is proved by means of this kind of cause, nor is there any demonstration of this kind—'because it is better, or worse'; indeed no one even mentions anything of the kind. And so for this reason some of the Sophists, e.g. Aristippus, ridiculed mathematics; for in the arts, even in the industrial arts, e. g. in carpentry and cobbling, the reason always given is 'because it is better, or worse', but the mathematical sciences take no account of goods and evils.
But if there are several sciences of the causes, and a different science for each different principle, which of these sciences should be said to be that which we seek, or which of the people who possess them has the most scientific knowledge of the object in question? The same thing may have all the kinds of causes, e. g. the moving cause of a house is the art or the builder, the final cause is the function it fulfils, the matter is earth and stones, and the form is the definitory formula. To judge from our previous discussion of the question which of the sciences should be called Wisdom, there is reason for applying the name to each of them. For inasmuch as it is most architectonic and authoritative and the other sciences, like slave-women, may not even contradict it, the science of the end and of the good is of the nature of Wisdom (for the other things are for the sake of the end). But inasmuch as it was described as dealing with the first causes and that which is in the highest sense object of knowledge, the science of substance must be of the nature of Wisdom. For as men may know the same thing in many ways, we say that he who knows what a thing is by the characteristics it has knows more fully than he who knows it by the characteristics it has not, and in the former class itself one knows more fully than another, and he knows most fully who knows what a thing is, not he who knows its quantity or quality or what it can by nature do or have done to it; and further in all other cases also (i. e. where demonstration is possible) we think that the knowledge
- Cf. a. 2.
- i.e. essence.
- 996b19 The meaning is that whether the essence is known directly (as in the case of substances) or by means of demonstration (as in the case of attributes or of events like thunder or eclipse), knowledge of the essence is the primary knowledge.