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Works by Aristotle
Pages of Metaphysics

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There are, both among those who have these convictions and among
those who merely profess these views, some who raise a difficulty by
asking, who is to be the judge of the healthy man, and in general
who is likely to judge rightly on each class of questions. But such
inquiries are like puzzling over the question whether we are now
asleep or awake. And all such questions have the same meaning. These
people demand that a reason shall be given for everything; for they
seek a starting-point, and they seek to get this by demonstration,
while it is obvious from their actions that they have no conviction.
But their mistake is what we have stated it to be; they seek a
reason for things for which no reason can be given; for the
starting-point of demonstration is not demonstration.
These, then, might be easily persuaded of this truth, for it is
not difficult to grasp; but those who seek merely compulsion in
argument seek what is impossible; for they demand to be allowed to
contradict themselves-a claim which contradicts itself from the very
first.-But if not all things are relative, but some are self-existent,
not everything that appears will be true; for that which appears is
apparent to some one; so that he who says all things that appear are
true, makes all things relative. And, therefore, those who ask for
an irresistible argument, and at the same time demand to be called
to account for their views, must guard themselves by saying that the
truth is not that what appears exists, but that what appears exists
for him to whom it appears, and when, and to the sense to which, and
under the conditions under which it appears. And if they give an
account of their view, but do not give it in this way, they will
soon find themselves contradicting themselves. For it is possible that
the same thing may appear to be honey to the sight, but not to the
taste, and that, since we have two eyes, things may not appear the
same to each, if their sight is unlike. For to those who for the
reasons named some time ago say that what appears is true, and
therefore that all things are alike false and true, for things do
not appear either the same to all men or always the same to the same
man, but often have contrary appearances at the same time (for touch
says there are two objects when we cross our fingers, while sight says
there is one)-to these we shall say 'yes, but not to the same sense
and in the same part of it and under the same conditions and at the
same time', so that what appears will be with these qualifications
true. But perhaps for this reason those who argue thus not because
they feel a difficulty but for the sake of argument, should say that
this is not true, but true for this man. And as has been said
before, they must make everything relative-relative to opinion and
perception, so that nothing either has come to be or will be without
some one's first thinking so. But if things have come to be or will
be, evidently not all things will be relative to opinion.-Again, if
a thing is one, it is in relation to one thing or to a definite number
of things; and if the same thing is both half and equal, it is not
to the double that the equal is correlative. If, then, in relation
to that which thinks, man and that which is thought are the same,
man will not be that which thinks, but only that which is thought. And
if each thing is to be relative to that which thinks, that which
thinks will be relative to an infinity of specifically different
Let this, then, suffice to show (1) that the most indisputable
of all beliefs is that contradictory statements are not at the same
time true, and (2) what consequences follow from the assertion that
they are, and (3) why people do assert this. Now since it is
impossible that contradictories should be at the same time true of the
same thing, obviously contraries also cannot belong at the same time
to the same thing. For of contraries, one is a privation no less
than it is a contrary-and a privation of the essential nature; and
privation is the denial of a predicate to a determinate genus. If,
then, it is impossible to affirm and deny truly at the same time, it
is also impossible that contraries should belong to a subject at the

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