Aristotle, Mathematical Works

LCL 335: 420-421

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Greek Mathematics

λάβῃ ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ μεγεθῶν μόνον, τῷ δ᾿ ἀριθμητικῷ ἐπ᾿ ἀριθμῶν.

Ἔστι δ᾿ ἴδια μὲν καὶ ἃ λαμβάνεται εἶναι, περὶ ἃ ἡ ἐπιστήμη θεωρεῖ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα καθ᾿ αὑτά, οἷον μονάδας ἡ ἀριθμητική, ἡ δὲ γεωμετρία σημεῖα καὶ γραμμάς. ταῦτα γὰρ λαμβάνουσι τὸ εἶναι καὶ τοδὶ εἶναι. τὰ δὲ τούτων πάθη καθ᾿ αὑτά, τί μὲν σημαίνει ἕκαστον, λαμβάνουσιν, οἷον ἡ μὲν ἀριθμητικὴ τί περιττὸν ἢ ἄρτιον ἢ τετράγωνον ἢ κύβος, ἡ δὲ γεωμετρία τί τὸ ἄλογον ἢ τὸ κεκλάσθαι ἢ νεύειν, ὅτι δ᾿ ἔστι, δεικνύουσι διά τε τῶν κοινῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀποδεδειγμένων. καὶ ἡ ἀστρολογία ὡσαύτως. πᾶσα γὰρ ἀποδεικτικὴ ἐπιστήμη περὶ τρία ἐστίν, ὅσα τε εἶναι τίθεται (ταῦτα δ᾿ ἐστὶ τὸ γένος, οὗ τῶν καθ᾿ αὑτὰ παθημάτων ἐστὶ θεωρητική), καὶ τὰ κοινὰ λεγόμενα ἀξιώματα, ἐξ ὧν πρώτων ἀποδείκνυσι, καὶ τρίτον τὰ πάθη, ὧν τί σημαίνει ἕκαστον λαμβάνει. ἐνίας μέντοι ἐπιστήμας οὐδὲν κωλύει ἔνια τούτων παρορᾶν, οἷον τὸ γένος μὴ ὑποτίθεσθαι εἶναι, ἂν ᾖ φανερὸν ὅτι ἔστιν (οὐ γὰρ ὁμοίως δῆλον ὅτι ἀριθμός ἐστι καὶ ὅτι ψυχρὸν καὶ θερμόν), καὶ τὰ πάθη μὴ λαμβάνειν τί σημαίνει, ἂν ᾖ δῆλα· ὥσπερ οὐδὲ τὰ κοινὰ οὐ λαμβάνει τί σημαίνει τὸ ἴσα ἀπὸ ἴσων ἀφελεῖν, ὅτι γνώριμον. ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ἧττον τῇ γε φύσει τρία ταῦτά ἐστι, περὶ ὅ τε δείκνυσι καὶ ἃ δείκνυσι καὶ ἐξ ὧν.

Οὐκ ἔστι δ᾿ ὑπόθεσις οὐδ᾿ αἴτημα, ὃ ἀνάγκη


Greek Mathematics

applied generally but only to magnitudes, or by the arithmetician only to numbers.

Also peculiar to a science are the first principles whose existence it assumes and whose essential attributes it investigates, for example, in arithmetic units, in geometry points and lines. Both their existence and their meaning are assumed. But of their essential attributes, only the meaning is assumed. For example, arithmetic assumes the meaning of odd and even, square and cube, geometry that of irrational or inflection or verging,a but their existence is proved from the common first principles and propositions already demonstrated. Astronomy proceeds in the same way. For indeed every demonstrative science has three elements: (1) that which it posits (the genus whose essential attributes it examines); (2) the so-called common axioms, which are the primary premisses in its demonstrations; (3) the essential attributes, whose meaning it assumes. There is nothing to prevent some sciences passing over some of these elements; for example, the genus may not be posited if it is obvious (the existence of number, for instance, and the existence of hot and cold are not similarly evident); or the meaning of the essential attributes might be omitted if that were clear. In the case of the common axioms, the meaning of taking equals from equals is not expressly assumed, being well known. Nevertheless in the nature of the case there are these three elements, that about which the demonstration takes place, that which is demonstrated and those premisses by which the demonstration is made.

That which necessarily exists from its very nature and which we must necessarily believe is neither

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-mathematical_works.1939