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[1041a] [1] none the less there would be eternal substances besides those which we knew; and so in the present case even if we cannot apprehend what they are, still there must be eternal substances of some kind.

It is clear, then, both that no universal term is substance and that no substance is composed of substances.

As for what and what sort of thing we mean by substance, let us explain this by making, as it were, another fresh start. Perhaps in this way we shall also obtain some light upon that kind of substance which exists in separation from sensible substances. Since, then, substance is a kind of principle and cause, we had better pursue our inquiry from this point.

Now when we ask why a thing is, it is always in the sense "why does A belong to B?"To ask why the cultured man is a cultured man is to ask either, as we have said, why the man is cultured, or something else. Now to ask why a thing is itself is no question; because when we ask the reason of a thing the fact must first be evident; e.g., that the moon suffers eclipse;and "because it is itself" is the one explanation and reason which applies to all questions such as "why is man man?" or "why is the cultured person cultured?" (unless one were to say that each thing is indivisible from itself, and that this is what "being one" really means); [20] but this, besides being a general answer, is a summary one.1 We may, however, ask why a man is an animal of such-and-such a kind.It is clear, then, that we are not asking why he who is a man is a man; therefore we are asking why A, which is predicated of B, belongs to B. (The fact that A does belong to B must be evident, for if this is not so, the question is pointless.) E.g., "Why does it thunder?" means "why is a noise produced in the clouds?" for the true form of the question is one thing predicated in this way of another.Or again, "why are these things, e.g. bricks and stones, a house?" Clearly then we are inquiring for the cause (i.e., to speak abstractly, the essence); which is in the case of some things, e.g. house or bed, the end , and in others the prime mover—for this also is a cause. We look for the latter kind of cause in the case of generation and destruction, but for the former also in the case of existence.

What we are now looking for is most obscure when one term is not predicated of another;

1 The argument is: The question "Why is the cultured man a cultured man?" if it does not mean "Why is the man cultured?" can only mean "Why is a thing itself?" But when we ask a question the fact must be obvious; and since it is obvious that a thing is itself, "because it is itself" (or "because each thing is indivisible from itself") is the one and only complete answer to all questions of this type. Since this answer (in either form) is clearly unsatisfactory, the question which it answers cannot be a proper question.

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