identical with physical problems, nor are they entirely separate from them, but they have a share in both mathematical and physical speculations, for the method is demonstrated by mathematics, but the practical application belongs to physics.

Among the problems included in this class are The lever. included those concerned with the lever. For it is strange that a great weight can be moved by a small

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-mechanical_problems.1936