previous next
[1036a] [1] for "circle" is the same as "essence of circle," and "soul" the same as "essence of soul."But when we come to the concrete thing, e.g. this circle—which is a particular individual, either sensible or intelligible (by intelligible circles I mean those of mathematics,1 and by sensible those which are of bronze or wood)—of these individuals there is no definition;we apprehend them by intelligence or perception; and when they have passed from the sphere of actuality it is uncertain whether they exist or not, but they are always spoken of and apprehended by the universal formula. But the matter is in itself unknowable. Some matter is sensible and some intelligible; sensible, such as bronze and wood and all movable matter; intelligible, that which is present in sensible things not qua sensible, e.g. the objects of mathematics.2

We have now discussed the case of the whole and part, and of prior and posterior. But we must answer the question, when we are asked which is prior—the right angle and circle and animal, or that into which they are resolved and of which they are composed, i.e. their parts—by saying that neither is absolutely prior.For if the soul also is the animal or living thing, or the soul of the individual is the individual, and "being a circle" is the circle, and "being a right angle" or the essence of the right angle is the right angle, then we must admit that the whole in one sense is posterior to the part in one sense: [20] e.g. to the parts in the formula and the parts of a particular right angle(since both the material right angle of bronze and the right angle included by individual lines are posterior to their parts), but the immaterial angle is posterior to the parts in the formula, but prior to the parts in the individual. We must not give an unqualified answer. And if the soul is not the animal but something else, even so we must say that some wholes are prior and some are not, as has been stated.

The question naturally presents itself, what sort of parts belong to the form and what sort belong not to it but to the concrete object. Yet if this is not plain it is impossible to define the particular; because the definition refers to the universal and the form. Therefore if it is not clear what kind of parts are material and what kind are not, the formula of the thing will not be clear either.In the case of things which can be seen to be induced in specifically different materials, as, e.g., a circle is in bronze and stone and wood, it seems clear that these things, the bronze and the stone, are in no sense part of the essential substance of the circle, because it is separable from them.As for things which are not visibly separable, there is no reason why the same should not apply to them; e.g., if all the circles that had ever been seen were bronze;

1 i.e., something very similar to the Platonic "intermediates." Cf. Introduction.

2 See Aristot. Met. 13.2, 3.

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: