A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

by

Stephen Hawking

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An Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle believed the earth was stationary and sat at the center of the solar system with the sun and other planets orbiting it. He thought the world and everything in it has always existed, and was made up of earth, wind, fire, and water. He also believed everything was naturally stationary, unless some force propelled it to move, as well as in the idea of absolute time. For the most part, Aristotle represents the follies of unscientific approaches to understanding the universe. Even so, he did work out from pure logic that the earth is round.

Aristotle Quotes in A Brief History of Time

The A Brief History of Time quotes below are all either spoken by Aristotle or refer to Aristotle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of A Brief History of Time published in 1988.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The Greeks even had a third argument that the earth must be round, for why else does one first see the sails of a ship coming over the horizon, and only later see the hull?

Related Characters: Lay People , Aristotle
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Aristotle thought the earth was stationary and that the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars moved in circular orbits about the earth. He believed this because he felt, for mystical reasons, that the earth was the center of the universe, and that circular motion was the most perfect.

Related Characters: Aristotle
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

The Aristotelian tradition also held that one could work out all the laws that govern the universe by pure thought: it was not necessary to check by observation. So no one until Galileo bothered to see whether bodies of different weight did in fact fall at different speeds.

Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Our sun is just an ordinary, average-sized, yellow star, near the inner edge of one of the spiral arms [of a galaxy that is 100,000 light-years across]. We have certainly come a long way since Aristotle and Ptolemy, when we thought that the earth was the center of the universe!

Related Characters: Aristotle
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
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Aristotle Character Timeline in A Brief History of Time

The timeline below shows where the character Aristotle appears in A Brief History of Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Greek philosopher Aristotle gave two good arguments for the earth being a sphere instead of flat. First, a... (full context)
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Yet Aristotle believed the earth was fixed in place at the center of the universe, and all... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
But Greek philosophers, including Aristotle, did not like the idea of a beginning because it sounded like divine intervention. They... (full context)
Chapter 2
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...today about forces and motion dates back to Galileo and Newton. Before them, people believed Aristotle, who said an object was naturally at rest and only moved if a force was... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Aristotle’s teaching also said we could understand the whole universe just by applying logic, so no... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
The main difference between Aristotle's approach and that of Galileo and Newton is the former's idea of the preferred state... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
This means we cannot give an event an exact location in space, contrary to Aristotle's teachings. The two people on the train would not be able to agree on the... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Aristotle and Newton both believed in absolute time, meaning the interval of time between two events... (full context)
Chapter 5
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Aristotle thought the universe was made up of earth and water, which tended to sink (gravity),... (full context)