1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aristotle
ARISTOTLE (384–322 B.C.), the great Greek philosopher, was born at Stagira, on the Strymonic Gulf, and hence called “the Stagirite.” Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his Epistle on Demosthenes and Aristotle (chap. 5), gives the following sketch of his life:—Aristotle (Άριστοτέλης) was the son of Nicomachus, who traced back his descent and his art to Machaon, son of Aesculapius; his mother being Phaestis, a descendant of one of those who carried the colony from Chalcis to Stagira. He was born in the 99th Olympiad in the archonship at Athens of Diotrephes (384–383), three years before Demosthenes. In the archonship of Polyzelus (367–366), after the death of his father, in his eighteenth year, he came to Athens, and having joined Plato spent twenty years with him. On the death of Plato (May 347) in the archonship of Theophilus (348–347) he departed to Hermias, tyrant of Atarneus, and, after three years’ stay, during the archonship of Eubulus (345–344) he moved to Mitylene, whence he went to Philip of Macedon in the archonship of Pythodotus (343–342), and spent eight years with him as tutor of Alexander. After the death of Philip (336), in the archonship of Euaenetus (335–334), he returned to Athens and kept a school in the Lyceum for twelve years. In the thirteenth, after the death of Alexander (June 323) in the archonship of Cephisodorus (323–322), having departed to Chalcis, he died of disease (322), after a life of three-and-sixty years.
I. Aristotle’s Life
This account is practically repeated by Diogenes Laertius in his Life of Aristotle, on the authority of the Chronicles of Apollodorus, who lived in the 2nd century B.C. Starting then from this tradition, near enough to the time, we can confidently divide Aristotle’s career into four periods: his youth under his parents till his eighteenth year; his philosophical education under Plato at Athens till his thirty-eighth year; his travels in the Greek world till his fiftieth year; and his philosophical teaching in the Lyceum till his departure to Chalcis and his death in his sixty-third year. But when we descend from generals to particulars, we become less certain, and must here content ourselves with few details.
Aristotle from the first profited by having a father who, being physician to Amyntas II., king of Macedon, and one of the Asclepiads who, according to Galen, practised their sons in dissection, both prepared the way for his son’s influence at the Macedonian court, and gave him a bias to medicine and biology, which certainly led to his belief in nature and natural science, and perhaps induced him to practise medicine, as he did, according to his enemies, Timaeus and Epicurus, when he first went to Athens. At Athens in his second period for some twenty years he acquired the further advantage of balancing natural science by metaphysics and morals in the course of reading Plato’s writings and of hearing Plato’s unwritten dogmas (cf. ἐν τοῖς λεγομένοις ἀγράφοις δόγμασιν, Ar. Physics, iv. 2, 209 b 15, Berlin ed.). He was an earnest, appreciative, independent student. The master is said to have called his pupil the intellect of the school and his house a reader’s. He is also said to have complained that his pupil spurned him as colts do their mothers. Aristotle, however, always revered Plato’s memory (Nic. Ethics, i. 6), and even in criticizing his master counted himself enough of a Platonist to cite Plato’s doctrines as what “we say” (cf. φαμέν, Metaphysics, i. 9, 990 b 16). At the same time, he must have learnt much from other contemporaries at Athens, especially from astronomers such as Eudoxus and Callippus, and from orators such as Isocrates and Demosthenes. He also attacked Isocrates, according to Cicero, and perhaps even set up a rival school of rhetoric. At any rate he had pupils of his own, such as Eudemus of Cyprus, Theodectes and Hermias, books of his own, especially dialogues, and even to some extent his own philosophy, while he was still a pupil of Plato.
Well grounded in his boyhood, and thoroughly educated in his manhood, Aristotle, after Plato’s death, had the further advantage of travel in his third period, when he was in his prime. The appointment of Plato’s nephew, Speusippus, to succeed his uncle in the Academy induced Aristotle and Xenocrates to leave Athens together and repair to the court of Hermias. Aristotle admired Hermias, and married his friend’s sister or niece, Pythias, by whom he had his daughter Pythias. After the tragic death of Hermias, he retired for a time to Mitylene, and in 343–342 was summoned to Macedon by Philip to teach Alexander, who was then a boy of thirteen. According to Cicero (De Oratore, iii. 41), Philip wished his son, then a boy of thirteen, to receive from Aristotle “agendi praecepta et eloquendi.” Aristotle is said to have written on monarchy and on colonies for Alexander; and the pupil is said to have slept with his master’s edition of Homer under his pillow, and to have respected him, until from hatred of Aristotle’s tactless relative, Callisthenes, who was done to death in 328, he turned at last against Aristotle himself. Aristotle had power to teach, and Alexander to learn. Still we must not exaggerate the result. Dionysius must have spoken too strongly when he says that Aristotle was tutor of Alexander for eight years; for in 340, when Philip went to war with Byzantium, Alexander became regent at home, at the age of sixteen. From this date Aristotle probably spent much time at his paternal house in his native city at Stagira as a patriotic citizen. Philip had sacked it in 348: Aristotle induced him or his son to restore it, made for it a new constitution, and in return was celebrated in a festival after his death. All these vicissitudes made him a man of the world, drew him out of the philosophical circle at Athens, and gave him leisure to develop his philosophy. Besides Alexander he had other pupils: Callisthenes, Cassander, Marsyas, Phanias, and Theophrastus of Eresus, who is said to have had land at Stagira. He also continued the writings begun in his second period; and the Macedonian kings have the glory of having assisted the Stagirite philosopher with the means of conducting his researches in the History of Animals.
At last, in his fourth period, after the accession of Alexander, Aristotle at fifty returned to Athens and became the head of his own school in the Lyceum, a gymnasium near the temple of Apollo Lyceius in the suburbs. The master and his scholars were called Peripatetics (οἱ ἐκ τοῦ περιπάτου), certainly from meeting, like other philosophical schools, in a walk (περίπατος), and perhaps also, on the authority of Hermippus of Smyrna, from walking and talking there, like Protagoras and his followers as described in Plato’s Protagoras (314 e, 315 c). Indeed, according to Ammonius, Plato too had talked as he walked in the Academy; and all his followers were called Peripatetics, until, while the pupils of Xenocrates took the name “Academics,” those of Aristotle retained the general name. Aristotle also formed his Peripatetic school into a kind of college with common meals under a president (ἄρχων) changing every ten days; while the philosopher himself delivered lectures, in which his practice, as his pupil Aristoxenus tells us (Harmonics ii, init.), was, avoiding the generalities of Plato, to prepare his audience by explaining the subject of investigation and its nature. But Aristotle was an author as well as a lecturer; for the hypothesis that the Aristotelian writings are notes of his lectures taken down by his pupils is contradicted by the tradition of their learning while walking, and disproved by the impossibility of taking down such complicated discourses from dictation. Moreover, it is clear that Aristotle addressed himself to readers as well as hearers, as in concluding his whole theory of syllogisms he says, “There would remain for all of you or for our hearers (πάντων ὑμῶν ἢ τῶν) a duty of according to the defects of the investigation consideration, to its discoveries much gratitude” (Sophisticai Elenchi, 34,184 b 6). In short, Aristotle was at once a student, a reader, a lecturer, a writer and a book collector. He was, says Strabo (608), the first we knew who collected books and taught the kings in Egypt the arrangement of a library. In his library no doubt were books of others, but also his own. There we must figure to ourselves the philosopher, constantly referring to his autograph rolls; entering references and cross-references; correcting, rewriting, collecting and arranging them according to their subjects; showing as well as reading them to his pupils; with little thought of publication, but with his whole soul concentrated on being and truth.
On his first visit to Athens, during which occurred the fatal battle of Mantineia (362 B.C.), Aristotle had seen the confusion of Greece becoming the opportunity of Macedon under Philip; and on his second visit he was supported at Athens by the complete domination of Macedon under Alexander. Having witnessed the unjust exactions of a democracy at Athens, the dwindling population of an oligarchy at Sparta, and the oppressive selfishness of new tyrannies throughout the Greek world, he condemned the actual constitutions of the Greek states as deviations (παρεκβάσεις) directed merely to the good of the government; and he contemplated a right constitution (ὀρθὴ πολιτεία), which might be either a commonwealth, an aristocracy or a monarchy, directed to the general good; but he preferred the monarchy of one man, pre-eminent in virtue above the rest, as the best of all governments (Nicomachean Ethics, viii. 10; Politics, Γ 14-18). Moreover, by adding (Politics, Η 7, 1327 b 29-33) that the Greek race could govern the world by obtaining one constitution (μιᾶς τυγχάνον πολιτείας), he indicated some leaning to a universal monarchy under such a king as Alexander. On the whole, however, he adhered to the Greek city-state (πόλις), partly perhaps out of patriotism to his own Stagira. Averse at all events to the Athenian democracy, leaning towards Macedonian monarchy, and resting on Macedonian power, he maintained himself in his school at Athens, so long as he was supported by the friendship of Antipater, the Macedonian regent in Alexander’s absence. But on Alexander’s sudden death in 323, when Athens in the Lamian war tried to reassert her freedom against Antipater, Aristotle found himself in danger. He was accused of impiety on the absurd charge of deifying the tyrant Hermias; and, remembering the fate of Socrates, he retired to Chalcis in Euboea. There, away from his school, in 322 he died. (A tomb has been found in our time inscribed with the name of Biote, daughter of Aristotle. But is this our Aristotle?)
Such is our scanty knowledge of Aristotle’s life, which seems to have been prosperous by inheritance and position, and happy by work and philosophy. His will, which was quoted by Hermippus, and, as afterwards quoted by Diogenes Laertius, has come down to us, though perhaps not complete, supplies some further details, as follows:—Antipater is to be executor with others. Nicanor is to marry Pythias, Aristotle’s daughter, and to take charge of Nicomachus his son. Theophrastus is to be one of the executors if he will and can, and if Nicanor should die to act instead, if he will, in reference to Pythias. The executors and Nicanor are to take charge of Herpyllis, “because,” in the words of the testator, “she has been good to me,” and to allow her to reside either in the lodging by the garden at Chalcis or in the paternal house at Stagira. They are to provide for the slaves, who in some cases are to be freed. They are to see after the dedication of four images by Gryllion of Nicanor, Proxenus, Nicanor’s mother and Arimnestus. They are to dedicate an image of Aristotle’s mother, and to see that the bones of his wife Pythias are, as she ordered, taken up and buried with him. On this will we may remark that Proxenus is said to have been Aristotle’s guardian after the death of his father, and to have been the father of Nicanor; that Herpyllis of Stagira was the mother of Nicomachus by Aristotle; and that Arimnestus was the brother of Aristotle, who also had a sister, Arimneste. Every clause breathes the philosopher’s humanity.
II. Development from Platonism
Turning now from the man to the philosopher as we know him best in his extant writings (see Aristoteles, ed. Bekker, Berlin, 1831, the pages of which we use for our quotations), we find, instead of the general dialogues of Plato, special didactic treatises, and a fundamental difference of philosophy, so great as to have divided philosophers into opposite camps, and made Coleridge say that everybody is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Platonism is the doctrine that the individuals we call things only become, but a thing is always one universal form beyond many individuals, e.g. one good beyond seeming goods; and that without supernatural forms, which are models of individuals, there is nothing, no being, no knowing, no good. Aristotelianism is the contrary doctrine: a thing is always a separate individual, a substance (οὐσία), natural such as earth or supernatural such as God; and without these individual substances, which have attributes and universals belonging to them, there is nothing, to be, to know, to be good. Philosophic differences are best felt by their practical effects: philosophically, Platonism is a philosophy of universal forms, Aristotelianism a philosophy of individual substances: practically, Plato makes us think first of the supernatural and the kingdom of heaven, Aristotle of the natural and the whole world.
So diametrical a difference could not have arisen at once. For, though Aristotle was different from Plato, and brought with him from Stagira a Greek and Ionic but colonial origin, a medical descent and tendency, and a matter-of-fact worldly kind of character, nevertheless on coming to Athens as pupil of Plato he must have begun with his master’s philosophy. What then in more detail was the philosophy which the pupil learnt from the master? When Aristotle at the age of eighteen came to Athens, Plato, at the age of sixty-two, had probably written all his dialogues except the Laws; and in the course of the remaining twenty years of his life and teaching, he expounded “the so-called unwritten dogmas” in his lectures on the Good. There was therefore a written Platonism for Aristotle to read, and an unwritten Platonism which he actually heard.
To begin with the written philosophy of the Dialogues. Individual so-called things neither are nor are not, but become: the real thing is always one universal form beyond the many individuals, e.g. the one beautiful beyond all beautiful individuals; and each form (ἰδέα) is a model which causes individuals by participation to become like, but not the same as, itself. Above all forms stands the form of the good, which is the cause of all other forms being, and through them of all individuals becoming. The creator, or the divine intellect, with a view to the form of the good, and taking all forms as models, creates in a receptacle (ὑποδοχή, Plato, Timaeus, 49 a) individual impressions which are called things but really change and become without attaining the permanence of being. Knowledge resides not in sense but in reason, which, on the suggestion of sensations of changing individuals, apprehends, or (to be precise) is reminded of, real universal forms, and, by first ascending from less to more general until it arrives at the form of good and then descending from this unconditional principle to the less general, becomes science and philosophy, using as its method the dialectic which gives and receives questions and answers between man and man. Happiness in this world consists proximately in virtue as a harmony between the three parts, rational, spirited and appetitive, of our souls, and ultimately in living according to the form of the good; but there is a far higher happiness, when the immortal soul, divesting itself of body and passions and senses, rises from earth to heaven and contemplates pure forms by pure reason. Such in brief is the Platonism of the written dialogues; where the main doctrine of forms is confessedly advanced never as a dogma but always as a hypothesis, in which there are difficulties, but without which Plato can explain neither being, nor truth nor goodness, because throughout he denies the being of individual things. In the unwritten lectures of his old age, he developed this formal into a mathematical metaphysics. In order to explain the unity and variety of the world, the one universal form and the many individuals, and how the one good is the main cause of everything, he placed as it were at the back of his own doctrine of forms a Pythagorean mathematical philosophy. He supposed that the one and the two, which is indeterminate, and is the great and little, are opposite principles or causes. Identifying the form of the good with the one, he supposed that the one, by combining with the indeterminate two, causes a plurality of forms, which like every combination of one and two are numbers but peculiar in being incommensurate with one another, so that each form is not a mathematical number (μαθηματικὸς ἀριθμός), but a formal number (εἰδητικὸς ἀριθμός). Further he supposed that in its turn each form, or formal number, is a limited one which, by combining again with the indeterminate two, causes a plurality of individuals. Hence finally he concluded that the good as the one combining with the indeterminate two is directly the cause of all forms as formal numbers, and indirectly through them all of the multitude of individuals in the world.
Aristotle knew Plato, was present at his lectures on the Good, wrote a report of them (περὶ τἀγαθοῦ), and described this latter philosophy of Plato in his Metaphysics. Modern critics, who were not present and knew neither, often accuse Aristotle of misrepresenting Plato. But Heracleides and Hestiacus, Speusippus and Xenocrates were also present and wrote similar reports. What is more, both Speusippus and Xenocrates founded their own philosophies on this very Pythagoreanism of Plato. Speusippus as president of the Academy from 347 to 339 taught that the one and the many are principles, while abolishing forms and reducing the good from cause to effect. Xenocrates as president from 339 onwards taught that the one and many are principles, only without distinguishing mathematical from formal numbers. Aristotle’s critics hardly realize that for the rest of his life he had to live and to struggle with a formal and a mathematical Platonism, which exaggerated first universals and attributes and afterwards the quantitative attributes, one and many, into substantial things and real causes.
Aristotle had no sympathy with the unwritten dogmas of Plato. But with the written dialogues of Plato he always continued to agree almost as much as he disagreed. Like Plato, he believed in real universals, real essences, real causes; he believed in the unity of the universal, and in the immateriality of essences; he believed in the good, and that there is a good of the universe; he believed that God is a living being, eternal and best, who is a supernatural cause of the motions and changes of the natural world, and that essences and matter are also necessary causes; he believed in the divine intelligence and in the immortality of our intelligent souls; he believed in knowledge going from sense to reason, that science requires ascent to principles and is descent from principles, and that dialectic is useful to science; he believed in happiness involving virtue, and in moral virtue being a control of passions by reason, while the highest happiness is speculative wisdom. All these inspiring metaphysical and moral doctrines the pupil accepted from his master’s dialogues, and throughout his life adhered to the general spirit of realism without materialism pervading the Platonic philosophy. But what he refused to believe with Plato was that reality is not here, but only above; and what he maintained against Plato was that it is both, and that universals and forms, one and many, the good, are real but not separate realities. This deep metaphysical divergence was the prime cause of the transition from Platonism to Aristotelianism.
Fragmenta Aristotelis.—Aristotle’s originality soon asserted itself in early writings, of which fragments have come down to us, and have been collected by Rose (see the Berlin edition of Aristotle’s works, or more readily in the Teubner series, which we shall use for our quotations). Many, no doubt, are spurious; but some are genuine, and a few perhaps cited in Aristotle’s extant works. Some are dialogues, others didactic works. A special interest attaches to the dialogues written after the manner of Plato but with Aristotle as principal interlocutor; and some of these, e.g. the περὶ ποιητῶν and the Eudemus, seem to have been published. It is not always certain which were dialogues, which didactic like Aristotle’s later works; but by comparing those which were certainly dialogues with their companions in the list of Aristotle’s books as given by Diogenes Laertius, we may conclude with Bernays that the books occurring first in that list were dialogues. Hence we may perhaps accept as genuine the following:—
- περὶ δικαιοσύνης: On justice.
- περὶ ποιητῶν: On poets (perhaps cited in Poetics, 15, 1454 b 18, ἐν τοῖς ἐκδεδομένοις λόγοις).
- περὶ φιλοσοφίας: On philosophy (perhaps cited in Physics, ii. 2, 194 a 35-36).
- περὶ πολιτικοῦ: A politician.
- περὶ ῥητορικῆς ἢ Γρύλλος: On rhetoric.
- προτρεπτικός: An exhortation to philosophy (probably in dialogue, because it is the model of Cicero’s dialogue Hortensius).
- Εὔδημος ἢ περὶ Ψυχῆς: On soul (perhaps cited in De Anima, i. 4, 407 b 29, καὶ τοῖς ἐν κοινῷ γενομένοις λόγοις).
2. Didactic writings:—
- (1) Metaphysical:—
- περὶ τἀγαθοῦ: On the good (probably not a dialogue but a report of Plato’s lectures).
- περὶ ἰδεῶν: On forms.
- (2) Political:—
- περὶ βασιλείας: On monarchy.
- Ἀλέξανδρος ἤ ὑπὲρ ἀποίκων: On colonies.
- (3) Rhetorical:—
- τέχνης τῆς Θεοδέκτου συναγωγή: The Theodectea (cited in the Preface to the Rhetoric to Alexander (chap. i.)), and as τὰ Θεοδέκτεια in the Rhetoric (iii. 9, 1410 b 2).
- τεχνῶν συναγωγή: A historical collection of arts of rhetoric.
Difficult as it is to determine when Aristotle wrote all these various works, some of them indicate their dates. Gryllus, celebrated in the dialogue on rhetoric, was Xenophon’s son who fell at Mantineia in 362; and Eudemus of Cyprus, lamented in the dialogue on soul, died in Sicily in 352. These then were probably written before Plato died in 347; and so probably were most of the dialogues, precisely because they were imitations of the dialogues of Plato. Among the didactic writings, the περὶ τὰγαθοῦ would probably belong to the same time, because it was Aristotle’s report of Plato’s lectures. On the other hand, the two political works, if written for Alexander, would be after 343–342 when Philip made Aristotle his tutor. So probably were the rhetorical works, especially the Theodectea; since both politics and oratory were the subjects which the father wanted the tutor to teach his son, and, when Alexander came to Phaselis, he is said by Plutarch (Alexander, 17) to have decorated the statue of Theodectes in honour of his association with the man through Aristotle and philosophy. On the whole, then, it seems as if Aristotle began with dialogues during his second period under Plato, but gradually came to prefer writing didactic works, especially in the third period after Plato’s death, and in connexion with Alexander.
These early writings show clearly how Aristotle came to depart from Plato. In the first place as regards style, though the Stagirite pupil Aristotle could never rival his Attic master in literary form, yet he did a signal service to philosophy in gradually passing from the vague generalities of the dialogue to the scientific precision of the didactic treatise. The philosophy of Plato is dialogue trying to become science; that of Aristotle science retaining traces of dialectic. Secondly as regards subject-matter, even in his early writings Aristotle tends to widen the scope of philosophic inquiry, so as not only to embrace metaphysics and politics, but also to encourage rhetoric and poetics, which Plato tended to discourage or limit. Thirdly as regards doctrines, the surpassing interest of these early writings is that they show the pupil partly agreeing, partly disagreeing, with his master. The Eudemus and Protrepticus are with Plato; the dialogues on Philosophy and the treatise on Forms are against Plato.
The Eudemus, on the soul (Fragmenta, 37 seq.), must have been in style and thought the most Platonic of all the Aristotelian writings. Plato’s theory of the soul and its immortality was not the ordinary Greek view derived from Homer, who regarded the body as the self, the soul as a shade having a future state but an obscure existence, and stamped that view on the hearts of his countrymen, and affected Aristotle himself. After Homer there had come to Greece the new view that the soul is more real than the body, that it is imprisoned in the carcase as a prison-house, that it is capable of enjoying a happier life freed from the body, and that it can transmigrate from body to body. This strange, exotic, ascetic view was adopted by some philosophers, and especially by the Pythagoreans, and so transmitted to Plato. Aristotle in the Eudemus, written about 352, when he was thirty-two, also believed in it. Accordingly, the soul of Eudemus, when it left his body, is said to be returning home: the soul is made subject to the casting of lots, and in coming from the other world to this it is supposed to forget its former visions: but its disembodied life is regarded as its natural life in a better world. The Eudemus also contained a celebrated passage, preserved by Plutarch (Consolat. ad Apoll. 27; Fragm. 44). Here we can read the young Aristotle, writing in the form of the dialogue like Plato, avoiding hiatus like Isocrates, and justifying the praises accorded to his style by Cicero, Quintilian and Dionysius. It shows how nearly the pupil could imitate his master’s dialogues, and still more how exactly he at first embraced his master’s doctrines. It makes Silenus, captured by Midas, say that the best of all things is not to have been born, and the next best, having been born, to die as soon as possible. Nothing could be more like Plato’s Phaedo, or more unlike Aristotle’s later work on the Soul, which entirely rejects transmigration and allows the next life to sink into the background.
Hardly less Platonic is the Protrepticus (Fragm. 50 seq.), an exhortation to philosophy which, according to Zeno the Stoic, was studied by his master Crates. It is an exhortation, whose point is that the chief good is philosophy, the contemplation of the universe by divine and immortal intellect. This is indeed a doctrine of Platonic ethics from which Aristotle in his later days never swerved. But in the Protrepticus he goes on to say that seeming goods, such as strength, size, beauty, honours, opinions, are mere illusion (σκιαγραφία), worthless and ridiculous, as we should know if we had Lyncean eyes to compare them with the vision of the eternal. This indifference to goods of body and estate is quite Platonic, but is very different from Aristotle’s later ethical doctrine that such goods, though not the essence, are nevertheless necessary conditions of happiness. Finally, in the spirit of Plato’s Phaedo and the dialogue Eudemus, the Protrepticus holds that the soul is bound to the sentient members of the body as prisoners in Etruria are bound face to face with corpses; whereas the later view of the De Anima is that the soul is the vital principle of the body and the body the necessary organ of the soul.
Thus we find that at first, under the influence of his master, Aristotle held somewhat ascetic views on soul and body and on goods of body and estate, entirely opposed both in psychology and in ethics to the moderate doctrines of his later writings. This perhaps is one reason why Cicero, who had Aristotle’s early writings, saw no difference between the Academy and the Peripatetics (Acad. Post, i. 4, 17-18).
On the other hand, the dialogue on Philosophy (περὶ φιλοσοφίας, Fragm. 1 seq.) strikingly exhibits the origin of Aristotle’s divergence from Platonism, and that too in Plato’s lifetime. The young son of a doctor from the colonies proved too fond of this world to stomach his Athenian master’s philosophy of the supernatural. Accordingly in this dialogue he attacked Plato’s fundamental position, both in its written and in its unwritten presentment, as a hypothesis both of forms and of formal numbers. First, he attacked the hypothesis of forms (τὴν τῶν ἰδεῶν ὑπόθεσιν, Fragm. 8), exclaiming in his dialogues, according to Proclus, that he could not sympathize with the dogma even if it should be thought that he was opposing it out of contentiousness; while Plutarch says that his attacks on the forms by means of his exoteric dialogues were thought by some persons more contentious than philosophical, as presuming to disdain Plato’s philosophy: so far was he, says Plutarch, from following it. Secondly, in the same dialogue (Fragm. 9), according to Syrianus, he disagreed with the hypothesis of formal numbers (τοῖς εἰδητικοῖς ἀριθμοῖς). If, wrote Aristotle, the forms are another sort of number, not mathematical, there would be no understanding of it. Lastly, in the same dialogue (Fragm. 18 seq.) he revealed his emphasis on nature by contending that the universe is uncreate and indestructible. According to Plato, God caused the natural world to become: according to Aristotle it is eternal. This eternity of the world became one of his characteristic doctrines, and subsequently enabled him to explain how essences can be eternal without being separate from this world which is also eternal (cf. Metaph. Ζ 8). Thus early did Aristotle begin, even in Plato’s lifetime, to oppose Plato’s hypothesis of supernatural forms, and advance his own hypothesis of the eternity of the world.
He made another attack on Platonism in the didactic work περὶ ἰδεῶν, (Fragm. 185 seq.), contending that the Platonic arguments prove not forms (ἰδέαι) but only things common (τὰ κοινά). Here, according to Alexander the commentator, he first brought against Plato the argument of “the third man” (ὁ τρίτος ἄνθρωπος); that, if there is the form, one man beyond many men, there will be a third man predicated of both man and men, and a fourth predicated of all three, and so on to infinity (Fragm. 188). Here, too, he examined the hypothesis of Eudoxus that things are caused by mixture of forms, a hypothesis which formed a kind of transition to his own later views, but failed to satisfy him on account of its difficulties. Lastly, in the didactic work περὶ τἀγαθοῦ (Fragm. 27 seq.), containing his report of Plato’s lectures on the Good, he was dealing with the same mathematical metaphysics which in his dialogue on Philosophy he criticized for converting forms into formal numbers. Aristoxenus, at the beginning of the second book of the Harmonics, gives a graphic account of the astonishment caused by these lectures of Plato, and of their effect on the lectures of Aristotle. In contending, as Aristotle’s pupil, that a teacher should begin by proposing his subject, he tells us how Aristotle used to relate that most of Plato’s hearers came expecting to get something about human goods and happiness, but that when the discourses turned out to be all about mathematics, with the conclusion that good is one, it appeared to them a paradox, which some despised and others condemned. The reason, he adds, was that they were not informed by Plato beforehand; and for this very reason, Aristotle, as he told Aristoxenus himself, used to prepare his hearers by informing them of the nature of the subject. From this rare personal reminiscence we see at a glance that the mind of Plato and the mind of Aristotle were so different, that their philosophies must diverge; the one towards the supernatural, the abstract, the discursive, and the other towards the natural, the substantial, the scientific.
Aristotle then even in the second period of his life, while Plato was still alive, began to differ from him in metaphysics. He rejected the Platonic hypothesis of forms, and affirmed that they are not separate but common, without however as yet having advanced to a constructive metaphysics of his own; while at the same time, after having at first adopted his master’s dialectical treatment of metaphysical problems, he soon passed from dialogues to didactic works, which had the result of separating metaphysics from dialectic. The all-important consequence of this first departure from Platonism was that Aristotle became and remained primarily a metaphysician. After Plato’s death, coming to his third period he made a further departure from Platonism in his didactic works on politics and rhetoric, written in connexion with Alexander and Theodectes. Those on politics (Fragm. 646–648) were designed to instruct Alexander on monarchy and on colonization; and in them Aristotle agreed with Plato in assigning a moral object to the state, but departed from him by saying that a king need not be a philosopher, as Plato had said in the Republic, but does need to listen to philosophers. Still more marked was his departure from Plato as regards rhetoric. Plato in the Gorgias, (501 a) had contended that rhetoric is not an art but an empirical practice (τριβὴ καὶ ἐμπειρία); Aristotle in the Gryllus (Fragm. 68-69), written in his second period, took according to Quintilian a similar view. But in his third period, in the Theodectea (Fragm. 125 seq.), rhetoric is treated as an art, and is laid out somewhat in the manner of his later Art of Rhetoric; while he also showed his interest in the subject by writing a history of other arts of rhetoric called τεχνῶν συναγωγή (Fragm. 136 seq.). Further, in treating rhetoric as an art in the Theodectea he was forced into a conclusion, which carried him far beyond Plato’s rigid notions of proof and of passion: he concluded that it is the work of an orator to use persuasion, and to arouse the passions (τὸ τὰ πάθη διαγεῖραι), e.g. anger and pity (ib. 133-134). Nor could he treat poetry as he is said to have done without the same result.
On the whole then, in his early dialectical and didactic writings, of which mere fragments remain, Aristotle had already diverged from Plato, and first of all in metaphysics. During his master’s life, in the second period of his own life, he protested against the Platonic hypothesis of forms, formal numbers and the one as the good, and tended to separate metaphysics from dialectic by beginning to pass from dialogues to didactic works. After his master’s death, in the third period of his own life, and during his connexion with Alexander, but before the final construction of his philosophy into a system, he was tending to write more and more in the didactic style; to separate from dialectic, not only metaphysics, but also politics, rhetoric and poetry; to admit by the side of philosophy the arts of persuasive language; to think it part of their legitimate work to rouse the passions; and in all these ways to depart from the ascetic rigidity of the philosophy of Plato, so as to prepare for the tolerant spirit of his own, and especially for his ethical doctrine that virtue consists not in suppressing but in moderating almost all human passions. In both periods, too, as we shall find in the sequel, he was already occupied in composing some of the extant writings which were afterwards to form parts of his final philosophical system. But as yet he had given no sign of system, and—what is surprising—no trace of logic. Aristotle was primarily a metaphysician against Plato; a metaphysician before he was a logician; a metaphysician who made what he called primary philosophy (πρώτη φιλοσοφία) the starting-point of his philosophical development, and ultimately of his philosophical system.
III. Composition of his Extant Works
The system which was taught by Aristotle at Athens in the fourth period of his life, and which is now known as the Aristotelian philosophy, is contained not in fragments but in extant books. It will be best then to give at once a list of these extant works, following the traditional order in which they have long been arranged, and marking with a dagger (†) those which are now usually considered not to be genuine, though not always with sufficient reason.
- 1. Κατηγορίαι: Categoriae: On simple expressions signifying different kinds of things and capable of predication [probably an early work of Aristotle, accepting species and genera as “secondary substances” in deference to Plato’s teaching].
- 2. περὶ Έρμηνείας: De interpretatione: On language as expression of mind, and especially on the enunciation or assertion (ἀπόφανσις, ἀποφαντικὸς λόγος) [rejected by Andronicus according to Alexander; but probably an early work of Aristotle, based on Plato’s analysis of the sentence into noun and verb].
- 3. Ἀναλυτικὰ πρότερα: Analytica Priora, On syllogism, with a view to demonstration.
- 4. Ἀναλυτικὰ ὔστερα: Analytica Posteriora: On demonstration, or demonstrative or scientific syllogism (ἀπόδειξις, ἀποδεικτικὸς ἢ ἐπιστημονικὸς συλλογισμός).
- 5. Τοπικά: Topica: On dialectical syllogism (διαλεκτικὸς συλλογισμός), so called from consisting mainly of commonplaces (τόποι. loci), or general sources of argument.
- 6. Σοφιστικοὶ ἒλεγχοι: Sophistici Elenchi: On sophistic (σοφιστικὸς) or eristic syllogism (ἐριστικὸς συλλογισμός), so called from the fallacies used by sophists in refutation (ἒλεγχος) of their opponents.
- [Numbers 1-6 were afterwards grouped together as the Organon.]
- 1. Φυσικὴ ἀκρόασις: Physica Auscultatio: On Nature as cause of change, and the general principles of natural science.
- 2. περὶ οὐρανοῦ: De coelo: On astronomy, &c.
- 3. περὶ γενέσεως καὶ φθορᾶς: De generatione et corruptione: On generation and destruction in general.
- 4. Μετεωρολογικά: Meteorologica: On sublunary changes.
- 5. † περὶ κόσμου: De mundo: On the universe. [Supposed by Zeller to belong to the latter half of the 1st century B.C.]
- 6. περὶ ψυχῆς: De anima: On soul, conjoined with organic body.
- 7. περὶ αἰσθήσεως καὶ αἰσθητῶν: De sensu et sensili: On sense and objects of sense.
- 8. περὶ μνήμης καὶ ἀναμνήσεως: De memoria et reminiscentia: On memory and recollection.
- 9. περὶ ὒπνου καὶ ἐγρηγόρσεως: De somno et vigilia: On sleep and waking.
- 10. περὶ ἐνυπνίων: De insomniis: On dreams.
- 11. περὶ τῆς καθ᾽ ὔπνον μαντικῆς or περὶ μαντικῆς τῆς ἐν τοῖς ὔπνοις: De divinatione per somnum: On prophecy in sleep.
- 12. περὶ μακροβιότητος καὶ βραχυβιότητος: De longitudine et brevitate vitae: On length and shortness of life.
- 13. περὶ νεότητος καὶ γήρως καὶ περὶ ζωῆςκαὶ θανάτου: De juventute et senectute et de vita et morte: On youth and age, and on life and death.
- 14. περὶ ἀναπνοῆς: De respiratione: On respiration. [Numbers 7-14 are grouped together as Parva naturalia.]
- 15. † περὶ πνεύματος: De spiritu: On innate spirit (spiritus vitalis).
- 16. περὶ τὰ ζῷα ἱστορίαι: Historia animalium: Description of facts about animals, i.e. their organs. &c.
- 17. περὶ ζᾠων μορίων. De partibus animalium: Philosophy of the causes of the facts about animals, i.e. their functions.
- 18. † περὶ ζᾠων κινήσεως: De animalium motione: On the motion of animals. [Ascribed to the school of Theophrastus and Strato by Zeller.]
- 19. περὶ ζᾠων πορείας: De animalium incessu: On the going of animals.
- 20. περὶ ζᾠων γενἐσεως: De animalium generatione: On the generation of animals.
- 21. † περὶ χρωμάτων: De coloribus: On colours. [Ascribed to the school of Theophrastus and Strato by Zeller.]
- 22. † πεςὶ ἀκουστῶν: De audibilibus. [Ascribed to the school of Theophrastus and Strato by Zeller.]
- 23. † Φυσιογνωμονικά: Physiognomonica: On physiognomy, and the sympathy of body and soul.
- 24. † περὶ φυτῷν: De plantis: On plants. [Not Aristotle’s work on this subject.]
- 25. † περὶ θαυμασίων ἀκουσμάτων: De mirabilibus ausculationibus: On phenomena chiefly connected with natural history.
- 26. † Μηχανικά: Quaestiones mechanicae: Mechanical questions.
- 1. † Προβλήματα: Problemata: Problems on various subjects [gradually collected by the Peripatetics from partly Aristotelian materials, according to Zeller].
- 2. † περὶ ἀτομῶν γραμμῶν: De insecabilibus lineis: On indivisible lines. [Ascribed to Theophrastus, or his time, by Zeller.]
- 3. † ἀνέμων θέσεις καὶ προσηγορίαι: Ventorum situs et appellationes: A fragment on the winds.
- 4. † περὶ Ξενοφάνους, περὶ Ζήνωνος, περὶ Γοργίου: De Xenophane, Zenone et Gorgia: On Xenophanes, Zeno and Gorgias.
D. Primary Philosophy or Theology or Wisdom
- τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά: Metaphysica: On being as being and its properties, its causes and principles, and on God as the motive motor of the world.
- 1. Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια: Ethica Nicomachea: On the good of the individual.
- 2. † Ἠθικὰ μεγάλα: Magna Moralia: On the same subject. [According to Zeller, an abstract of the Nicomachean and the Eudemian Ethics, tending to follow the latter, but possibly an early draft of the Nicomachean Ethics.]
- 3. † Ἠθικὰ Εὐδήμια or πρὸς Εὔδημον: Ethica ad Eudemum: On the same subject. [Usually supposed to be written by Eudemus, but possibly an early draft of the Nicomachean Ethics.]
- 4. † περὶ ἀρετῶν καὶ κακιῶν: De virtutibus et vitiis: On virtues and vices. [An eclectic work of the 1st century B.C., half Academic and half Peripatetic, according to Zeller.]
- 5. Πολιτικά: De re publica: Politics, on the good of the state.
- 6. † Οἰκονομικά: De cura rei familiaris: Economics, on the good of the family. [The first book a work of the school of Theophrastus or Eudemus, the second later Peripatetic, according to Zeller.]
- 1. τἐχνη ῾Ρητορική: Ars rhetorica: On the art of oratory.
- 2. † Ῥητορικὴ πρὸς: Ἀλέξανδρον: Rhetorica ad Alexandrum: On the same subject. [Ascribed to Anaximenes of Lampsacus (fl. 365, Diodorus xv. 76) by Petrus Victorius, and Spengel, but possibly an earlier rhetoric by Aristotle.]
- 3. περὶ Ποιητικῆς: De poetica: On the art of poetry [fragmentary].
Ἀθηναίων πολιτεία De republica Atheniensium: On the Constitution of Athens. [One of the Πολιτεῖαι, said to have been 158 at least, the genuineness of which is attested by the defence which Polybius (xii.) makes of Aristotle’s history of the Epizephyrian Locrians against Timaeus, Aristotle’s contemporary and critic. Hitherto, only fragments have come down to us (cf. Fragm. 381-603). The present treatise, without however its beginning and end, written on a papyrus discovered in Egypt and now in the British Museum, was first edited by F. G. Kenyon 1890–1891.] (See the article Constitution of Athens.)
The Difficulty.—The genuineness of the Aristotelian works, as Leibnitz truly said (De Stilo Phil. Nizolii, xxx.), is ascertained by the conspicuous harmony of their theories, and by their uniform method of swift subtlety. Nevertheless difficulties lurk beneath their general unity of thought and style. In style they are not quite the same: now they are brief and now diffuse: sometimes they are carelessly written, sometimes so carefully as to avoid hiatus, e.g. the Metaphysics Α, and parts of the De Coelo and Parva Naturalia, which in this respect resemble the fragment quoted by Plutarch from the early dialogue Eudemus (Fragm. 44). They also appear to contain displacements, interpolations, prefaces such as that to the Meteorologica, and appendices such as that to the Sophistical Elenchi, which may have been added. An Aristotelian work often goes on continuously at first, and then becomes disappointing by suddenly introducing discussions which break the connexion or are even inconsistent with the beginning; as in the Posterior Analytics, which, after developing a theory of demonstration from necessary principles, suddenly makes the admission, which is also the main theory of science in the Metaphysics, that demonstration is about either the necessary or the contingent, from principles either necessary or contingent, only not accidental. At times order is followed by disorder, as in the Politics. Again, there are repetitions and double versions, e.g. those of the Physics, vii., and those of the De Anima, ii., discovered by Torstrik; or two discussions of the same subject, e.g. of pleasure in the Nicomachean Ethics, vii. and x.; or several treatises on the same subject very like one another, viz. the Nicomachean Ethics, the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia; or, strangest of all, a consecutive treatise and other discourses amalgamated, e.g. in the Metaphysics, where a systematic theory of being running through several books (Β, Γ, Ε, Ζ, Η, Θ) is preceded, interrupted and followed by other discussions of the subject. Further, there are frequently several titles of the same work or of different parts of it. Sometimes diagrams (διαγραφαί or ὑπογραφαί) are mentioned, and sometimes given (e.g. in De Interp. 13, 22 a 22; Nicomachean Ethics, ii. 7; Eudemian Ethics, ii. 3), but sometimes only implied (e.g. in Hist. An. i. 17, 497 a 32; iii. 1, 510 a 30; iv. 1, 525 a 9). The different works are more or less connected by a system of references, which give rise to difficulties, especially when they are cross-references: for example, the Analytics and Topics quote one another: so do the Physics and the Metaphysics; the De Vita and De Respiratione and the De Partibus Animalium; this latter treatise and the De Animalium Incessu; the De Interpretatione and the De Anima. A late work may quote an earlier; but how, it may be asked, can the earlier reciprocally quote the later?
Besides these difficulties in and between the works there are others beyond them. On the one hand, there is the curious story given partly by Strabo (608–609) and partly in Plutarch’s Sulla (c. 26), that Aristotle’s successor Theophrastus left the books of both to their joint pupil, Neleus of Scepsis, where they were hidden in a cellar, till in Sulla’s time they were sold to Apellicon, who made new copies, transferred after Apellicon’s death by Sulla to Rome, and there edited and published by Tyrannio and Andronicus. On the other hand, there are the curious and puzzling catalogues of Aristotelian books, one given by Diogenes Laertius, another by an anonymous commentator (perhaps Hesychius of Miletus) quoted in the notes of Gilles Ménage on Diogenes Laertius, and known as “Anonymus Menagii,” and a third copied by two Arabian writers from Ptolemy, perhaps King Ptolemy Philadelphus, son of the founder of the library at Alexandria. (See Rose, Fragm. pp. 1-22.) But the extraordinary thing is that, without exactly agreeing among themselves, the catalogues give titles which do not agree well with the Aristotelian works as we have them. A title in some cases suits a given work or a part of it; but in other cases there are no titles for works which exist, or titles for works which do not exist.
These difficulties are complicated by various hypotheses concerning the composition of the Aristotelian works. Zeller supposes that, though Aristotle may have made preparations for his philosophical system beforehand, still the properly didactic treatises composing it almost all belong to the last period of his life, i.e. from 335–334 to 322; and from the references of one work to another Zeller has further suggested a chronological order of composition during this period of twelve years, beginning with the treatises on Logic and Physics, and ending with that on Metaphysics. There is a further hypothesis that the Aristotelian works were not originally treatises, but notes of lectures either for or by his pupils. This easily passes into the further and still more sceptical hypothesis that the works, as we have them, under Aristotle’s name, are rather the works of the Peripatetic school, from Aristotle, Theophrastus and Eudemus downwards. “We cannot assert with certainty,” says R. Shute in his History of the Aristotelian Writings (p. 176), “that we have even got throughout a treatise in the exact words of Aristotle, though we may be pretty clear that we have a fair representation of his thought. The unity of style observable may belong quite as much to the school and the method as to the individual.” This sceptical conclusion, the contrary of that drawn by Leibnitz from the harmony of thought and style pervading the works, shows us that the Homeric question has been followed by the Aristotelian question.
The Solution.—Such hypotheses attend to Aristotle’s philosophy to the neglect of his life. He was really, as we have seen, a prolific writer from the time when he was a young man under Plato’s guidance at Athens; beginning with dialogues in the manner of his master, but afterwards preferring to write didactic works during the prime of his own life between thirty-eight and fifty (347–335-334), and with the further advantage of leisure at Atarneus and Mitylene, in Macedonia and at home in Stagira. When at fifty he returned to Athens, as head of the Peripatetic school, he no doubt wrote much of his extant philosophy during the twelve remaining years of his life (335–322). But he was then a busy teacher, was growing old, and suffered from a disease in the stomach for a considerable time before it proved fatal at the age of sixty-three. It is therefore improbable that he could between fifty and sixty-three have written almost the whole of the many books on many subjects constituting that grand philosophical system which is one of the most wonderful works of man. It is far more probable that he was previously composing them at his leisure and in the vigour of manhood, precisely as his contemporary Demosthenes composed all his great speeches except the De Corona before he was fifty.
Turning to Aristotle’s own works, we immediately light upon a surprise: Aristotle began his extant scientific works during Plato’s lifetime. By a curious coincidence, in two different works he mentions two different events as contemporary with the time of writing, one in 357 and the other in 356. In the Politics (Ε 10, 1312 b 10), he mentions as now (νῦν) Dion’s expedition to Sicily which occurred in 357. In the Meteorologica (iii. 1, 371 a 30), he mentions as now (νῦν) the burning of the temple at Ephesus, which occurred in 356. To save his hypothesis of late composition, Zeller resorts to the vagueness of the word “now” (νῦν). But Aristotle is graphically describing isolated events, and could hardly speak of events of 357 and 356 as happening “now” in or near 335. Moreover, these two works contain further proofs that they were both begun earlier than this date. The Politics (Β 10) mentions as having happened lately (νεωστί) the expedition of Phalaecus to Crete, which occurred towards the end of the Sacred War in 346. The Meteorologica (Γ 7) mentions the comet of 341. It is true that the Politics also mentions much later events, e.g. the assassination of Philip which took place in 336 (Ε 10, 1311 b 1-3). Indeed, the whole truth about this great work is that it remained unfinished at Aristotle’s death. But what of that? The logical conclusion is that Aristotle began writing it as early as 357, and continued writing it in 346, in 336, and so on till he died. Similarly, he began the Meteorologica as early as 356 and was still writing it in 341. Both books were commenced some years before Plato’s death: both were works of many years: both were destined to form parts of the Aristotelian system of philosophy. It follows that Aristotle, from early manhood, not only wrote dialogues and didactic works, surviving only in fragments, but also began some of the philosophical works which are still parts of his extant writings. He continued these and no doubt began others during the prime of his life. Having thus slowly matured his separate writings, he was the better able to combine them more and more into a system, in his last years. No doubt, however, he went on writing and rewriting well into the last period of his life; for example, the recently discovered Ἀθηναίων πολιτεία mentions on the one hand (c. 54) the archonship of Cephisophon (329–328), on the other hand (c. 46) triremes and quadriremes but without quinqueremes, which first appeared at Athens in 325–324; and as it mentions nothing later it probably received its final touches between 329 and 324. But it may have been begun long before, and received additions and changes. However early Aristotle began a book, so long as he kept the manuscript, he could always change it. Finally he died without completing some of his works, such as the Politics, and notably that work of his whole philosophic career and foundation of his whole philosophy—the Metaphysics—which, projected in his early criticism of Plato’s philosophy of universal forms, gradually developed into his positive philosophy of individual substances, but remained unfinished after all.
On the whole, then, Aristotle was writing his extant works very gradually for some thirty-five years (357–322), like Herodotus (iv. 30) contemplated additions, continued writing them more or less together, not so much successively as simultaneously, and had not finished writing at his death.
There is a curious characteristic connected with this gradual composition. An Aristotelian treatise frequently has the appearance of being a collection of smaller discourses (λόγοι), as, e.g., K. L. Michelet has remarked.
This is obvious enough in the Metaphysics: it has two openings (Books Α and α); then comes a nearly consecutive theory of being (Β, Γ, Ε, Ζ, Η, Θ), but interrupted by a philosophical lexicon Δ; afterwards follows a theory of unity (Ι); then a summary of previous books and of doctrines from the Physics (Κ); next a new beginning about being, and, what is wanted to complete the system, a theory of God in relation to the world (Λ); finally a criticism of mathematical metaphysics (Μ, Ν), in which the argument against Plato (Α 9) is repeated almost word for word (Μ 4-5). The Metaphysics is clearly a compilation formed from essays or discourses; and it illustrates another characteristic of Aristotle’s gradual method of composition. It refers back to passages “in the first discourses” (ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις λόγοις) —an expression not uncommon in Aristotelian writings. Sometimes the reference is to the beginning of the whole treatise; e.g. Met. Β 2, 997 b 3-5, referring back to Α 6 and 9 about Platonic forms. Sometimes, on the other hand, the reference only goes back to a previous part of a given topic, e.g. Met. Θ 1, 1045 b 27-32, referring back to Ζ 1, or at the earliest to Γ 2. On either alternative, however, “the first discourses” mentioned may have originally been a separate discourse; for Book Γ begins quite fresh with the definition of the science of being, long afterwards called “Metaphysics,” and Book Ζ begins Aristotle’s fundamental doctrine of substance.
Another indication of a treatise having arisen out of separate discourses is its consisting of different parts imperfectly connected. Thus the Nicomachean Ethics begins by identifying the good with happiness (εὐδαιμονία), and happiness with virtuous action. But when it comes to the moral virtues (Book iii. 6), a new motive of the “honourable” (τοῦ καλοῦ ἔνεκα) is suddenly introduced without preparation, where one would expect the original motive of happiness. Then at the end of the moral virtues justice is treated at inordinate length, and in a different manner from the others, which are regarded as means between two vices, whereas justice appears as a mean only because it is of the middle between too much and too little. Later, the discussion on friendship (Books viii.-ix.) is again inordinate in length, and it stands alone. Lastly, pleasure, after having been first defined (Book vii.) as an activity, is treated over again (Book x.) as an end beyond activity, with a warning against confusing activity and pleasure. The probability is that the Nicomachean Ethics is a collection of separate discourses worked up into a tolerably systematic treatise; and the interesting point is that these discourses correspond to separate titles in the list of Diogenes Laertius (περὶ καλοῦ, περὶ δικαίων, περὶ φιλίας, περὶ ἡδονῆς, and περὶ ἡδονῶν). The same list also refers to tentative notes (ὐπομνήματα ἐπιχειρηματικά), and the commentators speak of ethical notes (ἠθικὰ ὑπομνήματα). Indeed, they sometimes divide Aristotle’s works into notes (ὑπομνηματικά) and compilations (συνταγματικά). How can it be doubted that in the gradual composition of his works Aristotle began with notes (ὑπομνήματα) and discourses (λόγοι), and proceeded to treatises (πραγματείαι)? He would even be drawn into this process by his writing materials, which were papyrus rolls of some magnitude; he would tend to write discourses on separate rolls, and then fasten them together in a bundle into a treatise.
If then Aristotle was for some thirty-five years gradually and simultaneously composing manuscript discourses into treatises and treatises into a system, he was pursuing a process which solves beforehand the very difficulties which have since been found in his writings. He could very easily write in different styles at different times, now avoiding hiatus and now not, sometimes writing diffusely and sometimes briefly, partly polishing and partly leaving in the rough, according to the subject, his own state of health or humour, his age, and the degree to which he had developed a given topic; and all this even in the same manuscript as well as in different manuscripts, so that a difference of style between different parts of a work or between different works, explicable by one being earlier than another, does not prove either to be not genuine. As he might write, so might he think differently in his long career. To put one extreme case, about the soul he could think at first in the Eudemus like Plato that it is imprisoned in the body, and long afterwards in the De Anima like himself that it is the immateriate essence of the material bodily organism. Again, he might be inconsistent; now, for example, calling a universal a substance in deference to Plato, and now denying that a universal can be a substance in consequence of his own doctrine that every substance is an individual; and so as to contradict himself in the same treatise, though not in the same breath or at the same moment of thinking. Again, in developing his discourses into larger treatises he might fall into dislocations; although it must be remembered that these are often inventions of critics who do not understand the argument, as when they make out that the treatment of reciprocal justice in the Ethics (v. 5-6) needs rearrangement through their not noticing that, according to Aristotle, reciprocal justice, being the fairness of a commercial bargain, is not part of absolute or political justice, but is part of analogical or economical justice. Or he might make repetitions, as in the same book, where he twice applies the principle, that so far as the agent does the patient suffers, first to the corrective justice of the law court (Eth. v. 4) in order to prove that in a wrong the injurer gains as much as the injured loses, and immediately afterwards to the reciprocal justice of commerce (ib. 5) in order to prove that in a bargain a house must be exchanged for as many shoes as equal it in value. Or he might himself, without double versions, repeat the same argument with a different shade of meaning; as when in the Nic. Ethics (vii. 4) he first argues that incontinence about such natural pleasures as that of gain is only modified incontinence, a sign (as causa cognoscendi) of which is that it is not so bad as incontinence about carnal pleasures, and then argues that, because (as causa essendi) it is only modified incontinence, therefore it is not so bad. Or he might return again and again to the same point with a difference: there is a good instance in his conclusion that the speculative life is the highest happiness; which he first infers because it is the life of man’s highest and divine faculty, intelligence (1176 b-1178 a 8), then after an interval infers a second time because our speculative life is an imitation of that of God (1178 b 7-32), and finally after another interval infers a third time, because it will make man most dear to God (1179 a 22-32). Or, extending himself as it were still more, he might write two drafts, or double versions of his own, on the same subject; e.g. Physics, vii. and De Anima, ii. Or he might, going still further, in his long literary career write two or more treatises on the same subject, different and even more or less inconsistent with each other, as we shall find in the sequel. Finally, having a great number of discourses and treatises, containing all those small blemishes, around him in his library, and determined to collect, consolidate and connect them into a philosophical system, he would naturally be often taking them down from their places to consult and compare one with another, and as naturally enter in them references one to the other, and cross-references between one another. Thus he would enter in the Metaphysics a reference to the Physics, and in the Physics a reference to the Metaphysics, precisely because both were manuscripts in his library. For the same purpose of connexion he would be tempted to add a preface to a book like the Meteorologica. In order to refer back to the Physics, the De Coelo, and the De Generatione, this work begins by stating that the first causes of all nature and all natural motion, the stars ordered according to celestial motion and the bodily elements with their transmutations, and generation and corruption have all been discussed; and by adding that there remains to complete this investigation, what previous investigators called meteorology. To suppose this preface, presupposing many sciences, to have been written in 356, when the Meteorologica had been already commenced, would be absurd; but equally absurd would it be to reject that date on account of the preface, which even a modern author often writes long after his book. Nor is it at all absurd to suppose that, long after he began the Meteorologica, Aristotle himself added the preface in the process of gathering his general treatises on natural science into a system. So he might afterwards add the preface to the De Interpretatione, in order to connect it with the De Anima, though written afterwards, in order to connect his treatises on mind and on its expression. So also he might add the appendix to the Sophistical Elenchi, long after he had written that book, and perhaps, to judge from its being a general claim to have discovered the syllogism, when the founder of logic had more or less realized that he had written a number of connected treatises on reasoning.
The Question of Publication.—There is still another point which would facilitate Aristotle’s gradual composition of discourses into treatises and treatises into a system; there was no occasion for him to publish his manuscripts beyond his school. Printing has accustomed us to publication, and misled us into applying to ancient times the modern method of bringing out one book after another at definite dates by the same author. But Greek authors contemplated works rather than books. Some of the greatest authors were not even writers: Homer, Aesop, Thales, Socrates. Some who were writers were driven to publish by the occasion; and after the orders of government, which were occasionally published to be obeyed, occasional poems, such as the poems of Solon, the odes of Pindar and the plays of the dramatists, which all had a political significance, were probably the first writings to be published or, rather, recited and acted, from written copies. With them came philosophical poems, such as those of Xenophanes and Empedocles; the epical history of Herodotus; the dramatic philosophy of Plato. On a larger scale speeches written by orators to be delivered by litigants were published and encouraged publication; and, as the Attic orators were his contemporaries, publication had become pretty common in the time of Aristotle, who speaks of many bundles (δέσμας) of judicial speeches by Isocrates being hawked about by the booksellers (Fragm. 140).
No doubt then Aristotle’s library contained published copies of the works of other authors, as well as the autographs of his own. It does not follow that his own works went beyond his library and his school. Publication to the world is designed for readers, who at all times have demanded popular literature rather than serious philosophy such as that of Aristotle. Accordingly it becomes a difficult question, how far Aristotle’s works were published in his lifetime. In answering it we must be careful to exclude any evidence which refers to Aristotle as a man, not as a writer, or refers to him as a writer but does not prove publication while he was alive.
Beginning then with his early writings, which are now lost, the dialogues On Poetry and the Eudemus were probably the published discourses to which Aristotle himself refers (Poetics, 15; De Anima, i. 4); and the dialogue Protrepticus was known to the Cynic Crates, pupil of Diogenes and master of Zeno (Fragm. 50), but not necessarily in Aristotle’s lifetime, as Crates was still alive in 307. Again, Aristotle’s early rhetorical instructions and perhaps writings, as well as his opinion that a collection of proverbs is not worth while, must have been known outside Aristotle’s rhetorical school to the orator Cephisodorus, pupil of Isocrates and master of Demosthenes, for him to be able to write in his Replies to Aristotle (ἐν ταῖς πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην ἀντιγραφαῖς) an admired defence of Isocrates (Dionys. H. De Isoc. 18). But this early dialectic and rhetoric, being popular, would tend to be published. History comes nearer to philosophy; and Aristotle’s Constitutions were known to his enemy Timaeus, who attacked him for disparaging the descent of the Locrians of Italy, according to Polybius (xii.), who defended Aristotle. But as Timaeus brought his history down to 264 B.C. (Polyb. i. 5), and therefore might have got his information after Aristotle’s death, we cannot be sure that any of the Constitutions were published in the author’s lifetime. We are equally at a loss to prove that Aristotle published his philosophy. He had, like all the great, many enemies, personal and philosophical; but in his lifetime they attacked the man, not his philosophy. In the Megarian school, first Eubulides quarrelled with him and calumniated him (Diog. Laert. ii. 109) in his lifetime; but the attack was on his life, not on his writings: afterwards Stilpo wrote a dialogue (Ἀριστοτέλης), which may have been a criticism of the Aristotelian philosophy from the Megarian point of view; but he outlived Aristotle thirty years. In the absence of any confirmation, “the current philosophemata” (τὰ ἐγκύκλια φιλοσοφήματα), mentioned in the De Coela (i. 9, 279 a 30), are sometimes supposed to be Aristotle’s published philosophy, to which he is referring his readers. But the example there given, that the divine is unchangeable, is precisely such a religious commonplace as might easily be a current philosopheme of Aristotle’s day, not of Aristotle; and this interpretation suits the parallel passage in the Nic. Ethics (i. 5, 1096 a 3) where opinions about the happiness of political life are said to have been sufficiently treated “even in current discussions” (καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἐγκυκλίοις).
There is therefore no contemporary proof that Aristotle published any part of his mature philosophical system in his lifetime. It is true that a book of Andronicus, as reported by Aulus Gellius (xx. 5), contained a correspondence between Alexander and Aristotle in which the pupil complained that his master had published his “acroatic discourses” (τοὺς ἀκροατικοὺς τῶν λόγων). But ancient letters are proverbially forgeries, and in the three hundred years which elapsed between the supposed correspondence and the time of Andronicus there was plenty of time for the forgery of these letters. But even if the correspondence is genuine, “acroatic discourses” must be taken to mean what Alexander would mean by them in the time of Aristotle, and not what they had come to mean by the time of Andronicus. Alexander meant those discourses which Aristotle, when he was his tutor, intended for the ears of himself and his fellow-pupils; such as the early political works on Monarchy and on Colonies, and the early rhetorical works, the Theodectea, the Collection of Arts, and possibly the Rhetoric to Alexander, in the preface to which the writer actually says to Alexander: “You wrote to me that nobody else should receive this book.” These few early works may have been published, and contrary to the wishes of Alexander, without affecting Aristotle’s later system. But even so, Alexander’s complaint would not justify writers three centuries later in taking Alexander to have referred to mature scientific writings, which were not addressed, and not much known, to him, the conqueror of Asia; although by the times of Andronicus and Aulus Gellius, Aristotle’s scientific writings were all called acroatic, or acroamatic, or sometimes esoteric, in distinction from exoteric—a distinction altogether unknown to Aristotle, and therefore to Alexander. In the absence of any contemporary evidence, we cannot believe that Aristotle in his lifetime published any, much less all, of his scientific books. The conclusion then is that Aristotle on the one hand to some extent published his early dialectical and rhetorical writings, because they were popular, though now they are lost, but on the other hand did not publish any of the extant historical and philosophical works which belong to his mature system, because they were best adapted to his philosophical pupils in the Peripatetic school. The object of the philosopher was not the applause of the public but the truth of things. Now this conclusion has an important bearing on the composition of Aristotle’s writings and on the difficulties which have been found in them. If he had like a modern author brought out each of his extant philosophical works on a definite day of publication, he would not have been able to change them without a second edition, which in the case of serious writings so little in demand would not be worth while. But as he did not publish them, but kept the unpublished manuscripts together in his library and used them in his school, he was able to do with them as he pleased down to the very end of his life, and so gradually to consolidate his many works into one system.
While Aristotle did not publish his philosophical works to the world, he freely communicated them to the Peripatetic school. They are not mere lectures; but he used them for lectures: he allowed his pupils to read them in his library, and probably to take copies from them. He also used diagrams, which are sometimes incorporated in his works, but sometimes are only mentioned, and were no doubt used for purposes of teaching. He also availed himself of his pupils’ co-operation, as we may judge from his description in the Ethics (x. 7) of the speculative philosopher who, though he is self-sufficing, is better having co-operators (συνεργοὺς ἔχων). From an early time he had a tendency to address his writings to his friends. For example, he addressed the Theodectea to his pupil Theodectes; and even in ancient times a doubt arose whether it was a work of the master or the pupil. It was certainly by Aristotle, because it contained the triple grammatical division of words into noun, verb and conjunction, which the history of grammar recognized as his discovery. But we may explain the share of Theodectes by supposing that he had a hand in the work (cf. Dionys. H. De Comp. Verb. 2; Quintilian i. 4. 18). Similarly in astronomy, Aristotle used the assistance of Eudoxus and Callippus. Indeed, throughout his writings he shows a constant wish to avail himself of what is true in the opinions of others, whether they are philosophers, or poets or ordinary people expressing their thoughts in sayings and proverbs. With one of his pupils in particular, Theophrastus, who was born about 370 and therefore was some fifteen years younger than himself, he had a long and intimate connexion; and the work of the pupil bears so close a resemblance to that of his master, that, even when he questions Aristotle’s opinions (as he often does), he seems to be writing in an Aristotelian atmosphere; while he shows the same acuteness in raising difficulties, and has caught something of the same encyclopaedic genius. Another pupil, Eudemus of Rhodes, wrote and thought so like his master as to induce Simplicius to call him the most genuine of Aristotle’s companions (ὁ γνησιώτατος τῶν Άριστοτέλους ἑταίρων). It is probable that this extraordinary resemblance is due to the pupils having actually assisted their master; and this supposition enables us to surmount a difficulty we feel in reading Aristotle’s works. How otherwise, we wonder, could one man writing alone and with so few predecessors compose the first systematic treatises on the psychology of the mental powers and on the logic of reasoning, the first natural history of animals, and the first civil history of one hundred and fifty-eight constitutions, in addition to authoritative treatises on metaphysics, biology, ethics, politics, rhetoric and poetry; in all penetrating to the very essence of the subject, and, what is most wonderful, describing more facts than any other man has ever done on so many subjects?
The Uncompleted Works.—Such then was the method of composition by which Aristotle began in early manhood to write his philosophical works, continued them gradually and simultaneously, combined shorter discourses into longer treatises, compared and connected them, kept them together in his library without publishing them, communicated them to his school, used the co-operation of his best pupils, and finally succeeded in combining many mature writings into one harmonious system. Nevertheless, being a man, he did not quite succeed. He left some unfinished; such as the Categories, in which the main part on categories is not finished, while the last part, afterwards called postpredicaments, is probably not his, the Politics and the Poetics. He left others imperfectly arranged, and some of the most important, the Metaphysics, the Politics and the logical writings. Of the imperfect arrangement of the Metaphysics we have already spoken; and we shall speak of that of his logical writings when we come to the order of his whole system. At present the Politics will supply us with a conspicuous example of the imperfect arrangement of some, as well as of the gradual composition of all, of Aristotle’s extant writings.
The Politics was begun as early as 357, yet not finished in 322. It betrays its origin from separate discourses. First comes a general theory of constitutions, right and wrong (Books Α, Β, Γ); and this part is afterwards referred to as “the first discourses” (ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις λόγοις). Then follows the treatment of oligarchy, democracy, commonwealth and tyranny, and of the various powers of government (Δ), and independent investigation of revolution, and of the means of preserving states (Ε), and a further treatment of democracy and oligarchy, and of the different offices of the state (Ζ), and finally a return to the discussion of the right form of constitution (Η, Θ). But Δ and Ζ are a group interrupted by Ε, and Η and Θ are another group unconnected with the previous group and with Ε, and are also distinguished in style by avoiding hiatus. Further, the group (Δ, Ζ) and the group (Η, Θ) are both unfinished. Finally the group (Δ, Ζ), the book (Ε) and the group (Η, Θ) though unconnected with one another, are all connected though imperfectly with “the first discourses” (Α, Β, Γ). This complicated arrangement may be represented in the following diagram:—
The simplest explanation is that Aristotle began by writing separate discourses, four at least, on political subjects; that he continued to write them and perhaps tried to combine them: but that in the end he failed and left the Politics unfinished and in disorder. But modern commentators, possessed by the fallacy that Aristotle like a modern author must from the first have A.D.), or to put the group Η, Θ, as more connected with Α, Β, Γ, before the group Δ, Ζ, and this group before the book E. It is agreed, says Zeller, that the traditional order contradicts the original plan. But what right have we to say that Aristotle had an original plan?a whole treatise in a regular order for definite publication, lose themselves in vain disputes as to whether to go by the traditional order of books indicated by their letters and known to have existed as early as the abstract (given in Stobaeus, Ecl. ii. 7) ascribed to Didymus (1st century
The incomplete state in which Aristotle left the Metaphysics, the Politics and his logical works, brings us to the hard question how much he did, and how much his Peripatetic followers did to his writings after his death. To answer it we should have to go far beyond Aristotle. But two corollaries follow from our present investigation of his extant writings; the first, that it was the long continuance of the Peripatetic school which gradually caused the publication, and in some cases the forgery, of the separate writings; and the second, that his Peripatetic successors arranged and edited some of Aristotle’s writings, and gradually arrived by the time of Andronicus, the eleventh from Aristotle, at an order of the whole body of writings forming the system. Now, it is probable that the arrangement of the works which we are considering was done by the Peripatetic successors of Aristotle. There is nothing indeed in the Metaphysics to show whether he left it in isolated treatises or in its present disorder; and nothing in the Politics. On the other hand, in the case of logic, it is certain that he did not combine his works on the subject into one whole, but that the Peripatetics afterwards put them together as organic, and made them the parts of logic as an organon, as they are treated by Andronicus. Perhaps something similar occurred to the Metaphysics, as Alexander imputed its redaction to Eudemus, and the majority of ancient commentators attributed its second opening (Book α) to Pasicles, nephew of Eudemus. Again, it is not unlikely that the Politics was arranged in the traditional order of books by Theophrastus, and that this is the meaning of the curious title occurring in the list of Aristotle’s works as given by Diogenes Laertius, πολιτικῆς ἀκροάσεως ὡς ἡ Θεοφράστου α´β´γ´δ´ε´ς´ζ´η´, which agrees with the Politics in having eight books. Although, however, we may concede that such great works as the Metaphysics, the Politics and the logical writings did not receive their present form from Aristotle himself, that concession does not deprive Aristotle of the authorship, but only of the arrangement of those works. On the contrary, Theophrastus and Eudemus, his immediate followers, both wrote works presupposing Aristotle’s Metaphysics and his logical works, and Dicaearchus, their contemporary, used his Politics for his own Tripoliticus. It was Aristotle himself then who wrote these works, whether he arranged them or not; and if he wrote the incomplete works, then a fortiori he wrote the completed works except those which are proved spurious, and practically consummated the Aristotelian system, which, as Leibnitz said, by its unity of thought and style evinces its own genuineness and individuality. We must not exaggerate the school and underrate the individual, especially such an individual. What he mainly wanted was the time, the leisure and the labour, which we have supposed to have been given to the gradual composition of the extant Aristotelian writings. Aristotle, asked where dwell the Muses, answered, “In the souls of those who love work.”
IV. Earlier and Later Writings
Aristotle’s quotations of his other books and of historical facts only inform us at best of the dates of isolated passages, and cannot decide the dates and sequences of whole philosophical books which occupied him for many years. Is there then any way of discriminating between early and late works? There is the evidence of the influences under which the books were written. This evidence applies to the whole Aristotelian literature including the fragments. As to the fragments, we are safe in saying that the early dialogues in the manner of Plato were written under the influence of Plato, and that the subsequent didactic writings connected with Alexander were written more under the influence of Philip and Alexander. Turning to the extant writings, we find that some are more under the influence of Plato, while others are more original and Aristotelian. Also some writings are more rudimentary than others on the same subject; and some have the appearance of being first drafts of others. By these differences we can do something to distinguish between earlier and later philosophical works; and also vindicate as genuine some works, which have been considered spurious because they do not agree in style or in matter with his most mature philosophy. In thirty-five years of literary composition, Aristotle had plenty of time to change, because any man can differ from himself at different times.
On these principles, we regard as early genuine philosophical works of Aristotle, (1) the Categories, (2) the De Interpretatione;(3) the Eudemian Ethics and Magna Moralia; (4) the Rhetoric to Alexander.
1. The Categories (κατηγορίαι).—This short discourse turns on Aristotle’s fundamental doctrine of individual substances, without which there is nothing. He arrives at it from a classification of categories, by which he here means “things stated in no combination” (τὰ κατὰ μηδεμίαν συμπλοκὴν λεγόμενα) or what we should call “names,” capable of becoming predicates (κατηγορούμενα κατηγορίαι). “Every name,” says he (chap. 4), “signifies either substance or something quantitative, or qualitative, or relative, or somewhere, or sometimes, or that it is in a position, or in a condition, or active or passive.” He immediately adds that, by the combination of these names with one another, affirmation or negation arises. The categories then are names signifying things capable of becoming predicates in a proposition. Next he proceeds to substances (οὐσίαι), which he divides into primary (πρῶται) and secondary (δεύτεραι). “Substance”, says he (chap. 5), “which is properly, primarily and especially so called, is that which is neither a predicate of a subject nor inherent in a subject; for example, a particular man, or a particular horse. Secondary substances so called are the species in which are the primarily called substances, and the genera of these species: for example, a particular man is in a species, man, the genus of which is animal: these then are called secondary substances, man and animal.” Having made these subdivisions of substance, he thereupon reduces secondary substances and all the rest of the categories to belongings of individual or primary substances. “All other things”, says he, “are either predicates of primary substances as subjects” (καθ᾽ ὑποκειμένων τῶν πρώτων οὐσιῶν) “or inherent in them as subjects” (ἐν ὑποκειμέναις αὐταῖς). He explains that species and genus are predicates of, and that other categories (e.g. the quality of colour) are inherent in, some individual substance such as a particular man. Then follows his conclusion: “without primary substances it is impossible for anything to be” (μὴ οὐσῶν οῧν τῶν πρώτων οὐσιῶν τῶν ἄλλων τι εἶναι. Cat. 5, 2 b 5-6).
Things are individual substances, without which there is nothing—this is the fundamental point of Aristotelianism, as against Platonism, of which the fundamental point is that things are universal forms without which there becomes nothing. The world, according to Aristotle, consists of substances, each of which is a separate individual, this man, this horse, this animal, this plant, this earth, this water, this air, this fire; in the heavens that moon, that sun, those stars; above all, God. On the other hand, a universal species or genus of substances is a predicate which, as well as everything else in all the other categories, always belongs to some individual substance or other as subject, and has no separate being. In full, then, a substance is a separate individual, having universals, and things in all other categories, inseparably belonging to it. The individual substance Socrates, for example, is a man and an animal (οὐσία), tall, (ποσόν), white (ποιόν), a husband (πρός τι), in the market (ποῦ), yesterday (πότε), sitting (κεῖσθαι), armed (ἔχειν), talking (ποιεῖν), listening (πάσχειν). Aristotelianism is this philosophy of substantial things.
The doctrine that all things are substances which are separate individuals, stated in the Categories, is expanded in the Metaphysics. Both works arrive at it from the classification of categories, which is the same in both; except that in the former the categories are treated rather as a logical classification of names signifying things, in the latter rather as a metaphysical classification of things. In neither, however, are they a grammatical classification of words by their structure; and in neither are they a psychological classification of notions or general conceptions (νοήματα), such as they afterwards became in Kant’s Critique and the post-Kantian idealism. Moreover, even in the Categories as names signifying distinct things they imply distinct things; and hence the Categories, as well as the Metaphysics, draws the metaphysical conclusion that individual substances are the things without which there is nothing else, and thereby lays the positive foundation of the philosophy running through all the extant Aristotelian writings.
Again, according to both works, an individual substance is a subject, a universal its predicate; and they have in common the Aristotelian metaphysics, which differs greatly from the modern logic of subject and predicate. Subject (ὑποκείμενον) originally meant a real thing which is the basis of something, and was used by Aristotle both for a thing to which something belongs and for a name of which another is asserted: accordingly “predicate” (κατηγορούμενον) came with him to mean something really belonging (ὑπάρχον) to a substance as real subject, as well as a name capable of being asserted of a name as a nominal subject. In other words, to him subject meant real as well as nominal subject, and predicate meant real as well as nominal predicate; whereas modern logic has gradually reduced both to the nominal terms of a proposition. Accordingly, when he said that a substance is a subject, he meant a real subject; and when he said that a universal species or genus is a predicate, he meant that it is a real predicate belonging to a real subject, which is always some individual substance of the kind. It follows that Aristotelianism in the Categories and in the Metaphysics is a realism both of individuals and of universals; of individual substances as real subjects, and of universals as real predicates.
Lastly, the two works agree in reducing the Categories to substance and its belongings (ὑπάρχοντα). According to both, it is always some substance, such as Socrates, which is quantitative, qualitative, relative, somewhere, some time, placed, conditioned, active, passive; so that all things in all other categories are attributes which are belongings of substances. There are therefore two kinds of belongings, universals and attributes; and in both cases belonging in the sense of having no being but the being of the substance.
In brief then the common ground of the Categories and the Metaphysics is the fundamental position that all things are substances having belonging to them universals and attributes, which have no separate being as Plato falsely supposed.
This essential agreement suffices to show that the Categories and the Metaphysics are the result of one mind. Nevertheless, there is a deep difference between them in detail, which may be expressed by saying that the Categories is nearer to Platonism. We have seen how anxious Aristotle was to be considered one of the Platonists, how reluctant he was to depart from Plato’s hypothesis of forms, and how, in denying the separability, he retained the Platonic belief in the reality and even in the unity of the universal. We have now to see that, in writing the Categories, on the one hand he carried his differences from his master further than he had done in his early criticisms by insisting that individual substances are not only real, but are the very things which sustain the universal; but on the other hand, he clung to further relics of the Platonic theory, and it is those which differentiate the Categories and the Metaphysics.
In the first place, in the Categories the belonging of things in other categories to individual substances in the first category is not so well developed. A distinction (chap. 2) is drawn between things which are predicates of a subject (καθ᾽ ὑποκείμενον) and things which inhere in a subject (ἐν ὑποκειμένῳ); and, while universals are called predicates of a subject, things in a subordinate category, i.e. attributes such as colour (χρῶμα) in the qualitative, are said to inhere in a subject. It is true that the work gives only a negative definition of the inherent, namely, that it does not inhere as a part and cannot exist apart from that in which it inheres (1 a 24-25), and it admits that what is inherent may sometimes also be a predicate (chap. 5, 2 a 27-34). The commentators explain this to mean that an attribute as individual is inherent, as universal is a predicate. But even so the Categories concludes that everything is either a predicate of, or inherent in, a substance; and the view that this colour belongs to this substance only in the sense of being in it, not of it, leaves the impression that, like a Platonic form, it is an entity rather in than of an individual substance, though even in the Categories Aristotle is careful to deny its separability. The hypothesis of inherence gives an inadequate account of the dependence of an attribute on a substance, and is a kind of half-way house between separation and predication.
On the other hand, in the Metaphysics, the distinction between inherence and predication disappears; and what is more, the relation of an attribute to a substance is regarded as so close that an attribute is merely the substance modified. “The thing itself and the thing affected,” says Aristotle, “are in a way the same; e.g. Socrates and Socrates musical” (Met. Δ 29, 1024 b 30-31). Consequently, all attributes, as well as universals, belong as predicates of individual substances as subjects, according to the Metaphysics, and also according to the most authoritative works of Aristotle, such as the Posterior Analytics, where (cf. i. 4, 22) an attribute (συμβεβηκός) is said to be only by being the substance possessing it, and any separation of an attribute from a substance is held to be entirely a work of human abstraction (ἀφαίρεσις). At this point, Plato and Aristotle have become very far apart: to the master beauty appears to be an independent thing, and really separate, to the pupil at his best only something beautiful, an attribute which is only mentally separable from an individual substance. The first difference then between the Categories and the Metaphysics is in the nature of an attribute; and the theory of inherence in the Categories is nearer to Plato and more rudimentary than the theory of predication in the Metaphysics. The second difference is still nearer to Plato and more rudimentary, and is in the nature of substance. For though both works rest on the reality of individual substances, the Categories (chap. 5) admits that universal species and genera can be called substances, whereas the Metaphysics (Ζ 13) denies that a universal can be a substance at all.
It is evident that in the category of substance, as Aristotle perceived, substance is predicate of substance, e.g. Socrates (οὐσία) is a man (οὐσία), and an animal (οὐσία). The question then arises, what sort of substance can be predicate; and in the Categories Aristotle gave an answer, which would have been impossible, if he had not, under Plato’s influence, accepted both the unity and the substantiality of the universal. What he said in consequence was that the substance in the predicate is not an individual substance, e.g. this man or this animal, because such a primary substance is not a predicate; but that the species man or the genus animal is the substance which is the predicate of Socrates the subject (Cat. 5, 3 a 36 seq.). Finding then that substances are real predicates, and supposing that in that case they must be species or genera, he could not avoid the conclusion that some substances are species or genera, which were therefore called by him “secondary substances,” and by his Latin followers substantiae universales. It is true that this conclusion gave him some misgivings, because he recognized that it is a characteristic of a substance to signify an individual (τόδε τι), which a species or a genus does not signify (ib. 5, 3 b 10-21). Nevertheless, in the Categories, he did not venture to deny that in the category of substance a universal species (e.g. man), or genus (e.g. animal), is itself a substance. On the other hand, in the Metaphysics (Ζ 13), he distinctly denies that any universal can be a substance, on the ground that a substance is a subject, whereas a universal is a predicate and a belonging of a subject, from which it follows as he says that no universal is a substance, and no substance universal. Here again the Categories forms a kind of transition from Platonism to the Metaphysics which is the reverse: to call universals “secondary substances” is half way between Plato’s calling them the only substances and Aristotle’s denial in the Metaphysics that they are substances at all.
What conclusion are we to draw from these differences between the Categories and the Metaphysics? The only logical conclusion is that the Categories, being nearer to Plato on the nature of attributes, and still nearer on the relation of universals to substances, is earlier than the Metaphysics. There are difficulties no doubt in drawing this conclusion; because the Metaphysics, though it denies that universals can be substances, and does not allow species and genera to be called “secondary substances,” nevertheless falls itself into calling a universal essence (τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι) a substance—and that too in the very book where it is proved that no universal can be a substance. But this lapse only shows how powerful a dominion Plato exercised over Aristotle’s soul to the last; for it arises out of the pupil still accepting from his master the unity of the universal though now applying it, not to classes, but to essences. The argument about essences in the Metaphysics is as follows:—Since a separate individual, e.g. Socrates, is a substance, and he is essentially a rational animal, then his essence, being what he is, is a substance; for we cannot affirm that Socrates is a substance and then deny that this rational animal is a substance (Met. Ζ 3). Now, according to the unity of a universal asserted by Plato and accepted by Aristotle, the universal essence of species, being one and the same for all individuals of the kind, is the same as the essence of each individual: e.g. the rational animal in the human species and in Socrates is one and the same; “for the essence is indivisible” (ἄτομον γὰρ τὸ εἶδος, Met. Ζ 8, 1034 a 8). It follows that we must call this selfsame essence, at once individual and universal, substance—a conclusion, however, which Aristotle never drew in so many words, though he continued always to call essence substance, and definition a knowledge of substance.
There is therefore a history of Aristotle’s metaphysical views, corresponding to his gradual method of composition. It is as follows:—
(1) Negative rejection of Plato’s hypothesis of forms and formal numbers, and reduction of forms to the common in the early dialogue περὶ φιλοσοφίας and in the early work περὶ ἰδεῶν.
(2) Positive assertion of the doctrine that things are individual substances in the Categories, but with the admission that attributes sometimes inhere in substance without being predicates of it, and that universal species and genera are “secondary substances.”
(3) Expansion of the doctrine that things are individual substances in the Metaphysics, coupled with the reduction of all attributes to predicates, and the direct denial of universal substances; but nevertheless calling the universal essence of a species of substances substance, because the individual essence of an individual substance really is that substance, and the universal essence of the whole species is supposed to be indivisible and therefore identical with the individual essence of any individual of the species.
2. The De Interpretatione.—Another example of Aristotle’s gradual desertion of Plato is exhibited by the De Interpretatione as compared with the Prior Analytics, and it shows another gradual history in Aristotle’s philosophy, namely, the development of subject, predicate and copula, in his logic.
The short discourse on the expression of thought by language (περὶ Έρμηνείας, De Interpretatione) is based on the Platonic division of the sentence (λόγος) into noun and verb (ὄνομα and ῥῆμα.) Its point is to separate the enunciative sentence, or that in which there is truth or falsity, from other sentences; and then, dismissing the rest to rhetoric or poetry (where we should say grammar), to discuss the enunciative sentence (ἀποφαντικὸς λόγος), or enunciation (ἀποφανσίς), or what we should call the proposition (De Int. chap. 4). Here Aristotle, starting from the previous grammar of sentences in general, proceeded, for the first time in philosophical literature, to disengage the logic of the proposition, or that sentence which can alone be true or false, whereby it alone enters into reasoning. But in spite of this great logical achievement, he continued throughout the discourse to accept Plato’s grammatical analysis of all sentences into noun and verb, which indeed applies to the proposition as a sentence but does not give its particular elements. The first part of the work confines itself strictly to noun and verb, or the form of proposition called secundi adjacentis. Afterwards (chap. 10) proceeding to the opposition of propositions, he adds the form called tertii adjacentis, in a passage which is the first appearance, or rather adumbration, of the verb of being as a copula. In the form secundi adjacentis we only get oppositions, such as the following:—
|man is—man is not|
not-man is—not-man is not
In the form tertii adjacentis the oppositions, becoming more complex, are doubled, as follows:—
|man is just—man is not just|
man is non-just—man is not non-just
not-man is just—not-man is not just
not-man is non-just—not-man is not non-just.
The words introducing this form (δταν δὲ τὸ ἔστι τρίτον προσκατηγορῆται, chap. 10, 19 b 19), which are the origin of the phrase tertii adjacentis, disengage the verb of being (ἔστι) partially but not entirely, because they still treat it as an extra part of the predicate, and not as a distinct copula. Nor does the work get further than the analysis of some propositions into noun and verb with “is” added to the predicated verb; an analysis, however, which was a great logical discovery and led Aristotle further to the remark that “is” does not mean “exists”; e.g. “Homer is a poet” does not mean “Homer exists” (De Int. chap. 11).
How then did Aristotle get further in the logical analysis of the proposition? Not in the De Interpretatione, but in the Prior Analytics. The first adumbration was forced upon him in the former work by his theory of opposition; the complete appearance in the latter work by his theory of syllogism. In analysing the syllogism, he first says that a premiss is an affirmative or negative sentence, and then that a term is that into which a premiss is dissolved, i.e. predicate and subject, combined or divided by being and not being (Pr. An. i. 1). Here, for the first time in logical literature, subject and predicate suddenly appear as terms, or extremes, with the verb of being (τὸ εἶναι) or not being (τὸ μὴ εἶναι) completely disengaged from both, but connecting them as a copula. Why here? Because the crossing of terms in a syllogism requires it. In the syllogism “Every man is mortal and Socrates is a man,” if in the minor premiss the copula “is” were not disengaged from the predicate “man,” there would not be one middle term “man” in the two premisses. It is not necessary in every proposition, but it is necessary in the arrangement of a syllogism, to extricate the terms of its propositions from the copula; e.g. mortal—man—Socrates.
This important difference between the De Interpretatione and the Prior Analytics can only be explained by supposing that the former is the earlier treatise. It is nearer to Plato’s analysis of the sentence, and no logician would have gone back to it, after the Prior Analytics. It is not spurious, as some have supposed, nor later than the De Anima, as Zeller thought, but Aristotle in an earlier frame of mind.
Moreover we can make a history of Aristotle’s thought and gradual composition thus:
(1) Earlier acceptance in the De Interpretatione of Plato’s grammatical analysis of the sentence into noun and verb (secundi adjacentis) but gradually disengaging the proposition, and afterwards introducing the verb of being as a third thing added (tertium adjacens) to the predicated verb, for the purpose of opposition.
(2) Later logical analysis in the Prior Analytics of the proposition as premiss into subject, predicate and copula, for the purpose of syllogism; but without insisting that the original form is illogical.
3. The Eudemian Ethics and Magna Moralia in relation to the Nicomachean Ethics.—Under the name of Aristotle, three treatises on the good of man have come down to us, Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια (πρὸς Νικόμαχον, Porphyry), Ἠθικὰ Εὐδήμια (πρὸς Εὔδημον, Porphyry), and Ἠθικὰ μεγάλα; so like one another that there seems no tenable hypothesis except that they are the manuscript writings of one man. Nevertheless, the most usual hypothesis is that, while the Nicomachean Ethics (E.N.) was written by Aristotle to Nicomachus, the Eudemian (E.E.) was written, not to, but by, Eudemus, and the Magna Moralia (M.M.) was written by some early disciple before the introduction of Stoic and Academic elements into the Peripatetic school. The question is further complicated by the fact that three Nicomachean books (E.N. v.-vii.) and three Eudemian (E.E. Δ-Ζ) are common to the two treatises, and by the consequent question whether, on the hypothesis of different authorship, the common books, as we may style them, were written for the Nicomachean by Aristotle, or for the Eudemian Ethics by Eudemus, or some by one and some by the other author. Against the “Chorizontes,” who have advanced various hypotheses on all these points without convincing one another, it may be objected that they have not considered Aristotle’s method of gradual and simultaneous composition of manuscripts within the Peripatetic school. We have to remember the traces of his separate discourses, and his own double versions; and that, as in ancient times Simplicius, who had two versions of the Physics, Book vii., suggested that both were early versions of Book viii. on the same subject, so in modern times Torstrik, having discovered that there were two versions of the De Anima, Book ii., suggested that both were by Aristotle. Above all, we must consider our present point that Platonic influence is a sign of earliness in an Aristotelian work; and generally, the same man may both think and write differently at different times, especially if, like Aristotle, he has been a prolific author.
These considerations make it probable that the author of all three treatises was Aristotle himself; while the analysis of the treatises favours the hypothesis that he wrote the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia more or less together as the rudimentary first drafts of the mature Nicomachean Ethics.
As the Platonic philosophy was primarily moral, and its metaphysics a theory of the moral order of the universe, Aristotle from the first must have mastered the Platonic ethics. At first he adopted the somewhat ascetic views of his master about soul and body, and about goods of body and estate; but before Plato’s death he had rejected the hypothesis of forms, formal numbers and the form of the good identified with the one, by which Plato tried to explain moral phenomena; while his studies and teaching on rhetoric and poetry soon began to make him take a more tolerant view than Plato did of men’s passions. Throughout his whole subsequent life, however, he retained the fundamental doctrine, which he had learnt from Plato, and Plato from Socrates, that virtue is essential to happiness. Twice over this tenet, which makes Socrates, Plato and Aristotle one ethical school, inspired Aristotle to attempt poetry: first, in the Elegy to Eudemus of Cyprus, in which, referring to either Socrates or Plato, he praises the man who first showed clearly that a good and happy man are the same (Fragm. 673); and secondly, in the Hymn in memory of Hermias, beginning “Virtue, difficult to the human race, noblest pursuit in life” (ib. 675). Moreover, the successors of Plato in the Academy, Speusippus and Xenocrates, showed the same belief in the essentiality of virtue. The question which divided them was what the good is. Speusippus took the ascetic view that the good is a perfect condition of neutrality between two contrary evils, pain and pleasure. Xenocrates took the tolerant view that it is the possession of appropriate virtue and noble actions, requiring as conditions bodily and external goods. Aristotle was opposed to Speusippus, and nearly agreed with Xenocrates. According to him, the good is activity of soul in accordance with virtue in a mature life, requiring as conditions bodily and external goods of fortune; and virtue is a mean state of the passions. It is probable that when, after Plato’s death and the accession of Speusippus in 347, Aristotle with Xenocrates left Athens to visit his former pupil Hermias, the three discussed this moderate system of Ethics in which the two philosophers nearly agreed. At any rate, it was adopted in each of the three moral treatises which pass under the name of Aristotle.
The three treatises are in very close agreement throughout, and in the following details. The good of Ethics is human good; and human good is happiness, not the universal good or form of the good to which Plato subordinated human happiness. Happiness is activity of soul according to virtue in a mature life: it requires other goods only as conditions. The soul is partly irrational, partly rational; and therefore there are two kinds of virtue. Moral virtue, which is that of the irrational desires so far as they are obedient to reason, is a purposive habit in the mean. The motive of the moral virtues is the honourable (τὸ καλόν, honestum). As the rational is either deliberative or scientific, either practical or speculative intellect, there are two virtues of the intellect—prudence of the deliberative or practical, and wisdom of the scientific or speculative, intellect. The right reason by which moral virtue is determined is prudence, which is determined in its turn by wisdom. Pleasure is a psychical state, and is not a generation in the body supplying a defect and establishing a natural condition, but an activity of a natural condition of the soul. It should be specially noted that this doctrine like the rest is common to the three treatises: in Book vii. of the Nicomachean, which is Ζ of the Eudemian, pleasure is defined as ἐνέργεια τῆς κατὰ φύσιν ἔξεως ἀνεμπόδιστος (chap. 12, 1153 a 14-15); and in the Magna Moralia as ἡ κἰνησις αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἐνέργεια (ii. 7, 1204 b 28; cf. 1205 b 20-28). It is plain from the context that in the former definition “the natural condition” (ἡ κατὰ φύσιν ἔξις) refers to the soul which, while the body is regenerated, remains unimpaired (cf. 1152 b 35 seq., 1154 b 15 seq.); and in the latter definition the thing (αὐτοῦ), whose “motion, that is activity” is spoken of, is the part of the soul with which we feel pleased.
Down then to their common definition of pleasure as activity the three treatises present a harmonious system of morals, consistently with one another, and with the general philosophy of Aristotle. In particular, the theory that pleasure is activity (ἐνέργεια) is the theory of two of his most authoritative works. In the De Anima (iii. 7, 431 a 10-12), being pleased and pained are defined by him as acting τὸ (ἐνεργεῖν) by a sensitive mean in relation to good or evil as such. In the Metaphysics (Λ 7, 1072 b 16), in discussing the occupation of God, he says “his pleasure is activity,” or “his activity is pleasure,” according to a difference of readings which makes no difference to the identification of pleasure and activity (ἐνέργεια). As then we find this identification of pleasure with activity in the Metaphysics and in the De Anima, as well as in the Nicomachean Ethics, the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia, the only logical conclusion, from which there is no escape, is that, so far as the treatment of pleasure goes, any Aristotelian treatise which defines it as activity is genuine. There is no reason for doubting that the Nicomachean Ethics to the end of Book vii., the Eudemian Ethics to the end of Book Ζ, and the Magna Moralia as far as Book ii. chap. 7, were all three written by Aristotle.
Why then doubt at all? It is because the Nicomachean Ethics contains a second discourse on pleasure (x. 1-5), in which the author, while agreeing with the previous treatment of the subject that pleasure is not a bodily generation, even when accompanied by it, but something psychical, nevertheless defines it (x. 4, 1174 b 31-33) not as an activity, but as a supervening end (ἐπιγιγνόμενόν τι τέλος) perfecting an activity (τελειοῖ τὴν ἐνέργειαν). He allows indeed that activity and pleasure are very closely related; that a pleasure of sense or thought perfects an act of sensation or of thinking, depends on it, and is so inseparably conjoined with it as to raise a doubt whether pleasure is end of life or life end of pleasure, and even whether the activity is the same as the pleasure. But he disposes of this doubt in a very emphatic and significant manner. “Pleasure,” says he, “does not seem to be thinking or perceiving; for it is absurd: but on account of not being separated from them, it appears to some persons to be the same.” Now it is not likely that Aristotle either, after having so often identified pleasure with activity, would say that the identification is absurd though it appears true to some persons, of whom he would in that case be one, or, having once disengaged the pleasure of perceiving and thinking from the acts of perceiving and thinking, would go backwards and confuse them. It is more likely that Aristotle identified pleasure with activity in the De Anima, the Metaphysics and the three moral treatises, as we have seen; but that afterwards some subsequent Peripatetic, considering that the pleasure of perceiving or thinking is not the same as perceiving or thinking, declared the previous identification of pleasure with activity absurd. At any rate, if we are to choose, it is the identification that is Aristotle’s, and the distinction not Aristotle’s. Moreover, the distinction between activity and pleasure in the tenth book is really fatal to the consistency of the whole Nicomachean Ethics, which started in the first book with the identification of happiness and virtuous activity. For if the pleasure of virtuous activity is a supervening end beyond the activity, it becomes a supervening end beyond the happiness of virtuous activity, which thus ceases to be the final end. Nevertheless, the distinction between activity and pleasure is true. Some unknown Peripatetic detected a flaw in the Nicomachean Ethics when he said that pleasure is a supervening end beyond activity, and, if he had gone on to add that happiness is also a supervening end beyond the virtuous activities which are necessary to produce it, he would have destroyed the foundation of his own founder’s Ethics.
It is further remarkable that the Nicomachean Ethics proceeds to a different conclusion. After the intrusion of this second discourse on pleasure, it goes on (E.N. x. 6-fin.) to the famous theory that the highest happiness is the speculative life of intellect or wisdom as divine, but that happiness as human also includes the practical life of combining prudence and moral virtue; and that, while both lives need external goods as necessaries, the practical life also requires them as instruments of moral action. The treatise concludes with the means of making men virtuous; contending that virtue requires habituation, habituation law, law legislative art, and legislative art politics: Ethics thus passes into Politics. The Eudemian Ethics proceeds to its conclusion (E.E. Η 13-15) differently, with the consideration of (1) good fortune (εὐτυχία), and (2) gentlemanliness (καλοκἀγαθία). Good fortune it divides into two kinds, both irrational; one divine, according to impulse, and more continuous; the other contrary to impulse and not continuous. Gentlemanliness it regards as perfect virtue, containing all particular virtues, and all goods for the sake of the honourable. Finally, it concludes with the limit (ὅρος) of goods. First it finds the limit of goods of fortune in that desire and possession of them which will conduce to the contemplation of God, whereas that which prevents the service and contemplation of God is bad. Then it adds that the best limit of the soul is as little as possible to perceive the other part of the soul (i.e. desire). Finally, the treatise concludes with saying that the limit of gentlemanliness has thus been stated, meaning that its limit is the service and contemplation of God and the control of desire by reason. The Magna Moralia (M.M. ii. 8-10) on these points is unlike the Nicomachean, and like the Eudemian Ethics in discussing good fortune and gentlemanliness, but it discusses them in a more worldly way. On good fortune (ii. 8), after recognizing the necessity of external goods to happiness, it denies that fortune is due to divine grace, and simply defines it as irrational nature (ἄλογος φύσις). Gentlemanliness (ii. 9) it regards as perfect virtue, and defines the gentleman as the man to whom really good things are good and really honourable things honourable. It then adds (ii. 10) that acting according to right reason is when the irrational part of the soul does not hinder the rational part of intellect from doing its work. Thereupon it proceeds to a discourse on friendship, which in the Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics is discussed in an earlier position, but breaks off unfinished.
On the whole, the three moral treatises proceed on very similar lines down to the common identification of pleasure with activity, and then diverge. From this point the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia become more like one another than like the Nicomachean Ethics. They also become less like one another than before: for the treatment of good fortune, gentlemanliness, and their limit is more theological in the Eudemian Ethics than in the Magna Moralia.
How are the resemblances and differences of the three to be explained? By Aristotle’s gradual method of composition. All three are great works, contributing to the origin of the independent science of Ethics. But the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia are more rudimentary than the Nicomachean Ethics, which as it were seems to absorb them except in the conclusion. They are, in short, neither independent works, nor mere commentaries, but Aristotle’s first drafts of his Ethics.
In the Ethics to Eudemus, as Porphyry properly called the Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle in the first four books successively investigates happiness, virtue, the voluntary and the particular moral virtues, in the same order and in the same letter and spirit as in his Ethics to Nicomachus. But the investigations are never so good. They are all such rudiments as Aristotle might well polish into the more developed expositions in the first four books of the Nicomachean Ethics. On the other hand, nobody would have gone back afterwards on his masterly treatment of happiness, in the first book, or of virtue in the second, or of the voluntary in the third, or of the particular virtues in the third and fourth, to write the sketchy accounts of the Eudemian Ethics.
Again, these sketches are rough preparations for the subsequent books common to the two treatises. It is true, as Dr Henry Jackson has pointed out, though with some exaggeration, that the Eudemian agrees in detail rather better than the Nicomachean treatment of the voluntary with the subsequent discussion of injury (E.E. Δ = E.N. v. 8); and, as Th. H. Fritzsche remarks, the distinction between politics, and economics, and prudence in the Eudemian Ethics (Α 8) is a closer anticipation of the subsequent triple distinction of practical science (E.E. Ε = E.N. vi 8). On the other hand, there are still more fundamental points in which the first three books of the Eudemian Ethics are a very inadequate preparation for the common books. Notably its treatment of prudence (φρόνησις) is a chaos. At first, prudence appears as the operation of the philosophical life and connected with the speculative philosophy of Anaxagoras (E.E. Α 1-5): then it is brought into connexion with the practical philosophy of Socrates (ib. 5) and co-ordinated with politics and economics (ib. 8); then it is intruded into the diagram of moral virtues as a mean between villainy (πανουργία) and simplicity (εὐήθεια) (E.E. Β 33, 1221 a 12); finally, a distinction between virtue by nature and virtue with prudence (μετὰ φρονήσεως) is promised (E.E. Τ 7, 1234 a 4). In addition to all this confusion of speculative and practical knowledge, prudence is absent when it ought to be present; e.g. from the division of virtues into moral and intellectual (E.E. Β 1, 1220 a 4-13), and from the definition of moral virtue (ib. 5, 10); while, in a passage (Β 11) anticipating the subsequent discussion of the relation between prudence and moral virtue (E.E. Ε = E.N. vi. 12-13), it is stated that in purpose the end is made right by moral virtue, the means by another power, reason, without this right reason being stated to be prudence. After this, it can never be said that the earlier books of the Eudemian Ethics are so good a preparation as those of the Nicomachean Ethics for the distinction between prudence (φρόνησις) and wisdom (σοφία), which is the main point of the common books, and one of Aristotle’s main points against Plato’s philosophy.
Curiously enough, although little is made of it, this distinction, absent from the earlier books, is present in the final book Η of the Eudemian Ethics (cf. 1246 b 4 seq., 1248 a 35, 1249 b 14); and probably therefore this part was a separate discourse. Meanwhile, however, the truth about the Eudemian Ethics in general is that it was an earlier rudimentary sketch written by Aristotle, when he was still struggling, without quite succeeding, to get over Plato’s view that there is one philosophical knowledge of universal good, by which not only the dialectician and mathematician must explain the being and becoming of the world, but also the individual and the statesman guide the life of man. Indeed, the final proof that the Eudemian Ethics is earlier than the Nicomachean is the very fact that it is more under Platonic influence. In the first place, the reason why the account of prudence begins by confusing the speculative with the practical is that the Eudemian Ethics starts from Plato’s Philebus, where, without differentiating speculative and practical knowledge, Plato asks how far good is prudence (φρόνησις), how far pleasure (ἡδονή); and in the Eudemian Ethics Aristotle asks the same question, adding virtue (ἀρετή) in order to correct the Socratic confusion of virtue with prudence. Secondly, the Eudemian Ethics, while not agreeing with Plato’s Republic that the just can be happy by justice alone, does not assign to the external goods of good fortune (εὐτυχία) the prominence accorded to them in the Nicomachean Ethics as the necessary conditions of all virtue, and the instruments of moral virtue. Thirdly, the emphasis of the Eudemian Ethics on the perfect virtue of gentlemanliness (καλοκἀγαθία) is a decidedly old-fashioned trait, which descended to Aristotle from the Greek notion of a gentleman who does his duty to his state (cf. Herodotus i. 30, Thucydides iv. 40) and to his God (Xenophon, Symp. iv. 49) through Plato, who in the Gorgias (470 E) says that the gentleman is happy, and in the Republic (489 E) imputes to him the love of truth essential to philosophy. Moreover, when Plato goes on (ib. 505 Β) to identify the form of good, without which nothing is good, with the gentlemanly thing (καλὸν καὶ ἀγαθόν), without which any possession is worthless, he inspired into the author of the Eudemian Ethics the very limit (ὅρος) of good fortune and gentlemanliness with which it concludes, only without Plato’s elevation of the good into the form of the good. In the Nicomachean Ethics the old notion, we gladly see, survives (cf. i. 8): virtuous actions are gentlemanly actions, and happiness accordingly is being at our best and noblest and pleasantest (ἄριστον καὶ κάλλιστον καὶ ἤδιστον). But gentlemanliness is no longer called perfect virtue, as in the Eudemian Ethics: its place has been taken by justice, which is perfect virtue to one’s neighbour, by prudence which unites all the moral virtues, and by wisdom which is the highest virtue. Accordingly, in the end the old ideal of gentlemanliness is displaced by the new ideal of the speculative and practical life.
Lastly, the Eudemian Ethics derives from Platonism a strong theological bias, especially in its conclusion (Η 14-15). The opposition of divine good fortune according to impulse to that which is contrary to impulse reminds us of Plato’s point in the Phaedrus that there is a divine as well as a diseased madness. The determination of the limit of good fortune and of gentlemanliness by looking to the ruler, God, who governs as the end for which prudence gives its orders, and the conclusion that the best limit is the most conducive to the service and contemplation of God, presents the Deity and man’s relation to him as a final and objective standard more definitely in the Eudemian than in the Nicomachean Ethics, which only goes so far as to say that man’s highest end is the speculative wisdom which is divine, like God, dearest to God.
Because, then, it is very like, but more rudimentary and more Platonic, we conclude that the Eudemian is an earlier draft of the Nicomachean Ethics, written by Aristotle when he was still in process of transition from Plato’s ethics to his own.
The Magna Moralia contains similar evidence of being earlier than the Nicomachean Ethics. It treats the same subjects, but always in a more rudimentary manner; and its remarks are always such as would precede rather than follow the masterly expositions of the Nicomachean Ethics. This inferiority applies also to its treatment not only of the early part (i. 1-33 corresponding to E.N. i.-iv.), but also of the middle part (i. 34-11. 7 corresponding to E.N. v.-vii. = E.E. Δ-Ζ). In dealing with justice, it does not make it clear, as the Nicomachean Ethics (Book v.) does, that even universal justice is virtue towards another (M.M. i. 34, 1193 b 1-15), and it omits altogether the division into distributive and corrective justice. In dealing with what the Nicomachean Ethics (Book vi.) calls intellectual virtues, but the Magna Moralia (i. 5, 35) virtues of the rational part of the soul, and right reason, it distinguishes (i. 35, 1196 b 34-36) science, prudence, intelligence, wisdom, apprehension (ὑπόληψις), in a rough manner very inferior to the classification of science, art, prudence, intelligence, wisdom, all of which are coordinate states of attaining truth, in the Nicomachean Ethics (vi. 3). It distinguishes prudence (φρόνησις) and wisdom (σοφία) as the respective virtues of deliberative and scientific reason; and on the whole its account of prudence (cf. M.M. i. 5) is more consistent than that of the Eudemian Ethics. In these points it is a better preparation for the Nicomachean Ethics. But it falls into the confusion of first saying that praise is for moral virtues, and not for virtues of the reason, whether prudence or wisdom (M.M. i. 5, 1185 b 8-12), and afterwards arguing that prudence is a virtue, precisely because it is praised (i. 35, 1197 a 16-18). In dealing with continence and incontinence, the same doubts and solutions occur as in the Nicomachean Ethics (Book vii. = E.E. Ζ), but sometimes confusing doubts and solutions together, instead of first proposing all the doubts and then supplying the solutions as in the Nicomachean Ethics. Such rudimentary and imperfect sketches would be quite excusable in a first draft, but inexcusable and incredible after the Nicomachean Ethics had been written.
It has another characteristic which points to its being an early work of Aristotle, when he was still under the influence of Plato’s style; namely its approximation to dialogue. It asks direct questions (e.g. διὰ τί; M.M. i. 1 repeatedly, 12; ii. 6, 7), incorporates direct statements of others (e.g. φησί, i. 12, 13; ii. 3, 6, 7), alternates direct objections and answers (i. 34), and introduces conversations between the author and others, expressed interrogatively, indicatively and even imperatively (ἀλλ᾽ ἐρεῖ μοι, τὰ ποῖα διασάφησον ὑγιεινά ἐστιν. i. 35, 1196 b 10; cf. ii. 10, 1208 a 20-22). The whole treatise inclines to run into dialogue. It is also Platonic, like the Endemian Ethics, in making little of external goods in the account of good fortune (ii. 8), and in emphasizing the perfect virtue of gentlemanliness (ii. 9). Indeed, in some respects it is more like the Eudemian, though in the main more like the Nicomachean Ethics. In the first book, it has the Eudemian distinction between prudence, virtue and pleasure (i. 3, 1184 b 5-6); but does not make so much of it as the distinction between prudence and wisdom blurred in the Eudemian but defined in the Nicomachean Ethics. In the second book, it runs parallel to the Eudemian Ethics in placing good fortune and gentlemanliness (ii. 8-9), where the Nicomachean Ethics places the speculative and the practical life; but it omits the theological element by denying that good fortune is divine grace, and by submitting gentlemanliness to no standard but that of right reason, when the irrational part of the soul does not hinder the rational part, or intellect (νοῦς), from doing its work.
Because, then, the Magna Moralia is very like the Nicomachean Ethics, but more rudimentary, nearer to the Platonic dialogues in style and. to a less degree in matter, and also like the Eudemian Ethics, we conclude that it is also like that treatise in having been written as an earlier draft of the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle himself.
The hypothesis that the Eudemian Ethics, and by consequence the Magna Moralia, are later than Aristotle has arisen from a simple misconception, continued in a Scholium attributed to Aspasius, who lived in the 2nd century A.D. Nicomachean means “addressed to Nicomachus,” and Eudemian “addressed to Eudemus”; but, as Cicero thought that the Nicomachean Ethics was written by Nicomachus, so the author of the Scholium thought that the Eudemian Ethics, at least so far as the first account of pleasure goes, was written by Eudemus. He only thought so, however, because Aristotle could not have written both accounts of pleasure; and, taking for granted that Aristotle had written the second account of pleasure in the Nicomachean Ethics (Book x.), he concluded that the first account (Book vii.) was not the work of Aristotle, but of Eudemus (Comm. in Ar. (Berlin) xix. p. 151). We have seen reason to reverse this argument: Aristotle did write the first account in Book vii., because it contains his usual theory; and, if we must choose, he did not write the second account in Book x. In this way, too, we get a historical development of the theory of pleasure: Plato and Speusippus said it is generation (cf. Plato’s Philebus): Aristotle said it is psychical activity sometimes requiring bodily generation, sometimes not (E.N. vii. = E.E.Z): Aristotle, or some Aristotelian, afterwards said that it is a supervening end completing an activity (E.N. x.). Secondly, some modern commentators, starting from the false conclusion that the definition of pleasure as activity (E.N. vii. = E.E.Z) is by Eudemus, and supposing without proof that he was also author of the first three books of the Eudemian Ethics, have further asserted that these are a better introduction than the first four books of the Nicomachean Ethics to the books common to both treatises (E.N. Books v.-vii. = E.E. Books Δ-Ζ), and have concluded that Eudemus wrote these common books. But we have seen that Aristotle wrote the first three books of the Eudemian as an earlier draft of the Nicomachean Ethics; so that, even so far as they form a better introduction, this will not prove the common books to be by Eudemus. Again, those first three books are a better introduction only in details; whereas in regard to the all-important subject of prudence as distinct from wisdom, they are so bad an introduction that the common book which discusses that subject at large (E.N. Book vi. = E.E. Book Ε) must be rather founded on the first four books of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Further, as Aristotle wrote both the first three Eudemian and the first four Nicomachean books, there is no reason why sometimes one, sometimes the other, should not be the best introduction to the common books by the same author. Finally, the common books are so integral a part of the Aristotelian system of philosophy that they cannot be disengaged from it: the book on justice (E.N. v.) quotes and is quoted in the Politics (cf. 1130 b 28, 1280 a 16, 1261 a 30); the book on intellectual virtues (E.N. vi.) quotes (vi. 3) the Posterior Analytics, i. 2, and is quoted in the Metaphysics (Α 1); and we have seen that the book (E.N. vii.) which defines pleasure as activity is simply stating an Aristotelian commonplace. Thirdly, in order to prove that the Eudemian Ethics was by Eudemus, it is said that in its first part it contemplates that there must be a limit (ὄρος) for virtue as a mean (E.E. Β 5, 1222 b 7-8), in its middle part it criticizes the Nicomackean Ethics for not being clear about this limit (E.E. Ε 1), and in the end it alone assigns this limit, in the service and contemplation of God (E.E. Η 15, 1249 b 16 seq.). This argument is subtle, but over-subtle. The Eudemian and the Nicomachean treatments of this subject do not really differ. In the Nicomachean as in the Eudemian Ethics the limit above moral virtue is right reason, or prudence, which is right reason on such matters; and above prudence wisdom, for which prudence gives its orders; while wisdom is the intelligence and science of the most venerable objects, of the most divine, and of God. After this agreement, there is a shade of difference. While the Eudemian Ethics in a more theological vein emphasizes God, the object of wisdom as the end for which prudence gives its orders, the Nicomachean Ethics in a more humanizing spirit emphasizes wisdom itself, the speculative activity, as that end, and afterwards as the highest happiness, because activity of the divine power of intellect, because an imitation of the activity of God, because most dear to God. This is too fine a distinction to found a difference of authorship. Beneath it, and behind the curious hesitation which in dealing with mysteries Aristotle shows between the divine and the human, his three moral treatises agree that wisdom is a science of things divine, which the Nicomachean Ethics (vi. 7) defines as science and intelligence of the most venerable things, the Magna Moralia (i. 35) regards as that which is concerned with the eternal and the divine, and the Eudemian Ethics (Η 15) elevates into the service and contemplation of God.
Aristotle then wrote three moral treatises, which agree in the fundamental doctrines that happiness requires external fortune, but is activity of soul according to virtue, rising from morality through prudence to wisdom, or that science of the divine which constitutes the theology of his Metaphysics. Surely, the harmony of these three moral gospels proves that Aristotle wrote them, and wrote the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia as preludes to the Nicomachean Ethics. When did he begin? We do not know; but there is a pathetic suggestiveness in a passage in the Magna Moralia (i. 35), where he says, “Clever even a bad man is called; as Mentor was thought clever, but prudent he was not.” Mentor was the treacherous contriver of the death of Hermias (345–344 B.C.). Was this passage written when Aristotle was mourning for his friend?
4. The Rhetoric to Alexander.—This is one of a series of works emanating from Aristotle’s early studies in rhetoric, beginning with the Gryllus, continuing in the Theodectea and the Collection of Arts, all of which are lost except some fragments; while among the extant Aristotelian writings as they stand we still possess the Rhetoric to Alexander (Ῥητορικὴ πρὸς Ἀλέξανδρον) and the Rhetoric (Τἐχνη Ῥητορική). But the Rhetoric to Alexander was considered spurious by Erasmus, for the inadequate reasons that it has a preface and is not mentioned in the list of Diogenes Laertius, and was assigned by Petrus Victorius, in his preface to the Rhetoric, to Anaximenes. It remained for Spengel to entitle the work Anaximenis Ars Rhetorica in his edition of 1847, and thus substitute for the name of the philosopher Aristotle that of the sophist Anaximenes on his title-page. We have therefore to ask, first who was the author, and secondly what is the relation of the Rhetoric to Alexander to the Rhetoric, which nowadays alone passes for genuine.
After a dedicatory epistle to Alexander (chap, 1) the opening of the treatise itself (chap. 2) is as follows:—“There are three genera of political speeches; one deliberative, one declamatory, one forensic: their species are seven; hortative, dissuasive, laudatory, vituperative, accusatory, defensive, critical.” This brief sentence is enough to prove the work genuine, because it was Aristotle who first distinguished the three genera (cf. Rhet. i. 3; Quintilian iii. 4, 1. 7, 1), by separating the declamatory (ἐπιδεικτικόν) from the deliberative (δημηγορικόν, συμβουλευτικόν) and judicial (δικανικόν); whereas his rival Isocrates had considered that laudation and vituperation, which Aristotle elevated into species of declamation, run through every kind (Quintilian iv. 4), and Anaximenes recognized only the deliberative and the judicial (Dionys. H. de Isaeo, 19). In order, however, to impute the whole work to Anaximenes, Spengel took one of the most inexcusable steps ever taken in the history of scholarship. Without any manuscript authority he altered the very first words “three genera” (τρία γένη) into “two genera” (δύο γένη), and omitted the words “one declamatory” (τὸ δὲ ἐπιδεικτικόν). Quintilian (iii. 4) imputes to Anaximenes two genera, deliberative and judicial, and seven species, “hortandi, dehortandi, laudandi, vituperandi, accusandi, defendendi, exquirendi, quod ἐξεταστικὸν dicit.” But the author of this rhetoric most certainly recognized three genera (τρία γένη), since, besides the deliberative and judicial, the declamatory genus constantly appears in the work (chaps. 2 init., 4, 7, 18, 36, cf. οὐκ ἀγῶνος ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιδείξεως ἓνεκα 1440 b 13); and, if the terms for it are not always the same, this is just what one would expect in a new discovery. Moreover, he could recognize seven species in the Rhetoric to Alexander, though he recognized only six in the Rhetoric, provided the two works were not written at the same time; and as a matter of fact even in the Rhetoric to Alexander the seventh or critical species (ἐξεταστικόν) is in process of disappearing (cf. chap. 37). As then Anaximenes did not, but Aristotle did, recognize three genera, and as Aristotle could as well as Anaximenes recognize seven species, the evidence is overwhelming that the Rhetoric to Alexander is the work not of Anaximenes, but of Aristotle; on the condition that its date is not that of Aristotle’s confessedly genuine Rhetoric.
There is a second and even stronger evidence that the Rhetoric to Alexander is a genuine work of Aristotle. It divides (chap. 8) evidences (πίστεις) into two kinds (1) evidence from arguments, actions and men (αἱ μὲν ἐξ αὐτῶν τῶν λόγων καὶ τῶν πράξεων καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων); (2) adventitious evidences (αἱ δ᾽ ἐπίθετοι τοῖς λεγομένοις καὶ τοῖς πραττομένοις). The former are immediately enumerated as probabilities (εἰκότα), examples (παραδείγματα), proofs (τεκμήρια), considerations (ἐνθυμήματα), maxims (γνῶμαι), signs (σημεῖα), refutations (ἔλεγχοι); the latter as opinion of the speaker (δόξα τοῦ λεγοντος), witnesses (μαρτυρίαι), tortures (βάσανοι), oaths (ὄρκοι). It is confessed by Spengel himself that these two kinds of evidences are the two kinds recognized in Aristotle’s Rhetoric as (1) artificial (ἐντέχνοι πίστεις) and (2) inartificial (ἀτέχνοι πίστεις). Now, from the outset of his Rhetoric Aristotle himself claims to be the first to distinguish between artificial evidences from arguments and other evidences which he regards as mere additions; and he complains that the composers of arts of speaking had neglected the former for the latter. In particular, rhetoricians appeared to him to have neglected argument in comparison with passion. No doubt, rational evidences had appeared in books of rhetoric, as we see from Plato’s Phaedrus, 266-267, where we find proofs, probabilities, refutation and maxim, but mixed up with other evidences. The point of Aristotle was to draw a line between rational and other evidences, to insist on the former, and in fact to found a logic of rhetoric. But if in the Rhetoric to Alexander, not he, but Anaximenes, had already performed this great achievement, Aristotle would have been the meanest of mankind; for the logic of rhetoric would have been really the work of Anaximenes the sophist, but falsely claimed by Aristotle the philosopher. As we cannot without a tittle of evidence accept such a consequence, we conclude that Aristotle formulated the distinction between argumentative and adventitious, artificial and inartificial evidences, both in the Rhetoric to Alexander and in the Rhetoric; and that the former as well as the latter is a genuine work of Aristotle, the founder of the logic of rhetoric.
What is the relation between these two genuine Rhetorics? The last event mentioned in the Rhetoric to Alexander occurred in 340, the last in the Rhetoric is the common peace (κοινὴ εἰρἠνη) made between Alexander and the Greeks in 336 (Rhet. ii. 23, 1399 b 12). The former treatise (chap. 9), under the head of examples (παραδείγματα), gives historical examples of the unexpected in war for the years 403, 371, 358, concluding with the year 340, in which the Corinthians, coming with nine triremes to the assistance of the Syracusans, defeated the Carthaginians who were blockading Syracuse with 150 ships. Spengel, indeed, tries to bring the latest date in the book down to 330; but it is by absurdly supposing that the author could not have got the commonplace, “one ought to criticize not bitterly but gently,” except from Demosthenes, De Corona (§ 265). We may take it then that the last date in the Rhetoric to Alexander is 340; and by a curious coincidence 340 was the year when, on Philip’s marching against Byzantium, Alexander was left behind as regent and keeper of the seal, and distinguished himself so greatly that Philip was only too glad that the Macedonians called Alexander king (Plutarch, Alexander, 9). It is possible then that Aristotle may have written the dedication to Alexander about 340 and treated him as if he were king in the dedicatory epistle. At the same time, as such prefaces are often forgeries, not prejudicing the body of the treatise, it does not really matter whether Aristotle actually dedicated his work to Alexander in that epistle about that year or not. If he did, then the Rhetoric to Alexander in 340 was at least four years prior to the Rhetoric, which was as late as 336. If he did not, the question still remains, what is the internal relation between these two genuine Rhetorics? It will turn out most important.
The relation between the two Rhetorics turns on their treatment of rational, argumentative, artificial evidences. Each of them, the probability (chap. 8), the example (chap. 9), the proof (chap. 10), the consideration (chap, 11), the maxim (chap. 12), the sign (chap. 13), the refutation (chap. 14), though very like what it is in the Rhetoric, receives in the Rhetoric to Alexander a definition slightly different from the definition in the Rhetoric, which it must be remembered is also the definition in the Prior Analytics. Strange as this point is, it is still stranger that not one of these internal evidences is brought into relation with induction and deduction. Example (παράδειγμα) is not called rhetorical induction, and consideration (ἐνθύμημα) is not called rhetorical syllogism, as they are in the Rhetoric, and in the Analytics. Induction (ἐπαγωγή) and syllogism (συλλογισμός), the general forms of inference, do not occur in the Rhetoric to Alexander. In fact, this interesting treatise contains a rudimentary treatment of rational evidences in rhetoric and is therefore earlier than the Rhetoric, which exhibits a developed analysis of these rational evidences as special logical forms. Together, the earlier and the later Rhetoric show us the logic of rhetoric in the making, going on about 340, the last date of the Rhetoric to Alexander, and more developed in or after 336 B.C., the last date of the Rhetoric.
Nor is this all: the earlier Rhetoric to Alexander and the later Rhetoric show us logic itself in the making. We have already said that Aristotle was primarily a metaphysician. He gradually became a logician out of his previous studies: out of metaphysics, for with him being is always the basis of thinking, and common principles, such as that of contradiction, are axioms of things before axioms of thought, while categories are primarily things signified by names; out of the mathematics of the Pythagoreans and the Platonists, which taught him the nature of demonstration; out of the physics, of which he imbibed the first draughts from his father, which taught him induction from sense and the modification of strict demonstration to suit facts; out of the dialectic between man and man which provided him with beautiful examples of inference in the Socratic dialogues of Xenophon and Plato; out of the rhetoric addressed to large audiences, which with dialectic called his attention to probable inferences; out of the grammar taught with rhetoric and poetics which led him to the logic of the proposition. We cannot write a history of the varied origin of logic, beyond putting the rudimentary logic of the proposition in the De Interpretatione before the less rudimentary theory of categories as significant names capable of becoming predicates in the Categories, and before the maturer analysis of the syllogism in the Analytics. But at any rate the process was gradual; and Aristotle was advanced in metaphysics, mathematics, physics, dialectics, rhetoric and poetics, before he became the founder of logic.
V. Order of the Philosophical Writings
Some of Aristotle’s philosophical writings then are earlier than others; because they show more Platonic influence, and are more rudimentary; e.g. the Categories earlier than some parts of the Metaphysics, because under the influence of Platonic forms it talks of inherent attributes, and allows secondary substances which are universal; the De Interpretatione earlier than the Analytics, because in it the Platonic analysis of the sentence into noun and verb is retained for the proposition; the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia earlier than the Nicomachean Ethics, because they are rudimentary sketches of it, and the one written rather in the theological spirit, the other rather in the dialectical style, of Plato; and the Rhetoric to Alexander earlier than the Rhetoric, because it contains a rudimentary theory of the rational evidences afterwards developed into a logic of rhetoric in the Rhetoric and Analytics.
It is tempting to think that we can carry out the chronological order of the philosophical writings in detail. But in the gradual process of composition, by which a work once begun was kept going with the rest, although a work such as the Politics (begun in 357) was begun early, and some works more rudimentary came earlier than others, the general body of writings was so kept together in Aristotle’s library, and so simultaneously elaborated and consolidated into a system that it soon becomes impossible to put one before another.
Zeller, indeed, has attempted an exact order of succession:—
- 1. The logical treatises.
- 2. The Physics, De Coelo, De Generatione et Corruptione, Meteorologica.
- 3. Historia Animalium, De Anima, Parva Naturalia, De Partibus Animalium, De Animalium Incessu, De Generatione Animalium.
- 4. Ethics and Politics.
- 5. Poetics and Rhetoric.
- 6. Metaphysics (unfinished).
But Zeller does not give enough weight either to the evidence of early composition contained in the Politics and Meteorology, or to the evidence of subsequent contemporaneous composition contained in the cross-references, e.g. between the Physics and the Metaphysics. On the other hand he gives too much weight to the references from one book to another, which Aristotle could have entered into his manuscripts at any time before his death. Moreover, the arrangement sometimes breaks down: for example, though on the whole the logical books are quoted without quoting the rest, the De Interpretatione (chap. 1) quotes the De Anima, and therefore is falsely taken by Zeller against its own internal evidence to be subsequent to it and consequently to the other logical books. Again, the Meteorologica (iii. 2, 372 b 9) quotes the De Sensu (c. 3), and therefore, on Zeller’s arguments, ought to follow one of the Parva Naturalia. Lastly, though the Metaphysics often quotes the Physics, and is therefore regarded as being subsequent, it is itself quoted in the Physics (i. 8, 191 b 29), and therefore ought to be regarded as antecedent. Zeller tries to get over this difficulty of cross-reference by detaching Metaphysics, Book Δ, from the rest and placing it before the Physics. But this violent and arbitrary remedy is only partial. The truth is that the Metaphysics both precedes and follows the Physics, because it had been all along occupying Aristotle ever since he began to differ from Plato’s metaphysical views and indeed forms a kind of presupposed basis of his whole system. So generally, the references backwards and forwards, and the cross-references, are really evidences that Aristotle mainly wrote his works not successively but simultaneously, and entered references as and when he pleased, because he had not published them.
There are two kinds of quotations in Aristotle’s extant works, the quotation of another book, and the quotation of a historical fact. While the former is useless to determine the sequence of books written simultaneously, the latter is insufficient to determine a complete chronological order. When Aristotle, e.g. in the Politics, quotes an event as now (νῦν), he was writing about it at that time; and when he quotes another event as lately (νεωστί) he was writing about it shortly after that time; but he might have been writing the rest of the Politics both before and after either event. When he quotes the last event mentioned in the book, e.g. in the Rhetoric (ii. 23, 1399 b 12) the “common peace” of Greece under Alexander in 336, he was writing as late as that date, but he might also have been writing the Rhetoric both before it and after it. When he quotes what persons used to say in the past, e.g. Plato and Speusippus in the Ethics, Eudoxus and Callippus in the Metaphysics, he was writing these passages after the deaths of these persons; but he might have been also writing the Ethics and the Metaphysics both beforehand and afterwards. Lastly, when he is silent about a historical fact, the argument from silence is evidence only when he could not have failed to mention it; as, for example, in the Constitution of Athens, when he could not have failed to mention quinqueremes and other facts after 325–324. But this is in a historical work; whereas the argument from silence about historical facts in a philosophical work can seldom apply.
The chronological order therefore is not sufficiently detailed to be the real order of Aristotelian writings. Secondly, the traditional order, which for nearly 2000 years has descended from the edition of Andronicus to the Berlin edition, is satisfactory in details, but unsatisfactory in system. It gives too much weight to Aristotle’s logic, and too little to his metaphysics, on account of two prejudices of the commentators which led them to place both logic and physics before metaphysics. Aristotle rightly used all the sciences of his day, and especially his own physics, as a basis of his metaphysics. For example, at the very outset he refers to the Physics (ii. 2) for his use of the four causes, material, efficient, formal and final, in the Metaphysics (Α 2). This and other applications of the science of nature to the science of all being induced the commentators to adopt this order, and entitle the science of being the Sequel to the Physics (τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά). But Aristotle knew nothing of this title, the first known use of which was by Nicolaus Damascenus, a younger contemporary of Andronicus, the editor of the Aristotelian writings, and Andronicus was probably the originator of the title, and of the order. On the other hand, Aristotle entitles the science of all being “Primary Philosophy” (πρώτη φιλοσοφία), and the science of physical being “Secondary Philosophy” (δεύτερα φιλοσοφία), which suggests that his order is from Metaphysics to Physics, the reverse of his editor’s order from Physics to Metaphysics. Thus the traditional order puts Physics before Metaphysics without Aristotle’s authority. With some more show of authority it puts Logic before Metaphysics. Aristotle, on introducing the principle of contradiction (Met. Γ 3), which belongs to Metaphysics as an axiom of being, says that those who attempt to discuss the question of accepting this axiom, do so on account of their ignorance of Analytics, which they ought to know beforehand (προεπισταμένους). He means that the logical analysis of demonstration in the Analytics would teach them beforehand that there cannot be demonstration, though there must be induction, of an axiom, or any other principle; whereas, if they are not logically prepared for metaphysics, they will expect a demonstration of the axiom, as Heraclitus, the Heraclitean Cratylus and the Sophist Protagoras actually did,—and in vain. Acting on this hint, not Aristotle but the Peripatetics inferred that all logic is an instrument (ὄργανον) of all sciences; and by the time of Andronicus, who was one of them and sometimes called “the eleventh from Aristotle,” the order, Logic-Physics-Metaphysics, had become established pretty much as we have it now. It is, however, not the real order for studying the philosophy of Aristotle, because there is more Metaphysics in his Physics than Physics in his Metaphysics, and more Metaphysics in his Logic than Logic in his Metaphysics. The commentators themselves were doubtful about the order: Boethus proposed to begin with Physics, and some of the Platonists with Ethics or Mathematics; while Andronicus preferred to put Logic first as Organon (Scholia, 25 b 34 seq.). None of the parties to the dispute had the authority of Aristotle. What do we find in his works? Primary philosophy, Metaphysics, the science of being, is the solid foundation of all parts of his philosophical system; not only in the Physics, but also in the De Coelo (i. 8, 277 b 10), in the De Generatione (i. 3, 318 a 6; ii. 10, 336 b 29), in the De Anima (i. 1, 403 a 28, cf. b 16), in the De Partibus Animalium (i. 1, 641 a 35), in the Nicomachean Ethics (i. 6, 1096 b 30), in the De Interpretatione (5, 17 a 14); and in short throughout his extant works. The reason is that Aristotle was primarily a metaphysician half for and half against Plato, occupied himself with metaphysics all his philosophical life, made the science of things the universal basis of all sciences without destroying their independence, and so gradually brought round philosophy from universal forms to individual substances. The traditional order of the Aristotelian writings, still continued in the Berlin edition, beginning with the logical writings on page 1, proceeding to the physical writings on page 184, and postponing the Metaphysics to page 980, is not the real order of Aristotle’s philosophy.
The real order of Aristotle’s philosophy is that of Aristotle’s mind, revealed in his writings, and by the general view of thinking, science, philosophy and all learning therein contained. He classified thinking (Met. Ε 1) and science (Topics, vi. 6) by the three operations of speculation (θεωρία), practice (πρᾶξις) and production (ποίησις), and made the following subdivisions:—I. Speculative: about things; subdivided (Met. Ε 1; De An. i. 1) into:—
- i. Primary Philosophy, Theology, also called Wisdom, about things as things.
- ii. Mathematical Philosophy, about quantitative things in the abstract.
- i. Ethics, about the good of the individual.
- ii. Economics, about the good of the family.
- iii. Politics, about the general good of the state.
III. Productive, or Art (τέχνη): about works produced; subdivided (Met. Α. 1, 981 b 17-20) into:—
- i. Necessary (πρὸς τάναγκαῖα), e.g. medicine.
- ii. Fine (πρὸβ διαγωγήν), e.g. poetry.
Aristotle calls all these investigations sciences (ἐπιστῆμαι): but he also uses the term “sciences” in a narrower sense in consequence of a classification of their objects, which pervades his writings, into things necessary and things contingent, as follows.—
- (A) The necessary (τὸ μὴ ἐνδεχόμενον ἄλλως ἔχειν), what must be; subdivided into:—
- (1) Absolutely (ἁπλῶς), e.g. the mathematical.
- (2) Hypothetically (ἐξ ὑποθέσεως), e.g. matter necessary as means to an end.
- (B) The contingent (τὸ ἐνδεχόμενον ἄλλως ἔχειν), what may be; subdivided into:—
- (1) The usual (τὸ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ) or natural (τὸ φυσικόν), e.g. a man grows grey.
- (2) The accidental (τὸ κατὰ συμβεβηκός), e.g. a man sits or not.
Now, according to Aristotle, science in the narrow sense is concerned only with the absolutely necessary (E.N. iii. 3), and in the classification would stop at mathematics, which we still call exact science: in the wide sense, on the other hand, it extends to the whole of the necessary and to the usual contingent, but excludes the accidental (Met. Ε 2), and would in the classification include not only metaphysics and mathematics, but also physics, ethics, economics, politics, necessary and fine art; or in short all speculative, practical and productive thinking of a systematic kind. Hence the Posterior Analytics, which is Aristotle’s authoritative logic of science, is of peculiar interest because, after beginning by defining science as investigating necessary objects from necessary principles (i. 4), it proceeds to say that it is either of the necessary or of the usual though not of the accidental (i. 29), and to admit that its principles are some necessary and some contingent (i. 32, 88 b 7). Philosophy (φιλοςοφία) also is used by him in a similar manner. Though occasionally he means by it primary philosophy (Met. Γ 2-3, Κ 3), more frequently he extends it to all three speculative philosophies (Ε 1, 1026 a 18, τρεῖς ἂν εἶεν φιλοσοφίαι θεωρητικαί, μαθηματική, φυσική, θεολογική), and to all three practical philosophies, as we see from the constant use of the phrase “political philosopher” in the Ethics; and in short applies it to all sciences except productive science or art. With him, as with the Greeks generally, the problems of philosophy are the nature and origin of being and of good: it is not as with too many of us a mere science of mind.
Aristotle’s view of thinking in science and philosophy is essentially comprehensive; but it is not so wide as to become indefinite. According to him, science at its widest selects a special subject, e.g. number in arithmetic, magnitude in geometry, stars in astronomy, a man’s good in ethics; concentrates itself on the causes and appropriate principles of its subject, especially the definition of the subject and its species by their essences or formal causes; and after an inductive intelligence of those principles proceeds by a deductive demonstration from definitions to consequences: philosophy is simply a desire of this definite knowledge of causes and effects. Beyond philosophy, not beyond science, there is art; and beyond philosophy and science there is history, the description of facts preparatory to philosophy, the investigation of causes (cf. Pr. An. i. 30); and this may be natural history, preparatory to natural philosophy, as in the History of Animals preparatory to the De Partibus Animalium, or what we call civil history, preparatory to political philosophy, as in the 158 Constitutions more or less preparatory to the Politics.
Wide as is all his knowledge of facts and causes, it does not appear to Aristotle to be the whole of learning and the show of it. Beyond knowledge lies opinion, beyond discovery disputation, beyond philosophy and science dialectic between man and man, which was much practised by the Greeks in the dialogues of Socrates, Plato, the Megarians and Aristotle himself in his early manhood. With Plato, who thought that the interrogation of man is the best instrument of truth, dialectic was exaggerated into a universal science of everything that is. Aristotle, on the other hand, learnt to distinguish dialectic (διαλεκτική) from science (ἐπιστήμη); in that it has no definite subject, else it would not ask questions (Post. An. i. 11, 77 a 31-33); in that for appropriate principles it substitutes the probabilities of authority (τὰ ἔνδοξα) which are the opinions of all, or of the majority, or of the wise (Top. i. 1, 100 b 21-23); and in that it is not like science a deduction from true and primary principles of a definite subject to true consequences, but a deduction from opinion to opinion, which may be true or false. Sophistry appeared to him to be like it, except that it is a fallacious deduction either from merely apparent probabilities in its matter or itself merely apparently syllogistic in its form (cf. Topics, i. 1). Moreover, he compared dialectic and sophistry, on account of their generality, with primary philosophy in the Metaphysics (Γ 2, 1004 b 17-26); to the effect that all three concern themselves with all things, but that about everything metaphysics is scientific, dialectic tentative, sophistry apparent, not real. He means that a sophist like Protagoras will teach superficially anything as wisdom for money; and that even a dialectician like Plato will write a dialogue, such as the Republic, nominally about justice, but really about all things from the generality of the form of good, instead of from appropriate moral principles; but that a primary philosopher selects as a definite subject all things as such without interfering with the special sciences of different things each in its kind (Met. Γ 1), and investigates the axioms or common principles of things as things (ib. 3), without pretending, like Plato, to deduce from any common principle the special principles of each science (Post. An. i. 9, 32). Aristotle at once maintains the primacy of metaphysics and vindicates the independence of the special sciences. He is at the same time the only Greek philosopher who clearly discriminated discovery and disputation, science and dialectic, the knowledge of a definite subject from its appropriate principles and the discussion of anything whatever from opinions and authority. On one side he places science and philosophy, on the other dialectic and sophistry.
Such is the great mind of Aristotle manifested in the large map of learning, by which we have now to determine the order of his extant philosophical writings, with a view to studying them in their real order, which is neither chronological nor traditional, but philosophical and scientific. Turning over the pages of the Berlin edition, but passing over works which are perhaps spurious, we should put first and foremost speculative philosophy, and therein the primary philosophy of his Metaphysics (980 a 21-1093 b 29); then the secondary philosophy of his Physics, followed by his other physical works, general and biological, including among the latter the Historia Animalium as preparatory to the De Partibus Animalium, and the De Anima and Parva Naturalia, which he called “physical” but we call “psychological” (184 a 10-967 b 27); next, the practical philosophy of the Ethics, including the Eudemian Ethics and the Magna Moralia as earlier and the Nicomachean Ethics as later (1094-1249 b 25), and of the Politics (1252-1342), with the addition of the newly discovered Athenian Constitution as ancillary to it; finally, the productive science, or art, of the Rhetoric, including the earlier Rhetoric to Alexander and the later Rhetorical Art, and of the Poetics, which was unfinished (1354-end). This is the real order of Aristotle’s system, based on his own theory and classification of sciences.
But what has become of Logic, with which the traditional order of Andronicus begins Aristotle’s works (1-148 b 8)? So far from coming first, Logic comes nowhere in his classification of science. Aristotle was the founder of Logic; because, though others, and especially Plato, had made occasional remarks about reason (λόγος), Aristotle was the first to conceive it as a definite subject of investigation. As he says at the end of the Sophistical Elenchi on the syllogism, he had no predecessor, but took pains and laboured a long time in investigating it. Nobody, not even Plato, had discovered that the process of deduction is a combination of premisses (συλλογισμός) to produce a new conclusion. Aristotle, who made this great discovery, must have had great difficulty in developing the new investigation of reasoning processes out of dialectic, rhetoric, poetics, grammar, metaphysics, mathematics, physics and ethics; and in disengaging it from other kinds of learning. He got so far as gradually to write short discourses and long treatises, which we, not he, now arrange in the order of the Categories or names; the De Interpretatione on propositions; the Analytics, Prior on syllogism, Posterior on scientific syllogism; the Topics on dialectical syllogism; the Sophistici Elenchi on eristical or sophistical syllogism; and, except that he had hardly a logic of induction, he covered the ground. But after all this original research he got no further. First, he did not combine all these works into a system. He may have laid out the sequence of syllogisms from the Analytics onwards; but how about the Categories and the De Interpretatione? Secondly, he made no division of logic. In the Categories he distinguished names and propositions for the sake of the classification of names; in the De Interpretatione he distinguished nouns and verbs from sentences with a view to the enunciative sentence: in the Analytics he analysed the syllogism into premisses and premisses into terms and copula, for the purpose of syllogism. But he never called any of these a division of all logic. Thirdly, he had no one name for logic. In the Posterior Analytics (i. 22, 84 a 7-8) he distinguishes two modes of investigation, analytically (ἀναλυτικῶς) and logically (λογικῶς). But “analytical” means scientific inference from appropriate principles, and “logical” means dialectical inference from general considerations; and the former gives its name to the Analytics, the latter suits the Topics, while neither analytic nor logic is a name for all the works afterwards called logic. Fourthly, and consequently, he gave no place to any science embracing the whole of those works in his classification of science, but merely threw out the hint that we should know analytics before questioning the acceptance of the axioms of being (Met. Γ 3).
It is a commentator’s blunder to suppose that the founder of logic elaborated it into a system, and then applied it to the sciences. He really left the Peripatetics to combine his scattered discourses and treatises into a system, to call it logic, and logic Organon, and to put it first as the instrument of sciences; and it was the Stoics who first called logic a science, and assigned it the first place in their triple classification of science into logic, physics, ethics. Would Aristotle have consented? Would he not rather have given the first place to primary philosophy?
Dialectic was distinguished from science by Aristotle. Is logic, then, according to him, not science but dialectic? The word logically (λογικῶς) means the same as dialectically (διαλεκτικῶς). But the general discussion of opinions, signified by both words, is only a subordinate part of Aristotle’s profound investigation of the whole process of reasoning. The Analytics, the most important part, so far from being dialectic or logic in that narrow sense, is called by him not logic but analytic science (ἀναλυτικὴ ἐπιστήμη, Rhet. i. 4, 1359 b 10; cf, 1356 b 9, 1357 a 30, b 25); and in the Metaphysics he evidently refers to it as “the science which considers demonstration and science,” which he distinguishes from the three speculative sciences, mathematics, physics and primary philosophy (Met. Κ 1, 1059 b 9-21). The Analytics then, which from the beginning claims to deal with science, is a science of sciences, without however forming any part of the classification. On the other hand, it does not follow that Aristotle would have regarded the Topics, which he calls “the investigation” and “the investigation of dialectic” (ἡ πραγματεία, Top, i. 1, ἡ πραγματεία ἡ περὶ τὴν διαλεκτικήν, Pr. An. i. 30, 46 a 30), or the De Interpretatione, which he calls “the present theory” (τῆς νῦν θεωρίας, De Int. 6, 17 a 7), as science. In fact, as to the Categories as well as the De Interpretatione, we are at a complete loss. But about the Topics we may venture to make the suggestion that, as in describing consciousness Aristotle says we perceive that we perceive, and understand that we understand, and as he calls Analytics a science of sciences, so he might have called the Topics a dialectical investigation of dialectic. Now, this suggestion derives support from his own description of the allied art of Rhetoric. “Rhetoric is counterpart to dialectic” is the first sentence of the Rhetoric; and the reason is that both are concerned with common objects of no definite science. Afterwards dialectic and rhetoric are said to differ from other arts in taking either side of a question (i. 1, 1355 a 33-35); rhetoric, since its artificial evidences involve characters, passions and reasoning, is called a kind of offshoot of dialectic and morals, and a copy of dialectic, because neither is a science of anything definite, but both faculties (δυνάμεις) of providing arguments (i. 2, 1356 a 33); and, since rhetorical arguments are examples and enthymemes analysed in the Analytics, rhetoric is finally regarded as a compound of analytic science and of morals, while it is like dialectical and sophistic arguments (i. 4, 1359 b 2-17).
As then Aristotle himself regarded rhetoric as partly science and partly dialectic, perhaps he would have said that his works on reasoning are some science and others not, and that, while the investigation of syllogism with a view to scientific syllogism in the Analytics is analytic science, the investigation of dialectical syllogism, in the Topics, with its abuse, eristical syllogism, in the Sophistici Elenchi, is dialectic. At any rate, these miscellaneous works on reasoning have no right to stand first in Aristotle’s writings under any one name, logic or Organon. As he neither put them together, nor on any one definite plan, we are left to convenience; and the most convenient place is with the psychology of the De Anima.
As for dialectic itself, it would have been represented by Aristotle’s early dialogues, had they not been lost except a few fragments. But none of his extant writings is so much dialectic, like a Platonic dialogue. They contain however many relics of dialectic. The Rhetoric is declared by him to be partly dialectic. The Topics is at least an investigation of dialectic, which has had an immense influence on the method of argument. The Magna Moralia almost runs into dialogue. Besides, all the extant works, though apparently didactic, are full of dialectical matter in the way of opinions (λεγόμενα), difficulties and doubts (ἀπορήματα, ἀπορίαι), solutions (λύσεις), and of dialectical style in the way of conversational expressions. It is probable also that the “extraneous discourses” (οἱ ἐξωτερικοὶ λόγοι) sometimes mentioned in them here mean dialectical discussions of a subject from opinions extraneous to its nature, as opposed to scientific deduction from its appropriate principles. From the eight passages, which refer to the extraneous discourses, we find (1) that Platonic forms were made by them matters of common talk (τεθρύληται, Met. Μ 1, 1076 a 28); (2) that time was made by them matter of doubts, which in this case are Aristotle’s own doubts (Phys. iv. 10, 217 b 31-218 a 30); (3) that the discussions of Platonic forms in them and in philosophical discourses were different (E.E. i. 8, 1217 b 22); (4) that the ordinary distinction between goods of mind, body and estate is one which we make (διαιρούμεθα) in them (E.E. ii. 1, 1218 b 34); (5) that in them appeared the division of soul into irrational and rational, used by Aristotle (E.N. i. 13, 1102 a 26), and attributed to Plato; (6) that the distinction between action and production accepted by Aristotle appeared in them (E.N. vi. 4, 1140 a 3); (7) that a distinction between certain kinds of rule is one which we make often (διοριζόμεθα ... πολλάκις) in them (Pol. Γ 6, 1278 b 31); (8) that a discussion about the best life, used by Aristotle, was made in them (Pol. Η 1, 1323 a 22). On the whole, the interpretation which best suits all the passages is that extraneous discourses mean any extra-scientific dialectical discussions, oral or written, occurring in dialogues by Plato, or by Aristotle, or by anybody else, or in ordinary conversation, on any subject under the sun.
Among all the eight passages mentioned above, the most valuable is that from the Eudemian Ethics (Α 8), which discriminates extraneous discourses and philosophical (καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἐξωτερικοῖς λόγοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς κατὰ φιλοσοφίαν, 1217 b 22-23); and it is preceded (Α 6, 1216 b 35-37 a 17), by a similar distinction between foreign discourses (ἀλλοτρίοι λόγοι) and discourses appropriate to the thing (οἰκεῖοι λόγοι τοῦ πράγματος), which marks even better the opposition intended between dialectic and philosophy. Now, as in all eight passages Aristotle speaks, somewhat disparagingly, of “even (καί) extraneous discourses,” and as these include his own early dialogues, they must be taken to mean that though he might quote them, he no longer wished to be judged by his early views, and therefore drew a strong line of demarcation between his early dialogues and the mature treatises of his later philosophical system. Now, both were in the hands of his readers in the time of Andronicus. Therefore his contemporary, Cicero, who knew the early dialogues on Philosophy, the Eudemus and the Protrepticus, and also among the mature scientific writings the Topics, Rhetoric, Politics, Physics and De Coelo, to some extent, was justified by Aristotle’s example and precept in drawing the line between two kinds of books, one written popularly, called exoteric, the other more accurately (Cic. De Finibus, v. 5). But there was no doubt a tendency to extend the term “exoteric” from the dialectical to the more popular of the scientific writings of Aristotle, to make a new distinction between exoteric and acroamatic or esoteric, and even to make out that Aristotle was in the habit of teaching both exoterically and acroamatically day by day as head of the Peripatetic school at Athens. Aulus Gellius in the 2nd century A.D. supplies the best proof of this growth of tradition in his Noctes Atticae (xx. 5). He says that Aristotle (1) divided his commentationes and arts taught to his pupils into ἐξωτερικά and ἀκροατικά; (2) taught the latter in the morning walk (ἐωθινὸν περίπατον), the former in the evening walk (δειλινὸν περίπατον); (3) divided his books in the same manner; (4) defended himself against Alexander’s letter, complaining that it was not right to his pupils to have published his acroamatic works, by replying in a letter that they were published and not published, because they are intelligible only to those who heard them. Gellius then quotes this correspondence, also given by Plutarch, and quotes it ex Andronici philosophi libro. The answer to the first three points is that Aristotle did not make any distinction between exoteric and acroamatic, and was not likely to have any longer taught his exoteric dialogues when he was teaching his mature philosophy at Athens, but may have alternated the teaching of the latter between the more abstruse and the more popular parts which had gradually come to be called “exoteric.” As regards the last point, the authority of Andronicus proves that he at all events did not exaggerate his own share in publishing Aristotle’s works; but it does not prove either that this correspondence between Alexander and Aristotle took place, or that Aristotle called his philosophical writings acroamatic, or that he had published them wholesale to the world.
The literary career of Aristotle falls into three periods, (1) The early period; when he was writing and publishing exoteric dialogues, but also tending to write didactic works, and beginning his scientific writings, e.g. the Politics in 357, the Meteorologica in 356. (2) The immature period; when he was continuing his didactic and scientific works, and composing first drafts, e.g. the Categories, the Eudemian Ethics, the Magna Moralia, the Rhetoric to Alexander. (3) The mature period; when he was finishing his scientific works, completing his system, and not publishing it but teaching it in the Peripatetic school; when he would teach not his early dialogues, nor his immature writings and first drafts, but mature works, e.g. the Metaphysics, the Nicomachean Ethics, the Rhetoric; and above all teach his whole system as far as possible in the real order of his classification of science.
VI. The Aristotelian Philosophy
We have now (1) sketched the life of Aristotle as a reader and a writer from early manhood; (2) have watched him as a Platonist, partly imitating but gradually emancipating himself from his master to form a philosophy of his own; (3) have traced the gradual composition of his writings from Plato’s time onwards; (4) have distinguished earlier, more Platonic and rudimentary, from later, more independent and mature, writings; (5) have founded the real order of his writings, not on chronology, nor on tradition, but on his classification of science and learning. It remains to answer the final question:—What is the Aristotelian philosophy, which its author gradually formed with so much labour? Here we have only room for its spirit, which we shall try to give as if he were himself speaking to us, as head of the Peripatetic school at Athens, and holding no longer the early views of his dialogues, or the immature views of such treatises as the Categories, but only his mature views, such as he expresses in the Metaphysics. Aristotle was primarily a metaphysician, a philosopher of things, who uses the objective method of proceeding from being to thinking. We shall begin therefore with that primary philosophy which is the real basis of his philosophy, and proceed in the order of his classification of science to give his chief doctrines on:—
- (1) Speculative philosophy, metaphysical and physical, including his psychology, and with it his logic.
- (2) Practical philosophy, ethics and politics.
- (3) Productive science, or art.
Things are substances (οὐσίαι), each of which is a separate individual (χωριστόν, τόδε τι, καθ᾽ ἕκαστον) and is variously affected as quantified, qualified, related, active, passive and so forth, in categories of things which are attributes (συμβεβηκότα), different from the category of substance, but real only as predicates belonging to some substance, and are in fact only the substance itself affected (αὐτὸ πεπονθός). The essence of each substance, being what it is (τὸ τί ἐστι, τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι), is that substance; e.g. this rational animal, Socrates. Substances are so similar that the individuals of a species are even the same in essence or substance, e.g. Callias and Socrates differ in matter but are the same in essence, as rational animals. The universal (τὸ καθόλου) is real only as one predicate belonging to many individual substances: it is therefore not a substance. There are then no separate universal forms, as Plato supposed. There are attributes and universals, real as belonging to individual substances, whose being is their being. The mind, especially in mathematics, abstracts numbers, motions, relations, causes, essences, ends, kinds; and it over-abstracts things mentally separate into things really separate. But reality consists only of individual substances, numerous, moving, related, active as efficient causes, passive as material causes, essences as formal causes, ends as final causes, and in classes which are real universals only as real predicates of individual substances. Such is Aristotle’s realism of individuals and universals, contained in his primary philosophy, as expressed in the Metaphysics, especially in Book Ζ, his authoritative pronouncement on being and substance.
The individual substances, of which the universe is composed, fall into three great irreducible kinds: nature, God, man.
I. Nature.—The obvious substances are natural substances or bodies (φυσικαὶ οὐσίαι, σώματα), e.g. animals, plants, water, earth, moon, sun, stars. Each natural substance is a compound (σύνθετον, συνθέτη οὐσία) of essence and matter; its essence (εἰδος, μορφή, τὸ τί ἐστι, τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι) being its actual substance, its matter (ὕλη) not; its essence being determinate, its matter not; its essence being immateriate, its matter conjoined with the essence; its essence being one in all individuals of a species, its matter different in each individual; its essence being cause of uniformity, its matter cause of accident. At the same time, matter is not nothing, but something, which, though not substance, is potentially substance; and it is either proximate to the substance, or primary; proximate, as a substance which is potentially different, e.g. wood potentially a table; primary, as an indeterminate something which is a substratum capable of becoming natural substances, of which it is always one; and it is primarily the matter of earth, water, air, fire, the four simple bodies (ἁπλᾶ σώματα) with natural rectilineal motions in the terrestrial world (De Gen. et Cor. ii. I seq.); while aether (αἰθήρ) is a fifth simple body, with natural circular motion, being the element of the stars (τὸ τῶν ἄστρων στοιχεῖον) in the celestial world. Each natural substance is a formal cause, as being what it is; a material cause, as having passive power to be changed; an efficient cause, as having active power to change, by communicating the selfsame essence into different matter so as to produce therein a homogeneous effect in the same species; and a final cause, as an end to be realized. Moreover, though each natural substance is corruptible (φθαρτόν), species is eternal (ἀἲδιον), because there was always some individual of it to continue its original essence (expressed by the imperfect tense in τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι), which is ungenerated and incorruptible; the natural world therefore is eternal; and nature is for ever aiming at an eternal propagation, by efficient acting on matter, of essence as end. For even nature does nothing in vain, but aims at final causes, which she uniformly realizes, except so far as matter by its spontaneity (ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου) causes accidental effects; and the ends of nature are no form of good, nor even the good of man, but the essences of natural substances themselves, and, above them all, the good God Himself. Such is Aristotle’s natural realism, pervading his metaphysical and physical writings.
II. God.—Nature is but one kind of being (ἓν γάρ τι γένος τοῦ ὄντος ἡ φύσις, Met. Γ 3, 1005 a 34). Above all natural substances, the objects of natural science, there stands a supernatural substance, the object of metaphysics as theology. Nature’s boundary is the outer sphere of the fixed stars, which is eternally moved day after day in a uniform circle round the earth. Now, an actual cause is required for an actual effect. Therefore, there must be a prime mover of that prime movable, and equally eternal and uniform. That prime mover is God, who is not the creator, but the mover directly of the heavens, and indirectly through the planets of sublunary substances. But God is no mechanical mover. He moves as motive (κινεῖ δὲ ὡς ἐρώμενον, Met. Λ 7, 1072 b 3); He is the efficient only as the final cause of nature. For God is a living being, eternal, very good (ζῷον ἀἴδιον ἄριστον, ib. 1072 b 29). While nature aims at Him as design, as an end, a motive, a final cause, God’s occupation (διαγωγή) is intelligence (νόησις); and since essence, not indeed in all being, but in being understood, becomes identical with intelligence, God in understanding essence is understanding Himself; and in short, God’s intelligence is at once intelligence of Himself, of essence and of intelligence,—καὶ ἔστιν ἡ νόησις νοήσεως νόησις (Met. Λ 7, 1074 b 34). But at the same time the essence of good exists not only in God and God’s intelligence on the one hand, but also on the other hand on a declining scale in nature, as both in a general and in his army; but rather in God, and more in some parts of nature than in others. Thus even God is a substance, a separate individual, whose differentiating essence is to be a living being, eternal and very good; He is however the only substance whose essence is entirely without matter and unconjoined with matter; and therefore He is a substance, not because He has or is a substratum beneath attributes, but wholly because He is a separate individual, different both from nature and men, yet the final good of the whole universe. Such is Aristotle’s theological realism without materialism and the origin of all spiritualistic realism, contained in his Metaphysics (Λ 6-end).
III. Man.—There is a third kind of substance, combining something both of the natural and of the divine: we men are that privileged species. Each man is a substance, like any other, only because he is a separate individual. Like any natural substance, he is composed of matter and immateriate essence. But natural substances are inorganic and organic; and a man is an organic substance composed of an organic body (ὀργανικὸν σῶμα) as matter, and a soul (ψυχή) as essence, which is the primary actuality of an organic body capable of life (ζωή). Still a man is not the only organism; and every organism has a soul, whose immediate organ is the spirit (πνεῦμα), a body which—analogous to a body diviner than the four so-called elements, namely the aether, the element of the stars—gives to the organism its non-terrestrial vital heat, whether it be a plant or an animal. In an ascending scale, a plant is an organism with a nutritive soul; an animal is a higher organism with a nutritive, sensitive, orectic and locomotive soul; a man is the highest organism with a nutritive, sensitive, orectic, locomotive and rational soul. What differentiates man from other natural and organic substances, and approximates him to a supernatural substance, God, is reason (λόγος), or intellect (νοῦς). Now, though only one of the powers of the soul, intellect alone of these powers has no bodily organ; it alone is immortal: it alone is divine. While the soul is propagated, like any other essence, by the efficient, which is the seed, to the matter, which is the germ, of the embryo man, intellect alone enters from without (θύραθεν), and is alone divine (θεῖον, not θεός), because its activity communicates with no bodily activity (De Gen. ii. 3, 736-737). A man then is a third kind of substance, like a natural substance in bodily matter, like a supernatural substance in divine reason or intellect. Such is Aristotle’s dual, or rather triple, realism, continued in his De Anima and other biological writings, especially De Generatione Animalium, ii.
There are three points about a man’s life which both connect him with, and distinguish him from, God. God’s occupation is speculative; man’s is speculation, practice and production.
1. Speculation (θεωρία).—Since things are individuals, and there is nothing, and nothing universal, beyond them, there are two kinds of knowledge (γνῶσις), sense (αἴσθησις) of individuals, intellect (νοῦς) of universals. Both powers know by being passively receptive of essence propagated by an efficient cause; but, while in sense the efficient cause is an external object (ἔξωθεν), in intelligence it is active intellect (νοῦς τῷ ποιεῖν) propagating its essence in passive intellect (νοῦς παθητικός). Nevertheless, without sense there is no knowledge. Sense receives from the external world an essence, e.g. of white, which is really universal as well as individual, but apprehends it only as individual, e.g. this white substance: intellect thereupon discovers the universal essence but only in the individuals of sense. This intellectual discovery requires sensation and retention of sensation; so that sense (αἴσθησις) receives impressions, imagination (φαντασία) retains them as images, intellect (νοῦς) generalizes the universal, and, when it is intelligence of essence, is always true.
This is the origin of knowledge, psychologically regarded (in the De Anima). Logically regarded, the origin of all teaching and learning of an intellectual kind is a process of induction (ἐπαγωγή) from particulars to universal, and of syllogism (συλλογισμός) from universal to further particulars; induction, whenever it starts from sense, becomes the origin of scientific knowledge (ἐπιστήμη); while there is also a third process of example (παράδειγμα) from particular to particular, which produces only persuasion. In acquiring scientific knowledge, syllogism cannot start from universals without induction, nor induction acquire universals without sense. At the same time, there are three species of syllogism, scientific, dialectical and eristical or sophistical; and in consequence there are different ways of acquiring premisses. In order to acquire the knowledge of the true and primary principles of scientific knowledge, and especially the intelligence of the universal essence of the subject, which is always true, the process of knowledge consists of (1) sense (αἴσθησις), which receives the essence as individual, (2) memory (μνήμη), which is a retention of sensible impression, (3) experience (ἐμπειρία), which consists of a number of similar memories, (4) induction (ἐπαγωγή), which infers the universal as a fact (τὸ ὅτι), (5) intellect (νοῦς), which apprehends the principle (ἀρχή); because it is a true apprehension that the universal induced is the very essence and formal cause of the subject: thereupon, scientific syllogism (ἐπιστημονικὸς συλλογισμός), making the definition (ὁρισμος) of this essence the middle term (τὸ μέσον), becomes a demonstration (ὁρισμος) of the consequences which follow from the essence in the conclusion. Such then is science. In order to acquire the probabilities (τὰ ἔνδοξα) of opinion (δόξα), which are the premisses of dialectical syllogism, the process is still induction, as in science, but dialectical induction by interrogation from the opinions of the answerers until the universal is conceded: thereupon the dialectical syllogism (διαλεκτικὸς συλλογισμός) deduces consequent opinions in the conclusion. Nor does the process of acquiring the premisses of eristical syllogism, which is fallacious either in its premisses or in its process, differ, except that, when the premisses are fallacious, the dialectical interrogations must be such as to cause this fallacy. Hence, as science and dialectic are different, so scientific induction and syllogism must be distinguished from dialectical induction and syllogism. Dialectic is useful, for exercise, for conversation and for philosophical sciences, where by being critical it has a road to principles. But it is by a different process of sense, memory, experience, induction, intelligence, syllogism, that science becomes knowledge of real causes, of real effects, and especially of real essences from which follow real consequences, not beyond, but belonging to real substances. So can we men, not, as Plato thought, by having in our souls universal principles innate but forgotten, but by acquiring universal principles from sense, which is the origin of knowledge, arrive at judgments which are true, and true because they agree with the things which we know by sense, by inference and by science. Such is Aristotle’s psychological and logical realism, contained in the De Anima and logical treatises.
2. Practice (πρᾶξις).—In this natural world of real substances, human good is not an imitation of a supernatural universal form of the good, but is human happiness; and this good is the same both of the individual as a part and of the state as a whole. Ethics then is a kind of Politics. But in Ethics a man’s individual good is his own happiness; and his happiness is no mere state, but an activity of soul according to virtue in a mature life, requiring as conditions moderate bodily and external goods of fortune; his virtue is (1) moral virtue, which is acquired by habituation, and is a purposive habit of performing actions in the mean determined by right reason or prudence; requiring him, not to exclude, but to moderate his desires; and (2) intellectual virtue, which is either prudence of practical, or wisdom of speculative intellect; and his happiness is a kind of ascending scale of virtuous activities, in which moral virtue is limited by prudence, and prudence by wisdom; so that the speculative life of wisdom is the happiest and most divine, and the practical life of prudence and moral virtue secondary and human. Good fortune in moderation is also required as a condition of his happiness. Must we then, on account of misfortunes, look with Solon at the end, and call no man happy till he is dead? Or is this altogether absurd for us who say that happiness is an activity? Virtuous activities determine happiness, and a virtuous man is happy in this life, in spite of misfortunes unless they be too great; while after death he will not feel the misfortunes of the living so much as to change his happiness. Still, for perfect happiness a man should prefer the speculative life of divine intellect, and immortalize (ἀθανατίζειν) as far as possible. For intellect is what mainly makes a man what he is, and is divine and immortal.
To turn from Ethics to Politics, the good of the individual on a small scale becomes on a large scale the good of the citizen and the state, whose end should be no far-off form of good, and no mere guarantee of rights, but the happiness of virtuous action, the life according to virtue, which is the general good of the citizen. Hence, the citizen of the best state is he who has the power and the purpose to be governed and govern for the sake of the life according to virtue.
A right government is one which aims at the general good, whereas any government which aims at its own good is a deviation. Hence governments are to be arranged from best to worst in the following order:—
I. Right governments (ὀρθαὶ πολιτείαι), aiming at the general good:—
- i. Monarchy, of one excelling in virtue:
- ii. Aristocracy, of a class excelling in virtue:
- iii. Commonwealth, of the majority excelling in virtue.
II. Deviations (παρεκβάσεις), aiming at the good of the government:—
- i. Democracy, aiming at the good of the majority:
- ii. Oligarchy, aiming at the good of the few:
- iii. Tyranny, aiming at the good of one.
Such is Aristotle’s practical philosophy, contained in his matured Nicomachean Ethics, and his unfinished Politics.
3. Production (ποίησις).—Production differs from practice in being an activity (ἐνέργεια; e.g. building) which is always a means to a work (ἔργον; e.g. a house) beyond itself. Productive science, or art, is an intellectual habit of true reasoning from appropriate principles, acquired from experiences, and applied to the production of the work which is the end of the art. All the arts are therefore at once rational and productive. They are either for necessity (e.g. medicine) or for occupation (e.g. poetry), the former being inferior to the latter. Rhetoric is a faculty on any subject of investigating what may be persuasive (πιθανόν), which is the work of no other art; its means are artificial and inartificial evidences (πίστεις), and, among artificial evidences, especially the logical arguments of example and enthymeme. Poetry is the art of producing representations; (1) in words, rhythm and harmony (ἁρμονία, “harmony” in the original sense); (2) of men like ourselves, or better as in tragedy, or worse as in comedy; (3) by means of narrative as in epic, or by action as in the drama. The cause of poetry is man’s instinct of representation and his love of representations caused by the pleasure of learning. Comedy is representation of men inferior in being ludicrous: epic is like tragedy a representation of superior men, but by means of narrative and unlimited in time: tragedy is a representation of an action superior and complete, in a day if possible, by means of action, and accomplishing by pity and fear the purgation of such passions (Poetics, 1449 b 24). Music is a part of moral education; and for this end we should use the most moral harmonies. But music has also other ends and uses, and on the whole four; namely amusement, virtue, occupation and purgation of the affections; for some men are liable more than others to pity and fear and enthusiasm, but from sacred melodies we see them, when they have heard those which act orgiastically on the soul, becoming settled by a kind of medicine and purgation (κάθαρσις), and being relieved with pleasure. Finally, art is not morality, because its end is always a work of art, not virtuous action: on the other hand, art is subordinate to morality, because all the ends of art are but means to the end of life, and therefore a work of art which offends against morality is opposed to the happiness and the good of man. Such is Aristotle’s productive science or art, contained in his Rhetoric and Poetics, compared with his Ethics and Politics.
Aristotle, even in this sketch of his system, shows himself to be the philosopher of facts, who can best of all men bear criticism; and indeed it must be confessed that he retained many errors of Platonism and laid himself open to the following objections. Two substances, being individuals, e.g. Socrates and Callias, are in no way the same, but only similar, even in essence, e.g. Socrates is one rational animal, Callias another. A universal, e.g. the species man, is not predicate of many individuals (ἓν κατὰ πολλῶν, Post. An. i. II), but a whole number of similar individuals, e.g. all men; and not a whole species, but only an individual, is a predicate of such individual, e.g. Socrates is a man, not all men, and one white thing, not all white things. Consequently, a species or genus is not a substance, as Aristotle says it is in the Categories (inconsistently with his own doctrine of substances), but a whole number of substances, e.g. all men, all animals. Similarly, the universal essence of a species is not one and the same as each individual essence, but is the whole number of similar individual essences of the similar individuals of the species, e.g. all rational animals. Consequently, the universal essence of a species of substances is not one and the same eternal essence in all the individuals of a species but only similar, and is not substance as Aristotle calls it in the Metaphysics, inconsistently with his own doctrine of substance, but is a whole number of similar substances, e.g. all rational animals which are what all men are. Hence again, the natural world of species and essences is not eternal, but only endures as long as there are individual substances. Hence, moreover, a natural substance or body as an efficient cause or force causes an effect on another, not by propagating one eternal essence of a species into the matter of the other, but so far as we really understand force, by their reciprocally preventing one another from occupying the same place at the same moment on account of the mutual resistance of any two bodies. The essence of a natural substance, e.g. wood, is not immateriate, but is the whole body as what it is. The matter of a natural substance is not a primary matter which is one indeterminate substratum of all natural substances, but is only one body as able to be changed by a force which is another substance able to change it, e.g. a seed becoming wood, wood becoming coal, &c. A natural substance or body, therefore, is not a heterogeneous compound of essence and matter, but is essence as what it is, matter as able passively to be changed, force as able actively to change. The simple bodies which are the matter of the rest are not terrestrial earth, water, air, fire, and a different celestial aether, but whatever elementary bodies natural science, starting anew from mechanics and chemistry, may determine to be the matter of all other bodies whatever. Nature does not aim at God as end, but God, thinking and willing ends, produces and acts on nature. Soul is not an immateriate essence of an organic body capable, but an immateriate conscious substance within an organic body. Sensation is not the reception of the selfsame essence of an external body, but one’s perception of one’s sentient organism as affected, and especially of its organs resisting one another, e.g. one’s lips, hands, &c., preventing one another from occupying the same place at the same moment within one’s organism. Intelligence does not differ from sense by having no bodily organ, but the nervous system is the bodily organ of both. Intelligence is not active intellect propagating universal essence in passive intellect, but only logical inference starting from sense, and both requiring nervous body and conscious soul. It is not always a true apprehension of essence, but often, especially in physical matter, such as sound or heat or light, takes superficial effects to be the essence of the thing. Aristotle did not altogether solve the question, What is, and scarcely solved at all the question, How do we know the external world?
We might continue to object. But at bottom there remains the fundamental position of Aristotelianism, that all things are substances, individuals separate though related; that some things are attributes, real only as being some individual substance somehow affected, or, as we should say, modified or determined; and that without individual substances there is nothing, and nothing universal apart from individuals. There remains too the consequence that there are different substances, separate from but related to one another; and these substances of three irreducible kinds, natural, supernatural, human. Aristotelianism has to be considered against the philosophy which preceded it and against the philosophy which has since followed it. Platonism preceded it, and was the metaphysical doctrine that all things are supernatural—forms, gods, souls. Idealism has since followed it, and is the metaphysical doctrine that all things are mind and states of mind. Aristotelianism intervenes between ancient Platonism and modern Idealism, and is the metaphysical doctrine that all things are substances, natural and supernatural and human. It is a philosophy of substantial things, standing as a via media between a philosophy of the supernatural and a philosophy of mind. There are three alternatives, which may be put as questions which every thinker must ask himself. Are the things which surround me in what I call the environment,—the men, the animals, the plants, the ground, the stones, the water, the air, the moon, the sun, the stars and God—are they shadows, unsubstantial things, as formerly Platonism made all things to be except the supernatural world of forms, gods and souls? Or are they, as modern Idealism says, mind and states of mind? Or are they really substances separate from, though related to, myself, who am also a substance? The Aristotelian answer is—“Yes, all things are substances, but not all supernatural, nor all mental; for some are natural substances, or bodies”; and by that answer Aristotelianism stands or falls.
Literature.—The Aristotelian philosophy is to be studied, first in Aristotle’s works, which are the best commentaries on one another; the best complete edition is the Berlin edition (1831–1870), by Bekker and Brandis, in which also are the fragments collected by V. Rose, the scholia collected by Brandis, and the index compiled by Bonitz. After reading the remains of the Peripatetic school, the Greek commentators should be further studied in this edition. The Latin commentators, the Arabians and the schoolmen show how Aristotle has been the chief author of modern culture; while the vindication of modern independence comes out in his critics, the greatest of whom were Roger and Francis Bacon. Since the modern discovery of the science of motion by Galileo which changed natural science, and the modern revolution of philosophy by Descartes which changed metaphysics, the study of Aristotle has become less universal; but it did not die out, and received a fresh stimulus especially from Julius Pacius, who going back through G. Zabarella to the Arabians, and himself gifted with great logical powers, always deserves study in his editions of the Organon and the Physics and in his Doctrinae Peripateticae. In more recent times, as part of the growing conviction of the essentiality of everything Greek, Aristotle has received marked attention. In France there are the works of Cousin (1835), Félix Ravaisson, who wrote on the Metaphysics (1837–1846), and Barthélemy St Hilaire, who translated the Organon and other works (1844 seq.). In Germany there has been a host of commentaries, among which we may mention the Organon edited (1844–1846) by F. Th. Waitz (not so well as by Pacius), the De Anima edited (1833) by F. A. Trendelenburg and later by A. Torstrik, the Historia Animalium by H. Aubert and F. Wimmer (1868), the Ethics by K. L. Michelet (1827), the Metaphysics by A. Schwegler (1847) and (best of all) by H. Bonitz (1848), who is the most faithful of all commentators, because to great industry and acumen he adds the rare gift of confessing when he does not understand, and when he does not know what Aristotle might have thought. With Aristotle’s works before one, with the Index Aristotelicus, and the edition and translation of the Metaphysics by Bonitz on one side, and Zeller’s Die Philosophie der Griechen, ii. 2, “Aristoteles” (trans. by Costelloe and Muirhead), on the other side, one can go a considerable way towards understanding the foundations of Aristotelianism.
In England scholars tend to take up certain parts of Aristotle’s philosophy. Grote indeed intended to write a general account of Aristotle like that of Plato; but his Aristotle went little further than the logical writings. From Cambridge we have J. W. Blakesley’s Life of Aristotle, E. M. Cope’s Rhetoric, Dr Henry Jackson’s Nicomachean Ethics, v., S. H. Butcher’s Poetics, Hicks’s De Anima, J. E. Sandys’s Athenian Constitution, Jebb’s Rhetoric (ed. Sandys). Oxford in particular, since the beginning of the 19th century, has kept alive the study of Aristotle. E. Cardwell in his edition of the Nicomachean Ethics (1828) had the wisdom to found his text on the Laurentian Manuscript (Kb); E. Poste wrote translations of the Posterior Analytics and Sophistici Elenchi; R. Congreve edited the Politics; A. Grant edited the Nicomachean Ethics; E. Wallace translated and annotated the De Anima; B. Jowett translated the Politics; W. L. Newman has edited the Politics in four volumes; Dr Ogle has translated the De Partibus Animalium, with notes; R. Shute wrote a History of the Aristotelian Writings; Professor J. A. Stewart has written Notes on the Nicomachean Ethics; Professor J. Burnet has issued an annotated edition of the Nicomachean Ethics, and W. D. Ross has translated the Metaphysics. All these are, or were, Oxford men; and it remains to mention two others: I. Bywater, who as an Aristotelian scholar has done much for the improvement of Bekker’s text, especially of the Nicomachean Ethics and the Poetics; and F. G. Kenyon, who has the proud distinction of having been the first modern editor of the Ἀθηναίων πολιτεία. (T. Ca.)