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

Previous | Next



We must consider also in which of two ways the nature of the
universe contains the good, and the highest good, whether as something
separate and by itself, or as the order of the parts. Probably in both
ways, as an army does; for its good is found both in its order and
in its leader, and more in the latter; for he does not depend on the
order but it depends on him. And all things are ordered together
somehow, but not all alike,-both fishes and fowls and plants; and
the world is not such that one thing has nothing to do with another,
but they are connected. For all are ordered together to one end, but
it is as in a house, where the freemen are least at liberty to act
at random, but all things or most things are already ordained for
them, while the slaves and the animals do little for the common
good, and for the most part live at random; for this is the sort of
principle that constitutes the nature of each. I mean, for instance,
that all must at least come to be dissolved into their elements, and
there are other functions similarly in which all share for the good of
the whole.
We must not fail to observe how many impossible or paradoxical
results confront those who hold different views from our own, and what
are the views of the subtler thinkers, and which views are attended by
fewest difficulties. All make all things out of contraries. But
neither 'all things' nor 'out of contraries' is right; nor do these
thinkers tell us how all the things in which the contraries are
present can be made out of the contraries; for contraries are not
affected by one another. Now for us this difficulty is solved
naturally by the fact that there is a third element. These thinkers
however make one of the two contraries matter; this is done for
instance by those who make the unequal matter for the equal, or the
many matter for the one. But this also is refuted in the same way; for
the one matter which underlies any pair of contraries is contrary to
nothing. Further, all things, except the one, will, on the view we are
criticizing, partake of evil; for the bad itself is one of the two
elements. But the other school does not treat the good and the bad
even as principles; yet in all things the good is in the highest
degree a principle. The school we first mentioned is right in saying
that it is a principle, but how the good is a principle they do not
say-whether as end or as mover or as form.
Empedocles also has a paradoxical view; for he identifies the good
with love, but this is a principle both as mover (for it brings things
together) and as matter (for it is part of the mixture). Now even if
it happens that the same thing is a principle both as matter and as
mover, still the being, at least, of the two is not the same. In which
respect then is love a principle? It is paradoxical also that strife
should be imperishable; the nature of his 'evil' is just strife.
Anaxagoras makes the good a motive principle; for his 'reason'
moves things. But it moves them for an end, which must be something
other than it, except according to our way of stating the case; for,
on our view, the medical art is in a sense health. It is paradoxical
also not to suppose a contrary to the good, i.e. to reason. But all
who speak of the contraries make no use of the contraries, unless we
bring their views into shape. And why some things are perishable and
others imperishable, no one tells us; for they make all existing
things out of the same principles. Further, some make existing
things out of the nonexistent; and others to avoid the necessity of
this make all things one.
Further, why should there always be becoming, and what is the
cause of becoming?-this no one tells us. And those who suppose two
principles must suppose another, a superior principle, and so must
those who believe in the Forms; for why did things come to
participate, or why do they participate, in the Forms? And all other
thinkers are confronted by the necessary consequence that there is
something contrary to Wisdom, i.e. to the highest knowledge; but we

Previous | Next
Site Search