previous next
[1065b] [1] and "good" or "bad fortune" when the result is on a large scale.

Since nothing accidental is prior to that which is per se, neither are accidental causes prior. Therefore if chance or spontaneity is the cause of the universe, mind and nature are prior causes.1

A thing may exist only actually or potentially, or actually and potentially; it may be a substance or a quantity or one of the other categories. There is no motion2 apart from things, for change is always in accordance with the categories of Being3; and there is nothing which is common to these and in no one category. Each category belongs to all its members in two ways—e.g. substance, for this is sometimes the form of the thing and sometimes its privation;and as regards quality there is white and black; and as regards quantity, complete and incomplete; and as regards spatial motion there is up and down or light and heavy—so that there are as many forms of motion and change as there are of Being.4

Now since every kind of thing is divided into the potential and the real, I call the actualization of the potential as such,5 motion.That this is a true statement will be clear from what follows. When the "buildable" in the sense in which we call it such exists actually, it is being built; and this is the process of building. The same is true of the processes of learning, healing, walking, [20] jumping, ageing, maturing. Motion results when the complete reality itself exists, and neither sooner nor later.The complete reality, then, of that which exists potentially, when it is completely real and actual, not qua itself but qua movable, is motion. By qua I mean this. The bronze is potentially a statue; but nevertheless the complete reality of the bronze qua bronze is not motion. To be bronze is not the same as to be a particular potentiality; since if it were absolutely the same by definition the complete reality of the bronze would be a kind of motion; but it is not the same.(This is obvious in the case of contraries; for the potentiality for health and the potentiality for illness are not the same—for if they were, health and illness would be the same too—but the substrate which becomes healthy or ill, whether it is moisture or blood, is one and the same.) And since it is not the same, just as "color" and "visible" are not the same, it is the complete reality of the potential qua potential that is motion.It is evident that it is this, and that motion results when the complete reality itself exists, and neither sooner nor later.

1 The argument is stated more fully and clearly in Aristot. Physics 2.6ff.. Chance produces indirectly the effects produced directly by mind; and spontaneity is similarly related to nature. But the indirect cause presupposes the direct. The argument is directed against the Atomists. Cf. Aristot. Phys. 196a 24, Simplicius 327.24, Cicero De Nat. Deor. 1.66 ("nulla cogente natura, sed concursu quodam fortuito").

2 The discussion of motion in this chapter consists of extracts from Aristot. Physics 3.1-3.

3 i.e., change is substantial (generation and destruction); quantitative (increase and decrease); qualitative (alteration); spatial (locomotion). Cf. Aristot. Met. 11.12.1, 2.

4 This is inaccurate; see previous note.

5 What Aristotle means by this is explained more clearly in the following sections, which may be summarized thus. The material substrate, e.g. bricks, etc., which is potentially a house, may be regarded (a) as potential material; in this sense it is actualized as bricks before building begins; (b) as potentially a house; in this sense when it is actualized it is no longer buildable but built, i.e., it is no longer potential; (c) as potentially buildable into a house. In this sense its actualization is conterminous with the process of building, and is incomplete (sect.11), and should not be described as ἐντελέχεια or "complete reality." But Aristotle often uses this term as synonymous with the vaguer ἐνέργεια.

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 (2 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics, 11.1068a
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 1.66
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: