Book 3 Part 1 of the Simplified Metaphysics by Aristotle

The Questions of Metaphysics Icon

September 1, 2015

Our problems are:

  1. Does the investigation of the causes belongs to one or to more sciences?

  2. whether such a science should survey only the first principles of substance, or also the principles on which all men base their proofs, e.g. whether it is possible at the same time to assert and deny one and the same thing or not, and all other such questions; and

  3. If the science in question deals with substance, whether one science deals with all substances, or more than one, and if more, whether all are akin, or some of them must be called forms of Wisdom and the others something else.

  4. This itself is also one of the things that must be discussed-whether sensible substances alone should be said to exist or others also besides them, and whether these others are of one kind or there are several classes of substances, as is supposed by those who believe both in Forms and in mathematical objects intermediate between these and sensible things.

  5. Whether our investigation is concerned only with substances or also with the essential attributes of substances.

Further, with regard to the same and other and like and unlike and contrariety, and with regard to prior and posterior and all other such terms about which the dialecticians try to inquire, starting their investigation from probable premises only,-whose business is it to inquire into all these? Further, we must discuss the essential attributes of these themselves; and we must ask not only what each of these is, but also whether one thing always has one contrary.

  1. Are the principles and elements of things the genera, or the parts present in each thing, into which it is divided

  2. If they are the genera, are they the genera that are predicated proximately of the individuals, or the highest genera, e.g. is animal or man the first principle and the more independent of the individual instance?

  3. We must inquire and discuss especially whether there is, besides the matter, any thing that is a cause in itself or not, and whether this can exist apart or not, and whether it is one or more in number, and whether there is something apart from the concrete thing (by the concrete thing I mean the matter with something already predicated of it), or there is nothing apart, or there is something in some cases though not in others, and what sort of cases these are.

  4. We ask whether the principles are limited in number or in kind, both those in the definitions and those in the substratum

  5. Whether the principles of perishable and of imperishable things are the same or different; and whether they are all imperishable or those of perishable things are perishable.

  6. Are unity and being, as the Pythagoreans and Plato said, not attributes of something else but the substance of existing things? or this is not the case, but the substratum is something else,-as Empedocles says, love; as some one else says, fire; while another says water or air?

That is the most perplexing question.

  1. Are the principles are universal or like individual things?

  2. Do they exist potentially or actually? Are they potential or actual in any other sense than in reference to movement?

  3. Are numbers and lines and figures and points a kind of substance or not, and if they are substances are they separate from sensible things or present in them?


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