previous next
[1052a] [15] That "one" has several meanings has been already stated1 in our distinction of the various meanings of terms. But although it has a number of senses, the things which are primarily and essentially called one, and not in an accidental sense, may be summarized under four heads:

(1.) That which is continuous, [20] either absolutely or in particular that which is continuous by natural growth and not by contact or ligature; and of these things those are more strictly and in a prior sense one whose motion is more simple and indivisible.

(2.) Of this kind in a still higher degree is that which is a whole and has a definite shape or form, particularly that which is such by nature and not by constraint (like things which are joined by glue or nails or by being tied together), but which contains in itself the cause of its continuity.A thing is of this kind if its motion is one and indivisible in respect of place and time; so that clearly if a thing has as its principle of motion the primary kind of motion (i.e. locomotion) in its primary form (i.e. circular locomotion), it is in the primary sense one spatial magnitude.2

Some things, then, are one in this sense, qua continuous or whole; the other things which are one are those whose formula is one.Such are the things of which the concept is one, i.e. of which the concept is indivisible; and this is indivisible when the object is indivisible (3.) in form or (4.) in number. Now in number the individual is indivisible, and in form that which is indivisible in comprehension and knowledge; so that that which causes the unity of substances must be one in the primary sense.Such, then, in number are the meanings of "one": the naturally continuous, the whole, the individual, and the universal. All these are one because they are indivisible; some in motion, and others in concept or formula.

1 Aristot. Met. 5.6.

2 This description applies to the celestial spheres.

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: