previous next
[997b] [1] (as they hold who speak of the Forms and the Intermediates, which they maintain to be the objects of the mathematical sciences)?In what sense we Platonists hold the Forms to be both causes and independent substances has been stated1 in our original discussion on this subject. But while they involve difficulty in many respects, not the least absurdity is the doctrine that there are certain entities apart from those in the sensible universe, and that these are the same as sensible things except in that the former are eternal and the latter perishable.2For Platonists say nothing more or less than that there is an absolute Man, and Horse, and Health; in which they closely resemble those who state that there are Gods, but of human form; for as the latter invented nothing more or less than eternal men, so the former simply make the Forms eternal sensibles.

Again, if anyone posits Intermediates distinct from Forms and sensible things, he will have many difficulties;because obviously not only will there be lines apart from both Ideal and sensible lines, but it will be the same with each of the other classes.3 Thus since astronomy is one of the mathematical sciences, there will have to be a heaven besides the sensible heaven, and a sun and moon, and all the other heavenly bodies.But how are we to believe this? Nor is it reasonable that the heaven should be immovable; but that it should move [20] is utterly impossible.4 It is the same with the objects of optics and the mathematical theory of harmony; these too, for the same reasons, cannot exist apart from sensible objects. Because if there are intermediate objects of sense and sensations, clearly there will also be animals intermediate between the Ideal animals and the perishable animals.5

One might also raise the question with respect to what kind of objects we are to look for these sciences. For if we are to take it that the only difference between mensuration and geometry is that the one is concerned with things which we can perceive and the other with things which we cannot, clearly there will be a science parallel to medicine (and to each of the other sciences), intermediate between Ideal medicine and the medicine which we know.Yet how is this possible? for then there would be a class of healthy things apart from those which are sensible and from the Ideally healthy. Nor, at the same time, is it true that mensuration is concerned with sensible and perishable magnitudes; for then it would perish as they do. Nor, again, can astronomy be concerned with sensible magnitudes or with this heaven of ours;

1 Aristot. Met. 1.6.

2 As it stands this is a gross misrepresentation; but Aristotle's objection is probably directed against the conception of Ideas existing independently of their particulars. See Introduction.

3 sc. of objects of mathematical sciences.

4 The reference is to the supposed "intermediate" heaven. A "heaven" (including heavenly bodies) without motion is unthinkable; but a non-sensible heaven can have no motion.

5 If there are "intermediate," i.e. non-sensible, sights and sounds, there must be "intermediate" faculties of sight and hearing, and "intermediate" animals to exercise these faculties; which is absurd.

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