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[1050a] [1] presumably the learner too must possess something of the science.At any rate from this argument it is clear that actuality is prior to potentiality in this sense too, i.e. in respect of generation and time.

But it is also prior in substantiality; (a) because things which are posterior in generation are prior in form and substantiality; e.g., adult is prior to child, and man to semen, because the one already possesses the form, but the other does not;and (b) because everything which is generated moves towards a principle, i.e. its end . For the object of a thing is its principle; and generation has as its object the end . And the actuality is the end, and it is for the sake of this that the potentiality is acquired; for animals do not see in order that they may have sight, but have sight in order that they may see.Similarly men possess the art of building in order that they may build, and the power of speculation that they may speculate; they do not speculate in order that they may have the power of speculation—except those who are learning by practice; and they do not really speculate, but only in a limited sense, or about a subject about which they have no desire to speculate.

Further, matter exists potentially, because it may attain to the form; but when it exists actually, it is then in the form. The same applies in all other cases, including those where the end is motion.Hence, just as teachers think that they have achieved their end when they have exhibited their pupil performing, so it is with nature. For if this is not so, [20] it will be another case of "Pauson's Hermes"1; it will be impossible to say whether the knowledge is in the pupil or outside him, as in the case of the Hermes. For the activity is the end, and the actuality is the activity; hence the term "actuality" is derived from "activity," and tends to have the meaning of "complete reality."

Now whereas in some cases the ultimate thing is the use of the faculty, as, e.g., in the case of sight seeing is the ultimate thing, and sight produces nothing else besides this; but in other cases something is produced, e.g. the art of building produces not only the act of building but a house; nevertheless in the one case the use of the faculty is the end, and in the other it is more truly the end than is the potentiality. For the act of building resides in the thing built; i.e., it comes to be and exists simultaneously with the house.

Thus in all cases where the result is something other than the exercise of the faculty, the actuality resides in the thing produced; e.g. the act of building in the thing built, the act of weaving in the thing woven, and so on; and in general the motion resides in the thing moved. But where there is no other result besides the actualization, the actualization resides in the subject; e.g. seeing in the seer, and speculation in the speculator, and life in the soul

1 Probably a "trick" picture of some kind. So Pauson is said to have painted a picture of a horse galloping which when inverted showed the horse rolling on its back. Cf. Aelian, Var. Hist. 14.15; Lucian, Demosth. Enc. 24; Plut. Moralia, 396e; Pfuhl, Malerei und Zeichnung der Griechen, 763.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plutarch, De Pythiae oraculis, 396e
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 14.15
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