Part 2


by Aristotle Icon

What is wisdom?

  1. The wise man knows all things, as far as possible, although he does not know each of them in detail.

  2. A person is wise if he can learn things that are difficult

Sense-perception is common to all. So it is easy and is not a mark of Wisdom.

A man is wiser if he is more exact and more capable of teaching the causes in every branch of knowledge.

and that of the sciences, also, that which is desirable on its own account and for the sake of knowing it is more of the nature of Wisdom than that which is desirable on account of its results,

The superior science is more of the nature of Wisdom than the ancillary, for the wise man:

  • must not be ordered but must order
  • must not obey another, but the less wise must obey him.

The wise should have the highest degree universal knowledge. The universal is the hardest for men to know, for they are farthest from the senses.

The most exact of the sciences are those which deal most with first principles. Those with fewer principles are more exact than those with many.

  • Arithmetic has fewer than geometry

The science which investigates causes is also instructive.

Understanding and knowledge pursued for their own sake are found most in the knowledge of that which is most knowable (for he who chooses to know for the sake of knowing will choose most readily that which is most truly knowledge, and such is the knowledge of that which is most knowable);

The first principles and the causes are most knowable; for by reason of these, and from these, all other things come to be known, and not these by means of the things subordinate to them.

The science which knows to what end each thing must be done is the most authoritative.

This science is not a science of production.

A man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant.

They philosophized order to escape from ignorance.

  • They were pursuing science in order to know, and not for any utilitarian end.

Such knowledge was began to be sought after almost all the necessities of life and the things that make for comfort and recreation had been secured.

  • We do not seek it for the sake of any other advantage.

Man is free if he exists for his own sake and not for another’s.

  • So we pursue this as the only free science, for it alone exists for its own sake.
  • Hence, the possession of it might be beyond human power.
  • This is because in many ways, human nature is in bondage.

This is why:

  • Simonides says that ‘God alone can have this privilege’
  • the poets say that man should only seek the knowledge that is suited to him.

Thus, they say:

  • jealousy is natural to the divine power, and
  • all who excelled in this knowledge would be unfortunate

But I think that:

  • the divine power cannot be jealous
  • this kind of science is the most honourable

This is because the most divine science is also the most honourable.

  • Thus, this science alone must be most divine in 2 ways.
  1. God is thought to be among the causes of all things and to be a first principle
  2. Such a science either God alone can have, or God above all others.

All the sciences are more necessary than this, but none is better.

Yet the acquisition of it must in a sense end in something which is the opposite of our original inquiries.

Everyone begins by wondering that things are as they are, as they do about:

  • self-moving marionettes, or
  • the solstices or
  • the incommensurability of the diagonal of a square with the side

for it seems wonderful to all who have not yet seen the reason, that there is a thing which cannot be measured even by the smallest unit.

But we must end in the contrary and, according to the proverb, the better state, as is the case in these instances too when men learn the cause; for there is nothing which would surprise a geometer so much as if the diagonal turned out to be commensurable.

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