Page:Metaphysics by Aristotle Ross 1908 (deannotated).djvu/75

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1003a
B. BOOK III

principles; for the potency is prior to the actual cause, and it is not necessary for everything potential to be actual.—But if the elements exist potentially, it is possible that everything that is should not be. For even that which is not yet is capable of being; for that which is not comes to be, but nothing that is incapable of being comes to be.[1]

We must not only raise these questions about the first principles, but also ask whether they are universal or what we call individuals. If they are universal, they will not be substances; for everything that is common indicates not a 'this' but a 'such', but substance is a 'this'.—And if we can actually hypostatize the common predicate as an individual, Socrates will be several animals—himself and 'man' and 'animal,' if each of these indicates a 'this' and a single thing.—If, then, the principles are universals, these results follow; if they are not universals but of the nature of individuals, they will not be knowable; for the knowledge of anything is universal. Therefore if there is to be knowledge of the principles there must be other principles prior to them, which are universally predicated of them.[2]

  1. With 1002b32-1003a5 cf. 996a10-11. For the answer cf. h.2-θ.9, λ.6.
  2. With 1003a5-17 cf. 996a9-10. For the answer cf. ζ.13, 14, m.10.