Book 12 Part 7 of the Simplified Metaphysics by Aristotle

Thought is Prior to Desire Icon

September 27, 2015

This is a possible account of the matter.

If there were no matter, then the universe would have come out of night and ‘all things together’ and out of non-being.

We have solved these earlier by saying that something has always moved with an unceasing motion in a circle. This is not a theory. This is a fact.

Therefore, the first heaven is eternal. There is therefore also something which moves it. And since that which moves and is moved is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality.

The object of desire and the object of thought move without being moved.

The primary objects of desire and of thought are the same. The apparent good is the object of appetite. The real good is the primary object of rational wish.

But desire depends on opinion. Opinion does not depend on desire. This is thinking is the starting-point.

Thought is moved by the object of thought. One of the two columns of opposites is in itself the object of thought. In this, substance is first. In substance, that which is simple and exists actually is first.

The One and the Simple are not the same. This is because ‘one’ means a measure, but ‘simple’ means that the thing itself having a certain nature.

The beautiful or desirable is in the same column. The first in any class is always best, or analogous to the best.

That a final cause may exist among unchangeable entities is shown by the distinction of its meanings. For the final cause is

  1. Some being for whose good an action is done
  • This does not exist among unchangeable entities.
  1. Something at which the action aims
  • This exists among unchangeable entities though the former does not.

The final cause, then, produces motion as being loved. But all other things move by being moved. Now if something is moved it is capable of being otherwise than as it is.

Therefore if its actuality is the primary form of spatial motion, then in so far as it is subject to change, in this respect it is capable of being otherwise,-in place, even if not in substance. But since there is something which moves while itself unmoved, existing actually, this can in no way be otherwise than as it is.

For motion in space is the first of the kinds of change, and motion in a circle the first kind of spatial motion; and this the first mover produces. The first mover, then, exists of necessity; and in so far as it exists by necessity, its mode of being is good, and it is in this sense a first principle.

For the necessary has all these senses-that which is necessary perforce because it is contrary to the natural impulse, that without which the good is impossible, and that which cannot be otherwise but can exist only in a single way.

On such a principle, then, depend the heavens and the world of nature. And it is a life such as the best which we enjoy, and enjoy for but a short time (for it is ever in this state, which we cannot be), since its actuality is also pleasure. (And for this reason are waking, perception, and thinking most pleasant, and hopes and memories are so on account of these.) And thinking in itself deals with that which is best in itself, and that which is thinking in the fullest sense with that which is best in the fullest sense.

Thought thinks on itself because it shares the nature of the object of thought. Thought becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and thinking its objects. In this way, thought and the object of thought are the same.

For that which is capable of receiving the object of thought, i.e. the essence, is thought. But it is active when it possesses this object. Therefore the possession rather than the receptivity is the divine element which thought seems to contain, and the act of contemplation is what is most pleasant and best.

If, then, God is always in that good state in which we sometimes are, this compels our wonder; and if in a better this compels it yet more. And God is in a better state.

Life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality. God’s self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. Therefore, God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God.

Chicken or the Egg

The Pythagoreans and Speusippus say that supreme beauty and goodness are not present in the beginning. This is because the beginnings both of plants and of animals are causes, but beauty and completeness are in the effects of these, They are wrong.

This is because the seed comes from other individuals which are prior and complete. The first thing is not seed, but the complete being; e.g. we must say that before the seed there is a man,-not the man produced from the seed, but another from whom the seed comes.

There is a Substance which is eternal and unmovable and separate from sensible things. This Substance cannot have any magnitude, but is without parts and indivisible. It produces movement through infinite time.

Nothing finite has infinite power. Every magnitude is either infinite or finite. Thus, this Substance cannot have finite magnitude. It cannot have infinite magnitude because there is no infinite magnitude at all.

It is impassive and unalterable, for all the other changes are posterior to change of place.


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