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Metaphysics   


Book XII
1

The subject of our inquiry is substance; for the principles and
the causes we are seeking are those of substances. For if the universe
is of the nature of a whole, substance is its first part; and if it
coheres merely by virtue of serial succession, on this view also
substance is first, and is succeeded by quality, and then by quantity.
At the same time these latter are not even being in the full sense,
but are qualities and movements of it,-or else even the not-white
and the not-straight would be being; at least we say even these are,
e.g. 'there is a not-white'. Further, none of the categories other
than substance can exist apart. And the early philosophers also in
practice testify to the primacy of substance; for it was of
substance that they sought the principles and elements and causes. The
thinkers of the present day tend to rank universals as substances (for
genera are universals, and these they tend to describe as principles
and substances, owing to the abstract nature of their inquiry); but
the thinkers of old ranked particular things as substances, e.g.
fire and earth, not what is common to both, body.
There are three kinds of substance-one that is sensible (of
which one subdivision is eternal and another is perishable; the latter
is recognized by all men, and includes e.g. plants and animals), of
which we must grasp the elements, whether one or many; and another
that is immovable, and this certain thinkers assert to be capable of
existing apart, some dividing it into two, others identifying the
Forms and the objects of mathematics, and others positing, of these
two, only the objects of mathematics. The former two kinds of
substance are the subject of physics (for they imply movement); but
the third kind belongs to another science, if there is no principle
common to it and to the other kinds.
2

Sensible substance is changeable. Now if change proceeds from
opposites or from intermediates, and not from all opposites (for the
voice is not-white, (but it does not therefore change to white)),
but from the contrary, there must be something underlying which
changes into the contrary state; for the contraries do not change.
Further, something persists, but the contrary does not persist;
there is, then, some third thing besides the contraries, viz. the
matter. Now since changes are of four kinds-either in respect of the
'what' or of the quality or of the quantity or of the place, and
change in respect of 'thisness' is simple generation and
destruction, and change in quantity is increase and diminution, and
change in respect of an affection is alteration, and change of place
is motion, changes will be from given states into those contrary to
them in these several respects. The matter, then, which changes must
be capable of both states. And since that which 'is' has two senses,
we must say that everything changes from that which is potentially
to that which is actually, e.g. from potentially white to actually
white, and similarly in the case of increase and diminution. Therefore
not only can a thing come to be, incidentally, out of that which is
not, but also all things come to be out of that which is, but is
potentially, and is not actually. And this is the 'One' of Anaxagoras;
for instead of 'all things were together'-and the 'Mixture' of
Empedocles and Anaximander and the account given by Democritus-it is
better to say 'all things were together potentially but not actually'.
Therefore these thinkers seem to have had some notion of matter. Now
all things that change have matter, but different matter; and of
eternal things those which are not generable but are movable in
space have matter-not matter for generation, however, but for motion
from one place to another.
One might raise the question from what sort of non-being
generation proceeds; for 'non-being' has three senses. If, then, one

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