At the Origins of the Concepts of Máthema and Mekhané: Aristotle’s Mekhanikà and Archimedes’ Tropos Mekhanikòs

  • Giuseppe BoscarinoEmail author
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 15)


For Newton, modern science began its trend when it is connected to that tradition of thought of the Greek world, which had had its heart in the close rapport of mechanics, mathematics and philosophy, leaving that other tradition of thought of the Greek world, which had had his heart in the philosophical and epistemological concepts of substantial form and occult quality.

We think it is true that both the mathematic thing, the máthema, and its model, the mekhané, have been blocked from using the epistemological concept of substantial form and occult quality of Platonic-Aristotelian tradition.

In our study we want to investigate the internal aspects, the onto-epistemological ones, in our opinion little investigated by traditional historiography, attentive to external aspects of the concept. For this we compare two patterns of the two traditions: Aristotle’s Mekhanikà, in our opinion, instead, an eclectic written of Platonic-Aristotelian tradition, and Archimedes’ tropos mekhanikòs , in which the concepts of máthema and of mekhané with a clot of onto-epistemological concepts, developed from a tradition of thought with a strong philosophical, cognitive, not merely instrumental and utilitarian mark, come to sublime synthesis.

Only inside a different conception of "theory", of “máthema” and of "mekhané" and only inside a different conception of philosophy that Pappus, in the passage cited of Newton, called "physiology of material elements", could develop what has been then the modern and fruitful conception of máthema and mekhanè.


Substantial Form Internal Aspect Natural Thing Physical Magnitude Theoretical Element 
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© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LiberoSortinoItaly

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