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[1087a] [1]

On the other hand, if the first principles are universal, either the substances composed of them will be universal too, or there will be a non-substance prior to substance; because the universal is not substance, and the element or first principle is universal; and the element or first principle is prior to that of which it is an element or first principle.All this naturally follows when they compose the Ideas of elements and assert that besides the substances which have the same form there are also Ideas each of which is a separate entity.

But if, as in the case of the phonetic elements, there is no reason why there should not be many A's and B's, and no "A itself" or "B itself" apart from these many, then on this basis there may be any number of similar syllables.

The doctrine that all knowledge is of the universal, and hence that the principles of existing things must also be universal and not separate substances, presents the greatest difficulty of all that we have discussed; there is, however, a sense in which this statement is true, although there is another in which it is not true.Knowledge, like the verb "to know," has two senses, of which one is potential and the other actual. The potentiality being, as matter, universal and indefinite, has a universal and indefinite object; but the actuality is definite and has a definite object, because it is particular and deals with the particular.It is only accidentally that sight sees universal color, [20] because the particular color which it sees is color; and the particular A which the grammarian studies is an A. For if the first principles must be universal, that which is derived from them must also be universal, as in the case of logical proofs1; and if this is so there will be nothing which has a separate existence; i.e. no substance. But it is clear that although in one sense knowledge is universal, in another it is not.

1 "Because ἀπόδειξις" (logical or syllogistic proof) "must be in the first figure (Aristot. An. Post. 1.14), and in that figure universal premises always give a universal conclusion." (Ross.)

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