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[996b] [1]

On the other hand if there are several sciences of the causes, and a different one for each different principle, which of them shall we consider to be the one which we are seeking, or whom of the masters of these sciences shall we consider to be most learned in the subject which we are investigating?For it is possible for all the kinds of cause to apply to the same object; e.g. in the case of a house the source of motion is the art and the architect; the final cause is the function; the matter is earth and stones, and the form is the definition. Now to judge from our discussion some time ago1 as to which of the sciences should be called Wisdom, there is some case for applying the name to each of them.Inasmuch as Wisdom is the most sovereign and authoritative kind of knowledge, which the other sciences, like slaves, may not contradict, the knowledge of the end and of the Good resembles Wisdom (since everything else is for the sake of the end ); but inasmuch as it has been defined as knowledge of the first principles and of the most knowable, the knowledge of the essence will resemble Wisdom.For while there are many ways of understanding the same thing, we say that the man who recognizes a thing by its being something knows more than he who recognizes it by its not being something; and even in the former case one knows more than another, and most of all he who knows what it is, and not he who knows its size or quality or natural capacity for acting or being acted upon.Further, in all other cases too, even in such as admit of demonstration, [20] we consider that we know a particular thing when we know what it is (e.g. what is the squaring of a rectangle? answer, the finding of a mean proportional to its sides; and similarly in other instances); but in the case of generations and actions and all kinds of change, when we know the source of motion.This is distinct from and opposite to the end . Hence it might be supposed that the study of each of these causes pertained to a different science.2

(2.) Again, with respect to the demonstrative principles as well, it may be disputed whether they too are the objects of one science3 or of several.4By demonstrative I mean the axioms from which all demonstration proceeds, e.g. "everything must be either affirmed or denied," and "it is impossible at once to be and not to be," and all other such premisses. Is there one science both of these principles and of substance, or two distinct sciences? and if there is not one, which of the two should we consider to be the one which we are now seeking?

It is not probable that both subjects belong to one science; for why should the claim to understand these principles be peculiar to geometry rather than to any other science? Then if it pertains equally to any science, and yet cannot pertain to all,

1 Cf. Aristot. Met. 1.2.5-6.

2 See Aristot. Met. 4.1

3 sc. the science which studies the four causes.

4 Cf. Aristot. Met. 3.1.5.

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