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[1025b] [3]

It is the principles and causes of the things which are that we are seeking; and clearly of the things which are qua being. There is a cause of health and physical fitness; and mathematics has principles and elements and causes; and in general every intellectual science or science which involves intellect deals with causes and principles, more or less exactly or simply considered.But all these sciences single out some existent thing or class, and concern themselves with that; not with Being unqualified, nor qua Being, nor do they give any account of the essence; but starting from it, some making it clear to perception, and others assuming it as a hypothesis, they demonstrate, more or less cogently, the essential attributes of the class with which they are dealing.Hence obviously there is no demonstration of substance or essence from this method of approach, but some other means of exhibiting it. And similarly they say nothing as to whether the class of objects with which they are concerned exists or not; because the demonstration of its essence and that of its existence belong to the same intellectual process.And since physical science also happens to deal with a genus of Being [20] (for it deals with the sort of substance which contains in itself the principle of motion and rest), obviously it is neither a practical nor a productive science.For in the case of things produced the principle of motion (either mind or art or some kind of potency) is in the producer; and in the case of things done the will is the agent—for the thing done and the thing willed are the same. Thus if every intellectual activity is either practical or productive or speculative, physics will be a speculative science; but speculative about that kind of Being which can be moved, and about formulated substance for the most part only qua inseparable from matter.But we must not fail to observe how the essence and the formula exist, since without this our inquiry is ineffectual.

Now of things defined, i.e. of essences, some apply in the sense that "snub" does, and some in the sense that "concave" does. The difference is that "snub" is a combination of form with matter; because the "snub" is a concave nose , whereas concavity is independent of sensible matter. [1026a] [1] Now if all physical terms are used in the same sense as "snub"—e.g. nose, eye, face, flesh, bone, and in general animal; leaf, root, bark, and in general vegetable (for not one of these has a definition without motion; the definition invariably includes matter)—it is clear how we should look for and define the essence in physical things, and why it is the province of the physicist to study even some aspects of the soul, so far as it is not independent of matter.

It is obvious, then, from these considerations, that physics is a form of speculative science. And mathematics is also speculative; but it is not clear at present whether its objects are immutable and separable from matter; it is clear, however, that some branches of mathematics study their objects qua immutable and qua separable from matter. Obviously it is the province of a speculative science to discover whether a thing is eternal and immutable and separable from matter;not, however, of physics (since physics deals with mutable objects) nor of mathematics, but of a science prior to both. For physics deals with things which exist separately but are not immutable; and some branches of mathematics deal with things which are immutable, but presumably not separable, but present in matter; but the primary science treats of things which are both separable and immutable.Now all causes must be eternal, but these especially; since they are the causes of what is visible of things divine. Hence there will be three speculative philosophies: mathematics, physics, and theology— [20] since it is obvious that if the divine is present anywhere, it is present in this kind of entity; and also the most honorable science must deal with the most honorable class of subject.

The speculative sciences, then, are to be preferred to the other sciences, and "theology" to the other speculative sciences. One might indeed raise the question whether the primary philosophy is universal or deals with some one genus or entity; because even the mathematical sciences differ in this respect—geometry and astronomy deal with a particular kind of entity, whereas universal mathematics applies to all kinds alike.Then if there is not some other substance besides those which are naturally composed, physics will be the primary science; but if there is a substance which is immutable, the science which studies this will be prior to physics, and will be primary philosophy, and universal in this sense, that it is primary. And it will be the province of this science to study Being qua Being; what it is, and what the attributes are which belong to it qua Being.

But since the simple term "being" is used in various senses, of which we saw that one was accidental , and another true (not-being being used in the sense of "false"); and since besides these there are the categories, e.g. the "what," quality, quantity, place, time, and any other similar meanings; [1026b] [1] and further besides all these the potential and actual : since the term "being" has various senses, it must first be said of what "is" accidentally, that there can be no speculation about it.This is shown by the fact that no science, whether practical, productive or speculative, concerns itself with it. The man who produces a house does not produce all the attributes which are accidental to the house in its construction; for they are infinite in number. There is no reason why the house so produced should not be agreeable to some, injurious to others, and beneficial to others, and different perhaps from every other existing thing; but the act of building is productive of none of these results.In the same way the geometrician does not study the accidental attributes of his figures, nor whether a triangle is different from a triangle the sum of whose angles is equal to two right angles. And this accords with what we should reasonably expect, because "accident" is only, as it were, a sort of name. Hence in a way Plato1 was not far wrong in making sophistry deal with what is nonexistent;because the sophists discuss the accident more, perhaps, than any other people—whether "cultured" and "grammatical,"2 and "cultured Coriscus" and "Coriscus,"3 are the same or different; and whether everything that is, but has not always been, has come into being, so that if a man who is cultured has become grammatical, [20] he has also, being grammatical, become cultured4; and all other such discussions. Indeed it seems that the accidental is something closely akin to the nonexistent.This is clear too from such considerations as the following: of things which are in other senses there is generation and destruction, but of things which are accidentally there is not.5 Nevertheless we must state further, so far as it is possible, with regard to the accidental, what its nature is and through what cause it exists. At the same time it will doubtless also appear why there is no science of it.

Since, then, there are among existing things some which are invariable and of necessity (not necessity in the sense of compulsion,6 but that by which we mean that it cannot be otherwise7), and some which are not necessarily so, nor always, but usually: this is the principle and this the cause of the accidental. For whatever is neither always nor usually so, we call an accident.E.g., if in the dog-days8 we have storm and cold, we call it an accident; but not if we have stifling and intense heat, because the latter always or usually comes at this time, but not the former. It is accidental for a man to be white (since this is neither always nor usually so), but it is not accidental for him to be an animal. [1027a] [1] It is by accident that a builder restores to health, because it is not a builder but a doctor who naturally does this; but the builder happened accidentally to be a doctor. A confectioner, aiming at producing enjoyment, may produce something health-giving; but not in virtue of his confectioner's art. Hence, we say, it was accidental; and he produces it in a sense, but not in an unqualified sense.For there are potencies which produce other things, but there is no art or determinate potency of accidents, since the cause of things which exist or come to be by accident is also accidental.Hence, since not everything is or comes to be of necessity and always, but most things happen usually, the accidental must exist. E.g., the white man is neither always nor usually cultured; but since this sometimes happens, it must be regarded as accidental. Otherwise, everything must be regarded as of necessity.Therefore the cause of the accidental is the matter, which admits of variation from the usual.

We must take this as our starting-point: Is everything either "always" or "usually"? This is surely impossible. Then besides these alternatives there is something else: the fortuitous and accidental. But again, are things usually so, but nothing always , or are there things which are eternal? These questions must be inquired into later9; [20] but it is clear that there is no science of the accidental—because all scientific knowledge is of that which is always or usually so. How else indeed can one learn it or teach it to another? For a fact must be defined by being so always or usually; e.g., honey-water is usually beneficial in case of fever.But science will not be able to state the exception to the rule: when it is not beneficial—e.g. at the new moon; because that which happens at the new moon also happens either always or usually; but the accidental is contrary to this. We have now explained the nature and cause of the accidental, and that there is no science of it.

It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction10; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will A be, or not? Yes, if B happens; otherwise not. And B will happen if C does.It is clear that in this way, as time is continually subtracted from a limited period, we shall come to the present. [1027b] [1] Accordingly So-and-so will die by disease or violence if he goes out; and this if he gets thirsty; and this if something else happens; and thus we shall come to what is the case now, or to something which has already happened. E.g. "if he is thirsty"; this will happen if he is eating pungent food, and this is either the case or not.Thus of necessity he will either die or not die. And similarly if one jumps over to the past, the principle is the same; for this—I mean that which has just happened—is already present in something. Everything, then, which is to be, will be of necessity; e.g., he who is alive must die—for some stage of the process has been reached already; e.g., the contraries are present in the same body—but whether by disease or violence is not yet determined; it depends upon whether so-and-so happens.Clearly, then, the series goes back to some starting-point, which does not go back to something else. This, therefore, will be the starting-point of the fortuitous, and nothing else is the cause of its generation. But to what sort of starting-point and cause this process of tracing back leads, whether to a material or final or moving cause, is a question for careful consideration.

So much, then, for the accidental sense of "being"; we have defined it sufficiently. As for "being" qua truth, and "not-being" qua falsity, since they depend upon combination and separation, [20] and taken together are concerned with the arrangement of the parts of a contradiction (since the true has affirmation when the subject and predicate are combined, and negation where they are divided; but the false has the contrary arrangement.How it happens that we combine or separate in thought is another question. By "combining or separating in thought" I mean thinking them not as a succession but as a unity11); for "falsity" and "truth" are not in things —the good, for example, being true, and the bad false—but in thought ; and with regard to simple concepts and essences there is no truth or falsity even in thought;—what points we must study in connection with being and not-being in this sense, we must consider later. But since the combination and separation exists in thought and not in things, and this sense of "being" is different from the proper senses (since thought attaches or detaches essence or quality or quantity or some other category), we may dismiss the accidental and real senses12 of "being."For the cause of the one is indeterminate and of the other an affection of thought; [1028a] [1] and both are connected with the remaining genus of "being," and do not indicate any objective reality. Let us therefore dismiss them, and consider the causes and principles of Being itself qua Being. [We have made it clear in our distinction of the number of senses in which each term is used that "being" has several senses.]13

1 Cf. Plat. Soph. 254a.

2 i.e. able to read and write. The sophistic argument is given by Alexander as follows: A is grammatical; therefore grammatical A=A. A is cultured; therefore cultured A=A. Therefore grammatical=cultured, and he who is grammatical must be cultured. But B, though grammatical, is not cultured. Therefore the grammatical is not the same as the cultured.

3 If Coriscus is the same as cultured Coriscus, he is the same as cultured cultured Coriscus, and soad infinitum. Cf. Soph. Elench. 173a 34.

4 If A, being cultured, has become grammatical, then being cultured he is grammatical. Then being grammatical he is cultured. But he has not always, being grammatical, been cultured. So if that which is but has not always been must have come to be, then being grammatical he has become cultured; i.e., he must have been both grammatical before he was cultured and cultured before he was grammatical; which is absurd ( Ross).

5 i.e., the process of becoming or change takes place in the subject—the man , who is accidentally cultured, becomes grammatical, and when the process is complete "the cultured" is accidentally grammatical; but it does not become so.

6 Cf. Aristot. Met. 5.5.2.

7 Aristot. Met. 5.5.3

8 The period from July 3 to August 11, during which the dog-star Sirius rises and sets with the sun.

9 Cf. Aristot. Met. 12.6-8.

10 On the analogy of accidental events; see 2. 5.

11 sc., "or not as a unity but as a succession" (this is separating in thought).

12 i.e., the senses in which the verb "to be" is used to express an accidental or a true relation.

13 This sentence is almost certainly a later and clumsy addition to show the connection with the following book.

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