previous next
[991a] [1] otherwise what meaning will there be in saying that something exists beside the particulars, i.e. the unity comprising their multiplicity?If the form of the Ideas and of the things which participate in them is the same, they will have something in common (for why should Duality mean one and the same thing in the case of perishable "twos"1 and the "twos" which are many but eternal,2 and not in the case of the Idea of Duality and a particular "two"?); but if the form is not the same, they will simply be homonyms; just as though one were to call both Callias and a piece of wood "man," without remarking any property common to them.3

Above all we might examine the question what on earth the Forms contribute to sensible things, whether eternal or subject to generation and decay; for they are not the cause of any motion or change in them.Again, they are no help towards the knowledge of other things4(for they are not the substance of things, otherwise they would be in things), nor to their existence, since they are not present in the things which partake of them. If they were, it might perhaps seem that they are causes, in the sense in which the admixture of white causes a thing to be white;but this theory, which was first stated by Anaxagoras5 and later by Eudoxus6 and others, is very readily refutable, for it is easy to adduce plenty of impossibilities against such a view. Again, other things are not [20] in any accepted sense derived from the Forms.To say that the Forms are patterns, and that other things participate in them, is to use empty phrases and poetical metaphors; for what is it that fashions things on the model of the Ideas7 Besides, anything may both be and become like something else without being imitated from it; thus a man may become just like Socrates whether Socrates exists or not,and even if Socrates were eternal, clearly the case would be the same. Also there will be several "patterns," and hence Forms, of the same thing; e.g. "animal" and "two-footed" will be patterns of "man," and so too will the Idea of Man.8Further, the Forms will be patterns not only of sensible things but of themselves (e.g. genus in the sense of genus of species), and thus the same thing will be both pattern and copy.9

1 i.e. pairs of sensible objects.

2 i.e. mathematical 2s.

3 The argument of 7-8 is: Ideas are substances. The common name which an idea shares with its particulars must mean the same of both; otherwise "participation" is merely homonymy. But as applied to Ideas it denotes substance; therefore particulars must be substances.

4 This objection, like the next, is chiefly directed against the transcendence of the Ideas. It is anticipated by Plato in Plat. Parm. 134d.

5 Anaxagoras Fr. 12ad fin.

6 See note on Aristot. Met. 12.8.9. Apparently he was a Platonist who regarded the Ideas as immanent in particulars.

7 Plato says "the Demiurgus"?Plat. Tim. 28c, Plat. Tim. 29a.

8 Why this consequence is objectionable is not quite clear. Perhaps it is on the ground that to "account for appearances" in this way is not economical.

9 The species will be the "pattern" of individuals, and the genus of the species.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1924)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: