previous next
[997a] [1] comprehension of these principles is no more peculiar to the science which investigates substances than to any other science.Besides, in what sense can there in be a science of these principles? We know already just what each of them is; at any rate other sciences employ them as being known to us.1 If, however there is a demonstrative science of them, there will have to be some underlying genus, and some of the principles will be derived from axioms, and others will be unproved(for there cannot be demonstration of everything), since demonstration must proceed from something, and have some subject matter, and prove something. Thus it follows that there is some one genus of demonstrable things; for all the demonstrative sciences employ axioms.

On the other hand, if the science of substance is distinct from the science of these principles, which is of its own nature the more authoritative and ultimate?The axioms are most universal, and are the first principles of everything. And whose province will it be, if not the philosopher's, to study truth and error with respect to them?2

(3.) And in general, is there one science of all substances, or more than one?3 if there is not one, with what sort of substance must we assume that this science is concerned?On the other hand, it is not probable that there is one science of all substances; for then there would be one demonstrative of all attributes—assuming that every demonstrative science [20] proceeds from accepted beliefs and studies the essential attributes concerned with some definite subject matter.Thus to study the essential attributes connected with the same genus is the province of the same science proceeding from the same beliefs. For the subject matter belongs to one science, and so do the axioms, whether to the same science or to a different one; hence so do the attributes, whether they are studied by these sciences themselves or by one derived from them.4

(v.) Further, is this study concerned only with substances, or with their attributes as well?5 I mean, e.g., if the solid is a kind of substance, and so too lines and planes, is it the province of the same science to investigate both these and their attributes, in every class of objects about which mathematics demonstrates anything, or of a different science?If of the same, then the science of substance too would be in some sense demonstrative; but it does not seem that there is any demonstration of the "what is it?" And if of a different science, what will be the science which studies the attributes of substance? This is a very difficult question to answer.6

(iv.) Further, are we to say that only sensible substances exist, or that others do as well? and is there really only one kind of substance, or more than one

1 sc. and so there can be no science which defines them.

2 For the answer see Aristot. Met. 4.3.

3 Cf. Aristot. Met. 3.1.6.

4 For the answer see Aristot. Met. 4.2.9-10, Aristot. Met. 6.1.

5 Cf. Aristot. Met. 3.1.8-10.

6 This problem, together with the appendix to it stated in Aristot. Met. 3.1.9-10, is answered in Aristot. Met. 4.2.8-25.

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.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (9 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: