Things, then, which are called relative of their
own nature are so called, some in these senses, and others because the
classes which contain them are of this kind. E.g., medicine is
reckoned as relative because its genus, science, is thought to be a
there are the properties in virtue of which the things which possess
them are called relative; e.g., "equality" is relative because "the
equal" is relative, and "similarity" because "the similar" is
relative. Other things are accidentally relative; e.g., a man is
relative because he happens to be "double" something else, and
"double" is a relative term; or "white" is relative if the same thing
happens to be white as well as double.
<or "complete"> means: (a) That outside which it is
impossible to find even a single one of its parts; e.g., the complete
time of each thing is that outside which it is impossible to find any
time which is a part of it. (b) That which, in respect of goodness or
excellence, cannot be surpassed in its kind; e.g., a doctor and a
musician are "perfect" when they have no deficiency in respect of the
form of their peculiar excellence.And thus by an extension of the meaning we use
the term in a bad connection, and speak of a "perfect" humbug and a
"perfect" thief; since indeed we call them "good"—
e.g. a "good" thief and a "good"
goodness is a kind of perfection. For each thing, and every substance,
is perfect when, and only when, in respect of the form of its peculiar
excellence, it lacks no particle of its natural magnitude. (d) Things
which have attained their end, if their end is good, are called
"perfect"; for they are perfect in virtue of having attained the
the end is an ultimate thing, we extend the meaning of the term to bad
senses, and speak of perishing "perfectly" or being "perfectly"
destroyed, when the destruction or calamity falls short in no respect
but reaches its extremity. Hence, by an extension of the meaning,
death is called an "end," because they are both ultimate things. And
the ultimate object of action is also an end.
Things, then, which are called "perfect" in themselves are so called
in all these senses; either because in respect of excellence they have
no deficiency and cannot be surpassed, and because no part of them can
be found outside them; or because, in general, they are unsurpassed in
each particular class, and have no part outside.