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[1003a] [1] For the potentiality is prior to the actual cause, and the potential need not necessarily always become actual. On the other hand, if the elements exist potentially, it is possible for nothing to exist; for even that which does not yet exist is capable of existing. That which does not exist may come to be, but nothing which cannot exist comes to be.1

(xi.) Besides the foregoing problems about the first principles we must also raise the question whether they are universal or such as we describe the particulars to be. For if they are universal, there will be no substances; for no common term denotes an individual thing, but a type; and substance is an individual thing.But if the common predicate be hypostatized as an individual thing, Socrates will be several beings: himself, and Man, and Animal—that is, if each predicate denotes one particular thing.These then are the consequences if the principles are universal. If on the other hand they are not universal but like particulars, they will not be knowable; for the knowledge of everything is universal. Hence there will have to be other universally predicated principles prior to the first principles, if there is to be any knowledge of them.2

1 For the relation of potentiality to actuality see Aristot. Met. 9.1-9. The second point raised in this connection in ch. 1 is not discussed here; for actuality and motion see Aristot. Met. 12.6, 7.

2 For the answer to this problem see Aristot. Met. 7.13-15, Aristot. Met. 13.10.

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