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

Previous | Next


continuous by nature,-not by force or by growing into one, for such
a phenomenon is an abnormality.
Since the term 'unity' is used like the term 'being', and the
substance of that which is one is one, and things whose substance is
numerically one are numerically one, evidently neither unity nor being
can be the substance of things, just as being an element or a
principle cannot be the substance, but we ask what, then, the
principle is, that we may reduce the thing to something more knowable.
Now of these concepts 'being' and 'unity' are more substantial than
'principle' or 'element' or 'cause', but not even the former are
substance, since in general nothing that is common is substance; for
substance does not belong to anything but to itself and to that
which has it, of which it is the substance. Further, that which is one
cannot be in many places at the same time, but that which is common is
present in many places at the same time; so that clearly no
universal exists apart from its individuals.
But those who say the Forms exist, in one respect are right, in
giving the Forms separate existence, if they are substances; but in
another respect they are not right, because they say the one over many
is a Form. The reason for their doing this is that they cannot declare
what are the substances of this sort, the imperishable substances
which exist apart from the individual and sensible substances. They
make them, then, the same in kind as the perishable things (for this
kind of substance we know)--'man-himself' and 'horse-itself', adding
to the sensible things the word 'itself'. Yet even if we had not
seen the stars, none the less, I suppose, would they have been eternal
substances apart from those which we knew; so that now also if we do
not know what non-sensible substances there are, yet it is doubtless
necessary that there should he some.-Clearly, then, no universal
term is the name of a substance, and no substance is composed of

Let us state what, i.e. what kind of thing, substance should be
said to be, taking once more another starting-point; for perhaps
from this we shall get a clear view also of that substance which
exists apart from sensible substances. Since, then, substance is a
principle and a cause, let us pursue it from this starting-point.
The 'why' is always sought in this form--'why does one thing attach to
some other?' For to inquire why the musical man is a musical man, is
either to inquire--as we have said why the man is musical, or it is
something else. Now 'why a thing is itself' is a meaningless inquiry
(for (to give meaning to the question 'why') the fact or the existence
of the thing must already be evident-e.g. that the moon is
eclipsed-but the fact that a thing is itself is the single reason
and the single cause to be given in answer to all such questions as
why the man is man, or the musician musical', unless one were to
answer 'because each thing is inseparable from itself, and its being
one just meant this'; this, however, is common to all things and is
a short and easy way with the question). But we can inquire why man is
an animal of such and such a nature. This, then, is plain, that we are
not inquiring why he who is a man is a man. We are inquiring, then,
why something is predicable of something (that it is predicable must
be clear; for if not, the inquiry is an inquiry into nothing). E.g.
why does it thunder? This is the same as 'why is sound produced in the
clouds?' Thus the inquiry is about the predication of one thing of
another. And why are these things, i.e. bricks and stones, a house?
Plainly we are seeking the cause. And this is the essence (to speak
abstractly), which in some cases is the end, e.g. perhaps in the
case of a house or a bed, and in some cases is the first mover; for
this also is a cause. But while the efficient cause is sought in the
case of genesis and destruction, the final cause is sought in the case
of being also.
The object of the inquiry is most easily overlooked where one term

Previous | Next
Site Search