Superphysics Superphysics
Part 1 of Book 4

The One Science

by Aristotle Icon
8 minutes  • 1610 words
Table of contents

The one Science investigates:

  • being as being and
  • the attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own nature.

This is not the same as any of the so-called special sciences. None of these others treats universally of being as being. They cut off a part of being and investigate the attribute of this part.

The mathematical sciences, on the other hand, do this.

This Science explains the first principles and the highest causes.

Those who sought the elements of existing things were seeking these same principles. The elements must be elements of being, not by accident but just because it is being.

Therefore it is of being as being that we also must grasp the first causes.

Part 2

A thing can exist in many different ways. But all these existences are related to one central, definite kind of thing. This definite thing is the mere ambiguous thing.

Everything which is healthy is related to health. One thing in the sense that it preserves health. Another in the sense that it produces it, another in the sense that it is a symptom of health, another because it is capable of it.

That which is medical is relative to the medical art. One thing being called medical because it possesses it, another because it is naturally adapted to it, another because it is a function of the medical art. And we shall find other words used similarly to these.

So, too, there are many ways in which a thing exists. But these all refer to one starting-point.

  • Some things are the way they are because they are substances.
  • Others are the way they are because they are affections of substance.
  • Others are the way they are because they are:
    • a process towards substance, or
    • destructions or privations or qualities of substance, or
    • productive or generative:
      • of substance, or
      • of things which are relative to substance, or
      • negations of one of these thing of substance itself.

This is why a non-being is nonbeing.

There is one science which deals with all healthy things.

The same applies in the other cases also. For not only in the case of things which have one common notion does the investigation belong to one science, but also in the case of things which are related to one common nature; for even these in a sense have one common notion.

It is the work of one Science also to study the things that are, qua being.

But everywhere Science deals chiefly with that which is primary, and on which the other things depend, and in virtue of which they get their names. If, then, this is substance, it will be of substances that the philosopher must grasp the principles and the causes.

Now for each one class of things, as there is one perception, so there is one science, as for instance grammar, being one science, investigates all articulate sounds. Hence to investigate all the species of being qua being is the work of a science which is generically one, and to investigate the several species is the work of the specific parts of the science.

If being and unity are the same and are one thing then they imply each other.

To investigate the essence of these is the work of a science which is generically one.

It is generic in the discussion of the same and the similar and the other concepts of this sort. Nnearly all contraries may be referred to this origin; let us take them as having been investigated in the ‘Selection of Contraries’.

There are as many parts of philosophy as there are kinds of substance. There must a first philosophy and a subsequent philosophy.

Being is immediately under genera. Thus, the sciences too correspond to these genera.

The philosopher is like the mathematician because mathematics also has parts. There is a first and a second science and other successive ones within the sphere of mathematics.

Plurality is opposed to unity

The work of one science to investigate opposites. Thus, the one science should investigate the negation and the privation because in both cases we are really investigating the one thing.

in the latter case difference is present over and above what is implied in negation; for negation means just the absence of the thing in question, while in privation there is also employed an underlying nature of which the privation is asserted):-in view of all these facts, the contraries of the concepts we named above, the other and the dissimilar and the unequal, and everything else which is derived either from these or from plurality and unity, must fall within the province of the science above named.

Contrariety is one of these concepts. Contrariety is a kind of difference. Difference is a kind of otherness.

Therefore, since there are many senses in which a thing is said to be one, these terms also will have many senses, but yet it belongs to one science to know them all.

A term belongs to different sciences not if it has different senses, but if it has not one meaning and its definitions cannot be referred to one central meaning.

Since all things are referred to that which is primary, as for instance all things which are called one are referred to the primary one, we must say that this holds good also of the same and the other and of contraries in general; so that after distinguishing the various senses of each, we must then explain by reference to what is primary in the case of each of the predicates in question, saying how they are related to it; for some will be called what they are called because they possess it, others because they produce it, and others in other such ways.

The One Science can give an account of these concepts as well as of substance (this was one of the questions in our book of problems), and that it is the function of the philosopher to be able to investigate all things.

The philosopher’s job is to ask:

  • whether Socrates and the Socrates seated are the same person
  • a thing has one contrary
  • what contrariety is
  • how many meanings contrariety has

These are essential modifications of unity qua unity and of being qua being, not qua numbers or lines or fire.

This science therefore should investigate both:

  • the essence of these concepts
  • their properties

Those who study these properties err not by leaving the sphere of philosophy, but by forgetting that substance, of which they have no correct idea, is prior to these other things.

For number qua number has peculiar attributes, such as oddness and evenness, commensurability and equality, excess and defect, and these belong to numbers either in themselves or in relation to one another.

Similarly, the solid and the motionless and that which is in motion and the weightless and that which has weight have other peculiar properties. So too there are certain properties peculiar to being as such, and it is about these that the philosopher has to investigate the truth.

An indication of this may be mentioned= dialecticians and sophists assume the same guise as the philosopher, for sophistic is Wisdom which exists only in semblance, and dialecticians embrace all things in their dialectic, and being is common to all things; but evidently their dialectic embraces these subjects because these are proper to philosophy.

For sophistic and dialectic turn on the same class of things as philosophy, but this differs from dialectic in the nature of the faculty required and from sophistic in respect of the purpose of the philosophic life. Dialectic is merely critical where philosophy claims to know, and sophistic is what appears to be philosophy but is not.

In the list of contraries, one of the two columns is privative. All contraries are reducible to being and non-being, and to unity and plurality, as for instance rest belongs to unity and movement to plurality.

And nearly all thinkers agree that being and substance are composed of contraries; at least all name contraries as their first principles-some name odd and even, some hot and cold, some limit and the unlimited, some love and strife. And all the others as well are evidently reducible to unity and plurality (this reduction we must take for granted), and the principles stated by other thinkers fall entirely under these as their genera.

One science can examine being qua being.

This is because:

  • all things are either contraries or composed of contraries
  • unity and plurality are the starting-points of all contraries.

These belong to one science, whether they have one single meaning or not.

  • Probably they have not

Yet even if ‘one’ has several meanings.

The other meanings will be related to the primary meaning (and similarly in the case of the contraries), even if being or unity is not a universal and the same in every instance or is not separable from the particular instances (as in fact it probably is not; the unity is in some cases that of common reference, in some cases that of serial succession).

This is why it does not belong to the geometer to inquire what is contrariety or completeness or unity or being or the same or the other, but only to presuppose these concepts and reason from this starting-point.–Obviously then it is the work of one science to examine being qua being, and the attributes which belong to it qua being, and the same science will examine not only substances but also their attributes, both those above named and the concepts ‘prior’ and ‘posterior’, ‘genus’ and ‘species’, ‘whole’ and ‘part’, and the others of this sort.

Any Comments? Post them below!