Aristotle, Metaphysics

LCL 287: 256-257

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Aristotle

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1087 a I. Περὶ μὲν οὖν τῆς οὐσίας ταύτης εἰρήσθω 30 τοσαῦτα, πάντες δὲ ποιοῦσι τὰς ἀρχὰς ἐναντίας, ὥσπερ ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς, καὶ περὶ τὰς ἀκινήτους οὐσίας ὁμοίως. εἰ δὲ τῆς τῶν ἁπάντων ἀρχῆς μὴ ἐνδέχεται πρότερόν τι εἶναι, ἀδύνατον ἂν εἴη τὴν ἀρχὴν ἕτερόν τι οὖσαν εἶναι ἀρχήν, οἷον εἴ τις λέγοι τὸ λευκὸν ἀρχὴν εἶναι οὐχ ᾗ ἕτερον ἀλλ᾿ ᾗ 35 λευκόν, εἶναι μέντοι καθ᾿ ὑποκειμένου, καὶ ἕτερόν τι ὂν λευκὸν εἶναι· ἐκεῖνο γὰρ πρότερον ἔσται. ἀλλὰ μὴν γίγνεται πάντα ἐξ ἐναντίων ὡς ὑποκειμένου τινός· ἀνάγκη ἄρα μάλιστα ἐν τοῖς ἐναντίοις 1087 bτοῦθ᾿ ὑπάρχειν. ἀεὶ ἄρα πάντα τὰ ἐναντία καθ᾿ ὑποκειμένου, καὶ οὐθὲν χωριστόν· ἀλλ᾿ ὥσπερ καὶ φαίνεται οὐθὲν οὐσίᾳ ἐναντίον, καὶ ὁ λόγος μαρτυρεῖ. οὐθὲν ἄρα τῶν ἐναντίων κυρίως ἀρχὴ πάντων 5 ἀλλ᾿ ἑτέρα. Οἱ δὲ τὸ ἕτερον τῶν ἐναντίων

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Metaphysics, XIV. i

Book XIV

I. With regard to this kind of substance,a then, let Book xiv. Further criticism of the theories of Ideas and Numbers. the foregoing account suffice. All thinkers make the first principles contraries; as in the realm of natural objects, so too in respect of the unchangeable substances. Now if nothing can be prior to the first2 principle of all things, that first principle cannot be a first principle if it is an attribute of something else. All thinkers adopt contrary first principles. This would be as absurd as to say that “white” is the first principle, not qua anything else but qua white, and yet that it is predicable of a subject, and is white because it is an attribute of something else; because the latter will be prior to it. Moreover, all things are3 generated from contraries as from a substrate, and therefore contraries must most certainly have a substrate. Therefore all contraries are predicated of a subject, and none of them exists separately. But But no contrary can be a first principle. there is no contrary to substance; not only is this apparent, but it is borne out by reasoned consideration.b Thus none of the contraries is strictly a first principle; the first principle is something different.

But the Platonists treat one of the contraries as4

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-metaphysics.1933