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

Previous | Next


(b) As regards the 'being' that answers to truth and the
'non-being' that answers to falsity, in one case there is truth if the
subject and the attribute are really combined, and falsity if they are
not combined; in the other case, if the object is existent it exists
in a particular way, and if it does not exist in this way does not
exist at all. And truth means knowing these objects, and falsity
does not exist, nor error, but only ignorance-and not an ignorance
which is like blindness; for blindness is akin to a total absence of
the faculty of thinking.
It is evident also that about unchangeable things there can be
no error in respect of time, if we assume them to be unchangeable.
E.g. if we suppose that the triangle does not change, we shall not
suppose that at one time its angles are equal to two right angles
while at another time they are not (for that would imply change). It
is possible, however, to suppose that one member of such a class has a
certain attribute and another has not; e.g. while we may suppose
that no even number is prime, we may suppose that some are and some
are not. But regarding a numerically single number not even this
form of error is possible; for we cannot in this case suppose that one
instance has an attribute and another has not, but whether our
judgement be true or false, it is implied that the fact is eternal.

Book X

WE have said previously, in our distinction of the various
meanings of words, that 'one' has several meanings; the things that
are directly and of their own nature and not accidentally called one
may be summarized under four heads, though the word is used in more
senses. (1) There is the continuous, either in general, or
especially that which is continuous by nature and not by contact nor
by being together; and of these, that has more unity and is prior,
whose movement is more indivisible and simpler. (2) That which is a
whole and has a certain shape and form is one in a still higher
degree; and especially if a thing is of this sort by nature, and not
by force like the things which are unified by glue or nails or by
being tied together, i.e. if it has in itself the cause of its
continuity. A thing is of this sort because its movement is one and
indivisible in place and time; so that evidently if a thing has by
nature a principle of movement that is of the first kind (i.e. local
movement) and the first in that kind (i.e. circular movement), this is
in the primary sense one extended thing. Some things, then, are one in
this way, qua continuous or whole, and the other things that are one
are those whose definition is one. Of this sort are the things the
thought of which is one, i.e. those the thought of which is
indivisible; and it is indivisible if the thing is indivisible in kind
or in number. (3) In number, then, the individual is indivisible,
and (4) in kind, that which in intelligibility and in knowledge is
indivisible, so that that which causes substances to be one must be
one in the primary sense. 'One', then, has all these meanings-the
naturally continuous and the whole, and the individual and the
universal. And all these are one because in some cases the movement,
in others the thought or the definition is indivisible.
But it must be observed that the questions, what sort of things
are said to be one, and what it is to be one and what is the
definition of it, should not be assumed to be the same. 'One' has
all these meanings, and each of the things to which one of these kinds
of unity belongs will be one; but 'to be one' will sometimes mean
being one of these things, and sometimes being something else which is
even nearer to the meaning of the word 'one' while these other
things approximate to its application. This is also true of
'element' or 'cause', if one had both to specify the things of which
it is predicable and to render the definition of the word. For in a
sense fire is an element (and doubtless also 'the indefinite' or

Previous | Next
Site Search