previous next
[1075a] [1] The answer is that in some cases the knowledge is the object. In the productive sciences, if we disregard the matter, the substance, i.e. the essence, is the object; but in the speculative sciences the formula or the act of thinking is the object. Therefore since thought and the object of thought are not different in the case of things which contain no matter, they will be the same, and the act of thinking will be one with the object of thought.

There still remains the question whether the object of thought is composite; for if so, thought would change in passing from one part of the whole to another. The answer is that everything which contains no matter is indivisible. Just as the human mind, or rather the mind of composite beings,1 is in a certain space of time2(for it does not possess the good at this or at that moment, but in the course of a certain whole period it attains to the supreme good, which is other than itself), so is absolute self-thought throughout all eternity.

We must also consider in which sense the nature of the universe contains the good or the supreme good; whether as something separate and independent, or as the orderly arrangement of its parts.Probably in both senses, as an army does; for the efficiency of an army consists partly in the order and partly in the general; but chiefly in the latter, because he does not depend upon the order, but the order depends upon him. All things, both fishes and birds and plants, are ordered together in some way, but not in the same way; and the system is not such that there is no relation between one thing and another; there is a definite connection.Everything is ordered together to one end; but the arrangement is like that in a household, where the free persons have the least liberty to act at random, [20] and have all or most of their actions preordained for them, whereas the slaves and animals have little common responsibility and act for the most part at random; for the nature of each class is a principle such as we have described.3 I mean, for example, that everything must at least come to dissolution; and similarly there are other respects in which everything contributes to the good of the whole.

We must not fail to observe how many impossibilities and absurdities are involved by other theories, and what views the more enlightened thinkers hold, and what views entail the fewest difficulties.All thinkers maintain that all things come from contraries; but they are wrong both in saying "all things"4 and in saying that they come from contraries,5 nor do they explain how things in which the contraries really are present come from the contraries; for the contraries cannot act upon each other. For us, however, this problem is satisfactorily solved by the fact that there is a third factor. Other thinkers make one of the two contraries matter; e.g., this is done by those6 who make the Unequal matter for the Equal, or the Many matter for the One.But this also is disposed of in the same way; for the one matter of two contraries is contrary to nothing. Further, on their view everything except Unity itself will partake of evil; for "the Bad"7 is itself one of the elements. The other school8 does not even regard the Good and the Bad as principles; yet the Good is in the truest sense a principle in all things. The former school is right in holding that the Good is a principle, but they do not explain how it is a principle—

1 i.e., beings composed of matter as well as form. Such beings are contrasted with the divine Mind, which is pure form.

2 The meaning of this sentence is shown by the definition of Happiness in Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1098a 16-20. It takes the human mind a lifetime of the highest intellectual activity of which it is capable to attain to happiness; but the divine Mind is always happy. Cf. Aristot. Met. 12.7.9.

3 The free persons correspond to the heavenly bodies, whose movements are fixed by necessity; the servile class to human beings. Each class acts in accordance with its nature, a principle which "produces obedience to duty in the higher creatures, caprice in the lower" ( Ross).

4 Because there is an eternal substance, which is not derived from contraries (Aristot. Met. 12.6.1).

5 Things are derived from a substrate as well (Aristot. Met. 12.2.1).

6 See on Aristot. Met. 14.1.4.

7 The "Bad" was identified with the unequal; cf. Aristot. Met. 1.6.10.

8 See Aristot. Met. 12.7.10

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