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Metaphysics   


other such terms about which the dialecticians try to inquire,
starting their investigation from probable premises only,-whose
business is it to inquire into all these? Further, we must discuss the
essential attributes of these themselves; and we must ask not only
what each of these is, but also whether one thing always has one
contrary. Again (6), are the principles and elements of things the
genera, or the parts present in each thing, into which it is
divided; and (7) if they are the genera, are they the genera that
are predicated proximately of the individuals, or the highest
genera, e.g. is animal or man the first principle and the more
independent of the individual instance? And (8) we must inquire and
discuss especially whether there is, besides the matter, any thing
that is a cause in itself or not, and whether this can exist apart
or not, and whether it is one or more in number, and whether there
is something apart from the concrete thing (by the concrete thing I
mean the matter with something already predicated of it), or there
is nothing apart, or there is something in some cases though not in
others, and what sort of cases these are. Again (9) we ask whether the
principles are limited in number or in kind, both those in the
definitions and those in the substratum; and (10) whether the
principles of perishable and of imperishable things are the same or
different; and whether they are all imperishable or those of
perishable things are perishable. Further (11) there is the question
which is hardest of all and most perplexing, whether unity and
being, as the Pythagoreans and Plato said, are not attributes of
something else but the substance of existing things, or this is not
the case, but the substratum is something else,-as Empedocles says,
love; as some one else says, fire; while another says water or air.
Again (12) we ask whether the principles are universal or like
individual things, and (13) whether they exist potentially or
actually, and further, whether they are potential or actual in any
other sense than in reference to movement; for these questions also
would present much difficulty. Further (14), are numbers and lines and
figures and points a kind of substance or not, and if they are
substances are they separate from sensible things or present in
them? With regard to all these matters not only is it hard to get
possession of the truth, but it is not easy even to think out the
difficulties well.
2

(1) First then with regard to what we mentioned first, does it
belong to one or to more sciences to investigate all the kinds of
causes? How could it belong to one science to recognize the principles
if these are not contrary?
Further, there are many things to which not all the principles
pertain. For how can a principle of change or the nature of the good
exist for unchangeable things, since everything that in itself and
by its own nature is good is an end, and a cause in the sense that for
its sake the other things both come to be and are, and since an end or
purpose is the end of some action, and all actions imply change? So in
the case of unchangeable things this principle could not exist, nor
could there be a good itself. This is why in mathematics nothing is
proved by means of this kind of cause, nor is there any
demonstration of this kind-'because it is better, or worse'; indeed no
one even mentions anything of the kind. And so for this reason some of
the Sophists, e.g. Aristippus, used to ridicule mathematics; for in
the arts (he maintained), even in the industrial arts, e.g. in
carpentry and cobbling, the reason always given is 'because it is
better, or worse,' but the mathematical sciences take no account of
goods and evils.
But if there are several sciences of the causes, and a different
science for each different principle, which of these sciences should
be said to be that which we seek, or which of the people who possess
them has the most scientific knowledge of the object in question?

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