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Headword: Ψόφος
Adler number: psi,126
Translated headword: sound
Vetting Status: high
Sound [can mean] sound in potentiality and sound in actuality; and some things are capable of producing a sound, others not.[1] Now things able to produce a sound are solid and smooth; the sound in potentiality can be found in them when they are activating [a sound],[1] insofar as they can make a sound. For a sound in potentiality is this: the fitness of what is able to make a sound. And when the things are able to make a sound and produce a sound, that is sound in actuality.[2] And sound is an impact of air generated in such a way.[3] For sound must be produced when the coincidence of two hard bodies and the sudden reciprocal coincidence of smooth bodies occur.[4] Certainly the air that is intercepted among these bodies, in being suddenly squeezed out, makes a sound, since neither the soft bodies (such as sponges and wool) nor the hard bodies[5] produce a sound, but they are gently struck against little by little. For the air partially comes first, in so far as it is broken in pieces. Hence there must be a violent coincidence among the hard bodies in order that a great amount of air is cut off in the midst. And such an air, while being intercepted and suddenly thrust out, produces a sound. For the impact, in coming first, shuts off its way out and suddenly squeezes it out. But the soft bodies do not make a sound, because they are not able to thrust the enclosed air out. For, in being cut up, [the air] comes out through the pores (in fact, the soft bodies are rare). The sound must, to a greater extent, come into being for the things that especially strike on smoothness, since the air, in being cut off to a greater extent, is suddenly squeezed out. But in the things that are not smooth, in the many cavities, [the air] is not cut up and it does not come out suddenly. [Aristotle] also says other things about noise, which we have omitted. 'Capable of producing sound' is what is able to preserve one and a continuous air up to the organ of hearing.[6] And [such an organ] is co-natural with and dwells in the cavities of the ears at the actual eardrum.[7]
Greek Original:
Ψόφος: ὅτι ὁ ψόφος ὁ μὲν δυνάμει, ὁ δὲ ἐνεργείᾳ: καὶ τὰ μὲν δύναται ψοφεῖν, τὰ δὲ οὔ. τὰ μὲν οὖν δυνάμενα ψοφεῖν ἐστι τὰ στερεὰ καὶ λεῖα, ἐν οἷς ἐστιν ὁ δυνάμει ψόφος, ὅταν ἐνεργῇ, καθό ἐστι ψοφητικά: ἡ γὰρ ἐπιτηδειότης τοῦ δύνασθαι ψοφεῖν, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ δυνάμει ψόφος. ὅταν δὲ δυνάμενα ποιῇ, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργείᾳ. ἔστι δὲ ψόφος πληγὴ ἀέρος τοιῶσδε γινομένη: δεῖ γὰρ εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ψόφον δύο σκληρῶν σωμάτων συνεμπτώσεως καὶ λείων σωμάτων ἀθρόαν συνέμπτωσιν πρὸς ἄλληλα γενέσθαι. ἐν γὰρ τούτοις ὁ ἐναπολαμβανόμενος ἀὴρ ἀθρόως ἐκθλιβόμενος ποιεῖ τὸν ψόφον. οὔτε γὰρ τὰ μαλακὰ τῶν σωμάτων ψόφον ποιεῖ, οἷον σπόγγος, ἔρια, οὔτε τὰ σκληρὰ μέν, ἠρέμα δὲ καὶ κατὰ μικρὸν προσκρουόμενα: φθάνει γὰρ κατὰ μέρος οἷον θρυφθῆναι ὁ ἀήρ. διὸ δεῖ τῆς σφοδρᾶς τῶν σκληρῶν σωμάτων συνεμπτώσεως, ἵνα πολὺς ὁ ἀὴρ ἐναποληφθῇ μεταξύ, ὃς ἐναπολαμβανόμενος καὶ ἀθρόως ἐξωθούμενος ποιεῖ τὸν ψόφον: φθάνουσα γὰρ ἡ πληγὴ τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ ἀποκλείει καὶ ἀθρόον ἐκπυρηνίζει. τὰ δὲ μαλακὰ οὐ ψοφεῖ, διότι οὐχ οἷά τέ ἐστιν ἐξωθῆσαι τὸν ἀέρα τὸν ἐναποκλειόμενον: διὰ γὰρ τῶν πόρων [μανὰ γάρ ἐστι τὰ μαλακά] κατακερματισθεὶς ἔξεισι. δεῖ δὲ καὶ λειότητος τοῖς πλήττουσι μάλιστα, πρὸς τὸ πλείονα γενέσθαι τὸν ψόφον, διότι πλέον ἐναπολαμβανόμενος ὁ ἀὴρ ἐκθλίβεται ἀθρόως. ἐν δὲ τοῖς μὴ λείοις κατακερματίζεται ἐν τοῖς κοιλώμασι, πλείοσιν οὖσι, καὶ οὐκ ἀθρόος ἔξεισι. λέγει καὶ ἕτερα περὶ ἠχῆς, ἃ παραλελοίπαμεν. Ψοφητικὸν δέ ἐστι τὸ δυνάμενον ἕνα καὶ συνεχῆ τὸν ἀέρα τηρῆσαι μέχρι τῆς ἀκοῆς. συμφυὴς δέ ἐστι καὶ ἐγκατῳκοδομημένος τοῖς κοιλώμασι τῶν ὠτῶν πρὸς αὐτῇ τῇ μήνιγγι.
Almost the whole of this entry comes from John Philoponus, Commentary on Aristotle's de anima 419b4ff. The first and major section (as far as 'does not come out suddenly') reproduces, with some minor variations, Philoponus 354.21-355.13; and see further below, nn. 6-7.
[1] i.e. when they can make an actual sound (Aristotle, de anima 419b9).
[2] Or 'actual sound'.
[3] See Aristotle, de anima 419b10ff.
[4] i.e. it is impossible for one body only to produce a sound (Aristotle, de anima 419b11). A sound can be produced if and only if there are at least two bodies that are smooth and solid. In fact, if the bodies at issue are bodies such as sponges or wool there is no sound (see what follows in this entry and Aristotle, de anima 419b6-7).
[5] This last clause looks like an unnecessary addition, for, as said a line before, hard bodies can produce a sound.
[6] From Philoponus 363.35-364.1, commenting on Aristotle, de anima 420a3.
[7] From Philoponus 364.11-12.
Keywords: definition; medicine; philosophy; science and technology
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 9 May 2001@17:32:26.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 16 January 2003@07:51:39.
David Whitehead (another keyword; further tweaks and cosmetics; raised status) on 6 November 2013@08:35:31.
David Whitehead (coding) on 30 May 2016@08:42:31.


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