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Metaphysics   


absolutely prior; of these, the things that are prior in definition do
not coincide with those that are prior in relation to perception.
For in definition universals are prior, in relation to perception
individuals. And in definition also the accident is prior to the
whole, e.g. 'musical' to 'musical man', for the definition cannot
exist as a whole without the part; yet musicalness cannot exist unless
there is some one who is musical.
(3) The attributes of prior things are called prior, e.g.
straightness is prior to smoothness; for one is an attribute of a line
as such, and the other of a surface.
Some things then are called prior and posterior in this sense,
others (4) in respect of nature and substance, i.e. those which can be
without other things, while the others cannot be without them,-a
distinction which Plato used. (If we consider the various senses of
'being', firstly the subject is prior, so that substance is prior;
secondly, according as potency or complete reality is taken into
account, different things are prior, for some things are prior in
respect of potency, others in respect of complete reality, e.g. in
potency the half line is prior to the whole line, and the part to
the whole, and the matter to the concrete substance, but in complete
reality these are posterior; for it is only when the whole has been
dissolved that they will exist in complete reality.) In a sense,
therefore, all things that are called prior and posterior are so
called with reference to this fourth sense; for some things can
exist without others in respect of generation, e.g. the whole
without the parts, and others in respect of dissolution, e.g. the part
without the whole. And the same is true in all other cases.
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'Potency' means (1) a source of movement or change, which is in
another thing than the thing moved or in the same thing qua other;
e.g. the art of building is a potency which is not in the thing built,
while the art of healing, which is a potency, may be in the man
healed, but not in him qua healed. 'Potency' then means the source, in
general, of change or movement in another thing or in the same thing
qua other, and also (2) the source of a thing's being moved by another
thing or by itself qua other. For in virtue of that principle, in
virtue of which a patient suffers anything, we call it 'capable' of
suffering; and this we do sometimes if it suffers anything at all,
sometimes not in respect of everything it suffers, but only if it
suffers a change for the better--(3) The capacity of performing this
well or according to intention; for sometimes we say of those who
merely can walk or speak but not well or not as they intend, that they
cannot speak or walk. So too (4) in the case of passivity--(5) The
states in virtue of which things are absolutely impassive or
unchangeable, or not easily changed for the worse, are called
potencies; for things are broken and crushed and bent and in general
destroyed not by having a potency but by not having one and by lacking
something, and things are impassive with respect to such processes
if they are scarcely and slightly affected by them, because of a
'potency' and because they 'can' do something and are in some positive
state.
'Potency' having this variety of meanings, so too the 'potent'
or 'capable' in one sense will mean that which can begin a movement
(or a change in general, for even that which can bring things to
rest is a 'potent' thing) in another thing or in itself qua other; and
in one sense that over which something else has such a potency; and in
one sense that which has a potency of changing into something, whether
for the worse or for the better (for even that which perishes is
thought to be 'capable' of perishing, for it would not have perished
if it had not been capable of it; but, as a matter of fact, it has a
certain disposition and cause and principle which fits it to suffer
this; sometimes it is thought to be of this sort because it has
something, sometimes because it is deprived of something; but if

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