Imágenes de páginas

But, among these, to know all things necessarily belongs to him who in the most eminent degree possesses universal science *. For such a one in a certain respect knows all subjects. But things most eminently universal are nearly most difficult too for man to know. For they are most remote from the senses. But the most accurate of the sciences are those which especially relate to things first. For those sciences which consist from fewer things, are more accurate than those which are denominated from addition; as arithmetic than geometry. But indeed that science is more doctrinal which speculates the causes of things. For those teach others, who about every thing relate the causes. But to know, and to know scientifically for the sake of such knowledge, especially belongs to the science of that which is most eminently the object of scientific knowledge. For he who chooses to know scientifically for the sake of such knowledge, especially chooses that which is most eminently science. But such is the science of that which is moft eminently the object of scientific knowledge. And objects of this kind are things first and causes. For, through and from these, other things are known, but these are not known through things in subjection to them. But the most principal of sciences, and which is more a principle than the science which is in subje&ion, is that which knows on what account every thing is to be done. But this is the good of every thing; and universally that which is beft in every nature. From all therefore that has been said, that name which is the object of our investigation falls into the same science. For it is necessary that this should be speculative of first principles and causes. For the good also, and that for the sake of which a thing sublists, is one among the number of causes.

But that this science is not employed in making, is evident from those who first philosophised. For, both now and at first, men began to philosophise through wonder of: at first indeed admiring such dubious particulars, as were of a more easy solution; but afterwards proceeding in this manner gradually, they began to doubt about things of greater importance, such as concerning

* The science of beings, so far as they are beings, is the most universal science; and he who possesses this science, in a certain respect knows all things : for he sees particulars comprehended in universals, and effects in their causes.

+ As the design therefore of modern philosophy, i. e. the pursuit of matter through her dark and infinite labyrinths; seems rather calculated to excite than to remove wonder, it may be truly said, that philosophy now ends where it formerly began.



the properties participated by the moon, the sun, and the stars, and the generation of the universe. But he who doubts and wonders, is of opinion that he is ignorant; and, on this account, a philosopher in a certain respect is a lover of fables *. For a fable is composed from things wonderful, So that if now and at first men philofophised, in order to fly from ignorance, it is evident that they pursued scientific knowledge for the sake of knowing, and not for the sake of any use. But the truth of this is also testified by that which has happened. For nearly all such things as are necessary being present, and which contribute both to ease and the conduct of life, prudence of this kind began to be investigated. It is evident therefore, that we seek after scientific knowledge for the sake of no other utility than that which arises from itself; and that as we call him a free man who exists for his own fake, and not for the sake of another, so this alone among the sciences is liberal: for this alone fubfifts for its own sake. On this account, too, the porsession of it may justly be considered as not hurnan, For in many respects human nature is servile ; fo that, according to Simonides, divinity alone poffesses this honor; but it is unbecoming that man should only investigate the science which pertains to himself t. But, if the poets say any thing to the purpose, and a divine nature is naturally envious, it is likely that it would especially happen in this particular, and that all those would be unhappy who surpass the rest of mankind. But neither does a divine nature admit of envy; and poets (according to the proverb) speak falsely in many things.

Nor is it proper to think that any other science is more honorable than a science of this kind: For that which is divine is also most honorable. But a thing of this kind will alone sublist twofold. For the science which divinity possesses is especially divine; and this will likewise be the case with the science of things divine 8, if there be such a science. But the science of

* A philosopher may be said to be a lover of fables, becaufe he studies to learn things which, from being unknown, are admirable ; for fables are composed from things admirable and incre. dible.

+ The word uovov is evidently wanting in the original in this place. Instead, therefore, of ανδρα δ' ουκ αξιον μη ζητειν την καθ' αυτον επισημην, we thould read ανδρα δ' ουκ αξιον μη μονον, &c.

I Aristotle has already informed us that the science which is the subject of this work, specu. lates firft principles and causes, and he now further intimates that it is the science of things divine. There are therefore, according to Aristotle, divine principles and causes; and these are the intelligibles which in the twelfth book he places over the starry spheres, and which in reality are no other than those incorporeal causes denominated by Plato ideas.

which we are speaking alone possesses both these prerogatives. For divinity appears to be a cause and a certain principle to all things; and either alone, or in the most eminent degree, divinity possesses such a science as this. All other sciences therefore are more necessary, but no one is better than this. But it is requisite in a certain respect to establish this science in an order contrary to that of the inquiries which men made from the beginning. For all men, as we have said, begin from wonder to investigate the manner in which a thing subsists; just as it happens to those, who have not yet contemplated the cause of those wonderful figures that move spontaneously, or the cause of the revolutions of the sun, or the reason of the incommensurability of the diameter of a square to the side. For it seems admirable to all men, that a thing which is not the least of things, should not be measured. But it is requisite they should end in the contrary, and in that which is better, according to the proverb, as is the cale in these things when they learn them. For there is not any thing which would appear more wonderful to a geometrician, than if the diameter should become commensurable to the side. And thus we have declared what the nature is of that science which is the object of our investigation, and what the mark to which the inquiry and the whole method ought to be directed.

[blocks in formation]

But, since it is evident that it is requisite to consider the science of causes from its principle (for we then say that each particular is known when we know the first cause of it), and causes are said to subsist in a fourfold respect, one of which we assert to be essence *, and the subsisting as a certain particuJar thing (for the inquiry, On what account a thing exists, is referred to the last reason t) and cause and principle form the first why: but a second cause is matter; and that which subsists as a subject: a third is that whence the beginning of motion is derived: but the fourth is the cause opposite to this, that for the sake of which a thing subfifts, and the good (for this is the end of all generation). This being the case, though we have speculated

* By essence here Aristotle means form; for every thing is that which it is through form, Hence things defined are defined through this. + That is, to definition, but this is the formal cause.

sufficiently sufficiently concerning these causes in our Physics, yet, at the same time, we Thall take along with us in our inquiry those who prior to us have engaged in the speculation of beings, and have philosophised about truth. For it is evident that they also assert that there are certain principles and causes. A repetition, therefore, of what they have said will be of advantage to the present discussion. For, either we shall find another genus of cause, or we shall more firmly believe those we have just now enumerated.

The greater part then of those that first philosophised were of opinion that the principles of all things alone subsisted in the species of matter. For that from which all things subsist, from which they are first generated, and into which they are finally corrupted, the essence indeed remaining but becoming changed by participations, this, say they, is the element, and this is the principle, of things. Hence they were of opinion that neither is any thing generated nor corrupted, because this nature is always preserved. Just as we say that Socrates is neither simply generated, when he becomes beautiful, or a musician, nor is corrupted when he loses these habits, because the subject, Socrates himself, remains; in like manner, neither is any one of other things, either generated, or corrupted. For it is requisite there should be a certain nature, either one, or more than one, from which other things are generated while it is itself preserved.

But with respect to the multitude and form of this principle, all philosophers do not assert the same. For Thales indeed, who was the leader of this philosophy, said that this principle is water. On this account he asserted that the earth is placed upon water, entertaining perhaps this opinion from seeing that the nutriment of all things was moist, that the hot it was generated from this, and that from this animals lived. But that from which any thing is generated is the principle of that thing. On this account, therefore, he formed this opinion, and because the seeds of all things have a moist

But water is the principle of nature to things moist. But there are some who think that men of the greatest antiquity, who flourished long before the present generation, and who first theologized *, entertained the very sáme opinion respecting nature. For they made Ocean t and Tethys the parents of generation, and the solemn oath of the gods water, which is called


• Aristotle here doubtless means Orpheus, Homer, and Heliod.

† By Ocean the antient theologists signified the divine cause of all motion, and by Tethys the cause which separates all the different kinds of motion from each other,

« AnteriorContinuar »