Aristotle argued that the natural world is an object of stable and permanent knowledge. The opinion was the minority one: most thought that the knowledge of the world was simply doxa, that is, a falsifiable truth that had no perfect objectivity and therefore no permanence. This absence of perfect objectivity meant that the only knowledge of nature we could have needed to rest on stipulated realities and hypotheses. While Aristotle wrote a lot about nature that was based on doxa, his Physics was thought to contain more permanent truths about nature, since it was supposed to be based on common experience, which was thought to be more or less true and not open to critique by specialized experience. But in turning to the Physics in search of such truths, all one finds is a series of conclusions that are either false or of no value, and by “of no value” I mean the term as Aristotle himself used it: “definitions which do not enable us to discover the derived properties, or which fail to facilitate even a conjecture about them, must obviously be… futile (De anima, I:1)” If the value of definitions is from the power they give us to derive new properties and facilitate conjecture, then we must admit the truth of any number of things that nullify the supposed truth of common experience. For example, it is more valuable to identify rest and motion (as happens in inertia) or magnitude and time (as happens in Relativity). Again, we should affirm that things with no parts can move (Like electrons. The premise is not inconsequential – it grounds Aristotle’s proof for the existence of God) and we should deny that anything in motion needs a subject of notion (a light wave is not some thing waving – like aether) and that, as a consequence to this, magnitude is not the foundation of physical things, that is, a sort of substrate that supports all activity. It goes without saying that we can’t imagine any of these things or visualize what nature must be like if it is like this, but this seems to be the most fruitful way to consider it. This seems to prove that common experience of physical things is really just humanized experience, that is, the subjective conditioning of phenomena common to the human animal. Had we evolved to move at faster speeds or with a body closer to the Planck scale, our common experience of the natural world would be nothing like it is now. The truths that would remain the same would either be taken from mathematics or metaphysics.
And so while Aristotle deserves credit for making the strongest case that there is some permanent knowledge of nature, the project failed, and we have yet to fully mine all the truth that we can get out of its failure.