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

Previous | Next


in digging a hole for a plant has found treasure. This-the finding
of treasure-is for the man who dug the hole an accident; for neither
does the one come of necessity from the other or after the other, nor,
if a man plants, does he usually find treasure. And a musical man
might be pale; but since this does not happen of necessity nor
usually, we call it an accident. Therefore since there are
attributes and they attach to subjects, and some of them attach to
these only in a particular place and at a particular time, whatever
attaches to a subject, but not because it was this subject, or the
time this time, or the place this place, will be an accident.
Therefore, too, there is no definite cause for an accident, but a
chance cause, i.e. an indefinite one. Going to Aegina was an
accident for a man, if he went not in order to get there, but
because he was carried out of his way by a storm or captured by
pirates. The accident has happened or exists,-not in virtue of the
subject's nature, however, but of something else; for the storm was
the cause of his coming to a place for which he was not sailing, and
this was Aegina.
'Accident' has also (2) another meaning, i.e. all that attaches to
each thing in virtue of itself but is not in its essence, as having
its angles equal to two right angles attaches to the triangle. And
accidents of this sort may be eternal, but no accident of the other
sort is. This is explained elsewhere.

Book VI

WE are seeking the principles and the causes of the things that
are, and obviously of them qua being. For, while there is a cause of
health and of good condition, and the objects of mathematics have
first principles and elements and causes, and in general every science
which is ratiocinative or at all involves reasoning deals with
causes and principles, more or less precise, all these sciences mark
off some particular being-some genus, and inquire into this, but not
into being simply nor qua being, nor do they offer any discussion of
the essence of the things of which they treat; but starting from the
essence-some making it plain to the senses, others assuming it as a
hypothesis-they then demonstrate, more or less cogently, the essential
attributes of the genus with which they deal. It is obvious,
therefore, that such an induction yields no demonstration of substance
or of the essence, but some other way of exhibiting it. And
similarly the sciences omit the question whether the genus with
which they deal exists or does not exist, because it belongs to the
same kind of thinking to show what it is and that it is.
And since natural science, like other sciences, is in fact about
one class of being, i.e. to that sort of substance which has the
principle of its movement and rest present in itself, evidently it
is neither practical nor productive. For in the case of things made
the principle is in the maker-it is either reason or art or some
faculty, while in the case of things done it is in the doer-viz. will,
for that which is done and that which is willed are the same.
Therefore, if all thought is either practical or productive or
theoretical, physics must be a theoretical science, but it will
theorize about such being as admits of being moved, and about
substance-as-defined for the most part only as not separable from
matter. Now, we must not fail to notice the mode of being of the
essence and of its definition, for, without this, inquiry is but idle.
Of things defined, i.e. of 'whats', some are like 'snub', and some
like 'concave'. And these differ because 'snub' is bound up with
matter (for what is snub is a concave nose), while concavity is
independent of perceptible matter. If then all natural things are a
analogous to the snub in their nature; e.g. nose, eye, face, flesh,
bone, and, in general, animal; leaf, root, bark, and, in general,
plant (for none of these can be defined without reference to

Previous | Next
Site Search