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[983a] [1] it is probable that in this case He would be particularly jealous, and all those who excel in knowledge unfortunate. But it is impossible for the Deity to be jealous (indeed, as the proverb1 says, "poets tell many a lie"), nor must we suppose that any other form of knowledge is more precious than this; for what is most divine is most precious.Now there are two ways only in which it can be divine. A science is divine if it is peculiarly the possession of God, or if it is concerned with divine matters. And this science alone fulfils both these conditions; for (a) all believe that God is one of the causes and a kind of principle, and (b) God is the sole or chief possessor of this sort of knowledge. Accordingly, although all other sciences are more necessary than this, none is more excellent.

The acquisition of this knowledge, however, must in a sense result in something which is the reverse of the outlook with which we first approached the inquiry. All begin, as we have said, by wondering that things should be as they are, e.g. with regard to marionettes, or the solstices, or the incommensurability2 of the diagonal of a square; because it seems wonderful to everyone who has not yet perceived the cause that a thing should not be measurable by the smallest unit.But we must end with the contrary and (according to the proverb)3 the better view, as men do even in these cases when they understand them; [20] for a geometrician would wonder at nothing so much as if the diagonal were to become measurable.

Thus we have stated what is the nature of the science which we are seeking, and what is the object which our search and our whole investigation must attain.

It is clear that we must obtain knowledge of the primary causes, because it is when we think that we understand its primary cause that we claim to know each particular thing. Now there are four recognized kinds of cause. Of these we hold that one is the essence or essential nature of the thing (since the "reason why" of a thing is ultimately reducible to its formula, and the ultimate "reason why" is a cause and principle); another is the matter or substrate; the third is the source of motion; and the fourth is the cause which is opposite to this, namely the purpose or "good";for this is the end of every generative or motive process. We have investigated these sufficiently in the Physics4;

1 Cf. Solon, Fr. 26 (Hiller); Leutsch and Schneidwin, Paroemiographi, 1.371.

2 i.e. the fact that the diagonal of a square cannot be rationally expressed in terms of the side.

3 i.e. δευτέρον ἀμεινόνων("second thoughts are better"). Leutsch and Schneidwin 1.62.

4 Phys. 2.3, Phys. 2.7

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