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Metaphysics   


3

The word 'substance' is applied, if not in more senses, still at
least to four main objects; for both the essence and the universal and
the genus, are thought to be the substance of each thing, and fourthly
the substratum. Now the substratum is that of which everything else is
predicated, while it is itself not predicated of anything else. And so
we must first determine the nature of this; for that which underlies a
thing primarily is thought to be in the truest sense its substance.
And in one sense matter is said to be of the nature of substratum,
in another, shape, and in a third, the compound of these. (By the
matter I mean, for instance, the bronze, by the shape the pattern of
its form, and by the compound of these the statue, the concrete
whole.) Therefore if the form is prior to the matter and more real, it
will be prior also to the compound of both, for the same reason.
We have now outlined the nature of substance, showing that it is
that which is not predicated of a stratum, but of which all else is
predicated. But we must not merely state the matter thus; for this
is not enough. The statement itself is obscure, and further, on this
view, matter becomes substance. For if this is not substance, it
baffles us to say what else is. When all else is stripped off
evidently nothing but matter remains. For while the rest are
affections, products, and potencies of bodies, length, breadth, and
depth are quantities and not substances (for a quantity is not a
substance), but the substance is rather that to which these belong
primarily. But when length and breadth and depth are taken away we see
nothing left unless there is something that is bounded by these; so
that to those who consider the question thus matter alone must seem to
be substance. By matter I mean that which in itself is neither a
particular thing nor of a certain quantity nor assigned to any other
of the categories by which being is determined. For there is something
of which each of these is predicated, whose being is different from
that of each of the predicates (for the predicates other than
substance are predicated of substance, while substance is predicated
of matter). Therefore the ultimate substratum is of itself neither a
particular thing nor of a particular quantity nor otherwise positively
characterized; nor yet is it the negations of these, for negations
also will belong to it only by accident.
If we adopt this point of view, then, it follows that matter is
substance. But this is impossible; for both separability and
'thisness' are thought to belong chiefly to substance. And so form and
the compound of form and matter would be thought to be substance,
rather than matter. The substance compounded of both, i.e. of matter
and shape, may be dismissed; for it is posterior and its nature is
obvious. And matter also is in a sense manifest. But we must inquire
into the third kind of substance; for this is the most perplexing.
Some of the sensible substances are generally admitted to be
substances, so that we must look first among these. For it is an
advantage to advance to that which is more knowable. For learning
proceeds for all in this way-through that which is less knowable by
nature to that which is more knowable; and just as in conduct our task
is to start from what is good for each and make what is without
qualification good good for each, so it is our task to start from what
is more knowable to oneself and make what is knowable by nature
knowable to oneself. Now what is knowable and primary for particular
sets of people is often knowable to a very small extent, and has
little or nothing of reality. But yet one must start from that which
is barely knowable but knowable to oneself, and try to know what is
knowable without qualification, passing, as has been said, by way of
those very things which one does know.
4

Since at the start we distinguished the various marks by which
we determine substance, and one of these was thought to be the

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