Page:Metaphysics by Aristotle Ross 1908 (deannotated).djvu/35

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987a
A. BOOK I

have now sat in council with us, we have got thus much—both from the earliest philosophers, who regard the first principle as corporeal (for water and fire and such things are bodies), and of whom some suppose that there is one corporeal principle, others that there are more than one, but both put these under the head of matter; and from some others who posit both this cause and besides this the source of movement, which is stated by some as one and by others as two.

Down to the Italian school, then, and apart from it, philosophers have treated these subjects rather obscurely, except that, as we said, they have used two kinds of cause, and one of these—the source of movement—some treat as one and others as two. But the Pythagoreans have said in the same way that there are two principles, but added this much, which is peculiar to them, that they thought finitude and infinity and unity were not attributes of certain other things, e. g. of fire or earth or anything else of this kind, but that infinity itself and unity itself were the substance of the things of which they are predicated. This is why number was the substance of all things. On this subject, then, they expressed themselves thus; and regarding the question of essence they began to make statements and definitions, but treated the matter too simply. For they both defined superficially and thought that the first subject of which a given term would be predicable, was the substance of the thing, as if one supposed that 'double' and '2' were the same, because 2 is the first thing of which 'double' is predicable. But surely to be double and to be 2 are not the same; if they are, one thing will be many[1]—a consequence which they actually drew.[2] From the earlier philosophers, then, and from their successors we can learn thus much.

Chapter 6

After the systems we have named came the philosophy of Plato, which in most respects followed these thinkers,

  1. i. e. 2 will be identified with each even number.
  2. e. g. as friendship was 4, and 4 was the first square number, friendship was identified with each square number.