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Metaphysics   


about the accidental, so that Plato is not far wrong when he says that
the sophist spends his time on non-being.
That a science of the accidental is not even possible will be
evident if we try to see what the accidental really is. We say that
everything either is always and of necessity (necessity not in the
sense of violence, but that which we appeal to in demonstrations),
or is for the most part, or is neither for the most part, nor always
and of necessity, but merely as it chances; e.g. there might be cold
in the dogdays, but this occurs neither always and of necessity, nor
for the most part, though it might happen sometimes. The accidental,
then, is what occurs, but not always nor of necessity, nor for the
most part. Now we have said what the accidental is, and it is
obvious why there is no science of such a thing; for all science is of
that which is always or for the most part, but the accidental is in
neither of these classes.
Evidently there are not causes and principles of the accidental,
of the same kind as there are of the essential; for if there were,
everything would be of necessity. If A is when B is, and B is when C
is, and if C exists not by chance but of necessity, that also of which
C was cause will exist of necessity, down to the last causatum as it
is called (but this was supposed to be accidental). Therefore all
things will be of necessity, and chance and the possibility of a
thing's either occurring or not occurring are removed entirely from
the range of events. And if the cause be supposed not to exist but
to be coming to be, the same results will follow; everything will
occur of necessity. For to-morrow's eclipse will occur if A occurs,
and A if B occurs, and B if C occurs; and in this way if we subtract
time from the limited time between now and to-morrow we shall come
sometime to the already existing condition. Therefore since this
exists, everything after this will occur of necessity, so that all
things occur of necessity.
As to that which 'is' in the sense of being true or of being by
accident, the former depends on a combination in thought and is an
affection of thought (which is the reason why it is the principles,
not of that which 'is' in this sense, but of that which is outside and
can exist apart, that are sought); and the latter is not necessary but
indeterminate (I mean the accidental); and of such a thing the
causes are unordered and indefinite.
Adaptation to an end is found in events that happen by nature or
as the result of thought. It is 'luck' when one of these events
happens by accident. For as a thing may exist, so it may be a cause,
either by its own nature or by accident. Luck is an accidental cause
at work in such events adapted to an end as are usually effected in
accordance with purpose. And so luck and thought are concerned with
the same sphere; for purpose cannot exist without thought. The
causes from which lucky results might happen are indeterminate; and so
luck is obscure to human calculation and is a cause by accident, but
in the unqualified sense a cause of nothing. It is good or bad luck
when the result is good or evil; and prosperity or misfortune when the
scale of the results is large.
Since nothing accidental is prior to the essential, neither are
accidental causes prior. If, then, luck or spontaneity is a cause of
the material universe, reason and nature are causes before it.
9

Some things are only actually, some potentially, some
potentially and actually, what they are, viz. in one case a particular
reality, in another, characterized by a particular quantity, or the
like. There is no movement apart from things; for change is always
according to the categories of being, and there is nothing common to
these and in no one category. But each of the categories belongs to
all its subjects in either of two ways (e.g. 'this-ness'-for one
kind of it is 'positive form', and the other is 'privation'; and as
regards quality one kind is 'white' and the other 'black', and as

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