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[993b] [1] each thinker makes some statement about the natural world, and as an individual contributes little or nothing to the inquiry; but a combination of all conjectures results in something considerable.Thus in so far as it seems that Truth is like the proverbial door which no one can miss,1 in this sense our study will be easy; but the fact that we cannot, although having some grasp of the whole, grasp a particular part, shows its difficulty. However, since difficulty also can be accounted for in two ways, its cause may exist not in the objects of our study but in ourselves:just as it is with bats' eyes in respect of daylight, so it is with our mental intelligence in respect of those things which are by nature most obvious.

It is only fair to be grateful not only to those whose views we can share but also to those who have expressed rather superficial opinions. They too have contributed something; by their preliminary work they have formed our mental experience.If there had been no Timotheus,2 we should not possess much of our music; and if there had been no Phrynis,3 there would have been no Timotheus. It is just the same in the case of those who have theorized about reality: we have derived certain views from some of them, and they in turn were indebted to others.

Moreover, philosophy is rightly called [20] a knowledge of Truth. The object of theoretic knowledge is truth, while that of practical knowledge is action; for even when they are investigating how a thing is so, practical men study not the eternal principle but the relative and immediate application.But we cannot know the truth apart from the cause. Now every thing through which a common quality is communicated to other things is itself of all those things in the highest degree possessed of that quality (e.g. fire is hottest, because it is the cause of heat in everything else); hence that also is most true which causes all subsequent things to be true.Therefore in every case the first principles of things must necessarily be true above everything else—since they are not merely sometimes true, nor is anything the cause of their existence, but they are the cause of the existence of other things,—and so as each thing is in respect of existence, so it is in respect of truth.

1 Leutsch and Schneidewin, Paroemiographi, 2.678.

2 Of Miletus, 446 (?)—357 B.C.

3 Of Mytilene; he is referred to as still alive in Aristoph. Cl. 971. Both Phrynis and Timotheus are criticized in the fragment of Pherecrates Chirontranslated by Rogers in the appendix to his ed. of the Clouds.

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