Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Metaphysics

Previous | Next


infinite in number), so that if there are not-besides perceptible
and mathematical objects-others such as some maintain the Forms to be,
there will be no substance which is one in number, but only in kind,
nor will the first principles of things be determinate in number,
but only in kind:-if then this must be so, the Forms also must
therefore be held to exist. Even if those who support this view do not
express it articulately, still this is what they mean, and they must
be maintaining the Forms just because each of the Forms is a substance
and none is by accident.
But if we are to suppose both that the Forms exist and that the
principles are one in number, not in kind, we have mentioned the
impossible results that necessarily follow.
(13) Closely connected with this is the question whether the
elements exist potentially or in some other manner. If in some other
way, there will be something else prior to the first principles; for
the potency is prior to the actual cause, and it is not necessary
for everything potential to be actual.-But if the elements exist
potentially, it is possible that everything that is should not be. For
even that which is not yet is capable of being; for that which is
not comes to be, but nothing that is incapable of being comes to be.
(12) We must not only raise these questions about the first
principles, but also ask whether they are universal or what we call
individuals. If they are universal, they will not be substances; for
everything that is common indicates not a 'this' but a 'such', but
substance is a 'this'. And if we are to be allowed to lay it down that
a common predicate is a 'this' and a single thing, Socrates will be
several animals-himself and 'man' and 'animal', if each of these
indicates a 'this' and a single thing.
If, then, the principles are universals, these universal.
Therefore if there is to be results follow; if they are not universals
but of knowledge of the principles there must be the nature of
individuals, they will not be other principles prior to them, namely
those knowable; for the knowledge of anything is that are
universally predicated of them.

Book IV

THERE is a science which investigates being as being and the
attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own nature. Now
this is not the same as any of the so-called special sciences; for
none of these others treats universally of being as being. They cut
off a part of being and investigate the attribute of this part; this
is what the mathematical sciences for instance do. Now since we are
seeking the first principles and the highest causes, clearly there
must be some thing to which these belong in virtue of its own
nature. If then those who sought the elements of existing things
were seeking these same principles, it is necessary that the
elements must be elements of being not by accident but just because it
is being. Therefore it is of being as being that we also must grasp
the first causes.


There are many senses in which a thing may be said to 'be', but
all that 'is' is related to one central point, one definite kind of
thing, and is not said to 'be' by a mere ambiguity. Everything which
is healthy is related to health, one thing in the sense that it
preserves health, another in the sense that it produces it, another in
the sense that it is a symptom of health, another because it is
capable of it. And that which is medical is relative to the medical
art, one thing being called medical because it possesses it, another
because it is naturally adapted to it, another because it is a
function of the medical art. And we shall find other words used

Previous | Next
Site Search