Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/34

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furnished, of course, only by the physical concatenation and distribution of causes.

Aristotle himself did not fail to make this necessary distinction between efficient cause and formal essence; but as his science was only natural history, and mechanism had no plausibility in his eyes, the efficiency of the cause was always due, in his view, to its ideal quality; as in heredity the father’s human character, not his physical structure, might seem to warrant the son’s humanity. Every ideal, before it could be embodied, had to pre-exist in some other embodiment; but as when the ultimate purpose of the cosmos is considered it seems to lie beyond any given embodiment, the highest ideal must somehow exist disembodied. It must pre-exist, thought Aristotle, in order to supply, by way of magic attraction, a physical cause for perpetual movement in the world.

It must be confessed, in justice to this consummate philosopher, who is not less masterly in the use of knowledge than unhappy in divination, that the transformation of the highest good into a physical power is merely incidental with him, and due to a want of faith (at that time excusable) in mechanism and evolution. Aristotle’s deity is always a moral ideal and every detail in its definition is based on discrimination between the better and the worse. No accommodation to the ways of nature is here allowed to cloud the kingdom of