Part 2

Questions 1 to 3 Icon

  1. Should the sciences investigate all the kinds of causes?

How could it belong to one science to recognize the principles if these are not contrary?

There are many things to which not all the principles pertain. How can a principle of change or the nature of the good exist for unchangeable things, since everything that in itself and by its own nature is good is an end, and a cause in the sense that for its sake the other things both come to be and are, and since an end or purpose is the end of some action, and all actions imply change?

So in the case of unchangeable things this principle could not exist, nor could there be a good itself.

This is why in mathematics nothing is proved by means of this kind of cause, nor is there any demonstration of this kind-‘because it is better, or worse’; indeed no one even mentions anything of the kind.

This is why some of the Sophists like Aristippus used to ridicule mathematics. He said that in the arts even in the industrial arts like carpentry and cobbling, the reason always given is ‘because it is better, or worse,’ but the mathematical sciences take no account of goods and evils.

But if there are several sciences of the causes, and a different science for each different principle, which of these sciences should be said to be that which we seek, or which of the people who possess them has the most scientific knowledge of the object in question?

The same thing may have all the kinds of causes, e.g. the moving cause of a house is the art or the builder, the final cause is the function it fulfils, the matter is earth and stones, and the form is the definition.

To judge from our previous discussion of the question which of the sciences should be called Wisdom, there is reason for applying the name to each of them. For inasmuch as it is most architectonic and authoritative and the other sciences, like slavewomen, may not even contradict it, the science of the end and of the good is of the nature of Wisdom (for the other things are for the sake of the end).

But inasmuch as it was described’ as dealing with the first causes and that which is in the highest sense object of knowledge, the science of substance must be of the nature of Wisdom.

For since men may know the same thing in many ways, we say that he who recognizes what a thing is by its being so and so knows more fully than he who recognizes it by its not being so and so, and in the former class itself one knows more fully than another, and he knows most fully who knows what a thing is, not he who knows its quantity or quality or what it can by nature do or have done to it.

In all cases, we think that the knowledge of each even of the things of which demonstration is possible is present only when we know what the thing is, e.g. what squaring a rectangle is, viz. that it is the finding of a mean; and similarly in all other cases. And we know about becomings and actions and about every change when we know the source of the movement.

This is other than and opposed to the end. Therefore it would seem to belong to different sciences to investigate these causes severally.

  1. If we take the starting-points of demonstration and the causes, are they the object of one science or of more?

The starting-points of demonstration are the common beliefs on which all men base their proofs.

e.g. that everything must be either affirmed or denied, and that a thing cannot at the same time be and not be, and all other such premisses:-the question is whether the same science deals with them as with substance, or a different science, and if it is not one science, which of the two must be identified with that which we now seek.

It is not reasonable that these topics should be the object of one science; for why should it be peculiarly appropriate to geometry or to any other science to understand these matters? If then it belongs to every science alike, and cannot belong to all, it is not peculiar to the science which investigates substances, any more than to any other science, to know about these topics.

How can there be a science of the first principles? For we are aware even now what each of them in fact is (at least even other sciences use them as familiar); but if there is a demonstrative science which deals with them, there will have to be an underlying kind, and some of them must be demonstrable attributes and others must be axioms (for it is impossible that there should be demonstration about all of them); for the demonstration must start from certain premisses and be about a certain subject and prove certain attributes. Therefore it follows that all attributes that are proved must belong to a single class; for all demonstrative sciences use the axioms.

“But if the science of substance and the science which deals with the axioms are different, which of them is by nature more authoritative and prior?

The axioms are most universal and are principles of all things. And if it is not the business of the philosopher, to whom else will it belong to inquire what is true and what is untrue about them?

  1. Do all substances fall under one science or under more than one?

If the latter, to what sort of substance is the present science to be assigned?

On the other hand, it is not reasonable that one science should deal with all. For then there would be one demonstrative science dealing with all attributes. For ever demonstrative science investigates with regard to some subject its essential attributes, starting from the common beliefs.

Therefore to investigate the essential attributes of one class of things, starting from one set of beliefs, is the business of one science. For the subject belongs to one science, and the premisses belong to one, whether to the same or to another; so that the attributes do so too, whether they are investigated by these sciences or by one compounded out of them.

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