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Aristotle: μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII 12

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §1

A substance is best understood when contrasted with that which is not a substance.

There are Aristotelian properties: orange, cold, etc. Aristotle asserts that the difference between substances and properties is that substances can exist independent of particular properties (things can be hot, not-cold), but no property exists without a substance (cold does not exist unless some thing is cold).

There is no existence of cold without a substance that is cold. Coldness cannot exist apart from something being cold.

Aristotle completely diverges from Plato on this topic.

Aristotle's properties are unlike Platonic Forms: Plato posited that Forms were in fact more real than any particular substances. His basis was that Coldness persists when cold things perish, and also because cold things were imperfectly so.

According to Plato, a manifestation of a Form (ie, cold water) was a mere weak reflection the supreme, eternal Form (ie, Coldness).

The thinkers of the present day tend to rank universals as substances (for genera are universals, and these they tend to describe as principles and substances, owing to the abstract nature of their inquiry); but the thinkers of old ranked particular things as substances, e.g. fire and earth, not what is common to both, body.
The substance is real unlike its properties, but if it were featureless it would not exist.

Just in order for us to know that it exists, a substance will need features. It does not, however, require any particular feature. For example, an Eames Chair without the property of color would not exist, but it can be black just as much as it can be beige or any other color.

There are three kinds of substance-one that is sensible (of which one subdivision is eternal and another is perishable; the latter is recognized by all men, and includes e.g. plants and animals), of which we must grasp the elements, whether one or many; and another that is immovable, and this certain thinkers assert to be capable of existing apart, some dividing it into two, others identifying the Forms and the objects of mathematics, and others positing, of these two, only the objects of mathematics. The former two kinds of substance are the subject of physics (for they imply movement); but the third kind belongs to another science, if there is no principle common to it and to the other kinds.
Aristotle says that substances is of three kinds, but this classification will change throughout the twelfth book of the Metaphysics: eternal, perishable and insensible.

They are moveable, they are changeable. These were Aristotle's biggest focus throughout his works on biology. He focused on ordinary perishable objects on the surface o the earth. That was his main interest. But he was also interested in them in a cosmological, greater framework. These sensible things move between opposites, but not all opposites.

EternalFor example, stars and planets. Aristotle believed that the planets were eternal, he viewed them quite literally as gods, but this is simply the background for what he'll discuss in the same way that belief in reincarnation is in the background for Plato's Phaedo.
PerishableFor example, plants and animals.
InsensibleAlso known as the immovable, the unchangeable.

The most important feature of these is that they are not able to be sensed, they are not moveable, they are not changeable. Aristotle makes not so much a distinction between the forms and objects of mathematics in the twelfth book.

FormsAristotle acknowledges that some posit only Mathematical Objects constitute the insensible, immovable, unchangeable.
Mathematical ObjectsFor example, the number two or a triangle.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §2

Basics of change

Sensible substance is changeable. Now if change proceeds from opposites or from intermediates, and not from all opposites (for the voice is not-white, (but it does not therefore change to white)), but from the contrary, there must be something underlying which changes into the contrary state; for the contraries do not change.
Changes is coming-to-be or ceasing-to-be something and occurs between contraries, not contradictories.

Not all matter can have all attributes. A lump of bronze ore comes to be spherical, from ceasing to be lumpy -- but it cannot come to blossom, from not-blossoming. Even if there is some level of being intermediate, its change is on an axis from spherical to lumpy.

Also, it is the substance that changes, not the property of being lumpy or spherical.

Lumpiness itself does not change.

There must be matter since the forms themselves do not change.

Change is not just an exchange (from a lumpy ore to a polished sphere). Since something persists but the contrary does not, there must be some third thing besides the contraries: matter itself.

Genesis and Kinesis

Aristotle distinguished two fundamental categories of change: substantial change (genesis) and non-substantial change (kinesis).

Substantial change involves a substance coming into being from not-being: an Eames chair comes into being from piles of leather, wood and cast metal.

Sensible, perishable substances move/change between contraries.

Matter that persists through change must be able to exist in both the contrary states, the states at the beginning and end of the process of change.

Changes are of four kinds-either in respect of the 'what' or of the quality or of the quantity or of the place, and change in respect of 'thisness' is simple generation and destruction, and change in quantity is increase and diminution, and change in respect of an affection is alteration, and change of place is motion
Genesis Aristotle labels substantial change genesis. A new substance comes to be, and an old substance passes away. However, matter persists through substantial change: wood turning to ash, skin turning to dust, a body turning to a corpse.
Substantial (Essence)A substantial change, a change in a substance's core identity/essence, not just what it's like or seems, for example like going from a seed to a plant. A seed is related to a plant, but they are absolutely not the same thing. Even going from alive to a corpse is an example of substantial change. The coming to be or ceasing to be of a substance: burning a stick into ash.

Aristotle contrasts genesis with kinesis, which can be of three different types.

Qualitative (Quality)Qualitative change alters qualities/properties of a substance but does not alter the substance itself (going from green to red).
Quantitative (Amount)Quantitative change alters quantity or size (going from small to large, from one to many).
Local (Location)Local change deals with where is an object: it deals with the spatial location of an object.
Aristotle differentiated between substantial change (genesis) and kinesis (motion and change at the same time).

According to Aristotle, genesis is something arising, kinesis is the idea of motion and change at the same time. Genesis and kinesis are types of a broader sort of change, metabolae, which in Greek is a very abstract notion.

Other than local motion under a circle, most change or motion (metabolae), there is a big difference between circular and linear change.

Most change/motion other than local circular motion (like a wheel spinning) is unique. There's linear movement, like moving a water bottle from one point to another, motions in a line.

Aristotle views a very important difference between the two types of motion.

Potency vs Actuality

That which 'is' has two senses, we must say that everything changes from that which is potentially to that which is actually, e.g. from potentially white to actually white, and similarly in the case of increase and diminution. Therefore not only can a thing come to be, incidentally, out of that which is not, but also all things come to be out of that which is, but is potentially, and is not actually.
The form exists actually, if it can exist apart, and so does the complex of form and matter, and the privation, e.g. darkness or disease; but the matter exists potentially; for this is that which can become qualified either by the form or by the privation.Book 12 §5
There is a big difference between what is potential and actual.

A seed has potency, the plant is an actuality. A lumpen ore has potency, the polished metal jewelry is an actuality.

However, a seed does not have potency to become polished metal jewelry.

Not everything has the potential for everything.

Not all ingredients that are candidates for some processes of change will be candidates for other processes of change: their potency varies, like seeds becoming plants but not artificial plants.

And this is the 'One' of Anaxagoras; for instead of 'all things were together'-and the 'Mixture' of Empedocles and Anaximander and the account given by Democritus-it is better to say 'all things were together potentially but not actually'. Therefore these thinkers seem to have had some notion of matter. Now all things that change have matter, but different matter; and of eternal things those which are not generable but are movable in space have matter-not matter for generation, however, but for motion from one place to another.

Form, Privation and Matter

One might raise the question from what sort of non-being generation proceeds; for 'non-being' has three senses. If, then, one form of non-being exists potentially, still it is not by virtue of a potentiality for any and every thing, but different things come from different things; nor is it satisfactory to say that 'all things were together'; for they differ in their matter, since otherwise why did an infinity of things come to be, and not one thing? For 'reason' is one, so that if matter also were one, that must have come to be in actuality which the matter was in potency. The causes and the principles, then, are three, two being the pair of contraries of which one is definition and form and the other is privation, and the third being the matter.
Aristotle reformulates his list of the principles of substance to a total of three: form, privation and matter.

Aristotle calls a property like green, lumpen or spherical a form or formula, related to but not the same as Plato's forms. He calls the absence of a property a privation, meaning roughly the state of a thing without some particular form or property. An entirely green plant is in privation as to being blue; it lacks blue.

Privation (related to English deprivation) is the absence of a particular form or property.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §3

Note, next, that neither the matter nor the form comes to be-and I mean the last matter and form. For everything that changes is something and is changed by something and into something. That by which it is changed is the immediate mover; that which is changed, the matter; that into which it is changed, the form. The process, then, will go on to infinity, if not only the bronze comes to be round but also the round or the bronze comes to be; therefore there must be a stop.

Artificial, natural, chance and spontaneous change

Note, next, that each substance comes into being out of something that shares its name. (Natural objects and other things both rank as substances.) For things come into being either by art or by nature or by luck or by spontaneity. Now art is a principle of movement in something other than the thing moved, nature is a principle in the thing itself (for man begets man), and the other causes are privations of these two.
Aristotle recognizes another set of kinds of change: artificial, natural, chance and spontaneous.

Aristotle has observed substantial, qualitative, quantitative and local change. This other set (artificial, natural, chance and spontaneous change) exists on a different plane altogether.

ArtificialConsider lumpen bronze acted on by a hammer to form a sphere. The cause is outside the object.
NaturalAn example would be rust.
ChanceConsider lumpen bronze tumbling along a riverbed, perhaps forming a sphere.
SpontaneousAristotle believed that worms arose spontaneously. While mammals were purposeful with eggs and reproductive cycles, Aristotle thought that worms arose anew. He believed they came to be by spontaneous generation, as opposed to reproduction.

Matter, Form and Composite

There are three kinds of substance-the matter, which is a 'this' in appearance (for all things that are characterized by contact and not, by organic unity are matter and substratum, e.g. fire, flesh, head; for these are all matter, and the last matter is the matter of that which is in the full sense substance); the nature, which is a 'this' or positive state towards which movement takes place; and again, thirdly, the particular substance which is composed of these two, e.g. Socrates or Callias.
Matter, which appears to be a particular things -- a this -- but actually lacks organic unity, is a whole only mechanically in nature.

Mechanical unity vs organic unity. Mechanical unity is an aggregate, like a magnet with an ore stuck to it. Organic unity is the individual magnet, a particular form, a formal sense structure, a formal integrity.

A composite is matter plus form.

Plato believes that there is a Form of a House, and that all houses get their nature by participating in this eternal form. Aristotle believes that forms are only to be found in composites; he believes that (almost all) substances must be compounds of form and matter. Existence is empty if a thing lacks any properties.

Challenging Aristotle's view is the fact that if a substance has its properties stripped away, absolutely formless matter (Prime Matter) remains about which nothing can be said.

FormThe property/state of a thing.
MatterThe thing that has the property/state.
CompoundActualized matter -- a thing with the property/state.
Now in some cases the 'this' does not exist apart from the composite substance, e.g. the form of house does not so exist, unless the art of building exists apart (nor is there generation and destruction of these forms, but it is in another way that the house apart from its matter, and health, and all ideals of art, exist and do not exist); but if the 'this' exists apart from the concrete thing, it is only in the case of natural objects. And so Plato was not far wrong when he said that there are as many Forms as there are kinds of natural object (if there are Forms distinct from the things of this earth). The moving causes exist as things preceding the effects, but causes in the sense of definitions are simultaneous with their effects. For when a man is healthy, then health also exists; and the shape of a bronze sphere exists at the same time as the bronze sphere. (But we must examine whether any form also survives afterwards. For in some cases there is nothing to prevent this; e.g. the soul may be of this sort-not all soul but the reason; for presumably it is impossible that all soul should survive.) Evidently then there is no necessity, on this ground at least, for the existence of the Ideas. For man is begotten by man, a given man by an individual father; and similarly in the arts; for the medical art is the formal cause of health.
Aristotle uses the example of lumpen bronze acted upon by a hammer to become a bronze sphere.

His example is reduced to abstractions below, which may be applied to the greater universe.

TerminologyI: A substance that causes change. (Hammer) A: A substance that undergoes change. (Lump of ore) X: A property or form of A before the change. (Lumpy, a contrary of N) N: A property or form of A after the change. (Spherical, a contrary of X) Z: A substance which is the product of change. (Orb)
I on A

We have AX and AN
One substance, I
acts causally on another substance, AX
AX has a form or property X,
a contrary of property N

I causes the matter of AX to acquire
a form or property, N

X versus NProperty X of AX indicates a lack/privation of N
Effect of I on AThe effect of I's action is to change AX - either into a different substance, ZN - or into the same substance, with a different property AN Both AN and ZN have a property N different from its contrary, X
AN is ZN

The same matter is also the matter of whatever A comes to be after
the change - AN or ZN as defined above.

One substance I is a primary mover or a cause of change
in another substance A

Before the matter A acquired a different property
N instead of X, A was not without properties

Since change occurs between contraries, A
in its previous state -- before the change --
must have had a property of form contrary to N,
the one that we call X

Matter with form X comes to be matter with form N;
lumpy bronze comes to be spherical

But neither the matter A nor a form N comes to be.

Neither matter nor forms comes to be. What comes to be is a composite of the matter and the form.

The matter is not new. It just persists. The form of sphericity does not come to be when the bronze is hammered into an orb. The form is not new as a form, though the substance now has a different form than it had before the change.

What comes to be is a new composite of matter plus form -- a new substance, a new composite, but not new matter nor new form.

Any particular case of change would wind on infinitely if this were not the case.

If it were the matter that were changing, it could keep on changing as matter. If the Form were changing, it would keep on changing as a Form.

In that case we cannot point to anything that would bring the change to an end. It is only as a composite that we can see a beginning and end of the change.

Matter sets a limit on change.

Matter persists without changing, thus giving the new substance its material limit. Before the change, the lumpy bronze weighed 1kg. The newly spherical bronze will have roughly that same amount of matter.

It has been constrained by the matter, the amount and nature of the matter.

Form is also a limit, defining the composite in one definite way or another.

Sphericity is the Form, giving the new composite of form and matter a formal limit just as it has a material limit. If matter and form did not act as constraints on the composite, and the change occurred in the matter and form itself, then nothing would stop it form continuing to change ad infinitum.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §4

"The causes and the principles of different things are in a sense different, but in a sense, if one speaks universally and analogically, they are the same for all. For one might raise the question whether the principles and elements are different or the same for substances and for relative terms, and similarly in the case of each of the categories. But it would be paradoxical if they were the same for all. For then from the same elements will proceed relative terms and substances. What then will this common element be? For (1) (a) there is nothing common to and distinct from substance and the other categories, viz. those which are predicated; but an element is prior to the things of which it is an element. But again (b) substance is not an element in relative terms, nor is any of these an element in substance. Further, (2) how can all things have the same elements? For none of the elements can be the same as that which is composed of elements, e.g. b or a cannot be the same as ba. (None, therefore, of the intelligibles, e.g. being or unity, is an element; for these are predicable of each of the compounds as well.) None of the elements, then, will be either a substance or a relative term; but it must be one or other. All things, then, have not the same elements.

"Or, as we are wont to put it, in a sense they have and in a sense they have not; e.g. perhaps the elements of perceptible bodies are, as form, the hot, and in another sense the cold, which is the privation; and, as matter, that which directly and of itself potentially has these attributes; and substances comprise both these and the things composed of these, of which these are the principles, or any unity which is produced out of the hot and the cold, e.g. flesh or bone; for the product must be different from the elements. These things then have the same elements and principles (though specifically different things have specifically different elements); but all things have not the same elements in this sense, but only analogically; i.e. one might say that there are three principles-the form, the privation, and the matter. But each of these is different for each class; e.g. in colour they are white, black, and surface, and in day and night they are light, darkness, and air.

"Since not only the elements present in a thing are causes, but also something external, i.e. the moving cause, clearly while 'principle' and 'element' are different both are causes, and 'principle' is divided into these two kinds; and that which acts as producing movement or rest is a principle and a substance. Therefore analogically there are three elements, and four causes and principles; but the elements are different in different things, and the proximate moving cause is different for different things. Health, disease, body; the moving cause is the medical art. Form, disorder of a particular kind, bricks; the moving cause is the building art. And since the moving cause in the case of natural things is-for man, for instance, man, and in the products of thought the form or its contrary, there will be in a sense three causes, while in a sense there are four. For the medical art is in some sense health, and the building art is the form of the house, and man begets man; further, besides these there is that which as first of all things moves all things.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §5

Qualities Need Substances

Some things can exist apart and some cannot, and it is the former that are substances. And therefore all things have the same causes, because, without substances, modifications and movements do not exist. Further, these causes will probably be soul and body, or reason and desire and body.
Qualities need substances, but substances do not need any particular qualities.

But the distinction of actuality and potentiality applies in another way to cases where the matter of cause and of effect is not the same, in some of which cases the form is not the same but different; e.g. the cause of man is (1) the elements in man (viz. fire and earth as matter, and the peculiar form), and further (2) something else outside, i.e. the father, and (3) besides these the sun and its oblique course, which are neither matter nor form nor privation of man nor of the same species with him, but moving causes.

"Further, one must observe that some causes can be expressed in universal terms, and some cannot. The proximate principles of all things are the 'this' which is proximate in actuality, and another which is proximate in potentiality. The universal causes, then, of which we spoke do not exist. For it is the individual that is the originative principle of the individuals. For while man is the originative principle of man universally, there is no universal man, but Peleus is the originative principle of Achilles, and your father of you, and this particular b of this particular ba, though b in general is the originative principle of ba taken without qualification.

"Further, if the causes of substances are the causes of all things, yet different things have different causes and elements, as was said; the causes of things that are not in the same class, e.g. of colours and sounds, of substances and quantities, are different except in an analogical sense; and those of things in the same species are different, not in species, but in the sense that the causes of different individuals are different, your matter and form and moving cause being different from mine, while in their universal definition they are the same. And if we inquire what are the principles or elements of substances and relations and qualities-whether they are the same or different-clearly when the names of the causes are used in several senses the causes of each are the same, but when the senses are distinguished the causes are not the same but different, except that in the following senses the causes of all are the same. They are (1) the same or analogous in this sense, that matter, form, privation, and the moving cause are common to all things; and (2) the causes of substances may be treated as causes of all things in this sense, that when substances are removed all things are removed; further, (3) that which is first in respect of complete reality is the cause of all things. But in another sense there are different first causes, viz. all the contraries which are neither generic nor ambiguous terms; and, further, the matters of different things are different. We have stated, then, what are the principles of sensible things and how many they are, and in what sense they are the same and in what sense different.

Primary mover is the sort of thing that causes something else to move.

The subject of the motion/change is the perishing matter which 'underlies' the change.

If all substances were destroyed, and everything else were also destroyed:
- By the destruction of all substances,
- Because nothing else can exist without substances,
- Because everything else depends on substances.
Then also, by the causing of all substances, everything else would be caused because the same relation of dependence would apply.

The causes or principles of substance are the causes or principles of everything.

Some first cause is the cause, singular, of everything.

- Principles or causes of different substances are different in various ways.
- Nonetheless, in a general sense, there are principles or causes which are also the same for all substances.
- These are matter, form, privation and a moving cause.
- If these prnciples or causes are the same for all substances, they must also be the same for everything else.
- Among these principles or causes of everything, one cause is first of all because it is the first to be actual.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §6

Since there were three (four) kinds of substance, two of them physical and one unmovable, regarding the latter we must assert that it is necessary that there should be an eternal unmovable substance. For substances are the first of existing things, and if they are all destructible, all things are destructible. But it is impossible that movement should either have come into being or cease to be (for it must always have existed), or that time should. For there could not be a before and an after if time did not exist. Movement also is continuous, then, in the sense in which time is; for time is either the same thing as movement or an attribute of movement. And there is no continuous movement except movement in place, and of this only that which is circular is continuous.

Start with the three kinds of substances that Aristotle listed at the beginning of the book:

  • Sensible
    • eternal (stars and planets)
    • perishable (plants and animals)
  • Insensible and immovable (unchangeable)
    • Forms and/or
    • Objects of mathematics

"But if there is something which is capable of moving things or acting on them, but is not actually doing so, there will not necessarily be movement; for that which has a potency need not exercise it. Nothing, then, is gained even if we suppose eternal substances, as the believers in the Forms do, unless there is to be in them some principle which can cause change; nay, even this is not enough, nor is another substance besides the Forms enough; for if it is not to act, there will be no movement. Further even if it acts, this will not be enough, if its essence is potency; for there will not be eternal movement, since that which is potentially may possibly not be. There must, then, be such a principle, whose very essence is actuality. Further, then, these substances must be without matter; for they must be eternal, if anything is eternal. Therefore they must be actuality.

"Yet there is a difficulty; for it is thought that everything that acts is able to act, but that not everything that is able to act acts, so that the potency is prior. But if this is so, nothing that is need be; for it is possible for all things to be capable of existing but not yet to exist.

"Yet if we follow the theologians who generate the world from night, or the natural philosophers who say that 'all things were together', the same impossible result ensues. For how will there be movement, if there is no actually existing cause? Wood will surely not move itself-the carpenter's art must act on it; nor will the menstrual blood nor the earth set themselves in motion, but the seeds must act on the earth and the semen on the menstrual blood.

"This is why some suppose eternal actuality-e.g. Leucippus and Plato; for they say there is always movement. But why and what this movement is they do say, nor, if the world moves in this way or that, do they tell us the cause of its doing so. Now nothing is moved at random, but there must always be something present to move it; e.g. as a matter of fact a thing moves in one way by nature, and in another by force or through the influence of reason or something else. (Further, what sort of movement is primary? This makes a vast difference.) But again for Plato, at least, it is not permissible to name here that which he sometimes supposes to be the source of movement-that which moves itself; for the soul is later, and coeval with the heavens, according to his account. To suppose potency prior to actuality, then, is in a sense right, and in a sense not; and we have specified these senses. That actuality is prior is testified by Anaxagoras (for his 'reason' is actuality) and by Empedocles in his doctrine of love and strife, and by those who say that there is always movement, e.g. Leucippus. Therefore chaos or night did not exist for an infinite time, but the same things have always existed (either passing through a cycle of changes or obeying some other law), since actuality is prior to potency. If, then, there is a constant cycle, something must always remain, acting in the same way. And if there is to be generation and destruction, there must be something else which is always acting in different ways. This must, then, act in one way in virtue of itself, and in another in virtue of something else-either of a third agent, therefore, or of the first. Now it must be in virtue of the first. For otherwise this again causes the motion both of the second agent and of the third. Therefore it is better to say 'the first'. For it was the cause of eternal uniformity; and something else is the cause of variety, and evidently both together are the cause of eternal variety. This, accordingly, is the character which the motions actually exhibit. What need then is there to seek for other principles?

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §7

There is therefore also something which moves it. And since that which moves and is moved is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality.
Everything moved requires a mover. But a mover might be either: a mover which is moved, a moved mover; or a mover which is not moved, an unmoved mover.

A moved mover is intermediat, says Aristotle. It must come between two other items. A moved mover must be moved (has something before it) and a mover (has something after it). It cannot be in a series where it is not bounded on either side by an item -- this is in the nature of a moved mover. But if an item is the first moved mover, then the item before it cannot also be a moved mover.

And the object of desire and the object of thought move in this way; they move without being moved. The primary objects of desire and of thought are the same. For the apparent good is the object of appetite, and the real good is the primary object of rational wish.
One can desire or think about a bagel in a deli case, without any action by the bagel.

Thinking is the real starting point for both thought and desire. You must hve a cognitive contact of a more basic sort with the object before you can thinking about it, and in order to desire it there must have been thinking, you must know what it is in order to desire it. The thinking comes first, then the desire comes next. The thinking may be wrong. The desire may be based on defective thinking, mere opinion (not real knowledge) and thus may be a misguided desire. The issue is not whether your desire is correct, it's whether your thinking is any participation on the part of the subject.

But desire is consequent on opinion rather than opinion on desire; for the thinking is the starting-point. And thought is moved by the object of thought, and one of the two columns of opposites is in itself the object of thought; and in this, substance is first, and in substance, that which is simple and exists actually. (The one and the simple are not the same; for 'one' means a measure, but 'simple' means that the thing itself has a certain nature.) But the beautiful, also, and that which is in itself desirable are in the same column; and the first in any class is always best, or analogous to the best.

Aristotle found infinite effect-cause philosophically untenable/unintelligble in his Physics books. Things have to come to an end -- it has to come to a beginning, a first cause.

The positive side is the object of thought as a whole, covering everyting that we can think about in a positive way.

Let's make a list of opposites, a column of positive (the object of thought as a whole, covering everything we can thinking about in a positive way) and negative ().

GoodEvil or not-good
Desirable for itselfDesirable for external reasons

The first positive items are simple, immaterial or actual along with the good and desirable in itself.

Among any items thought about or desired, there will always be a first or a first in some class.

That a final cause may exist among unchangeable entities is shown by the distinction of its meanings. For the final cause is (a) some being for whose good an action is done, and (b) something at which the action aims; and of these the latter exists among unchangeable entities though the former does not. The final cause, then, produces motion as being loved, but all other things move by being moved. Now if something is moved it is capable of being otherwise than as it is. Therefore if its actuality is the primary form of spatial motion, then in so far as it is subject to change, in this respect it is capable of being otherwise,-in place, even if not in substance. But since there is something which moves while itself unmoved, existing actually, this can in no way be otherwise than as it is. For motion in space is the first of the kinds of change, and motion in a circle the first kind of spatial motion; and this the first mover produces. The first mover, then, exists of necessity; and in so far as it exists by necessity, its mode of being is good, and it is in this sense a first principle. For the necessary has all these senses-that which is necessary perforce because it is contrary to the natural impulse, that without which the good is impossible, and that which cannot be otherwise but can exist only in a single way.

Whatever is absolutely first of all is the primary object of thought or desire. THat object is the first unmoved mover. Simple, immaterial, actual, good and desirable. This first unmoved mover produces all movemnt and change there is by being thought about and thereby being desired. It does not have to do anything at all, just by being thought and by being desired, just from that, every other change flows from that.

Anythat that desires another is moved/changed by that desire. If you desire a piece of jewelry, you have changed but the jewelry has not. The unmoved mover causes movement just by being the pirmary object of thoguht or desire. By being the unmoved mover,

The first instance of this local movement is the circular movment of the first heavens.
But producing this first circular movement requires the first unmoved mover. What's going on needs the unmoved mover, the unmoved mover must exist.

Ho Theos

On such a principle, then, depend the heavens and the world of nature. And it is a life such as the best which we enjoy, and enjoy for but a short time (for it is ever in this state, which we cannot be), since its actuality is also pleasure. (And for this reason are waking, perception, and thinking most pleasant, and hopes and memories are so on account of these.) And thinking in itself deals with that which is best in itself, and that which is thinking in the fullest sense with that which is best in the fullest sense. And thought thinks on itself because it shares the nature of the object of thought; for it becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and thinking its objects, so that thought and object of thought are the same. For that which is capable of receiving the object of thought, i.e. the essence, is thought. But it is active when it possesses this object. Therefore the possession rather than the receptivity is the divine element which thought seems to contain, and the act of contemplation is what is most pleasant and best. If, then, God is always in that good state in which we sometimes are, this compels our wonder; and if in a better this compels it yet more. And God is in a better state. And life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and God's self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God.

Everything in the whole universe, living and not living, depends on this unmoved mover.
Since some of its effects are alive, the unomved mover must be alive.

But not alive in a temporal, timed away, in an eternal way. The unmoved mover has eternal life. This eternal life amazes us. He has invoked this sense of awe and now calls it Ho Theos, meaning God -- singular God.

God's essential actuality is life most good and eternal. We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good.

Aristotle is not only asserting that God exists but asserting his property: most good, eternal. He then provides other properties, features, attributes of God. Actual, alive, eternal, best, unmovable, unchangeable, not sensible, without magnitude, impassive. This is a more complete picture of the unmoved mover. While Aristotle displays piety, that is not his primary action, what seems to really push his button from CHapter 7 on actually comes from astronology/cosmology.

From Aristotle's perspective, the Earth was the center of hte universe and Mars and every other planet was in the center of hte universe. You need to observe it over a long time to determine its motion. But why does Mars not follow a perfect circle? Because as Aristotle postulated, it moves in a smaller circle as it moves in a larger circular. That's the theory of epicycles. This is a reduced version. There were 34 epicycles.... five for the sun, etc. Aristotle adds 22 other movement, either 55 or 56 interacting circles. These are all eternal movements in his mind. The mover must be eternal and also unmoved. This is section 8. For each of these 55 or 56, you need an eternal, unmoved mover and hte likely number involved is 55. There must be definite number of unmoved movers. Why does it need to fixed, definite? Because it relates to the bodies that are moved.

Those who suppose, as the Pythagoreans and Speusippus do, that supreme beauty and goodness are not present in the beginning, because the beginnings both of plants and of animals are causes, but beauty and completeness are in the effects of these, are wrong in their opinion. For the seed comes from other individuals which are prior and complete, and the first thing is not seed but the complete being; e.g. we must say that before the seed there is a man,-not the man produced from the seed, but another from whom the seed comes.
It is clear then from what has been said that there is a substance which is eternal and unmovable and separate from sensible things. It has been shown also that this substance cannot have any magnitude, but is without parts and indivisible (for it produces movement through infinite time, but nothing finite has infinite power; and, while every magnitude is either infinite or finite, it cannot, for the above reason, have finite magnitude, and it cannot have infinite magnitude because there is no infinite magnitude at all). But it has also been shown that it is impassive and unalterable; for all the other changes are posterior to change of place.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §8

Myths were meant to frighten people. This expedient use of the old myths about the gods is deceitful but the initial instinct of the myth maker was correct. The initial instinct was: "the first substances, the unmoved movers, are gods." This is in the context of a polytheist culture.

At the philosophical level, how can there be more than one unmoved mover? Perhaps within these 55 or 56, there is subordination and within a hierarchy there is a single overarching unmoved mover. But how do you subordinate one all-powerful omniscient omnipotent almighty entity like a god, to another?

For if there is to be a movement for the sake of a movement, this latter also will have to be for the sake of something else; so that since there cannot be an infinite regress, the end of every movement will be one of the divine bodies which move through the heaven.

μετάφυσικά Metaphysics XII §9


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