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[984b] [1]

None of those who maintained that the universe is a unity achieved any conception of this type of cause, except perhaps Parmenides1; and him only in so far as he admits, in a sense, not one cause only but two.2But those who recognize more than one entity, e.g. hot and cold, or fire and earth, are better able to give a systematic explanation, because they avail themselves of fire as being of a kinetic nature, and of water, earth, etc., as being the opposite.3

After these thinkers and the discovery of these causes, since they were insufficient to account for the generation of the actual world, men were again compelled (as we have said) by truth itself to investigate the next first principle.For presumably it is unnatural that either fire or earth or any other such element should cause existing things to be or become well and beautifully disposed; or indeed that those thinkers should hold such a view. Nor again was it satisfactory to commit so important a matter to spontaneity and chance.Hence when someone4 said that there is Mind in nature, just as in animals, and that this is the cause of all order and arrangement, he seemed like a sane man in contrast with the haphazard statements of his predecessors.5We know definitely that Anaxagoras adopted this view; but Hermotimus6 [20] of Clazomenae is credited with having stated it earlier. Those thinkers, then, who held this view assumed a principle in things which is the cause of beauty, and the sort of cause by which motion is communicated to things.

It might be inferred that the first person to consider this question was Hesiod, or indeed anyone else who assumed Love or Desire as a first principle in things; e.g. Parmenides. For he says, where he is describing the creation of the universe, “ Love she7 created first of all the gods . . .
Parmenides Fr. 13 (Diels)And Hesiod says,8 “ First of all things was Chaos made, and then/Broad-bosomed Earth . . ./And Love, the foremost of immortal beings,
” thus implying that there must be in the world some cause to move things and combine them.

The question of arranging these thinkers in order of priority may be decided later. Now since it was apparent that nature also contains the opposite of what is good, i.e. not only order and beauty, but disorder and ugliness;

1 Founder of the above; fl. about 475.

2 i.e. in the Δόξα. Parmenides Fr. 8 (Diels); R.P. 121.

3 Aristotle is probably thinking of Empedocles. Cf. Aristot. Met. 4.8.

4 Anaxagoras.

5 Cf. Plat. Phaedo 97b-98b.

6 A semi-mythical person supposed to have been a preincarnation of Pythagoras.

7 Probably Aphrodite (so Simplicius, Plutarch).

8 Hes. Th. 116-20. The quotation is slightly inaccurate.

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