Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Metamorphosis - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. IX.25

Meditation IX.25 - Metamorphosis - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil

Examine into the quality of the form of an object,1 and detach it altogether from its material part,2 and then contemplate it;3 then determine the time, the longest which a thing of this peculiar form is naturally made to endure.4


(1) Marcus frequently refers to Aristotle's four causes (material, efficient, formal and final) as a guide in our examination of nature. The formal cause places a given object within a category of things with similar form or essence.

(2) The material part of an object it its substance.

(3) Contemplating an object once categorized involves applying reason in ways designed to formally develop some understanding of the law or laws at work that cause the object to be. This is very similar to modern scientific method and the development of an hypothesis.

(4) The temporal dimension is obviously important in the study of nature because the changes wrought by time give rise to new forms and new materials. The metamorphosis of all things through dissolution, and eventual chemical reassembly into new forms is itself an overarching theme with moral overtones in Stoicism.

Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing. The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.

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